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During times of difficulty, it becomes more important than ever to maintain a strong sense of connection to our loved ones. Beau and Kara Ryan, parents to Remi (7) and Jesse (3), have been making an effort to keep up rituals and routines, be present for one another and celebrate moments of happiness, which helps them stay strong as one family unit. Here, they have partnered with us to share what has kept them feeling connected with each other, during these difficult times.

Dinner time traditions: Dinner time at the Ryan’s is always family time and we love it like that. We always sit down and eat dinner at the table every night, that’s our family rule – it helps keep us well connected. During lockdown, my kids have also been helping prepare dinner a lot more by picking herbs from our veggie garden, crumbing schnitzels or anything that needs to happen that night. My recipe for Chicken Schnitzel with Rocket Salad – it’s my go-to, fool-proof recipe for when I’m not feeling that creative, and everyone loves it. The new Westinghouse Oven with AirFry is perfect for making the chicken nice and crispy, without all the extra oil.

Quality parent time: It’s so important to stay connected to your partner. Kara and I are good with date nights and we aim for one night a week together, without the kids. We are also getting better at putting away our phones after 7pm so we are more present with each other and the kids. It’s easier for me but Kara often gets side-tracked back to Instagram, which she calls therapeutic!

Daily rituals: One tradition we like to keep up is having the kids help set the table and put away the dishes after dinner each night. It might not sound like much but with a 3-year-old and 7-year-old it can be a test. It’s difficult teaching them to be responsible (especially when I’m not very responsible), but Kara and I both feel it is important.

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Give each other space: It’s inevitable that people might not enjoy every moment spent with their partner and family, and my advice for those struggling is to respect each other’s space, especially if you live together. That’s what Kara tells me (and she’s always right), I’m always in her face and I need to give her space, and it works.

Celebrate special moments: We always celebrate big moments. Birthdays are a given but even when my daughter recently got her report card and she did well, we rewarded her with a cook up at our house. My wife is really good at cooking for large numbers (COVID-19 restrictions permitting), and I like being the centre of attention so it’s a win win! Every celebration we have involves family and making memories that last forever. Even if it sometimes involves my son climbing onto our roof to steal the show.

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