Recently in Things To Do Before You Turn Age... Category

Rainbow 1 (small) 85x90.jpg 11, 12, 13, 14, 15? At last you can start making your own choices. Your parent/s have the final say, but increasingly you're trusted just to get on with it. You know how important school is, and maybe you have ideas about a career, but there’s still space for fun in with the serious stuff. Sometimes you can even combine the two....

And that’s the idea, along with some general Be Happy Rules, behind the list which follows of ‘Things To Do’. You can try them, or you might not, but perhaps the list will spark off more ideas to keep you trying out new adventures and developing new skills.

OK, here goes. Why don’t you:

Get physical
Learn to roller or ice-skate, walk to school, swim competitively, train for the 5 /10k. Take the challenge to try something different from your normal team game or school activities. Remember, exercise is for life, so to gain the full benefits start now and enjoy.

Annotate your friends
You’d be astonished how quickly time will fly! To remember your friends now for the future, make a book, video or other record of who they are and how they are part of your life. Get them to add their own contributions to your ’collection’; but do ensure that what you record is something they’d still like to see in ten years’ time.

Help raise environmental awareness
Learn to calculate your carbon footprint – and then help others to do the same. Can you predict what is most ‘carbon costly’? Might you / others change anything you do because of what you learn? That carbon score might just deliver some surprises!

Become a fashionista
Can you find a sewing machine somewhere? Why not design and make your own clothes, from scratch or by adapting gear you already have? Girl or guy, choose a style, fabric or colour you like, and go for it. It’s never too early to make your own style statement.

Find you way around
You’re well past the ‘Are we nearly there now?’ stage, so learn to map-read – street maps, rights of way, routes in or out of town, journeys to other places; all make more sense (and are much more interesting) if you can interpret the map.

Create a little happiness
Everyone worries and feels down sometimes, but you can decide now to start life as you mean to go on – by making the best of things whenever possible. Give yourself a private project to observe what makes people you care for and admire really, positively happy; and then see what you can do, as a part of your daily routine, to create more of this wonderful state of being for yourself and others.

Do your bit for the environment now
Plant a shrub or tree, or some vegetables or flowers, then nurture them and watch them grow. Maybe you can make this the beginning of your new 'green’ habit? Could you even, perhaps, share this activity with others in your family?

Gain skills for independence
Regardless of gender, you’ll need to look after yourself ‘properly’ in the not-too-distant future. Sure, you’re excellent on computers, but do you know how to operate the washing machine, redecorate a room or cook a decent meal? Having these skills is not only useful, they can also be the way to impress your family and friends. So if you’ve got it, flaunt it - think where cooking has taken Jamie Oliver!

Write your own ‘future diary’
You’re beginning to think seriously about your future. Now is the time to ’vision’ it, however straightforward or ambitious your intentions. Use your ‘future diary’ to imagine what life in your possible line of work might be like in five, ten or fifteen years. How might your workday go? How might you feel about it? And, most importantly, if you like what you ‘see’, what do you need to do to get there?

Do your own thing
Maybe you want to do things your way, no bright-ideas-from-elsewhere style? Well, within the boundaries of what’s sensible and positive, just go for it.

But whatever you do, please remember just to check with your parents first – plus, you never know, they may perhaps even
have just a few good ideas of their own!

Have you read....?
Things To Do When You're 16 - 18
What To Do At Any Age - Be Happy
* Life is not a rehearsal
* Smile when you can
* Do acts of random kindness
* Try no-TV days
* Be cautious sometimes, cynical never
* Use your pedometer
* Treat yourself daily to a 'Went Right' list

And why not add your own take on Things To Do When You're 11–15 via the Comments box below...

Rainbow 2 (small) 85x89.jpg 16, 17 and 18 are when it really starts to buzz. What you choose now will have impact for a long time to come. Horizons are expanding as comfort zones are challenged. Opportunities grasped now, at work and at play, will shape the adventure to follow. So go for it, looking forward and with a zest for life.

This is a time for action, but it’s also the time to set yourself some groundrules for the future – not ‘don’t do this’ restrictions, but an approach to life which will serve you well in years to come. If you haven’t already, check out the general Be Happy Rules for some ideas; happiness (or at least peace of mind) is often a matter of choice.

Then, future chemist, carer or caterer, you might like to give these suggestions a try.....

Get moving
You’re finally old enough to get a Driving Licence! So do it properly, and learn to drive with pride and care. Those driving lessons are about one of your first adult responsibilities; please take good advice and use your newly-won freedom skilfully.
And maybe you’d also like to sail, ski, horseride, hill-walk, who knows...? Get out and about, using your strength and stamina to explore a whole new world.

Keep what you’ve got
Perhaps you’ve been having football, music, hockey, dance, chess or other lessons along with your school studies; and maybe the demands of exams are pushing these aside. Fair enough, but don’t lose it altogether. Keep your hand in where and when you can.
These interests are investments in your future – and excellent ways to spend a bit of ‘me time’ now, if you’re feeling stressed out.

Plan and enjoy
Is there something you would especially like to have or do? Give this one a bit of thought, and plan how you’ll do it. Maybe you’ll do it alone, or maybe with others, but now’s the time to get the act together; manoeuvre, save, persuade – and then be sure to enjoy!
And, whatever it is, big or small, it will look good on your CV too.

Be vote-wise
Somewhen soon you’ll have a chance to vote. Make sure you are ready for this, that you know the actual practicalities of voting (where to go, which forms to complete etc) and that you understand the party-political options on offer.
‘They’re all the same’ is not an adult way to respond to politics and our hard-won right to vote; so if you don’t like what’s being said, be sure your voice is heard and do your best to make things better.

History B.Y. (Before You)
It’s never too early to start a habit which will serve you well for many decades.... get to know your neighbourhood, town or city and find out why it’s like it is. Who ‘made’ it? And who’s in charge now?
What’s behind the local names for streets and areas? Are there local stories passed down from generation to generation? There are some fascinating tales to be told, and it’s great to be in the know.

Become a people watcher
Late teens is a time when career choices loom large. It doesn’t matter whether your ambition is a steady job or a heady career, you need to know something about how it all happens – so remember to people-watch! How have people in occupations which interest you got there (or not)? What seems to make them happy, and what worries them?
It may be easy to find out, or it may require some work, but with luck you’ll discover everyone’s happy to share their personal take on chosen occupations. These are big career decisions you’re about to make.

Go camping
It might be your backyard (to practise), it might be a bus-ride away, or it could be another continent, but try life under canvas. In years gone by camping was a well-established and often very soggy part of growing up. Thankfully, modern arrangements are both more civilised and less regimented.
This is a brilliant way to adventures and self-sufficiency (plan before you plunge!), perhaps just for a day or two, perhaps for a whole summer somewhere really exciting and new.

Get involved
No matter what your background and experience to date, there are now comfort zones to breach and challenges ahead. Always value your family and friends, but also see where else you can go. Is there a ‘cause’ or charity you might support, or something you’d really like to help with? Are there younger children in your school you’d like to encourage? Or older people in your community who’d enjoy your company?
You’ll probably gain as much as you give, and it’s never naff to care enough to share.

Learn First Aid
This is a strictly practical aspect of your developing skills. If your school, college or workplace doesn’t teach First Aid, ask why not. And if it does, make sure you’ve done the course.
Learning how to save a life is a valuable investment of anyone’s time.

Get green gym-ing
Is there a green gym in your part of the world? A place with open-access exercise points, perhaps in the local college grounds or park, where everyone can get fit and enjoy fresh air at the same time? If there isn’t, are you going to get one installed, and then use it? ... maybe even help to construct it yourself?
‘Green’ themes are the future, and especially yours as a young person. If green gyms aren’t your thing, perhaps there’s another eco- / fitness project you would enjoy? Discuss and decide what’s best, and don’t take No for an answer! Good luck.

Have you read ...?
Things To Do When You're 11 - 15
Things To Do When You're 19 - 21
What To Do At Any Age - Be Happy

* Life is not a rehearsal
* Smile when you can
* Do acts of random kindness
* Try no-TV days
* Be cautious sometimes, cynical never
* Use your pedometer
* Treat yourself daily to a 'Went Right' list

And why not share your alternative ideas here, too? You can add your own take on Things To Do When You're 16 - 18 via the Comments box below...

Rainbow 3 (small) 85x89.jpg You’re very likely at college now, or learning on-the-job. Enjoy these new experiences! Ages 19, 20 and 21 for most young adults are ‘me time’, time to spread your wings and test the limits. Whatever you’re doing, use your freedom and energies to invest in your future, whilst you have some fun right now.

You'll already have devised your own Be Happy Rules; and only you can be sure what’s right for you. But have you considered these ideas as you consider the options ahead ....?

Climb a mountain
Did you know there are well over two hundred Munroes (mountains over 3,000 feet) in Scotland? Can you name the highest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales? (or whichever country you live in?) Why not face the challenge, and get to the top of a mountain every year?
But treat your mountains with respect; they require knowledge, the right gear, fitness and large quantities of common sense, even if you simply walk up them. So do it properly, perhaps with your college sports advisers or the Youth Hostel Association (YHA). Get prepared, form a team and reach the peak/s in style. That way you’ll return safely and come to a whole new understanding of how aching limbs can be the mark of real achievement.

Sort your gap year – or not
Are you planning a gap year? Can you say clearly why this is a good choice of how to spend your time? If you can, then go for it; the world is your oyster.
But if you don’t in all honesty know why you want that year out, maybe you need to think again. There are plenty of other ways to have adventures, without the enormous costs, and interruption to your studies / employment which a gap year imposes.

Step outside the stereotype
Is your idea of a good night out a visit to the pub? Or a concert? Or maybe just staying in with a new computer game? Just a few times a year, why not try something completely different? Sports, if you’re arty, the theatre if you’re an action (wo)man, a brisk walk in the park if you’re a bookworm? But be prepared. You’ll enjoy it more if you’ve got your head round the new experience – find knowledgeable friends, discover the plot of the play, pack a picnic and plan your route (or choose consciously to explore) – all before you start.

Penetrate the political
You’ve already discovered the practicals of actually how to vote, and in truth you do know you really must to use that vote. So now’s the time to get a proper grasp. If you don’t understand why the mainstream political parties spend so much time and energy disagreeing with each other, make it your business to find out.
There are fundamental differences between politicians’ perceptions of how the world works, and it’s these you’ll need to explore before you decide how to mark that ballot paper.

Eat well, stay well
We all need treats but we also know that food is fuel. It’s what makes us whole. What sort of a body do you want? How do you feel about the things that happen to food – its origins or its carbon footprint - before it reaches your plate?
Perhaps you could experiment occasionally with different styles of eating. Keep a diet (as in ‘food’, never as in ‘not eating’) diary and see how you feel after a few days with a particular mode for your meals. Does low GI help? Are you a high-cal person? Do you enjoy veggie? What we eat is what we are and only you can determine that for you, for the long-term.

Learn another language
Here’s a good excuse to get an InterRail card, or even to make your inter-continental booking to an adventure. Tell everyone you’re off to study another language.... and then do just that. It’s a lot easier to learn new languages – especially ones unlike your mother tongue - when you’re young, than later on!
You can find introductory ‘foreign’ language courses everywhere these days; you could even get a programme for your iPod. Then, when you’ve got to grips with the basics, pack your phrase book and passport, and practise on real people in the country of your choice. (No cheating, ‘letting’ people practise their English on you instead.) You’ll be amazed how much you can pick up in just a week or two if you try.

Re-think your family
Everyone sees their family as the backcloth to their lives. But now you’re fully independent, you can do a double take. Your parents aren’t just Mum and Dad any more, they can become people in their own right as much for you as they already are for their neighbours, colleagues and friends.
Why not choose to spend some time with family members, actually talking to them about their past experiences and their hopes for the future? There are doubtless many tales to be told, and perhaps some dreams still to be realised. So offer a listening ear, and explore a whole new way of looking at your nearest and dearest.

Play mind games
No, not by psyching other people out, but by having a go at new mental challenges – chess, cards, computers, what you will. A busy brain now will stay active longer, and nurturing ‘mental fitness’ is probably the biggest investment in your personal future that you could make.
Plus, it’s fun....

Be an eco- envoy
Whatever your situation, you can do your bit for the future. Even if you're 'between jobs' (ask yourself, Why?, if you are...) you can do things to help your community along.
For instance, many young people say the environment is a big concern. Perhaps you can find a role at work, college or wherever you are, turning this concern into positive action? This is truly an area where every little helps.

Believe in yourself
Nobody finds life a doddle. No matter how old and wise or hard and cynical they might seem, almost everyone worries about whether they've done the 'right thing' and whether they are liked by others. And, whether they recall it or not, they, like you, have had to negotiate the tricky years of young adulthood.
So, be gentle as you judge yourself. Conceit may not take you far, but self-belief is essential. Accept the 'failures' and mistakes, and learn from them; but much more importantly, do build on your successes. They are the base-line of your life ahead.

Have you read....?
Things To Do When You're 16 - 18
Things To Do When You're 22 - 25

What To Do At Any Age - Be Happy

* Life is not a rehearsal
* Smile when you can
* Do acts of random kindness
* Try no-TV days
* Be cautious sometimes, cynical never
* Use your pedometer
* Treat yourself daily to a 'Went Right' list

And why not share your alternative ideas here, too? You can add your own take on Things To Do When You're 19 - 21 via the Comments box below...

Rainbow 4 (small) 85x89.jpg As now fully independent adults, people aged 22, 23, 24 and 25 are positioned to begin to make their mark. It’s the time when mature interests are established and occupational qualifications have hopefully been won. With luck you are strong in body and mind and have the freedom to develop as you wish. Be sure to follow your dreams.

This is a pivotal point in your life, as you plan and savour your future.

Maybe you’re still studying, maybe you’re not. Perhaps you have a partner and / or other personal commitments, or perhaps you don’t. Whether or not you’re footloose and fancy free, with luck some of these ideas will work for you; and if they don’t, with luck they’ll spark other better ideas anyway. Whatever, please remember the Be Happy Rules. Now give these suggestions as try...

Do a marathon
Nobody’s so busy they can’t take time to build up strength and stamina, and especially not in their early twenties. You know it’s true: active investment in your health will keep you on top form now and pay huge dividends later.
So run that marathon; or jog it; or swim it. But just do it. Even better, do it with a friend or team and raise some cash for your favourite cause.

Walk everywhere
Whilst we’re on this topic, get a decent pair of shoes and walk whenever you can. You know it’s much more eco- and convenient than the car, and it will help your training for that marathon. It’s OK to cycle, too.

Collect cities
You probably won’t have time to walk this one (or could you?)..... Try collecting capital and exciting cities. Aim on each visit to travel by foot, train, boat / barge and in one more exotic way (horse? tandem?).
Produce some decent photo blogs and post them on the internet to share your experiences and impressions with others. Who knows what you’ll like best when you try these new places?

Help with a voluntary group
Children’s playgroups and clubs are well run and regulated these days, so why not find out how you can help with one? It’s a great way to keep your feet on the ground and it’s rewarding and fun. No need to worry, as you’ll be properly supervised and, if you want to, you could qualify as a team leader yourself.
Or, if keeping kids happily occupied is not your thing, how about volunteering in some other way? We all have something to give, whether on a regular basis or as an occasional volunteer.

Keep a people diary
Even if it’s just a note of significant others’ birthdays and anniversaries, this is worth a bit of effort. Put these events in your e-notebook and actually act on them in good time. You’ll be making people you care about very happy (how often do you see your parents in the course of your new independent life?) and it will remind you to appreciate them, which can’t be bad, either.

Cycle an island
Maybe most of your experience is of towns and cities; and even if your life is mostly rural, perhaps you’re caught up in the usual day-to day realities. So here’s an opportunity to take a fresh look at things – get yourself organised, perhaps with friends or your partner, to cycle all round an island. (You can probably find somewhere via the internet to hire a bike, or, if cycling’s not your thing, walk instead – but make sure you have sensible shoes and clothing for the terrain.)
If you live in the UK, perhaps the Isle of Wight or Anglesey or Mull might be good places to consider as a start, depending on time available, energy levels and budget Get your gear together and test everything out before you start – easy to carry, comfortable, water / sun-proof? – and get some practice in. Make this adventure as strenuous or relaxed as you like, perhaps choosing Youth Hostels or bed and breakfast for your realistically distanced overnight stops. (Local tourist information centres will advise.) And don’t forget your camera.

Value your vote
The excitement of being old enough to vote may have worn off by now, but that doesn’t make doing it any less important. Make it a source of pride always to use this hard-won entitlement; you can vote in person at a polling station, on-line, or by post, for most elections. And do follow - and if you can join in - the debate about which politicians have the best ideas, before you get to polling day. Please play your part in deciding what happens in your community and country; the future, after all, is yours....

Find some Me time
Whilst we’re in reflective mode, why not make some designated Me time for yourself? Use it to develop the habit of composure and contentment (if you are seriously bothered of course, get yourself to your GP or college / workplace health adviser, or contact NHS Direct, available 24/7). And think a little about your personal future: are you doing the right things to get where you’d like to be? Do you need advice, support or encouragement? And if so, where will you go to get these? (Your local college drop-in centre might be a good first stop.)
But, most of all, use this Me time to relax, with a book, a nice warm aromatic bath, music you enjoy, the breeze in your hair as you walk around the park (or down a lane), or chatting with a trusted family member, partner or friend.
Time for the things we know are good for us personally is as important – though perhaps not always more so! – as the things we know we must do whether we like them or not. Use Me time to put some balance into your life.

Think local and global
How do you shop for your everyday needs (food etc)? Who selects your energy supplier? How do you choose your major purchases (transport, white goods and IT, holidays)? These are issues which affect not only your own well-being but also the future of the planet - your future too, as you enter autonomous adulthood.
Can you buy local produce (supporting the local economy as you simultaneously reduce food miles)? Is your home and the equipment in nit energy-efficient? Can you use sustainable forms of transport?
The choices you make really do make a difference in the longer-term.

Have a party
How do you party? Is it a BBQ in the garden (or even, if you’re lucky, on the beach)? Is it at a festival? A college ball? Perhaps at the BBC Proms, in London or at one of their free civic square screen events? In the pub? Or with your family and friends at home?
Why not plan to try another way, too? Make it whatever you like: fancy dress, or afternoon tea (!?), or somewhere adventurous and really exotic. Enjoy!

And now over to you.... Were any of these suggestions interesting for you? Or do you have other, different things to do? Why not share your ideas below?


Have you read....?
Things To Do When You're 19 - 21
Things To Do When You're 26 - 30

What To Do At Any Age - Be Happy

* Life is not a rehearsal
* Smile when you can
* Do acts of random kindness
* Try no-TV days
* Be cautious sometimes, cynical never
* Use your pedometer
* Treat yourself daily to a 'Went Right' list

And why not share your alternative ideas here, too? You can add your own take on Things To Do When You're 22 - 25 via the Comments box below...

Rainbow 5 (small) 85x89.jpg At 26,27, 28 perhaps you’re still single, but the chances of coupledom increase quite considerably by 29 or 30. Whatever, the years seem to slip by more quickly as people reach their late twenties, but opportunities are still there to explore the world and take control of the direction of your life.

People in their later twenties have usually developed several networks of colleagues and workmates, friends and family members, perhaps including those of a partner or spouse. Building these connections helps us see who we are and where we’re going. We all need a mixture of experiences, whilst hopefully we remember about the Be Happy Rules. So the ideas which follow are a selection of serious and more light-hearted approaches to life. Choose or change them as you will.

Why don’t you....

Feel a million dollars
What’s your idea of feeling really great, right on top of things and raring to go? Whatever it is, don’t lose sight of it. Make time, regularly, to think about how you’d best like to feel and then ensure you act to achieve this. Your later twenties are real prime time, so please do make sure you benefit from and enjoy them!

Do an eco check
You will already have thought about green issues, and very probably you’ve already also done things to help ‘save’ the planet. But things are moving fast in this field, so maybe this is a good point at which to check you’re up-to-date with ways you can contribute to environmental sustainability.
Have you energy-checked your home? Is your mode of transport optimal? Are you recycling everything you can? And are you collaborating with others at home and work to do this even better?

Book tea at The Ritz
... or whatever else constitutes a real treat for your Mum or other established close family member/s. It’s easy in the hustle and bustle of developing our independence to forget (or seem to forget) that those who cared for us for many years still appreciate the odd occasion to chat and laugh together.
An hour or two just talking and relaxing with those we sometimes seem to take for granted is always time put to good use.

Learn a new mind game
If you play Sudoku, try the crossword for a bit instead. If you do the crossword, try a card game..... It doesn’t matter what, as long just every so often it’s something different. Now is a certainly not the time in your life to get stuck in a mental rut, not even a little one!

Take the Advanced Drivers’ Course
Nor is this a time to neglect more practical skills. You’ve probably been a driver for some years now. Is this a good point at which to sharpen up on your road skills? Taking the Advanced Drivers’ Test might be a way of getting the very best from your motoring – not to mention a better deal from your car insurer.

Join the debate
Is there a pressing local problem which interests you? Or, come to that, a work, political or personal crusade you’d like to pursue? Whatever it is, join in the debate. Along the way you may learn more about the issue; and, in any case, if you join in you won’t feel later on that you should have ‘said something’ at the time.
Don’t hide your light under a bushel; you have every right to a considered view, so think through what you need to do, to get in there and share your ideas.

Get a makeover
It’s actually quite hard to ‘see ourselves as others see us’, even if it’s only in terms of physical appearance. Have you stopped to think if you might assign some of your usual garb to the Oxfam shop? Would it be doing you a good turn as much as them if you did?
Some of us feel more comfortable then others with changes in style and how we look, as our circumstances inevitably change. Why not make a date to consider this, whether it be with a trusted friend or through a more formal and business-like makeover arrangement? Regard it as an investment in your future self.

Read a novel
Or a travelogue or an historical account or a book of poetry (why not?) or a biography. But make the effort, if you haven’t for a while, to read a whole book - or, come to that, to write one.
It’s good to do something sometimes which takes us right out of ourselves; exactly how much effort and time you put into this is up to you.

Do a quarter century check
You’ve reached your later twenties; now you can look back over a quarter century. Do you see patterns emerging in what you do? Are you pleased with your progress in life so far? Are there things you like and want to build on? And perhaps things you’d prefer to change a little for the future?
Be gentle with yourself; life’s often more difficult in practice than in theory. But also decide how to get support for anything you’d like to change, and encouragement for the parts which are going well. To repeat that well-known mantra, Life is not a Rehearsal.

Have a vacation adventure
Plan your next holiday to be different. If you normally do beaches, try a city. If you’re keen on festivals, try walking. Or join a group activity; or don’t.
Maybe you’re already adapting your leisure time to accommodate a partner or a family, but try every so often to make holidays interesting and just a little different as well. However you define your world, be sure also to make it your oyster as you plan your occasional vacation adventure.

Have you read....?
Things To Do When You're 21-25
Things To Do When You're 31 - 40

What To Do At Any Age - Be Happy

* Life is not a rehearsal
* Smile when you can
* Do acts of random kindness
* Try no-TV days
* Be cautious sometimes, cynical never
* Use your pedometer
* Treat yourself daily to a 'Went Right' list

And why not share your alternative ideas here, too? You can add your own take on Things To Do When You're 26-30 via the Comments box below...

Happy smiles (small) 80x99.jpg Life is not a rehearsal. We all want to get it right, though that’s much harder to do than say. Future postings on this website will look at some life-stage-specific ideas for 'what to do'. But this is a list of ideas about how to be as happy as you can, whatever your age and situation. I hope they’re useful.

Here are the ideas so far, to be tried every day. I'd like to think they apply just as much whether you're just beginning life's journey, or are well into that adventure.......

Start the day positively: smile!
No-one can feel good all the time, but most of us, most of the time, could try harder than we do to achieve this. Would it do any harm to think, as we awake, ‘Today I will smile and be pleasant whenever I can’?

Who knows? Those sentiments might even be reciprocated – a win-win if ever there was one.

Perform random acts of kindness
There's a whole movement, started by Danny Wallace, dedicated to the performance of Random Acts of Kindness - and it’s a great idea. Whoever and wherever you are, there’s almost sure to be an opportunity at some point in the day to perform a random quiet act of kindness, however small, just to help someone along – even if they'll never know who did it.

Being kind to others is also being kind to yourself. And kindness might become contagious.

Be eco-friendly
The planet isn’t ours to waste, however old, young, wealthy or not we may be. We all need to do what we can to achieve a sustainable environment. Our daily routines, what we eat, how we travel, and many other things; all are part of the equation.

An eco-‘can-do’ approach is a necessary part of everyone’s life. No ifs or buts, we need to be eco-conscious, every day. It goes with actively noticing what’s around us. How carbon-neutral, in friendly co-operation with others, can you become?

Try 'No-TV' days
This is a little time-luxury just for you as a person.

Do you really need to ‘watch the box’ every day? Are there occasions when talking and sharing with others are more important? Or how about some quality time on your own – a good book, music, indulging in an interest or hobby, even just sitting in the garden or park?

Maybe you could rotate ‘No TV Day’ across the week, or perhaps just make it a daily hour or two? You might be surprised by all the other positive and pleasant things you could do or experience instead.

Stay off the cynicism
Cynicism is very easy. We sometimes assume that people are only in things for their own good; perhaps we ascribe motives which may or may not be fair. And maybe we criticise when silence or support might be a better way forward.

In taking the cynic’s view, we seemingly protect ourselves from the responsibility to have a personal opinion. Is this helpful?

By all means be cautious; but please don’t be cynical. It’s corrosive and it gets us nowhere.

Use that pedometer
Nine or ninety, we need exercise to keep mind and body functioning well.

So, if you possibly can, get a pedometer and use it. The idea is to see, from whatever starting point, how much more you can clock up each day on your ‘pedometer count’.

Enjoy the fresh air as you walk wherever you can. Appreciate the changing views and the people around you. Let your walking be an adventure for body and soul.

Make a daily ‘went-right’ list
And finally... you aimed to start the day positively, now try to finish it in similar style.

Of course everyone needs to learn intelligently from mistakes (who doesn’t make some?), but as you get to the end of each day, ask what actually went right that day.

This used to be called ‘counting your blessings’. Maybe that sounds quaint to modern ears, but there is always good reason to remind ourselves how much is positive in our lives. Not everyone can be wealthy or fantastically fit; nonetheless very few of us, in the modern western world at least, have nothing to appreciate or be thankful for.

But your daily ‘what went-right’ list is more actively positive than simply counting blessings, important though this is. It’s about the things you and yours accomplished and achieved in that twenty four hours, and how you contributed to your own and others’ well-being – which is a good note on which to finish any day.

And devise your own 'happy list'
These ideas are just a start. You know what would add most to your personal day, and you’d really like to do. So make your own list of daily positives.

There’s only one ‘rule’ – your list should be constructive, happy, do-able and, at no point, include the word ‘not’. Discover for yourself the power of being gently positive. Do make it a habit.


Read the discussion of this article which follows the book E-store...

Big coloured ball Kids' play is in one way serious stuff, but that's no reason why fun shouldn't also be far less than serious for them and for the grown-ups too. Here are some ideas to try which came from a survey of children earlier in the year, plus a few suggestions for the adults as well... Go for it, and enjoy!

Do you remember the Persil ads of last Summer? They were all on the theme of children playing, with the subtext, 'never mind the dirt, have fun'.... a rather useful notion, if you happen to sell washing powder, since there were thirty three of these ideas:

33 things kids should do before they’re 10 – the official list
Sefton Park 06.7.24 & 25  Girl rolypoly grass slide 014.jpg 1. Roll on your side down a grassy bank
2. Make a mud pie
3. Make your own modelling dough mixture
4. Collect frogspawn
5. Make perfume from flower petals
6. Grow cress on a windowsill
7. Make a papier mache mask
8. Build a sandcastle
9. Climb a tree
10. Make a den in the garden
11. Make a painting using your hands and feet
12. Organise your own teddy bears picnic

Face Paints.JPG 13. Have your face painted
14. Play with a friend in the sand
15. Make some bread
16. Make snow angels
17. Create a clay sculpture
18. Take part in a scavenger hunt
19. Camp out in the garden
20. Bake a cake
21. Feed a farm animal
22. Pick some strawberries
23. Play pooh sticks
24. Recognise five different bird species
25. Find some worms
26. Ride a bike through a muddy puddle
Rosemont Back Garden 06.4.27 003.jpg 27. Make and fly a kite
28. Plant a tree
29. Build a nest out of grass and twigs
30. Find ten different leaves in the park
31. Grow vegetables
32. Make breakfast in bed for your parents
33. Make a mini assault course in your garden

Not all fun things need be grubby
We might also want to say that you don't have to get grubby to enjoy yourself, even as a child; but there may be a useful idea or two in the message, especially as we reach that part of the Festive Season when for some (holiday guests, if not perhaps rushed-off-their-feet festive host/s) the main question is, 'What shall we do next?'

The Guardian reports that what kids enjoy and apparently want to do before they reach the age of ten does not always meet with adult approval in our sanitised society, and there are concerns that children themseves are now sometimes reluctant to enjoy things which their parents expected to do without chastisement. Certainly, I for one as a child much enjoyed almost all the activities on the list - though I fear that face painting and scavenger hunts must have arrived after my time - and, although there were in those days no 'to do' lists of fun activities, we were keen also to ensure that our own family tried the current Persil ideas too. So maybe these things are perennial, and none the worse for that.

You don't have to be a child to have fun!
6 Rosemont 06.3.12 (snow) 008.jpg And, since it's holiday time right now, let's add to these suggestions with more ideas I've heard for the grown-ups: Try acting out a little play / panto with the kids, make some music, tell / read a story, or simply enjoy a good walk somewhere refreshing. (By all means try to spot lots of different birds and plants on the way.) But I don't have to elaborate this list, everyone has their own - though it's always interesting to know what the best and simplest ideas are.

Plus, if we do get the predicted post-Christmas snow, maybe we should all try the Persil suggestion which most of us probably hadn't heard of as children - the Snow Angel. All you have to do is lie on your back in the snow (very briefly, but thereby already providing loss of dignity and thus huge amusement for the Juniors present) and 'wave' your arms above your head. When you get up, you're promised an imprint in the white stuff of an angel.

So now we can all be angelic during the Festive Season, for very little effort; and we'll have the sparkly image in the snow to prove it.

Have you read....?

Things To Do When You're 11 - 15

Things To Do When You're 19 - 21

Things To Do When You're 22 - 25

Things To Do When You're 26 - 30

Things To Do When You're 31 - 40

What To Do At Any Age - Be Happy

* Life is not a rehearsal
* Smile when you can
* Do acts of random kindness
* Try no-TV days
* Be cautious sometimes, cynical never
* Use your pedometer
* Treat yourself daily to a 'Went Right' list

Paper Lantern (small).jpgNo-one has the perfect answer to the question, 'What shall we do with the kids over Christmas?' But here are some day-by-day suggestions for the family during the Christmas week, with an indoor, an outdoor and a foodie activity for each date. Mix and match, with something for everyone, is the general approach. And, whatever you do, have fun.

The Christmas break, however we choose to celebrate it (or not), is a time when everyone wants to involve the younger members of the family, taking advantage of the opportunity to share interests, activities and food whilst people are at home together. Here is one brief set of suggestions for doing this, with ideas for younger and slightly older children. (There is also a list of activities for the New Year holiday, with some extra and 'alternative' activities; click here.) Most suggestions below are linked directly to free websites providing ideas on materials, ingredients and / or recipes, for easy reference.

Nearly every activity in the suggested day-by-day schedule which follows (addressed in the listing below directly to the children) can be done with just an individual child and adult, or with a group of friends, neighbours and visiting family. These ideas offer
* one outdoor activity,
* one indoor activity and
* one 'fun' cooking / eating experience
for each day of the Christmas week (from the Winter Solstice of 22 December), that is 22 - 28 December inclusive.

Mix and match the day-by-day activities
Whilst generally each foodie idea 'matches' the other activities for that day, these activities can of course be mixed around to suit the occasion and the general mood of any given date. As far as possible, the ideas require neither visits beyond the local neighbourhood nor buying in extra things. (For completeness those who take the role of Santa's helpers will find at the very end of this article a list of items which he might consider adding to the children's Christmas stockings / pillowcases, should these bits and pieces not already be available at home.)

So, take time together and enjoy; but please note, of course, that some activities require adult supervision (and perhaps preparation), and all should be checked for safety at the time of the activity. But who minds joining in with the kids when they're having fun? That surely is what Christmas is really all about.

Herewith, then, a day-by-day list of Christmas week things you might do:

22 December
* Collect leaves, twigs and fir cones etc in the garden or park and, when they have dried, use them as Christmas decorations. (You can use e.g. silver paint, ribbons or sparkly string etc to do this if you like.)

* Make paper 'angels' or lanterns (no 'real' lights; and keep everything away from any heat) to hang on your Christmas tree or twigs.

* Bake some potatoes for when you get back from the park and add your favourite filling (baked beans, cheese, coleslaw...) just before you eat them. Serve them with soup and a salad or 'finger fruit' like grapes, satsumas and dates. Use your imagination to make an easy, colourful meal.

23 December
* Remember this is a difficult time of year for birds, so leave out some bird food and, if you can, plan ahead by putting up a bird box somewhere (out of reach of local cats!). You could see how long it takes the birds to start feeding on the food you've put out. It might be interesting to watch and see how many different species of bird come at various times, and perhaps also start a photo record of this for over the Christmas period, if you have a camera.

* Start to make some papier mache puppets or other items. This will take quite a few days to complete because you have to wait at each stage for the models to dry, before you can go on to the next one. But you could use this time to plan a little performance or to find another way to use what you make, if it's not puppets. This can be a sticky business, so wear an apron and try not to get glue everywhere.

* Make jelly in a mold, ready for Christmas Eve. (You can add frothed evaporated milk to the jelly mix instead of some of the water if you like, to get a 'layered' effect when you turn it out tomorrow.) Again, try not to get too sticky!

24 December (Christmas Eve)
* Take a walk around the neighbourhood to do a 'chimney survey' of your street, as a guide for Father Christmas when he calls after you're asleep tonight. For your survey you will need sharp eyes, a notepad and a pencil. Later on, you might like to use your drawings to make a picture of the skyline where you live.

* It's Christmas Eve, so you must sing some songs this evening! Make a l'choir' of your friends and family. After your concert you can share the jelly that you made yesterday. (Dip the mold in warm water before you tip the jelly out, carefully.)

* Obviously, you need to make some mince pies to leave for for Santa and his reindeer when they call tonight - but no harm in everyone in your 'choir' munching a few of these pies whilst they're still warm from the oven, along with the beautifully turned out jelly.

25 December (Christmas Day)
* There will already be lots to do with the family today, so why not just take a little time for fresh air outside with a new skipping rope or hula hoop or something similar? If there are a few children around, you could do some skipping games, too.

* A traditional party game for Christmas Day is charades. This is great fun and can be fitted in after tea / supper, when people often want to just sit and relax. This game gives you time when the other team is 'performing' to take it easy too.

* No cooking by the children today - but you can plan ahead by sowing some mustard and cress seeds somewhere out-of-the-way, in the hope that in a week or two there will be lovely fresh cress to make egg sandwiches for everyone. (Don't forget that the seeds will need to be kept damp until they've grown and are ready to cut.)

26 December (Boxing Day)
* The perfect day for a treasure hunt with family and friends. Some of the adults (or older teenagers) will need to make the arrangements and hide the treasure somewhere it's safe to go, so there is an opportunity here for everyone to get out and about.

* Whilst the adults are sorting the treasure hunt you can wrap up little presents for a big game of pass the parcel. after tea. Don't forget to add some 'forfeits' and small gifts into each layer of the parcels!

* Gingerbread 'men' are also a traditional part of Christmas. Make some before your treasure hunt in the morning, adding currant 'eyes' before they are baked, and then decorate them with icing sugar later on, when they have cooled down. Eat them for your supper, if you can wait that long.

27 December
* Have a quiet hour outside, making a miniature garden on a tray with moss, tiny twigs and other very small plants and stones etc which you find around your house or flat. If you want to, you can see how much like a small 'real' garden you can make this miniature one, by caring for it over the next week or two.

* You will want to get your thank you notes written and posted off. Why not make some nice notelets by sticking cut-out designs from saved Christmas wrapping paper onto your letters before you write them, choosing pictures each person you write to will like?

* Bake something savoury to nibble as you write your notes. There are lots of versions of that firm favourite, cheese straws, so experiment a bit with different cheeses or condiments and herbs as you make them.

28 December
* Make a mystery trail today, either in the garden or in your local park, for your friends and family to follow. (If you are going to the park or another public place, be sure to take an adult with you.) Do a bit of research first on how people like the Amerindians or Indigenous Australians ('Aborigines') traditionally left signs or clues about where things are, using skills which were developed over centuries in many places. You can offer a prize or a certificate (you can design one specially) for the first person to get all the way round your mystery trail.

* Learn how to play the indoors games of marbles or 'fives' / 'jacks'. If there are a few of you playing, make up teams and have a competition.

* Make vegetable kebabs for supper, to serve with rice. You can prepare the ingredients earlier in the day and then cook them at the same time as you boil the rice.

[New Year activities and Santa's list in preparation]