Floriade is Australia’s biggest celebration of Spring and the theme for this year is ‘Passion’. From cooking to fashion and cars, Floriade has tried to cover off on all the things people are passionate about. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been to Floriade over the years. In the last week alone I’ve been three times. However, this year was the first year I went with toddlers and it’s been a completely different experience. Floriade is one of the best ‘toddler catered for’ events I’ve been to. It helps that most of the attractions are at a toddler’s level. Seriously, flowers are the perfect height for toddlers and the flowers at Floriade stand up remarkably well to the tugs and ‘gentle’ pats of toddlers. Without further ado, here are my top tips for tackling Floriade with toddlers.
1. Plan and prioritise
You know you can’t do everything. At home you rarely manage to finish a hot cup of tea, so don’t be under the impression life will be different when you’re out. I know three things are manageable. If I try to see more than three, I’m likely to be disappointed that I’ve missed something. Or I may make the rookie error of trying to squeeze just one more thing in, only to be defeated by the inevitable tantrums from overtired toddlers. If I was reading this before I had children, I would be a little disheartened. What! Only three things?!? Surely it isn’t that difficult to sight see with toddlers??? … Let’s be honest. Yes it is that difficult. That is perhaps the most exasperating lesson I’ve had to learn as a parent – to adjust my expectations of what I can achieve in a day with two little people in tow. Three is achievable. Being able to see all three things on our list makes me feel like our day was a success. Checking the program for the day you intend to go is also important because the entertainment is not the same every week. In addition to the overall theme, every week is slightly different. I spend the night before reviewing the online program and planning my top three things I want to see, then a few more incase we have a good day. Luckily I’ve managed to make it to Floriade a few times so we’ve seen a lot more than three things. Two of the ‘must do’ things I would suggest; the farmyard (but this will change to the equally fun reptile exhibit on September 30th), and the Ferris Wheel.
2. Pack your own food.
Don’t get me wrong, the food at Floriade is rather good – the banana bread with marscapone and maple syrup in particular. But I’m not a fan of paying $16 for a quesadilla for my 2year old. She isn’t going to appreciate it. As cultured as her taste buds might be (she does love her goats cheese) a vegemite and cheese sandwich will suffice. My $16 is better spent on getting her face painted and taking her up in the ferris wheel, amongst other things. There are so many places to sit and eat, that your own picnic lunch is a better option with toddlers. We sat down in front of the main stage and watched the different school orchestras and choirs perform. My children danced in-between bites. Bringing our own food also meant we didn’t need to wait in any queues, which is never fun with young children.
3. Floriade is pram friendly!
Anyone who knows me, knows I love a good woven wrap or soft-structured carrier. But when I’m out for an all day event, nothing beats the pram. You can stock an enormous amount of food, nappies, jackets, hats, sunscreen, etc in them. Not to mention your children! The paths between the garden beds are very wide, which means that even when it’s busy, it’s still easy to get around. Even the grassed areas are quite level, so the lightweight strollers still travel across them quite well. At any of the attractions for children which aren’t pram appropriate, such as the ferris wheel and farmyard nursery, there are places set aside for you to park your pram.
4. Take your time.
There are so many things to see that adults completely bypass. I wouldn’t have noticed the ducks in the pond, except my son kept making a bee-line for the water doing his best ‘quack’ impression. My daughter was completely taken by all the sculptures and loved running under and around them. They found so many things to appreciate, above and beyond the ‘official’ Floriade attractions. Even the ramps for easy wheelchair access were of constant fascination to them. Who am I to say what are the ‘correct’ things to appreciate at Floriade!
5. Remember to bring sunscreen and hats.
Although there are trees if you’d like a shady spot to sit, most of the pathways aren’t shaded. And let’s face it – it is an outdoor event! So lather on the sunscreen, slap on a hat and get out and enjoy the sun after all this winter weather!!