Banish the January blues and bring in some warmth with community get-togethers. Whether you love or loathe the festive season, January can feel a bit flat.
Experts highlight the intense busyness and potentially highly-emotive period along with fewer daylight hours as possible causes of stress. However, they also point out, mental health - for many - is something that needs to be nurtured year-round.
Mind, an organisation that advises and supports anyone experiencing poor mental health, offers abundant information on its website. In reference to the festive period specifically, one suggestion is to plan beyond Christmas, pushing back the horizon:
"Try to plan something nice to do after Christmas. Having something to look forward to next year could make a real difference."
This resonated with me personally, but it also got me thinking as to how we could support members of our Classlist communities in this way, even if just a tiny bit.
Classlist has always aimed at reducing parent mental load.
Spreading some community events throughout the year, including the quieter periods, is positive for parents, new and old, and can help communities thrive as there are more opportunities for connection.
Connecting with others and volunteering or giving - are among the 5 ways to well-being which are, according to Mind:
- Take notice
- Be active
There are many ways to thread these five elements into your events. In fact, many of the ways are likely already there.
However, it can feel a little overwhelming knowing how to ramp up again when you've enjoyed a complete disconnect during the holidays.
To avoid the feeling of all or nothing, here are some suggestions for you to borrow from and add to your 'What's On' schedule page. Each suggestion strives to meet one of the 5 ways. The event suggestions draw from awareness days, personal experiences and stories from our Classlist communities.
See Five Steps to Mental Wellbeing on the NHS website for more on this topic. Additionally, some resources on parenting and mental health can be found on the Mind website.
Spring term 2023 dates for your diary
1. Spanish coffee & cake - Friday 6th January
- If you have Spanish or French connections, you may wish to go for a coffee morning with an international twist. Twelfth Night, celebrating the arrival of the Wise Men or kings in Bethlehem, is celebrated with a special type of cake. See if you can find a "Roscon de Reyes" or "Galette des Rois" cake.
Watch out for the trinket hidden in the cake!
- Swap shop: Add a swap shop to your coffee morning for the odd, good-quality item that you don't know what to do with. Note: 6th January is when the children in Spain get their gifts from the kings.
2. New Year Hello
It's lovely for newcomers to the school who joined later in the year, and also important for your PTA to let people know who you are and how they can help.
However, you can give yourselves time to get back into the swing of things with a low- or no-set-up-required gathering.
This could be:
- Meetup at a local cafe
- A walk in the park or woods with a flask of tea
- Book a qualified yoga teacher and a hall for a couple of hours. Let people know what to wear and if they need to bring a mat.
Let your community know where and when to meet on Classlist.
3. Unwanted Christmas Presents Raffle
Avoid useful items ending up in the landfill or creating clutter around the home. Set a morning drop-off time for donations or use a coffee morning. Take a snap of each item and launch your raffle. Here's how to create a raffle. If you find you have lots of donations, create a "charity" listing for each one on Classlist. Create a charitable listing 👉
4. Bingo or quiz night
A school community staple and lots of fun. Need prizes? Check your unwanted gifts, or ask parents and teachers what skills they may like to offer.
5. Chinese New Year / Spring Festival - Year of the Rabbit
Enjoy Chinese food together; whether you cook it together or simply come together to eat.
Artwork, lanterns, dragon dances and fireworks may form a part of your plans.
6. Burns Night - Wednesday 25th January
A ceilidh is always a lot of fun. Dancing is also one of the activities that is reported to give one of the highest levels of benefit to mental health. Book a hall for an evening, look up a local ceilidh band and consider options for catering. Once you know the capacity for the hall and venue and band, sell tickets via Classlist.
You can either price it so you cover your costs and raise funds at the same time, or add donation tickets to the event. Don't forget your licence if you intend to sell alcoholic drinks.
Burns Night is a Scottish celebration. You can read more about Robert Burns and the tradition on Scotland.org which includes information for children.
7. Parent mental health day - Friday 27th January
This awareness day was a new discovery for me. It may be an opportunity simply for sharing information, or coming together with an event that targets one of the "5 ways" referred to above.
8. Friend's Day (Finland) - Tuesday 14th February
A dear friend of mine explained that in Finland, Valentine's Day is not just about being in a couple; it's just a really nice day to show you appreciate your friends and loved ones.
Typical gifts are chocolates and flowers, but the recipient can be anyone.
It could be the perfect occasion for a plant sale, a cake sale, or a card-making workshop, with, of course, tea and coffee on the side.
Share your story
Do you have a story or event to share that you think everyone should hear about? Let us know and we can feature your story and school community on our socials or newsletter.
"How to" on the Classlist app
Are you on Classlist yet?
Classlist's award-winning parent communications app is the safer alternative to public social networks. It's easy to set up! Be amongst more than 400,000 parents using Classlist in 30+ countries. Get started today!