After months of consecutive lockdowns in 2020, it might feel like you've played every board game or binged every child-friendly program on Netflix. With Victoria entering another seven-day circuit breaker, here are some exciting ideas for keeping the kids entertained at home.
Melbourne Restrictions Explained
First thing’s first, just what can you do in Melbourne this weekend? Well, as of Sunday 18 October, the rules changed. Metropolitan Melbourne made its way into Second Step restrictions, significantly updating the distances you can travel, allowing more people outside and seeing a return to some form of socialising.
According to the Victorian State Government’s Health and Human Services department, the significant changes meant
- You can now travel up to 25 km from your home or permitted work within metropolitan Melbourne, however, you cannot travel into regional Victoria for exercise or recreation.
- You can leave home for any period of time to exercise or see friends and family outdoors. There are also no limits on the number of times you can leave home.
- You can meet in a group of up to ten people from a maximum of two households outdoors in a public place to socialise (children under 12 months of age not included in the limit). An outdoor public place means areas accessible to everyone, including local parks and beaches.
- You can exercise in a group of up to ten people from a maximum of two households outdoors in a public place (personal training is limited to two people plus the trainer).
- Some outdoor sport and recreation facilities have openedHairdressers and barbers will be able to recommence work.
- Real estate auctions, both residential and commercial, will be permitted outdoors with a limit of 10 people, plus the minimum number of people required to conduct the auction.
Things to do with kids over Victoria's seven-day lockdown
Pack a picnic
Spring weather and easing restrictions put picnic season front of mind. Even if restrictions prevent you from heading out to your usual favourite picnic spot, a backyard picnic or even a blanket spread out on the loungeroom floor can help break the monotony.
Spend the morning making some treats and packing a basket. If you can venture further than your own backyard, remember to wear a mask when not eating and keep a 1.5 metres’ distance at all times.
Take inspiration from the TV show Ninja Warrior and get the kids moving through an improvised obstacle course. Use your local playground (they’re open again) or set up in the backyard or indoors, using chairs as ‘floating steps’, swinging off tree branches or door frames, jumping over or limbo-ing under a tied rope, and adding skill tests like landing a ball in the wheelie bin. Time each run and crown your winner.
Spring is the perfect time to get kids into growing their own herbs, veggies and flowers. Many nurseries are open throughout the state, at least for delivery or click and collect, so you can order seeds, seedlings and any other garden supplies you need.
Give the kids a garden plot to plant and look after, or pot up a planter box or even a big Milo tin (make nail holes in the bottom for drainage) with hardy nasturtiums, poppy seeds, basil or lettuce seedlings.
The Diggers Club’s tomato expert says late September and early October are ideal for planting tomatoes, so order some seedlings while you’re at it. If you can’t access a nursery, ask a neighbour for a geranium, rosemary or succulent cutting to repot, or grow vegetables from scraps you would usually throw out.
Or celebrate Sunflower September and order a pack of sunflower seeds to symbolise hope, connectedness and solidarity. Proceeds from sales help fund playground equipment for disadvantaged schools.
Hallway bowling alley
Parenting and family wellbeing expert Professor Julie Green suggests a DIY bowling alley as a way to pass a few fun family hours. “Line up some empty plastic bottles and use an old pair of socks wrapped into a ball to create a quick and easy game of indoor bowling,” says Julie, executive director at raisingchildren.net.au. “Make it harder by adding some weight, like sand and water, inside the bottles.”
Kids on film
Make a movie. Children can write a script, put together costumes and design sets and then film using an iPhone or iPad. Send the result to grandparents to brighten their time in isolation. And if stop-motion is your kids’ thing, you could sign them up for a Lego Discovery Centre Filmmakers Holiday Camp.
With three-hour sessions every day in the second week of the holidays, participants will learn story-telling, directing, framing and set-making skills via Zoom, along with guest sessions from TV’s Lego Masters contestants. The camp costs $249 per child, and the camp kit $164.05.
Revisit the classics
Hold a series of themed movie afternoons to revisit favourite films you might have missed from your kids’ repertoire.
Go local with Victorian-made favourites – Where the Wild Things Are, Oddball or The Castle – or head overseas to dreamy Hayao Miyazaki classics like Ponyo, Kiki’s Delivery Service or Howl’s Moving Castle (all available on Netflix). Get younger kids to make movie tickets, set up cinema seats and rustle up a bowl of microwave popcorn before you settle in.
Get them cooking
Get creative with what’s in the pantry. Use online apps for some recipe inspiration – some allow you to enter the ingredients you have to hand then suggest suitable recipes. Younger children can be your ‘kitchen assistant’ as you cook, grating cheese, peeling potatoes and setting the table.
For the birds
Spotted some unusual feathered friends in your neighbourhood lately? Last summer’s bushfires sadly destroyed up to 40 per cent of some native birds’ habitats, prompting silver-lining sightings including lyrebirds, gang-gang cockatoos and the endangered glossy black cockatoo closer to urban fringes.
You can use Birdlife Australia’s bird-finder tool to identify any you see in your backyard or neighbourhood. And if your kids catch the birding bug, they might like to take part in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count from 19 to 25 October. (More: How to cultivate a bird-friendly garden.)
Brick by brick
If you have a mountain of old Lego tucked away, try setting up a table in your living or play area and challenging the kids to design and build a cubby house, rocket ship, unicorn, playground, car, dinosaur, mini-city, spinning top, fairyland.
You might find yourself joining in. Melbourne’s Legoland Discovery Centre will have free Boredom Busters videos, worksheets and activities on its website and Facebook page, and parents can buy a Boredom Busters Builder’s Kit with projects to build each day of the holidays. Kits cost $89.95.
Fun Things to do
Take a hike in beautiful bushland
While many Aussies are lucky to live near a park or creek, only Melbourne has the Yarra Bend Park in our backyards. The Fairfield Park is Melbourne’s largest remaining area of natural bushland, supporting more than 300 native plant species and making visitors feel much further from the CBD than its four kilometres.
Take the famous Dights Falls Walk, or jog the nine and a half kilometre Yarra Bend Loop, which brings you right against the riverbank. You can also follow the Yarra northeast past the grassy Kew golf course into Warringal Parklands.
Encompassing both flat parkland and lush riverbeds, the Heidelberg patch offers both the soaring red river gums of your lockdown dreams and the picnic flats to reunite with friends.
While the ever-popular 1000 Steps Walk in Ferntree Gully remains closed for now, the wider radius means some of us will make it to the nearby Sherbrooke Forest, which sits 40 kilometres southeast of Melbourne. Stunning mountain ash forest and a slightly cooler climate will transport you from your lockdown monotony, as will an hour on the secluded tracks snaking through the Dandenong Ranges National Park.
Pimp your picnic
With restrictions on indoor gatherings still in place, Melburnians are braving hayfever season to catch up with friends outside. For many of us, packing little more than a supermarket six-pack and a pair of sunnies seems like a big task, but help is at hand.
Natural wine favourites Diggin’ in the Cellars offer free delivery directly to your picnic rug for folk in the Edinburgh Gardens and Carlton Gardens (reinvest that delivery fee in your anti-allergens; those Carlton plane trees are no joke).
Prahran fromagerie Maker & Monger has your hand-delivered cheese platter sorted if you’re in Melbourne’s south-east — pull up a rug in the Royal Botanic Gardens or the Fitzroy Gardens with local cheeses and Dandenong honeycomb.
Wherever you are, visit your local deli before you hit the park: West Footscray’s Migrant Coffee, Fitzroy’s Morning Market, St Kilda’s Cookes Food, and Windsor’s Neptune are just some of the businesses now offering luxe pick-up picnic packs.
Stretch out with a long run
Even Melbourne’s most sedentary gave in to a park jog when a run and a Woolies trip were the only adventures allowed, but don’t let the fact we can linger now stop you from giving a new running route a go.
Try the four-kilometre waterside loop that starts at Maribyrnong’s Raleigh Road and follows the Maribyrnong River. If you’re confident and close by, the 25-kilometre Maribyrnong River Trail takes you from the city to Keilor, with paved footpaths and grass snaking alongside the river.
River views continue with the beautiful Hobsons Bay Coastal Trail between Docklands and Williamstown, which leads you waterside for most of its 10-kilometre length. Cool down with a walk through the coastal Jawbone Nature Reserve.
Good news for those who have done all of Brighton: the new radius means you can pound out different parts of the long, paved, 11-kilometre stretch of seaside track between St Kilda and Elwood. Or dodge picnickers and dog-walkers at Parkville’s expansive Royal Park, with its rugged gum trees and wide ovals — it’s much easier to navigate than the famous nearby Princes Park.
Try something new
Lockdown has given many of us the chance to try new activities. A silver lining of our time inside has seen us redistribute our free time into hobbies from bread-baking to roller-skating—and just because your radius has widened doesn’t mean that can’t continue.
If you’re missing sea air and salt spray, URBNSURF Melbourne is here to help. The two-hectare Tullamarine surfing lagoon has re-opened for surf sessions and lessons, you just need to make a booking. First-timers are welcome for low key ‘play in the bay’ sessions.
If you’re after a slightly calmer aquatic experience, GoBoat picnic boats are back on the water. Each electric boat fits eight around its picnic table so that you can cruise Southbank with your crew like your own private Arbory Afloat.
However you choose to spend your time, our new radius gives us activities abound—and a chance to pay attention to things close to home that we might not have otherwise noticed.
It may be a while before we get to travel again, so if you’re a committed Gallavanter (a person who loves to travel for fun or pleasure) stuck in Covid Isolation, check out the Hidden Worlds of the National Parks for some excellent virtual tours.
This is also the perfect time to finally organise your travel videos and start editing videos of your best trips. Start by sorting your videos by date and place. Don’t change the clip names, this can cause problems re-linking. If you need more tips on getting started, head to our post on How to organise your videos for editing, the first in our new series covering Basic Steps to Video Editing. If you’re not so handy with video editing software or just lack the patience required, get all your videos and photos together and send them to Sonic Eye to make them into a cool story cut of your trip.
Visit the Zoo
Perth Zoo is our pick of the Facebook live feeds. You can also follow the Live Cams from Melbourne Zoo. The best times are feeding times when you’re sure to catch a glimpse of a critter.
The Collins St Falcon brought much excitement on August 25 when she laid an egg. Anyone who has been vising might have noticed the big egg-bump, now she’s a Mum! The Penguin Parade down at Phillip Island is now being live-streamed on YouTube, you can check it here (beware of scams asking you to pay for this, it’s totally free!)
Music and Art
If you play an instrument, paint or draw, now is the perfect time to revive that interest and start creating something new. It’s a great way to stay occupied positively! It doesn’t matter how good or bad you are, you don’t have to post YouTube videos, and it can be a fantastic way to curb any ‘lockdown blues’.
Always wanted to learn to play the instruments you have at home? Now you have time on your hands, why not start learning? Just Google ‘how to play the (insert preferred instrument here)’ and get started! Or pull out some paints, brushes, pencils or crayons and get creative! If you don’t have any art paper, don’t worry, there are bound to be a few old bits of paper or card around the house, dig them out and see what you can come up with.
Not the creative type? Then why not take in a show. If you missed it at Easter, check out Andrea Bocelli’s ‘Music for Hope’ performance on YouTube, or if classical music isn’t your cup of tea, plenty of artists are currently posting streaming performances, including Neil Finn.
Grab some Comedy Bites
Need a chuckle to lift your spirits? Sam Neill is posting funny short videos on Instagram to keep you entertained, enlisting the help of some well-known faces from the Australian acting world, such as David Wenham and Hugo Weaving. Check out his Cinema Quarantino series.
Many of you are cooking up a storm to pass the time and cut costs during the lockdown, so why not share your creations with friends and family online? Start a ‘bake-off’, swap recipes, or just show off your latest Nigella moment.
While you’re taking in all those excellent goodies, it may be worth a thought to do some extra exercise. YouTube has many classes online for free, including Yoga and Aerobics. Yoga with Adriene includes heaps of excellent courses, including videos for complete beginners.
If you prefer your exercise with an Aussie Accent, why not start your yoga journey with new live streaming sessions from Zephyr Rose 11. If you’re a skier, snowboarder or just want to note up those muscles, tune into Sami Kennedy-Sim’s ‘Snow Active’ workouts.
Of course, if you haven’t exercised before, or at least not recently, do keep it gentle and consult your doctor first if you have any health issues. Yoga can be deceptively easy – that is, until tomorrow morning!
Resistance training was noticeably effective in increasing well-being and personal accomplishment and to reduce perceived stress. The present findings revealed large effect sizes suggesting that exercise may be an effective treatment for burnout.
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