6 games to play at your next picnic

We all love a good picnic don’t we? Quality time spent with our families, laughter, fun and of course amazing food!

At the end of the day however, its that family time that we cherish the most, along with all those memories that we keep with us forever.

What better way to have fun with your family than playing a few exciting games at your next picnic. Many of these require participants to be relatively active, but there a few that even grandpa and grandma can have a go at!

1. Clap Catch

This is a great game for kids from around 10 and upwards and all you need is a tennis ball.

Let everyone stand in a circle. One player then stands in the middle and throws the ball at different members of the circle. The trick is that before they catch the ball, they have to quickly clap their hands together. If they drop the ball then they have to put their least dominant hand behind their backs. If the ball comes to them again and they drop it, they are eliminated. If they catch it, they are again allowed to use two hands, but again must clap when attempting a catch.

2. Picnic Rug Volleyball

This is a great game that everyone can play! It’s best to play in teams of two or four players with one picnic rug between them. Each person holds a side of the rug while the ball is placed in it. The team now needs to flick the rug quickly to serve the ball while the opposition needs to catch the ball coming toward them by holding the picnic rug in the same way. You can demarcate a court and any ball landing outside it gives a point to the other side. Each team gets 5 service attempts before swapping. The first team to 11 points wins.

 

3. Treasure Hunt

A good old fashioned treasure hunt is the perfect way to keep the young ones entertained at a picnic. A great idea is to plan before hand. Go to the spot where you will have the picnic and take photos of rocks, leaves, twigs and other small things that the children will be able to find. Give each participant photographs of each object.. You can make it slightly more difficult by asking them to find more than one example of each.

4. Spot the Liar

This is another game for everyone!  Everybody gets a chance to tell the group something about themselves. This can either be true or a big fat lie. This is done three times, with two truths and one lie told by each person. The person that told the most convincing lie is declared the winner!

 

5. Pie eating contest

This game can get a little messy… its a great idea for dessert. Make small individual cream pies with a filling of some kind. From then on it’s simple really, whoever eats their pie the quickest is the winner!

6. Water fights

An age old classic, but only for those sweltering summer days. The easiest way to conduct a water fight is to give everyone a balloon and get them to fill it with water… you know what happens next!

Simple picnic treats

Now for those of us that go on picnics often, planning the food can be a bit of a problem. No one wants to eat the same things time and time again! Let’s be honest, a cold chicken drumstick can be a little dull.

Your picnic lunches need not be boring. A little creative thinking, an hour spent in the kitchen and you too can spruce up your picnic lunches. Here are a few ideas.

Starter

A good picnic meal needs a starter and it really can be quick and easy to make, yet delicious to eat.

Nachos with Guacamole Dip

A crunchy chip and a mouthwatering dip! What could be easier. The only bit of work you will need to do here is to make your guacamole dip.

You will need the following:

  • Avocado (peeled)
  • Garlic (peeled and chopped)
  • ½ cup of tomato, onion and coriander salsa
  • Lemon juice (2 teaspoons)
  • Salt (½ teaspoon)

Place the ingredients into a bowl, except the salsa. Mash the avocado with a fork, you can make it as chunky or fine as you prefer.  Make sure everything is combined properly and then place the salsa on top.

Now you could serve this with the nachos as mentioned, but for those who are more health conscious, this dip goes very well with vegetable sticks.

Salad

Every picnic needs a salad. Normally this would be something like a potato or beetroot salad, but why not try something different.

Stacked Salad

 

This stacked salad is not only a great looking dish but also extremely tasty. You will need the following ingredients.

  • Plain low fat yoghurt (1 cup)
  • Light mayonnaise (½ cup)
  • Chives (fresh, 2 tablespoons, chopped)
  • Iceberg lettuce (1 head, chopped)
  • Frozen corn (350 grams, thawed)
  • Frozen peas (350 grams, thawed)
  • 8 plum tomatoes (chopped)
  • 500g chicken breasts (cooked, cut into strips)
  • Cheddar cheese (shredded, 2 cups)
  • 30 millilitres ranch dressing

Place the yoghurt, mayo, chives and ranch dressing in a bowl, mix well and leave in the refrigerator. In another large glass bowl begin forming layers with half the lettuce followed by corn, tomatoes, chicken strips, peas and finally the remaining lettuce. Place the cheese over the top and leave in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. At your picnic destination, toss the salad with the dressing and serve,

Sandwiches

A sandwich… really? Everybody bring sandwiches to a picnic. Not everybody brings one of these sandwiches though!

Prawn Wrap

 

This wrap will go down a treat with everyone! You will need the following ingredients.

  • Iceberg lettuce (1 head, chopped)
  • Celery (3 sticks, chopped)
  • Red Onion (½, chopped)
  • Plum tomatoes (4, chopped)
  • Dill (fresh, 2 tablespoons, chopped)
  • Prawns (250 grams, fresh or frozen)
  • Ranch dressing (¾ cup)
  • Wraps (6, flour tortillas)

Combine all your ingredients in a bowl, except the tortillas, but you knew that right! Now place some filling in each tortilla, but do not overfill. Wrap them up like an envelope or however you prefer, as long as the precious mixture doesn’t leak out. It is best to do these when you reach your picnic destination or the tortillas can get soggy. Cut in half or into bite sized pieces and serve.

Dessert

A picnic isn’t a picnic without a dessert! This cake is very easy and quick to make.

Peach Cake

 

For the peach cake, you will need the following ingredients.

  • Yellow cake mix (butter flavour, 520g)
  • Pecan nuts (¾ cup, coarsely chopped)
  • Peach pie filling (600 grams)
  • Vegetable oil (⅔ of a cup)
  • Eggs (2)
  • Vanilla extract (1 teaspoon)

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Be sure to mix through thoroughly. Leave covered. Preheat an oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Spray a 20 x 30 cm baking pan with non-stick spray. Pour the cake mix into the baking pan and bake for around 45 minutes. Test often with a toothpick. If it is clean when it is removed from the cake, remove the pan from the oven. This can be served warm but obviously at your picnic it is served cold. Add a dollop of cream to just make it a little bit more decadent.

The importance of being present in the moment

“With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson – American poet and lecturer.

Modern life is often stressful, chaotic and sometimes overwhelming.  We are pushed for time in everything we do even when it comes to our family time.  It affects the way we interact with the world and those we love.

How often do you spend some quality time with your children, yet you have a mobile phone or tablet that is never far away, either for you to read up on the news of the day, communicating with others or perhaps sending that last email for work.  We spend far too much time worrying about the past (something we can do nothing about), or the future (something we have no control over) when we should be living in the present, be in the moment and in this case enjoying our time with our children without distractions.

Living in the present (or mindfulness) can involve just yourself, focussing on your situation at that current moment in time, without influence from the past or future.

 

Benefits of living in the present

There are numerous benefits to living in the present including:

  • Higher levels of enjoyment

By living what is happening in front of you, you can enjoy things more.

  • Lower stress levels

Not worrying about the past or the future and living for now will help to lower your stress levels

  • Forming stronger relationships

Focussing on the present will help to build stronger relationships with those people you are sharing the moment with.

 

 

  • Improved concentration levels

As there are less things to worry about and distract you, concentration and focus increase as you centre on the moment you are currently in.

 

  • Increased effectiveness

Living in the present increases your effectiveness as you are able to get more done in less time by focussing on what needs to be done at that exact moment.

 

  • Increased relaxation

 

Relaxation is linked to lower stress levels as you concentrate on the present and not on the past or future.

 

 

  • Direct experience of reality

 

As you live in the present you have a direct experience of reality as it happens.

How do you live in the present?

Although difficult to begin with, living in the present becomes easier with practice.  Here are a few techniques you can try to help live in the present.

  1. Breathe

 

Focus on breathing fully and deeply especially in moments of stress.  This focussed breathing helps to pull you into the present and relaxes you.

 

  1. Remove unnecessary possessions

It is amazing how much we end up hoarding.  Get rid of things you no longer need or use.  Uncluttering your life can help to unclutter your mind and make a break with our past.

 

 

  1. Forget about the past

You cannot live in the present by dwelling on the past.   What’s done is done!  You have no control over it.  Move on!  Also remember to forgive anyone that may have hurt you, forgiveness will help you forget the past.

  1. Enjoy your work

Living from payday to payday is not living in the present.  Enjoy your work and embrace the challenges it throws at you.  Every job has positives, focus on them!

 

  1. Focus on one thing at a time

 

The modern world tells us we need to be able to multitask.  Rather focus on each task individually and do it to the best of your ability before moving on to the next.

 

  1. Do less, focus on the important things

 

Cut down on your daily tasks.  Focus on meaningful things, like family time.  Maybe you have wanted to take the family out for a picnic, but haven’t had the time because your life is so busy planning ahead.   Rather take your family on that picnic, spend time together enjoying each other’s company and living in the present.

 

Why you should book time and spend it with the ones you love

Spending time with our loved one is something that we can take for granted.

Often we are caught up in the speed of modern life while chasing our next monthly salary.  Right from waking up in the morning we struggle to find time to spend with our families.  A peck on the cheek or ruffling the kid’s hair as you fly out the house to beat traffic are the closest we come to an interaction with our loved ones at the start of the day.

Sometimes it is important to step back and re-evaluate our family time. How often does it happen?  Is it quality time?

 

How to improve family time

There are a number of ways to improve family time.  Let’s look at a few ideas.

1. What are your priorities?

What do you consider to be the most important priorities in your life?  Your family should be at the top of that list.

Look at the various schedules that affect you and your family.  Is there something that you or your children are involved in that could be family time instead?  This takes a lot of honesty and can be painful but if it leads to an increase in time spent together as a family, the pain is worth it.  Sometimes it requires a change in mindset from selfish to selfless on the part of a parent and sacrificing some of your activities.

Remember to evaluate your children’s schedules as well.  They might be signed up for many extra mural activities which also could reduce chances of quality family time.

 

2. Make use of time that the families already are together

Dinner time is a great example of this.  Sit the family down at a table, eat together and discuss each family members day.  Make this a daily ritual.  Another example of time that can be utilised as family time is the ride to or from school.  Sing along to the radio, tell jokes, and discuss the day ahead or the day just passed.

3. Involve your kids in activities

Quality family time doesn’t need to be something out of the ordinary.  You could even involve your kids while you cook, clean, do gardening, cut the lawn, wash the car or walk the dog.

4. Utilize bedtime

This is an often overlooked period that can be utilised as a brilliant bonding time with your children.  Read a bed time story, brush their hair, cuddle with them and most importantly tell them how much you love them.

 

5. Plan family time

 

Make a day each week where you plan family time.  Take a Saturday for example.  Take your family and go hiking, walk on the beach, visit a zoo or go for a swim. A picnic is actually a perfect way to do this, not only can you picnic at different areas each week but you can invite your extended family to join you as well.

 

Why nature is good for your wellbeing

“Deviation from nature is deviation from happiness.”  – Samuel Jackson – American writer and poet.

In our modern, pressurized, time orientated world, we do not commune with nature nearly as much as the generations that came before us.

This can have a profound effect on our wellbeing and happiness.  A recent study by John Zelenski and Elizabeth Nisbet found a direct connection between a person’s happiness and their connection with and time spent in nature.

 

Think back to when you were a child.  When were you having the most fun possible?  If you are honest, you will probably agree that you had the most fun playing outside with the sun on your back and the wind in your hair.   It was a time filled with curiosity, adventure and fuelled by an imagination that knew no bounds.

Unfortunately in modern times, children are very disconnected from nature, often living in cities, in smaller houses where they remain inside interacting with various devices.   This can have profound effect on their health as we have seen in previous blogs.

Nature on the other hand has the following effect on your wellbeing.

 

1. Nature helps us heal

Exposure to nature has been found to help to diminish fear, stress and anger while making a person happier.  Studies have shown that spending time in nature can lower blood pressure, tension and heart rate and help to improve the physical wellbeing of a person.

2. Nature helps to soothe us

Nature can help to cope with pain.  Why is this?  Our genetics are programmed to find elements of nature such as trees, water and plants engaging and they often distract us from any discomfort and pain we might be feeling.  A study by physician Robert Ulrich found that gallbladder surgery patients that had a view of nature outside their rooms tolerated pain easier and were released from hospital earlier than those only had a view of a brick wall.  More hospitals are using nature to help patients to recover quicker during their stay in hospital.

 

3. Nature helps to restore us

Various studies have shown that a person spending time in nature can encounter a change in their mood.  If they were depressed, anxious or stressed their mood became more balanced and calm.  Other studies have shown that time spent in nature is linked to a positive mood, vitality, a sense of meaning in life and better psychological wellbeing.

Studies by Andrea Taylor have found that children with ADHD have actually shown an increase in their attention span while spending time outside as well as a reduction in other ADHD symptoms.

4. Nature connects us

 

A wide range of field studies conducted by Kuo and Coley found that nature can actually help to connect us with other people and helps to build a greater sense of community especially in areas featuring parks and green spaces where people will congregate   Other studies using brain activity scans have shown that viewing scenes of nature causes the area of the brain associated with empathy to become most active.

Isn’t it time you helped to improve the wellbeing, happiness and health of your family.   The cheapest and easiest way to do this in today’s modern cities is to take them on a picnic to the park, beach or other green areas in the city. Rest, relax and have fun!

Swap screen time for green time!

Our children do it and we as parents are not so innocent either, although we would be loath to admit it.   With advancement in communication technology, the emergence of the internet and reduction in cost of various hand held pieces, we are all spending far too much time staring at a screen!

 

Before laptops, mobile phones and tablets came along; most people would spend some of their spare time in front of the television, relaxing with music or reading a book.   Now we have television, mobile phones, tablets and handheld gaming devices competing for the attention of not only our children’s time but ours as well.

As we discussed in our first blog, our obsession with these devices is affecting our children in various ways including their health, psychological development and their social skills.

Bringing green time back

 

As parents, it is our responsibility to ensure our children lead balanced lives.  There is nothing wrong with your child playing video games, watching television or chatting to a friend on their mobile phone if they are managed correctly… and it should never happen at the dinner table.

How do we start to win our children back from modern technology?  What can we do to help ensure that they lead productive, happy lives where playing outside with their friends is more important than something with a screen.

Here are a few tips you could follow to help your kids get back outside and having some green time fun!

  • The most important place to start is the dinner table. This is one place that all devices should be banned from and the television turned off.  By starting to have your children sit around a table, eat dinner and discussing the day as a family, you can help to instil a strong family bond that ensures quality family time.
  • What did you do when you played outside as a child? What games did you play?  Have you ever introduced these games to your kids?  Teach them and encourage them to introduce these games to their friends.  Arrange a time that everyone can get together and play… adults included!

 

  • Remember mudpies? Teach your kids how to make one!  I’m sure you remember how to catch tadpoles?  Help your children catch some and keep them while they grow into frogs.  What about climbing a tree?  Teach your kids this important skill as well!
  • Plant something in your garden, a flower, shrub or small tree. Make your kids custodians over its care, showing them how to water it and how to feed it fertilizers and nutrients.
  • Take your kids and their friends to the beach. Collect shells, build sand castles, play beach cricket and teach the older ones who can swim how to surf.
  • Have a picnic in the bush, at the beach, at a nearby creek, anywhere you want! Picnics are a great way to get out into nature and have fun with your family and friends!

All these activities can help show your children (and remind yourself) how much fun there is to be had outdoors!

Why children should spend more time outdoors

Things have certainly changed when it comes to how children spend their free time.  Whereas in the past children would spend every waking moment outside, these days a completely different scenario plays itself out.

Modern children are now spending most of their time indoors in front of a screen of some type, be it a television, a computer screen, a mobile phone or a handheld game console.

 

A recent study conducted in the USA shows that close to half of preschool going children do not play outside at all.

Our children behaviours have changed due to a number of factors.  Parents are under enormous pressure to provide for their family.  With both parents often having to work, children are left to their own devices during the afternoon.  The world is not as safe as it once was, and parents do not encourage their children to play outside without supervision.

Less outdoor activity is associated with a rise in obesity, type 2 diabetes, anxiety disorders and attention deficit disorder amongst children.

Why is playing outdoors important

There are a number of reasons why outdoor play should be encouraged from an early age.

1. Outdoor play helps with physical skills

Playing outdoors is perfect for small children to learn and master many physical skills including running, jumping, balance and physical co-ordination.   Children also learn many ball skills while outside including how to throw and catch.  Outside play also promotes the development of hand/eye co-ordination.

 

2.Outdoor play helps to produce fit, healthy children

By playing outdoors, which often includes a lot of physical activity, a child will burn calories and stay within a healthy body weight.  Physical activity also helps to maintain healthy bones, joints and muscles.

3. Outdoor play ensures proper mental health

Physical activity can help to improve a child’s self esteem, decrease the symptoms of depression and anxiety and improve a child’s overall mood.

 

4. Outdoor play helps children learn social skills and contributes to learning

Playing outside with friends has a great impact on social and emotional development as well.  It helps with social interaction in various forms, decision making, organisational skills, communication and vocabulary.  It also helps children to learn various social customs.

Encouraging your children to play outside

 

As a parent, you should be encouraging your children to play outside and spend time with them in this environment.  Here are a few quick tips on how you can do this.

  • Set time aside each day where your younger children play outside under your supervision.
  • Teach your younger children road safety and to be aware of strangers in case they do play outside without adult supervision.
  • Establish a set of rules when your children are older and go out alone to play. Let them inform you who they are with, where they will be going and what time they will return.  If anything changes, instruct them to inform you immediately.
  • Start playgroups at the local park with other parents and their children. Include playtime on the park equipment, ball games and other traditional games.  Make these weekly occurrences.
  • Go for picnics! Picnics are the perfect way to spend time outside with friends and family.  Choose a different venue each time for your picnic and encourage your children to explore the surrounding areas.