Twixmas , the term coined for that time in between Christmas and New Year, always reminds me of the similarly named chocolate bar — and indeed, that’s apt, since much of that downtime is spent eating chocolate.
For some, it’s a chance to hibernate; to watch movies, explore new toys, and get lost in books.
But for many of us, after a day or two with the drooping tree, the growing pile of sweet wrappers, and the squabbles over Cluedo, we need to come up for air. And more than that. I want to get out and do things my kids will remember in years to come.
But while the break from the routine of work and school is wonderful, this same lack of routine can make it challenging to find things to do.
Going for a walk is great if your kids are of a kind who don’t run and hide under the bed when it’s suggested, but some of us need something more structured and enticing. So just how do you get out there to make some memories?
Marian Hogan, speech and language therapist at The Children’s Clinic Cork suggests a scavenger hunt in nature.
“Go to a woods or beach, and give children a list of things to find by name or by description — for example, ‘find something prickly or smooth or green.’
"Or go on a ‘listening walk’ and identify sounds they hear around them and talk about them. Also, they could go on outing and take photos to make a scrapbook to show their friends, and talk about it in school or preschool after the holidays.”
In my house, agreeing on what to do tends to be a problem: one wants the playground, one wants to go out for cake (after a morning eating chocolate) and one just wants to stay on the couch with a book.
Occupational therapist Sinéad Moynihan, who also works with The Children’s Clinic Cork, has a suggestion: “As a family, talk about your favourite activities, then each member gets to write one suggestion and pop it in a box. Over the holidays activities are chosen from the box.”
She agrees it’s challenging for those with small kids. “Making the transition from sofa to the great outdoors can be tricky, so I recommend making the outdoor activity as engaging as possible.
Try nature-art: make sculptures or fairy houses on the beach or in the woods, and find stones, twigs, and leaves to decorate.”
She is also realistic. “If the sofa is too hard to leave, just snuggle up together and have a well-deserved ‘stop’ time. We live in a fast-paced society, and when we remember to slow down, and be with our children in the present moment, it’s the greatest time spent together.”
Assuming you can unglue them from the couch, and you’d like to do something specific, there’s still plenty to do during Twixmas and beyond. Here are 10 events for all the family to enjoy:
Get a bird’s-eye view of Cork city from the GLOW ferris wheel on Grand Parade open each day from noon to 9pm until January 7, except on New Year’s Eve when it closes at 4pm.
If you’d like a family friendly night-time event, try the Enchanted Garden Winter Light Festival in Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens, Tramore, Co Waterford. Open 4.30 to 7.30pm until December 31, with a special New Year’s Eve event on the final evening.
For fresh air and exercise with purpose, consider talk your kids into a Parkrun – there are free 5k runs taking place tomorrow in Macroom, Clonakilty, Ballincollig, Tramore, Killarney, Ennis, Clonmel, among many more locations.
And on Sunday, the Togher AC 5km road race is on at 1pm – it’s €15 to enter and all funds raised go towards Togher AC and Cork Mental Health Foundation.
Are you brave enough for ice-skating? It’s not necessarily something that comes naturally to those of us who grew up in 1980s Ireland, but if you don’t mind falling over for your kids’ entertainment, it can make a great day out. Cork on Ice and Limerick on Ice are both open throughout the Christmas break.
If your kids would prefer to watch other people running around and falling over,Thomond Park is host to Munster V Connacht on Saturday January 6th. Kick-off is at 19.45pm.
For some uncomplicated outdoor time, check out Coillte.ie for your nearest woodland walk, or follow a fairytrail in Templemore Park, Co Tipperary or Rineen Wood in Cork, both of which are free.
If you need to break for freedom but don’t fancy the outdoors, there are many pantomines still running: Snow White in Waterford’s Theatre Royale and also in Cork’s Opera House, Beauty and the Beast in The Everyman, Cork, and the INEC Killarney, Aladdin at the Lime Tree Theatre in Limerick, and Cinderella is this year’s SPAR Panto at University Concert Hall, Limerick.
Leahy’s Open Farm in Dongourney, Midleton, Co Cork, is a wonderland of common and not so common animals. And for youngsters with energy to burn off, there’s an indoor kart arena. Open from tomorrow. For details see: leahysopenfarm.ie
On New Year’s Eve, there are fireworks in Limerick, and a parade in Killarney, or , try the Portmagee Old Year Festival in Kerry — a night-time parade with flaming torches.
When all is quiet on New Year’s Day, head to Hook Lighthouse where at 3pm, amateur and expert archers will re-enact the centuries-old “arrow ceremony” at the 800-year-old lighthouse.