Have you ever stumbled across a toy, game or place and thought excitedly, ”My child would love this!”, only to sadly realise that you have missed the boat and that they are now too old for it?
I had that rather tragic experience the not long ago, when I came across a stunning tutorial on how to make a doll’s house from natural materials. What an amazing project for my daughter and I to sink our teeth into, not to mention a really fun way to spend some quality time together. Or so I thought, until I got a rather ‘meh’ response from my now pre-teen. ”I don’t really like dolls houses, anymore Mum”, she said.
It breaks my heart that there are so many windows of opportunity to be missed when it comes to parenting. But since we can’t wind back time and relive those moments, the only thing to be done is seize the day and make the most of it with the resources we have at hand. So here are ten super-fun experiences to try together before your children grow up.
1. Go Geocaching
My daughter and I came rather late to the geo-caching craze, but once we gave it a shot, we were hooked. It involves looking for a ‘cache’ or container in a specified location- not all that different to an Easter egg hunt! When you locate the cache, you open it up to find a logbook where you can record your names. Often there will be a small toy or trinket which you can swap for another of greater or equal value. All you need to get started is a smartphone and a free account at www.geocaching.com.
If you have a more technologically-minded child as opposed to a nature baby, geocaching could be a great incentive to spend some time in nature and away from the screens.
2. Build a cubby
Design a set of plans, gather materials, and get building! No matter how large or small the structure, building one together will help everyone learn to work as a team, along with picking up a few new practical skills.
3. Make a sandcastle/ snowman
Most parents have patiently helped their children with many a sandcastle or snowman. But set aside a half day or so to really let your collective creativity fly and see what you can come up with. Don’t forget to take photos of the finished product, so that you can reflect on your shared awesomeness in years to come!
4. Visit a theme park
The very idea of it may be enough to drain the colour from many a mother’s face, but its worth doing just once. They may be expensive, disgustingly commercial and tacky, but there’s no denying that kids love them. So indulge them just once for a special treat, and you may be surprised at just how many laughs you end up having together.
5. Let your kids build a campfire
We all love a shared campfire when out in the bush or on holiday, but how about letting the kids build and light it this time? Keep a close eye from the sidelines, but try refrain from touching!
Chances are, their first efforts will be unsuccessful, but with a ew parental pointers they will eventually learn the age-old and ever-practical skill of building a fire. And when its done, why not make a meal of it by having them wrap a few potatoes in foil for the coals?
6. Go on a volunteering holiday
Make your overseas family holiday more meaningful by volunteering at an orphanage, environmental restoration project or other worthwhile cause. Your children will learn more about the local culture and challenges they face than from the comfort of a package-deal hotel room.
Rather than simply turning up somewhere to help out for a few hours, give your child time to adjust and really live into the experience by spending a week or so residing and helping on site. Volunteering at Bali’s Nusa Penida Bird Sanctuary is a popular choice for families.
7. Tube down a river
There are few things in life more satisfying than going down a river in an inflated tube. Chances are your child will fully agree!
8. Fly a kite
Here’s a little secret: flying a kite is just as much fun as an adult as it was when you were a kid. Try it and see, bringing along your own children for legitimacy. You probably won’t garner the same amount of enthusiasm from a teen though!
9. Go kayaking
A fun activity for giving those communication and co-operation skills a good work-out! Find out where your nearest kayak hire location is, pack a few drinks and snacks, and head out for a peaceful (or otherwise!) morning on the river.
10. Lie out under the stars at night
Best done in summer, on a trampoline, with mosquito repellent.
11. Go camping
Some days it can seem like a challenge just to get out the door, let alone prepare for a camping trip with the kids. But you’ll be making memories that’ll last a lifetime, and any mishaps or inconveniences that may happen will only add colour to them!
12. Have a picnic at the top of a mountain
If you can’t spare a whole weekend away, then set yourselves the task of making your own yummy trail mix and head out to climb the nearest ‘mountain’ ( or hill for very young ones). Upon reaching the summit, your children will no doubt be rather chuffed with their newly acquired ‘mountaineering’ skills, and fresh air and good views never go astray.
13. Go on an epic train ride
Trains fascinate many children, and the fact that kids can walk from carriage to carriage to stretch their legs makes a long journey more do-able or families. Take away the ear-pain many children experience on a flight and add in the novelty of dining/ lounge carriages and you’ve got yourself a winning journey.
14. Go on a bushwalk
Hit the trails with your children and instead of focusing on getting somewhere, reclaim the lost art of dilly-dallying. Stop to look at birds, interesting bark, funny rocks, or whatever takes your kids’ fancy. Don’t forget to bring a small bag to carry home pebbles, feathers, or other treasures found along the way.
15. Learn to snorkel
With the use of a life-vest, even children as young as five or six can have a go at snorkelling. It is a whole other world down there under the sea! The first time the kids don a mask, they will be astounded at what they can see- even if it is only sand ridges!
What activities do you recommend trying with kids before they grow up?