I spent the school holidays roughing it.
I went on a father and sons trip, camped out in a national park and let the kids range free.
The boys climbed trees, fell out of trees, and ate damper on sticks that weren’t first thoroughly disinfected with wipes.
It was sensational … and also a bit loose.
One morning I sent Liz a picture of the boys warming themselves around the morning campfire:
“Put their jackets on and get them each a beanie or they’ll catch a cold!” screamed the reply text.
(Terri Irwin she ain’t.)
As we made our way home, the boys were clearly impressed with squeezing into a tent, doing their business behind a tree, and not showering.
“This was the best holiday ever”, announced my six-year-old.
“The best EVER”, parroted his three-year-old brother.
“The best ever?! But what about the time we went to Fiji and I chartered that boat with the marine biologist (which cost me four hundred bucks)? Or when we hired that villa in Bali and went to the water park?”
Blank stares in the back seat.
“Can we go through McDonald’s drive-through on the way home?”
“Yes … but don’t tell your mother.”
As parents we can get stuck on the idea that we need to spend a lot of money – especially in the school holidays – to create memories with our kids. Yet what they really want hasn’t changed that much in generations: outdoor fun, and uninterrupted time with their parents.
Case in point: this week the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that kids under age five should have no more than one hour of screen time per day.
(What that means for us adults, who spend eight hours a day glued to our screens at work, and then thumb through Instagram till our head hits the hay, is a class action suit for another day.)
Still, Silicon Valley tech millionaires – who got rich getting us all hooked on screens – worked this out long ago: Bill Gates didn’t let his kids get a mobile phone until they were 14, and Steve Jobs famously wouldn’t let his kids near an iPad. And in Silicon Valley some of the most popular schools are those that are ‘screen free’.
In a world of increasing distraction, technology and busyness … parents are still the killer app!