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Happy memories: PJs and Popcorn

Ros Hull

When my girls were small I sometimes found the July school holidays a bit of an effort. Neither of them enjoys the cold (I love it) so they were reluctant to go out. A shame really, because Canberra has so many great family activities, especially at museums and national institutions and they are either very low cost or free.

Still, with a little guidance from one of their cousins who has perfected this to the level of an artform, we tried an indoor activity that became an instant family tradition, practiced every July school holidays ever after. Until they left home of course.

Parents of Canberra – I give you…the Pyjama Day!

No, not just a name for the day when a recalcitrant child won’t dress and a tired parent can’t face the effort needed to get them into clothes. No, not (definitely not) wearing pyjamas to the mall. Not even the day when a hangover makes dressing impossible.

This is a day when the family turns off all phones and devices, shuts the curtains and doesn’t answer the door. When everyone leaps out of bed at the crack of 9.30am (10am at the latest) and stays in their PJs all day. Rules are broken — milkshakes for breakfast and ice cream sundaes for lunch spring to mind — and movies, movies, movies are enjoyed together.

If your couch is actually a sofa bed, open it up, bring in the doonas and snuggly pillows and settle in for the day. Do not sneak away and check on emails or pay bills. Commit to the couch!

I have been thinking about this for a week, ever since I saw Inside Out. I was overcome with sadness when I saw the mum’s governing emotion was, actually, sadness. There is a whole lot of stuff we mums carry around – an overwhelming desire to take away any and all pain our children suffer and the knowledge that we can’t do that; a need to be the voice of reason and sound parenting, knowing that if we do our job right the world will gain, and we will lose (even if only a little) the thing we hold most precious.

So I think it is really important that we give our children happy memories. These aren’t made of the high cost of a catered birthday party or the latest version of their favourite game. They are made of us, of our time. Therefore mums deserve to behave irresponsibly once in a while, break all the rules we set and have fun with our kids. They will be gone sooner than you think.

We have themed this day — classic Disneys — and I mean the really old ones (The Jungle Book, Mary Poppins, Dumbo); princess movies; the whole LOTR (Lord of the Rings) saga, all the Harry Potters on DVD – in preparation for the one about to be released. Yes, my girls are well and truly grown up now. One of the best themes we ever tried was a day where we had to watch a movie chosen by each of us. The girls would never, ever have voluntarily watched Casablanca or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – and to be fair I wouldn’t have chosen to watch the Powerpuff Girls or the Hanna Montana movies. We did it for each other, we cheered the heroines and boo-ed the bad guys, then we talked about what we had seen.

As the girls got older I sat through Snakes on a Plane and The Devil’s Rejects and found redeeming qualities in both (believe it or not). We also did pedicures between films and tried to see how many fillings we could fit in toasted sandwiches. Fairly basic fun but fun should not be rocket science.

I say if next week is anything like this week (where has all this fog come from?) embrace your flannies, take pride in your onesies and have some indoor fun. I don’t have an excuse to take leave during school holidays anymore so I will be at work, thinking of Pyjama Day.

In case you are looking for inspiration, here are a few family movies I’ve reviewed that are now out on DVD and Blu-ray. For primary school aged families you can’t beat Paper Planes but if you’ve seen it, give Home a go. There are fart jokes and bums, and farts are always funny. If you are the mum of girls, enjoy Cinderella; I did – I really, really did.

If your children are upper primary or in high school and into fantasy or sci fi, try Jupiter Ascending, it is so far out there you’ll have conversation fodder for days. Who doesn’t love Eddie Redmayne as a camp villain? If they are more thoughtful, or you need to break sad news to them I recommend What We Did on Our Holiday. It is funny and touching and deals with death through the children’s reaction to it.

So your day doesn’t have to be completely frivolous – but don’t underestimate the power of the silly.

You can find more movie reviews here.

Feature image of popcorn courtesy of Shutterstock.

Ros Hull

Ros saw Star Wars and immediately wanted to fly the Millenium Falcon. Unable to do that she became a Jill-of-all-trades as her army husband whirled her around the world – and back to Canberra 10 years ago. She has worked in public programs and museum education ever since. She gained an MA in writing whilst getting two daughters through high school - both are now at university and undeniably fabulous (according to her). She can worry as an Olympic sport so she sees lots of movies instead. More about the Author

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