2020 has been chaotic. It’s been full of contradiction and loads of sacrifice. For many it’s been scary and lonely. It certainly hasn’t been a year that we’d all like to repeat, but for our family we’ve found ways to achieve and smile through it all. We’ve supported each other to continue learning, to stay healthy and fit and we’re all set for a 2021 filled with joy and wonderful achievements. Let’s hope a fourth Olympics too! I’m excited!
Staying positive through difficult times takes energy. That little voice on your shoulder telling you that you aren’t good enough or tough enough or strong enough isn’t so little sometimes. Sometimes it is not even a little voice. It can be a real human or a group of humans. It can be a really ugly monster in either form and I am on a mission to help my family, my friends and all the little people in my life develop the tools required to tell that little monster to take a hike. I’ve had to tell mine to go away more than you’d imagine. You with me?
So, let’s make a start. General exercise is vital for maintaining mental fitness. Regular physical activity is very effective at reducing fatigue (perhaps don’t run a marathon!), improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. Regular physical activity is not just for kids – so get up, get moving and put a little spring into your step. The more you move, the better you’ll feel, the healthier you’ll be and the more positive your thoughts, so bugger off little monster.
There’s no better time than school holidays to introduce a fitness routine. Grab a ball or a fun object that is interesting and easy to hide. Take it into the backyard, somewhere in the house if the weather is bad or take it down to the park. Ask your little ones to close their eyes while you hide the fun object. Then ring a bell or play a special sound on your phone to mark the start of the hunt.
As the little ones begin their hunt add some commentary, give them bonus points for skipping to the hiding spot or hopping over the lines in the footpath. Tell them to avoid the polar bear or boa constrictor. You can create anything with your imagination – combining fitness and creative thinking into one package of fun that they’ll remember every school holidays!
We have been extremely fortunate to own a Springfree trampoline through 2020. We’ve completed remote learning classes on the trampoline, we’ve introduced gymnastics skills on the trampoline and we’ve invented games such as ‘crazy ball’, ‘smiles, sunshine and somersaults’, ‘catch the rainbow’ and Pete even learned to read on trampoline.
These trampoline games were created by Pete during lockdown, using the creative magic of his imagination. Whilst playing them he has improved his balance and coordination, increased his aerobic function and he kept smiling and sane through a 14-week lockdown in Melbourne. Have you ever seen a little person looking sad on a trampoline? I don’t think so – jumping up and down on a trampoline is just fun! Add an imaginative game and you have created magic and boosted your mental health!
What other games will we be getting up to over the school holidays? Here’s a couple more to try this Summer:
What’s my dream?
Take a large piece of paper and some markers or crayons. Get your little person to take a moment to dream. Then ask them to draw what comes to mind on the piece of paper while you guess what they are drawing. Depending on their age, take them on a journey through their drawing – asking questions as they fill the page with their dreams. A nice little set of dreams to look back on 6 months or 12 months later.
Dance you own way
Ask your little person to close their eyes. Put on their favourite song, capture a mental reminder of their facial expression when the song starts and dance together. Laugh, sing and move together in whatever way they take you. Pete and I started this game after the entertainment for the AFL Grand Final…the song Geronimo. It was one of very few AFL Grand Finals we had missed and the Cats were playing. Rather than feeling grumpy about missing our family day – we found another way to create memories and feel positive – dance away!
Wishing you all a happy and fun school holiday, an amazing Christmas and let’s hope for a brilliant 2021. We are Australian and for that I feel blessed – Merry Christmas.