By Jennifer Adams, founder of TV travel series Places We Go, mother of 7 year-old daughter Charli, and lover of the adventurous life.
Outdoor Activities To Do With The Kids
I think I speak for many when I say that creating quality family experiences doesn’t happen often enough. Between every family member’s own schedules and activities, finding time to spend together uninterrupted as a family, can sometimes be tricky.
I’ve found that it’s something you have to work at, not something that just ‘happens’. Our plan has been to consistently reassess all of our schedules and find the one time each week that we are all free, and try to lock that off as our family time. But the second part of the problem can be figuring out what to do together.
Weather can play a pivotal role in this decision. Being from Melbourne, I sometimes let the wintery days dictate what we do, but really, unless it is pouring, there is no reason to let a little cold stop us from enjoying the great outdoors, as long as you have the right gear.
Because I truly believe that outdoor activities are the most precious way a family can bond. Indoor activities, such as movies, galleries, shopping centres, and play centres can all be fun, but are they encouraging you to communicate and bond as much as say, a scenic hike?
My truly favourite family experience is camping. Even if we have just one night available, there is nothing better than taking the family away from the hustle and bustle (and screens) and ‘living’ in a totally different environment for a short while.
Dynamics change, as we each take responsibilities for setting up, cooking, cleaning etc. Together we tackle situations that don’t come up at home, such as what to do with the wallaby that has joined us for breakfast and doesn’t look like he’s leaving?
The kids learn loads about the environment, and their natural curiosity makes them perfect little campers. They love the novelty factor of everything; sleeping in a tent, blowing up and sleeping on an air mattress, cooking on a camp stove, keeping food cold with ice and toasting marshmallows… the list goes on. They also love making friends with other kids in the campground, and by the time you leave, a little community has always been formed as fellow parents also bond over the experience.
Don’t have much time to get away? If you have a tent and a backyard, you have a campsite. Get the kids to help put up the tent on the grass, grab some airbeds and your doona’s, and camp outdoors for the night! It’s amazing how you can create a totally new experience together, bonding over stories by torchlight, just a few metres away from your house.
Fishing is another favourite activity of mine (which we often couple with camping). Learning to bait your rods, choose your spot and reel in a catch are all wonderful ways to interact with each other. And particularly in my family, a little healthy competition is a lot of fun too!
Then waiting for the fish to come along? That time and space is heaven sent… it’s the perfect opportunity to catch up on each others lives, news and thoughts with few distractions. It’s certainly a far cry from the dinner table at home with the TV blaring in the background and mobile phones beeping.
Kids absolutely love learning new activities and skills, and the health benefits of getting out and about in the outdoors are bonus points for everyone. Biking, hiking, fishing, camping, surfing and more all provide healthy doses of exercise, fresh air, Vitamin D, communication, education and stimulation.
Whenever our family returns from doing something together in the outdoors, we are all invigorated and our bond is noticeably strengthened. We then take these attitudes into our everyday lives and seem to approach our normal activities with a lot more vigour than usual.
It can be as simple as everyone getting the bikes out on a Sunday and riding one of the many bike trails that surround us, whether you live in the city or country. Or taking a short drive to tackle a scenic hike that can be a one-hour circuit or a full day adventure. We live close to the beach and love grabbing a snorkelling mask and exploring what’s under the water (this activity can keep kids amused for hours). We always make sure our favourite gear is washed and ready to go on it’s next outing so we have no excuses!
So the next time the kids are climbing the walls and you’re scratching your head about how to entertain them, think about putting down whatever you might be doing and bundling them up to go outside. Jump on your bikes, grab some rods or reels and head for the local fishing spot (there are many in the cities too) or throw some gear in the car.
You’ll all feel so much better for it!
For more travel inspiration go to www.placeswego.com
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