The majority of people we talk to this weather seem to be finding this lock-down much more difficult.  People are tired, and there seems to be no end in sight.  This time of year we are usually looking at where we could go for a wee break or even planning summer holidays, whether we can afford it or not.  The fact that we can’t even plan to go out for something to eat, is let’s face it, unreal.  Unfortunately though it is real – work life now blurs into home life, school life into family life and family life into work life and the whole thing at the moment just seems relentless.

Each week we here at Lifestart normally talk on topics that feature in our Growing Child publications.  This week is going to be different.  We are going to suggest you do something a ‘little out of the blue’ for you and your family.  Do something that when you all look back on it, it will fill you with happiness.  Give your family a sense that they are the most important people in your life.  Here are a few simple suggestions to try this weekend that just may take away that sense of ‘Ground Hog Day’!

Have a special dinner

This is not about changing what you plan to do for dinner.  It’s just how you go about it.  Prepare for a dinner party like you would do for friends coming round.  Say nothing to your little ones – just go about getting the table ready, get the good tablecloth out, get the good plates out and the special glasses.  Fold the kitchen roll into pretty napkins. Put on some relaxing music. Light a candle. Pull on your favourite outfit – a perfect opportunity to dress up.

Your little ones will notice you doing this and will of course be wondering who’s coming to dinner.  This is when you tell them the most special person (people) in the world is coming to dinner.  When the fish fingers and mash are ready, sit down and enjoy your meal.  It may be nice to finish this meal with some jelly and ice-cream and a toast for the most special people in your life.

Build a duvet den – and get into it.

Children love to build tents and dens from cushions, sheets, blankets and duvets.  This weekend help them build a great big one so that you can all fit into it.  Put together some picnic goodies, gather your children’s favourite books, a few board games. Then curl up with your children and spend a few magical hours with them. This will provide a memory that will last a lifetime for them and you.

Have a sleepover – in a different room!

This could be in your living room and may involve a wee bit of effort.  Be creative. Make beds, set up lamps, plan stories, strategically position teddies and soft toys. A night in the zoo maybe?  If you have things from other countries you could pretend you are going on holiday.  A few pictures or photos to stimulate the imagination. A fun night like this should always have a mid-night feast (even if it’s at 8 pm).  Adventure and imagination can be found in the mind – let it soar. The simplest of things bring such joy to our children and you being at the centre of it – believe me is all they need.

Earlier this year we blogged on how to maintain successful routines during COVID-19, or how to talk to your children about fears they may be having about the pandemic. These tips are still really helpful today.   And by doing ‘something out of the blue’ for your children this weekend you may reap benefits too. It may help you readjust, shake-off some of the ‘ground hog day’ habits we all have developed in coping with daily life at the minute.  You may notice the days are getting a little longer, blue skies hopefully are on the way and February is fast approaching.

Finally, one more thing to try this weekend. Try and show some kindness and empathy for yourself.  This is really important, because these are difficult times, no matter how many times we hear ‘we’re all in this together’.