With holidays coming up, many of us are planning picnics. To help your children, especially very young children, have a good time, it helps to think ahead and anticipate what they will need during the day. We have a few tips for successful picnics with kids.
1. Eat Slow-burn Foods for Breakfast
If your picnic happens after a hike or a parade or some other event, make sure your children are well-feed in the morning so you don’t hear too many choruses of “I’m hungry.” Oatmeal or bean soup are day-out favorites for my children. You’ll still hear “I’m hungry,” so have a snack in your pocket.
2. Bring Sun Protection
Sunscreen, sunglasses, sun hats, long-sleeved but lightweight shirts, even a picnic umbrella (a parasol, which means “for the sun”). Bring a variety of solutions for sun protection. Prepare for the sun because it won’t take as long as you think to burn the tips of your ears, the line down the part in your hair, or the backs of your knees.
3. Bring Water
Bring water bottles with ice, and remind your children to drink in order to keep them hydrated. Bring frozen water bottles in the cooler or picnic basket to keep your food cold until you eat. Once it melts, the ice cold water will feel great after a day of being outdoors.
4. Pack Food in Bento Boxes
Make your packing container your eating container. Use a bento box or another reusable container that is wider than it is deep. This saves space and allows you to plan for any allergies or preferences for individual family members.
5. Make Finger Foods
If you want to share family style rather than having individual plates, make finger foods. Since these are easy to pick up and eat without extra plates and utensils, you will save yourself room and lost utensils. My family spreads out fruit, bread, and cheese, and calls it “The Abundant Table,” as in “Do you want the abundant table for dinner tonight?” To satisfy different likes and preferences, you could make several different kinds of dips with vegetables and pita bread for dipping.
6. Plan Games
Keep the games simple. Last weekend, we went to a family reunion that my daughter declared, “The best family reunion I’ve ever been to.” What made it so great? The games. These were games that were completely new to my children: potato sack race, egg and spoon race, wheel barrow race, one-legged race. Every game was a race involving yelling, hopping, screaming, and a lot of energetic kids. Every game was old. These were the games I played at family reunions when I was their age. And, they loved them.
7. Prepare to Clean Up
- Bring water and a few hand towels to clean up hands before and after you eat finger foods.
- A little natural hand cleaner can help if you have particularly dirty activities planned, though, really, what does planning have to do with it? You children’s hands and faces will be dirty, so prepare to clean them.
- Wet wipes aren’t just for bottoms. Pack a couple dozen wet baby wipes in a bag with a few drops of essential oil.
- Be sure to bring a reusable bag to carry home the dirties. Have a wet bag to carry the really dirties.
If you plan the picnic right, it will all go so smoothly that no one will notice the planning at all. Be prepared for your own quirky family, and have a great holiday.