Local News

The fantastic new playground at Townsend Park. Image: contributed

Beat the boredom these holidays – with experiences, not just stuff

Renae Barnes

As parents we are often left feeling the financial pinch of the Christmas season and then the reality of entertaining our children during their summer holidays further tightens the purse strings.
I once read a quote by Jessica Scott that if we are lucky “We get just 18 delicious summers with our children, this is one of your 18” …. If that’s not perspective I don’t know what is.
Some schools are now closed for up to seven weeks and boredom often sets in just after Christmas. The presents are pushed aside and often forgotten but the memories of what we did over the holiday never seems to fade.
We are so lucky here in the Clarence Valley to have so many natural wonders and free or (almost) free school holiday options right on our door step. Holidays are a chance for us to get creative and explore our own backyards and neighbourhoods.
Whilst the internet and social media is a great place to research our “list of to do things” this Christmas, I hope I inspire you in this article to take a moment offline to connect and be present in the lives of those you love.
Here is a snap shot of things to do these holidays.

1. Explore a new park or neighbourhood. The Clarence Valley Council has recently opened and upgraded several parks across the valley. Jacaranda Park in Prince Street Grafton, has a huge climbing tower and pirate shipwhich  are sure to be a hit and the park has plenty of new and exciting play experiences… worth a visit to Grafton even if you don’t live there.

2. Head to the library, BORROW a book. Reading strengthens our brains and builds new connections, so you can never be bored if you have a book in your hand. Reading is a great way to spend time together whether hanging in the library or in a hammock. Reading helps teach our children empathy and about the world around us… it may be holidays but that doesn’t mean we need to stop learning.

3. Pick and press flowers. This one is from my personal list, I remember picking flowers with grandma. We used to then laminate them and stick them to the windows of her caravan and we used them to cover my schoolbooks with brown paper and a clear book covering.
Dedicated flower presses are again available to buy online and in boutiques, however, a heavy book or if you still have one hanging around, an old telephone book will do.
Press flowers for a week to get the best results but if you don’t have time or the patience another method is to use two plates, paper towel and your microwave. Place selected flowers between two layers of paper towel pressed between two microwave safe plates, microwave for 30 seconds replacing paper towel and repeating till flowers are dry.

4. Whilst we know it’s still dry we do have an abundance of glorious river, beach and pool options still available to us without wasting our precious resource. Pack some fresh bread from your local bakery, order some hot chips and introduce the kids to a good old sandy tomato sauce and chip sandwich.
Slap on the sunscreen, pop on a hat and enjoy the simplest of summer fun. Pack the floaties, body boards and a picnic basket filled with frozen fruits, icy poppers.
Grafton, South Grafton, Maclean and Yamba all have wonderful pool facilities, not to mention the iconic Yamba ocean pool so make a splash this summer.
On January 12 there is a sandcastle building competition Main Beach Yamba

5. Family games nights. Pop the corn and pull out the old fashion board and card games. Is there any thing better than a good old family holiday competition?
Need inspiration UNO, Boggle, Charades, Pictionary, Twister and the popular again Jenga are all-available at your local Big W or Target stores… so who will be crowned the family games night champion?

6. Freeze your own icy poles. There is nothing better than an ice block on a hot day and for the kids there is nothing better than making them too. Cut up fresh fruit and combine with your favourite fresh juices or soda. My family favourites include strawberries in pineapple juice, blueberries and raspberries in apple and blackcurrant juice, frozen yogurt and jelly.

7. Visit your local art gallery, get inspired. Grafton Regional Gallery has a jam packed kids holiday offering catering for all ages have fun these holidays making your own colourful theatre masks, designing your own skate decks, learning the fundamentals of creating spray paint stencils or get creative cutting and pasting a collage with Jaz Grady. Check out www.eventbrite.com.au for booking times and more details.

8. Check out your local PCYC, District Services or Bowls Club and Shopping Centres for holiday entertainment. Yamba Bowling Club has fabulous facilities including putt putt, a ten pin bowling centre and rock climbing wall. Family friendly Bingo and the raffles are something my kids love every holidays

9. Clean out the bedrooms and rearrange. It sounds boring but nothing beats starting the New Year in a fresh space and if done together it is a real bonding experience. This activity shows your child your interested in their growth and environment. This is also a great opportunity to donate any unused or outgrown items to those less fortunate.

10. Watch a sunrise together with all members of your family. Plan a time to watch a sunrise together, as a family. The sunrise may only last a few moments but I can assure you this is something you will all remember for the rest of your life.
Every day we are alive we are blessed with this spectacle, yet rarely do we witness the miracle of it as most of us are still asleep. A sunrise, particularly a beach or hinterland one is a beauty beyond words, it energises, inspires and gives hope. I can’t think of anything more positive to do these holidays.
You can easily find rising times online with many phone apps, choose a viewing location, somewhere that you can easily observe the horizon. This location will become memorable for your family and will be fondly remembered.