Museum Mum Travels: 2017 plans

As mentioned, I now work full time. FULL TIME. With two under fives (and definitely not forgetting the teen). After a full year in post I’ve (mostly) come to terms with feelings of maternal guilt – knowing I love my job and the kids are happy and well cared for at nursery/school helps enormously.
Our weekdays are full on – the alarm goes off at 5.30, I’m usually out the door at 645 with Museum Toddler in the buggy, and not back til nearly 12 hours later when I’ve picked Museum Boy up from after school club. Apart from being constantly knackered, one result of this new routine is that our weekends and days off  have become even more important to us.
Lazing around on a weekend is a great idea  – if you don’t have young kids. I’m sure Museum Toddler has a satellite controlled in-built alarm – she wakes us up at 630 WITHOUT FAIL.  Feeling exhausted, without plans it’s easy for the weekend to speed by without much to show for it, other than a pile of clean laundry, and the Peppa Pig theme tune on repeat in my head.
No matter how tired I’ve been, my favourite family moments have always been when we’ve taken a trip somewhere together – even for just a few hours. I’m sure all those museum trips when she was younger helped Museum Teen develop a ‘natural grasp of historical concepts’, as her Year 8 history teacher told me *proud mum moment*.
Now  it’s much harder to get Museum Teen out with us – usually it’s only successful if we add in the lure of fat- or sugar-laden food. She has her own friends, interests and commitments – indeed, 2017 will be the first time we’ll be taking a family holiday without her. She has been selected for an amazing music exchange and doesn’t want to turn it down (or make us cancel the already booked holiday). This experience has given a glimpse of how quickly the opportunities for family time can pass, and made me more determined to enjoy family time whilst we can.
Having stumbled upon the Take 12 trips challenge, I know this is just the focus I need for 2017. Started by Need another holiday, another full time working mum, the idea is simple: commit to taking 12 trips throughout the year. The trips can be anything from a day out somewhere new to a full blown holiday.
Those of you who’ve been following me for a while will remember how badly I did on my first challenge (and how it was a great year anyway). I am hoping to do a lot better on this challenge though!  So, here’s my #take12strips plans for 2017:

Big holidays


Photo credit: Kevin Wuyts

Mechelen, Belgium
I’m really excited about this 10 day trip – Mechelen is not only a really family friendly city in its own right, but close to lots of other interesting places, including Brussels which we loved on our day trip there a few years ago. I know Museum Boy, a self-titled paleontologist, will LOVE the largest dinosaur hall in Europe. And I can’t wait to see MAS in Antwerp – hope the kids are as interested in open storage as I am ;).


Photo credit: Frederik Lahnn

Skane, Sweden
This will be our first ever trip to Scandinavia – and as a bonus we’ll also get to drive over THE BRIDGE! *cue singing odd theme tune where the only lyrics I actually know are ‘back to the beginning.’* We’ll spend two weeks in a cosy holiday cabin, very close to the Söderåsen National Park in South Sweden. With forest, beaches, Malmo and Copenhagen nearby, we’ll definitely be able to combine nature with culture.
We have free flights to Morocco thanks to National Express and their #catchthepigeon promotion, highlighting you can now coach straight to Stansted Airport from central London. We will have a three centre, eight day break, combining relaxing in the stunning Atlas Mountains with time exploring vibrant Marrakech. I’m most excited about seeing the brand new Yves Saint Laurent museum and its beautiful gardens.

Weekend breaks

This is my first solo parenting holiday with the kids, as somewhat unsurprisingly Museum Dad is now running low on annual leave! It’s an easy intro to holidaying with one parent though as Cardiff is my home town – making it easy to combine days out with seeing friends and family.
img_20150314_144606558Alton Towers
This may come as a shock, but yes, we do theme parks! This will be our fourth annual visit to Alton Towers. It’s usually a highlight of Museum Teen’s calendar – but now she has other plans it’s a chance to see how good it is for tots, and enjoy the ritual family swim in their Splash Landings Resort.
I’ll be honest – the main purpose of this break is a pilgrimage to Peppa Pig World, before our youngest finds another animated character to worship! But that’s not all as Hampshire has much more to offer – we’re hoping to revisit the stunning Longstock Park water gardens and take the kids sweets shopping 1940s style with our first trip to Milestones Museum.


Photo credit: Bob Linsdell

Brownsea Island
Famous for red squirrels, wildlife and scouting, Brownsea is a National Trust owned island in Poole Harbour. We’re hoping for a relaxing stay – and to spot my first non-grey squirrel!


Photo credit: Kiban

With full time work and young kids, sometimes I just crave to be on my own. With a free flight thanks to Jet2, I can’t wait for my solo trip to this Andalucian city, heralded as the new Barcelona. I’m most looking forward to a foodie market tour, visiting their fantastic contemporary art museum, and having a proper hammam experience. I’ll come back kids, I promise!

Days Out

img_20150529_130222285It’s not all about trips away – I’m not sure we have the energy, annual leave or funds for that! (Google ‘curator’s salary’. Then search for ‘full time childcare in London’. I know.)
Ignore the moan – I’m really keen to visit new places on our doorstep anyway. After all, London is an incredible city with so much to do for families. And we have beautiful countryside, interesting towns and charming coast all within an hour or so drive. My days out wishlist is probably a post in itself, but my top three days out I’m most excited  in 2017 about are:

  1. The Postal Museum opening (ride a tiny underground train, play in a fantastically fun play area, and learn the history of the world’s first social network. Plus I worked on it for years!)
  2. I literally adore EVERYTHING Grayson Perry does, as does my teen, so hope we can be first in line to see ‘Grayson Perry: The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever!’ at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery from 8 June.
  3.  I want to *finally* get around to taking the kids to the Science Museum’s hands on Wonderlab, which calls itself ‘the newest and most spectacular interactive gallery in the world’. Yes, it opened months ago –  you see why I need this challenge now?

So with lots of holidays, weekend breaks and days out planned, 2017 is looking like a great year for the Museum Mum family. I’m very much looking forward to sharing it with you.
I would LOVE to hear your plans for 2017, or suggestions for places to visit whether home or away! Comment below or tweet me @museum_mum. And, of course, if it includes a good museum, all the better 😉


Written by Vyki Sparkes AKA Museum Mum. Award-winning culture blogger, content creator, museum curator, podcaster, and mum to three. I’ve worked in museums for 18+ years, have a masters in museum studies, but more importantly, have been letting my kids loose in museums for decades. This blog shares all my hard-earned knowledge and experience.

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    • museummum
      March 5, 2017 / 11:04 pm

      Aren’t they just! It also has a pretty awesome rooftop view. But mainly I’m excited about the open storage 🙂

  1. March 5, 2017 / 11:12 pm

    Great to hear you’re going to Milestones. It is totally brilliant for all ages, we usually visit it with three generations of my family (who live near nearby). I wander around it every time we go marvelling at what a great place it is!

  2. Catherine Lovell
    March 6, 2017 / 9:21 am

    Wow, what a jam packed year of travel, you are an inspiration! I desperately need a holiday, any room for a spare guest?

  3. March 6, 2017 / 1:13 pm

    Hope your plans are starting to cone together for Morocco. My wife is ticked that the Yves St Laurent museum won’t be open yet when we visit.

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