Top 5 unwinding ideas.

As an adoptive parent, one enthusiastically takes on every quandary and issue, however insignificant or extreme, that our adoring off-spring arrive with in their proverbial suitcase. Is it any wonder that we are occasionally caught off guard; smiling through gritted teeth at the school gates, rolling our eyes as we are invited to our fortieth children's party in as many weeks or sighing an enormous breath of relief after an early kids' bedtime? (sneaked the clocks forward twenty minutes again.) I think not. We are stretched within a centemetre of snapping, just like my Stretch Armstrong toy back in early 1980s.

Relaxing is an artform. Without the money or inclination (or time, come to mention it) to spend my hard earned money in a spa hotel, I've asked around and gathered my five top cheap unwinding ideas. Pop the kids infront of a really long movie (The Wizard of Oz or Sound of Music will do nicely) and relax. In no partiular order...

Nostalgic stuff
5. Factory reset. Hands-up whose had to search high-and-low for a safety pin to push that (bloody microscopic) reset button on their mobile phone? Me too. It's such a marvellous relief when your little phone returns to life minus the dreadful lag and three years worth of text messages. Why not do the same? Remove the clutter (literally) by having a good old clean and tidy. Then, with the new found space in your living room, it's time to get nostalgic. Sitting on the living room floor like a care-free teenager, return to your favourite old stuff; dig out your favourite old CDs (I had a huge enjoy of Eternal's first album) and sort through your old photographs.
Then, pop on your favourite 1980s movie and eat your favourite biscuits off a plate.

Salted-caramel brownies
4. Ready, set... Bake. This one's a little more subjective, as I imagine that some of you could think of nothing worse than baking up a great big mess in the kitchen. But, give it a go; whether or not you're any good at it, baking is truely theraputic (however dreadful the outcome). This is the current trending bake: Salted caramel brownies and it's surprisingly easy. Can't be arsed? Watch The Great British Bake-off on the iPlayer with a nice big cup of tea.

Get outside
3. Go outside. It might look grey and horrible out there, but get a jumper and coat on and go outside anyway. You don't need a destination, just wander around and have a butchers at things around you. I like to rate all of our neighbours' front gardens (not a euphemism, tut). In my opinion, a front garden says a lot about its owner, don't you think? I like to think that our front garden is good looking but a little too busy.

Get organised
2. Get organised. If you're anything like me, and I like to think that I'm fairly orderly, you probably feel as though school and work are throwing an awful lot your way. Last week (the dreaded Book Week), for instance, I was expected to deliver to school, on time, one boy dressed as a home-made Room on a Broom witch and another as an Alien Loves Underpants complete with pants on head. Lyall had lines to learn for a play about Fairtrade and Richard had a children's party after school on Monday. Swimming on Monday and Tuesday at school and a play-date on Tuesday. There were two letters each to sign and return promptly to school and two sponsorship forms with which to pester people for money for a sponsored walk with the boys' football club on Saturday. Work were expecting delivery of a big project by Friday and just to top it all off, Tom was away all week with work.
In response to above mayhem, I decided to get organised. Starting with a new, blank, what WHSmith call a family organiser (it's a calendar), in my neatest handwriting, I popped school stuff in one column, work stuff in another and fun stuff in another. I must say it was thoroughly satisfying and a big weight removed from shoulders and onto said calendar, not to mention I realised that it's mother's day this Sunday. Gagh! (*Frantically searches Amazon for suitable prezzy for Grandma Jenny)

1. Wine. I mean. Need I say more? Start by getting a wine-rack and filling it up. With every intention of keeping the rack full and treating it like a float, only ever consuming the bottom bottle, I challenge you not to polish off the whole delicious collection by the end of the month. We haven't managed to maintain any kind of 'float' yet (although we could probably float a P&O ferry in the amount of wine we manage to get through). Here's some wine-related humour to end on.

You call it boxed wine. I call it cardboareaux.

I have a discerning wine palate in that I like how it tastes as I drink it right out of the box.

This morning someone told me I could make ice cubes from leftover wine. I'm confused... What's leftover wine?