1 December 2020
Summer survival guide
The beach! Would it really be Summer without it? I’m spending my Melbourne lockdown dreaming of the different beaches I will visit when the weather gets warmer and the coronavirus is a thing of the past. Should we go to a local one, close to the city, bringing coins for the parking meter? Should we travel a bit, make a day trip or a holiday to one of the really nice beaches? A patrolled surf beach or a sleepy, shallow beach in the bay? In my long days at home, in my 5km bubble, I mentally pack my bags. Swimmers. Sunscreen. Floaties. Towels. I am so there.
Rivers and Lakes
Beaches aren’t the only place to enjoy the water. Summer is a great time to explore your local rivers and lakes for safe places to swim. Of course, you will need to be wary of currents and conscious of everyone’s swimming ability. And wear your old bathers – things might get a little muddy. This Summer, I’m bringing my family to Warrandyte (I live in Victoria). There is a shallow section of river that’s good to paddle in and a great playground with an even better bakery cafe nearby.
The Local Pool
I’m not sure about you, but everywhere I look, leisure centres are being given extreme makeovers. When I was a kid, the local pool was an outdoor rectangular lap pool with a plastic slide at one end and a group of springboards at the other. This same pool is now an indoor deluxe extravaganza with all kinds of water play features and a waterslide that wouldn’t look out of place at a theme park. Going to the pool might look a little different this year, at least in some areas. For those of us still navigating COVID-19 restrictions, it may mean booking ahead and getting dressed before we arrive. But nothing beats a cold plunge on a hot day!
And I’m not just talking about the famous ones in the city. Drive to a regional town and check out their botanic gardens. Bring an esky and fill it with fresh local produce. This is a great way to support struggling regional economies. My husband and I have a shared addiction to country op-shops and second-hand bookstores. Our children do not share this obsession.
Investigate playgrounds in your area with water-play features. In my own area, I know of two. Lillydale lake has a new playground that allows children to play with water jets and fixed hoses. Booran Reserve in Caulfield has a similar set-up, with a fountain that shoots jets of water out of the floor. You might not plan to get wet yourself. Just know this will probably happen regardless!
And on the days you’d like to stay closer to home, here are some further suggestions.
Perhaps you have little ones at home, or maybe your grandchildren are coming over to visit. There are plenty of ways to have fun and keep cool on a hot day, even in your own backyard. When my children play with water outside, I pay attention to where they will be re-entering the house. If I’m on top of things, I’ll lock the living room door, to force the foot traffic to the laundry. Old towels on the floor will help catch muddy footprints. Always be conscious of water restrictions in your local area. Some of these games may be played with small amounts of water over areas of the garden that need watering. Avoid being in full sun in the hottest part of the day and remember to be SunSmart.
Get wet party
Run the sprinkler and put on some dance music. Fill up the water pistols and soak the sponge balls. Be conscious of any dry washing nearby (our neighbours hang their washing precariously close to our fence). You can even set up bubble blowing equipment to add to the fun.
Water Play ‘chores’
Small children love to be helpful. Unfortunately, their ‘help’ can often lead to domestic disaster! Help them to scratch that itch by setting these chores up outside. Give your children a small bucket of water and a paintbrush and they can ‘paint’ the fence. Use a trough, dish brush, plastic plates and an old dish-drying rack and they can do the dishes for you. If you have a patch of smooth concrete or decking, give them a mop or a scrubbing brush to clean it. Of course, they’ll end up soaked, but on a hot day this isn’t such a bad thing!
This one requires a little forward planning. Freeze plastic toys into large ice blocks (old takeaway containers make a good mould). Give these to the children with a bucket, trough, or paddling pool of water to melt the toys out. And always supervise small children around water.
This is a great game for when you have other children over to play, or if you are already an impressively large Catholic family. For this relay race you will need a bucket of water, a ladle, and a large measuring jug. The bucket and the measuring jug are set up a distance apart, with space to run between the two. Participants must use the ladle to scoop water from the bucket, then run across to tip it into the measuring jug. Depending on how many players you have, this may be done as a relay race, or one player may go back and forth as much as they can before the timer goes off (give them two minutes, perhaps). If you have enough equipment (you would need two ladles, two measuring jugs), players may compete simultaneously. The team that collects the most water wins! The variations here are endless. You may substitute the ladle for a large sponge or a leaking cup. You might put a drop of food dye in the bottom of the measuring jugs to show team colours. And if anyone argues with the ref, they get a ladleful of water poured over them!
Hmmm. I’m not too sure about this one. This is all about wearing old clothes and getting absolutely covered in mud. A great deal of fun which I recommend to everyone who does NOT live at my house!
Cool water bubble baths
This is simple but fun. It’s just a bath with cool water and lots of bubbles, but sometimes it’s the simple things that kids love best. If you don’t have a bath, a rubber tub or washing basket in the shower can also work. This one has a fringe benefit of producing clean children at the end!
If you don’t have a backyard
Of course, not everybody has the luxury of a backyard to play in. If you don’t have a backyard, perhaps bring the fun to a local park or reserve. Just be careful not to lob any waterbombs into neighbouring picnics!
It’s important that we take time this Summer to really enjoy the season. Embrace the heat and relish the unseasonably cooler days. It’s been a tough year: we’ve earned some fun in the sun!