A while ago, I started doing dates with my boys. It’s our special time together that I’ll treasure as they grow older and I hope they will too! As we get wrapped up in our own and our children’s schedules, we so often forget the importance of one-on-one time. My youngest and I were long overdue for a date. What we do on date varies but one thing is constant – he decides! Sometimes it’s looking at tractors, sometimes it’s looking at trucks Sometimes it can be visiting a fish pond or a pet shop to look at fish and budgies. If he wanted to sit in a parking lot and count cars, we’d do that too! On this date, we head to the Junction’s underground parking lot to observe the progress of the new Mega Mall…


The newest mall here in Ballito has pushed up from the ground like a forest of scaffolds and mighty soaring cranes. We watch the construction workers below – tiny worker ants each doing their part handling concrete or piecing together this new monument to our town’s buzzing growth. I try my best to answer the onslaught of my 3 year old’s questions while he is easily distracted with the constant stream of mixer trucks bustling around the building site like dung beetles.


Next, my boy wanted to go look at the animals at Burnedale and so off we trek to Umhlali! Burnedale needs no introduction- to us locals, it’s a treasure trove of small quirky shops and a cafe that has somehow magically retained its original homely farmhouse feel. As it has grown, it has slowly become its own little village complete with a playground and farm animals. These very farm animals form the basis of our visit…


Cruz spots the roaming chickens, yelling POK – A- DOO- DA -DOOO and giggling behind a flurry of feathers and panic. Once a table is found, we both tuck into brownies and milkshakes, and my son’s chubby fingers and cheeks quickly become muddy with moist, dark chocolate. He swallows his down with gusto while I take in the atmosphere- spying dresses at Muze and once-off original finds at One of a Kind.


The moment Cruz has been waiting for arrives as we check up on the bunnies, goats, pigs and budgies. This is short-lived, however as he spots the playground. He careers around the jungle gym churning up dust clouds, tangling himself in nets and then patiently waits his turn on the swings. Then we spot something really cool! As it turns out 3:30 is feeding time for the animals and we get to feed the cows and calves their dinner, with more shrieks of delight as they tug and munch at the long grasses we hand them.


And just like that, our day of mother and son bonding time comes to an end…I love this tradition of ours; and if you have the same thing going or are considering starting, it needn’t be over the top. The North Coast is loaded with family friendly things to do! Burnedale with its farm animals and playground or the Junction parking lot with its mega construction site happened to be my boys choice, next time who knows – we really are spoilt for choice and there couldn’t possibly be a better place than Ballito to raise a family!

Becs Rottcher is a local mom who enjoys ice-cream, days out with her boys and having fun with her camera. You can check out more of her photographic work on her blog Wild & Whimsy.