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Counting down to the school holidays? Chances are you relish the quieter unhurried pace and the lower stress levels.   Holidays provide a valuable break from frenetic school routine and a wonderful opportunity to enjoy positive shared experiences and build resilience.  Start the habit of ‘family time’ when children are young so you remain connected when they are teens and older.  After meeting well over 1500 older adults I can tell you they rate family as the greatest treasure and asset in life. If you want to be part of your children’s adult lives, and possibly involved grandparents, invest now.  Today is a gift that is why it is called the present!

Make the school holidays count – you don’t have to go away or spend lots of money to create wonderful family experiences.  As only 25% of families actually eat the evening meal together – holidays may be a time to arrange meals together.  For younger children the fun of mixing up meals for the day can be fun – like dessert for breakfast, dinner at lunch  or having a meal as an inside picnic.  For older children choosing a country or cuisine and developing a menu and everyone cooking a course can be fun -as an activity together and a great family meal at the end. – you could even end the night with no screens and play charades, cards, board games, go for a walk……

A day out can include simple options like picnics, family bush walks, catching different modes of transport for a day with a family pass – think buses, ferries, trains, having a pajama day of board games, exploring different children’s parks in other suburbs, or a ‘Sunday drive’.  All provide opportunities to build closer ties by sharing experiences, talking, being relaxed together.  Another option is for each family member to write down an adventure idea (think ice skating, visiting a museum, going to an aquatic centre, a craft / hobbie centre, Blue Mountains or day trip, fishing at Manly Dam, indoor rock climbing……) and place it in a box and draw options out randomly – this is especially good as it teaches children / young people they can continue and have autonomy and influence and everyone must go on each adventure even if they don’t want too.

Being connected and having shared positive emotional experiences acts like glue- keeping everyone positively bonded.  Research shows this has too many positive physical and mental health benefits to list here but includes better cardio-vascular function, higher immunity, greater resilience, less stress, anxiety and depression, and ultimately a longer more satisfying life.