For the love of rhythm and free play!

We are starting to plan for our Christmas break school holidays. My son will have nearly two months off school. That is a looooong time to be on holidays!!

I’ve never been one for scheduling play time. I think the kids need to make their own fun as much as possible, and indeed they are really good at doing that. In our house we have six children (two families): a six, a five, 2 threes, a one and 4 month old.  The four older ones play for long periods together, and the two little ones WANT to play together but are settling for experimental interaction for the moment.

The four big ones have a great play place going in one of our garden beds: a home-made camp site they call the “Aboriginal Place” – they have found logs that are serving as a campsite/kitchen, have cleared the weeds from under trees and created rooms and are trying to put together a hut out of old palm tree fronds. All this, despite us already having a set-up camp-fire site area in our yard. It has been so rewarding and satisfying for them to have built their own. What a lot of work! And so physical too … our new home has a TV but the children so rarely ask to watch it as they are so busy doing their thing outside that they just forget. Brilliant! That suits everyone, and I don’t mind at all putting something on for them to watch when they DO ask.

When they are not constructing and deconstructing their play space they are riding bikes up and down the driveway, or upstairs drawing or making magnificent structures from blocks and lego. They play so well together, and they feed each other’s imaginations. They are also developing their own little internal hierarchy, which is interesting to watch.

They each have their own school or kindy days to break up their week and to spend time with other children, but when that stops they will be with each other all the time – and that will be the test!! School and kindy provides a rhythm to the week that keeps the momentum of activity going, without school/kindy then we need to find another rhythm if the holidays are going to continue supporting their wonderful play.

But, as I said, I don’t like to schedule children’s play and shuffle them from one activity to another, so we’ll take it easy and do some simple things at home and some simple things out and about … so this is what I’m thinking:

  • A cooking day – kids in the kitchen!! pick a recipe and let’s try it out!
  • A creative day – paint the cubby house, paper mache etc etc … whatever evolves. (I want to set the challenge of making a Christmas paper chain that wraps around our huge house!)
  • A wet day – home-made water slide here we come! Perhaps a trip to the beach, pool, rock pools, creek ….anywhere cool!! Actually this could end up just being the daily thing …
  • A park day – totally low-key, but preferably something that involves children on bikes with baby-wearing mammas walking fast behind so we can at least get some exercise!
  • Plain old home day – a day to keep house and play in the Aboriginal Place.

So that is three home days and two out days and nothing expensive or strenuous. We can throw in the odd surprise excursion to some exciting place. The other two days are days when the daddies are home, and those are exciting enough just having a house with 10 people in it. Those days we generally potter about, garden, cook and hang out with the kids.

It is a rhythm we can work to and play with – play being the operative word!

And don’t forget the siesta after lunch every day!! I live for siestas … I just wish my kids did too!

 

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