Keeping the kids occupied this school holidays without constantly shelling out dollar after dollar for entertainment can be difficult.
Matching the energy and momentum of kids during the holidays will either be joyous or quickly fall into torturous organisational mayhem with parents constantly juggling home and work to manage young children. For some families it can be an expensive entertainment quest they can well do without.
Some of the best places to find low cost activities for young kids during the holiday season are your local Public Library, Community Centre and Community Gardens. From Lego construction and fun craft activities to gaming and learning new tech. There are a host of school holiday programs to keep the kids minds engaged or at the very least amused.
Public libraries with their image of the thin-lipped librarian with strict code of quiet and diligence have transformed with the push to bring the libraries back to the public eye and use. Many sceptics predicted the library with its printed collection as going the same way as an aging postal service that fails to keep pace with technology or new enterprise. Some of the big libraries and centres have met this challenge by exploring how and what people want or use and giving them more of what they want. Most modern libraries have made the transition and you can find a wide range of people on the computer terminals researching, or after school kids just gaming amongst an around the clock host of activities. More importantly a library card comes with home access to professional online tutorials, ebooks, video and music downloads - all part of every library throughout the state. During the holidays they have an enormous range of activities for young minds.
The huge increase in Community Gardens has provided a great meeting place whilst providing entertainment for kids. In SA there were around 40 in 2012 and that number has grown to hundreds. These gardens have taken over as a modern day kids club where stay at home mums and dads can gather and collectively keep the kids occupied whilst having a grown up chat and literally watch the grass or veggies grow. Sometimes a collective of parents is just what you need to ease the constant guardianship of being a watchful modern super parent. Who knows the kids might even find a worm or two to eat and you can watch and debate if that’s OK or not.
Community Centres offer a wide range of activities for youth or slightly older children as well as adult education, physical fitness, community meals or well-being and self-development programs. Some of the larger centres in the North and South have such a myriad of clubs and activities associated and can even offer employment assistance and access to the wider service agencies that provide such things as emergency relief, financial counselling or cost of living assistance. These super centres have many activities each day over the holidays and whilst the kids are busy you can take part in something yourself.
So why not consider taking the kids down to the local community centre or library, or if the weather is good and you’re feeling like an afternoon in the garden check out what’s growing around your local area. Already the school activity programs are filling up fast and for the more popular events it’s worth jumping online straight away and booking. It could be a low cost way of not only engaging the kids or sparking an interest but expanding your own brain as well.
What are your Christmas Traditions?
South Australians love tradition. Whether it’s Showdown or Slowdown, the pigs in rundle mall or the Christmas Riverbank scenes every year outside that famous SA Brewery, it’s just not Christmas without the little things we do as a family. It’s not enough to have the festive decorations in the shopping malls and the high volume of Christmas specials on TV or the sentimental videos on your facebook page. It’s the Lights of Lobethal, the Christmas pageant and the familiar nuisances that trigger the memories that signal it’s truly, really Christmas.
For many years we paid far too much attention to the Northern hemisphere and locked ourselves in the kitchen with ovens blazing and pots boiling, cooking turkeys and puddings for hours on end whilst singing carols depicting snow bounds cottages and reindeer on every corner. With the oven on 180 degrees on a 43 degree day in the S.A summer, it’s a wonder we survived before air-conditioning. Even better if we get cheaper electricity.
Thankfully after putting up with dozens of truly annoying Ozzie Christmas songs over the years, our traditions have evolved to the colder cuts, BBQs and if you can afford the extra cost, a seafood spread. Australia has also seen many immigrants from equally heated countries that have turned our modern Christmas spread into the most glorious bowerbird’s feast with a myriad of flavours.
We also like to inflict our family traditions on potential family members or newcomers into our personal Christmas world. It is a rite of passage and a means to seek out, ”the keepers”. Sometimes it can be a real test of strength and endurance to gain entry onto prime seating at the dining table.
There will be tears, there may be arguments. There will be mess and spills and of course loads and loads of dishes, but we would not change it for quids. For without the whole catastrophe it would not be Christmas in South Australia.
So you might as well enjoy it all. If you’re lucky, one day your kids will be inflicting the same painful traditions on their kids.
There are no presents under the tree for him. There is no place set at the Christmas lunch or for dinner and yet he is the most generous giver of all. Even when there is an unexpected guest he somehow finds the time to sneak away and wrap a present.
He is the Secret Santa or Kris Kringle, and though he was cloned from the Original Santa or St Nicholas, he has become the the perfect reneissance Santa, even following you to your workplace as the gathering momentum of the Christmas spirit takes hold.
He has also become the means to control the spending on the ever widening circle of friends and family, as well as our social sphere and work colleagues that over the years have somehow crept into our Christmas shopping list. A way of combating the very marketing that he was created to serve. More distressing is the amount of Secret Santa or Kris Kringle poems which are at best on a par with Dad jokes that will be read out loud to all at the office party.
But there is a new kid on the block. He has been hiding in the background supressed by his excessive Christmas toil. Now emerging to challenge the rise and popularity of the Secret Santa and to provide another spending outlet for us to serve. It is the Elf on the Shelf and he comes with accessories.
This Elf has neglected his toy making duties and snuck into our homes and offices. He sees and hears more than Google or Apple and reports directly to Santa of our naughtiness or niceness and whether we are deserving or not. He even has his own rules to follow.
Changing from his traditional subserviant green to red, this Elf's rise in popularity has been greatly enhanced by the online sharing of his excapades and he has quickly become very naughty with antics well outside of his original duty statement. Some of his midnight office pranks colourfully displayed by the photocopies left on the office pin board, twitter and facebook.
Amoungst all this Christmas jockularity it is important to remember the real Christmas. If your belief is of western Religion, it is very specific but whether you're religious or not, Christmas is a time to appreciate and be appreciated. To give hope and have hope within yourself. To consider those around you and those far away or in troubled parts of the world.
We use this precious time to make the world seem that little smaller. To remind us of our faith, in ourselves or in our God.
We all need a little help sometime. Many charity groups and welfare organisations often provide what is called Emergency Relief. It is the means to provide for people in need, the assistance of most benefit to them. This could be food, food vouchers, blankets, clothes, assistance with bills and furniture as well as other vouchers to stores such as K-Mart to purchase much needed goods.
Help may also include medications, access to free glasses, and referrals to free dental care. Many centres provide budget counselling, financial counselling, personal counselling and links to other community programs located across the state.
These welfare agencies are recognised to provide a state wide standard and most supermarkets, stores and businesses give generously each year to these welfare agencies so they can identify and issue vouchers and goods to those in need.
See the Affordable App, website or ring the Helpline1800 025 539 for more details.