Boost your family’s physical and mental health with these 10 expert-approved summer holiday activities
Words Dani Binnington
The summer holidays are a great time to refresh and recharge. With a careful bit of planning it can also be a great time to develop key habits that will help your children thrive. Activities can include cycling, walking or learning a new board game – depending on the age of your child(ren) – but they can also include some powerful and simple ones that will stimulate yours and their brains, and help you all get in touch with your inner self.
So here are my top 10 strategies to boost yours and your child’s physical and mental wellbeing this season…
1. Practise self-care. Teaching our children the importance of self-care is vital for their development and a great building block for their adult lives, too. Allow your child to tell you when they need to rest or when they want to read (if they can), or even offer them a bath in the middle of the day if they feel they would like to relax. It’s vital that we’re connected to our gut feelings, which are usually overridden by our schedule and to-do list. So learn to give your body and mind what it needs as often as possible.
2. Get talking. A weekly family meeting brings many benefits. Set a time and arrange a place for your family to gather. No phones or other gadgets allowed. No TV either. You can either set a topic that you would like to discuss (like the next family holiday or which rewards chart you want to get started) or allow anything to come up. You could start by asking everyone to tell each other how their week has been so far. Practise listening and teach your child not to interrupt either. It is a very powerful experience when you actually feel listened to.
3. Get into geocaching. Everyone loves a scavenger hunt. Families and groups of people can search for hidden “caches” using the GPS on your phones. You can choose from easy to tricky and you can even choose how long you want to be on the hunt for. It’s like your very own treasure hunt and such a great way to get little ones walking much further than you would have imagined!
4. Make “cool stuff”. The website dadcando.com is great and full of crafty ideas that bring adults and kids together, spending quality time with each other. From paper planes to dream catchers and other quirky things, it offers ideas for how to make stuff out of mostly inexpensive or recycled materials.
5. Bake. Whipping up treats in the kitchen can mean more than just creating yummy comfort food. In fact, by setting some time aside to spend together, baking can have a positive effect on yours and your child’s relationship, too. Smaller children can learn to measure out ingredients while older children can take charge of almost everything. By enjoying the end result (which is hopefully tasty!) it will leave you feeling super-satisfied, emotionally and physically. But watch the sugar; try to make healthy versions of your favourite treats and instill within your kids a health-conscious relationship to food.
6. Discuss goals. It can be lovely to talk with your child about their goals and dreams no matter their age. Allow your child to dream big! Then set a realistic goal that your child can achieve over the holidays. It can be as little or big as appropriate, from drawing a picture for each family member, to learning a new skill like roller blading. Setting a goal, working towards it and achieving it are empowering and positive experiences.
7. Borrow or purchase yoga cards. Yoga cards are a fun way for you and your child to embark on a journey that will be as exciting and varied as your child’s imagination. Each card shows a yoga pose and the colourful illustrations inspire hours of exploration, movement and creative play. It allows your child to become your teacher, which is something they will love. You can never be too young or old to practise yoga.
8. Try forest bathing. Most of us are aware that spending time in nature helps us to de-stress. A walk on the beach or a stroll in the countryside can make us feel so much better. But do we know why? The Japanese practise of “forest bathing” – basically just being in the presence of trees – is scientifically proven to improve your health. It became part of a national public health programme in Japan back in the early ’80s. So go outside, surround yourself by trees and improve your immune functions!
9. Have a go at something new. Discuss with your child what it is that you could try out that is new to you both. Pick something age- and budget-appropriate. This does not need to be a bungee-jump! You could order some clay and try your hand at making a vase. Try out a new healthy recipe, which you could let your child pick out of a magazine. Or head to your nearest car boot sale and have a go at selling some old toys.
10. Go on an adventure. Turn a normal day into an exciting journey and see if you can take a train, bus and/or boat to get to your destination. We often go somewhere for a day out, may it be a zoo, a museum or a restaurant. But why not turn the “getting there” into an adventure in itself?
Dani Binnington is a yoga teacher and wellness expert dedicated to providing practical steps for physical and mental wellbeing for the whole family. Visit Healthy Whole Me for recipes, classes, events and more inspiration.