Play | Rugby Barbarians Day

After an amazing game against Helensville on Saturday {Ethan’s team won 120-10!}, he had to don his mouthguard again on Sunday {I had to get up at 6am!!!!} for the Barbarians tournament in Devonport.

I was quite unprepared for the size of the tournament, there were schools from all over Auckland and hundreds of keen-as, rugby mad kids ready to play.  There was a twist….open weight and years 3,4,5 and 6 playing all together.  Against each other.  Big kids vs teeny kids playing tackle.  yikes.

See what I mean?

Barbarians School Fun Day

There are many proud Mum moments that I have filed away over the years but my heart was positively bursting with pride on Sunday.  Tackling a massive year 6 kid at speed who has at least 10kgs on your year 3 self  is BRAVE.  My boy was fearless and played intense rugby.  He never questioned whether he was up to the task, he just tackled like the forward he is and thanked god he didn’t have to wear boots so he felt a little faster than normal.

It was a super fun day.  There were free sausages, bacon butties and Milo for the kids as well as the opportunity to spend time with past Barbarians and meet the Auckland Blues!

Rugby kid

Ethan And Daniel Braid

Milo love's PLAY!

The clip below is from Saturdays game; Ethan’s 2nd try of 3


Must Click | Milo Play-O-Pedia

The awesome gang at Milo have put together a great resource for families – an interactive encyclopedia of play activities!

The Play-O-Pedia is a fun app on the Milo Australia & NZ facebook page; you specify whether you want to play inside or outside, hit the play button and voila!  Give it a spin, you might end up with some childhood flashbacks like I did, Bullrush anyone?

  • I am participating in the Milo Play Movement as a Blogger Ambassador and any compensation received is for advice provided directly to the MILO Play Movement team on the social media engagement plan.
  • All communications I share regarding the MILO Play Movement are my honest opinion.

Milo Play Zone Event – Birkenhead, Auckland

As part of their major Australasian Campaign to get our little ones playing EVERY day, Milo have created a series of free events across Australia and New Zealand with the goal of encouraging and developing active play.  FUN!  Check dates on the official FB page here

Dave and I took the day off work last Wednesday, ‘borrowed’ some neighbourhood kids and headed along to have some fun.

The array of activities, the venue, the number of stoked & enthusiastic Play Facilitators {I made that name up btw!} all contributed to a wicked morning!  Make sure you can get along to one of these events, there are some Play Tour Events in Sydney this weekend, check the Facebook page for details.  If you missed it earlier you can watch my interview with Dr Grant Schofield here

Play | Rolling in – Don’t fear the skatepark

Skaters get a bad rap and skateparks get a bad rap.  I’m married to a skater, skated away a good part of my twenties in the states and find my self frequently watching Dave and E have a blast at skateparks all over Auckland.  Dave does not even have one tattoo!  It’s crazy how un-intimidating my husband is!

Skateparks are an awesome place for kids to play safely on their scooters, skateboards and bikes and they are easily accessible in most cities.

Skateparks are NOT magnets for losers, stoners, drunks, punks or bad kids.  These people are EVERYWHERE, not just at your local park.  Skaters are super nice normal people who will show anyone respect when respect is shown to them.  If a teenager is being a dick, he will be a dick in whatever environment you put him in. It is not mutually exclusive with being in a skatepark.

Rules for having fun at the skatepark;

  1. Wear you helmet {ignore the pics of my husband, old dudes are way too cool to wear helmets apparently!}
  2. Always pay attention and watch where you are going, watch the lines the other skaters are making.  They are creatures of habit and will usually skate the same line over and over until they get it right.  This should help you choose a safe path.
  3. Don’t sit on the edge {the coping} and dangle your legs over.  People use the coping to grind on and you will be in their way.
  4. Likewise, don’t take a break by sitting on a box, rail or ramp.  If you are tired or having a drink move right out of the park area, where you will not be in the way
  5. Wait your turn.  It may look like chaos, but if you watch the older guys, everyone takes their turn.  They DO watch out for little dudes and let everyone take a turn.
  6. If you are unsure about anything, find the oldest guy at the skatepark, use your manners and ask for help.
  7. Have fun!  Dave says that’s the only reason he skates.  It’s not all about landing tricks, rolling around and going fast is super fun on its own.


Play | Need some school holiday inspiration?

MILO Play Zone are a super fun series of free events offered to the community to encourage families to get outside and play!  Yay sounds fun right?

Details: Get the family together and come play at the first ever MILO Play Zones – FREE events to encourage NZ families to ‘go play’. This initiative follows on from the State Of Play report released last month, highlighting the startling fact that almost half (46%) of Kiwi kids are not playing every day.

The MILO Play Zone encourages kids to make up their own games, which they can then replicate at home throughout the school holidays. And, as playing can be thirsty work, there will also be FREE cold MILO drinks ready for those wanting to refuel.

How the MILO Play Zone works:

1.       Book a MILO zone (or ‘backyard’)

2.       Decide how many people are playing

3.       Choose the tools of your choice – there will be balls, frisbees, hula hoops, ropes, cones, velcro tags and coloured bibs

4.       Make up your own game and create your own rules

5.       Head to your allocated space and play!

These games can be as active as you want them to be and kids are welcome to play on their own, with a friend, parent or group – it’s all up to them!

Some game starter ideas:

  • Mixing two games together, like soccer and cricket (kick the ball to score runs)
  • Frisbee golf (instead of hitting a golf ball into a hole, aim the frisbee to hit a marker)
  • Hula-catch (pass the ball between two people spinning hula hoops)

We will be traveling all over Auckland throughout the school holidays to make sure everyone can join in. See our schedule below:

  • Allan Brewster Rec Centre                        13 April, 11.00am – 1.00pm

Tavern Lane, Papatoetoe

  • Moana-nui-a-Kiwa Mangere                      16 April, 10.00am – 12.00pm

Cnr of Mascot Ave & Waddon Pl, Mangere

  • Te Matariki Clendon Centre                      17 April, 10.00am – 12.00pm

17 Palmers Road, Clendon, Manurewa

  • Birkenhead Leisure Centre                       18 April, 10.00am – 12.00pm

Mahara Ave, Birkenhead, North Shore

  • Otara Leisure Centre                                  19 April, 9.00am – 11.00pm

Newbury St, Otara

  • Lynfield Rec Centre                                     20 April, 10.00am – 12.00pm

16 – 18 Griffen Park Road, Lynfield


  • I am participating in the Milo Play Movement as a Blogger Ambassador and any compensation received is for advice provided directly to the MILO Play Movement team on the social media engagement plan.
  • All communications I share regarding the MILO Play Movement are my honest opinion.

School Holiday Play Tools

As happens at the end of every term, Ethan is careering at full speed towards the wall of mental exhaustion, I’m hoping he will last the week so meltdowns can occur safely behind doors (fingers crossed x).  He is ready for the holidays, and I’m trying to be!

Once kids get used to having their toy or tech focused play objects removed at intervals, imaginative and ACTIVE play will gradually become easier and more natural – as it should be!  This is something I think is so important to kids; how often do they play without a very specific ‘guiding’ principal?  Creating imaginative active play without the aids of modern toys is a skill that is fast getting lost in the toy aisles and app stores.

I have thought carefully about these items which are all inexpensive and can be re-purposed in a number of different ways.  Importantly, they all lend themselves to active play and are wide open for kids and caregivers to interpret in a multiplicity of scenarios.

  1. Skipping rope | Tug of war, handy for tying up prisoners, actual skipping!
  2. Sidewalk chalk | Essential for hopscotch, drawing the Four Square, handball, driveway netball/basketball  courts
  3. DIY outdoor bowling set | Fun for little guys and big kids, mix some paint with water swish around in plastic bottle, drain excess and leave to dry.  Put a little sand/rocks in the bottom so they stand easily and voila!
  4. Multiple balls | Must haves.  Essential for backyard sport, ball tag, fun relays
  5. Elastics | Have you forgotten how many hours we spent playing elastics as little girls?  2, 4, 6, 8 in the middle out the gate…..
  6. Hula hoops | I spotted these at the $2 shop last week, perfect for makeshift goal hoops, ‘safe’ territory, races rolling the hoops
  7. “Adventuring Tools” / Scavenger Hunts, you could create an on-the-fly scavenger hunt in ANY location, speed it up with a timed version to get them really moving
  8. Large cardboard box |  Can be used to create a hut or home base, or as a target for shooting balls into or hoops around

PLAY | Q&A with Dr Paula Barrett

The Milo facebook page hosted Australian academic Dr Paula Barrett this afternoon for a live chat about playtime and how important it is for our kids.  The hour just flew by as eager mums were keen to chat with Paula who specializes in childhood anxiety and depression.

As it was at a tricky time for us here in NZ (3-4pm) I thought I would post a transcript of the Q&A below.  Enjoy!

I seem to recall from somewhere that physical play, ie play fighting, wrestling anything involving contact and personal boundaries is particularly important for young boys in many ways. Is this true?

It is true that many boys learn best through active play – they learn by doing things, more than through just verbal communication. It really helps them them to learn important life skills, such as how to relate with other children. They learn those skills because they’re engaged and happy when they are active. When they are play fighting, it is not aggressive play – it’s a way of learning what the boundaries are.

My daughter is almost 9yrs old & has anxiety issues. I try to provide her with craft activities & art supplies as creative means of processing her emotions & anxiety, but she ends up a screaming, angry mess when things don’t go to plan. I’d really appreciate some tips on helping her enjoy her play time & equip her with skills to manage the anxiety.

Anxious children tend to be perfectionistic – they don’t like doing things unless they are perfect & they worry about not being perfect. There are lots of strategies to manage anxiety, but the main thing is to try and encourage her to do things just for the fun of it. Create easy fun tasks outside (like playing with a ball) that are not competitive in nature and emphasise the fun of the activity. You can also visit and look up the ‘Friends Program’ where you’ll find more information on helping children with anxiety.

Boys need to be boys, as well as have good male role models especially a father (father figure).Would you say those lacking the father figures, boys, especially, lose out?

Positive male role models do play an important role in the development of both boys and girls. These male figures can include dads, granddads, brothers, uncles, sporting coaches just to name a few.

My daughter and son are 13 and 10. I encourage physical activity as much as possible, but as I am unwell they get frustrated that I can’t play too. I take them to the beach, but I can only watch from the sidelines. Is there something I can do as a fun outdoors reward that involves all of us, so they don’t just see mum sitting on the sidelines feeling miserable.

It’s wonderful that you take them to the beach and encourage them to play in outdoor settings – by being there you are already very invested in their well being. Other things you can do to get more involved is to be the goal keeper, time keeper or score keeper in one of their games. You could also invite your children’s friends to come along and become part of the activity.

My 4 yr old son isn’t the most athletic kid and while he loves playing at the park he tends to only last 5 min or so riding his bike or playing ball games, etc before he is bored and wants to go inside. How could I encourage him to want to play outdoor games and build his stamina???

It’s great that you’re encouraging outdoor active play! One ideas is to invite a few of his friends of the same age along to the play time – he’ll be inspired and encouraged by having his friends around to stay playing for longer. Another idea is to turn it into a regular activity that happens every day – as he gets more comfortable with the idea of staying outside for half an hour every day and playing, you’ll find that he will look forward to it and ask to do it more!

Playing outside comes pretty naturally to our 7yo boy, but EVERYTHING turns competitive, and some of his playmates are not as hard out as he. What can I do to encourage non-competitive behaviours when appropriate?

Games where there is no winner or loser, but where they share or learn, are great for encouraging non-competitive behaviour. One of the best ways to do this is to change the rules of a game so that they get points for cooperative, fun and happy behaviour, rather than scoring. Everyone is a winner and it encourages fun and learning.

What is the max time you think kids should spend playing video games/on the computer/watching TV every day?

For primary school kids my recommendation is no more than half an hour – and always remember to keep a balance between this time and active outdoor play. Definitely make sure you also get outside with your kids and go to the park, the beach or the bush and have fun!

My daughter suffers from this (anxiety), how do we deal with it when she has a I hate myself moment or an outburst moment?

Most children and adults have moments where they feel they can’t control their emotions – teach her to take deep breaths and give her a glass of water, then create small, simple games. Give her things she can do in small steps, and then she can build on these steps bit by bit – make sure you let her know that trying her best is good, she doesn’t have to be perfect.

  • I am participating in the Milo Play Movement as a Blogger Ambassador and any compensation received is for advice provided directly to the MILO Play Movement team on the social media engagement plan.
  • All communications I share regarding the MILO Play Movement are my honest opinion.

Play | What it means to us

When I was asked to be involved with the fantastic Milo Play Movement I was awesomely stoked {and quietly confident, play, meh, we play ALL the time}.  We play rugby, we play touch, we play trombone, we surf and skateboard, Ethan swims every week, we run, we cycle……we are an active family, we are BUSY all the time, we play, right?

Hmmmm.  After our first Mum Ambassador conference call one phrase stuck in my head.  Cath from Squiggle Mum mentioned the term ‘hyper scheduling’ and I filed this away.  I thought about this awful sounding code name and wondered if I was guilty of hyper scheduling.  Is Ethan more busy with structured play than unstructured?  How much free time, with no extra-curricular activities and no homework does he actually have?

Lets see;

  • Monday:  I pick him up from school and we do a 180 and head right to swimming, we may do a couple of errands beforehand, we do homework, eat afternoon tea in the car, E swims and we arrive home at 4.45.  This leaves 1hr of playtime if he is not too tired.
  • Tuesday:  Free day.  Afternoon tea, homework (1/2hr max) then at least 2hrs free time)
  • Wednesday:  Afternoon tea, homework, Rugby or touch training.  No play time.
  • Thursday:  Afternoon tea, homework, music lesson.  1.5hrs free time
  • Friday: Afternoon tea, homework, Rugby or touch training.  No play time.

Weekends are always quite busy for us, we are rarely at home but seem to always squeeze in some fun, active family play eg skateboarding, cycling, hiking.

So, here I am, admitting to you, the interwebs, that I am a hyper-scheduler.  Play, plain old imaginative, ACTIVE, unstructured, backyard/park/beach play needs to feature more in our week and over the course of this year I will endeavour to provide more time to simply PLAY with our son.

What do you guys think about this?  Could your little ones use more play time?  Lets share some ideas and get our kids imaginations firing!


  • I am participating in the Milo Play Movement as a Blogger Ambassador and any compensation received is for advice provided directly to the MILO Play Movement team on the social media engagement plan.
  • All communications I share regarding the MILO Play Movement are my honest opinion.