I really love the concept of mindfulness. I love the idea of being in the moment, paying attention to what is going on around you in the current moment, and not thinking too far forward or dwelling on the past.
I have dabbled with using different guided mindfulness or meditation apps. Many of these I have really enjoyed, but I have struggled to sustain a regular practice, or develop a regular habit. I find that as soon as I get busy or become overwhelmed, I drop my meditation practice. Even though intuitively I know this is exactly when I need it most!
Towards the end of last year, I even spent about a thousand bucks on a Vedic meditation course (which I absolutely loved) but still after a few weeks I fell of the wagon of regular practice (I again got too busy to practice, oh the irony).
However, as our busy-ness cranks up (especially as we adjust to our new routines for the year), I decided I really wanted to develop the habit of daily meditation. So instead of Feb-Fast (because I actually love a glass if wine here and there), I am committing to a daily practice for the month of Feb, and already I am blown away by the benefits.
Benefits of daily meditation practice
So if you, like me, feel like you “should” be practicing more mindfulness, or you are keen to develop a mindfulness or meditation practice but you just haven’t got time 😉 then my advice is to just do it. Keep trying. One day it will make sense, feel right, and when you start noticing the benefits you won’t look back.
Ah, the old July school holidays have whipped around faster than you can say “What happened to Term 2?”
Personally, I love the holidays. Sure I wish we were packing up to head to Mykonos or Bali, but give me a bit of slow down time in the mornings, and I am a happy gal. I love mooching around with the kids in their PJ’s, leisurely grazing through 3 courses of breakfast, watching more TV than technically recommended, and no packing lunch boxes.
My kids have never really loved the sports camps or holiday programs that many other kids seem to embrace, so it means they often come to work with me while I teach a pilates class or two, or just come with me to do errands. I used to complain that my parents did that with my sister and I when we were little, but as Mum used to say “Life goes on!”. I think it’s ok for the kids to feel a bit bored, and realise that Mum still needs to get stuff done. But the slower pace is welcomed. Rushing in the mornings can really send your stress levels soaring!!
I love a bit of good old fashioned board game action, some train trips to the city and a movie here and there. We often go and visit Dad in the city for lunch which is always fun, and the kids can’t believe he is allowed to get a drink from the fridge “for FREE! Whenever he wants!!”
So here are my 20 fave almost-free activities for the school holidays:
Visit the Zoo – Werribee is a hit, Healesville if you have all day, and Parkville is always awesome. We are FOTZ (Friends of the Zoo) Members, which gives us unlimited free access for a year. Kids are always free in the hols (awesome) but with a FOTZ Membership you don’t feel like you have to stay all day and “get your money’s worth” and you also avoid the queues at the entrance. This has been worth it’s weight in gold to us over the years.
Catch the train a few stops and visit a different park, or get a hot chocolate
Watch a building site for a while (yes, I really do this)
Head into Fed Square, once again on the train, and visit the Visitors Centre, ACMI, or the awesome playgound at Birrarung Mar
Visit the State Library – even better if you can tee up a story time visit
Check out your own library – or one nearby. When I had 2 babies under 18 months, I was a library stalker. I have the whole timetable of story times memorised, and would visit at least 2 a week. St Kilda and Albert Park were my favourite, and a train trip to Sandy was always a hit.
Take the scooters to the skate park – even better – catch a train to a different skate park!
Check out the free concerts they often offer at shopping centres – you might get lucky and spy Peppa Pig
Give them $2 each to spend at the $2 shop – my kids love this. It’s so cute watching what they pick!
Cook stuff you don’t normally make. We make cupcakes and they are allowed to decorate them with whatever they like. We put little bowls of smarties, sultanas, popcorn. marshmallows etc on the table and they go to town.
Make a treasure map – complete with coffee stains and burnt edges. Seriously, as you know I am not Martha Stewart but there is something so satisfying about making an authentic treasure map! And I am such a nerd, I love counting out the steps and hiding the treasure!
Swap some toys with your friends – puzzles, books and Duplo are so fun when there are someone elses!
Visit the NGV and check out the stained glass roof, then have a picnic in the garden
Visit the Museum – not free but again there is a great value annual membership which includes Scienceworks and Melbourne Museum
Catch a V-Line train from Southern Cross. We love a trip to Woodend, where there is an awesome adventure playground 15 minutes walk from the station. There is even a delicious old school bakery opposite the playground for lunch.
Check out the local pool – waterslides, pirate play areas, fun fun fun.
Movies – find cheap tickets through your RACV membership or Entertainment book. Take your own popcorn!
Go for a night walk, with torches, coats and beanies. My kids have progressed to the night scoot and they love it.
Head out of town a bit and go for a bush walk. We love Bushranger Bay near Cape Schanck, and there are some gorgeous tracks in the Dandenongs.
Go to a pub with a playground for kids dinner! Meet your mates there so the mums can catch up while the kids go bananas.
Play Bingo, Matching Pairs, Snap, Uno – or our family favourite – Snakes and Ladders
Snuggle on the couch under a blankie and read one of your favourite books from childhood. We are currently reading the BFG and it brings back such happy memories.
Enjoy this precious time with the cherubs. Sure they will drive you a bit crazy, but it’s good for everyone to switch up the routine a bit and have some FUN.