School holidays are a great time to ‘push play’ with your children. So let’s get physical these school holidays!
Getting the kids outside, especially when the weather is inclement, can be a challenge. But the benefits to outdoor play are huge. Getting physical outdoors will help to increase your child’s fitness, strength and overall health.
This helps them to fight off bugs more easily and sets them up for a lifetime of physical benefits. This is so important with diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis ever-growing epidemics.
So now that we know the benefits of getting active, why are the school holidays such a great time to push play? We’re typically looking for entertainment for the kids during the holidays, so just focus on activities that are physical. During the holidays our daily routines are also more relaxed, so spend the morning having a relaxed and hearty breakfast, then get out and burn off all that energy.
You’ll find that kids who’ve spent most of the day outdoors getting physical also sleep better at night. This is a win-win. It means parents get some needed downtime, and the kids have more energy for even more physical activities the next day.
Also, that old chestnut ‘the family that plays together, stays together’ really is true. Getting physical as a family is all about bonding. When you burn energy, you create endorphins, and this makes the activity feel great! When you do this as a family, the feeling is multiplied. Just try chasing your kids around a park for a few minutes and not smiling…
One more great benefit of getting physical these school holidays, is that you have to actively get the family to and from some of these places. And once you’re there, you’ll spend more than a few hours doing the activity. This tends to stretch the days out, making your holiday last longer, and creating more memories than being stuck indoors.
So make the most of these school holidays and get out and about with your children. Here are some great ideas to get you started:
Let’s get physical these school holidays
New Zealand has some amazing bushwalks which cater for all ages and abilities, so why not pack a picnic and take the kids ‘bush’ for the day. Your local visitor centre will have a list of bushwalks in your area, or visit www.doc.govt.nz for walks administered by the Department of Conservation. You could even sign up your kids for DOC’s Toyota Kiwi Guardians programme, and make bushwalking even more fun!
Swimming is not just for summer time. Most swimming complexes adjust the temperature of their pools so they can be used all year round, and water parks with slides and rides are fun no matter what time of year it is! Hot pools are a great night time activity, and they’re also fun on a rainy day. You get to sit back and relax, while the kids splash around and burn off some energy at the other end of the pool… sweet!
To find swimming pools in your area, just jump online and search ‘swimming pools’ and your region. This site has some useful links for hotpools in New Zealand.
Parks and playgrounds
Parks and playgrounds are a great place to get active, and the best bit is they don’t cost a cent. You’re probably well aware of your nearest playground, but chances are there’s some great parks in your area that you’ve never explored.
Your local council can provide you with a list of parks and reserves in your region, which will also include information such as which ones have playgrounds, barbeque facilities, water access, toilets and the like. Contact your local council for a ‘Parks and Reserves’ flyer, or visit their website.
Indoor playgrounds are a good option for rainy days, especially if one rainy day has rolled into the next and your children are itching to get out. Get together with a few other parents, and you can have a catch up over coffee while your children let off some steam.
Learn a new sport
Many sports clubs have coaching clinics over the school holidays, and most are very reasonably priced. While some are provided for children who already participate in the sport, most are designed to encourage new members and promote a ‘just get involved’ philosophy. Just some of the new sports you and your kids could learn these school holidays, include:
- Horse riding
- Whitewater rafting
- Lawn bowls
- Hunting or fishing
- Martial arts
- Ten pin bowling
- Skiing or snowboarding
Schools often get details of these programmes prior to the holidays, or contact your local sports foundation, who should be able to put you in touch with the right people.
No matter what the ages and stages of your children, cycling is an activity the whole family can enjoy. Take your bikes to a park or reserve, head out on some mountain bike tracks, or simply go for a pedal around the block. You can make a day of it by setting a route, and stopping at all sorts of exciting places along the way.
If you have a baby or small child to consider, there are several ways to include them in the adventure. Baby bike seats and trailers are the two most common options, and these are both available online or from good cycle stores. Make sure you get the seat or trailer properly fitted, and check the compatibility with your particular bike.
If you have older kids, get them out onto some of the New Zealand’s bike trails, we have some of the best trails in the world!
Don’t forget your helmets!
Fly a kite
Kite flying is so much fun and kids get so caught up in the flying, they don’t realise just how much running around is actually getting done.
There are some great books available, showing you how to make your own kite, or you can purchase complete kite making kits from educational toy stores. Ready-made kites are also available from sports stores, emporiums, or hobby shops. Or you can check out our How to make a delta kite article.
Kite Days are a popular community activity, and chances are there is at least one happening in your area every year. Your local council is usually involved in the planning, so check out your council website for upcoming events or contact your local visitor centre for more information.
Generally New Zealander’s are an active bunch, and there’s plenty of places set up for you to have-a-go at all sorts of activities and adventures.
You don’t have to be a physical super-star (or even know how to do it) as the facilities are well equipped to cater for absolute beginners and family groups. Some of the activities you could try out include:
- Indoor rock climbing
- Outdoor tree climbing
- Mini putt, or visiting a golf driving range
- Roller skating, roller blading, ice skating or scootering
- Kayaking, either hire them and go out on your own, or take a guided tour
- Paint balling
- Black water rafting or river paddling
- Rock painting or geocaching.
There’s no single website to find all these facilities, so you’ll have to do some research online. Or contact your local visitor’s centre and find out what’s available in your region.
At home fun
It’s easy to get active at home, and with a little bit of planning you can get the whole neighbourhood involved! Try some of these ideas for some stay-at-home fun:
- Make your own mini putt course in the back yard, or create a game of ten pin bowls using soft drink bottles and a rubber ball. If you have the energy, invite the neighbours over for a tournament.
- Set up a huge obstacle course that goes right around the house. If your neighbour also has children, why not make it over two properties? The sheer size of the adventure will mean your children will talk about it for months! You can run time-trials, which kids love, or make it a more of a relaxed confidence-course.
- Use crepe paper or newspapers to make cheerleading pom-poms, then get your children to create their own set of cheers.
- Can’t get outside because it’s raining? Poppycock! Turn the backyard into a waterslide, or mudslide. Sure, it’ll take a few months for the lawn to recover, but oh the fun you’ll have!
- Turn the music up and start dancing. Get your kids to create their own music video. They’ll have heaps of fun and get active all at the same time.
Above all else, remember just to have fun and get moving with your children. Create memories, form a strong family bond and increase the wellbeing of your family, all at the same time! For more great school holiday activity ideas, check out our holiday articles.