Unplug & Play: create quality time with your child - and for yourself

Play isn’t just for young children. Having fun is good for all of us, whatever our age. It helps us relax and lifts our mood - boosting our emotional wellbeing. If you’re a parent, making time to play can also be a chance to build to stronger relationships with your children.

When the clocks go back on 28 October, why not spend the extra hour with your child or take time out for yourself? Switch off your devices and try some of the ideas below. Or download our activity booklet to take away, which also includes activities for younger children.

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Ideas to try with young people

Do something that makes you laugh

Life can often feel serious, so it’s important to savour the silly moments. Think about what you enjoyed doing as a child or teenager. What lifted your spirits or made you laugh? Try using this as inspiration for things that you and your child could do together. It could be something as simple as sharing stories about your day, playing a board game, or telling your favourite jokes.

Cook together

Ask your child to help with making food for the family. Get them involved in chopping the vegetables for dinner, or trying some baking. This is a great way to be together and chat about how things are going in a relaxed environment. You could also make a game out of it - challenge each family member to think of an easy dish they haven’t made before and create it within one hour. One person could do the starter, another the main, and another dessert. At the end, enjoy the food together.

Ask them to teach you a skill

Think about what your child’s hobbies are. Have they started learning something recently (maybe an instrument or a foreign language)? Use this as a starting point to ask them to teach you something new, but let your child lead the way on what they would like to teach. It’s best if it’s something they’re genuinely interested in. This is a nice way for you to share in their excitement and you’ll learn more about each other in the process.

Tap into your creativity

Find something you and your family can make together. Get inspired by whatever you have in the cupboards. Take the hour to draw, write, or build something together - perhaps a costume for an upcoming party, something more unusual like a kite.

Get outside

Leave the house and take a walk in your local area. Notice the changing colours of the autumn leaves, collect conkers and jump in puddles. Explore the roads you don’t normally use or visit your green space. Be aware of any interesting local buildings or nature that you might not have noticed before. If you’re feeling energetic, do something active  - the endorphins released by exercise will give everyone a mood boost.

Taking time for yourself

Spending time together as a family is important. But remember to make time for yourself, too. Our tips for emotional wellbeing offer guidance on taking care of yourself on a day-to-day basis. Here’s what you could do with that extra hour:

  • Devote an hour to doing something that relaxes you (eat the food you love, listen to music, take a bath, play an instrument).

  • Write and reflect on how you’re feeling. This could be poetry, a short narrative or a journal entry - whatever works for you. If a difficult experience comes to mind, try writing a letter being kind to yourself (think about what you’d say to a friend who was feeling the same).

  • Spend time with loved ones - evidence suggests that good relationships are important for mental wellbeing. Take time to enjoy each other’s company, laugh, and share what’s going on in your lives.

  • Go for a walk or a run, do a class at the gym, or challenge yourself to try a new activity. Find something that brings a smile to your face or gives you a sense of achievement.

  • Focus on the present. Think about what you can see, hear, touch, smell and feel. What does the world look like outside your window? What sounds can you identify? How does your body feel? Whatever comes up, notice it and let it be as it is. Enjoy just being in the present moment and experiencing the sensations you notice.