It may be cliche to the point of obnoxiousness … but it’s true. You do only live once! And while we like to think of life as an adventure, how many families get to really live it? How many of us are really living and how many are simply existing, just scraping by from one day to the next? The world is a wonderful, magical and adventurous place. But rarely does it bring its wonders to our doorstep. We have to step outside and grab them for ourselves. And that can be a scary prospect for a number of reasons. Not because today’s parents are less proficient at living and parenting than their parents were, but because of the way in which a changing and increasingly insular society has shaped our behaviours.
Since this blog’s all about adventure, why don’t we look at some of the ways in which we can put the adventure back in our lives and address some of the issues that prevent us from doing so?
The digital distraction dungeon!
In the digital age, the average family has a lot, a lot of distractions. With instant access to any film we could possibly want to watch in 4K UHD, any song we want to listen to in our ears within seconds and more TV than you could shake a remote control at, is it any wonder why your sofa is more alluring than ever, especially after a long, hard day at work. Not to mention all the “social” apps, games and other digital distractions which seem like a fun way to pass the time but can actually become a dungeon. A dungeon that’s surprisingly hard to escape from.
Try and limit nights spent in front of the television to just one or two a week. Get together a shortlist of things that you really want to watch and ration them out. No matter how long you live, you’ll likely never get to the bottom of your infinite Netflix watch list… So don’t even try. Focus your attention on the fun activities that actually make life worth living and not watching through a screen!
Get off the sofa. Your body will thank you for it!
What’s more, as comforting as sofa time may be, the fact is that we as a society do way too much sitting, and it could have a seriously detrimental effect on our health. Think about it! We get up, sit at the breakfast table, sit in the car, bus or train on the way to work, sit at our desk, sit down to lunch, sit for a little longer and then come home for a nice long sit.
If that’s an eerily accurate approximation of your day, you may be surprised by the toll it’s taking on your health. Spending too long sitting can misalign our posture, create problems with our digestion, put pressure on our vital organs (so called because they keep us alive). On a long enough timeline this can lead to an increased risk of weight gain, heart disease, diabetes and even some forms of cancer.
Take the time to get off the sofa and live your life. Your body really will thank you for it.
It’s true what the old song says. The best things in life really are free. At least, a lot of them are. Nonetheless, it’s perfectly understandable that many families feel that their financial situation prevents them from living life to the fullest.
However, whatever your financial situation, it’s safe to say that there’s always a way in which it can be improved. Establishing a good household budget (and actually sticking to it) is a good start. When you know exactly what’s coming into and going out of the house, it makes it much easier to set aside the money you need to do the things that you enjoy. It’s also easy to cut out the little expenses like chocolate bars, coffees and that Friday night pint after work which can eat into your budget.
If your credit is less than stellar, you may think that if you want to take your family on holiday (or you simply have an unexpected bill to pay) your only recourse is predatory payday lenders or ripoff credit cards. But there are actually a lot of good lines of credit to people with bad credit scores, especially if they have a guarantor. Check out these bad credit loans with a guarantor. They can help you to lead the life you want without getting caught in a spiral of debt because of ludicrous interest rates.
Yet, perhaps the best way to conserve our money is to rethink how we spend our free time. Which brings us to…
Experiences… not things
I’ll say it one more time for the folks at the back… Shopping is not a leisure activity! Yet, walk through any shopping centre or bustling highstreet on a Saturday afternoon and you’ll see legions of parents pushing prams and buggies or bearing bored toddlers who look like they’d rather be anywhere else. That’s not placing judgement on the parents (Heaven knows there’s enough of that in the world). But it is a sad indictment of how wrong we have our priorities as a society.
We’ve come to believe that the acquisition of stuff we don’t need (and likely won’t want in a few months’ time) is the ultimate leisure pursuit. But the things we buy on our weekend shopping sprees rarely bring us much joy in the long term. In fact, over a long enough timeline, they simply become clutter. And clutter is surprisingly damaging to our health and wellbeing. It can prevent us from enjoying our living space, make it hard to concentrate or relax and altogether make our time in our home less pleasurable.
So, perhaps promise yourself and your family that you’ll focus your attention not to collecting stuff… But collecting memories and experiences. Because in 10 years’ time you’ll be unlikely to remember those bargain shoes you bought or that cool tech gadget that simply everyone was talking about… But you’ll remember the experiences you share as a family under the stars for the rest of your life!
Explore the wonders on your doorstep
Most of the time you don’t need to leave the country, or even your hometown, to find adventure. In fact, when you take the time to familiarise yourself with what’s on your doorstep, you’ll likely find that there’s always somewhere fun to go or something cool to see no matter what time of day, what time of year or what your budget may be.
Even something as simple as a long walk in the park with the dog can turn into an adventure. Or a picnic in a nearby field. Or even a fully fledged olympic games held in the privacy of your back garden. You can often plan fun activities that become lifelong memories without even needing to spend a tenner!
If you have a little money to play with and access to a car or public transport you’ll usually find that there are lots of fun family activities on your doorstep that don’t involve setting foot anywhere near a shopping centre. Whether you want to bounce around on a trampoline or tumble down water slides, most towns and cities in the country have no shortage of fun and affordable ways for families to spend a fun day out together.
Parents need play, too!
Who needs Netflix or Amazon Prime when you can dive into the magical world of adventure that is your child’s imagination! Play is extremely important for kids. It’s how they make sense of the world around them and learn both empathy and creative problem solving skills through the surprisingly sophisticated roleplay exercises that kids incorporate into their daily play.
Through the lens of a child’s imagination, a stick can be a lightsaber or a magic wand. The family dog can be a mighty stallion. The cat can be a capricious sprite. The shed can be a magical fortress and the car can be a huge sleeping dragon.
In an age where parents are overworked, over-stressed and desperately in need of a little magic in their day-to-day lives, playtime is more important for them than ever! So take the time to play with your kids and lose yourself in the magical world of their imagination.
Travel wherever you can, whenever you can
Finally… Although there are untold wonders on your own doorstep, no matter where you live, it’s also important for the whole family to get away every once in a while. Putting some physical distance between yourself and your stressors can work wonders for your wellbeing. What’s more, travel is the best education for kids. It activates dormant parts of their brains and gets them to engage with the world around them. Being able to immerse yourself in new sights, sounds, scents, languages and cultures has a habit of making you feel alive no matter how stressful or repetitive your day job can feel sometimes. So do your best to travel wherever you can, whenever you can.