During this period of social distancing and staying at home, while we as parents are trying our best to juggle home, work and home schooling our kids. It can be very frustrating and stressful for both us adults and also the kids themselves.

With the help of my boys, we have come up with some alternative or should I say some fun ways to engage all ages of school age kids and get them outdoors.
I am lucky enough to live by the sea, so we have that space to use as well when walking for our daily exercise too. It is always good to combine activity, education and outdoors time for keeping the kids occupied as well as providing the health benefits they will get such as the vitamin D from the sun and also the recommended cardiovascular fitness time.

So here are just some ideas:

The Beach

  • Pebble and shell collecting – great to keep kids interested and look at their formations for science but also these can be decorated with paint or pen later for an art/craft session. We did some to look like cactuses. For more ideas check online.
  • Plastic free beach clean- providing you have gloves, bag and a scoop you can get involved in your own beach clean whilst out for a walk.
    As during the lockdown beach cleans as an organised group have not been happening so the coast line is being left without the regular checks.

In The Garden

  • Learning a new skill in the garden – skateboarding has been what the boys are doing, physical activity and fun outdoors.
  • Gardening and learning about the plants and their life cycles- my eldest is in year 3 of school and part of his curriculum this year is to learn about plants- so perfect inclusion into your day. Even if you don’t have a garden, you could do with a window box or just a potted plant.  We’ve been growing sunflowers and chilli plants.
  • Even playing with sand, water, soil or grass can be great for those kids that have more sensory needs too.
  • Art outside- whether it be painting rocks or paper outside, maybe build or create something out of things you have collected on your walks or in your garden (twigs, leaves, cones etc).
  • Obstacle course or circuits for a fun pe lesson for the whole family – whether it be you use steps or garden benches as step ups or bunny jumps in, and using anything you have as markers for different exercise stations. Use your imagine and for some fun circuit ideas. Keep a look out for the next post which will be courtesy of On-Form Fitness Services, which will give you some help tips and creative ideas.

Out for a Walk

  • Local area interesting histories or point out some facts about the village or town you may live in. You could even start talking to the kids about the different styles of houses and getting the children to start thinking and looking at these and pointing them out.
  • Climbing trees and exploring the undergrowth, my boys will always want to get up trees and muck about in the woods, which in itself is exercise. But also like with the nature trail, they can learn so much about the natural environment as well whilst being kids.

It is important to remember to make learning fun for the kids and you, enjoy the time with them.

When you learn something as a child outside of school and academia you never realise how much of an effect it is going to have on your life.  Well, I certainly didn’t think how significant surfing would come to be on mine.  It took a while for me to come back to it, as after summers in Croyde and Woolacombe as a kid and teenager.  Life then took over, away from the sea and in Sussex, Surrey and London and abroad a bit with work so from early twenties my time in the sea was limited to holiday time once or twice a year and surfing wasn’t on the cards.

Coming back to it wasn’t until my early thirties when I had,  had my kids and was down in Croyde for a family birthday and I actually watch the surfers with envy.  The timing wasn’t great as I had two young kids, going through marital difficulties and building a business but at the same time it was something I needed to start doing.

Funnily enough I didn’t get a chance to actually do it until a few months later. I did it, I booked some lessons with a local Croyde surf school (Surf South West) who I couldn’t recommend more. It’s definitely not an easy one coming back to and starting from scratch for a female in her thirties with those dreaded inhibitions and lack of confidence in herself. The instructors were amazing and actually even now a few years down the line and now being local too,  I see them and they are so approachable and supportive.  

Getting my confidence back and spending a season of a few lessons each time I could make it down made all the difference and then it was time to get a board and spend as much time in the water at all opportunities I had.  

Looking back it happened at the best time for me, as between then and now it has been if I am honest a tough few years. With a marriage breakdown, family and health issues, and building not 1 but 3 businesses and splitting time between two locations.  Surfing has got me through. However unbelievable that may sound. It’s provided that outlet, focus and stress relief and well needed me time, through this my anxiety levels have lowered and been managed naturally. 

Having been on anti-anxiety medication in the past I wanted to find alternative management methods and with working in the health and fitness industry myself, I would manage both stress and anxiety levels through exercise and self care.  I have found that surfing is the only switch off and channel that truly works for me.  

On days when I cannot actually surf just being by the sea, watching the waves, paddle boarding, open water swimming or mucking around in the sea with the kids will act as a calming and relaxation support.

Having come back to this later in life and as a mum to boys one of which suffers from sensory processing disorder which can mean he will be more likely to suffer anxiety, so I feel really strongly and can’t stress the importance of teaching and providing him and other youngsters with options and ways to manage their feelings, anxieties and emotional health as well as giving them the ability to experience this. 

Fortunately now there are charities and community based groups which provide this opportunity and amazing support which includes the national charity The Wave Project.  Also closer to home for me and local Croyde based group Waves Wahines, which I massively support their vision and mission to encourage more females. Giving them the access and opportunity to give surfing a go in a comfortable, supportive and fun environment alongside knowledgeable and approachable instructors.

I don’t look back at all in returning to surfing and I would recommend it to anyone that is confident in the water to try it out, whether it be for fun or as a stress relief outlet.