So. It’s here – well nearly! The tinsel is up, school is out and people are ding donging merrily on high (or swearing at the busy shop check-outs).
Last month I talked about taking the time to fully enjoy family and I’ve been clear about my deadline to close over summer for a few weeks. The orders have been flowing in which is great, as I really will be turning my words into deeds and taking my own advice. Once I made the decision to do this it really wasn’t that hard because I’ve been putting in the extra hard yakka in the lead-up.
I read a ditty the other day that said “You might only have eighteen summer school holidays with your kids. This will be one of them.” So when you think about it like that it kind of cements how precious the time with them really is.
One true chestnut particular to New Zealand is the access to all the amazing FREE stuff you can do as a family. We are so lucky to inhabit a country with walks, beaches, mountains, rivers, swimming holes, sea, fishing, mountains and lakes. Most of us live less than an hour if not minutes from at least one of these things. A walk in the local gardens, throw the ducks some rice – cooked or uncooked (apparently bread is a no-no on the duck front). Remember as a kid when you built a fort out of sheets and sticks? You can do this indoors or outdoors. Whip out the board games. Teach the kids to play cards. Sling up a hammock and read a book. Listen to some great podcasts. Take an empty bread bag to the beach and collect shells and seaweed then string them up to make a wind chime. Set up a street-side table with an honesty box where you kids can sell their art or baking and learn how to earn their own money. Visit family or the family that you chose. Switch off the TV (or don’t feel guilty about putting it on every now and then while you take a bath). Swish your feet in the sand at the beach; it’s a great way to keep your feet soft.
Or one of the BEST things we can do for our kids is let them get actually get bored. It’s ok that they can’t find anything to do or you can’t provide something immediately for them to get stuck into. It’s in those moments that they’ll learn problem-solving, find something within themselves they can create, build, hide in. Provide a loving nurturing environment, make sure they are fed, sheltered, warm, sun screened and they’ll find what they need.
If you do need some inspiration though, those of us in New Plymouth are lucky to have a bunch of great free family things nearby. Here’s a pocket guide link to some of them. https://nzpocketguide.com/free-things-to-do-in-new-plymouth/ or if you’re on the roads around New Zealand this year here’s a great list from Castaway with Crystal https://castawaywithcrystal.com/free-things-north-island/ . A recent find – if you don’t want to sling money at glow worms – a list of the ones you can visit for free that are perfect for a nighttime adventure your kids will remember. https://nzpocketguide.com/free-glowworm-caves-in-new-zealand/. My cousin recently checked out the ones at Kakahi with her six-year-old who said it was the “Best thing she’s ever done in her life!”
What are some of the best things you remember doing as a kid? Maybe you could recreate it with yours? If you don’t have kids – borrow some! Kids are so great at living in the moment; we could take a leaf out of their books. Or find your own inner kid and do these things anyway.
I’ve got a few more days before I shut up shop so any goodies you want covered for January drop me a line. I’m thinking warmly of each of you and wishing your family an extra measure of comfort, joy and hope this season. Until next time! Mwah xx