School holidays. As a child, it was a thing that dreams were made of. But as a parent, let’s be honest… it can often be dreaded. Keeping the kids entertained can be tricky (especially if, like most of us, you are also balancing a job). There are only so many movies you can take them to, and exotic holidays that you can afford.
In Australia, the emphasis is all about the great outdoors. So how to maximise the weather while keeping the kids entertained with activities that are as fun as they are easy?
Here are our top tips for school holidays to ensure memories for the whole family.
Every major city and state has a network of established public bike routes. Whether they are city paths or country tracks, follow old rail trails or adventurously wind their way down hills and valleys. There is something for every kind of family, age and ability.
Grab some bikes and combine fitness with fun by finding a route that suits you – a simple google search will unearth a plethora of choice in your area. We love to hit the coastal path along the Bayside suburbs of Melbourne together as a family, stopping for fish and chips on the beach along the way. Some of my inner city friends follow the trails alongside the Yarra River, many of which end up at great family attractions such as the Abbortsford Convent or Studley Park.
We have also put our bikes on the back of the car and headed out of the city to follow some of the old rail trails that have been converted to bike routes. They pass through rural towns, over historic bridges, through spectacular scenery and educate the whole family on the heritage of the area.
Fishing is not just for serious, experienced anglers. You can grab a fishing reel or lines for the whole family, plus some basic bait and tackle, and fish just about anywhere, turning the sport into a fun family day out while doing something a little different.
Pack a picnic, hire a boat (such as a tinnie) if you wish, or just sit on the end of a pier and enjoy each others company (plus, if you’re like us, a little competition between family members).
With any hope, one of you will catch dinner, a great way to top off the day. But if you don’t, there is always the fish and chip shop on the way home!
There are two ways to do this. If you can’t grab a few days to head away, why not create a campsite in your own backyard? Pitch a tent, blow up the airbeds, and spend the night together as a family under the stars. Tell stories by flashlight, eat midnight snacks and enjoy the togetherness. The bonus is that your own bathroom is only a few steps away!
But if you can, get out of town for a few days and nights and set up a real campsite.
Whether in a holiday park, or a bush setting, camping is a way of getting back to basics and spending quality time together without the distractions of every day life. Kids love the novelty factor – all the different equipment, new ways of cooking, and the new friends that are always made in this kind of environment is a big winner.
Adults get to escape the everyday rat race and enjoy nature. Take some bikes, fishing gear, or whatever strikes your fancy, and don’t forget the deck of cards and board games.
Hiking can be as simple as a 2-hour return circuit, or a multi day affair. Depending on the age of your family members, experience and ability, it can be as adventurous or gentle as you make it.
Good walking shoes, proper preparation for your hike and a positive attitude make all the difference. You don’t even need to drive very far out of most capital cities to find a good trail.
Take your camera, play games along the way trying to identify certain plants or wildlife, and breathe in the fresh air and maybe some spectacular views. Hiking is invigorating for the whole family and ensures some distraction free family time.
Summer is the perfect time to hit the water. Whether you live close to the beach, a river or a lake, there are so many more ways to enjoy it than simply lying on a towel beside it.
Paddleboards, kayaks, bodyboards, wakeboards, and snorkel equipment all turn an average day on the water into an action packed day. Learn a new sport, have fun trying to master it together and create some lasting memories.