lifestyle

"We bonded over the lesson I learned from her that day and I owe that special moment to sport."

I recently stumbled upon some old photos of my kids on my phone that stopped me in my tracks and made me smile.

I’d never really considered my family to be overly sporty, but the photos I unearthed reminded me of so many sporting activities we had shared over the years – activities that really brought my kids and I closer.

Maddie and Piper.

There’s a photo of Piper and I at the new trampolining centre with my sister and her son. I’m neck deep in the foam pit that I’d just catapulted myself into from one of the giant trampolines and Piper is about to dive bomb her way in after me in order to ‘rescue’ me. Suitably, she happened to be wearing her ‘super girl’ outfit that day, complete with flying red cape. I’d hesitated momentarily when the guy at the front desk told me I was allowed to jump with her – I’d thought I was going to be relaxing with a coffee while she played. But afterwards, I was so glad I joined in – the pure pleasure of spending time with my little girl, bonding over something active rather than watching Frozen together for the 50th time was absolutely precious.

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Nestlé. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.

There’s another photo of my six-year-old, Maddie, at her first ever sports carnival. For her first running race, she was the only one who decided to crouch down at the starting line like she’d obviously seen professional runners do on TV. As a result, the rest of the kids took off like a shot when the gun went, while Maddie was still standing back up again. I felt a moment of sympathy for her – would she mind coming last?

But I quickly realised that Maddie couldn’t care less. She was too enthralled by the novelty of the entire day. The bus trip to the sports oval. The sticker she received for competing. The bigger kids doing high jump and shot put. I took a leaf out of her book: she wasn’t fussed about coming first – so why should I be? We bonded over the lesson I learned from her that day and I owe that special moment to sport.

Why sucking at kids sport made me a better adult.

In another photo there’s our whole family together at the snow last winter. Maddie and Piper spent a couple of days at ski school learning how to snow plough and how to gently glide down the slope. When ski school finished each day, we all practised together, side stepping a little way up the hill and then skiing down one after another. We built our own Olaf with chocolate buttons and a carrot nose and we threw snow balls at each other. My husband and I felt so immensely grateful that we could share our own love of skiing with our two girls.

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Then there are the photos of them at the beach. Running across the sand, splashing through the waves. There’s photos of the girls dancing, photos of them playing with the dog in the backyard or riding their bikes and scooters at the park. The other day Maddie taught me a gymnastics move she’d learnt at school and then how to do a ‘Mexican Hat Dance’. Often after dinner we get lazy and the TV goes on for one or two shows before bed, but on that night the TV stayed off and instead we took turns dancing in pairs under Maddie’s instruction. You could tell she was quietly proud to be the one teaching us how to do something new and it made me want to scoop her up and hug her tight with reciprocal pride.

Recently I have been fretting about signing the girls up to a regular sport activity, but after revisiting those photos I have vowed to stop worrying about making the ‘right choice’ at the ‘right time’, or worrying if there are certain lessons they need to hurry up and learn. Because they already seem to be learning them, and because our family is clearly already benefiting from the close-knit bonding that sport can bring.

Why it’s worth standing on the sidelines one a week. 

After all, the other day I was watching Maddie and Piper have a sack race through the house with their pillow slips and I overheard Maddie say to Piper, “Now Piper, I’m bigger so I might finish first. But that’s okay because that means you get to come last and last is really, really good.” Yes, okay, so she might have been manipulating her younger sister just a little bit – but it was still a good, lovely lesson to learn.

Which activities have brought you closer with your kids?

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