Even if you're the most happiest and satisfied parent in the world, (anything for little Jimmy…) you still deserve a break from the normal routine of family life, and the chance to spend more quality time together.
And where better to spend that time, than in Scotland? If you're lucky enough to live here, spend a family day out this autumn letting the wee ones run wild (and run wild with them). Or you can take a full weekend break this autumn with the kids, and say goodbye to the commitments of family life at home.
1. Forget dull school runs and go on safari
Blair Drummond Safari Park
Driving the kids to and from school is a necessary task, but keeping them entertained in the back while you navigate your way through rush hour and roadworks is not an easy thing to do.
No need for self-made entertainment in Blair Drummond Safari Park though. Hop in the car, get the seatbelts on and drive through the reserves to see if the family can spot giraffes, rhinos and zebras, and find black-and-white ruffled lemurs, elephants, meerkats, penguins and wallabies as you explore the rest of the park on foot! Top off your family day out with a boat trip around Chimp Island and a sea lion presentation.
2. Stop packed lunch moans with ice cream
Cream O' Galloway © Dumfries & Galloway Council / Mark Geddes
Yes, it's a cliché but if you've run out of ideas trying to come up with exciting packed lunch options for the kids, or something new to have for dinner, then a visit to Cream O' Galloway is a tasty trip - but also a chance to learn.
This working farm in Gatehouse of Fleet in Dumfries & Galloway produces luxurious dairy ice cream, and farmhouse cheese. Various tours and events run at different times of year but they include a tour of Finlay's Farm, a working dairy, beef and sheep farm, a behind-the-scenes food tour, and an ice cream tasting event. Yum!
Cream O' Galloway is not just about the food though - burn off the ice cream buzz in the adventure playground, on the trampolines or in the indoor play area. Take a walk along the nature trails, play crazy golf or try to escape the 3D maze.
3. Get your own taxi driver for a day
Jacobite steam train to Mallaig
Birthday parties, sports lessons, play dates; the list of places you have to drive the kids to only grows as they get older. But put your feet up, and let someone else take over the taxi service on a family day out on-board one of our steam trains.
For the full experience of a steam train ride through breathtaking scenery during September, hitch a lift on the Jacobite steam train for a 84-mile return trip starting beside Ben Nevis, past Britain's most westerly mainland station at Arisaig, the deepest freshwater loch at Loch Morar, the shortest river at River Morar, and the deepest seawater loch in Europe at Loch Nevis!
More importantly for the kids though, this train crosses the 21-arched Glenfinnan Viaduct, famous for its starring role in the Harry Potter films. If the kids are too little for such a long ride right now, there are plenty of smaller steam and heritage railways including the Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway in Falkirk and the Royal Deeside Railway in Aberdeenshire.
4. Let the kids climb a tree, and zip wire down!
Go Ape! at Glentress Forest © Go Ape!
The garden is great on a sunny day after school for a run around, a kick about, or just some fresh air. But every now and then, take the whole family to the biggest back garden ever and let them not just run around the trees, but climb, swing and zip down from them!
Go Ape! is a tree-top adventure course for kids aged 10 and up, and there are three locations in Scotland to choose from - Aberfoyle in the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, Crathes Castle in Aberdeenshire, and Glentress Forest in the Scottish Borders. Try the balance beams, trapeze, Tarzan swing, skateboard zip and twister.
5. Swap a tent in the back garden for a glamping pod
Traditional Mongolian yurts at Loch Tay
Whether the kids want to camp in the back garden on their own, or they want you to squeeze in with them, it's not the most exciting adventure for you (unless you share the power of imagination your kids possess!).
So why not book yourself an overnight glamping experience? Choose from wigwams, yurts and pods which the kids will love, and pick a special spot - you could head out into the deepest, darkest countryside and enjoy a spot of stargazing before heading to bed, or take a break by the water, where you can try watersports during the day before relaxing in your glamping pod.
6. Let the kids have a pet… but just for the day!
Edinburgh Butterfly & Insect World
Classrooms across the country used to be home to small furry animals that each child would take turns in bringing home for the weekend. These days it's more likely to be a well-loved cuddly toy than a living creature, but kids love animals and are often known for pestering you for a permanent furry friend.
Give the kids what they want without having to expand the family, with a day out to animal attractions such as Edinburgh Butterfly & Insect World. Animal handling sessions are held twice a day, while there are usually three feeding demonstrations too. Look out for bugs and beasties including tarantulas and stick insects and reptiles such as lizards and chameleons. If you want to learn more about Scotland's butterflies and how you can help conserve them for the future, explore the Ultimate Guide to Butterflies for more information.
Or take them to Heads of Ayr Farm Park for a cute animal fix from a small animal handling session - look out for friendly guinea pigs and rabbits, and cheeky parrots and ferrets.
7. Go on the hunt for a castle... or 19!
Crathes Castle and gardens © Iain Serjeant
Why not spend the day exploring the wealth of Scotland's castles? Crathes Castle is a great place to visit, complete with a classic Scottish tower house, glorious gardens and a labyrinth of history and culture - you won't be lost for something to do. Explore their events for more exciting things to do!
Whilst you're in Aberdeen, why not venture on Scotland's Castle Trail? Comprised of 19 magnificent castles, ruins, and stately homes dotted around the Aberdeenshire coast, you can really delve into Scotland's long lost past.
Or how about a sports day with some added gore? Out by Stirling, they can take part in the Gruesome Games at the National Wallace Monument. Not for the faint hearted, this weekend includes exercises such as Storm the Castle, Knock the Knight, Hook the Eyeball and Toss the Body Part! How gross!
More family days out ideas
What family days out in Scotland do you have planned this autumn? Share your best tips in our iKnow Scotland Community, or get more ideas from our family holidays section and say goodbye to routine and hello to family fun!