I’ve always liked flexibility. When I had children I realised flexibility is very important. A recent Saturday plan of mine was to head into the city to see a photographic exhibition. I had made a few unsuccessful attempts previously but today was the last day of this showcase, so I really wanted it all to work.

I did the considerate parenting approach: let the kids know the night before that I wanted to go out the following morning. I mentioned it again over breakfast. Encouraged their participation with a promise of a playground session while we were in the city…the suggestions of one theory of parenting! However, today was a stay at home and play day in the kids minds. How do I know this? Because they dawdled at everything they did. They played together in amazing synchronicity – the age gap between them (6+2) rarely let’s this happen, but it happened this morning. Distraction after distraction was all that happened this morning.

So I made the choice to create the chaos that ensues the compulsory extraction of kids from a playtime and got us into the car and headed into the city. Three grumpy heads took the (necessary!?) journey. As we approached the city I noticed a navy / naval / marine boat docked on the quay wall and slowed down. A small group of people were standing alongside waiting to board, and I quickly considered us joining them. Without hesitation I pulled onto the quay and stopped to ask the kids would they like to go on board? They jumped at the chance after the six year old clarified that this spontaneous event was not replacing the pre-planned playground visit.

So, the next hour was spent as a family exploring the engines, bridge, decks and weaponry of a naval vessel. The highlight for the kids was the captain’s chair, the downside for us all was the cold wind on the upper decks. But we were all enjoying the opportunity to see something that isn’t available every day.

Back on land, we got an ice cream (thankfully, our kids believe ice cream is not just for summer!); we still made the photographic exhibition (which the kids enjoyed as well) and great day was had by all. Thanks to flexibility.