The days are getting colder and we are all looking at ways to snuggle up and keep warm.
However, as a family it’s still very important to stay active. The best way to do this is to set put togther a family plan that includes physical activities.
Children spend an average of 3 hours a day watching screens and many teens and children do not get regular weekly exercize.
Children should, ideally spend 1 hour a day outside, engaged in play and vigorous activity. Adults need 30 minutes exercize a day to stay healthy.
So, exercising as a family is not only benefits our health but it also teaches our children how to become healthy adults.
How to set out a physical activity plan for your family
With so many other things to do a week, taking care of everyone’s physical health may seem really overwealming but this is where a good schedule will help co-ordinate your family and keep you all physically healthy.
So, how do you set up a physical activity plan for your family?
Existing activities – examine which physical activities your family currently take part in. Prehaps your child does an extra mural, you enjoy an evening run or your family hikes each Sunday. Chart these into your plan first.
Options – for those families not yet active, or for the families wanting to add more activities that include all family members sit down and brainstorm some activities first. Make a list of options that meet your family dynamic, interests, energy and physical level and that are age appropriate.
Time limits – set time limits to how much physical activity you wish to participate in each week. This could be a 30 minute walk or a 1hour hike. By having a time limit it will help the less enthusiastic members of your family to complete the activity. This also sets the basis to physical activity becoming a habit in your weekly routine.
Be flexible – Remember that life happens and many factors could determine you not reaching your goals for the week. Mood, health, weather or other engagements. Instead of feeling guilty or frustrated rather enjoy your family in a less demanding way.
Some low cost family activities
Not every family has the resources to join gyms, add additional extra murals or endulge in new exercize equipment.
Every family can enjoy these low cost and free activities to become healthy.
Low cost family activity ideas
Walking – walk around your neighborhood, in the park, at the beach or walk the dog
Ball games– winter is the perfect time to bring out those soccer balls. cricket sets or other ball games.
School yard games – games like tag, hide and go seek or red rover on the yard or park will keep the kids entertained.
Fly a kite– Cape Town autumn winds are perfect for kite flying. You could make your own first then see who flies their kite the highest.
Park runs – join a local park run . These are every Saturday morning and great for all ages.
Beach clean ups – use your physical time to do good and join a beach or river clean up
Bike rides– family bike rides or scooter rides are great to not only see your neighborhood but to keep fit too.
Roller skating – Go roller skating, roller blading or ice skating.
Dance parties– for bad weather you could turn up the music and have a dance party.
There are so many other inexpensive ways to get moving as a family and stay healthy. The goal however is to always have fun.
Yesterday was Mother’s day and I got to spend the day surrounded by my children.
The rarity in that statement is that 6 out of my 7 children are adults, living their own lives and who were trying to juggle other mother figures ( mother in laws, step mothers, friends who are mothers, etc) into their day yesterday as well.
So, the day looked much different to when they were younger but it was still a day celebrating their mother, each in their own way.
Early morning wake up call
My morning started at 2am, when I woke to be awake for my two adult sons, Shaun and Ronan, who live at home, coming in after a long shift at an event. Lying in bed, I listened to the waves breaking on the shore and the silence of the house until they got home.
The boys were only due in around 4am but I always have them message me as they leave so I can time how long it should take for them to get home and so that I am awake to dial our complex gate and let them in. Mothers worry, no matter how old our kids are.
They arrived, tired, cold and ready to sleep. Mumbled a few Happy Mother’s day messages in hushed tones and between grabbing coffee and going to the loo. Then they were asleep.
But they were home safe, which meant I got to relax.
And, their messages were unprompted …now, if you’ve yet raised a child between the ages of 15 and 30 you’ll realise what a big accomplishment that is. Most of the time I send hints for days before events or I run around reminding everyone of celebrations, birthdays, etc….so, the fact that they remembered….on their own…without prompting ….well, that was a good start to the day.
My sister is awake at 4am. Neither of us apparently inherited the genes to sleep in and so I messaged her and we chatted until about 7am.
All things coffee, and motherhood, and children and how we would be celebrating our day.
Friends & family
I then popped online and sent a mothers day message to a few friends, because as moms we are here to support each other. Whilst the ladies I’m privileged to call friends may not be my mother we are mothers. We understand the hard days, the good days, the joys and challenges of motherhood. And yesterday was a day to celebrate that.
I popped my mother in law a message as well as got to chat to Lynne from Kaboutjie as we shared our morning and our spoils.
I then updated my socials and shared some mothers day love to all the moms online.
Hugs and coffee
Hamish woke me with hugs as he always does and I heard Brent remind him that it was Mother’s day.
He then wished me and he helped me make my coffee. Being 5 he really isn’t allowed to use the kettle himself, but he can add the spoon of coffee and sugar and we grabbed a quick photo of him proudly showing off the new mug he chose for me. The fact that he can read what’s on the mug makes this year so very special.
We snuggled in and giggled, enjoying our morning coffee, watching as the sun came out from my bed which looks out onto our balcony.
After coffee, I got up gave Hamish breakfast, fed the animals, made beds, put the washing on, cleaned the house, prepped the food for the kids visits and got myself and Hamish dressed for the day ….after all a mother’s work is never done.
My eldest child, Tammi, arrived with her mother in law and husband and we enjoyed some sweet treats, a glass of bubbly and some great conversation for the morning.
Pre-covid we always got together for all small events, mostly at our home, but with Covid restrictions and our new flat being much smaller, we haven’t held many family events at home over the last two years so it was nice to have a little pre-covid normal return.
I don’t know about you but we are still adjusting to trying to find our normal again since Covid-19.
Friends are family too
No sooner had they left at about 1pm when Hamish’s little friend knocked on the door.
He plays at our home daily and whilst I am normally quite strict on family days being for family only there are always those special friends of your children that you gather along the years to include.
This little one, who is without a mother figure at home, came to play and the boys quickly started a rather loud, boisterous game that had them running from the lounge to the bedroom as the next batch of my kids arrived.
Next to arrive were my son Byron, his girlfriend, Hannah, and my youngest daughter, Kerri.
They arrived with a bucket full of energy and a bag of Spoils. With so many other “moms” to fit into their day and to celebrate with I value the time they took to fit a visit in.
Their visit was short but Kerri got to meet Rexy, I got photos and a nice chat with them and then they were off to spread a little love at their next stop.
I love their busy energy. I totally understand it and as someone who could be busy all day trying to do all the things all the time, I totally get it. So, I’m not offended by their quick visits.
I also don’t hold my children with restrictions. We are a big family. Sometimes, not everyone can be somewhere or sometimes not everyone likes each other and that is OK. One day doesn’t make a difference to the overall relationship you have with your family.
Last but not least
I knew my last visit would be from my eldest son as he had spent the morning with my granddaughter and her mother.
As that one child who never phones his mother, who I bemoan and curse at because why does he even have a phone if he never answers it …True to his character, he randomly messaged in the late afternoon hi can you open please and we went down to meet him.
Hamish had been waiting for his big brother Dylan the entire day. He was so excited and Dylan was whisked off to meet Jason the snake and Rexy the gecko before fixing Hamish’s flashing lights and then being allowed to join me for a conversation.
His visit was also relatively short, but my mom heart was filled. It’s rare as the kids get older to see them all on the same day or at the same event ….we all lead such busy lives. So, this was the perfect day to gather them and I got to celebrate Mother’s day the whole day not just for a few hours.
Spoils from Brent
My husband is the least celebratory man I know in general and every year he will say to me ” You not my mother” and each year without fail I remind him it’s his duty to teach his son to value me as a mother. It’s respectful for him as my husband to see the humongous contribution I bring to the table and to acknowledge the type of mother I am and how this affects our son. And also, I like gifts ….just saying.
Now, Brent’s really good and even though he jokes, he spoils me every year for mothers day but the I’m not your mom statement really gets to me. ( I think he thinks its one of those funny Dad joke things )
Also, I think the reason it upsets me is because I celebrate him as a father all the time and really put the effort in to help record moments for him to look back at, so I just assume he would want to do the same for me. Forgetting that our love languages are so different.
This year I didn’t feel like having the same conversation ( 5 years in it’s pretty repetitive) and so I simply stated that the effort shown on mothers day would determine the very effort delivered on fathers day …
Again, I was not disappointed and saw the effort he made to buy me the boots and shawl I wanted, and help Hamish pick out a gift.
I did however, in the Chaos of my busy day, forget to ask if he did indeed wish his mother, after all she is his mother.
A good day
It was a great mother’s day. I was totally spoilt in love, time and effort and those things are much more valuable than material gifts. They meet me at my love language and fill my cup much more than gifts( which I usually just re-gift)
I also got to spend the day with all my favourite people.
As a family, we have rented a home for the last few years but as Hamish grows, we have been giving serious thought to buying a new home that accommodates us better.
Hamish is getting older and we would like to do renovations to make his bedroom one that he can grow into and with. He wants friends to sleep over and our small living space is being severely cramped. He really needs more space to grow.
I work from home and desperately need a home office and would love a separate craft room for my Cricut machines and other craft supplies.
Brent likes to entertain and is longing for an entertainment area and our car could do with garage which our current little flat does not offer.
We are also comfortable in our small urban apartment that doesn’t require us to clean too much. Where we have no need for extra security measures and where there are no hidden or unexpected monthly costs.
But, how do you determine when you’ve outgrown your current home and are ready to upgrade to a bigger family home?
Some factors to consider if you want to upgrade to a larger family home are:-
Growing family size
The first factor to determine an upgrade to a bigger home would be a bigger family size. In our case, my older children have moved out and we have no intention of growing our family unless it is by pets.
Larger families need more space. You may want separate bedrooms for the children, a playroom or a better entertainment area to rather have friends over when your children are younger than to go out.
If you are like me and work from home, you may need a dedicated home office or need extra space to pursue a hobby or interest. The pandemic has seen a rise in parents working from home and many new entrepreneurs and small businesses have sprung up through the need to work from home.
You may have an idea of your dream family home and wish to renovate. Especially if you move from a rental where renovations are not allowed to owning your own home.
Pets also require more space. In Cape Town, it’s a struggle to find a well-priced rental that accommodates either children or pets. Knowing this upgrading to a bigger home that you purchase would be the next logical step.
You may be thinking of investing your finances into a bigger home which could easily be resold when you downgrade at retirement age, thus allowing you the opportunity to look after yourself in your old age.
Is it worth buying bigger?
This is a question we regularly ask ourselves as there are several factors that have up until recently stopped us from purchasing.
The ever-climbing interest rate, the hidden costs, how much insurance we would need and bond repayments would be higher than our current rental. Naturally, Covid also made us reconsider buying in an unstable economic market.
With Covid restrictions lowered and the markets slowly recovering, this is not a concern for us. Property is still one of the best investments and would offer us long-term stability.
Our investment would also yield a profit should it be sold later, allowing us to be more financially stable.
This helped us to have a realistic look at our finances, work out what price we could afford to purchase at, and start looking at homes we like that are on the market.
Hidden costs do worry me and I understand that household insurance should cover the majority of faults like burst geysers and leaking roofs.
We’ve also had to look at the financial costs that moving to a larger home would entail.
Using more electricity and water
Needing to hire a
Maintenance of any of the buildings structures
Installing and hiring security services
However, with a realistic calculation of the amount of home we can buy, the interest rates predicted and a full assessment of where we are in our family needs we can now start looking for a bigger home for our family.
Growing up as a homeschool family, my older 6 children were very close to one another, especially my 4 boys.
We hardly had fights at home and for the most part everyone played together.Our home was calm and quiet. And mostly one of harmony among the kids.
They shared the same circle of friends, most of whom became like family to us and many of whom still hold a very special place in my heart.
We had two rules …. The first anyone coming in our home had to get on with everyone and secondly share everything.
Then I got divorced.
Two of my boys chose to stay with their dad in Johannesburg, my eldest daughter was living alone in Durban and the other 3 kids stayed with me.
That was in 2012 …7 very long years ago.7 years in which they grew apart, especially my boys, turned ugly to each other, picked sides against each other and fought to find an identity separate from their siblings.
My mother heart was breaking.
I had raised loyal, loving children who were grounded in family first thinking so how could they be so selfish and intolerant of each other?
But life has a way of giving us the path we need to grow and learn and over the years, I’ve watched as each one of the boys have chosen a path unique to them. Some have fumbled and fallen as the world has taught them a few rules. Some have acted out and been rebellious.
And whilst I did not always like their behaviour I tried to love them unconditionally through these phases.
It was a lonely place for me as a single mother. How do you admit your child may not be ok? How do you acknowledge you’ve failed? Which mom won’t judge you if you speak out? Where do you unpack the guilt as your child finds their feet through a roller coaster of their own making ?
But as things do, everything passes and the last few years I’ve seen my adult children start to grow closer. To understand yet again the idea that family is first.
I’ve seen them bond over tiny things, stand up for each other and be there for one another.
I’ve seen them spend more time together and for the first time in a long time my mom heart is truly happy.
My grandmother always said our children may deviate from our teachings but if their roots are strong they will eventually remember the truth.
She was not wrong. We spend many hours teaching our children from little , the character traits we want them to possess. Through our example they develop their moral compass, their empathy and their sense of family loyalty.
So, long before our children become teens or young adults their roots have been formed…but, with puberty also comes the need to spread their wings.
As parents we need to give our children those wings to fly. We also need to be there to catch them should those wings fail.
These two things can be the hardest parts of parenting.
There are many mom’s out there, ashamed to admit they feel they have failed. They may have a child who is acting out or exhibiting rebellious behaviour. They may be dealing with children who no longer respect them …to you , the parent who is struggling to see the beautiful child you raised…..Don’t give up.
Siblings are sometimes your best friends or your worst enemies.
Growing up my younger sister was always someone for me to look out for which would annoy me tremendously, but I also remember many hours of quiet tea parties and busy Barbie doll games.
Today both in our 40’s, we are each other’s sounding boards and voice of reason.
My own 7 children are lucky enough to have a wonderfully huge family full of siblings to bond with,to make memories with and annoy because truthfully no one can annoy you like your brother or sister.
No matter what, a siblings will be your biggest competition, strongest source of encouragement and keep reminding you of those embarrassing moments all too frequently.
About National Sibling Day
National Siblings Day was founded by Claudia Evart in 1995 in honor of her siblings.
She wanted to celebrate both her siblings whom she had lost early in life in two separate accidents. Living without her siblings she knew the important role that siblings play in each others lives.
Sibling Day follows in a similar spirit as both Mother’s and Father’s Day, as an uplifting celebration honoring people who have helped in your development and who have shaped your values, beliefs and ideals.
SHARE THE LOVE
To help your children to celebrate their sibling here are some ways you can show some love today.
1. Take some fun photos together
Grab a box of props or some dress up outfits and make some memories. Take some crazy pictures to remember the day.
2. Make a card
Explain to your children what Sibling Day is and help them to make a homemade card listing some of their siblings best traits.
Even if your children fight every 10 minutes, you will be suprised at how well they know each other.
3. Host a Sibling Day picnic
Grab a blanket and pack a quick picnic for the kids and let them engage in a few old fashioned activities like hide and seek or playing tag.
4. Gratitude Moment
After supper take a moment to have your children say something nice about each other. What are they grateful for about their sibling.
5. Board games
You can’t go wrong with board games. Bring out your children’s favourites for a fun evening.
Research has shown that siblings spend the most time together. They are each other’s first friends and even if your children fight like cat and dog, their sibling bonds will always be one of their strongest relationships.
My memories of the times I spent withmy grandmother are amongst my most precious memories.
She was my first cheerleader, always encouraging my wild ideas and crazy artworks.
She ate ice cream with me for breakfast, taught me to play the piano and as I grew older passed on her parenting wisdom as she helped to rock my fussy teething baby at night.
We were incredibly close and I spent many holidays with her as a child.
As an adult we shared a home for a time and in her last days I was privileged to have her singing to my children, telling them the wild tales of her youth.
When we were apart
During our time, there were times where I travelled or moved away. Times where she lived away from us and where, in the time before technology made it easier to connect, that we would write snail mail letters, send post cards or phone each other almost daily.
This led me to think about how many grandparents are missing their grandchildren right now and how many grandchildren wish they could be with a grandparent making new memories.
How can grandparents connect with their grandchildren when apart?
So, how can grandparents connect with their grandchildren during social distancing or lockdown.
Here are some of my favourite ways …..
1. Phone calls – phone calls allow your grandchild to hear your voice. With technology we can connect worldwide through Skype, facetime and whatsapp video calls, allowing you to see and converse with even the smallest child.
2. Leave messages on social media – most older children, tweens and teens, have their own social media profiles so leaving them quick messages or commenting on their photos allows them to stay connected with you.
3. Leave voice notes – much like the postcards of yesteryear, a voice note is a quick message to say I love you and was thinking of you.
4. Take photos and send them with a memory. For example a picture of a cake you made that you know is your grandchild favourite with a message saying I thought of you. Or send an activity you’ve seen they may enjoy.
5. Bond -Take an online class together or both watch a live stream. Then call after and discuss what you both liked from it.
6. Create a scrapbook to give to your grandchild after lockdown.
This could incude-
Memories of your own childhood
Memories of your grandchild
A list of things you want to do with them
Technology has made staying connected a lot easier than it was twenty years ago, so grandparents can now stay in touch and see their grandchildren even if they cant hug them close right now.
I love everything about Christmas. I love the old traditions that mark the day, the holiday keepsakes, the cheap tacky decor that some shops sell and the lavish gifts all through the stores.
But more than that I love that Christmas is a time where families remember to include everyone, where neighbours greet and the malls are full of people smiling at each other. It’s a time where secret Santas are endulged in just to make someone else happy.
It is a time of magic and belief …
But it also fast becomes a commercial humdrum of wish lists and debit cards. Of us spoiling our children with expensive toys that to be honest may never be played with after Christmas day or are broken and discardead.
So, as we fill our homes with chocolate advents and cheap toys for bright red Christmas stockings, as we hunt down expensive wrapping and buy gifts that we have just paid off when Christmas rolls around again, how do we teach our Children the true essence of Christmas?
This year in our home I’ve started a kindness advent to do just that.
To teach Hamish, and remind ourselves, that Christmas is about our love and kindness for others.
It was incredibly easy to set up and you can use any little advent calendar that will hold 24 slips of paper.
We bought an Advent Calendar DIY kit from Busybean which Kerri stitched together one night a few weeks ago with her friend.
This little felt kit is much bigger than I first thought and each little pocket is big enough to hold a small sweet or toy.
Everything is precut and the numbers stick on with a little sticky tape. At a later stage I want to secure the numbers a bit better,by removing them carefully and gluing them on using bostick to make them more permanent .
This little kit cost R30 and was well worth the buy.
To personalise his tree, I added a few little Christmas pegs and each little advent pocket will hold a little slip of paper encouraging an act of kindness that we will help Hamish to complete each day.
My hope is that this becomes an annual family project and a reminder of the Christmas spirit.
Gifts of Kindness
The acts of kindness that I’ve included are:
Feed the birds
Donate 3 old books to a library
Make Christmas cards for your friends
Bake biscuits for your neighbours
Take a treat to the police station, fire station , hospital or ambulance service.
Phone your grandparents
Make a special ” I love you gift” for your sibling(s)
Smile all day
Donate 3 old toys to a Children’s home
Hug a friend
Hide a happy rock that you paint for someone to find in a park.
Do a chore for mom or dad
Leave a Thank you note and candy cane for the mail man
Gift 3 old pieces of clothing to a charity or homeless shelter
Make a new friend
Pick up litter or join a beach clean up
Tell your family you love them
Pick flowers for someone
Make someone laugh
Share your sweets
Ask mom and dad to help you take treats to an old age home
Help mom and dad prepare dinner
Tell shop assistants to have a nice day
Plant a tree
This is our list but you could write your own adjusting it to suit your family, child’s age and to acts of kindness that you are comfortable with.
Because the greatest gifts we can ever offer anyone are our time and kindness.
Keeping your tweens entertained and off their cell phones or PlayStation can prove somewhat of a challenge.
Here are 5 ideas we used when my older kids were just entering their teen years. It was first published on the Fun mamma SA Facebook page in 2012.
Try out these ideas for family fun:
• Go on an around-the-world picnic with your family in which each person chooses a food from a different country and you share the meal. Each person can tell the other family members more about the country and meals you eat.
• Why wait for Halloween, simply pick a summer night to wear costumes and tell ghost stories.
• Ask each family member to photograph a day in the life of another. Vote on the best photos of each person and add them to a family scrapbook. Do this once a month until each person has had the chance to step into each family members shoes.
• Each week someone can choose a different place for a walk or hike, whether it’s around the neighbourhood or a national park. Joining a park run as a family is also a really good way to bond and keep fit.
• Create a summer fun kit. Add items that everyone can play with at the beach or pool. You could add a frisbee, balls,inflatables or other outside games.
Most importantly remember your child is now entering a stage where they are trying to break away and become more independent and even though they may not always want to, always ask them to join in the family activities.