The Importance of Kids School Holidays

With the summer holidays rolling out across Australia you can almost feel the collective sigh from parents everywhere who have school-age kids – for some it will be relief, others trepidation….. So here’s the BIG question. What’s your kids school holidays looking like?  Some of you may remember a time when summer holidays were filled with ‘nothing to do’ – endless days of playing down the street, in neighbours yards, at beaches or local waterholes with kids of all ages, or even just spent playing by yourself…….

The Importance of Kids School Holidays

Do you remember endless days of hanging with friends over summer?

So what does your child’s holidays look like? Is it a series of playdates with one or two friends, a juggle of vacation care and a variety of holiday programs strung together, or perhaps a heap of screen-time spent in air-conditioned comfort? Or best yet, will you be actively seeking ways in which your kids can enjoy some ‘unstructured’ outdoor play with other kids that you yourself may have enjoyed when you were young?

kids-school-holidays

A recent 3-month road trip made us fully realise the importance of holidays

Our recent Follow the Sun road trip sponsored by Dometic Australia has made me see clearly how important it is to create ‘time out’ for our children. Time to ‘disconnect’, time to ‘be’ (present or in the moment) and time for them to take on acceptable ‘risks’ without a parent hovering over them 24/7. It has also made me realise that it’s not only our kids that can benefit from all of this.

Right now there’s probably a raft of parents bemoaning the fact that they’d love their kids to do ALL of the above BUT….

  • work doesn’t allow for this opportunity.
  • the only place you feel is ‘safe’ for kids today is inside or under adult supervision.
  • there’s no other kids around.
  • kids show no enthusiasm for outside play these days.
  • its impossible to get kids off screens and after all, that’s how they ‘socialize’ nowadays.
  • etc etc…..

I’d love to say that my kids enjoy the same freedom as I did as a child BUT even ‘Adventure Mumma’ has work commitments, vacation activities scheduled in AND playdates already set up. AND yes, I’ll admit that there will be times when my children take time out from the heat and be allowed to ‘veg out’ time for a time in front of a screen…….BUT saying that, I DO make a concentrated effort to balance out all this with the opportunity for my kids to experience moments that I cherished during my own childhood.

So how can you mix it up for your own kids during the upcoming holidays? Here’s a few suggestions:

1. SEARCH & DISCOVER where kids are playing ‘freely’ outdoors.

  • Try booking in some family nights at a caravan park or at a popular camping spot. Trust me you don’t need to go along with another family or friends (although it helps). Kids naturally find others that share the same interest as them and lo and behold you may just discover a like-minded family that you can share more family adventures with in the future (this has happened to us a number of times).

    The Importance of Kids School Holidays

    Adventure Playgrounds are a great place to connect with active families

  • Visit parks, playgrounds and natural outdoor settings during ‘peak’ play times…….and stay off your phone (!!). This is a great way to meet and connect with other parents who are also seeking some respite from their kids being indoors all the time.

2. Organise a REGULAR MEET UP with other families

Book in one day (or night) every week/month where you meet up, share a barbie at a local park/beach/creek and let the kids ‘hang-out’ together. If you put the invite out to a heap of families from school/sports/kindy etc invariably someone will always turn up on the pre-arranged night/day.

The Importance of Kids School Holidays

This group of kids have been meeting up regularly since my son was in prep

And as the kids get older (and your lives get busier) its easy for the same group to meet up occasionally over holidays OR during significant dates and reconnect.

3. Make your yard KID FRIENDLY & INVITE neighbourhood kids

  • Build a simple fort/cubby in the front or backyard…..OR better yet, have wood, rope, tarp or sheets and cable ties available so the kids can make their own.
  • Buy a trampoline and put it somewhere in the backyard that kids like to ‘hangout’. Our trampoline sits under the shade of a huge tree and has become a popular place for kids to sit, chill and chat (as well as bounce).

    The Importance of Kids School Holidays

    A tramp, a tree, a swing – the simple things are often the best

  • Attach a rope swing to a tree in your yard.
  • Set up a tent in the backyard and invite other kids around for a sleepover.
  • Hold a campfire evening (and give the TV a break) and see what your kids can cook up…..and don’t forget the marshmallows and glow sticks.
  • Encourage your kids to ‘stay’ outdoors using a Nature Play passport or ideas from their website – Nature Play OR Nature Play Qld.

For more suggestions about encouraging natural neighbourhood play check out Mike Lanza’s book “Playborhood” or read this article from Weekend Australian – Running Wild.

4. REMIND yourself what there’s to do in your region!

If you’re based in Tropical North Queensland (or coming for a visit) read on:

The Importance of Kids School Holidays

Our Cairns Post feature about kids school holiday fun in TNQ

You can guarantee that my family will be doing most of the above over our school holidays – I’ve found the more they get outdoors and away from ‘screen time’ the more opportunity they have to create a summer holiday that’s worth remembering AND the more self-reliant and confident they become as individuals….after all, isn’t that anyone wants for their children?

The Importance of Kids School Holidays by Adventure Mumma

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PLEASE SHARE if you’ve got more suggestions and ideas for kids school holidays. I’m always looking for hints & excuses to get the kids (and me) outdoors more!!