How to have more happiness with less this Christmas

It hasn’t been a normal year so it’s no wonder that the build-up to Christmas feels strange. We don’t know if we can safely see all our loved ones, we’re anxious or sad about how different this year will be, and we’re struggling with buying gifts because ‘things’ don’t really matter right now. We just want to spend time together and to be happy.

While this is how many people are feeling – wondering how to be happy this Christmas – it is possible to make the end of 2020 a special one. It’s all about reframing this time differently and being happy with less.

Here’s how to do just that.

Cut back on the gift-giving

Everyone has been in the same boat, so they won’t judge you for cutting back this year. Have a talk with your family and if you want to cut back on gifts, decide on what you’ll do all together when it’s safe to meet up again. Maybe you will have a big dinner later in the year or go on holiday together?

a mother and little girl at Christmas

Whatever it is, talk it through and decide as a family. It’s been a stressful year so you don’t need to pile on extra stress to find gifts when shops are closed and many relatives can’t even get out to look themselves.

Christmas is about spending quality time together and making memories so reframe it this year and be thankful that your loved ones are safe and healthy.

Focus on what you truly love

Think about your Christmas traditions. What is truly important to you and your family? Maybe it’s having a movie night on Christmas Eve or eating altogether, decorating the house or baking on Boxing Day. Whatever your favourites, focus on these and let the rest go.

This is a very different year, so instead of letting it get you down, get creative and make those all-important things happen. Yes, they will be different, but you can make that movie night tradition special by doing it virtually or meet up with family for a socially distanced walk on Christmas Day.

A family and dog in a forest

If you want to know how to be happy this Christmas, you need to think about what makes the season for you and make those things happen (just in a different way).

Embrace nature

Instead of sitting indoors, take a walk in the frosty morning or after dinner. As we said previously, maybe you could meet up with some family members for a socially distanced walk close to home.

Nature is healing and it makes us happy, so embrace it. Breathe the cold air. Collect pine cones. Make a snowman if you’re lucky enough to have snow. Whatever you do, look for ways to enjoy and appreciate the nature that surrounds you and you’ll feel a lot better for it.

A snowman next to a small tree

Be charitable

If you’re worried about how to be happy this Christmas, maybe look beyond you and your family and to those in need. How can you make someone else’s Christmas?

It feels good to make others feel good so look for opportunities to give others your time, to listen to them, and make them smile. It can be something as simple as giving some toys away to children’s charities or having the grandparents on a video call as the children open their gifts.

While it’s not the best time to volunteer or get involved in activities with others, you can still use this time to teach your children to be charitable. That’s what Christmas is all about.

a christmas ornament saying hope to represent how to be happy this christmas

Reconnect and reflect

Last but not least, use this time to reconnect and reflect. Not just with your family, but with yourself. What has been positive about this year? Which challenges have you overcome? What are you grateful for? How have you become closer as a family?

By focusing on what you are grateful for and the positives of the past year, you can better be in the moment and enjoy the day without any stress or worry.

Spend this day reconnecting with each other – play board games, eat great food, and spend the day laughing. Just remember to take a little time out for yourself too.

two children posing by a christmas tree to represent how to be happy this christmas

Please try not to worry. This year will be different but it’s also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to focus on the most important traditions and to reinvent the rest! Try to embrace the differences this year, be grateful for what you have, and take comfort in the fact that there’s no pressure this year other than to spend quality time with your children.


At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Need more help or advice? Find more from us here:

18 Creative Gift Ideas to Save You Money at Christmas

It’s been an overwhelming and difficult year for many of us, not to mention that we’ve had to tighten our purse strings, but that shouldn’t have to extend to the festive season too. Christmas should be a time of happiness and appreciation. So how can you make this one special?

What’s great about our children is that they have the best imaginations! This means that you don’t have to stress too much about getting a certain toy or gift. If you are creative with your gifts, then they will be just as happy. To help you make this Christmas one to remember (but also one that doesn’t break the bank), here are some of the best creative gift ideas that you can make yourself.

1. Sock Puppets

If you’re handy with arts and crafts, sock puppets are a great gift for young children! All of the components are cheap to buy such as colourful socks, multi-coloured puff balls and googly eyes and you have yourself a series of characters to make!

Here’s some help: How to make a sock puppet video and How to make a dog sock puppet, step by step

2. Bath Crayons

Children of all ages love bath time, so create your own bath crayons to make it even better. Your little ones won’t believe that they can draw on the tub!

Here’s how to make your own: Bath crayon recipe and DIY bath crayons

rubber duckies

3. A Tool Belt

Do your little ones like to build? Do they have some trusty tools that they use to fuel their imagination? Then why not make them a tool belt? A tool belt will help them dress the part!

Here’s some help: Make a tool belt tutorial and Step by step guide

4. Doll Accessories

Almost every household with children has dolls, whether they are life-sized babies, barbies or action men, so making them accessories will be the best gift!

Here’s some help: Barbie accessories, Barbie clothes, Winter accessories, Make your own doll nappies, Baby doll sewing patterns

5. Felt Pizza

Inspire creativity by making your own felt sets. You can buy different coloured felt and cut them into shapes and put them in a box. Now all is left to do is for your child’s imagination to run wild!

Here’s some help: Make your own pizza shop

6. A Puppet Theatre

This may take some time but it will be so worth it. If you have some cardboard or even just a cereal box, you can make a puppet theatre. Then all it needs is some characters! Depending on your craft skills, you can keep it simple by drawing and colouring characters and sticking them on to lollypop sticks or you can make your own finger puppets!

Here’s some help: Make your own puppet theatre out of a shoebox or cereal box, Make your own finger puppets, make puppets without sewing

puppets

7. A Mini Marshmallow Gun

A fun game and you can eat the bullets at the end! Your children will have so much fun running around the house shooting marshmallows at each other and the great thing is, is that they won’t get hurt.

Here’s some help: Make your own marshmallow gun

8. Clothespin Wrap Dolls

When children are young, their imaginations are amazing and anything can become a toy! Get creative and make something different like some clothespin wrap dolls. Simple and perfect for travelling, these dolls are a really great gift idea.

Here’s some help: Make your own clothespin wrap dolls

9. Play Dough

Playdough is a classic gift and every child loves it! Make your own and have hours of fun creating masterpieces!

Here’s some help: Best homemade playdough recipe, A simple and natural playdough recipe

10. Animal Ear Headbands

Children love dressing up and there are no easier accessories to make yourself than animal ear headbands! Not only are these fun to make and the perfect stimulus for creative play, but your children will revel in the variety of animals that they can become.

Here’s some help: Animal ear headbands, DIY animal costume ideas, 10 animal costume ideas

little girl with bunny ears

 

Homemade gift ideas for family and friends

If you’d rather spend what money you do have on your children and save money elsewhere, here are some great creative gifts that are thoughtful yet easy to make yourself.

11. Homemade Candles – using wax flakes, colours and essential oils, you can create beautiful candles where you choose the colour, scent and overall look.

12. Homemade Bath Bombs – many people love fizzy bath bombs but they can be expensive to buy from the shop. You can make your own with baking soda, food colouring and essential oils!

13. Spa in a Jar – for friends who love a bit of pampering, collect their favourites in miniatures and put them all in a jar. Pack it with spa goodies such as bath bombs, face masks, hair masks, soaps, pillow spray, and maybe even a candle.

14. Bake a Cake – who wouldn’t love a gift that you’ve taken the time to make yourself? Just think about what they love (e.g. cheesecake or muffins or chocolate cake etc), make it with love and it will be a hit!

a chocolate cake

15. A Personal Hamper – does your family member or friend love tea, cheese or chocolate etc? Whatever is their favourite, make a homemade hamper that is personal to them. This is a lovely gift idea and it can be easily done on a budget.

16. Knitted Hat/Scarf/Blanket – if you can knit, the world of gift-giving is your oyster.

17. Hand-Embroidered Gifts – if you can sew, there is a range of great gifts that you can give. Has a friend or family member had a baby? Buy plain white onesies and embroider their name. Other things you can stitch initials on include handkerchiefs, headbands, socks etc. You could also buy a sewing kit with a picture to follow and create things like a bookmark for a special person. Here are some ideas!

18. Any gift with photos – people love memories and these types of gifts are very budget-friendly so consider printing some pictures and making an album. You can also create things like a yearly calendar, a notebook, or even a canvas with special moments on.

camera and book

 

At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Need more help or advice? Find more from us here:

15 energy-burning activities for children stuck indoors

It’s been incredibly difficult, having the children stuck indoors for what feels like most of 2020. Children are young and full of energy, they want to run and explore and be free, yet they’ve been cooped up unable to meet with friends or take part in the hobbies that they love. While it doesn’t look like this is going to change in the immediate, that shouldn’t stop you having quality time with your children. So here are our suggestions. Here are 15 of the best indoor activities, especially for those high-energy children that have been stuck inside and are in need of some fun!

1. Hot Lava

The floor is hot lava and you can’t step on it! This game involves a lot of jumping around on objects that are strewn around the room. Pick certain things that you don’t mind the children stepping on such as couch cushions and blankets, and you’ve got yourself a cost-effective, energy-burning game!

2. Scavenger hunt

Scavenger hunts don’t have to be elaborate (although treasure hunts are cool!), they just have to be fun. Some of the best indoor activities can be scavenger hunts that have been put together last minute. Children find any games fun, such as ‘find everything downstairs that is round’ or ‘find a yellow object in every room.’

3. Old school games

Children love learning old school games like hopscotch, so create an outline of hopscotch together. You can use tape if you want to do it indoors or colourful chalk if you want to do it outside. Either way, it’s a fun activity to do together and there’s lots of jumping to make everyone tired.

hopscotch

4. Build a fort

Who doesn’t love making a fort? Some of the best indoor activities involve making forts out of household objects such as empty cardboard boxes or couch cushion and bedsheets, just try it and ask your children afterwards! This is such a great activity to do together as you can keep it up for a while after and act out stories or camp in the living room.

5. Mix up the usual routine

If you are too tired one day, why not just make the usual routine longer? You have the time and it gets dark earlier! This can be as simple as letting your kids have a longer bath or making it more fun for them by breaking some glow sticks and having a glow in the dark bath. When it comes to bedtime, how about getting the whole family in bed to read a chapter together every night?

6. Bust out the board games

We all have some board games stored somewhere in the house, so why not get them out and have a few fun and competitive hours together. Whether you have Cluedo, hungry hippos, mousetrap, battleships, snakes and ladders, twister, or even just a jigsaw puzzle, there is nothing like this kind of quality time as a family.

Pieces on a board game

7. Camp in the living room

This is a great family activity and it can easily last all day. From setting up the tent and sleeping bags to watching films, having a picnic, and sleeping in it overnight, camping indoors is a fun and easy activity to entertain the little ones.

8. Crazy obstacle course

Building an obstacle course doesn’t take much time, but it can provide hours of fun until everyone is completely burnt out. Get creative when you build your course. You can outline a track where your children have to crawl under blankets and hop over pillows, you can even set up areas where they have to do a certain activity (such as bowl over a certain amount of objects before they can move on). If you have older children, keep them engaged by tying them together with a younger sibling so they have to work together to complete the course.

9. Play hide-and-seek

One of the best indoor activities has to be hide-and-seek. It is a family favourite after all. As well as being fun for all ages, hide-and-seek allows you to spend some time as a family making memories. You can mix it up too, by playing it in the dark or by allowing the hiders to move around the house!

A child hiding and peering through a hole

10. Bring nature inside

It’s getting cold outside and we can’t do much anyway with the current Covid restrictions, so bring the outside indoors! Why not bring piles of leaves or sticks inside and try and make some arts and crafts with them? If it snows, gather some in buckets and let your children experiment with spatulas, measuring cups, and their fingers. Although this will need to be cleaned up, messy play is very stimulating and is important for a child’s development!

11. Bowling

Out of the best indoor activities, bowling is quite a good one. You can buy a soft indoor bowling set or set up your own skittles with pop cans, toilet rolls or empty washing up liquid bottles. Whatever you have, get creative and see how many everyone can knock over.

12. Movie marathon

Having a movie marathon is a great indoor activity to have when it’s cold or raining outside. Take in turns to choose the film and make it a cosy activity by pulling the couch forward and bringing out lots of blankets.

Tip: If you have high-energy children that find it difficult to settle for long periods, then consider exhausting the list of physical activities first before moving on to this one!

13. Arts and crafts

What’s great about arts and crafts is that you can get creative with anything and children love getting messy! All you have to do for this one is to cover the table with newspapers or a plastic sheet and then bring out the arts and crafts. You may have bought some paint or you may have certain materials and fabrics that your children can use, but if you don’t, you can try baking and decorating instead.

14. Make chores fun

Having the children home a lot these past few months has meant that parents have had to get even more creative with what ‘fun’ means. We’re talking about – making chores fun! It is possible, and if you have a lot to do around the house, it’s a win-win for everyone. Children love to get involved so give them certain task and challenges to do every day. You can load the dishwasher together, hang the washing up, or tidy their bedrooms, just think of ways that you can make it into a game and you’ll have some keen little helpers.

15. Makeshift playroom 

Do you have a garage or a spare room that you can convert into a temporary playroom while your children are indoors? If you have any outdoor toys that be used indoors, wash them off and utilise your garage space for playing. If you have to work from home, then move all your children’s toys into the spare room so they can play and not disturb you. Your kids can really get active if they have space to draw with chalk, roller-skate, skip, play basketball, or throw a ball around, so work with what you have.

A pair of red roller skates

When in doubt, ask your children what they want to do

Here are some of our best indoor activities to get you through the next few months. If you don’t find everything you need here or you are still worried about keeping your children entertained, then don’t forget to ask them what they want to do. Ask them what they enjoy doing or what they can come up with and you may just be surprised!

 


At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Need more help or advice? Find more from us here:

How to Recognise if Your Child is Stressed and What to Do

Just like with adults, children get stressed too. This might seem like a strange concept, as what do children have to be stressed about? They have no work or bills to pay, no responsibilities or pressures, but while this is true, we forget that it is hard growing up and learning what your place is in the world.

From learning new skills and having new experiences to more specific pressures such as academic performance, separation anxiety or relationships, children often suffer in silence. This can have a significant negative impact on their health and development, so as parents, we need to learn to recognise when this is happening so that we can provide the support and advice that they need.

Stress is very common in children and most will experience anxiety at some point in their lives, so here is everything you need to know about recognising stress and how to help them deal with it healthily.

A little girl holding her parents' hands

Signs of stress to look out for

It’s difficult to notice changes in your children if it happens slowly over time or they hide how they are feeling, but if they are exhibiting one or more of these signs, it’s important that you address it with them to see if they are okay and how you can help.

Your child may be stressed if you notice:

* Changes in their behaviour – this can be anything out of character that lasts for several weeks.

* Symptoms of worrying – biting nails, chewing their hair, or getting upset or anxious about things more than normal.

* Signs of aggression – they may be more irritable, angry or frustrated than normal, or take their emotions out on family members at home.

* Social withdrawal – your child may isolate themselves by avoiding family members, activities such as sleepovers, or not wanting to go to school.

* Regression – this is when a child reverts back to infantile behaviour as a way of dealing with stress. This can include using the potty, sucking their thumb, bed wetting, having tantrums or becoming clingy.

* Aches and pains – emotional stress can manifest physically, so pay attention to how often your children get headaches, stomach aches, chest pain, a rapid heart rate or fatigue.

* Sleeping problems – this can be either an inability to fall asleep, poor sleep or nightmares.

* Changes in their eating habits or weight – your child may eat more or less than usual which may lead to weight loss or weight gain.

* Academic problems – whether it is a lack of concentration or being disruptive, your child can exhibit signs of stress in school which will affect their performance.

Two boys standing and sitting in front of two doors

How you can help your child deal with stress

If you notice that your child is exhibiting signs of stress, it’s important that you help them deal with it.

1. Don’t dismiss or laugh at their worries. What may seem trivial to us are big worries for our children, so take them seriously and provide them with lots of reassurance that they’ll be okay.

2. Normalise stress. Let your child know that stress is a normal part of life and that it is essential that we recognise it and deal with it.

3. Discuss healthy ways of dealing with stress. By engaging in a conversation with your child about stress, you’re allowing them to think about it for themselves and work out what is best for them. Do they think that physical activity can help? Do they need to relax more or try techniques such as breathing and muscle relaxation? Do they know what mindfulness is and why it is important?

4. Model healthy coping behaviours yourself. Children learn from their parents so it’s no good telling them what they should be doing and doing something different yourself. Actively try to commit to healthy coping methods yourself such as exercising and use it to teach your children valuable life skills for the future.

5. Limit screen time and monitor their use. Devices are windows to the world, so the last thing that you want is for your children to be exposed to potentially distressing information online. Limit screen time to two hours a day and keep an eye on their social activity to monitor any changes in behaviour.

6. Be mindful of the changes in your life. Anything can cause your children stress from you having another baby to your financial worries or your own trivial stresses. Be mindful of this, as children pick up on it, and try not to discuss family worries until the children are in bed.

Two toys saying happy and keep on smiling

It can be really difficult to notice if your child is stressed, especially if the changes are very subtle. However, it is essential that even if you can’t quite put your finger on it, that you address it and help them manage it.

Even if it isn’t a major issue to be stressed about (by your standards), by teaching your children to cope with stress, you are arming them with essential life skills that will lead to a much healthier and happier life.

 

At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Looking for more help and advice? See more from us here:

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How to Celebrate Halloween as a Family

Halloween can be a really exciting time of year. With less pressure than Christmas but more festivity than other occasions, it is a perfect opportunity to bond with your kids and spend some quality time together as a family. Even if you’re not the biggest Halloween fan, creating family Halloween traditions teaches your children the importance of little celebrations. To make the most of Halloween, here are fun activities that you can use to spend as much time together as a family.

1. Pumpkin Picking & Carving

One of the best family activities that you can all do in the run-up to Halloween is to go pumpkin picking at a local farm! Once you’ve picked your pumpkins, you can then let your little ones decide where to place them and how to decorate or carve them.

2. Decorate the House

Children love to take part in hands-on activities so give them the ultimate challenge of converting the house into a spooky mansion. For some easy and cost-effective ideas, see here for some family-friendly Halloween craft.

A pumpkin with welcome carved into it

3. Read Halloween Stories

Children love stories so why not find some Halloween-themed books to read them in the weeks leading up to the 31st of October? Not only will reading these stories help young children understand what the holiday is and what they can expect from trick-or-treating, but it is also precious quality time with each other every evening.

4. Watch Scary (but not really) Cartoons

At least one night before Halloween, set aside the time to watch a film or cartoons as a family. There are some great family-friendly Halloween films such as It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, Monster House, and Casper the Friendly Ghost. Watch them with some Halloween treats!

5. Make Halloween Costumes

On the build-up to Halloween, find some worn-out clothes and get creating! You can find all kinds of things around the house to create some great homemade outfits for the kids to dress up and act out some spooky scenarios.

6. Go Trick or Treating

Whether you buy your Halloween costumes or make them as a family, whip them out for any Halloween parties and to go trick-or-treating. Get the whole family involved and teach your children all about sharing and giving as they pass out sweets to children who visit their house too.

7. Bake Spooktacular Treats

Often, some of the best quality family time is spent in the kitchen. Yes, you may make a mess and yes, you will have to clean it up but trust us when we say, many of your happy memories and lifelong traditions will be made when you’re making scary treats.

Halloween cakes and toy spiders

Make memories this Halloween and every year to come

Use these Halloween activities to spend quality time as a family this holiday and to create family traditions that will be passed down to the next generations!


At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Need more help or advice? Find more from us here:

5 Spooky Halloween Activities to Enjoy as a Family

Halloween can be a really exciting time of year. With less pressure than Christmas but more festivity than other occasions, it is a perfect opportunity to get your children involved in fun, simple activities which can be enjoyed as a family and with friends. Unsure of what spooky activities you could get involved in? Check out this list of easy suggestions to bring some spine-tingling enjoyment to your October! 

1) Pumpkin Carving

A great activity for the family, carving a pumpkin into your favourite supernatural friends or scary faces can be a great way to pass an afternoon. Scooping out a pumpkin is the perfect mix of cool and gross to get that Halloween-y feeling. A simple search online will reveal hundreds of templates which can be printed out and used to guide your vegetable art. Alternatively, freehand it and let your creative juices flow! Kids can draw onto the skin with a pencil before you use the knives to carve or child-safe carving kits can be found at local craft shops or supermarkets. Then, once it’s done, watch the dancing candlelight illuminate your creation for a great accompaniment to a cosy autumn night in front of a family Halloween film!

A pumpkin with a smaller pumpkin in its mouth

 2) Spooky Baking

To get the kids really excited, why not get your hands dirty in the kitchen with some spine-chilling baked goods! Chocolate, orange extract for some colour or strawberry sauce for a bloody touch can really spook up your cakes. Use raisins or chocolate chips to make fly cookies and rice paper designs to decorate your ghoul cakes (‘cause fairy cakes aren’t scary enough) and watch the enjoyment fill your children’s faces. This is easy, innocent fun which can be used to cater a Halloween get-together or supply an autumnal cake sale for charity.

Halloween cakes and toy spiders

  3) Halloween Party 

For something a little extra, why not use your pumpkins to convert your home into a haunted house for the night? Getting family, friends, and neighbours around for a night of Halloween festivities can be a great laugh for both adults and kids, plus it can provide opportunities to raise money for a local cause. Simple decorations like black and orange paper chains, spray-can spider webs and hanging skeletons with some of your spooky baking can set the scene for a true spooktacular. Add in broomstick racing, bobbing for apples, fancy dress competitions, and other party games to make a memorable night for the children and provide a well-deserved laugh for the parents!

A pumpkin with welcome carved into it

 4) Local Events and Shows

If you aren’t the hosting type, don’t feel left out. Many local adventure and activity centres will be throwing magical nights filled with eerie mystery and wonder to get involved in. Check out websites of zoos, country parks, and theme parks to see what’s going on near you. There are many light shows, Halloween performances, and late openings to keep your little devils entertained into the spooking hours. Alternatively, if nothing local takes your fancy, use the weekend for a trip somewhere further afield for a ghoulish getaway. Events at Thorpe Park near London, Blackgang Chine on the Isle of Wight and the Samhuinn Fire Festival in Edinburgh are perfect examples.

A sign saying happy Halloween and a pumpkin

 5) Trick or Treating

Often misunderstood as being menacing or simply too North American, the tradition of going door to door in ghostly costume goes back to the 1700s in Britain. Whilst now significantly more commercial, a simple tour of the neighbourhood in the dark, fiendishly dressed and hunting confectionary is really exciting for your little ghouls. It can be a good way for them to get to know their neighbours and their neighbourhood and if you escort them, you can teach them good habits that will deter trouble in their teenage years when the temptation to ‘trick’ could land them in trouble. Some innocent fun with game neighbours can be one of the simplest ways to get involved in Halloween and with any luck, will tire your little ones out for a good All Saints night sleep.

Three dogs in halloween costumes

 

At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Looking for more ideas or advice? See more from us here:

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The Best 20-Minute Activities to Keep Your Children Entertained

Do you ever want 20-minutes of uninterrupted, child-free time? Let me re-phrase that – do you ever need 20-minutes of uninterrupted, child-free time?

Unless you are a superhero parent with multiple arms and a renewable amount of energy, I’m sure that the answer to both of these questions is a resounding “Yes.”

Whether you want some peace and quiet to unload the dishwasher, clean up the kitchen after dinner or just to sit down with a cup of tea by yourself, here are numerous go-to activities that you can have on hand to keep your little ones entertained.

12 go-to activities for children

1. Playdough

Let your children’s imaginations run wild and allow them to explore the feeling of playdough as they manipulate it to make special shapes. Throw in some cookie cutters, a rolling pin and other household objects and you have a fun-filled activity that will last more than 20 minutes!

2. Slime

There are not many things more fun than playing with containers full of slime. Younger children love to explore the feel of it while older children like to create slime-filled scenes with other toys. (not suitable for under 3’s)

3. Sticker books

Young children love sticker books especially when they can create pictures themselves such as funny faces. Sticker books are perfect distractions for short periods.

two boys reading a book

4. Hidden picture books

A perfect 20-minute activity for the 5+ age group as hidden picture books take focus. You can stow away a few different picture books for a rainy day such as the good old “Where’s Wally?” and your children will love the distraction.

5. Water wow books

If you want to entertain your little ones for a short period, simply fill up a painting pen with water and let them colour the pages of their water wow books. When they do so, vibrant pictures will be revealed until they dry again just 5-minutes later.

6. Water beads

Not only are they extremely inexpensive, but they are also incredibly fun too! You buy them as tiny little sprinkles and once you let them sit in water, they expand to the size of jelly beans. These are great fun and perfect for tactile learning. (supervision required for under 3’s)

7. Water colouring

Watercolours are a great minimal-mess alternative to arts and crafts and painting. Not only that but they are easy to set-up, quick to tidy away, and they will stimulate your children’s creativity for the time being.

A child painting

8. Building blocks/supplies

Building supplies such as Lego, magnet tiles or wooden blocks can keep your little ones entertained for hours as they are only limited by their imaginations. If you want to, you can also create your own supply kit of junk modelling by collecting items such as toilet paper rolls, coffee filters, adhesive tape, and stickers etc.

9. Art supplies box

Similarly to the building supplies box, create your own art supplies box for your children to experiment with. Items such as cardboard, glitter pens, tape, felt, pipe cleaners, and ribbon are perfect.

10. Sensory bins

Sensory bins are great for stimulating creativity, innovation, and critical thinking. With this activity, you can get creative too! For the Winter, create a snow sensory bin and fill it with snow, small shovels, cups and toys. You can even fill squirt guns with dilute food colouring too so that they can paint the snow.

11. Gel window clings

A perfect 20-minute activity whether in the house or travelling in the car. You can get all kinds of gel window clings and let your child create different scenes.

12. Temporary race track

A super easy activity for your children when you need some time alone is to give them rolls of painter’s tape. They can transform the floor into a race track, taking time to design their city and playing until their hearts are content.

Lego cars

Tips to remember!

To get the most out of your 20-minute activities or to create your own, it’s useful to keep these three things in mind:

1) Keep these activities separate from the ‘everyday toys’ – have a draw in the kitchen or a box in one of the cupboards reserved just for these activities that you need when you need 20-minutes to yourself.

2) Rotate the activities – that way, they won’t lose their appeal and you’ll be met with excitement every time you bring them out.

3) Make sure these activities are quick to set up – this just makes your life so much easier!

You deserve some quiet time

As parents, we always have a lot to do and sometimes we just need our quiet time. By having these 12 20-minute activities to hand, you can always make sure that the children are stimulated and entertained while you enjoy no interruptions.

Two little girls hugging and laughing outside

At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Need more help or advice? Find more from us here:

How to Prepare Your Child (and Yourself!) for School Separation Anxiety

Is your child starting nursery or school soon? Are you fretting about this day instead of enjoying the anticipation and excitement of this upcoming milestone?

If you answered yes to both of these questions, don’t worry. Many parents and children are in the exact same position as you.

For children, the main source of anxiety around starting nursery or school is that they don’t know what to expect, whereas, with parents, the separation anxiety for them stems from the worry that their child will feel abandoned.

To help you both ease your separation anxiety, it is all about preparing for it; here are our top tips to help you do just that so that you can start this new chapter of your lives together (and apart!) successfully.

Don’t project your worries

You know your child, so if they aren’t prone to clinging or they don’t seem worried when you talk about starting nursery or school, don’t plant worry seeds. There’s a balance between letting them know what to expect and overdoing it, so don’t create stress where there isn’t any and practice calming yourself down if you’re the one that is worrying.

Practice makes perfect

It’s really good for you both if you do some practice separation before the big day. This could be arranging a few hours at a friends house or their grandparents and gradually building up to a whole day away so that you both know that you’ll be okay without each other. Practising being separated can also help you to establish a routine from getting dressed and having breakfast in the morning to creating a special goodbye ritual between the both of you and enjoying the reunited celebrations. It might not sound like much, but you’ll be surprised how much this prepares you both and it takes a lot of stress and anxiety out of the actual day when it comes.

A father kissing his daughter on the cheek

Make the preparations exciting

Your child needs to know that school is exciting, so make the whole experience as positive as you possibly can by building anticipation. We all know the “back to school” ritual so include your children in them and go shopping together for supplies. At home, you can also hang up a calendar and count down the days until the big day. Not only will it make your child excited about school but it will also help you get organised (and less stressed!).

Show them what to expect

Just like your practice separation runs, it is also beneficial for you both if you visit the nursery or school the week before they are due to start. By doing this, you eliminate the fear of the unknown, showing them where they’ll be dropped off, what class they will be in, where they will sit, and who their teacher will be.

A little girl holding her parents' hands

Don’t rush in the morning

Nothing is worse than rushing in the mornings and it can cause great stress and anxiety to the both of you, so avoid it where possible! The night before school starts, get everything ready together and let your child pick their clothes and food so that they know where they are in the morning. Finish the night spending some extra quality time together and make sure you both get an early nights sleep. In the morning, make sure your alarm is set slightly earlier than normal so that you can all take your time.

Do what’s best for them

It can be very easy to let yourself get overwhelmed by the emotion of this milestone, so whenever you feel like you are, try and think of what will be best for your children. You may be tempted to sneak out of the nursery or classroom when your child “isn’t aware” or make promises or bargains that you might not be able to keep, but don’t! The stronger that you are and the more consistent you can make their school routine, the stronger they will be for it. If they need some comfort, let them take a small transitional object such as a note from you or a stuffed animal with them at the beginning.

A child and their teddy bear

Try your best not to feel guilty

As parents, it’s natural to feel guilty about leaving your child but you need to shake this off! These feelings are not good for either of you, so try and turn them into positives. Yes, your child may cry when you leave them but they will stop a lot sooner than you think if you stay strong and reassure them that they are strong too. Try to be as reassuring as you can, saying positive things such as “Remember how afraid you were of the zoo when you first went? Now you love it!” and you’ll teach your children to overcome negative emotions healthily. Lastly, don’t worry if your child starts to regress after starting nursery or school, this is normal and they will get back on track once they are settled in.

 

At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Need more help and advice, see more handy articles from us here:

7 Common Nursery Worries and How to Overcome Them

How to Develop a Peaceful Bedtime Routine

How to Recognise if Your Child is Stressed and What to Do

Advice for parents: helping your children adjust to life after lockdown

First, our children had to adapt to a drastic change in lifestyle – they had to stay indoors, they had to stay away from people when outside, they weren’t allowed to go to school – and now after weeks and months of getting used to this, we are now asking them to adapt again. The thing is, this time, we don’t know what we are asking them to adapt to. So how can we make this easier for them? How can we help them adjust? If you want to know how to help your children adjust to life after lockdown, here are our top tips.

Tip #1 – give them space to share their fears

It’s important that your children feel that they can come to you with any worry they have, no matter how small or big or ‘silly’ it may be, so help them to feel that way. Maybe you could schedule in ‘worry time’ every day as a family? You can just share your worries or you can write them down and throw them away.

Tip #2 – be aware of what they see & hear

Be very aware that your children may hear you talking with other adults or while you’re on the phone and what you say may have an effect on them. It’s also important to know how your children are getting their news, especially older children who are online. Show them the right sites to check where they know that the information is factual and limit their exposure to it every day. The news can be scary, especially now.

Tip #3 – help them focus on control & safety

The Coronavirus is making a lot of changes, changes that make us feel very out of control and anxious as a result. To help your children adjust to life after lockdown, think about ways you can help them feel in control and safe. Things like washing their hands well, exercising and eating healthily to keep them strong, and wearing a mask when they need to.

Tip #4 – talk about all the safety measures

Positivity and reassurance are key to helping your children feel better so talk about all the safety measures and the things that are being done to keep everyone safe. You can talk about what the schools are doing to keep them safe, how doctors and nurses are prepared to treat people who get sick, and how scientists are working to develop a vaccine.

Tip #5 – let them feel what they feel 

Don’t dismiss your children’s feelings. Talk about them and let them know that they are normal and that a lot of other people are feeling the same way. What this does is that it teaches them that stressful times pass and life goes on; it teaches them to be resilient.

Tip #6 – take small steps initially 

Some children may be comfortable with going outdoors and getting back to school but others may be a lot more anxious. However your children are feeling, take it slow. Ease them into the next stage of the pandemic step by step. This will help them adjust at their own pace rather than doing everything all at once.

Help your children adjust to life after lockdown

Helping our children adjust back to ‘normal’ life is going to take time. It may take more time with some than others but if you listen to your children’s fears, then you’ll know just how slowly you’ll have to take the steps to move forward.

There are many things that you can do to reassure and guide your children during this time, but we personally feel that the most important step is to let your children know that what they are feeling is normal and that it’s okay.

 


At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Need more help or advice? Find more from us here:

7 ways to support your child when they return to school after lockdown

While it hasn’t been compulsory for parents to send their children back to school these past few weeks, things might change as the schools prepare to reopen in September. As it’s a stressful time for everyone, it’s important that both you and your children feel comfortable and safe when the time comes. So how do you prepare for it? How can you support your children who are returning to school after lockdown?

Returning to school after lockdown: advice for parents

1. Find out how your children feel

Talk to your children about how they are feeling about returning to school after lockdown. Ask them if they are worried or if they are scared about anything, but also ask them what they’re looking forward to and what they are excited about. Whatever your children feel, it’s important to let them know that it’s okay to feel that way and that a lot of other children will feel the same.

2. Help your children prepare for their new routine

Many children are suffering from anxiety, especially in this uncertain time, so help them gain back some control. By finding out as much information as you can about how their new routine in school will work, you can then help them to prepare for it. By simply talking about the new changes that will be in place in school and walking them through the timings and what they’ll do will help massively.

A child with a treasure map

3. Reassure your children

Life is going to be so different in school. For months, children have been learning to stay indoors, to stay 2 metres away from people outside, and to wash their hands regularly. Once they go to school, this will be a massive and quite overwhelming change that they will need to adapt to so reassure them. Talk about the ways they can stay safe in school and let them know that the teachers will be helping them and that everything will be okay.

4. Gradually ease them into their school routine again

As we just mentioned, life has been so different in lockdown so your children’s routines would have changed quite drastically. To help them transition back into their school routine, start to introduce things gradually. For example, start with bedtime and waking up times, then move onto things like winding down in the evening with a book.

5. Think ahead and be positive

Even if you are nervous or anxious, help give your children something to look forward to; help them develop hope and a sense of excitement for the future. At such an uncertain time, it’s easy to get down in the dumps and to dwell on the negative but it doesn’t do any good for anybody. To help your children cope with their feelings and to show them that the current situation won’t last forever, talk about what they are looking forward to and focus on that.

Two toys saying happy and keep on smiling

6. Don’t add extra pressure on yourself

It’s a really difficult time, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Returning to school after lockdown isn’t going to be easy, your children are going to experience ups and downs, and all you can do is your best. All you can do is support them, reassure them, and comfort them. The rest (particularly the homework and a new seamless routine) will come later.

7. Seek support if you need it

As we said, don’t be too hard on yourself. If you’re finding things really difficult and your children are struggling to adapt to being in school again, reach out and get help. The school will work with you to support your children and your GP can help with their physical and mental health. Don’t struggle alone.

Supporting your children will also help you too

As September draws near, you might find yourself getting worried and anxious about your children returning to school too. That’s completely normal, we’ve all gotten used to a new routine, but it’s time to transition to some resemblance of normality.

If you work hard trying to help your children prepare for returning to school after lockdown; if you reassure them and help them to be positive, what you’ll soon find is that all this will help you to feel better about it all too.


At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Need more help or advice? Find more from us here: