There are two words in the English language that, when used together, have the uncanny ability to instil cold panic, sweaty hands and a highly increased heart rate in parents everywhere. Brace yourself coz here they come: School holidays.
Any tips or ideas on how to maintain sanity while keeping young minds entertained and free of cabin fever are worth their weight in gold in our household. Think of me as your little holiday guardian angel, here to save you from expensive trips out and the incessant whinging of bored kids.
1. Go Potty (68 Hackthorne Road, Cashmere)
Crafternoon without the clean-up is any parents’ dream situation. An added bonus? Something to take home for the grandparents! Pick your piece of pottery and decorate it however you and your brood see fit. This activity is great for a dreary day and can take anywhere between 1hr to 3hrs depending on your attention to detail. While this activity doesn’t exert much physical energy, the concentration required can be rather draining. You’ll need to call the lovely Claire to book a time. She’s amazingly helpful and makes you and the kids feel like Picasso. Get in now and put the glazed and kiln-dried masterpieces away for the Grandies at Christmas!
2. Arion Farm Education Park (890 Mcleans Island Road)
Just a few minutes’ away from Orana Park, and only 25 minutes from the centre of town is one of Christchurch’s best-kept secrets. Arion Park is ideal for when you’re sick of the sight of your kids slumped on the couch watching videos of random children play with toys they probably already have. My little animal-lover adores hanging out with the bunnies, guinea pigs and, his personal favourite, rats. From ponies, possums and pheasants to ferrets, alpaca and a free BBQ area, you can lose hours here while the kids play. The keepers are friendly, the animals are friendlier and the park is big enough to tucker out the kids, but not so big that little legs will need to be carried. Older kids may be harder to keep interested, but for kids under-8, Arion Park is the place to go.
3. Airforce Museum of New Zealand (45 Harvard Ave, Wigram)
If your kid is anything like mine and obsessed with wheels, wings, motors and noise, then a trip to the Airforce Museum is an absolute must. Travel back in time and learn what life was like for a prisoner of war. Book into a free, behind-the-scenes tour of the Reserve Collection to get a glimpse of the assortment of aircraft, vehicles, engines and weaponry, or meander around the main hangar and let the kids partake in some of the awesome interactive displays. With a dress up box and a $6 treasure hunt with a prize, there’s something for all ages. Younger kids will be swept up in the excitement of being up close and personal with the planes and other machinery, while older kids can delve a little deeper and discover the dark and emotional side of the wars in which these planes and pilots flew. Also, the onsite café makes a mean mocha. You’re welcome.
4. Adrenalin Forest (Spencer Park, Spencerville)
SCENARIO: You have older kids. They’re booooooored and everything sucks, right? Right, you little terrors monkeys. Get your running shoes on and get in the car. We’re going to … Adrenalin Forest! This is the ultimate activity on my list for pushing kids out of comfort zones, busting boredom and exerting maximum energy. It will have preteens and teenagers begging for dinner and bed and for that reason alone, I highly recommend it. Spend three hours climbing, crawling, swinging and leaping through an extreme course set upwards of 20 metres high in the trees. Screams of exhilaration and terror can be heard from the carpark and will have your kids itching to get harnessed into the safety gear and up in the trees. There are approximately 100 different challenges and pathways to keep them on their toes (and sometimes knees and stomachs), and they will end the day in a state of euphoric (yet exhausted) bliss.
Before you know it, Monday will roll around and the before-school battle will begin again. Uniforms will need to be washed, shoes shined, homework quickly done, breakfasts half-eaten and the contents of mouldy lunchboxes thrown away. The old adage comes to mind … actually it doesn’t, I’m too tired. But hey, we made it through the holidays and everyone survived!
Georgie Hanafin is chief referee between her 3-year-old, Luke and her 33-year-old man-child (and high school sweetheart), Joe. They live in Linwood, Christchurch with their asthmatic cat, Dudley. Georgie fondly remembers a time when she could get lost in a good book and sleep past 9am. Now, she works full-time as an office manager and spends hours building lego towers for Luke to smash.