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  • Writer's pictureSue Gascoyne

A recipe for calm and connected family living

With quality family time for many a rare commodity, can the Coronavirus lockdown bring a fresh perspective and opportunities to reconnect? Here’s an ingredients list for those of us lucky not to be on the frontline...

Try to stick to normal bed and mealtime routines.

Plan a combination of typical activities as well as some fun new ones.

Help provide some structure to the week by planning regular activities such as a movie night, games night, daily exercise, Tea at 3 outside for socially distanced catch-ups with neighbours (thanks to a Woman’s Hour listener for suggesting this) and of course Thursday night’s Clap for the NHS – a wonderfully uplifting moment of pride and togetherness.

Spend at least 10 minutes every day outside if you’re safely able to do so. As well as filling your lungs with fresh air and feeling stresses literally drop away, this reignites the senses, making us (and I do mean adults as well as children) feel more connected and alive. With playgrounds and busy parks banned, the focus has returned to using our minds and bodies creatively, be it shadow jumping, pattern or wildlife spotting walks, sprint or bike races, or collecting natural treasures to use for crafting indoors.

Build in opportunities for physical activity indoors and outdoors, be it star jumps in the lounge with The Body Coach - Joe Wicks, running up and down stairs, Wii dance, walks or games outdoors, or even delivering essential supplies to vulnerable neighbours.

Use this opportunity to try something new together or simply plan quality moments of shared family games, talking and fun.

Try to be compassionate to your fellow family members and to inject laughter into the day. As well as being a great stress buster and way of reconnecting with others, it also fills the body with positive endorphins.

Make cooking a shared endeavour and be prepared for some taste tingling combinations, like one of my son’s specialities, pasta in tomato and new potato sauce – surprisingly delicious. Obviously with food supplies limited, creativity will be essential for avoiding waste. Some families are sitting down to plan menus together, a great way of sharing the load and giving everyone something to look forward to each day.

Share your music playlists in families with older children, to reconnect with each other and for an injection of musical fun.

Spend 5 (or more) minutes a day reading a good book or article. As well as modelling to your children the importance of reading, this can bring the benefits of diversion or escape.

Dust off and start to organise some family photo albums for sharing memories together.

Schedule regular virtual gatherings with family and friends to stay connected, laugh and spend quality time together.

As well as planning quality together times, be mindful of the importance of personal space too for recharging our batteries and simply being.

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