Jack Barnes Bicentennial Mangrove Boardwalk, Cairns[/caption] I admit it. My children get far too much screen time. The reason? My eldest son is particularly high drive, requiring stimulation round the clock as well as demonstrating a persistent resistance to independent play. If it were not for the TV I would not be left in peace to have a shower, make the bed or cook dinner. Although I uphold the “do what you have to do to survive” mantra of parenthood it doesn’t sit easy with me. This is because I am familiar with the evidence that excessive screen time at a population level contributes to the obesity epidemic in Australia. That is one health/stigma/social issue that I do not want to bequest to my sons . Partly in response to my own concerns regarding our dependence on The Box, and in a quest to ground them in the real, everyday, wonderful world I am deliberately seeking daily engagement with nature for my children. What is gratifying is that our ventures into nature provide ample stimulation to satisfy my four year old’s seemingly insatiable appetite for interaction, simultaneously providing me with desperately needed head-space. Recently my quest took us into the mangrove salt marsh and swamps near the Cairns Airport. Mangrove swamps are not pretty. They are muddy, dark, sometimes stinky places. The Jack Barnes Bicentennial Mangrove Boardwalk took us on an hour walk through the mangrove swamps to a muddy tidal inlet marked with crab-pots. While the mangrove swamps were not beautiful, they were spectacular. My boys thrilled at the idea that the swamps were the nursery room of fish, as we searched for baby fish in the stream and ponds. They were voluntarily silent (Oh-My-Gosh) to listen for life in the swamps and were rewarded by popping, creaking and cracking that we told them was the swamps teeming with life. They looked for mud skippers, crabs and shellfish, and found them, and they collected mangrove leaves to make a collage when we went home. We went home with a four year old repeatedly thanking us for the “fantastic outing” and keen to engage with nature further. Would I recommend the boardwalk for other families? Absolutely. It is interesting, stroller friendly, and worked with my kids. Its proximity to the Cairns Airport means that it is a great activity for families that are looking for some time to fill pre-flight as they exit the tropics. I suspect that my children will continue to have a little too much screen time. I hope that by counteracting this by facilitating active play and engagement with nature as well all will not be lost on my quest to raise healthy, happy boys. Am I wrong?
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© Copyright 2012 Danielle, All rights Reserved. Written For: Bubs on the Move