In our many DINK-y years, Before Children, holidays for Dad 101 and myself were about short ‘sunshine and beach’ escapes from the everyday grind of the working world. Long days filled with sleeping, eating, drinking, lazing, swimming, reading, and oh, did I mention…sleeping???
Since our family grew to include our gorgeous little girl, the meaning and purpose of holidays have changed for us. Don’t get me wrong, a change of location and pace can still be relaxing but holidays for us now involve down time of a very different nature, the time away together is less about lazing and (definitely less about!!) sleeping and more about time together, time spent creating wonderful childhood memories as a family.
Wherever you holiday and whatever your budget, there are simple ways to spend time together creating childhood memories for children of all ages. For many of these we just need call upon our own memories of childhood holidays and take time to introduce our children to a range of simple pleasures…
Beach time: whether you are camping on the coast or staying at a tropical island resort beachcombing, building sandcastles, swimming, boogie boarding and surfing are fun ways to spend time with children of different ages. Take advantage of family friendly activities like snorkeling, canoeing or paddle boating offered by resorts.
Catching dinner: fishing, crabbing, collecting mussels or catching yabbies are great fun for children of all ages, especially if one or both parents has a true passion for the great outdoors. I wish I had a photo of the time Dad 101 took toilet training Immy fishing at a local beach – not only did they have to pack the rod, bait bucket and tackle box but also toddler snacks, extra towels, a change of clothes and the potty. Which she did use whilst they were fishing!
Cooking: if there is one thing I have learnt since we have added a child to our family, self contained accommodation beats a hotel room any day! Why not let the children prepare breakfast so you can stay in bed or pack a hamper for a family picnic in the great outdoors. Fireside camping meals of damper cooked on the coals, billy tea and toasted marshmallows should be instituted as a rite of passage for every child.
Card games: a deck of cards takes up absolutely no suitcase space and will amuse children of all ages. At two and a half we have recently begun teaching Immy to play concentration with a modified deck of Wiggles cards. Depending on the age of the child try playing snap, go fish, solitaire, spoons (if you don’t know this one be sure to Google it before your next family holiday), canasta, or even poker (my 13 year old niece cleaned up recently on a family poker night). If all else fails, try a competition to build the tallest card house or teach your toddler to play 52 pick up 🙂
Board games: Checkers, Snakes & Ladders, Guess Who?, Boggle, Yahtzee, Cluedo, the Game of Life and Monopoly are board games fondly remembered from my childhood (okay, Monopoly – not so fondly as I suck at that one!)
Teach your child a handicraft: quiet, un-rushed holiday time is the perfect time for passing on handicrafts like knitting (start with finger knitting), crocheting and embroidery to interested preschoolers, primary- and high- school aged children.
Get dramatic: one holiday away when I was about 14, I recall the four of us children putting on a full scale production of ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ complete with my four year old brother starring as Toto the dog! Encourage your children to work together on their own production or plan a family talent show. If you prefer to keep it simple, play charades or celebrity head both of which are guaranteed to provide a lot of laughs.
Car games: my childhood holiday memories include sweaty, vinyl car seats, four door air conditioning and good old car games like I Spy, Simon Says, Spotto, and Twenty Questions. Just beware of little brothers who spy ‘B’ for ‘Benetian blinds!’
Extended ‘families’: on a recent short break we met another family with a child the same age as Immy and it was marvelous. The girls were happy playing whilst the adults all relaxed and picnicked by the pool, sharing the parenting duties. Holidaying with extended family or close friends, or visiting the same holiday spot on an annual basis (especially when camping or caravanning) are two ways of helping to create a ‘village’ for your child. Hanging in multi aged ‘gangs’, playing hide and seek, building cubbies and time just being kids provide children with a greater sense of freedom and the opportunity to navigate the social relationships of play within a larger group.
Getting out and about: the whole family will have more fun if you choose excursions which suit the age, attention span and interests of your children. For example, cultural museums are hard on young toddlers but animal parks are a surefire winner.
Family holidays are an important part of a child’s life. Families need down time together, time spent away from the daily grind, with the busy-ness of our modern lives even children need holidays as time to re-group and refresh. Though of course, none of these activities need actually wait until you are on holidays, why not plan some family time fun for next weekend?
How have your holidays changed since you have had children? Are your children’s holiday experiences reflective of your own childhood memories?
This post forms part of my entry in the Kidspot Top 50 Bloggers competition. If you have not already done so I would appreciate two clicks of your time to vote for Childhood 101 as one of Australia’s top bloggers. Thank you.