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Thank you to Rattle & Mum for this wonderfully encouraging post. *** The past week has been another sad one in SA, and this piece I received, while relevant for any time, feels particularly suitable right now. We can’t control everything in our and our kids’ lives, but we can try our best to create a home life that offers a warm, loving, supportive and nurturing space for our family. Here are some tips for creating as much love and nurturing at home as you can: Include lots of hugs and cuddles In the context of building closeness in your family, it would be hard to overstress the importance of physical closeness. Frequent hugs and cuddles should be an integral part of family interaction. Snuggle together on the couch when you watch TV. All pile into bed together at bedtime and read together, or listen to music. Throw some old duvets and cushions on the lawn and do a bit of stargazing. It’s interesting and also creates a wonderfully relaxed setting just have wide-ranging conversations about anything and everything. Do things together Apart from being fun and encouraging closeness, this is also wonderful way of teaching your children new skills and introducing them to new interests. Plan meals together and then cook them together. Play board or card games in the evening rather than just watching TV or disappearing to separate rooms. Do some artwork together – paint pictures to frame and hang on the walls, or make handmade birthday cards for friends. Get your children interested in crafts – knitting, sewing and quilting are all very popular these days and will impart useful skills for life. Make handcrafted toys or beadwork, or learn scrapbooking together. Get the whole family involved in painting and restoring tired-looking garden pots and furniture. The possibilities here are virtually endless – and also endlessly rewarding! Make room for fun and laughter Life is progressively more pressurised, and fun and laughter are wonderful ways to de-stress. If you have musical talent in your family, sing around the piano or with a guitar. Play word games as you cook, or all contribute to compose limericks together and write them down. Make up new and funny lyrics to popular songs, or just sing in the car together as you travel. See how many capital cities the family can name on a car trip, or famous writers or singers.  And do not spurn that old absorbing and interesting standby – jigsaw puzzles! If your kids are old enough, then a game of charades is awesome too.

Adding another child to the mix? If you are a single child family, you might well share many people’s concern about your child growing up without siblings and the valuable socialization skills that come along with that. But  you might be hesitant about taking this momentous step due to many factors – your financial situation, your age if you are no longer in the first flush of youth, possible health risks, or the age gap that there might be between your children. In a situation like this, you would be well advised to consider scheduling a visit with a counsellor at a reputable fertility clinic such as Wijnland Fertility to find out about your options, and discuss any medical concerns you may have. Get some exercise! If you can impart a love of an active lifestyle to your child, you will have given them a healthful gift for life. Why not join a hiking club as a family? Or go cycling in the park on a regular basis, or learn yoga and do that as a family activity. Join a gym or sign up to some exercise classes that appeal to you – and make these activities an integral part of their growing up. And if you can inculcate an interest of gardening in your children, you will not only foster their ability to make a beautiful environment for themselves, but you will have given them an enriching and deeply rewarding activity that they can pursue and enjoy all their lives. Family walks with the dog are good for all of you and will make your doggy very happy too, of course! Good nutrition makes for a happy family Though diet seems to be a controversial issue these days, good nutrition is key for one’s wellbeing. A wide variety of fresh, whole foods should be included, with an emphasis on lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, the greener or more brightly coloured the better. Avoid over-processed and refined foods containing masses of colorants, preservatives and added sugar and salt. Make sure to take healthy snacks along with you when you go out together, so there’s less temptation to overindulge in things you shouldn’t. This actually makes the odd greasy or sugary treat a whole lot more special! Create tried-and-trusted routines for your family Most people find routines comforting and reassuring – and this is particularly true for children who need structure to thrive.  Settled routines for homework, chores and bedtime make for an ordered life that is reassuring and comforting. And a sensibly structured routine in the morning will make getting to school and work much easier for everybody!

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