Mediterranean countries are more child friendly, my ARSE!

(29 Posts)
lagartija Sat 14-Apr-12 15:23:31

I am so sick of hearing this! We live in Southern Spain and it is raining today and there is NOTHING to do with a 1 yr old and a 4 yr old. No swimming, park is locked shut, no soft play, no museums suitable for little kids, no National Trust properties or stately homes to visit, library too quiet and kids bored after about 5 mins, no woods to tramp through etc. God, the UK is so marvellous for children I was never homesick til I had kids.
Sorry, feeling a bit ranty today.

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bunnyfrance Sat 14-Apr-12 16:24:44

I hear you and feel your pain. It's the same here (France, well outside of Paris, anyway)
We normally go to coffee shops with the DCs (2 years and 8 months) and generally annoy the other customers. Haven't found anything else to do on a rainy day.

echt Sun 15-Apr-12 05:25:58

I'd always thought the child-friendly label for the continent was about attitudes towards children in restaurants, etc. not the special provision of venues.

iMoniker Sun 15-Apr-12 05:33:28

How about hitting the Internet. Order puzzles, board games, paints, gum boots, bug boxes.

The next time you have a rainy day you could spend the day building puzzles, baking, painting, bug hunting in the rain.

iMoniker Sun 15-Apr-12 05:34:49

If you live near a beach - wrap the kids up and go seashell hunting - the bug boxes double as a great seashell carrier.

iMoniker Sun 15-Apr-12 05:36:35

We visited the UK in December. I was quite astounded at the level of constant "entertainment" available for kids. Overwhelmed actually. Sometimes the simple things can be just as much fun.

lagartija Sun 15-Apr-12 16:09:54

Don't live near the beach I'm afraid. When it rains here, it is torrential, not a bit of light drizzle. I suppose the UK has a lot of drizzly days so there are more things to do. Everything here is geared to sunny weather, when ironically it actually rains quite a bit in winter and when it does it rains really hard.
Where I grew up the local town had a shopping centre that was covered but open IYSWIM so even on a Sunday you could walk round, looking in windows, semi sheltered and there was even a covered climbing frame. Or you could put wellies and macs on and go in the park/woods in the drizzle. Here, the landscape is such that there are no woods and parks are locked shut on rain days.
We used to go swimming on Sat mornings, there is no recreational swimming here except in the summer.
I'm quite happy to do simple things, just sometimes it rains for days on end and there is nothing to do and I get cabin fever in the house and get a bit homesick.

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RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Mon 16-Apr-12 08:47:40

My friend actually moved back from France for the very reasons you mentioned- no organised activities for toddlers/kids at all, and the round of playdates in each other's chalets was driving her insane. Everyone was "wow, it must be amazing living in a ski resort". She was "um, not really with a 6 mo, no".

FrankWippery Mon 16-Apr-12 08:59:04

Where abouts exactly are you? We have just moved back from Southern Spain after 8 years there, though we were down on the coast. There are softplay centres at Cancelada, Guadalhorce and Alhaurin (that I know of). Bowling at La Cañada. We went swimming at the hotels/gyms in the winter months.

I know what you mean about the rain - If it started on Monday morning, it would often still be downpouring on the Friday - without a break. Two years ago it seemingly rained from the end of October until mid April with out a break of more than two days - ever.

I don't know how close to Malaga you are, but I used to go up there to the Picasso museum - for some reason DD3 actually enjoyed it, though I suspect that was because she cottoned onto the fact that we'd eat our bodyweight in churros afterwards..

If you can get to one of the Iceland Overseas stores (Fuengi, Banus, Coin) then pic up one of the Families mag, or have a look at Sur In English or Euro Weekly online as they have pages of ads there.

lagartija Mon 16-Apr-12 14:20:22

Frank Near Seville, so far from any such costa del stuff. There are quite a few soft plays here but all evenings/parties only, when it's mornings I want to fill.

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FrankWippery Mon 16-Apr-12 17:18:02

Ah, I see. A little bit far to be going then! There were a couple of expat websites down near us which gave loads of info, do you have anything similar there, or are you too Spanish where you are? I am very envy at your being near Sevilla, love it. But then I suppose living with small annoying children there is probs not as fun as going for a long weekend and stuffing my face with good food.

lagartija Mon 16-Apr-12 18:03:24

yy lovely city, loved it pre-kids (been here over 10 yrs) but it is a bit crap with little kids apart from the park.

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passmethebucket Wed 18-Apr-12 18:47:41

That is exactly why we moved back to the UK from Turkey. And while the UK is very child-friendly in terms of activities/woods/walks etc etc, after 7 years away, I have found myself horrified by how un-child-friendly the people are here in the UK - when my child tries to chat to someone, say a shopkeeper, or a waiter, or someone walking their dog, they generally keep their eyes averted and pretend they haven't heard her. Even though she's virtually shouting 'Excuse me' very loudly...... I've had to tap on the checkout at supermarkets a couple of times to make them look up, then I point at my daughter and tell them she's trying to talk to them!!

I'd never noticed this when I lived here before, but now that I've lived somewhere else, where absolutely everyone has a kind word or a little joke with children, it's really noticeable.

BUT I can at least keep her entertained every day with stimulating, fun, educational things to do. Sitting in an air-conditioned apartment while it rains full pelt for days, or the wind is so strong you can't stand up in it in the winter is no fun in Turkey, and in the summer, when the temperature sometimes hits 50 degrees, you can't go out for long either!!

Francagoestohollywood Wed 18-Apr-12 19:13:26

At 4 kids are usually at nursery school here in Italy, isn't it not the same in Spain?
But you are right, there aren't many organized activities for pre schoolers in Mediterranean countries, and this due to many sociological reasons.

nailak Wed 18-Apr-12 19:17:19

i dont get that with shop keepers and people in the street? must be the area.

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Thu 19-Apr-12 01:26:57

Come to HK- it's wall-to-wall soft play/Gymboree/ toddler groups etc AND they all love kids here, especially little gweillo kids, just for the novelty factor.

Teach your toddler to say "Dso San" - good morning in Cantonese, or "hi-hi"- Chinglish for Hello, and they will have an immediate and faithful fan club grin

Alinta Thu 19-Apr-12 01:59:29

Passmethebucket when my child tries to chat to someone, say a shopkeeper, or a waiter, or someone walking their dog, they generally keep their eyes averted and pretend they haven't heard her. Even though she's virtually shouting 'Excuse me' very loudly...... I've had to tap on the checkout at supermarkets a couple of times to make them look up, then I point at my daughter and tell them she's trying to talk to them!!

Perhaps the people your daughter shouts at live by the adage that children should be seen and not heard - especially if they are shouting. Whatever you and your child are doing it's obviously very off putting and tbh it sounds as if you have a precocious child - and not many people like that.

ohdarcy Thu 19-Apr-12 04:11:47

This is the difference between child friendly (Spain is) and child oriented. So in the uk there is a plethora of activities and soft play and the like, high chairs fairly readily available but children generally treated like a nuisance that should be quiet and behave. And in Spain there are few activities, even high chairs can be hard to come by yet children are welcomed with open arms and doted on.

Are you sure there is nowhere to swim? All municipal pools near us have a shallower pool (maybe not toddler pool but adult waist height and usually warmer) that has periods of free access, even when they have classes it is cordoned off so at last half is available. Soft plays are not like the uk and my oldest is 5 and it took me at least 3 years to locate a few and most have public play sessions but they are more restricted.

Otherwise yes it is indoor games and playdates. The long summer and very mild winter still makes it a no brainier - I'll take some boring afternoons stuck indoor over a winter of non stop drizzle but with all the activities I could want and more! Hang in there, when the beautiful spring weather sets in and you are enjoying your drink in the plaza you'll hopefully remember the good side smile

passmethebucket Thu 19-Apr-12 08:44:26

Alinta - "children should be seen and not heard" - you have just demonstrated my point exactly.

lagartija Thu 19-Apr-12 09:06:56

that was a bit harsh alinta

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AliveSheCried Thu 19-Apr-12 21:32:42

What´s precocious about saying hello?! Hope you´re more encouraging of your own child´s aility to communicate!!

AliveSheCried Thu 19-Apr-12 21:34:59

In Spain children are included so no, there is not much special provision for them other than pulic parks as everybody lives in flats. Treated like little members of the family - in UK - hive em off and give them a playroom. I like to think I err towards the spanish way.

dreamingbohemian Thu 19-Apr-12 21:49:05

I live in France and it's true, there is nothing like the UK culture of toddler groups and soft play etc etc. I actually think this is a good thing, it means children are much more integrated into everyday life and people are much more tolerant and welcoming toward them.

I think child-friendly means more than just activities btw, we also have very cheap child care and ready access to pediatricians.

lagartija Fri 20-Apr-12 16:04:53

ohdarcy yes I'm sure about the swimming. The pool has a toddler pool which is great in summer, but in the winter the pool is covered, but only the main pool, not the toddler pool. There is "natación libre" everyday, when adults can swim lengths but children are not allowed. Children are only allowed if they are enrolled for classes.
Franca, yes kids can go to "school" from 3. It's not compulsory til 6 but it's free so everyone sends them cos it's free childcare 9am-2pm and nurseries don't take them after 3 cos everyone sends them to school (circular). That's great and I'm not complaining about that. Yes, people on the street, in bars, shops etc are LOVELY with them and chat to them, chuck them under the chin, smile at them, give themunsolicited sweeties. All that is lovely.
We are lucky to have access to a flat we can use at the beach in the summer, we can swim in the sea, play on the beach, splash in the pool. All wonderful. I shouldn't complain.
It's just that a lot of the year it's not hot and when we have some free time together it would be nice for there to be things for families to do other than go to the bar and have a "cervecita". If the weather is good we can go to the park or walk around town. If it's raining we can sit indoors.
I'm not sure I'm making sense.

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dreamingbohemian Fri 20-Apr-12 22:17:35

I grew up in a pretty cold climate, with no money to do any real activities outside the house. So I learned to be pretty creative with indoor activities, if that's all you can do then you just have to get on with it unfortunately.

Even in the UK you would probably get bored going to the same soft play and museum every day!

So I think it's pretty natural to feel frustrated, but all you can do is try to channel that frustration into coming up with some new things to do in the house.

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