A family adventure... to the cricket
Heading to the cricket with three children under five may sound crazy. But this summer I thought why not give it a go and see if it was a great way to connect with my family. Here’s what I learnt…
Cricket is part and parcel of a traditional Aussie summer. Most of us have fond memories of watching it and or playing it in the backyard with family and friends.
I certainly do, but when I became a dad, my love of cricket seemed to get relegated to the side line. But what if my interest in cricket was a great way for us to connect as a family?
It may sound a little crazy to some, especially as my three kids are all under five but I thought it might be worth the effort, just to spend some quality time with my family at the cricket this summer.
So after much planning we applied the sunscreen, gathered the hats, sunglasses, shoes, re-arranged them all so they were on the right person and the right foot; completed a nappy change, two toilet stops; packed some drinks and food; made sure we had the tickets; and off we went—team Pavey to the cricket!
The mood was electric in the car.
“We’re going to watch daddy’s game!” they proudly proclaimed as we headed into the city. I had to smile. It wasn’t really my game. I’d never even played competitively. I just liked watching it. But that didn’t matter to them.
What mattered was that we were doing something together, and something that was important to me that they were able to share in. They were stoked. So was I.
We received plenty of help from grounds staff when we arrived; help getting through security, help getting to our seats. We felt like VIPs. And the other patrons loved us too. Lots of high fives for the kids, and plenty of looking and pointing from my children at everyone who dressed up for the occasion.
We got dressed up too: Australian hats, special green and gold zinc cream. Incorporating a little bit of what the kids love doing into the ‘adult’ event we were attending, really helped up the interest and excitement levels.
The kids were fascinated by the size of the ground and the amount of people there to watch the cricket. Funny things like the camera attached to the wires were especially interesting. I explained to the kids a little bit about what was going on, and we focused in on the players and the game for a bit. It was all very interesting… for about ten minutes!
With very short attention spans, and lots of energy, there was a lot more action in the stands for my wife and I to focus on rather than the game. We were into the snacks after the first hour. Then the kids wanted to go for a bit of a walk and explore the stadium.
We were at the Gabba in Brisbane, and as part of the day-night test, they’d built a pool and sandy play area in to the eastern part of the stadium. We were lucky enough to get into the pool area, so next thing I knew, we were going for a swim… at the cricket! The kids had a blast, I got to see some more of the game from an entirely new perspective, and the day slipped into the evening very quickly.
We watched some more of the game after the pool, got some hot chips to share, and eventually headed home when the kids got a little tired and ratty. As we drove back out of the city I really wanted to find out what the kids cherished most about the day:
“What was your favourite part of the day?” I asked.
“Mine was when we put our hands in the air,” said Thalia. I smiled because when the Mexican Wave started up late in the day, she’d been super keen to participate, and she’d looked so happy when we were doing it together.
“Mine was watching the man hit the ball,” said Curtis. “What was your favourite daddy?”
“Mine was watching the man catch the ball,” I said. “What about you, Alexander?”
“Watching the cricket with you, Daddy,” said Alexander. It nearly brought a tear to my eye, because that was definitely my favourite, despite what I’d said about the catch. I’d spent an afternoon out with my kids sharing a passion of mine with them and watching the joy it had brought to their faces. That was priceless.
I wasn’t expecting to watch much of the game, and I think that was the key. It wasn’t about me going to see the game. It was about us spending some quality time together as a family and building memorable moments which we could cherish for years to come.
Here are my top tips if you are heading to the cricket with the family this summer:
No matter the sport or the event you choose, it’s important to consider what time it is on. We chose a day-night test match so we weren’t in a rush to get there. We could arrive in the afternoon, after nap time, spend a few hours watching the cricket, have dinner and then watch a little more cricket before heading home in time for bed time. Even better, the test is not something that finishes in a day, so we weren’t worried about who the winner would be, or the final result. It was just about watching some of the game together.
Go into the experience looking to see it from your child’s eyes. This is not about spending time purely watching the match in the same way you did in the past. It is more about you going to something you love and sharing it with your kids and letting them experience it and enjoy it in their own way. And see if you can incorporate some things that they love into your day. You might not always have things like a swimming pool at the ground, but for example, we dressed up in Australian-flag-sombreros, and green and gold zinc cream on our faces, to help make it all a little more relevant and exciting to them.
Preparation is key! Especially as kids can get bored, hungry and thirsty, often at the most inconvenient times. So make sure to pack some healthy snacks, water and things to keep them occupied like colouring books and pens. It can often be hot and sunny so it’s important to be sun smart and to pack sunscreen, sunhats and sunglasses as well.