In the minds of my children, the boundary between fun and boredom so often lies at the end of the device charger. Sometimes, it seems like I’m at war with the wifi - an endless series of battles to push back against this addiction to devices.
With this period of isolation, we've needed fresh air, exercise and vitamin D more than ever, but the mere mention of such socially isolating fitness endeavours such as hiking or a mountain bike ride through the bush has been met with either blunt refusal, persistent debate or the opportunity to ‘make a deal’( which generally includes the bargain of semi-willing cooperation in return for… more time on electronics. )
Well, at least they can deliver a sales pitch?
So as I sat alone in the forest, enjoying the sunshine or the trickle of running water, I wondered what it would take to get my kids out and about. As I child I was surrounded by bush, and we spent hours exploring our echoes, learning how to whistle on gumleaves and finding new paths to our neighbours properties. Why were my own children so immune to nature?
And when I stopped wondering, I began thinking of ways around. I continued my walk, considering the spots that could provide entertainment for children; the small beaches beside the river, the distance the current took floating leaves, the places you could swim or sunbake on a sunny day and the unusual things you could find in the scrub when you looked a little closer. I noted them down, I pondered over them, and then I turned them into a game.
That weekend we ran the Amazing Isolation Race adventure, with my own teenagers and a couple of family members and friends, aged between 12 and 18 around a 6km long bush track nearby.
The competition made them fierce. They struck flint, dug up worms for bait, raced through an obstacle course several times and took selfies with some local sheep. But most of all, they enjoyed being outdoors, and then asked when they could do the next one.
Finally, I’d beaten the x-box.
I've shared an updated version here online, for anyone else battling boredom boundaries. It's appropriate for age 6+. You can get your copy here.
If you do run it yourself, please leave us a comment and/ or tag us on social media - we'd love to know how it went for your family!