I’ve lived in Essex virtually all my life, but didn’t realise how much there is actually to do around the county. Now I’m back at work full time, I’m really noticing how little time I get to spend with Alfie. Of course I see him before and after work, but the quality of time has gone. When I’ve spent almost everyday with him for the past year, it has been really hard. So I have made a vow to make the most of our time together at the weekends. We have two whole days to have fun, so I am determined to do just that. Have fun.
I refuse to spend my precious time cleaning and doing chores. I have decided that those jobs will have to fit around Alfie when he’s napping or gone to bed for the evening. My priority is maximising my time with my son, and creating lots of happy memories for us as a family.
The first step in this mission was to research places to go and things for us to do. I knew that if we left it to the weekend to decide what to do, we’d spend half a day deciding where to go. Then we’d have to factor in could we afford it, did we need to pack a picnic, should we invite any friends along? It made a lot more sense to be prepared and know in advance what and where we could go.
I did a lot of goggling, and used local facebook groups to make a list of places that we could visit. Then I created a whole spreadsheet of activities! First I divided them into sunny days and rainy days, and then included information such as price of activity, distance from home, estimate of how much the day would cost (once you’ve factored in parking, lunch, travel costs etc) and then any other information. I also included a link to the website. They were labelled free, cheap or treat days! I have mostly included attractions that are local to me in Essex, but there are also a few bigger treat days that are further afield, such as Leeds Castle in Kent and Woburn Safari.
So far, it has proved so useful. We are on a major budget cutting exercise at the moment, as childcare is taking a huge chunk of our wages and we are still saving for a house. So as much as I’m determined to make the most of our weekends, we are doing it on a budget. This is why the spreadsheet is fab. At the beginning of the month when we have a bit more money, we can pick a treat day. Then at the end of the month when we’re running out of budget, we pick a cheap or free day.
I’ve been back at work for 3 weeks now, and already we have been strawberry picking, visited the splash park (twice!), gone to the local park to play on the swings, and had a bbq with my sister.
We are very lucky that we have a couple of annual passes to local attractions so when we are running out of budget, these days are pretty much free! At the moment we have passes for two local zoo and a local farm. We are also looking at possible purchasing a soft play pass but the zoo and farm both have soft play so we are already covered with those.
For any readers out there who are from Essex, I have attached my spreadsheet of fun below for you all to download. If anyone has any problems downloading it, and would like me to email it directly to you, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to download a copy of the spreadsheet: Essex Adventures
As a family we’ve had a great time trying out all these local attractions, and are looking forward to working our way through the list. It has also prompted me to start a new series on the blog – Times to Treasure.
Every Monday I will do a round-up of what we got up to at the weekend. It might be an account of all the things we did over the course of the two days. It could be a review of a specific place we visited. Or it may be a simple photo snapshot of a special moment.
To co-inside with this new blog series, I am going to link this up with my Instagram feed. There will be more about how you can join in with this in my first #timestotreasure post on Monday.
Proud to be linking with: