Relaxing with a crossword before bed

Vanessa Grzywacz rediscovers the joy of crosswords

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My late father always used to sit down with a crossword every day. I can still remember him trying to explain the cryptic clues in the newspaper to me and me whining, “But my brain doesn’t work in that way, dad”. However, studies show that doing crosswords is good exercise for the brain and, as I become increasingly worried that my memory isn’t what it used to be (though I think that's more to do with being a working mum of a toddler and baby and constantly having to forward-plan), I decided to complete a crossword as a nod to my dad and see how I got on.

As I settled into the armchair with a cup of tea, I relaxed and opened the paper. I didn’t do too badly; some of the answers came instantly to me. I resisted the urge to Google some of the clues and instead reverted to the old: “Six letters, blank, blank, blank, A, blank, E" questions to my husband. Soon my bedtime hour activity had become a joint activity, as we both struggled to come up with the answers, laughing and congratulating ourselves when we did.

It made us communicate more, as we poured over the newspaper I had bought at the weekend specifically for this purpose. I realised how often we talk about functional things during the evening: “How was your day at work?”, “How were the children when you dropped them at childcare?" This took us out of our usual routine and into a collaborative activity, where we had to communicate properly. We found we both had hidden knowledge away that surprised each other. Bonus!

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Vanessa Grzywacz

Art Director, Psychologies magazine