kids

'In one year, I've completely changed the way I parent.'

Camp Australia
Thanks to our brand partner, Camp Australia

I’m unrecognisable today compared to the mum I was 12 months ago – and it has nothing to do with my face mask. 

In a year where Australians lived alongside a deadly virus and settled into COVID normal, complaints about the topsy-turvy nature of 2020 would be more than valid. As a Melburnian, where half my child’s school year was spent behind a computer screen, masks covered any smiles we tried to give, and nightly curfews kept us at home, it’s a year that will be marked as a blot on our timelines.   

But despite the chaos outside, within the home there was happiness. An awakening perhaps, but a definite sense of unity and understanding that wasn’t there before the pandemic hit. 

While life as we knew it was completely upended, there was lots of good to come with the bad. It’s the good I’ll take with me for the rest of my parenting journey.

Camp Australia – which runs out of school hours care (OSHC) and holiday programs for primary aged children nationally - surveyed more than 1,200 children from 170 schools and asked them for a word they would use to describe the past year.

Despite all the challenges, the top three words were “fun”, “good” and “happy”.

They'd be some of mine too. And ones I want to stick to. 

Morning family snuggles in bed. That’s the happy.

Foregoing playgrounds for letting the kids climb trees and run along the local creek. That’s the fun.

Image: Supplied.

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Cooking, reading and drawing with them, and ignoring my to-do list for a day - the good. What is more important than time with your (rapidly growing) children after all?

I often questioned whether some things we do for our kids are really what they want, or just what we think we should be doing as a ‘good parent’. And certainly, after watching my children so closely in the months they were home with me, my parenting has fundamentally changed. I'm more attentive. I see more. And I know my children are resilient and aim to build on that.  

Firsthand, I could see the lull in my daughter’s concentration mid-morning after the first home lessons for the day, and now know the importance of fuelling their bodies with the right snacks and steering clear of junk – no matter how much they ask for a treat from the pantry.

I imagine that other parents faced similar struggles but what we all learnt from this (hopefully) one in a lifetime experience of mass home-schooling is that each child absorbs and processes information differently. And their learning experiences, whether in the classroom or at home, need to cater for that. Tailored education experiences, such as the activities offered by OSHC providers like Camp Australia, encourage children to build their own skillsets and passions which makes it more enjoyable and enriching for everyone. 

Over more than six months of home-schooling, I learnt tactics that assisted my daughter with her learning and noted ways I could be more intuitive when she’s completing homework. I know when it comes time to help my son with his homework, I’ll need to learn new ways to help him get the best out of his education because they both learn in such different ways.

Then there were the more significant struggles.   

A survey of over 1130 parents found the biggest challenges of 2020 included increased screen time, decreased physical activity and a disconnection from friends and family. Camp Australia research showed:

  • Most of parents (88 per cent) indicated increased screen time from remote learning and personal use had an impact on their child 
  • More than two-thirds (69 per cent) of parents reported decreases in their child's physical wellbeing and the loss of participation in sporting activities
  • 80 per cent of parents said children felt disconnected from friendship groups and family due to remote learning and restrictions; and
  • More than two-thirds (69 per cent) of parents reported anxiety impacted their child due to the fear and uncertainty caused by COVID-19.

Sadly, excess screen time was the way of life for every child last year. I did my best to only have the kids on computers if it was for schoolwork, switching off after that was complete. I’d give them the incentive of a walk outside – maybe even promise a takeaway milkshake – if they finished promptly, hoping the fresh air and exercise would counteract the idleness.

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Even without the same COVID restrictions holding us back this year, we’ll continue to walk everywhere instead of using the car.

When asked about the one thing children are most excited for in 2021, Camp Australia found key themes were heading into a new grade, new friends, holidays, birthdays and getting involved in activities.

Birthdays last year were small celebrations, but big on love and effort. Bikes for weekend outings and extravagant balloon deliveries made for a day to remember and the focus was on the child rather than the party in their honour. 

It’s the positive changes we were forced to make in our everyday lives that will provide the building blocks for a small and mighty tribe, ready for any challenge.

When Camp Australia asked parents what they thought the most important areas for their OSHC programs should focus on when guiding their children this year, more than half (56 per cent) of those surveyed had fun activities which help build resilience, independence and confidence at the top of the list. They’re at the top of my list too. Helping a child develop confidence and resilience will allow them to flourish in their own unique way and it’s great that an OSHC program can give children a supportive space to continue their development whilst socialising with their friends. 

We have been armed with a generation of courageous, adaptable and enlightened little humans, who have lived through something none of us had experienced before. To build on the qualities they’ve demonstrated so well under pressure is my focus for the years ahead.


Camp Australia
Camp Australia is Australia's leading provider of Outside School Hours Care (OSHC). At Camp Australia, children are at the heart of everything we do. We guide children’s growth through delivering enriching experiences before school, after school and on their holidays. Our engaged educators foster a safe, inclusive environment where children can relax, have fun and grow. To learn more, visit www.campaustralia.com.au. or follow us on Facebook.