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  • 10 Top Tips for Boating with Kids

    Sharing the joys of boats with your children is an incredible thing to do, but of course there are many stresses that come with it. So we thought we'd find out some expert tips to help underake this big task, and who more suited for the role than Mumsnet Devon co-editor and boating blogger Gina Caro!?

     

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    "Boating with children can be a real a mixture of heaven and hell all rolled into one! Having learnt though experience as the years have gone on here are a few of my top tips with you which may help to make the whole experience more pleasurable.

     

    • Plan, Plan and Plan some more!

    We have found this to be crucial when boating with young ones. The more you can pre plan your journeys the easier the journey will be. Think about how long each voyage is and where you can stop along the way for a break.

     

    • Explain the Rules

    This one is really important! Make sure everyone understands the rules that they must abide by whilst on the water. No running, no jumping, no touching ropes etc.

     

    • Pack entertainment

    This is a must when you have children on board as they have very short attention spans. The last thing you want is a major meltdown halfway along your journey with nowhere to escape. We always keep a selection of board games on the boat for such situations.

     

    boating sailing kids children

     

    • Pack medicines

    Always make sure that you have an up to date first aid kit and some children’s pain relief medication. There’s nothing worse than having a child with something wrong on the water and you don’t have the equipment to help them.

     

    • Pack Snacks

    Make sure that you pack a few nibbles to have along the way. We personally have a stash of biscuits that we call ‘mooring biscuits’ which the kiddies are allowed to eat when the adults are at the crucial point of mooring and don’t want any distractions.

     

    • Get them involved

    Kids are naturally curious; if you get them involved in what you are doing they will enjoy the journey that much more. Show them how to tie different knots or what the different controls do.

     

    • Stop to Fish

    If you can, invest in some fishing rods so you can break up the longer journeys with a spot of fishing. We cook up whatever we catch that evening for supper.

     

    • Give them job titles

    We each have a role on our boat, there’s The Captain, The First Mate, The Cabin Boy and The Lookout. Explain to the child what their role entails and you’ll find they will take great pride in it.

     

    • Avoid bad weather

    You may be an all-weather sailor but I can guarantee that your children won’t be. Children get very grumpy when they are too wet or too cold. It’s best to stick to fair or sunny days if you want an enjoyable journey. You also don’t want to scare them with rough seas otherwise they might not want to go again. Remember to pack lots of extra clothes also just in case the weather turns.

     

    • Make it fun!

    The ultimate goal of any boating parent is to get the kids into boating which isn’t going to happen if you spend the whole time shouting at them. Boating with kids can be very stressful but it’s also very rewarding."

     

    For more insight on Gina's boating adventures with her children, visit her blog here!

     

  • How to keep a family narrowboat holiday fun!

    While there really is nothing more delightful than a family break on the waterways, sometimes things don't always run as smoothly as they do on dry land - especially if rain gets involved!

    However, with a little preparation a narrowboating holiday with your children can become both an entertaining and educational experience.

    Here's how to have a  really memorable trip:

    canal narrowboat narrowboating children kids

    Get back to nature

    The British canal and waterway system is simply teeming with life, with birds, insects, fish and mammals all living in abundance within short reach of the banks. This is a great chance for your kids to explore nature and learn more about the environment – if you have the inclination you can even use it as an opportunity to explain more about the impact humans have on the land by pointing out the effects of littering and pollution.

    There is also something beautifully therapeutic about feeding the ducks. For most Brits it’s actually our earliest encounter with any sort of wild animal and even adults can get involved with this enjoyable pastime – which is twice as fun when you’re doing it from the deck of your own canal boat. Turn it into a game with the kids and see how many ducks they can get following the boat and your Hansel & Gretel-esque trail of floating breadcrumbs.

    Get active

    A canal boat holiday is rife with opportunities for getting the children active. They can help with steering and mooring the boat, opening and closing the locks as well as simply running or walking alongside it. Canal paths are also a great, safe space to ride their bikes, and with one person needed on the towpath anyway to open and close the locks, they’ll have somebody close by to supervise them. When not in use the bikes can be secured to the roof.

     

    canal narrowboat narrowboating children kids

    Enjoy flexible fun

    One of the greatest things about life on the waterways is the flexibility it affords you – if you have very tiny kids they may not be ready for a full fortnight away from home so a single week would be better, or you may want to take things slow and moor up for a few days at a time – spinning out your trip over multiple weeks. Whatever suits you and your children, you can arrange it with a narrowboat holiday.

    Essentials to bring on a family canal boat holiday

    • Board games –a wide selection will ensure some indoor entertainment when the weather turns bad.
    • Waterproofs – this is Britain remember and there is nothing to put a literal dampener on things than feeling a bit soggy.
    • Dogs – your furry friend is going to love the canal as much as you do. Just remember to bring all their associated gear: leads, bowls, bed and the all-important poo bags!
    • Books – it wouldn't be a real boating holiday without a bedtime reading of  Kenneth Graeme’s The Wind in the Willows.

     

     

     

     

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