I used to laugh when yet another activity, museum or play centre was advertised as “fun for the whole family”. I have been doing this parenting thing for almost 10 years and there are very few things that qualify as that. Any kind of soft play centre of play cafe is hell on earth for parents – screaming kids and terrible beige food.
Playgrounds in the summer are more tolerable but no adult would hang out there for fun if they didn’t have kids.
Swimming with kids? A bit of fun but would be more fun without the kids so you could actually swim for more than 10 minutes at a time.
Museums? Can be interesting but kids have the attention span of a fruit fly and these places tend to be crowded and noisy as well.
Theme parks can be fun for everyone (we go to Legoland at least once a year and Disneyland in April was good fun) but that’s not something families do regularly.
So far I can only think of one activity that our family does every weekend that is fun for everyone – rock climbing and bouldering at the White Spider.
I think it was my genius husband’s idea to sign up the 9-year old for lessons there. That kid’s a pro now and while he climbs with his class, his brother climbs in the kids’ castle and the Mr and I do bouldering and a bit of rock climbing.
We go with two other families so the kids get to play with their friends and we get to catch up with ours. Totally.Freaking.Perfect.
Last Sunday me and the two other dads (I tend to climb with the ‘boys’, the other ladies haven’t joined us yet. It’s only a matter of time though 🙂 did a rock climbing course where we learned how to tie the rope to your harness and how to belay. Next time we have to take a test and then we can rock climb without supervision.
The main fun is the bouldering though. They keep changing the routes (called “problems”) so every few weeks there are all new challenges. Last week I finally did a few of the problems that are one level up from what I usually can manage. I’m a sucker for challenges and I love the feeling of being able to do something that initially looked impossible.
There is a lot of upper body strength involved. I don’t have a lot of it but since I’m working on it at Crossfit, it’s good to complement that with the climbing.
There’s also a lot of ‘letting go of your fears’ involved – often you just have to trust your body and to launch yourself up to the next hand hold even if it looks to far away. You might fall but often you don’t, often the hardest part is just to let go of what you’re holding onto and taking the leap.
I have to say I didn’t think at first that I’d like this climbing thing so much. My fingers used to get swollen afterwards and I didn’t get sweaty enough. Now that I’m learning more and more about how to climb though, it’s becoming more challenging and is so much fun.
The kids look forward to Sunday mornings just like we do. The play castle there is amazing, it has slides and corridors inside and climbing on the outside. The cafe tables are right in front of the castle and the coffee is totally decent. I can’t wait until next Sunday already!
Have you tried bouldering or rock climbing? Have you found a regular activity that every member of your family enjoys?