It's a well-known maxim: never work with animals or kids. I guess if you combine the two it's even worse. But a recent trip with the grandkids proved otherwise.
Can you guess where we went?
He paused and glared at the two noisy boys clattering down the stairs beside the path. But the boys had eyes only for the anticipated ice creams and they hopped impatiently from foot to foot, oblivious to the lizard right beside their feet.
It waited and watched as melting ice cream drip, drip, dripped on the ground. But no tasty handouts were tossed his way. Hamburger was more his line, anyway. His heavy chiseled head turned as a yellow moth fluttered above.. dipped.. then danced away.
He grew impatient and muscled his way closer to the family group. The ice creams were finished and a camera was dragged from the bag. Still, no one noticed the silent lizard.
Yep.. we took two of our grandsons to a wildlife sanctuary, Currumbin wildlife Sanctuary to be exact. No, don't groan! I know that visiting a wildlife refuge with kids in tow is something that many grandparents avoid with passion. And sure, it can be exhausting but it can also be a heap of fun. It just requires a little forethought.
We took a few extra steps that made a world of difference.
Step 1: We bought a yearly pass. It sounds a lot of money upfront and it is, but it's a little less than twice the entry fee. So... if we visit twice, it's paid for itself. The two boys are under four so they're free. It's wise to check online for any special deals.
Step 2: We knew the layout beforehand and knew where we wanted to go, rather than just wandering the paths. It also meant we largely avoided long queues. We checked online and chose the areas that would appeal to the boys. There are maps and information leaflets provided on entry but we wanted to plan beforehand. You can't afford any hesitation or inactivity with preschoolers.
Step 3: It was a relaxed, short visit that gave us the opportunity to watch some of the amusing wildlife, like the frustrated water dragon. We only stayed for two hours. It doesn't sound long, but it's certainly long enough with that age group. You could allocate more time for older kids, though you might wilt a little yourself. Our idea was to create a fun outing for everyone. With the yearly pass, we can take the grandkids back whenever we wish: leisurely enjoy morning tea watching the lorikeets feeding, ride around the park in the miniature train or just pat the sleepy wallabies.
A couple of other items are also helpful to include when visiting any animal or theme park:
*Hat and suncreen. This is a given, even though most of the trails within the sanctuary are beautifully shaded. I love the roll-on sunscreens designed particularly for little kids. Reapply regularly.
* Insect repellent. Despite the recent rain, we had little problem with mozzies, but we used it anyway. (Again, a roll-on variety with natural ingredients.)
* Water containers. There are plenty of rest areas selling juices, coffee, ice creams and more but water is best to avoid any dehydration.
* Snack packs. We packaged bite-sized fruit and biscuits in snack ziplock bags... so easy for the boys to hold and nibble as we pushed them along the pathways. Keep some for the trip home, too, in case they don't fall asleep in the car.
* Don't forget a camera!
* Travel packs of baby wipes and tissues. I don't know how we survived before baby wipes!
Try it.. you'll find it's more fun than you imagined- easy, fun and pretty effortless, too, if you plan ahead and keep it short and sweet.
Life as a grandma.. it's no 'quiet, restful days in the rocking-chair'. It's filled with activity, excitement and lots of family fun. Please share it with me.