We’ve had a brilliant Christmas, but with hosting family on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, it’s been pretty chaotic and tiring too. So these last two days, with my children off school and Cardiff Daddy off work, I’ve really appreciated a slower pace of life and some quality family time.
Yesterday, we had an afternoon all cwtched up on the sofa watching festive films – I think my children were too tired for anything else. Today, however, has been a screen-free day of good old fashioned fun. We went to the park this morning, played in the woods and got covered in so much mud we all needed a change of clothes when we got home.
This afternoon, we continued with the screen-free activities and joined in with Games4LifeWales, a Welsh Government initiative to get children aged 5-11 and their families more active by playing simple games.
It’s well documented that many school-aged children aren’t getting the one hour recommended daily amount of physical activity. And we all know that this, coupled with the average diet being high in saturated fat and sugar, can lead to obesity and a range of health problems including cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
I know my children are fairly active. I get out and about with the three of them – six-year-old Little Miss E, four-year-old Little Man O and 21-month-old Toddler Boy I – to the park or beach as much as we can, and between them they do swimming, ballet, gymnastics and rugby classes, not to mention regularly heading to soft play.
But these activities are costly, and the expense can make it difficult, especially during the winter months when you can’t just head to the park or the beach as easily as in the summer.
Not to mention the fact that life can be exhausting when you are balancing looking after young children, a job, cooking, cleaning, shopping etc. And when the weather is rubbish and the kids are tired and grumpy, it’s all too easy as a parent to switch on the television for an easy life.
With this in mind, Games4LifeWales (GemauAmOes in Welsh) is a free bilingual activity pack giving Welsh families inspiration on easy and inexpensive ways to get active both indoors and outdoors.
The brightly-coloured pack – which is part of the Welsh Government’s Change4Life campaign encouraging people to make small changes to their lives to help them become healthier – contains a set of 18 activity cards, a spinning wheel to help you decide which activity to complete, and a sticker chart to track your progress.
The pack of cards is a great little resource to have for those moments when you’re lacking inspiration on what to do, with the activities divided into three categories – indoor games, outdoor games and group games.
We started off with some of the indoor games. Simon Says is an old favourite in our house (although it’s never Simon giving the instructions, it’s always Elsa or Spider-Man or Peppa Pig). Mega Moves, where you make a movement and your partner copies you, was fun, as was Balloon Shuffle, where two people sit back to back with a balloon between them, and have to shuffle across the floor without dropping or bursting the balloon. It’s harder than it sounds! The big favourite for us though, was Wiggly Snails, where you lie on the floor with your hands by your side and a cushion on your back and wriggle to the finish line without losing the cushion. Again, it’s harder than it sounds, but left us all giggling.
Next, we headed outdoors for a game of Stuck In The Mud. I used to love this as a child, so it was fun to rediscover it with my children.
Then, it was time for a Penalty Shoot Out. We actually have a football goal post in our garden, but you can just as easily do it the old-fashioned way of using two jumpers/flowerpots/a wall.
Before we knew it, two hours had passed and my children had not once asked to watch the television or complained of being bored. The pack suggests spinning the wheel to help you choose one activity a day. But we ended up doing seven this afternoon.
We came back inside so I could start making the tea. The children were once again covered in mud and dirt and needed a good wash and new clothes – but in my mind, that’s the sign of a perfect childhood.
And while I started cooking, and Cardiff Daddy hung out the washing, the three of them started looking through the cards on their own accord, with Little Miss E reading the instructions. They were excited to see a card for hide and seek (one of their favourites), and then once they’d had enough of playing this, they decided to have a mini disco dancing competition.
The three of them wolfed down their tea after all that physical activity, went to bed half an hour earlier than usual and were fast asleep within seconds. They’re really looking forward to trying out some more of the activities over the coming days and weeks.
You can sign up for Games4LifeWales here, or in Welsh here.
Everyone who signs up will be entered into a prize draw to wine one of 50 prizes, including Smartwatch pedometers, sports equipment and personalised Adidas trainers. The deadline for signing up is 4th January 2016.