Surviving the School Holidays – Exercise Hitlist Style.

As explained in a previous post I am not one of those awesome parents who get super excited by the school holidays.  I LOVE that I don’t have to make a gazillion lunchboxes and I love that I don’t have to rush around making breakfasts, finding socks and homework, and trying to get four kids out the door by 8am.  The downside is that they can drive me absolutely stir crazy!!  I have learnt through trial and error that the best way to survive the school holidays is to loosely stick to the following basic rules:

  • Have a plan and be a little organised.  Arrrggghhh, my 20 year old self would be horrified to hear me say that, meanwhile my super organised older sister is probably sitting there reading this and nodding smugly to herself.  OK I admit it, there is merit in planning ahead so jump on the band wagon and develop a super school holiday program for your family.  I often check out the local library, the local shire website, PCYC’s and leisure centres for their school holiday activities as they are often reasonably priced and sometimes even free.
  • Start with 1 or 2 big ticket items and plan your schedule around that.  For our family that usually involves a camping trip somewhere or a day trip and entry to a special Museum/Exhibition/Carnival or Show.
  • Plan to completely exhaust them every couple of days.  Trust me on this, you want them so tired that they don’t have the energy to talk back, whinge, or fight with each other and they are also more than happy to stay at home and vegetate the next day.  This is where I get them outside and make the most of local bike and walking trails, beaches, swimming holes and National Parks.
  • Even if you are only having a quiet day at home, spin it for all its worth.  For example if you want to hang out in your pyjamas til lunchtime and put a movie on hoping to keep the kids distracted so you can enjoy a coffee in peace, then this is what I would tell the kids when they ask what we are doing today: “Well you lucky kids,  we are going to have a Pyjama Party.  How bout we set up a theatre room in the twins room, you can choose two movies, I will get some awesome movie food ready (read usual morning tea put on fancy plates and add microwave popcorn) and we can enjoy a quiet day!!”  And that, people, is how it is done.
  • Invite others to get involved in your plans.  It turns a simple afternoon at the park into an awesome playdate, with minimal effort, no cost, and no fuss.  It may just save someone else’s sanity over the holiday period and with my hubby still doing FIFO a little bit of adult company goes a long way!!

With those tips in mind this is how my school holiday program turned out…..

School Holiday Program

So there you have it, a guide to surviving the holidays especially important when you have four kids, a husband that works away, and no family for 5000km.

I would love to hear any other great suggestions for surviving the holidays with kids.  Let me know in the comments below!

Mothers Day Classic 4km Family Fun Run

As I mentioned previously, this event was merely the icing on the cake on our journey to run 4km as a family.  All the work, the pride, the satisfaction came from training together twice a week, sometimes three times a week, in the lead up to the Mothers Day Classic.  By the time the actual day rolled around it was all about celebrating a job well done.  We decided to make a weekend of it and booked a unit in Dampier, near the beach, where we had a relaxing couple of days playing at the beach, park, and enjoying a dinner out.  The other important part of the weekend was raising awareness and funds for Breast Cancer research.  A big thank you to our family and friends who sponsored Team Campbell and all our efforts. I will let the photos tell the story of our day at the Mothers Day Classic 4km Family Fun Run.

It was a great event to participate in, and it may become a Campbell family tradition.  The husband has been a little forgotten in all this, but his story is also pretty impressive.  My husband would be the first to tell you that he is not the most athletic person but he was quite keen to sign up for this family challenge.  Hubby has never run 4km without stopping…..ever.  The first time he did this was at this event, with three of his boys, holding hands as they crossed the finish line.  Mr Exercise Hitlist was a little emotional, quite chuffed, and it is a moment that he will cherish for a long time to come.  Mission accomplished I say.  Another special mention must go to my eldest child, 8 yrs old, who managed to complete the whole course without stopping.  He wasn’t fast but he stuck to his game plan and just kept plugging away.  This is harder than it looks in this type of event, as there are people everywhere so it is hard to keep a steady pace as you try and weave in and around people.  There were also a lot of children in the event, which was fantastic, but most kids would walk a little, and sprint or jog a little, then walk again.  My younger kids found that hard as they wanted to walk when the others were walking even though they had run much further in training!  They all did a fantastic job, but especially the eldest who was probably one of the only kids to run the whole distance!!  I am beyond proud of my little family.

After returning home from our weekend I asked the kids and hubby what they thought about training, running in this event, and whether they would do it again.

B1 (8yr old) – What did you like the best about training?  Icy poles at the end.  Favourite training moment? When you and I ran that whole 3km.  Did you feel like you could run 4km without stopping at the start?  No way! It was really hard at the start.  What did you feel like when you finished the 4km on race day?  I was really proud of myself, it felt good.  I also felt like I was saving lives.  Would you do it again?  Maybe, not for a while.  I would rather train for a bike race.

B2 (7yr old) – What did you like best about training?  Icy poles.  Favourite training moment?  When we did that really good run all the way to the pool and then we got to have a swim.  What did you feel like when you first started running? I didn’t like it.  My legs hurt and it was hard.   Did it get easier? Yes!  Some days it was awesome.  What did you feel like when you finished the race? Awesome.  Would you do it again??  Yes.

I found this drawing B2 had drawn a few days after the race....I think he had fun right?

I found this drawing a few days after the race….I think he had fun right?  B2 is the one right at the top yelling ‘Weeeee….’

B3 (7yr old) –  What did you like best about training?  Icy poles.  Favourite training moment?  The days off.  What about the 3.5km run?  That was good.  When I ran the 3.5km, I felt like I could keep running and running.  What did you feel like when you first started running?  Sore after the run.  What did you feel like when you finished the race?  Good.  When prompted for something other than ‘good’? I liked that we all ran together.  Would you do it again?  Not really.  I want to do a bike race.

B4 (5yr old) – What did you like best about training?  Icy poles.  Favourite training moment?  When I sucked it up and ran all the way to the shed which was the longest run.  (Just over 2km)  What did you feel like when you first started running?  I didn’t feel like I could do it but I could.  What did you feel like when you finished the race?  Good.  It was my first time to do a race.  Would you do it again? Yes.

Hubby – What did you like best about training?  Icy poles.  Loved the occasional cheer squads from the locals.  The guys waiting for the bus to go to work, and the more sane locals who were sitting outside having a beer.  Also loved the ticker shown by B1, and B3 when they did their breakthrough runs.  It was hard work though and some days I really didn’t feel like doing it.  Favourite training moment?  It was a training run with Team Rangas, which started out shocking, but then they kicked into gear and ended up putting me through my paces.  What did you feel like when you first started running?  I doubted whether I could do it, I wondered whether my knees could do it.  I thought surely this is just a phase and Beth will give it up.  I was surprised when it got easier.  What did you feel like when you finished the race?  I was a bit emotional, I was proud of myself.  I was blowing out holding hands with my boys as we crossed the finish line.  I was really proud of the twins for digging deep, as we mixed up where the finish line was.  They thought we were done but then had to find something extra to run the extra 500m to the actual finish line.  I was really impressed that the eldest finished without stopping, thought he would be the first to stop given the attitude at the start of the race.  Would you do it again?  Yeah I would.  I would love to do a team event with the family.

Me – What did I like the most about the training?  I love the excited chatter when we got home from a run, when they would chat about how far they ran before stopping, how awesome so and so was today, what we should try next time.  All while sucking on their icy poles.  I think this is really why everyone loved the icy poles!!  What was my favourite training moment?  It still has to be the D-Man running the 3.5km, it just clicked that night, he ran so comfortably.  He was just buzzing, and I swear he would have run the loop again if I let him.  Proud mumma moment.  In saying that, all my boys had runs that just made me proud!  What did you feel like when we first started running?  I felt like this was going to be the longest 10 weeks of my life and it would be a miracle if I didn’t have a mass mutiny.  There was a lot of ‘Sometimes things are hard, and it hurts, but you just have to find a way to get it done’, ‘Suck it up princess’, and ‘We just have to get the job done tonight boys’.  There were a lot of runs where I was really proud of them because they gave up at some point, felt like it was too hard, but then managed to regroup and finish off strongly.  What did I feel like when I finished the race?  I stayed with my youngest during the race and he didn’t have the greatest run.  He was a crook with a small cough and a little overwhelmed by it all, so during the race I actually felt a little underwhelmed and not sure I had met my expectations of race day.  Looking back at it all, it was all that I needed it to be and a great family bonding experience.  My youngest wore his medallion for all of the next week, to school and everywhere.  He would have worn it to bed if he could.  Would you do it again?  Absolutely!

Stay tuned for our next adventure, looks like they are all on board to try something else!

7 Ways to get the Kids Active and Outdoors

On my current hitlist I have listed an Active Kids challenge as something I wanted to complete.  Basically, I wanted to have a good hard look at how much time my kids actually spent outdoors and active, and then focus on specifically planning a week of activities that will ensure that my kids are outside and active for at least an hour every day.  I decided to do this in the school holidays initially as it would keep them (and me) out of trouble and there wouldn’t be the obvious time constraints that come with the school term.  In saying that I also want to try this during the school term to see what changes I could incorporate into our daily lives.

There are many reasons that kids, and adults, should be staying active for at least an hour every day and these are just some of them:

  • It helps kids think better (also check out this link too on the benefits of daily activity and improved brain function)
  • It is good for emotional health
  • It is good for motor development and weight control
  • A family that exercises together, stays together…don’t have any research on that one, but it is what I believe!
  • It is fun
  • The great outdoors are just beautiful.  The opportunities for exploring our surrounding areas are all in our grasp if we just make the effort to look.
  • For the most part it is free

I am sure these reasons come as no surprise to anyone so why aren’t we all doing it?  Are our excuses legitimate or have we fallen into a bit of a rut and not thought outside the box about how we could fit it in?  Are our priorities in order?  I like to think that my kids are fairly active but when I took a good look at how much ‘moderate’ exercise they do I think we would only meet the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines for physical activity on 4-5 days out of a possible 7 days.  Hence my wish to pick up my game, make a plan for the holidays, and see if I could do 7 days of outdoor activity for more than an hour each day…..

ONE – Mountain biking – Check out your local mountain biking club for information on your closest trails.

Mountain biking - check out your local mountain biking club for information on your closest trails.

TWO – Head to a new park. Have you explored all your local parks?

Head to a new park.  Have you explored all your local parks?

THREE – Head to the beach. Australia is an island people, so for most of us our closest beach isn’t that far away.

Head to the beach.  We live on an island so for most of us our closest beach isn't that far away.

FOUR – Good old fashioned fun at a creek.

Good old fashioned fun at a creek.

FIVE – Find a local bike path – Where does it take you?

Find a local bike path - Where does it take you?

SIX – Spend a day at home – gardening, playing, jumping, riding.

Spend a day at home - gardening, playing, jumping, riding.  In this case they helped us carry and load all our camping gear too.

SEVEN – Go camping! Great way to recharge the batteries and have some quality family time.

Go camping!  Great way to recharge the batteries and have some quality family time.

So there you have it, seven great ways to get outside and have some fun with the kids.  What are your favourite ways to get outdoors and stay active?

Indoor Rockclimbing

Another fun, active idea to do with the kids or a workout all on its own. This made the hitlist on the spur of the moment as I picked up a family pass off Scoopon for a great price and I thought why not!! The voucher was with PWR Urban Ascent Rockclimbing gym.  We did this one on a rainy day during the school holidays which was great as the kids had been going a little stir crazy. My cousin was visiting at the time and we dragged him along as well which was lucky as we really needed another adult for our tribe of 4 kidlets. Kids under 13yrs are not allowed to belay (controlling the tension on the safety harness and rope) so it may be something to consider if you are thinking of trying it out as you don’t want the kids sitting around waiting too long.

When you first arrive you will need to fill in an indemnity for each person who is climbing.  You will then be shown how to put on the harness (insert inelegant snort here as I tried not to laugh at how uncomfortable my husband and cousin looked!) and undergo a safety demonstration on how to safely perform rock climbing, belaying, and abseiling.  It was really easy to pick up although the first couple of runs I was a little nervous about dropping the kids on their butts.  Turns out it is actually quite difficult to drop them.  Look no hands!!  I’m kidding, I didn’t really do that.

There are several walls with climbs of varying difficulty, but for obvious reasons we stayed on the basic climbs.  My boys are 8yrs, twins are 6, and the youngest is 4 yrs old.  The instructor was lovely and let us pay at the end for my youngest so we could see if he could actually do it.  He managed to have a great attempt at it and had a ball.

My youngest scaling the cliff face

My youngest scaling the cliff face

The kids surprised us with their ability and gained confidence with the heights as we went along.  Us big kids had a turn too and I found the hardest thing was having the grip strength, the confidence to trust that grip, and trust that you won’t fall.  It is higher than it looks.

All I could think about as I was climbing was the Spiderman theme song....

All I could think about as I was climbing was the Spiderman theme song….

It was a quiet afternoon when we visited so we had the place to ourselves and we ended up staying for a good couple of hours.  Check out their website for details on programs, prices and opening hours.  Some rockclimbing centres offer junior and senior classes which can be a great alternative to the usual sporting options if you are looking for something a bit different.  Definitely worth a go.