Life can become very busy with work, family, friends and activities for most of us and if you are like me the rushing from one thing to another can soon feel overwhelming. I noticed recently that all I seemed to be doing was rush. So during this past month, I have been trying to slow things down and be a little more organised – as opposed to the organised chaos my husband accuses me of.
So with the help of Google calendar I planned each week: gym, work, housework and of course the things I love to do. Google calendar is great because I can access it anywhere and it is really easy to use.
My first week was something of a disaster as not only did I not stay on task, I actually forgot a meeting when I decided to have a sick day and didn’t check my calendar. So for the next two weeks I added everything I needed to do and by the end of the weekhad completed everything with time to spare. For the first time in a very long time, I didn’t have to waste a glorious Saturday morning finishing up work.
Three weekends in a row I have managed to stay away from my computer; no emails, no following up leads, no looking for new business. I simply stayed home with my family and played.
This extra time gave me the opportunity to stop and look at my home and discover the running colour theme is brown. I have no idea how this happened but it has. Brown has taken over. Our wooden furniture is brown, our curtains are an assortment of browns, our carpet is light tawny brown. Brown brown, brown - I can tell you I am so over brown. All of this spurred me into action – make sure you check out the column next month and see just what I have been up to, using my new found organisation to give the house a makeover.
It is so hard as a parent to come up with great party ideas when your children grow older.When they are young you have themed parties buzz light year, Barbie or who ever is the favorite around the time of their birthday.
Though when they get to 8 it becomes hard to find different things to do. I love birthday parties, I love organizing them and I love attending them. I have made it a point to make every birthday party special.
What could you do, I know you are sitting there thinking well if I only had money I could do amazing things. Well your wrong, I was a single mother and I op shopped everything. It isn’t hard to source everything you need.
So what birthday parties could you have? Well what couldn’t you do…..you just need a little bit of inspiration. Tv themed parties are a lot of fun, like The Amazing Race or Survivor, My favorite party is the Survivor party. Best done in the warmer months. This can be done in the back yard or if your more adventurous you could camp out for the weekend. Doc has amazing camp grounds that are very basic, cold water showers, long drops, all helps in Survivor.
I got all my material from an op shop, cut down some bamboo for their tribal staffs. We had challenges and tribal council and they had to each make a shelter (though they slept in tents).We even attempted to catch their own dinner, but if all else fails there is nothing like bake beans and damper for dinner!
The Amazing race we did locally and had the children in teams and had a parent driving them to their locations, each team had a digital camera and had to take photos of certain locations. This party I have had to recreate a hundred times with friends children, I tell you it gets better and better every time I do it.
Another great party is the Star Party. This one is a favorite with the girls. The girls get to have a photo shoot in a nearby park or beach with 2 to 3 changes of clothes. Then they get to practice for a music video, they pick a song and then we video them lip-syncing. This party was a huge hit because it not only didn’t cost much to do but all the girls got a cd of their music video and their images. I actually saved money as I didn’t do a party bag.
As a parent it is hard to come up with great ideas. I have had a camping party at home in the middle of winter. We set up the tent in the lounge and they children camped out.
Other parties I have done is a fashion design party, where the girls made wearable art outfits and then they had a fashion show. Airplane party for a 4 year old, we made our own planes and then flew them around! (lots of parent help needed) Drama production party and a movie party.
There are no limits really, you just have to have the inspiration and go for it!
Don’t forget to let your child get involved with the organizing, as they learn so many skills in helping you.
Everyone is feeling the pinch this Christmas and I have had parents ask me what they should do with their children when money is so tight.
Well what cant you do?
What ever you do plan it out, sit down and think of the options and put money aside for each activity.
We have six weeks and for parents who are home can do just about anything.
I always put the easy things first
I bake at least once a week, some days the children beg to bake more, if they want to do it, and then do it! Let them each choose a recipe each. Baking is so cost effective, try new recipes. We pretend we are famous cooks and we make chefs hats and when talking to anyone in the kitchen it is “yes Chef”
If you can’t get on holiday this summer why not explore your area. It amazes me how many people haven’t explored their region. I love checking out all the different parks and you can get that feeling that you’re on holiday.
Be courageous and give your children the map to direct you. Some days we would get lost but we discovered beautiful buildings, parks and beaches we would never have found. Your children will love it. It helps if you have a GPS so you can get home.
Adventures at home
Building huts, children under 11 never get tired of this. You have to be committed to making a mess, sheets blankets and lots of pegs. We love making huts. We would make different rooms and spend the whole day playing families. Most times the children would want to sleep in the huts overnight.
I love children’s imagination. They come up with the most amazing stories, from our hut we have been on such adventures, the Sahara to find gold with Indians chasing us to canoeing down a Canadian river with cowboys chasing us. We have laughed.
My daughter recently told me they were the best experiences and she remembers the ones we did when she was 4 years.
We couldn’t afford to go camping as a single mother so I would put our 4 man dome tent up in our lounge. Now this wasn’t easy as we lived in a 2 bedroom small house and the tent went wall to wall. We had the door open to the tv so at night we could watch tv in bed. We would play in the tent using our torches to make shapes and tell stories.
I loved the game where you make up a story, one person starts a sentence and the second ends with a sentence, our stories would have us laughing for ages.
Storytelling is a great way for children to use their imaginations, I cant emphasis it enough to parents to encourage their children’s imaginations. Get involved.
In Auckland we have so many beaches. I am constantly amazed at how many people travel to the Coromandel when on their back door step is hundred of beaches. The Hibiscus Coast is full of safe beaches for the children and the best thing about the coast is you can go to more than one.They have amazing parks as well; I’m surprises at people who don’t know about the Regional parks like Wenderholm or Mahurangi.How about taking your children up to Goat Island where all you need is a snorkel and you can see the most amazing wildlife, if you don’t like swimming you can see fish swimming near the rocks. Huge snapper, I was blown away.