Doing Stuff With Your Kids - And Leaving the Washing Behind
By Carol Duncan - 2nd March 2011
My friend, Barney, recently commented on my Facebook page, “Gee you get about!” He was commenting on a photograph of the kids on our most recent weekend away. I admit it had been a busy week. I’d done an overnighter to Sydney for an early morning meeting at the ABC’s head office in Ultimo, I had moderated a business forum thing back home in Newcastle .. and a few other odds and sods on top of doing my daily radio show. Nothing particularly unusual for a week in the life of me.
Funny that, because I’m actually really lazy. I just don’t seem to be able to say, “no”.
But in my reply to Barney I said, “Barney, you know what, my kids will (hopefully) never remember the Mt Everest of washing I have that never seems to make it into their cupboards and drawers, but I’m fairly confident that they will remember that we did stuff.”
My parents were a bit like that. We could never afford big, expensive holidays overseas, or even interstate, but I know like the back of my hand that area of NSW between Coffs Harbour and Sussex Inlet. I reckon I could drive you to any small town in this region blindfolded. Okay, it might not be a good idea to let me, but I could do it.
As a result, I have the most wonderful memories of a childhood full of doing stuff. Just ... stuff. We don’t make plans to go to Movie World or This World or That World or even Wally World - frankly, I’d rather stick pins in my eyes - but we make plans to go somewhere and just, well, just be there.
Sydney is 90 minutes away for us (if the traffic on the F3 behaves), and there’s a very nice hotel near Railway Square that does a family room for $150. So we spent a Friday night at Darling Harbour seeing wonderful things during the annual Festival of Sydney. A couple of weeks ago, we rented a cheap place in the Barrington Tops area and we swam and ate and played with wallabies and possums and bush turkeys and horses.
We spend a week in beautiful Blackheath over Christmas and I’m already planning for Easter - using a very popular website to book holiday accommodation, mostly houses and apartments as opposed to hotels which cost far more - I’m trying to organise to take the boys south to Jervis Bay where their mama used to go prawning at night as a little girl and inevitably burn myself on the kerosene lantern. But the sweet, fresh prawns we cooked up at home were well worth it.
So I’m after your ‘stuff to do’ ideas. Where do you go? What activities with children are the most fun. Where do you find bargains? And perhaps most importantly, how do you help plant those beautiful memories in your kids’ minds for long after you’ve gone?
Editor's Note: I asked Carol how she finds the energy for all the packing and unpacking. She wisely advised me not to pack much and "turn your undies inside out" - a practical woman.