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A weekend in the life is Kidadl’s regular blog about the family lives of an amazing array of Kidadlers. Here, Gabi Gandolfini takes us through her weekend and shares her top tips for family fun.
Gabi is a Digital Content Creator and Family Blogger. Gabi is Brazilian, living in Hertfordshire and commuting into London for work. In her account @gabigandolfini you can find travel tips and days out inspiration with her 2 kids aged 2 and 5 (and her dog Cookie Monster!). Gabi also has a second account, a blog and YouTube channel with Disneyland Paris travel tips [email protected] and search Gabi Gandolfini on Youtube for the best Disney travel hacks for parents.
We Wake Up At...
Ha! It varies massively depending on what time Joseph goes to bed (aged 5). On Fridays and Saturdays we have a “late night”, when we watch films and eat snacks on the sofa until late. Joseph always asks to sleep on the sofa on a Friday as a treat (not sure why he likes that, but he loves it!) and I often let him. If he is up really late he will be up about 9am, but Nattie (aged 2)and is always up between 6-7am, no matter what time she goes to bed. And she wakes up demanding that everyone is up with her. So weekend mornings in our house consist of a LOT of coffee!
My top tips for getting out with the kids are...
My top tip for getting out with the kids is something I have always done, from day 1, for the past 5 years, and it makes things SO much easier. I have a backpack for the kid (s) which is always, no matter what,ready to go. It has everything I could possibly need in it: change of clothes for both kids, nappy change pouch, two kids ponchos and 1 umbrella (for me),bib/spoons/tissues, two water bottles, 2 juice pouches, variety of snacks, 2 activity books and crayons, Calpol sachets, plasters, hand sanitisers, lip balm/ hand cream / tissues / emergency money / paracetamol (for me). In terms of snacks, the quantity of it I measure in “cinema time”. Enough snacks to see them through a cinema sitting. That should be enough to cover a variety of other situations, like a theatre trip, a longer car or train journey etc.
When we get back home, the first thing I do is “refill” the backpack - fresh water in the water bottles, replenish the snacks, top up the crayons and nappies, take out dirty pants and put in clean ones. Then DONE.
It takes less than 5 minutes to “refill” the backpack when we get home and it means that we are always ready to go and I know for sure I will never forget anything! It always puts my mind at ease in an emergency situation(we have been there a few times) - once my kid woke up in severe pain in the middle of the night and I got everyone up and in the car to go to the hospital.I was able to simply grab the backpack without thinking twice and just leave.It meant I had emergency money for the car park, nappies, water and snacks for while we waited. A ready-to-go backpack is a handy thing to have.
Final tip: Always leave some space in the backpack for your wallet and kids jumpers. I like to have free hands so I can keep up with the kids, so everything goes in the backpack and we are ready to go.
If it’s raining we like to go to...
When we lived in South London our absolute favorite place was the Horniman Museum. We went there pretty much every week. It’s amazing as it is so family friendly and it has such a variety of things to do, including a mini zoo and amazing grounds for picnics. And it’s free. And if it’s raining there is plenty to do inside!
Now we live in Hertfordshire we love The Galleria in Hatfield on a rainy day. It’s an outlet shopping mall (so amazing prices for shopping) but it’s great for kids as it has a gigantic soft play right in the middle of the mall, a cinema and a variety of family friendly restaurants.
If it’s treat time or a special occasion we like to...
Go to the cinema! We love film. I’ve been taking Joseph to the cinema since he was 19 months and Nattie is following in the same footsteps. Joseph demands we put the projector up and turn off the lights and everything when watching films at home as he likes the cinema experience. Odeon has family screenings priced at only £2.50 per ticket, which is amazing.And they are relaxed screenings so you don’t have to worry too much about noise.
When in South London we also loved The Ritz in Brixton. It’s nice to be somewhere in the heart of a community and we’ve attended kids screenings there too.
The last film we watched in the cinema was Frozen 2 (and trust me, it’s better than the first!!!!).
On our must-see London bucket list is...
The Southbank Centre family festivals are amazing, I’ve already booked tickets for a variety of shows and experiences for February and April school holidays. I think it’s a must to do with the kids in London.
We also absolutely loved Body Worlds. It is not for very small children. Age guidance is 8 but Joseph at 5 was absolutely mesmerised by it and he learned SO much, I learned so much myself!
On a lighter note, Shrek Adventure is incredible (if you like Shrek, which we do). We’ve been 3 times and we are going back in the summer.
In my bag for a day out is...
You already know what’s in our bag :-) but in addition, if we are going to be out all day I will also bring the baby carrier (I still carry my 2yo in the carrier quite comfortably, even though she is the size and weight of a 4yo. You just need to find the right carrier for you!). If we are going to London I much prefer the carrier over the buggy. But if we are going to a theme park, let’s say, we bring a buggy and a buggy board for the 5yo. I will also bring a little cool bag with sandwiches, fruit and yogurt.
When we get back from a day out we feel...
When we get back home I ALWAYS say to the kids “I had a lovely day with you today”. Even when I don’t feel like it, I still say it. And when we are sitting or eating later on we talk about our favorite parts of the day and the things we want to do again another weekend. At this point we may also talk about any issues - like if they misbehaved in the day, once we are home and rested and calmer, we talk about and I get them to understand why their behaviour was not OK. I find this more productive than trying to reason with small kids amidst the excitement and noise and tiredness of a day out.
When we’re hanging at home we...
We ready books together always, not necessarily before bed but at some point in the day. We watch TV together. We quite like board games also. Joseph loves Monopoly Junior, we could spend hours playing it if it wasn't for the 2 year old getting bored after a while. When we have a bit more time we do science experiments for fun (simple things like turning milk into plastic - google it, it’s quite easy!).
Our favourite family meal is...
We don’t actually eat out a lot. We eat out if we are already out,but we don’t tend to go out just to eat. Takeaways are also only for special occasions. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes we are all tired and we eat mac 'n' cheese out of a can, but usually I cook, even if something simple like beans on toast or a cheese omelette. That’s already better (and cheaper) than a takeaway.
The kids favorite breakfast is something my mum used to make me as a child, mashed bananas with oats. Quite simply mash a banana and mix it with rolled oats. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
Our favorite family meal is the staple everyday food in Brazil (where I’m from), rice and Brazilian beans. I probably make it once a month.
A brilliant family memory from 2019 is ...
Going to Holland (for the first time) by car. We didn’t have a lot of money but we really wanted to go to a theme park in the Netherlands called Efteling. Turned out taking the ferry was cheaper so we did that and it was quite honestly the best family holiday we’ve ever had. We loved it so much that we are going back in August. It was a relatively cheap holiday and it was perfect.
Next year we plan to...
We are going back to Disneyland Paris for the Frozen season this year and I literally cannot wait! We are also going back to Holland and I have already booked our traditional annual Alton Towers break, which we’ve been doing for 10 years. We love it there and the kids have the best time. We spend a day and a half in the park and half a day in the Water Park, 1 or 2 nights at the Alton Towers hotel. It’s the best! My best friend is also coming to visit me from America in the summer and I always look forward to seeing her. I will be VERY busy with work this year but we will definitely sneak in a few other UK breaks here and there for sure.
Gabi is a Digital Content Creator and Family Blogger. Gabi is Brazilian, living in Hertfordshire and commuting into London for work. In her account @gabigandolfini you can find travel tips and days out inspiration with her 2 kids aged 2 and 5 (and her dog Cookie Monster!). Gabi also has a second account, a blog and YouTube channel with Disneyland Paris travel tips - @gabismagicalworld and search Gabi Gandolfini on Youtube for the best Disney travel hacks for parents.