Easter Trail hell with James

With none of our usual toddler group activities on over the Easter holidays, I thought I would go along to some of the local Easter trails to try and keep James entertained.  Now I would imagine most kids would love these trails, James on the other hand has different ideas.  The very idea of having to follow a  trail rather than go his own way is enough to send James into a raging tantrum, full on drop to the floor screaming.

The first Easter trail I took James to was at Painswick Rococco Garden, with my friend and her son.  We get in for free with our Historic Houses membership and the trail is included with that or the standard entrance fee.  The trail is around the whole of the garden and you have to work out each clue to find out where the next clue will be, to eventually work out who the egg thief is.  A  lot of thought has been put into the story for this trail and at the same time you get to enjoy the garden… Unless you have a child like mine.  James’ first problem with this trail was that it didn’t start where he likes to start in the garden.  He likes to go a certain way and the trail went the opposite way, so immediately he was off to a bad start rolling around on the floor in protest.  He cheered up briefly as we headed towards where the chickens usually are, but they weren’t there anymore which really didn’t please him.  He was happy when he saw the play area but got incredibly annoyed that I couldn’t go on some of the equipment with him, and then that we had to leave the play area to complete the trail.  Dragging him away from it, up hill, while he tried to run back to it really wasn’t fun for anyone involved.

I thought the trail was great, the way it has been done is really fun and I could see lots of other children enjoying themselves.  James may have been a bit young to actually work out the clues, but still it was a good way to go around the whole of the garden, rather than just the usual parts that James likes to go to.  He did like looking at the pictures of the different animals at the clues. I found James hard work and his constant crying and moaning was very wearing and I felt bad that he was being like this when we were with friends.  However, he soon started smiling when he got his chocolate egg at the end, although I’m not sure he deserved it and I did make him wait until after lunch before I let him eat it.

Happy with his egg

The second Easter trail we took part in was at Primrose Vale Farm.  I was impressed by their Halloween one, so thought it would be good to see what their Easter one was like, and again I thought it was impressive.  It is quite pricey at £6 per child (accompanying adults get in free) but they do get a full sized Easter egg at the end.  One thing I really like about this trail is that it has a different one for pre-school children, so it is more age appropriate and isn’t over run with older children.  It is also less of a trail and more of a series of activities, some of which James enjoyed and others which he had no interest in.  It really doesn’t matter whether they complete the activities, they still get an Easter egg at the end, so it is really about what each child takes from it and how they want to enjoy it.

As we arrived at the trail James immediately spotted the park area near the farm shop and ran over to play in the sandpit there.  This is a child that hasn’t really shown any interest in sand before, so I was quite surprised.  However, sand seemed to be his favourite thing that day as it was a real effort to drag him away from it with him kicking and screaming.  This kicking and screaming lasted throughout paying for the trail, queuing to collect the clipboard with the trail sheet on, until he was finally distracted by running around in the field.  This was all because I wouldn’t let him play in the sand.  Again we did this trail with friends and both our children were often on different activities.  I took the approach to more or less let James pick and choose which activities interested him, so I didn’t have a constant battle on my hands.  He also had a tantrum when it was time to leave the trail and to collect his Easter Egg.  Afterwards I did let him play in the sand, which seemed to please him.

We have also taken part in the trails at Sudeley Castle.  One day last week when the weather wasn’t great I took him to complete the indoor trail inside Sudeley Castle.  You have to count how many chicks you see in various rooms in the castle.  James likes counting so I thought he may like it, but the chicks are tiny and there are over 100 so it didn’t really keep him interested.  He was also having a tantrum because as we arrived I wouldn’t let him play in the play area because it was wet, which meant all the way to the actual castle he was crying and moaning.

Sudeley Castle also have 5 giant Easter eggs in their gardens, which is a trail James did really enjoy.  This may be because we let him play in the play area before attempting to find the eggs.  The giant eggs are bright and colourful and James was fascinated by them. We were able to walk around the garden and more or less let him wander in the direction he wanted to go.  He understands the word egg so I think it made it more enjoyable for him because he knew what he was looking for.

Most of these trails are probably aimed at children a bit older than James, or those with a better understanding.  I think he gets frustrated because he doesn’t understand why we aren’t doing what we normally do at these places.  For me, it added something different to our usual visits, but for James it was confusing because he didn’t know what was necessarily going on.  I think it is good for him to sometimes have to do something a bit different and he did really enjoy the giant egg trail. Hopefully next year he will enjoy them all!


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