“But mum, I’m not tired!”
If that’s a line you’ve heard before, then it’s time to give the kids some new or unusual activities to explore, so that they’ll wind down enough after dinner and actually fall asleep – and give you a minute to yourself.
Physical activity should (most of the time) be enjoyable, because life is too short not to keep things exciting! If the exercise is fun, you’ll have no trouble getting the kids away from the couch or screen, and it will set a great example to others about the importance of, and fun in, physical activity.
Get them cooking
If you’ve ever tried to juggle a family, work and getting dinner on the table at a reasonable hour, you’ll know that cooking can be a tiring affair. Encourage kids to get creative in the kitchen and it might broaden their tastebuds.
Building a veggie patch
Cultivating a vegetable garden is like an outdoor classroom - kids can dig, play, plant and learn how to appreciate vegetables all at once, and it might save you a trip to the grocery store!
Nature scavenger hunt
The idea is to find all the items on the list and gather them as quickly as possible, and get the kids enjoying the outdoors. List ideas such as oak leaves, pinecones, rocks, branches, shells or pebbles, and get them noticing smells, sights and sounds.
Clothesline art show
Concentrating on creative pursuits is one of the more rewarding aspects of growing up. Encourage kids to draw, paint or make collages and hang them up with pegs on the clothesline. They can then put on a show, basking in their creativity and explaining what their artwork is about.
Reading under a tree
Let’s take it outside! It’s very typical for kids to read books indoors or read using digital technology; however reading outdoors has excellent cognitive and social benefits. Kids will learn to appreciate the value of being outdoors if exposed to it more often.
Backyard obstacle course
Use tape to create fun outdoor board games, or set up an obstacle course with old tires, appliance boxes, and tree stumps. Moving through it will teach younger children key movements like over, under, through, and around.
Try ‘water painting,’ in which children paint the side of a building (or the house) with a brush and bucket of water. It exercises arms and upper torso while also teaching them about wet and dry; light and dark, and evaporation.
Indoor rock climbing
Kids can be fearless so might love being harnessed up to a rock wall. Most indoor rock climbing centres have walls for all abilities and levels, so everyone can join in. For the more audacious types, outdoor rock climbing builds endurance, focus and core strength.
Bike riding is a great way to exercise out in the fresh air and sunshine. If the kids don’t own a bike, there are options to hire one for the day - head to the local park or bike track around your neighbourhood. If the weather allows it, pack a picnic and make a day of it.
Indoor rock climbing
Get kids involved in some friendly competition with one another with training for a mini Olympics. This could involve park fitness training, drills, fartlek training, simple gymnastics or preparing to perform in an opening or closing ceremony.
If the kids have ever dreamed of being a circus performer swinging from crazy heights; here’s their chance. Note that the trapeze looks far more risky than it actually is.
National parks walks
There are so many parks unknown to us all, waiting to be explored - pick a national park near you that you’ve never been to before and plan a scenic, low-impact walk with the kids. Alternatively, turn it into a hiking adventure with a trekking pole and backpack full of refuelling snacks.
Saturday morning beach time is all about nippers! If the kids are novice surfers, jump on board (pun intended) and find the nearest surf school for a lesson. Surfing improves strength, fitness and swimming ability and they’ll feel invigorated all day!
Self-defence or karate
It’s a jungle out there, so why not enrol the little tackers in some basic martial arts – karate can improve physical strength and improve self-confidence.
Zoos offer incredible learning experiences, including environmental awareness and animal welfare, and the wandering around is likely to weary even the most enthusiastic explorers.