Maybe it's the maudlin mood of a new year. Like everything should be fresh and clean, noble and grand. I've thought about not shopping for as long as I can last. We've made plans to speak more Mandarin to our little one, maybe pick up a third language. And after a long hiatus from family devotions, we are back to our nightly thanksgiving and prayers and some scripture reading. It's all looking quite good.
I also indulged myself in a little dream-making. This year, I'm resolved to gather moments, not things. So we've been sitting around together a lot at the family table or in my daughter's bedroom, on her bed, her beanbag or the wicker bench. And we're enjoying home so much we're planning to spend a blissful jumble of days during the March holidays, right here in the homeland. Here's a list of merry-making activities for a homey March at home!
ONE:: Turn your home into a whimsical dream town! My little girl loves this. We make up names and put up cute little street signs to place around the house and voila, the home is all at once familiar and magical! Her bedroom is a "bed-and-breakfast", ours is a "boutique hotel just round the corner". Where the oven is, that's a quaint bakery that serves "cinnamon buns in any size that you want". Bring your laundry to the washing machine or "the town's only launderette", where "you can choose the scent of detergent". Drop by "Fabulous Cupcakes", a table of wooden goodies she has set up in a corner of our dining table. It opens at the owner's whim and fancy, so be sure to buy something (paper clips is the currency of the month) when it's open with "freshly baked cupcakes" and "rainbow rice". You might want to consider serving real food or at least coffee!
The bookshelves in the living room are the town's library and bookstore. "Open 24 hours. Just read and return." This town is peppered with florists. Feel free to pick a stalk or two and brighten someone's day! Build your dream town with just your imagination. No engineer or architect needed.
TWO:: Shift and freshen the interior! We have probably done this at least 34 times in the past decade. Rearrange the furniture if you can and wish to, and you may find new magic in previously overlooked spaces.
If this is too much or not quite feasible, change out the pictures in the photo frames, look through old greeting cards from your nearest and dearest and hang them up to remember the warm wishes by.
THREE:: Plan your year's weekends with something new! Sit down comfortably with cookies and milk and take turns to pen something in the calendar for the remaining weekends of the year. The only guide is - plan to do something the family hasn't done before or in a long while! The best moments are probably the most spontaneous ones, but we love this planning activity that makes us think a little and get out more purposefully. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. My girl loves exploring new MRT stations, so she has suggested getting off at Cashew Station! Or plan to take a bus ride you have never taken before, or eat a cuisine the family hasn't had for a while. Visit a new exhibition, watch a movie at an unfamiliar theatre, take a different route to church etc. The fun is in the brainstorming!
FOUR:: Cook as a family! It's probably something you do on a daily basis already (lucky you!), but even then, this is a luxuriating way to spend time as a family in the March holidays. We like to take charge of one or two dishes each, each member with our own free reign of ingredients and creativity! Our nine-year-old loves being in charge of salads and desserts but she makes a mean prawn omelette too! Or have some kiddy friends over for a simple cookout!
FIVE:: Play hide-and-seek! Hide things, not yourself! Much like the Easter Egg Hunt most children are familiar with! My high achiever daughter likes to make it into a competition — she times us and rewards us! Hide candies and chocolates (but be sure to retrieve them all!) or stick to non-perishables like erasers and magnets if you so prefer. We usually start the game by confining it to a room then up the stakes with forfeits or up the challenge with a bigger section of the house. Either way, it's easy breezy fun!
SIX:: Make an instructional video! Our little girl isn't allowed access to the internet other than for work but she is certainly well attuned to the colourful social media world. A couple of years ago, we found her giving herself spelling and ting xie on the spare phone, a very useful approach I might add, so I don't have to read out the words to her when I'm busy with work! Since then, we have used the video function quite extensively — made-up plays and songs, magic tricks and most recently, instructional videos on origami, ballet dance steps or even super basic (and hilarious) videos like "How to use a stapler properly"! Pick up a new skill and record the tips down with your little ones! Oh, remember to save the bloopers!
SEVEN:: Play good ol' board games! We aren't the most savvy but a few classic ones is all we need to while a languid afternoon away. Our favourites are: Monopoly Deal, Othello, Cluedo and our Christmas best find, Pictureka!
EIGHT:: Upcycle! Recently, we upheaved our recycling bin and found quite a bit we could do with the bits and pieces we have accumulated! Raeann kept all the Nespresso capsule boxes, cut them into halves and they are now handy pen stands. The mooncake gift boxes are refurbished to sort her stash of hair accessories — U-pins, bobby pins, rubber bands, hair nets, hair clips etc! Not quite a craft session (I've no patience for that), but certainly a useful and educational one!
NINE:: Staycation bath! The soak in the bathtub has to be the grandest highlight for our little one at every staycation. And there's no reason you can't replicate that in the homeland, albeit on a humbler scale! Give your feet a nice languid soak with a few drops of your favourite essential oil and Epsom salts! We do it in a most unglamorous, kampong fashion — we place two stools in our cramped little bathroom, fill her toy box with hot water, pour in the salts and sometimes some bubble bath and just wriggle our toes together and giggle!
TEN:: Go glamping! We've saved the best for the last. Set up your biggest tent, gather up some furry toys, fluffy cushions and hole up nice and cosy with your favourite snacks! I prepared a thermal flask with coffee and she had popcorn. We've spent hours in the tent reading, play-pretending, snoozing and if you wish, set up your tent right in front of the telly and you can have a Movie Glamp Night!
Have yourself the merriest of March in home sweet home!