Baby On Board: Why farms are the ideal day out for a new family of four
So we’re now a family of four! A few weeks ago I gave birth to our second son Rex and despite it taking about seven years longer to get out the house each day, we’re settling into our new quad nicely. Milo couldn’t have been better adapting to life as a big brother (which has made everything so much easier, I think we held our breath for the entire nine months wondering what we were letting ourselves in for) and we’ve actually found we’ve got out and about together a lot quicker than we expected.
Of course with the recovery of birth comes some substantial CBeebies time, visits to the grandparents and botched crafts from the sofa, but entertaining a small child with a newborn in tow isn’t all that difficult; it’s more just about making sure you’re comfortable and not zip-lining your stitches out.
So, in the past few weeks, we’ve tried to ensure Milo’s had lots to keep him busy, because honestly, staying indoors and hoping for a bit of sofa time is so much worse than just getting out there. It was the anniversary of my other half, Greg, winning his Olympic gold medal last week so we ventured out for celebratory brunch; five days post-birth I was OK enough to waddle to the local garden centre and seeing as fresh air for all means baby sleeps, toddler wears himself out and you end up feeling smug for being productive and happy you’ve made the effort, we’ve been walking everywhere. Parks have mainly been our destination of choice and I’ve also tried to leave Rex with various family members so I can take Milo for some one on one time which he seems to have really enjoyed. Just half an hour is all it takes.
Aside from parks, farms are where it’s at for us; Thrift Farm, in particular, has been great. It’s local to us in Bletchley, Milton Keynes and offers work-based support for those with mental health issues or learning difficulties to work. It’s small enough to be able to keep an eye on children with selective hearing who like to jog off while you’re baby wrangling, but full to the brim with all different types of animals (including alpacas), a park, a play barn, assault course, a vintage sit-on tractor and a nice, airy cafe right at the end with plenty of decent food and drink on offer (and I mean decent, not just cardboard chips and a Fruit Shoot).
The reason we love visiting places like this (Mead Open Farm is another family favourite) is because it’s low key for us parents, but children love it. Nowadays, you’ll find it’s not just a case of plodding round a couple of chilly barns in your wellies while sheep bleat at you, but there’s climbing walls, outdoor trampolines, tractor rides and sand pits. There’s enough to keep little ones entertained for a good few hours but you’re not cooped up somewhere with noisy slot machines and sticky soft plays.
While I’m often very much keen to steer Milo either in the opposite direction of a gift shop or through the middle of it at lightning speed, the one at Thrift Farm was definitely worth a nose. At the moment, I’m feeding Rex pretty much hourly and I always like to make sure Milo’s got things to keep him occupied; in times of desperation it’s the telly or when I’ve got a minute to plan ahead, it’s more of an activity. Thrift Farm had sticker books, educational toys and most importantly, a bug jar with a magnifying lid so we snapped that up and over the past few days Milo’s been trekking round the garden hunting for insects enabling me to be able to plonk myself down on a step and feed without feeling guilty. He can run up and show me his findings, I can prevent my newborn from having a meltdown. I’ll gladly take the hit of £3.99 for that!