Mother’s Day - it’s not too late!

Wondering how to celebrate Mother’s Day during a pandemic? You’re not alone! In normal times you might have treated Mum to a Sunday lunch at the local pub, coffee and cake at the garden centre, or possibly a bit of a shopping trip, but that’s all out the window thanks to the coronavirus.

Need some inspiration – quick?

Popular Mother’s Day gift ideas this year centre around things mum can enjoy at home, from gardening tools to housewares and CDs. But if, like most people, you’ve barely seen your mum in the last year, you probably want to give her something a bit more personal. Something from the heart that tells her how much you miss her, appreciate her and that you can’t wait to give her a massive hug!

My family photoshoots are ideal for mums who have missed out on seeing their families grow for the last year. Whether you’d like your mum to have a beautiful portrait of your family, or want her to join you in the photoshoot, I promise you’ll end up with images that you’ll all love and treasure for years to come. Fees start at £75 for a midweek session. Please check out my package prices here for digitals and products.

A photoshoot with me is relaxed and fun – not just a chore to get through so Granny has some photos to hang on her wall! It’s all about capturing your personalities, your connections and the love that binds you all together, even if a year of being stuck together in lockdown has pushed you all to breaking point!

Find out more about my family photoshoots.

Book today – or buy a voucher

I’m taking bookings now for 29th March onwards, when restrictions ease to allow outdoor social gatherings of two households or six people. Photoshoots can be in a location of your choice – a local park, woodlands or your own garden. I know of lots of lovely places around Farnham, Guildford, Yateley, Fleet, Farnborough and beyond, so just ask me if you need ideas.

At least the easing of covid restrictions last Monday (8th March) means you can wish your mum a Happy Mother’s Day face to face this Sunday – you can even enjoy a coffee or picnic together, as long as it’s outside. But that’s about it, and the great British weather looks like it could put its own restrictions on outdoor meetings, so maybe a Mothering Sunday Zoom call isn’t such a bad idea after all! If you decide to keep it virtual, my photoshoot gift vouchers can also be emailed.

Contact me today to book a family photoshoot or buy a voucher for your mum.

In case you don’t know me yet… I’m Justine – an award-winning family, wedding and business photographer based in Farnborough, Hampshire. I am close to London and on the borders of Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire, but work all over the UK. I specialise in beautiful, flattering portraits, that look like how you imagine your best self to be, taken naturally. If you would like to receive more of this type of blog or hear about my photoshoots and special offers, please sign up here.

Half Term Family Activities with Teenagers during Tier 4

With half term coming up – where in normal circumstances we might hope to get some break from work and school, we are pretty restricted in what we can do. Sadly certainly no mini breaks or day trips and we can’t even meet with friends or eat out.

It therefore seems all the more important for me to try and do something with my two – even just one thing, in order to be different from the day to day.

The recent bout of snow we had here in Hampshire gave us all a much needed boost. I saw my two teenagers (as well myself and my husband) go outside that day with enthusiasm and smiles I hadn’t seen for a while.  I guess because a change is as good as a rest (and we all need a bit of both at the moment).

With this in mind I have done loads of research across the internet, through google and Pinterest and my friends and business groups and thought I’d share here.  Obviously, I don’t expect it to be easy and I assume I’ll get the usual level of teenage annoyance for interrupting desires for 24 hour lying in bed in PJs/ gaming/ Netflix.

I do think it’s definitely important for them to do their own thing, but I will be putting in the diary some family activity time.

My criteria, taking into consideration current Tiers and restrictions in my area of Hampshire and surrounding Surrey and Berkshire are the following:

  • ideally away from screens.
  • to do something together as a family – even for a short time and
  • Something that is fun (that won’t be considered lame) and a bit different.

Disclaimer -I’ve included links where possible and I don’t profit from these. Some we have tried and enjoyed ourselves over the last year and some are recommended or I found and I liked the look of. Some are supporting local small businesses.

I am not responsible for slamming doors , rolling of eyes or stomping of stairs with screams of you being awful/ don’t understand / worst parent ever and other choice words.

Feel free to comment with your own and let me know how you get on.

Please check your own areas restrictions to make sure it’s safe for you to do any of them.

Let's go outside.......

Did you know that sunlight enhances the happiness hormone serotonin? And that Serotonin helps with sleeping , eating and digestion. It also helps suppress anxiety aggression and worry.

So with two teens, a peri menopausal mum and a dad sat working at a screen all day,  I looked for some outdoor activities and ones that aren’t just about getting from A to  B or walking the dog.

Scavenger Hunt

This is going to take a bit of effort, but I think will be well worth it. Teenagers are generally more likely to get involved if there are other people doing it or there’s something to win.

If you live in a place where you know a few people you can rope them in. You are the Lead and the only one access to all the information.

Think of a word (lets go with the word “Rainbows”) send to your friends 7 houses 1 different letter of that word to put in their window. It must be seen from the pavement /drive on the chosen day.

Next get each household to make up a clever clue to get to their house they then send it to you. (or you can make it up yourself). You don’t need to use just the homes and can add other locations too around your area, in walking distance.

On your chosen day (or days) get your households to display their letter and then email out the clues to those taking part.

Each family must take a selfie at the location with the letter in the shot

First family to send you the word with the photos as evidence that they went, wins!

Another version on the scavenger hunt can be:

Chose 10 items (or less) to find and photograph on your phone in your immediate area. You can make a list for your Teens and they can make a list for you the parent(s). Prize for the winning team. (It has to be things you have seen around before)

Here’s a list we came up with :

A yellow car

A church

A Road name beginning with W

A plant with flowers on

A gnome

A silhouette Soldier (the remembrance )

A Post office sign

An aeroplane

A Blue front door

A person (not you) wearing a face mask.

Other outdoor activities with a purpose to try.......

Create a walk using the what3words app and get the children to navigate their way round it.

If you haven’t heard of it the  app was created because Street addresses don’t always point to precise location. What3words has given every 3m square in the world a unique 3 word address. The words are randomly assigned to each square and will always stay the same.

Or Geocaching

My children loved geocaching when they were younger but I think its still one we do to add a little challenge and get a longer walk out of them. For those who haven’t done it before

Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.  Locally to me people have really upped their game with magnetic boxes hidden with the treasure and even fake tree stumps!

I had thought this was for children around 5-12 but looking at the reviews its seems to be enjoyed by all ages, with some the clues too challenging for younger children. If you haven’t seen it before

It’s a treasure trail with clues in local town.

Fun with Food

OK I admit I pretty much love any activity that means someone else has to cook/ think of the meal.

Over the first lock down we held this cooking competition over 4 weekends. Each person had to chose and prepare a main meal.

We just went on sites like BBC Good Food to select the meals.

We’ve just signed up to Mindful Chef – a company that delivers the ingredients and cooking instructions for meals (similar to Gousto or HelloFresh) We have loved using these to add some change to our weekly meals (especially inspiring vegetarian and vegan meals which mine weren’t keen on the idea of ). You could each chose a main meal to be delivered the week of half term and a day to cook the meal on.

You can give a score for each person for the meal out of 5. The categories we used were:

Tidiness of kitchen at the end (genius right? It meant everyone washed and tidied as they went) Presentation/look. Tastiness/flavour and originality.

For the prize, the winner gets to choose a takeaway. My daughter Ginny won and chose sushi.

You can add a dress up theme to the meal,  if you’re really keen!

Tom had a fish dish and chose the sea as the dress up theme. I had a Moroccan stew and chose that we had to dress up as the other in the family (pulled from a hat so we didn’t chose the same person). Jasper handmade burgers and chips and chose Australia as the them (bbq) Ginny did a homemade pesto and pasta and had a Disney character dress up theme and even decorated the table with the same theme.

Another popular food one is to have a change to your normal food routine and try something new like:

Order an afternoon tea

Quite a few teashops are now offering delicious Afternoon tea deliveries. It has the added bonus of supporting small business.  Also on my favourite theme of me not having to prepare it and getting a break!

I highly recommend our local Tea shop (local deliveries only)

And nationwide deliveries from Harriet’s Tea Rooms

If you want to book your Teen something to do these guys have great online cooking courses for teenagers over half term

and don’t forget that over half term it’s Pancake day on Tuesday! You could each prepare a filling from savory to sweet  (have you noticed I’ve got at least 4 meals cooked by other people over half term)

Games even teenagers will enjoy

My two will play games away from their computers/phones,  but respond best to competition rounds like a Games Night. On New Years Eve for example we played 5 (short) different games with a score for each one won.

The following are recommendations are from friends as well as ones we have tried ourselves. Most have a start age of around 8 and be played as adults too. Some friends suggest turning off the wifi and putting away phones to ensure a good commitment.

Table Tennis on any table

In our last house we were short on space and bought a table tennis net with bats and balls . the net attaches to any table. This was really popular with my 2 (we do have a no smashing rule as teenage boys and husbands can do some damage otherwise)

This was such a good diversion that when we moved into this house with a separate dining room we decided to make the dining room table multiple purpose so the room is used more. The table is a pool table with a removeable table tennis table as the top. In the days of dinner parties a heat proof mat goes on top with a tablecloth. It also is used as our art / DT table with an oil cloth.

Google “table tennis net for dining table” to find lots of shops who sell them.

Seriously one of the best pieces of furniture we’ve have bought.

Board Games

that come highly recommended as popular for playing with this age group . Available online from the usual stores.

Taskmaster – we’ve never seen or heard of the TV show but the children got it for Christmas this year and we really enjoyed it. Really interactive and gets you moving.

The Sock Game a lot of people have recommended, so we have ordered this for half term. It’s a sensory game where you rummage in the sock for certain items.

Pencil Nose this is taking Pictionary to a new level where our pencil is attached to glasses and your draw with your nose. Lots of good reviews for all ages on this one.

Corks we love this game (basically a grabbing game) You can play with up to 14 people so it’s also a great party game.

Escape Rooms online

ok, these are online on a screen, but have been really popular with friends. You can even join from multiple places and so play with friends and family at the same time. Check out:


Also another screen based,  but really great fun are VR headsets.

My son bought one just after Christmas with his paper-round and Christmas money and it is amazing. I hasn’t realised how far on the graphics have come (trying to work out how to steal is and download scenes where I can sit on a beach all day drinking cocktails)

We had the headset as the final game in a round of games on New Years Eve. I was dreadful at it but it was lots of fun. The headsets are a whopping £300 with the games around £20 each. However if you live in the Hampshire region of Southampton/ Portsmouth this marvellous company bring VR headsets to your door, fully sanitised and packed with 30 odd games and experiences ready to play within minutes.

Or why not indulge in an at home spa day

I was surprised that spa facemasks have moved on from the hideous finger painting mess of my youth and they are now paper sheets you just pop on your face (many bio-degradable). You can buy them in most pharmacies and I noticed the beauty section in the supermarkets have the same large selection.  You can also make your own facemasks. I found loads of tutorials on YouTube (do search DIY spa face masks or your end up with a load of tutorials on covid masks!

My 13 year old daughter and I have arranged an afternoon of facemasks, hair masks braiding and nail decor to try out. You could go all out with a bigger budget and hire a hot tub (and imagine yourself at Penny Hill Park or one of the Centre Parks for the week)

For her birthday, in-between lockdowns, we visited The Trenza Hair braiding bar in Southampton and they are currently posting lots of ideas for at- home styles, including a home braiding kit check out their page

For more ideas see :


For the more crafty among you might fancy upcycling project with your teen. My daughter has been doing up her bedroom over lockdown (most Christmas gifts were requests for room things) and has a chair from ebay we are going to tackle.

For more ideas I came across this great facebook group

(now want a whisky barrel to poke holes in and stick lights in for the garden!)

Or maybe teach them a new useful life skill?

It’s been my experience that my children really light up when they learn to do something useful. At this age they often assume they can’t.

…… like car maintenance?  I may included this one as I only recently learnt how to pump up the tyres and refill the screen wash (dreadful I know).

So maybe a lesson to teach them to top up the oil and water, even change a tyre?

Sew a button or a hem? Change a plug or plug fuse or even a light bulb.

Thanks to the wonderful groups for many of these ideas including the wonderful Hampshire Business Woman’s Group

and facebook groups that focus on lockdown family fun

I am Justine I am an Award Winning Family, Wedding and Business photographer based in Hampshire, UK. I am mum to two teens who are 13 and 15. I work all over the UK and am close to London and on the borders of Hampshire Surrey and Berkshire. I specialise in beautiful, flattering portraits,  that look like how you imagine in your head your best self to be, taken naturally. If you would like to receive more of this type of blog or here about my photoshoots and special offers, please sign up here.