A free event saved the day!

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I’ve lived in good climate and it bores the hell out of me.  I like weather rather than climate.

John Steinbeck

It wasn’t the most idyllic seaside day, but when you live in England you have to take them as they come.  A cool, cloudy, sometimes rainy day found us on the beach in Bournemouth.  This is our summer holiday, and come rain or shine, we were going to make it to the beach and have some time in the ocean (sea for Brits).

On the run up to our holiday I’d been constantly checking the weather.  I was becoming borderline obsessed with it.  At the start, I was checking the BBC weather site two or three times a day.  Weather forecast – DREADFUL.  I moved to stage two of my madness and began to check OTHER weather providers.  I would hit the BBC site, move on to the Met office site, and sometimes see what my phone’s widget would tell me.  I held out hope, like a complete idiot, that something was going to change.  Those black clouds with two big blue rain drops would part and glorious sun would shine through.  If anything, the more I looked at the weather, the more I realised that nothing would change (and I was acting like a fool checking it) – we were in for a week of standard-summer-Englishlike weather.  I moved on.

Determined not to let the weather master us, but for us to be it’s master (or at least put up with it or something like that), we searched for things to do.  I found this decent site on things to do in Bournemouth (I’ve used it a few times before) and had a search around.  I scoured the site for anything that kids could do, that didn’t cost the earth.  To be honest, it’s a bit difficult to find much to do in Dorset that doesn’t cater to, let’s say, the older generations (I mean no offence by the way – simply an observation).

But low and behold, with some searching, I found this –Swim Safe.  This is an event put on by the RNLI, where local lifeguards teach children how to swim safely in the ocean – and it’s completely free.  It happens to be running most of the summer holidays, so with a need to get down to the beach, I signed the kids up and locked in a day to be there – come rain or shine.

We got down to the beach on the blustery Tuesday morning and found the registration zone.  From the off we were greeted by extremely friendly lifeguards who shepherded the kids in to the suit up area, helped them get west suits on, then whisked them away for a 45 minute chat and swim.  The kids looked a bit timid at first, but it didn’t take long for them to get caught up in the action and start enjoying themselves.  We sat and watched (huddling for warmth) as the kids swam in the ocean and let the waves crash over them.

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It made me remember back to younger days when the weather didn’t affect me either.  It mattered not what was going on around you, all you wanted to do was flap around in the water and have some fun.  Kids have that magical quality of allowing you to remember back to when you were their age and life was carefree!

Alas, the event was over and we thanked the lifeguards profusely for doing such a great job.  They took it in their stride as they sincerely enjoyed what they were doing.  My hats off to them for being so good with the kids.  If you are a parent spending any time around the seaside where they are holding one of these events, I highly recommend you sign up and take your kids along.

Well, the weather improved throughout the day, and after fearing the kids would make a break for the hot showers and want to leave, I was pleasantly surprised when they insisted they go back in the water.  We spent the entire afternoon relaxing on the beach while the kids made new friends and swam to their heart’s content.  By the way, the sun eventually made an appearance, so the parents were happy too!

My lessons learned:

  1. There are good things out there if we have a look around.
  2. Summer weather in England is unpredictable at best.
  3. Don’t let the weather get in your way, kids are resilient and they don’t have a weather app on their phone (they actually don’t have a phone!).
  4. There are good people out there that are great role models for kids!  The RNLI Lifeguards are among them.

As I write this I notice that the sun is peeking through the clouds on this beautiful Dorset summer’s morning.  The kids are stirring out of their beds and the next adventure awaits.

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The holiday budget’s a whopper!

The first step to teaching your kids how to handle money is being a good example.

Dave Ramsey

I showed my son the budget for our holiday last night.  He was impressed that we had so much money to spend.  Here it is – we have £287 (that’s about $450).  That is not a huge amount of money in England (and you’ll know it’s peanuts in North America)!  The adults know that we are on a tight budget, the kids think we’re rich.

I had a bit of a giggle about this, and I sat and wondered how best to let my son understand what this all means.  I’m sure you can sympathise with me here.  How often do we do anything with our kids and have the constant questions like “Can I get one of those?” or “Can we go to that place?” and my favourite “Can we buy just that one small toy?”.  I get it all the time, and my go to answer has been, “Well not at the moment but we can sit down and think about it?”

THINK ABOUT IT!  Well that’s easy for me because I know my budget, and I know how much money that I have set aside at any given time.  For my kids, thinking about buying things and spending money means almost zero to them because it’s such a foreign and abstract concept.

For the majority of children out there, understanding money is really difficult.  Why is that?  I think it’s because we just don’t talk to our kids about money often enough.  Especially in this world when we use direct debits and bank cards to make payments, they just don’t get a good idea of how money works.  When I don’t have money to buy something, my daughter often points out to me that “Dad, just use your bank card.”

Is it wrong to show your kids the budget?  I think it’s the completely correct thing to do.  Now I’m not saying that I’m going to sit my kids down and go through a line-by-line statement of every single thing coming in a going out in a month.  I’m not proposing to show them how we’re going to make sure we’re still in the black at the end of the month.  That’s my job.  However, every once in a while, showing them how much money we have for, say, our pending trip, and then showing them how much things are going to cost on that trip is a good thing.  I could already see my son (9 years old) mulling over some of the choices we are making for the trip.

Do any of you out there have any great ways of teaching your kids about money?

Do you think that teaching them money skills now will help them become better adults?

I think it will.  I’m really interested to see if demands for everything on the shelf decreases because they know that we aren’t drawing money from a bottomless pit!  It’s always good to have hope…