When it’s freezing out side, or raining, or dark at 4pm, I often find myself with a genuine dislike for the outdoors and two hyperactive children. This is when I call in the power of a rebrand. It works on adults all the time – show them a sunny Peckham carpark and tell them it’s a ‘beer garden’, it will be full of happy hipsters before you can say ‘artisanal cider’ – I use the same techinique on my kids. It’s all about how you frame it.
These are things that need NO preparation, literally nothing. They are actually just regular things to do with kids indoors, rebranded to make them feel like it’s a fun, new activity. Find your inner Don Draper (not the sleazy drunk one, the dashing creative one) and pitch these to your tiny grumpy clients. See if you can sell it in.
SEALS AND POLAR BEARS
Hungover parenting 101 – create an activity that you can do lying down. This is that activity.
Your bed is the iceberg. You are a family of seals, drifting in the arctic, looking for some food. No one is allowed to leave the iceberg for fear of being eaten by a polar bear who lives in the sea surrounding the iceberg. You can however send particularly brave seals out to catch ‘fish’ ie: biscuits, magazines, your phone… daddy seals might manage to catch things like cups of coffee and toast without getting eaten by polar bears. (It works best to cast the most hyperactive child is the polar bear so you don’t spill your coffee). You can probably keep this up for about three hours if you’re clever about it. You can also fashion the duvet into an ‘ice-cave’ while you ‘hibernate’ and hide your shameful adult headache from the world.
THE CRAZY BATH
This doesn’t have to happen at bath time, it can happen at any time of the day.
Grab something to add to the bath to make it crazy. A good old Lush bath bomb would work but if you don’t have one handy here are some other ideas, try them all in one bath.
1. Loads of fricken bubbles, like, ALL of the bubbles, go nuts!
2. Food colouring or finger paint (don’t worry, it won’t dye your kids permanently. I have tried this many times.)
3. Glitter, why the hell not?
4. Shaving foam with food dye in it! Let them go full Jackson Pollock on a tiled wall. (This is why I have black grout).
BAKED BEAN VOLCANO
This is a back of the pantry special. There’s always a few potatoes and a can of baked beans lurking somewhere. Plus it’s a great way to introduce your kids to the theory of evolution, the extinction of dinosaurs and the earth’s geological movements – or just get them to eat their bloody dinner.
Here are the highly technical culinary instructions:
1. Make mashed potato
2. Sculpt it into the shape of a volcano
3. Add dinosaurs
4. Pour baked bean lava all over it
5. If you’re feeling really fancy, add some meatballs and throw them at the dinner in the fashion of a meteor shower.
Laundry day and space travel. Together at last.
Put loads of cushions and pillows on the floor. Get all the duvets, white sheets and white towels and lay them across the pillows, furniture and floor to make a big white ‘moonscape’. Now put on your bike helmets, grab some teddies and count down to blastoff.
Once you’ve landed on the moon, it’s customary to have a picnic of cheese (because the moon if made of cheese – obvs!). Bonus points if you put on a funny voice and pretend to be an alien serving delicious moon cheese to your earthling visitors or make a helmet for your teddy.
Cannot be arsed to cook another dinner? It’s relentless. Why do they want dinner EVERY NIGHT? Geeze.
Rebrand dinner as a ‘picnic’. Blanket on the floor, sandwiches, grapes, cheese strings, anything else you can find in the fridge and rebrand as ‘picnic food’. Invite some toys to come too.
*This is similar to the old classic, rebranding dinner as ‘breakfast’ and giving everyone toast and cereal. Bonus points if you combine the two.
You don’t need to be a Pinterest queen to pull this off.
Got milk? Got honey? Got a bag of ‘decimated’ coconut or sprinkles lurking somewhere in the back of the pantry? Of course you do. Everyone does. You’ve got yourself some fancy milk.
Pour some honey on a plate and roll the rim of the glass in it, then dunk it in a pile of coconut or sprinkles. (Like a bartender would do with a margherita… I know you know what I’m talking about.) Add a sprinkle of cinnamon on top then serve it up to your little drunkards.
I like to do this because it makes my kids realise what it’s like to hang out with an asshole toddler all day.
You are the kid, they are the grown up. You will refuse to get dressed. You will refuse to put on your shoes. You will make diva demands like “I want the PINK SPOON!” and with any luck, you will eventually be banished to the naughty corner or told to have a nap.
Good luck, stay sane!