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Tiffany Markman latest feb 13. jpgBy Tiffany Markman, copywriter, editor and mom to an almost-three-year-old, who tries to balance her workaholism with cuddles, books, caffeine & reining in her intrinsic kugelry. Follow her on twitter.

Howzit moms and dads

Remember back when we were ‘young’ and break-up day was a good thing?

These days, I dread it. Largely because, unlike my toddler, I’m not on holiday for the next three weeks – and she still needs to be entertained. Engaged with. Kept in a vague semblance of routine. Without destroying my house. Or watching so much TV that she develops more of a strong Disney accent than she already has.

So what’ve I been doing? I’ve been frantically booking off an afternoon here and a morning there, to schlep her off to places that will stimulate, excite and (okay, I’m being honest now) tire her sufficiently to allow me to work for the rest of that day.

Here’s my Johannesburg shortlist (Part I of II):

HISTORY & HERITAGE

Joburg City Sightseeing Red Bus Tourjoziprofile

This one is ideal for kids aged 4-16. Beginning at Park Station or Gold Reef City, the route’s hop-off spots include landmarks like the Carlton Centre, the Transport Museum, Gold Reef City & the Apartheid Museum, Newtown, the Origins Centre, Con Hill, and the too-bustling-for-my-taste Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein.

You can get on and off as many times as you like (consider Braamies for lunch or Gold Reef for a treat) and while you listen to the audio commentary, your kids’ll be entertained by the view, the audio or their Red Bus crayons and colouring books.

THE GREAT OUTDOORS

Thaba Eco Hotel & Spa, Kibler ParkEco_Small_06_large

I only recently discovered Thaba and I’m already a mad fan, for these reasons:

1. It’s 30 minutes outside northern Johannesburg and yet it feels (and looks) like Kruger, the Pilanesburg or Madikwe. Expect 300ha of unspoiled landscape. Plus flora, fauna and wildlife like antelope, porcupines, wild cats, and more.

2. There’s a lovely playground with a massive lawn (overlooked by the restaurant and coffee shop), a hutch of bunnies, an inside play area with large screens and video games, an eco education room where Ranger Malcolm teaches his charges about insects, plants, trees, and gorgeous surrounds for guided kiddie hikes for different ages and levels of interest (6-12 is ideal; booking essential).

3. There’s a spa, just in case I need something to do while my little one is hiking.

4. Thaba’s high tea, served in the pretty coffee shop, is legendary. Enough said.

SHOPPING AND SCHMOOZE

The Silver Birch Restaurant, Lifestylethe-silver-birch-restaurant-img

No jokes now. Lifestyle Nursery & Garden Centre is probably among my top five favourite places on earth. For one thing: Westpack. For another: the pet shop. For a third: that fun fair they have going on right at the back. And then, Silver Birch.

We’ve been to the fun fair part twice now and, while I find it a bit expensive at R16 a token, the kids (ours were 3, 9 and 10) had an absolute ball. Then there’s the playground itself, which is free. Look for the ship-shaped jungle gym for kids under 5 and awesome slides, swings and things for the older ones. Plus a kid-sized loo.

We had burgers and chips at the Silver Birch. And burgers and chips are burgers and chips. But what blew me away was the service. You’d think we and our brood were royalty (and believe me, they had no idea I’d subsequently review them…) GO – but pick your time and day carefully, because the place gets seriously busy.

There you have it. Three (possibly new) things to do with your kid/s this holiday.

Now that I’ve finished this post, I’m going to leave the house (and my adjoining home office) for the day, to improve my chances of getting any work done. Because there’s a three-year-old on the loose singing ‘Baby Beluga’ and looking for an accomplice.

Click here to find loads of ideas for day trips in Gauteng for you and your family.

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