I've always said that the year contains four seasons: spring, autumn, winter and cricket. I'm not a big fan of cricket. Sorry, read that as 'not a fan at all', but I've realised the benefits of cricket season on the whole family. Here's what they are:
1. Seeing cricket constantly on the TV inspires the young ones to get out to the backyard to play. It also inspires the kids to convince parents to go outside to play with them. All day. Every day. Constantly. To the point where you'll play just to get the kids off your back.
2. Age and skill doesn't matter as it's a game the whole family can play together. Even if you have no cricket knowledge or skill, kids will allow small modifications, such as underarm bowling (yep that's me!). Of course you'll be the butt of jokes for the whole game, but at least you feel as though you've spent quality time together.
3. As long as you have the kids clearly outline the backyard rules at the start, they're pretty easy to follow. Apparently it's quite simple. If you hit the ball into the fence behind you, you're out. If you hit the ball into the side fence, you're out. If the ball hits your leg, you're out. If the ball hits the wickets, you're out. Basically as you go up to bat, just be aware that no matter what you do, you'll be out.
4. Multitasking is possible. There's no reason Dad can't watch a cricket match on TV and fold clothes at the same time. Let's be honest, it's not a non-stop action packed sports game. Even the commentators have time to discuss deodorant choices and views on current affairs.
5. Despite the belief of many (okay, mainly me), it CAN be more exciting to watch a cricket game rather than watching paint dry. Would I prefer to watch grass grow? Jury's still out on that.
6. When the kids (and parents) play on the field or in the backyard, there's less chance of injury as it's not a contact sport. Unless contact is made directly between the ball and your head. And you didn't see it coming. For the fourth time.
7. Playing cricket as part of a club encourages kids to learn the meaning of team work. And team work is great when it's time to clean the house. Throw in a few cricket terms to make their room cleaning fun. Example: "Son, clean your room or you're out." Very effective.
8. Playing in a cricket team encourages kids to become more social. There's ALL that time standing around on the oval not doing much at all (I think it's called fielding), and plenty of time sitting on a bench together waiting for their turn to bat. If old enough, this is the perfect time for teens to discuss their choice of deodorant. Or current affairs.
9. It's a great way to bring the family together. Nothing screams togetherness more than the sight of my husband and 3 sons laughing at my attempts to hit the ball. And nothing reeks of fellowship as much as my sons high-fiving each other when Dad hits the wickets with his own bat.
10. It's one of the few sports that you can take the kids to watch, with mostly good behaviour from the other fans in the crowd. This depends on the type of cricket game. If it goes for five days, chances are most of the crowd is asleep. (Ok not really, but I had to throw that in!)
11. It's a fantastic way for kids to improve their hand-eye coordination. There's no better incentive for kids to be able to hit a cricket ball than when they're hoping to hit it towards Mum. Or Mum's leg. Or over the fence so they can call it a 'six'.
12. It means summer is finally here. And yes, it's a fantastic time of the year because the weather's great and you can head outside to play with the kids. Cricket is the sport that brings the family together. No matter how humiliating for the parents.
For more of Marianne's honest parenting advice click on over to Enough With the Lemons.