Our first article of 2020 comes from Parents’ Voice Steering Committee member and mother of three, Cat Walker. She has more than 15 years’ experience in advocating for health and wellness in mining, education and health institutions. She enjoys using that experience to fight for a brighter future for children everywhere.
It’s school holidays and it’s nice and sunny outside– but due to the recent tragic bushfires, the air quality is keeping a lot of Australians inside. It can be hard to come up with activities that will keep everyone safe and healthy and stop the whole family from going stir crazy! Instead of looking at it as a prison sentence (which I know it can feel like!), here are some fun activities to help keep everyone content and away from their screens over the next few weeks.
Fun Bath Time
Turn your bath into a pool and create some bath time joy. All you need to do is fill your bath up with water and colour it with some food dye. Tip some pom poms/cut up sponge cloth/ floating balls/ shells (or any other floating items) into the bath and then give your kids some fun tools such as plastic tweezers, strainers, plastic containers to pick them up with. This is also a great one to do on a hot day.
Family Craft Session
I like to put out a pot of glue, some scissors, paint, pencils, recycled wrapping paper, felt, pom poms, local newspapers, catalogue mail-outs and a big roll of butcher paper – basically whatever I have and let them ‘go for it’. They always come up with some really creative concepts.
Family of Master Chefs
Kids love to cook and getting kids involved in cooking has a range of health benefits, including being more likely to eat the meal once it is finished. Kids at all ages can help prepare the food, whether it is a 2-year-old stirring a sauce once it is already mixed, or a 5-year-old peeling the potatoes.
Yes, it can be messy and much slower than if you do it yourself, but while you are stuck inside, this is the perfect time to use those long hours and turn dinner preparation into a whole family activity.
Photo credit: Cat Walker
Indoor Play Places
You can take the family out for some well needed physical activity, but still maintain a good level of air quality by going to indoor play places. I know my local one has a cafe which can be enticing, but a relatively cheap play day can become quite expensive once you add food prices to the bill. Instead of purchasing food for the family I make sure to pack a lunch box of snacks and sandwiches so that everyone keeps the munchies away. However, these cafes do offer something essential for lots of parents … coffee!
Kids don’t need to be outside to have fun. I find that being cooped up over the holidays offers the perfect opportunity to encourage my kids to let their imaginations run wild and take part in more imaginative or make-believe play. Using imaginative play is great because it teaches kids decision making, creativity and increased social skills.
These school holidays your kids could be doctors, pop stars or even some of our brave firefighters on the frontline. The options are limitless when they use their imagination and whatever props and clothing they may have lying around the house.
Gardening is a great holiday task! Why not bring the garden inside to your family. You can put seeds and soil in small pots or the cups of egg cartons. If you want to get super creative, I encourage you and your kids to grow grass heads. You just place some grass seeds and potting mix in the foot of a stocking, add a face and watch their hair grow. After a while you can even give your grass family haircuts.
You can pay a membership fee for an online company, or you could download free audio books from your local libraries’ online platform. It is fantastic. When my kids want to chill out or have asked for yet another movie – this is a great option, where they can listen to a story, have some down time, but still use their imagination.
Listening to podcasts as a family is the perfect way to facilitate learning and open discussion in the home. A really good kids’ podcast is the ABC’s ‘Short & Curly’ podcast with Carl Smith, Molly Daniels and Dr Matt Beard. It is fast-paced ethics podcast, filled with curly questions and fun ideas that are sure to get the whole family talking about a wide range of topics.
There are many similar podcasts out there just waiting to be discovered by you and your family during these school holidays.
Looking online and connecting with other parents is a great way to find some creative ideas and further inspiration on how to keep your family happy, healthy, safe and sane during these School Holidays. Some Instagram account that I like to follow include; @busytoddler @play_at_home_mummy, @the.bored.toddler and of course @parentsvoiceau.
Good luck! And I hope you and your family have a lot of fun at home during these school holidays J
A quick note from the Parents’ Voice team…
Kids can find natural disasters and news coverage of bushfires and hazardous air quality extremely distressing. The Raising Children Network offers some useful advice on how to talk to your kids about disaster news and media – Click here to read more.