I used to joke that duplo was the reason I had children.
And playing on swings.
Except that, for the most part, I wasn’t really joking.
There are some things that are easier to do without raising eyebrows when you have kids.
One of my most favourite dates with my husband, before we got serious, was meeting him at midnight at a local playground in our hometown to play on the swings. I know that sounds a little dubious. I swear, nothing untoward happened. We just swang on the swings and slid down the slippery dip.
We were completely sober, it was a weeknight. We had met a few weeks beforehand and we were in the first throes of love. The thing that made it a moment that has stayed with me for nearly a decade is the innocent abandon we felt.
We could be children again, we could laugh at nothing more than kicking our heels up on the swings, trying to go as high as we could.
Having children gives us the same opportunity to be children again, in some ways.
After all, who else is going to teach your child how to swing themselves on the swing or show them that the big slippery dip is worth the heart-pumping fear you feel at the top as you set yourself down and push yourself off?
There’s something in that moment with your children that connects you both to your children and to your own childhood.
I got to share that moment with a range of families in January.
We got together at a high ropes challenge course, located at the back of the Sydney Aquatic Centre. Take your suburban flying fox, lift it up several metres and add some serious rope climbing around it and you can draw a mental picture for yourself.
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There was botchi (boules, for those of you from the southern states), totem tennis and a spot of croquet. There were bubbles to blow and paints for faces. There was water and hats and sunscreen.
We were brought together by Banana Boat, the experts in having fun, as part of their new campaign More Fun Outside. With the aim of picking the kids up off the couch and away from their screens, Banana Boat are setting families everywhere a challenge - to get into the habit of having More Fun Outside.
Once everyone got their sunblock on, we let our families loose on the course (safely tethered, rest assured).
Mums flew down flying foxes, challenging themselves in order to show their kids that it was okay. Dads let themselves be dragged by their adventurous kids through the beginners course onto the advanced ‘black’ course, where the bridges were little more than pieces of rope you could grasp in your hands one at a time to get to the other side. (Still safely tethered).
As you can see, I even had a go myself. I even allowed myself to be videoed, launching myself down what I was certain was the biggest flying fox in the Southern Hemisphere. (It wasn’t, it was the one for the little kids. But still!).
In recent years, I’ve forgotten how powerful these moments of nostalgia are. I have lost how much I love these childhood moments and how much I want to share them with my kids. It’s gotten away from me amongst in the never-ending story of work, child care, meals, laundry, sleep, guilt.
I want my kids to learn how to swing themselves on the swings, and to take a deep breath, push away the fear and leap off a flying fox, or launch themselves down a really really big slippery dip. I want to listen to their giggles, their delight in themselves and see the joy they will feel.
I want them to play outside, to get messy, to try new things and experience the world in a different way. And I want to be there with them, doing it all again for myself.
If you’re still looking for inspiration, why not join the Banana Boat More Fun Outside challenge too?