If you’re starting to feel like Uber drivers rather than parents (aka “D’Uber” and “G’Uber”) with an after-school sports schedule as long as your arm, you just may like to spend a term “unscheduling”: Trying out sports that are a bit more free-range and, in some cases, even free. Don’t worry about your kids missing out on important skills, because our unscheduling suggestions might actually widen their abilities.
Hide objects, kick balls through a hula hoop, set up walking planks and makeshift tunnels: Obstacles can be easy and made to be age-specific. Use what you have in the garage, or incorporate other sports equipment like bikes and tramps. This is the stuff epic childhood memories are made of – just hanging out in the back garden with a myriad of challenges to keep you occupied and not a stressy moment to be had.
BASKETBALL AT HOME
Setting up a basketball or netball hoop means you always have a hangout zone for all the kids (that’s not in front of a screen), where they can practise goals on their own or have an all-out energy-burning game with their friends. For older kids, basketball hoops seem to be high on their list for “play” equipment that’s acceptably cool.
DANCE AROUND THE HOUSE
Turn on the music and get moving. When life gets busy, the house can become a bit of a mess and chores need to be done. A great way to fix this is to get everyone in the family to pick up toys and put stuff away while singing and dancing together. Music has a strong effect on your mood, so keep it happy!
Siblings often spend many hours hanging around sports fields and sports venues, basically filling in time. We’d love them to be dedicated supporters, but boredom sets in pretty quick. Keep them occupied with a ball, frisbee, or scooters, or take the family dog and send them off for a walk around the fields. This idle time can become a lot of fun if you set them up with a few sporty activities of their own.
BUY A TRAMPOLINE
This can be a big investment, but kids who spend a lot of time bouncing build up a massive amount of endurance, fitness, and bone development. All that bouncing helps to release endorphins and reduce stress, which makes it a perfect place to take mini-breaks at homework time. Use Google to find inspo if they want to master a few super skills. (A word of caution: Kids under the age of about six don’t have the bone strength and density for prolonged periods bouncing on the tramp, so stick to a mini tramp and limit time spent until they are a bit bigger.)
A HOME SPORTS CUPBOARD
Entertaining physical kids at home is always easier if you have a well-stocked sports cupboard: Bikes, pogo sticks, skipping ropes, skateboards, scooters, balls (of all shapes and sizes), frisbees, cricket sets, and hula hoops are all good ideas. Encourage kids to reach new goals each week, whether it’s 50 skips, 100 pogo bounces, or successfully attempting a new skating trick. They’ll use these skills in other areas: Great skateboarders master surfing and snowboarding with ease, bike riders might love mountain biking and road cycling, and playing with balls will improve their hand-eye coordination for any ball sport (including beach cricket with their mates).
By Finn Jelicich