THE way children spend their school holidays has changed significantly over the years.
The McLaren family from Worrigee has four children, Hamish (7), Emily (6), Heidi (4) and Aidan (2), but their mother Doonan said they don’t spend nearly as much time outdoors as she and her husband did as children.
“Only Heidi and Aiden are at school at the moment, but on school holidays we take them to the movies, have play dates, go to the park and just veg out at home,” she said.
“It can be a financial burden for us so we try to do as many free things as possible like going the park and catching up with friends.
“We really try to do a lot of activities at home too like art and crafts and my kids love Lego so that keeps them occupied for a long time.”
Mrs McLaren said she grew up in Callala Bay and spent most of her school holidays on the beach or playing in the bush.
“We would get up in the morning and take off. You just played outside – in the bush with friends,” she said.
“We’d then go to someone’s house for lunch, ride bikes, swim and go home when it started to get dark, it’s all you did.
“There’s nowhere to play anymore and I just don’t think it’s as safe to let children venture out on their own.”
A recent story in the Sydney Morning Herald showed school holidays have become costly for parents.
Mother of three Rachel Young said her family would spend an average of $100 a day on entertainment and meals out during the school holidays, even when they included lots of free activities such as beach trips and bushwalking.
Mrs McLaren said things were very different in her grandmother’s day.
“My grandmother [Ruth Cadigan] used to be outside as a child all the time too, she said she would make her own fun and through the Depression they made up their own games.”
Mrs Cadigan from Callala Bay said she thought it was sad children didn’t spend as much time outside anymore.
“I loved to play tag, chasings, hopscotch and skip,” she said.
Local clubs such as the Shoalhaven District Football Association have made a great effort to get children outdoors during school holidays and their recent school holiday clinic was a success.
Melinda Mustapic from Berry is a mother of four and Nowra Athletics Club captain who knows it is important to keep children active through school holidays.
“We keep Saturday races going through the holidays,” she said.
“All of my kids are involved in sport.
“I try to keep my kids active and off electronics like iPads.
“I grew up on a dairy farm and would stay entertained with farm things like fishing, my kids are in town so I feel like I have to create more things for them to do.”