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Dollar Diet: Less is More

At the ready! (image credit)

At the ready!
(image credit)

I kicked off this term with a vow to do less.  Fewer playgroups where we are stuck inside, in favour of unstructured time outside.

I was relieved I’d made this decision as last week ended up being very busy, with non-kid related activities taking up several evenings and all day Saturday.  Come Sunday, I was knackered.  Having had burnout in the past I am quite careful not to overload my schedule, but sometimes interesting things just happen all at once, don’t they.

I went to a free presentation on the impact of our early years on child development, which was put on by the excellent Brainwave Trust.  The Brainwave Trust is a charitable organisation founded to raise public awareness of the most recent discoveries in brain research, and to educate parents, caregivers, schools etc on the ramifications of this research.  I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know (simply because I have degrees in Psychology and Education, and specialised in human development, not because the presentation isn’t good – because it is!), but it is always great to be reminded of just how crucial the first three years of life are in shaping the people we become.  If you are interested in parenting advice based on solid, scientific research, I highly recommend signing up for their newsletter to keep updated on the latest happenings.

In tot-related stuff, instead of going to a music playgroup I decided to go for a walk along the Whanganui river with the kiddos.  I armed myself with a rubbish bag, thinking I could sneak in a little lesson about the importance of caring for creation as we picked up any rubbish we found along the way.  Things always seem so lovely and perfect in my head!  In reality, Chip fell asleep within five minutes and missed the rest of the walk entirely, while Sausage refused to get out of the stroller as her ‘legs were tired’.  She whinged and moaned most of the way.  I did manage to get in a decent workout, as power walking with a heavy stroller and 20+kg of kid gets the heart racing.

I dropped our Monday morning playgroup, which I am quite pleased about as it makes the start to the week less frantic.  This morning I did two loads of washing, changed all the sheets on the beds, gave the kids morning tea and wrangled them into the car to go grocery shopping without having to say ‘please hurry’.  I dropped this group because I must confess to picking up a new activity!  I know, I know,  I said I was doing less, but this isn’t a playgroup, per se.  On Fridays I am going to an exercise class.  It is beyond awesome.  St Luke’s Church in Castlecliff approached Plunket offering their space for a class and their volunteers to watch the children while their caregivers exercise.  I don’t know anywhere else where you can work out for $2 while some beautiful people mind your children!  It was fan-flipping-tastic to take time out for myself, and my kids enjoyed it (morning tea, singing and parachutes – what’s not to like?).  The class is over by 10:30am, so it leaves us with plenty of time to play afterwards at the Castlecliff Beach Playground.

We did spend ‘unnecessary’ money on going to a school gala.  It is difficult to put into words why I love galas so much.  I just do.  As a kid, my school gala was one of the highlights of the year, second only to the A&P show day and Guy Fawkes.  There’s just something so damn nice about seeing everyone having fun, the baking and white elephant stalls,  the sideshows, and teachers who are bravely prepared to be ‘dunked’ by gleeful students.

Once Sausage had filled up on real fruit ice cream she had a ball, and Chip was ecstatic to examine the machine blowing air into the bouncy castle (seriously, that kept him occupied for most of the time!).  Thanks to our pantry audit we underspent our grocery budget for the last few weeks, meaning we had plenty of cash to eat dinner out at the gala.  We’ve all been rather tired and cranky (Chip has just had five teeth cut through at once) so we needed a little fun injected into our week.

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Whanganui Playground review: Lundon Park

This is the first in a series I will do of all the playgrounds in and around Whanganui (sorry overseas readers, you’ll want to skip reading these unless you have a burning desire to see New Zealand playgrounds 🙂 ).

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Okay.  Let’s crack on.

Lundon Park is on Carson Street and is opposite the back entrance of Castlecliff School.

The park has heaps of green space, enough for a game of cricket or an epic battle of Bullrush.  There are several areas of play equipment dotted around the park.

There is a decent climbing frame. that Sausage had a great time playing on.  It’s not too high off the ground, and is surrounded by bark for a soft landing.2015-01-03 11.05.48

It has several seesaws and swings.

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And a weird hanging hoop structure that you can see in the background of the picture above if you squint.  The park also has a slightly derelict-looking skate/scooter ramp area.

Pros:

  • Heaps of green space, lots of play equipment so it’s good for a big group of kids.
  • Toddler-friendly climbing frame
  • Play equipment is all in good working order
  • Quiet street (when school is not in session)
  • There is some seating for tired parents
  • Skate park area is attractive for older kids

Cons:

  • The playground looks TIRED.  The paint on the play equipment is faded and peeling and just looks a bit meh.  There was nothing wrong with any of the equipment when I visited, but the Council needs to tart this baby up.
  • There is NO SHADE anywhere near the play equipment.  Sigh.  This is a major grumble of mine as most of the playgrounds in Whanganui have little to no shade.  It’s not such a big deal if you have older kids who can be watched from a distance while Mum or Dad takes a break under a tree.  Unfortunately I visited on a blazing hot day with Chipolata in tow who was in need of a feed, and the only tree was quite a way from the play area.  Sausage is too little to be left to her own devices on play equipment at the moment, so Chip and I got rather hot and bothered while he fed, and I had to cut the outing short as a result.  Most parents like to play with their kids for a bit, and then chill out while watching them have fun – so come on Whanganui City Council, plant some trees!
  • There were some toilets there, but they looked scruffy and were locked when I went there, and looked like they hadn’t been in action for some time.
  • The playground is not fenced so if you have a renegade tot who likes to take off, this may not be the park for you.
  • No picnic tables (not that they are necessary, just a nice-to-have.

Tots in Tawhero rating: 4/10

I apologise for the rubbish photos, it was such a sunny day most of the photos I took were too washed out!