Surviving Social Distancing with Young Kids

With my family and I currently self-isolating due to COVID-19, this seemed like a good time to resurrect this blog.

A few personal updates… I am no longer a “Sydney Creative Playworker” having moved in 2019 to the Blue Mountains. It’s been a big year of transition. We moved from a small urban terrace house to a much more rural setting. The kids both started new schools. We faced a huge bushfire crisis over the summer and though we came out unscathed, we know others who were not so lucky. And now amidst a global pandemic we’ve suddenly found ourselves thrust into working from home and home-schooling.

We have been super lucky in this regard – my husband’s IT work means he can work remotely with relative ease. I’m not doing paid work at the moment but I did recently enrol in a Diploma in Early Child Education course and am now studying online in addition to having both kids now at home full-time. So far we’re finding a good balance. Having a large yard and access to the bush has been a HUGE help.

I know many others are not in the same boat – either continuing to send their kids to school despite their fears or keeping them home but needing to sit them in front of Netflix, very quickly running out of ideas to keep them entertained, or concerned about the prospect of having to sustain home education for an unknown period of time depending on how things go, if we end up in lockdown, etc.

While I don’t believe everyone needs to suddenly be signing up for distance education or following a daily curriculum, I thought it might be helpful to share my tips and some of the things we’ve done this week in the hopes it might give you some ideas if you’re feeling lost in all this.

Sydney Creative Play is Now Closed

After six months of paperwork I have finally gotten confirmation from Fair Trading NSW that Sydney Creative Play Collective is no longer an Incorporated Association, following a vote by our board in December 2018.

As also decided by our board, we have closed our bank account and distributed the remainder of our funds to Story Factory.

I have also decided that I will no longer be publishing on this website or the Sydney Creative Playworker Facebook page, in order to focus on other priorities.

Thank you so much to the volunteers, parents, children and community members who have supported this endeavour over the last five years.

Love,
Sharon

Super Hero Party at UOW Early Start Discovery Space

One of the best investments you can make for your family is a museum membership. Particularly if you travel a lot, you can often get reciprocal member benefits at museums out of state. In the past we’ve bought memberships to Questacon and the Melbourne Museum and reaped the benefits here in Sydney.

Perhaps our most oft-used membership though, is for the University of Wollongong’s Early Start Discovery Space.The name is a bit of a mouthful, so my kids usually refer to it as “Wollongong Museum”. Though, museum isn’t quite the right word for it. It’s more of a giant play space. Not the kind with ballpits and slides and chaos that haunt my nightmares. The kind that is incredibly well thought out, engages the senses and imagination, and holds awesome, creative events.

Maker Workshops at the Newtown Library

I have in the past lamented a lack of free kids’ arts activities in Sydney, but I have to hand it to the City of Sydney’s libraries which have been running some really great free afterschool programs.

My partner stumbled upon them when I was sick one afternoon and he came home early to take the kids out of my hair. They headed to the Newtown Library where we’re frequent visitors and I started getting very excited texts from him “Did you know they do coding workshops here??”

Creative Re-Use: Painting on Plastic

I’ve been trying to combat after-school fatigue as much as possible with creative, open-ended projects. This one was inspired when I saw a neighbour throwing away this big plastic sheet. With the use of washable paint it’s completely re-usable and I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve.

Yesterday we had some friends come by for a playdate after school so it was a perfect opportunity to try out this one. I don’t have a very big back yard so we took this activity to the park around the corner. Along with the plastic sheet we brought a container full of paintbrushes, a towel and an Ikea storage box that I’ve repurposed into a sealable paint tray with a variety of washable paints.

Puppet Theatre Playdate

Today I have to give some major props to my (soon-to-be) sister-in-law Charlotte who made my kids probably the coolest Christmas gift ever: an interactive puppet theatre. This thing is truly a work of art.

She designed it all herself and it’s got so many little details, from the red velvet curtains and decorations on the facade to the hand-painted interchangeable backdrops.

Melbourne Adventures Part 2: ArtPlay at Birrarung Marr

I first came across ArtPlay by accident while on holiday in Melbourne in 2016. I’d been looking for good parks to take the kids to and Birrarung Marr came up. It’s a lovely playground between Fed Square and the Yarra River. But what of course grabbed my attention most was a building labelled “ArtPlay”.

A quick google search told me that ArtPlay was an initiative of the City of Melbourne offering a variety of children’s programs from structured school holiday workshops to regular weekly events. I was a little bit floored.