Half term is upon us and another week in lockdown looms. Unlike last year’s Lockdown #1 when the weather was great, this time round we can’t go anywhere other than on yet another walk – and even the dog is getting bored of that! So what can we do that helps us and our children to feel that we’ve had a break, despite not being able to do all those usual half term activities?
Well, with a bit of imagination, you and your children can return to homeschooling on February 22nd feeling like, just for a while, you’ve stepped off the hamster wheel that is life at the moment, albeit not quite as you might have hoped to be able to do.
As I write, there is snow outside and the current forecast says it might still be here for the half term week. If this is the case, rather than complaining about it like I’ve been doing all weekend, get outside and enjoy it! Challenge the children to build something other than a snowman, find a local hill where you can sledge (socially distanced of course) or perfect your snow angels, and when you come indoors consider making one of those amazing hot chocolate drinks using an Easter egg that are doing the rounds on social media at the moment. You can pick up a couple of small eggs and a bag of mini marshmallows for a couple of pounds and have an indulgent treat – I guarantee it will be cheaper than those you might be persuaded to buy from any coffee chain!
If braving the elements is not your thing, there is plenty to do indoors to help you chill out.
Children love a picnic and whilst the weather may not be on side, having a picnic on a rug or blanket indoors does at least mean you don’t have to contend with wasps or sand in your sandwiches! You could spend some time in the kitchen getting them to help make the various picnic components. Maybe even do a bit of baking together and rustle up some treats. Cupcakes, cheese stars, fruit kebabs and mini pizzas are all super quick and easy and all that mixing, weighing and measuring gives them a chance to learn valuable life skills whilst having fun. Google is a great place for simple recipes and, going forward, ACL Community and Family Learning offer courses to help with healthy eating.
On the subject of food, do you eat your meals together as a family in the evening? If not, try to do this over half term as it is a fantastic time to get together and chat, share what you have been grateful for that day and enjoy some ‘quality time’. That may have become a bit of an overused phrase of late but it really is so important to put the multi-tasking on hold and connect with your family at least once a day.
When my children were younger, every Friday night was pizza and film night. They’d worked hard all week at school, eaten healthily, their dad and I had done the same so this was our time to wind down. We took it in turns to choose the film and this was a great opportunity to introduce some of the films we had enjoyed as children – anyone for ‘Babe’? After the first half term of 2021 being as tough as it has, you’ve all earned at least a pizza and film night. You could even make it into a whole day! Take it in turns to choose the films and put all those other jobs that can wait, on hold for the day. Unless it’s urgent, it’ll still be there tomorrow.
Think about the last time you had a family games night (and I don’t mean trying to guess who’s who on The Masked Singer!). My children, now aged 24 and 20, still enjoy playing games they’ve had since they were in primary school, and I have to admit, so do I (but don’t tell anyone!). So think about hunting under the bed for those they haven’t played in ages and have a day or evening of play. Teach them a simple card game, ‘Go Fish’ is a great one and ‘Crazy Eights’ is a favourite in our house. If you are a particularly competitive family you could turn it into the Olympic Games of games, with points awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in each game and medals awarded at the end of the day for the most points gained.
For those who are missing those beauty treatments and cheeky spa days, why not create your own at home? Dressing gowns and slippers are the order of the day – swimwear is optional. Make your own face masks, body scrubs and even bath bombs and paint each other’s nails. He won’t thank me for telling you this but my son loves having his nails done and is currently sporting pale blue toe nails as painted by his long suffering girlfriend J Give each other hand or foot massages and crack open that hand cream or body lotion you were gifted and were saving for a special occasion as it’s “too good for everyday”. Check out our Facemask activity video – always check on a small area first and wait to check there is no allergic reaction.
Finally, how about getting creative? Every time someone in my family has said they miss something they can’t do at the moment we have written it on a piece of paper and put it in a box. When restrictions are lifted and life has returned to some kind of normality, we will take out a piece of paper each week and do whatever it says we were missing. Meeting up with my girlfriends and the amazing ACL Community and Family Learning team are high on my list.
Writing things on pieces of paper is a bit boring though so how about making a ‘Wishing Tree’ instead? Check out the video for this simple craft on our Facebook page and website.
Whatever you decide to get up to over half term, whether you are still juggling work with having the children at home, try to take some time to recharge and have some fun.
For details of all the FREE courses we have on offer on all aspects of parenting and family life, check out our ACL Essex Community and Family Learning Facebook page or find details at https://aclessex.com/community-family-learning-online/