Dinghy Rally

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So often these days kids are drawn to screens to play in virtual worlds. That’s part of the reason we enjoy boating so much – they are forced to enjoy the great outdoors. These school holidays we were rafted up on our boat with another family and the familiar whine of the kids proclaiming they were bored led us to make up a rally.

My husband and I did a reconnaissance mission to work out clues for the kids, then we put them into cryptic clues.

There were three dinghies each with two kids; a driver and a clue solver. Once the item was found they had to take a photo on their phone. This provided hours of entertainment (particularly as one of the yachts we had given a clue to find had sailed away after we wrote the clues!)

It was great to see the teamwork with the kids out independently cruising around in their dinghy, having to use their brains to try to work out the clues. My favourite clue was that they needed to find a mooring with three yachts on it. They were all obviously looking for three yachts rafted up together, but the name ‘3 yachts’ was actually written on a mooring. They had to cruise around and look at every mooring in the bay before they found it.

When they returned they all received a small prize for participation (in order to soften the blow that there was only one winner), and a small cash prize went to the winning team. The photos that were offered up for some of the answers were a stretch of the imagination for the clue, but for the most part they all found the majority of the answers (except of course the missing yacht).

The kids all had fun and we had fun watching them head off on wild goose chases when they misinterpreted clues. If only we’d insisted they had to find everything on the list, we could have had hours of peace and quiet until the missing yacht returned from its sail!

We’ve told the kids that next time they can write the clues and the adults will try to find them. I can just imagine their clues will be referencing pokemon characters and minecraft instruments just to leave us as bewildered as they were with some of the cryptic clues we gave them.

(Image courtesy of Simon Howden, Freedigitialphotos.net)

The Grass Is Always Greener

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Flash back to six weeks ago and I was looking forward to the kid’s school holidays. I’d had enough of making lunches and encouraging (nagging) my kid’s to leave for school on time. I was sick of ensuring the kids had all their homework done and then confirming that they remembered to pack it to hand in the following day. I was also tired of being mum’s taxi shuffling kids to their extra curricular activities. I was ready for a break from all that to enjoy our winter school holidays.

The first few days were heaven with the kids relieved to have no school commitments. I enjoyed lying in and not worrying about what the kids would have for lunch, until almost lunchtime. But after a few days of relaxing the kids missed their friends and we were launched into frenetic socializing with school friends. My mum’s taxi route didn’t end; it just altered to collecting and dropping off kids for play dates.

Fast forward to today, the last day of the school holidays, and I can’t wait for the kids to go back to school so I can get my days back to myself. I’m longing to not have to hear whining about how bored the kids are and can they just have an outing, a friend over or some type of junk food. These holidays it actually seemed that the more organized a special outing was, the more the kids whinged about how bored they were. The best times they had these holidays were when they were left to come up with their own game or way to fill in time. They actually managed to devise some creative ways to entertain themselves.

So on the eve of the kid’s return to school, they are looking depressed at the looming term, whilst I’m the one trying my hardest to not do my happy dance in front of them. Tomorrow I may have to take back the responsibility of getting the kid’s into their school routine again, but thankfully I will be able to return to my normal routine as well (which includes more blogging and writing). But ask me in six weeks time and I’ll be craving school holidays again, because as they say, the grass is always greener on the other side!

What do you prefer: school holidays or school term?

Image courtesy of Clare Bloomfield, freedigitialphotos.net

GROWING UP

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I was recently having a deep and meaningful conversation with an eight year old girl about growing up. She told me that she couldn’t wait to be an adult so she didn’t have to go to school and she could choose what she would do every day.

I explained to her that she is currently in the best time of her life. As a school kid, she gets around twelve weeks of holidays each year and that when she is grown up she will only get four weeks annual leave per year. I also explained that instead of going to school until 3pm she would have to work until at least 5pm, probably even later. Finally I discussed with her the fact that all her hard work and effort would allow her to earn money that she would have to use to pay bills for food, clothing, housing and all her entertainment, whilst at the moment her parents pay for all those things for her.

After this enlightening speech I taught her about the old adage ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’ and said that although it might look like much more fun to be a grown up, the best time of your life is when you are a kid. There aren’t too many adults that wouldn’t like short days spent with friends, where you get multiple breaks to play, plenty of holidays and don’t have to pay for a thing!

As with anything in life, you often don’t appreciate how good things are until they change. So my advice to this little girl was to not wish away her childhood but to embrace and love life now, because once she is grown up, there’s no going back!

(Photo courtesy of stockimages, freedigitalphotos.net)

MERRY CHRISTMAS

As I sit watching Christmas carols on television, awaiting my munchkins to go to sleep (which takes much longer on Xmas eve than any other night due to the excitement of the imminent visit from Santa) I wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support this year and to wish you and your family all the best for a very happy Christmas.
I have just returned from a holiday with my extended family which is why I have been AWOL for the last two weeks. You really can’t put a price on the value of seeing kids interacting daily with their cousins and similarly grandparents with their grandkids. I will be absent again for a few weeks as I spend quality family time with my kids and husband over the Christmas break. I hope you also have the opportunity to enjoy fun times with your family over the coming week.
As bed time draws near I know it won’t be long before the visit from the jolly man in the red suit – I just hope our puppy has left carrots for the reindeers – she was enjoying snacking on them when the kids put them out earlier!
Merry Christmas and all the best for a happy New Year!

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HOLIDAY HYPOS

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It starts about a week out from school holidays. There is a buzz of energy that passes through our children. No one does any work for the last week of school as reports have already been sent and the whole school seems to be in a wind-down mode.

Then the first day of holidays hits and my kids are well and truly hit by the ‘holiday hypos’. My husband coined the term a few years ago after finding the kids were hyperactive from being delirious with excitement at the thought of no school. In a kid’s world, it is the perfect storm: a chance to stay up late; go on fun excursions that leave them exhausted and a diet of convenience foods.

The ‘holiday hypos’ consist of very animated, giggly kids that are ready and raring to do every activity possible right here and now. They act a bit like they’ve consumed a few too many red cordials to help kick start their holiday.

I always forget that it takes a few days of the ‘holiday hypos’ for the kids to settle down into a semi-routine and get used to the freedom and fun that each day holds.

I guess I’m guilty of having a mini case of ‘holiday hypos’ myself – except it is more at the thought of having a chance to sleep in and getting a reprieve from making lunches before herding the kids off to school each day. Of course, it is just swapping one chore for another, as holidays see me turn into recreation organizer, ATM and taxi driver!

Do your kids suffer from ‘holiday hypos’? Do you have any tips on how to calm them down, or is it better to get swept up in it yourself?

(Image courtesy of Vlado, freedigitalphotos.net)

HOLIDAY ABROAD

Our family has just returned from an amazing holiday spent in the tropical warmth of Phuket, Thailand. 

This time overseas, spent free of other commitments and distractions, was a lovely chance to bond as a family. Although we had wi-fi in our hotel room, the days were free of the kids feeling the need to constantly be on social media or a need to amuse them with ipads.

Instead our days were filled with wonderful adventures of riding elephants, snorkeling with tropical fish and literally flying through the jungle on ziplines. The water was warm and an incredible aqua hue that was inviting to swim, sometimes for hours on end.

We visited temples, chatted (as best we could) with locals and haggled in markets to buy souvenirs. We then caught tuk tuks (open truck like taxis with booming stereos and flashing lights) back to our hotel. They were literally like little discos on wheels, which provided a fun and unique way to end each night.

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On our final night, we released a heart shaped lantern into the sky and as I watched it drift up in the night sky, first out of our reach and eventually out of our sight, I felt it was a metaphor for our time with our kids. One moment they are larger than life, within arms reach, then they will slowly drift away as they forge their own path in this world. Whilst they will carry our love with them, we may not always be able to hold them and enjoy their immediate presence. Our kids are literally growing up in front of our eyes and each passing holiday marks one less chance we will spend time together just as a family without external distractions.

Life is about enjoying quality time with your loved ones, having fun experiences and being appreciative to be able to do so. Our time in Phuket ticked all these boxes and so I’m truly grateful that we have such wonderful memories of our time together as a family.