How do you remember your childhood? Was it magical? Do you get all the feels when you think back to those long summer holidays or weekends spent at the beach? Or maybe you remember more specific things, like baking a certain cake or reading a certain book?
There’s no doubt that life is definitely more fast paced in 2017. It’s more than likely that both parents work in order to make ends meet, or Dad works long hours, or even away from home for weeks at a time. We seem to have more to do, more responsibilities, more bills to pay. it certainly doesn’t leave a lot of times to create magic when it comes to our kids.
Add extra school work, home work and after school sports and extra curricular activities and you’d be forgiven for falling into bed at the end of the day an utter wreck. And I always think if that’s how we feel, imagine how our little mini mes are doing?
I’ve written a list of 21 things we can do this winter to bring some magic to our kid’s lives. To create those kind of memories that live on in their imaginations til the end of time.
1. Say yes to something you’d normally say no to.
Sounds easy – and it really is. Are you like me and always say no, I’m not playing hide and seek with you. I have to peel the vegetables, finish this email, change your brother. To hell with it. Say yes. Hide behind the pantry door so you can eat while your wait to be found. Give in to that forbidden freddo frog. Say yes to the Peppa Pig ride at the supermarket. Yes I know, you’re probably just asking for trouble. But hey, it will bring a smile to their face – and isn’t that the end game?
2. Go tadpoling.
Yes, you read right. Tadpoling. Honestly it’s one of the easiest activities. All you need is a net and a bucket. Turn it into an educational activity. Watch their faces light up in wonder as they learn where frogs come from. We love tad poling here.
3. Eat breakfast for dinner.
Do it. It is the best. Eggs on toast, rice bubbles, toast and vegemite. Whatever your favourites, it’s a sure fire easy way to make their day. It’s just an added bonus you don’t have to think about what’s for dinner.
4. Turn the lounge room into a giant cushion pit
Let the kids get every pillow, doona and blanket in the house. Yep I know, it make me feel ill too at the thought of putting it all back. But trust me it’s worth it. Pile everything on top of each other. Blankets and doona on the floor and then pile the cushions around the edge. Voila! The perfect spot to enjoy family movies, board games or even a story! It really does add an extra element of fun to a usually mundane activity.
5. Decorate rocks and hide them!
If you haven’t heard about this craze, then you really have been hiding under a rock. It’s the ultimate game of hide and seek. It lets the kids unleash their creativity, learn about giving and taking, encourages outdoor time away from screens and fills their day with a little wonder and magic. What could be better than that? Yep it’s messy (try doing it with a 19 month old lol) and yep it means you need to give them your undivided attention. But you know what, I promise you’ll have fun! And the best thing is that once you’ve painted them, you then have to go and hide them which creates another opportunity to create some magic together. You can read more about painting rocks here and you can join the South West Rocks Facebook Group here.
6. Read Aloud as a family
Ok, so it sounds kind of geeky, but trust me, your kids will love it (as long as their at that age where they can sit still for more than 5 minutes – which kind of counts my two out). Choose a shorter story to start with, something that is engaging, but not too long. You could use the giant cushion pit you created! Work your way up to longer stories which might need to be read over a few different sittings. There’s something magical about being read aloud to as a child, it will stay with them forever.
7. Let them play with playdough
This kind of goes back to number one – sometimes you have to say yes to playdough. It’s messy and can be a pain to clean up – but it’s a sensory delight for kids! They love it! Why not up your game on the playdough front and add glitter, essential oils or even fresh herbs. For some new found playdough inspiration and a super soft recipe head here. We’ve even included a recipe that needs no Cream of Tartar (cos seriously who always has that in their cupboard??).
8. Sing in the car
This is something I love to do with my boys! I can’t hold a tune, but it doesn’t matter, it’s the doing that counts. It astounds me how many songs my 4 year old actually remembers too. We listen to all sorts of music – but their favourites are the really old fashioned nursery rhymes. The ones I remember being sung as a child. It’s daggy and can be a bit monotonous when all you want to do is crank Bruno Mars, but hey, go with it, it’s not forever. It’s actually really good for their brains too! See … multitasking!
9. Make a giant graffiti board together
This is probably one for the older kids, but something that really gets the creative juices flowing. Cover the kitchen table or lounge room floor in paper or white card, grab your fave textas and go nuts! Write, draw, letter – whatever you feel. Let it flow. It’s something that you can leave on the table for a few days and keep it going. There’s something magical about creating a huge work of art all together. You could do a new one every year and keep them to look back on.
10. Bake the cookies
An oldie, but a goodie. It doesn’t matter whether you use Betty Crocker or a recipe handed down from Great Aunt Nelly, again it’s the doing. There’s nothing lovelier than baking a batch of cookies together. It’s the smell, getting to eat them afterwards … not to mention the life lessons you’re giving them (well maybe not from Betty Crocker, but you know, baking from scratch lol).
11. Play Pirates
Why not get into character and act out their favourite stories or tv shows? My boys definitely love to pop on an eye patch and pretend to be pirates! It’s even more fun when we head out to the park and find playgrounds to really bring the game to life! If you’re into Pirates, Binningup has a nice big pirate ship playground. There’s also a little one at San Marco Parade Playground in Australind.
12. Grow some sprouts or herbs
There’s nothing more magical than watching something grow! Sprouts and herbs are probably the easiest and fastest growing. Older children might like to head to the local nursery to pick out their favourites – learning about how they smell and taste while they’re at it. Younger children will enjoy watching sprouts grow rather quickly on the kitchen bench. Come on, you remember growing alfalfa sprouts don’t you? We’ve got some more info on this here.
13. Go hunting for fairies
Yep, you read right. Doesn’t matter that they’re not real. My boys LOVE this activity. We tiptoe and wander through parks and bushland. We look under rocks. We listen. We chat. And my boys faces light up as we play out this little game of fantasy. We even take glitter rocks to hide in the bushes, just in case the fairies need a new home! Our favourite places to hunt for fairies is Cadell Park and the little nature walk that runs at the bottom of it. You can learn more about the secret gardens of Millbridge here.
14. Tell Stories
While reading aloud can be fun, there’s something next level about being able to tell your kids a story from your imagination. If telling stories makes you run in horror because you think there’s no way you could ever string something magical together – trust me – kids don’t really care what it’s about. They just love being in the moment with you. Make it about them and their day with little sprinkles of imagination and they will remember it well into adulthood.
15. Jump in Muddy Puddles
Whether you’re a fan of that cheeky Pig or not, there’s something about jumping in muddy puddles that gives kids a sense of freedom. Want to take it next level. Do it with them. Grab your wellies … or go barefoot and enjoy the freedom of splashing and jumping. Take a moment to look at their faces. See, pretty awesome huh!
16. Have an Autumn Leaves Photo Shoot
It might be winter, but there’s still so many autumn leaves around! Grab your iPhone and take the kids to revel in the crunchy goodness of autumn leaves. You’ll find the best stocks of autumn leaves in Kingston, Dalyellup and Binningup … or for a truly magical experience the Golden Tree Park in Balingup is not to be missed!
17. Have a Teddy Bear’s Picnic in the Lounge Room
The lounge room is getting a bit of a work out in this list, but it is winter, so we do tend to spend a bit more time indoors. There’s nothing more fun than gathering all the teddy bears and dolls in the house and arranging them in a picnic. Serve some really simple food alongside their favourite little tea set and you’ve got a few hours of fun. While I’m sure the girls will be all for this, I have to admit that my boys love it just as much!
18. Create Traditions
Even if they’re very simple traditions like Family Movie & Pizza Night every Friday or a chance to go around the ktichen table at dinner time and all say something wonderful that happened during the day, there is something magical about them. They’re something that will remembered well into adulthood. While most of us remember the bigger occasions and traditions that accompany them, like Christmas and Easter, it’s equally important to add some sparkle into the everyday.
We have a little tradition in our family of having a little fire and toasting marshmallows the night before my husband flies out each swing. It’s something that the boys look forward to … and there is certainly something magical about toasting marshmallows over an open fire!
19. Let your kids help create their own spaces
This one can be a bit scary – especially if you like a certain look in your home. But if you think bigger picture – how amazing would it be to give your kids some creative license and control over how their own spaces look? Maybe it’s just letting them have a chalkboard that’s all theirs or having their favourite character on their bedding. Or maybe a teepee in their bedroom filled with cushions they’ve chosen. The sky’s the limit with this one. It’s a definite winner, especially with the older kids. But even younger ones will love to get involved. Some of the projects on our list to do with Mr 4 are create his own Lego pencil holder, put lego pieces into the soap dispenser in his bathroom and create a reading nook with his teepee. Little projects for rainy days!
20. One on One Dates
Spending one on one time with your kids can be really tricky, especially if you have a few! With hubby away 2 weeks at a time for work, running a business and having 2 under 5, I’ll admit, one on one time is definitely not a priority. But I have to make it a priority. Now, being able to take my 4 year old out is not really practical, as I don’t have anyone to help with Mr 19 months, but we work with what we have. When my little one goes down to sleep for the night, Mr 4. and I have secret Lego building parties, we drink warm frothy milk and watch our favourite movies.
I’ll be honest, it’s not what I always feel like doing at the end of a long day, but it’s something that I know makes him feel loved and adds some sparkle to his day. He loves choosing little Lego projects for us to do in the evennings.
With most things magical … it’s not about the what or the where … it’s just the doing!
21. Fill your home with photos
This might sound like an odd suggestion, but there’s something so magical and warming about family photos. We make a point of filling our fridge with fun family snaps. We have little photo books for the boys to see photos of their Dad when he’s away at work. Our entry way houses our offiical “family portrait”. My boys often steal the magnets from the fridge and pin their fave photos to our door frames.
I really hope that some of these inspire you to create a little magic for your kids this winter. I’d love to hear about your ideas … come and join in the conversation in our FB Group South West Mum Life.
Kate is the founder of South West Mums. She’s a FIFO wife and a mum to two boys, Haze (4) and Texen (1). Fuelled by coffee and the occasional wine, Kate loves to write, be creative and make the most out of every day. You can usually find her writing in the kitchen, close to the coffee, with her boys playing lego. You can contact Kate here.