Over Advent I did a series of Facebook posts of some of the activities I did with my boys: making a nativity set, angel wings, a game with a star that they follow, a puppet show. I periodically put some of our craft and sensory activities on Facebook, and generally get plenty of ‘likes’ and responses about how creative I am and what an engaged parent I am. So I feel like a dose of reality is in order. The truth is, I’m not a fun mum: I’m a desperate one.
The reason I do all these activities with my kids is not because I enjoy them, or even think they’re essential. All power to the mums who run blogs of activities to do with kids – I borrow their ideas extensively – but it sure seems like a lot of effort!
I don’t really even do them because my kids enjoy them. My oldest in particular would much prefer time away from me, out in a backyard or nature or space to run around.
And therein lies the rub. We don’t have such a space. We had been hopeful that the boys could use the carpark or the roof to ride their bikes around, but in reality there are only about 3 months in the year when this is possible, because the rest of the time it’s either pouring with rain, or so hot you need to be indoors, or at least in shade, and neither the roof nor the carpark has any shade. So we are indoors, cooped up together, driving each other up the wall. We are sweaty, yet in need of exercise and space to move.
We have developed some strategies to help – active things to do indoors like obstacles courses and mattresses to jump around on and kids yoga, as well as ipods, books and cubbies, that is, things that give us time out from one another. These things would be awesome activities for the odd scorching week or wet weather day – 9 months of the year, not so much! They are better suited as stop-gaps.
So I try to do fun and creative activities at home with the boys, because we have no backyard, or park nearby, or play group, or Sunday school, or any of the other active and creative outlets that normal kids in Australia have. Maybe I’m trying to make it up to them by doing activities with them, maybe I’m just looking for something to occupy us. Half the time, it just makes us all more stressed. But my alternatives are few, so I scour the internet for activities that my minimal skill level can pull off.
All mums have different challenges. One of mine is trying to compensate for the lack of a park / play group / backyard with activities that don’t quite make ends meet. But I can’t help thinking that if we had a backyard I wouldn’t have to, and we’d all be a lot happier.
Categories: Written by Tamie
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.