Your kids greet the day at 6:01 a.m. but the rest of Hong Kong is still snoring. How in the world to entertain the family for those long hours between waking and… everything else? Fear not! Sassy Mama has you covered — whether you want to stay home in your jammies or venture into the cool morning air.
Scoot along the Seaview Promenade
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: The Promenade from Deep Water Bay to Repulse Bay is as picture perfect as it gets.
Early morning fishermen, dragon boaters and sailboats will enthrall your kids as they run off extra energy, and mamas will appreciate the beautiful personal gardens on the north side of the trail. We’ve spotted more than one variety that looks like it came straight from Dr. Seuss’ imagination!
Parking is available at Deep Water Bay, and buses 6, 6A, 6X and 260 all make stops there as well.
How to make it more fun: Don’t miss the rocky beach just east of the Middle Island ferry dock—there’s a lifetime supply of rocks just waiting to be skipped. And take your time! Stroller-, scooter- and dog-friendly, the walk takes about half an hour for speedy walkers and up to an hour for little ones who like to stop and smell the exotic flowers.
Play with gooey goo
If Pinterest suddenly stopped, the circulation of recipes for homemade playdough, slime, gak, ooblek and floam, it might collapse. There must be at least five hundred options and frankly, you can’t go wrong with any of them. Making these concoctions (and saying their names) is half the fun!
How to make it more fun: Try one of the many edible variations and call it breakfast. And don’t forget to add plenty of food colouring (depending on the recipe)! Nothing’s less appealing than grey goo.
Every Hong Kong mama knows the fastest route to her favourite beach, but when the kids are still quiet(ish) in the early morning, a true beachcombing expedition is a whole new adventure. Something about the peacefulness of a new day makes it a great time for a search.
Whether you’re in the wild yonder of Sai Kung or on the well-trodden sands of Repulse Bay, every patch of Hong Kong beach has turned up treasures at one point or another. So make a beachcombing wish list with your kids the night before, and tote your early risers to the shore. Skittering crabs, unbroken shells, heart-shaped rocks and colourful sea glass are almost always lying about, especially for the keen and curious.
How to make it more fun: Bring wellies for anyone who gets grumpy about rough sand betwixt their toes. Don’t hurt or take home anything that’s still alive. Carry a plastic bag for rubbish you find as you wander — Hong Kong’s polluted ecosystems need all the help they can get! Why not leave the beach a little cleaner than you found it? Good karma goes a long way, mamas.
Write old-fashioned letters
In a world of iMessage and Skype, nobody gets much snail mail anymore. But it remains one of life’s simplest pleasures, and by spending a morning writing notes to loved ones, your kids will practice empathy and writing skills in one sitting. (Just don’t tell them they’re learning — it’s more fun to sneak it in!)
A pack of crayons, an inky black pen and a stack of white cards go a long way on a Saturday morning, especially when the finished pieces can be popped in the mail to a doting grandparent. Perfection isn’t the goal here, it’s their effort. Help them think of things they love about the recipient (I love it when we play My Little Pony/Spiderman together), and then let them get creative with how they illustrate that on paper.
How to make it more fun: Offer safety scissors and let them cut up one drawing, then glue it back into a collage on another page. Encourage little artists to “fill all the white space” so their work is more than a scribble. And keep plenty of stickers on hand to reward their efforts and for final bits of pizzazz.
Hike the Dragon’s Back
If you can’t enjoy an early morning yoga class with the kids along, then at least you can get some cardio on a good Hong Kong hike. Located on the southwest peninsula of Hong Kong Island, Dragon’s Back is your ideal morning jam, mamas.
Ideal for kids older than 6 (unless they’re in a backpack), the views are phenomenal and the length is enough to keep everyone entertained until the brunch spots open up later in the morn.
Check out these Sassy tips for getting to Dragon’s Back and other easy Hong Kong hikes.
How to make it more fun: Snacks, snacks, never enough snacks. M&Ms make great incremental rewards for reluctant hikers. Buy yourself real trail shoes. SOGO has several options for the whole family. They make a huge difference in your comfort and the risk of rolled ankles — the last thing you need.
Make pancakes together
Because so many families in Hong Kong employ domestic help, it’s a rare occasion when little kids get to join the action in the kitchen. Why not begin the day with a little culinary action together? Make breakfast!
Yes, it will take longer. Yes, it will be messier. Yes, you can do it! By showing your kids how meals come together, they’ll develop a more sophisticated palate and a deeper appreciation for wholesome, fresh food (well, that’s the hope, at least). Take turns to measure the salt, giving a mix to the pancake batter, setting out the plates and cutlery — it all cultivates a sense of pride and ownership for little ones. They’re more likely to eat up happily when they’re eating their own masterpiece! Who knows? This could be your next great Sunday tradition.
How to make it more fun: Rely on foolproof recipes from Ina Garten or programs such as The Kids Cook Mondays. If you don’t have decent cookware, it’s time to invest. The Pan Handler and Pantry Magic (both in Central) can set you up in no time.
Ride the Peak Tram
We know you’ve probably ridden the Peak Tram plenty of times, but have you clicked up the mountain first thing in the morning? Transport begins bright and early at 7 a.m. Can you think of a more glorious place to greet the day than from the top of our dear Victoria Peak? It can’t be beat.
Once you’re at the top, take a walk along the Morning Trail — it’s only a 3.5 km loop (flat and paved!) — and reward the whole family with a Starbucks after your journey. A bit of exercise, a bit of nature, a bit of perfection.
How to make it more fun: Bring a notebook and coloured pencils, and sketch the sights from the lookout points along the trail. Art on the run feels so novel when you’re a kid, but it’s so easy, so why not?
Watch home videos together
So maybe no one calls them “home videos” anymore, but you’ve got a mess of videos on your iPhone from your baby’s first steps onward. Why not spend a morning watching them all together?
We’ve heard of mamas setting up a private YouTube account just for their little ones’ childhood moments, which is a safe, hassle-free way to preserve your memories.
How to make it more fun: Break all the breakfast rules and make popcorn, stay in your jammies, and relive those highlights together from the couch.
Roll in the grass at Cyberport
Grassy knolls are few and far between in our fair city, which makes Cyberport a (kind of wacky) haven for kids who need to really run.
If you’re looking for entertainment, take the kids up the escalators all the way to the podium level, where an outdoor amphitheatre doubles as the best place to practice cartwheels. Several water features and a nearby Starbucks make it a great spot to set up camp while you wait for the rest of the Kong to wake up. The design is perfect for at-a-distance supervision, while kids feel they’ve got plenty of room to roam.
Another Cyberport gem is across the street at the waterfront park, perfect for the bike riders amongst us. It has more grass and open space, and a waterfront view! Public access is available at the end of Information Crescent, just south of Wise Kids.
How to make it more fun: Bring a frisbee and a blanket to sit on — and let your kids take their shoes off and feel the grass between their toes! Parking is available if you want to haul the bikes.
Read! Read! Read!
When it comes to reading, Jackie O said it best: There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all. Set the timer for 30 full minutes, and with enough enthusiasm and silly voices, it’ll fly by.
The key to making this enjoyable is to keep the selection fresh and age-appropriate. You can’t expect your 7 year old to be thrilled with Moo, Baa, La La La, classic though it may be. She’s ready for James and the Giant Peach, my friend. On the same token, your toddler doesn’t need scary bits of Harry Potter floating around her mind, so keep her books on the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom level.
If you haven’t visited your child’s school library, make an effort to stop by and marvel at the collection for yourself. Remember to return books as soon as your kids’ interest wanes — there’s plenty more where that came from. And research shows that reading together (for fun!) will improve your child’s overall literacy. That’s one less tutoring session for you to haggle over!
How to make it more fun: Not sure where to start? Check out locations and recommendations from Hong Kong Public Libraries (you can also browse the London Public Library and the New York Public Library sites for best children’s books recommendations). Of course you can always buy books, but there’s something inherently magical about the shared experience of a library. It brings people together!
Have a relaxing brekkie with the family
Don’t feel like cooking and making a mess of the kitchen? Hong Kong has plenty of family-friendly breakfast spots open early where you can grab a relaxing bite with the kiddos and start your day off with a burst of energy. Check out Posto Pubblico in Soho, which opens at 7:30am for early morning risers and has highchairs available for kids as well as a great breakfast menu. Alternatively, hop over to Oolaa Petite for pancakes, waffles or breakfast sammies and enjoy a cup o’ joe as you people watch through the large glass windows (open at 8am). Classified also opens its doors at 8am and is a firm Sassy Mama favourite, or pop on over to The Flying Pan for a flavour-packed (albeit slightly more greasy) breakfast to fuel up for the day!
How to make it more fun: Meals are always more fun for the kids when you bring colouring books alone! Keep kids entertained with a colouring book or a fun game while you sit back with a good read and enjoy the scrumptious breakfast goods headed your way!