Self-care for parents: tips for taking care of yourself during COVID-19

When you’re a parent, self-care is often put on the back burner. While this may feel necessary since you are the ‘caregiver,’ it is actually more crucial that you take some time out for yourself. Despite what you may think, taking care of yourself is not a luxury, it’s essential. Especially now. It’s the only way that you can keep yourself well (to navigate these challenging times) and to ensure that you can be there physically, emotionally, and mentally for your young children. Here are the best strategies for self-care for parents.

Before we give you some strategies for taking care of yourself, we just want to reiterate just how important this is.

Just like the flight attendant tells you in their safety briefing, you must put your own oxygen mask on before helping others. If you don’t? You won’t be able to help anyone.

It’s exactly the same for parenting. Only when you put your oxygen mask on first (taking care of yourself) can you properly take care of your children.

This is true in everyday life, but especially now. COVID-19 has us stressed about health, money, homeschooling, our children’s future, and so much more, and our children need us. They need us to be the calm and stable and predictable presence that grounds them.

The best way to help your child be at their best is to first take care of yourself. To help with self-care for parents, here’s what you need to be doing for your physical and mental wellbeing.

a little boy holding his mother's face

Self-care for the body

  • Get 7-8 hours of good quality sleep each night. It also helps if it’s at roughly the same time too.
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. It doesn’t have to be a vigorous workout or gym session. Going for a walk, doing some yoga or stretching, or even hoovering and cleaning all serve to release those endorphins.
  • Eat foods and drinks that give you energy. Prioritise healthier options over sugary drinks and fatty foods that make you feel sluggish and stressed. Sit down together and eat as a family too.
  • Take some time to relax and recharge. Find a way to reserve some time each day for yourself. Even if it’s just for a few minutes.
  • Pause at least once a day to breathe. Focus on your breathing – inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and exhale for 4 seconds, and repeat. A simple exercise like this slows down your heart rate and lowers your blood pressure, making you feel lighter.
  • Wind down before bed. Ditch the TV before bed and read instead. Winding down is essential to a good night’s sleep.
  • Get creative with virtual tools. Can you do something virtually with friends? Maybe a dance session or a workout together?

mother and daughter doing yoga

Self-care for the mind

  • Acknowledge your feelings and allow yourself to feel them. Be honest and don’t feel guilty.
  • Avoid comparing your feelings to others, especially if it’s minimising your own grief.
  • Remind yourself that you’re doing your best in a difficult situation (it helps to lower your expectations initially).
  • Follow a routine to give yourself a sense of comfort and security.
  • Take regular breaks from stressful activities and do something that you love to do.
  • Set clear boundaries with work and school hours and with time spent on social media or watching the news.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself and give yourself permission to bend where you need to.
  • Focus on what you can control such as washing your hands, staying socially distanced from others, and checking in on family members and friends.
  • Take some time to switch off. A walk outside, meditation, yoga, reading or a long bath can really help to give you some you-time.
  • Be present and practice gratitude. Enjoying nature, concentrating on the taste of your food or sitting silently with a coffee or tea in the morning can really help you to reflect on what is most important.
  • Make time for laughter and joy! Laughter improves mood, relieves stress and relaxes the body, so create opportunities to laugh together. Is there a funny film you can watch together?
  • Ask for help when you need it and look for opportunities to help or assist others. Surrounding yourself (even virtually) with positive and supportive people can make a world of difference to your mental wellbeing.

A child painting

Start making time for you

There is no textbook for what we are all going through. There is no right or wrong way to deal with what is happening, and you’re not going to get it right every time. As we all try to figure this out, the best thing that you can do is prioritise your self-care.

Self-care is not selfish or over-indulgent, it’s essential! At the moment, where anxiety and stress are running high, it has never been so important to take time for yourself, so try it. Prioritise yourself, be kind to yourself, and reconnect with the things you love…you’ll soon find that you’ll be a lot stronger to then be there for 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.

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

Homeschooling tips for superhero parents working from home

Being a full-time teacher on top of working from home is just not possible. Yet, parents have somehow managed to juggle work, home life, parenting, and teaching for almost a whole year now! Like we said in the title of this blog, parents are superheroes.

Although many of us may have managed (and even if you feel like you haven’t, trust us when we say, you’ve done amazing), it’s good to be prepared for another few weeks and months of this juggling act (just in case). Yes, schools are starting to open up slowly again but we’ve been at this point before.

To help you bring order back to your life, here are our top homeschooling tips!

13 homeschooling tips for working parents

1. Acknowledge that you are attempting the nearly impossible

You are essentially trying to do two full-time jobs (which nobody could do), so please acknowledge that this just isn’t possible. This will help you lower your standards, be less critical of yourself, and prevent disappointment. Not to mention that reminding yourself of this will help you through the difficult times.

parent drawing with child

2. Don’t be too hard on yourself

It can be so easy to not feel like you’re doing a good enough job, so set realistic expectations! Did you know that on a school day, your children spend around 2-3 hours engaged in actual formal learning? The rest of the time is taken up by assembly, break times, lunchtime, P.E, Art, moving from classroom to classroom etc.

The point that we are making is if your child is doing at least 2 hours of academic study a day during lockdown, you’re doing really well with homeschooling!

3. Set a schedule

One of the best homeschooling tips we can give is to have a schedule for your day. By all means, be flexible, but having the same morning routine will do wonders for the whole family mentally and from a productivity point of view.

What hours do your children work best? Do they concentrate more if you start the day with a joint P.E. session together? What time will you have food breaks and downtime every day? When will you concentrate on your work?

4. Get dressed in normal clothes

Sounds silly, but our pyjamas or tracksuit bottoms actually negatively impact our mood and productivity.

Start the day by getting dressed in your ‘work clothes’ and encourage your children to do the same. Even allow them to choose their wardrobe if you want to. When everyone gets dressed, this signals to both you and your children that it is the start of the workday.

Two girls drawing

5. Dedicate a ‘school space’ in the house

This will help everyone switch on for work and to switch off when work is over. Where is the best place to have school at home? Do you have a spare room which is free from interruptions? Do you have a collapsable table or maybe you can corner off half of the dining table for school activities?

6. Use the material the school sends

If you’ve got children of different ages, it can be difficult to teach them both at their developmentally appropriate levels. For secondary school children, make sure they stick as much as possible to the guidance and materials being provided by the school.

For younger children, use the materials as a guide rather than the gospel. Most primary teachers are sending out a lot more material than parents need just to provide them with ideas and support, so use them as a starting point. You don’t have to get through them all, they are more for inspiration.

7. Learn through play

For younger children, play is the main way they learn about the world and build their intelligence. If you’re finding it hard to get your children to focus or you have a particularly busy workday yourself, assign your children ‘play’ activities. Things like messy play, heuristic play, and role-playing are perfect. You can also get some paper aeroplane kits for science or playing cards for maths. Let their imagination run wild – this is learning too.

wooden building blocks spelling play

8. Be guided by their passions

Take the pressure off both of you to learn by letting your children’s passions guide their learning. Does your child love drawing? Then get them to draw to explain a key learning point from a particular lesson or topic. Do they like acting or singing? Get them to make up a song that will help them remember. If your children are interested, they will be a lot more engaged and they will learn.

9. Do more real-world activities

Homeschooling doesn’t have to be all formal learning. After all, there are so many opportunities to learn through real-world activities! For example, if you want your child to practise their English, get them to write a letter to their grandparents. If you want them to practise science or maths, get them involved with baking or counting their toys as they tidy up.

Household tasks teache valuable life skills and make children feel like they are making a contribution to the family. Help them contribute more – this will reduce stress for you both, expand their skillset, and get them learning at the same time.

10. Motivation is key

How can you make learning fun? Find out what motivates your children and make it into a competition! Is there a way you can do daily rewards, weekly rewards and monthly rewards? It could be something as simple as being able to choose what food they have at the end of the week or choosing the film for film night.

A boy dressed as a superhero

11. Reading counts as homeschooling

If they are not up for learning, don’t push it. Get them to read instead. Reading counts as homeschooling because it stimulates the imagination; it develops emotional intelligence and expands vocabulary. If they do nothing else for the rest of the day, getting in some reading time is still a job well done.

12. Avoid multi-tasking

While it may be tempting to do a bit of work and then a bit of homeschooling or even some work while you’re waiting for them to complete a task…try not to multi-task. Not only will you be less efficient and effective at both, but it will also make you feel incredibly tired.

We work best when we have uninterrupted focus so work in the morning and then it’s ‘school time’ or vice versa. Find a routine that works best for everyone (and keep them separate).

13. Don’t panic and don’t compare

One of the most important homeschooling tips is don’t panic and don’t compare. Trust us when we say, every other child in the country isn’t completing hours and hours of schoolwork every day. Every parent is just trying their best, and that’s more than enough.

a little boy holding his mother's face

 


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:

Stay Well This Winter: How to Keep Your Kids Sniffle Free

With the Winter weather comes the annual outbreaks of coughs and colds. While it’s never nice to see our children sniffling and sneezing, this year is different; this year, it has never been so important to stay well this winter. With the pandemic still running rampant and causing chaos, we wanted to help put your mind at ease by showing you everything you need to know to help your children stay as well as possible.

5 tips to stay well this winter

Keep warm & dry

Changes in the winter climate mean that the world outside gets wetter, windier and colder. Whilst there is very little truth in the old wives tales of this causing pneumonia and viral infections, there is definitely sense in wrapping up and staying dry. The best way to do this is by wearing thin layers of natural fabrics like cotton, wool, and fleece rather than a single bulky layer, topped with a waterproof layer if it’s raining. This helps to control your children’s temperature by adding and removing layers as needed. Hats, loosely fitting scarves, and gloves also keep their extremities warm.

A table full of colourful hats and gloves

Wrapping up is particularly important for newborns and children with asthma as the frigid temperatures can exacerbate asthma attacks. If you know your child has asthma, make sure they take their prescribed medications and carry their inhaler and spacer with them throughout the season.

TOP TIP: If dressed appropriately, it is actually very healthy for children to be outside during the Winter months so don’t hibernate away for 3 months! Exercise is a great way to keep warm and the fresh air and sun are important for both psychical and psychological well-being during the long nights. Check the latest guidelines and get outside as much as you can as safely as you can. 

A snowman next to a small tree

Optimise your home

The importance of the environment doesn’t stop at the front door. There are some very simple things you can do to keep your home as health-friendly as possible during winter. Keeping your home at above 18ºC can ensure you are comfortable and ventilating your home with trickle vents and extractor fans when cooking or bathing prevents damp. Having good ventilation is particularly important during the pandemic as droplets hang in the air when it’s stagnant. If you have a window or two open just a crack, this will make sure that you have a constant stream of fresh air that is replacing any stagnant air.

Drawing curtains and using draft excluders can also prevent drafts which would add to the chill factor. All of this can help to keep you and your children well as cold and damp can exacerbate asthma and risks of complications from heart and lung problems. Whilst too cold is a problem, for babies make sure to not overheat them either – between 16-20ºC is ideal.

A window with a winter scene outside

Hand hygiene is key

We all know how important hand hygiene is this year! But, for the sake of helping you stay well this winter, we are going to reinforce this.

The vast majority of winter illnesses are viral and are not treatable. Your body simply fights them but it can take a few days to weeks to get rid of them. Therefore, the best way to get well is to prevent them in the first place! The most effective way of doing this is practicing good hand hygiene and teaching your children to do this too. Whenever you cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue or your hands if one is not available, then throw the tissue in a bin and wash your hands in soapy water. Alcohol gel is suitable for unsoiled hands but can be more irritating than gentle soap for children so get sudsy instead where possible. Other techniques such as not sharing cups and cutlery can also prevent the spread of infections.

Soapy hands

Eat healthily and take supplements if necessary

Eating a healthy, balanced diet with a good mix of fruit and vegetables, carbohydrates, proteins and some fats is essential to a growing child, especially so when they are using resources fighting bugs and keeping warm. Dairy and fruits and vegetables provide an essential mix of immune system boosting vitamins and minerals and meat, fish and pulses are packed full of protein for growth and repair. Keeping well-hydrated with plenty of water is also important as we lose water into the cold air when we breathe out and when we sweat in our warm clothing.

TOP TIP: if you feed your child a vegetarian or vegan diet or if they suffer from digestive conditions such as lactose intolerance, Crohn’s disease or coeliacs disease, they may benefit from taking multivitamins to supplement their regular intake and prevent illnesses.

A chopping board full of fruit and vegetables

Ask the doctor about the flu jab and other vaccinations

Vaccinations are the most effective method of preventing illnesses; they trick your body into thinking it has seen the infection before so when you next see the infection, your body is ready to fight it rather than scrambling its defences against the new bug. A lot of infections we target with vaccinations can occur at any point in the year such as mumps, tetanus, and polio. However, the flu is a classic winter infection whose incidence skyrockets in the winter months.

Flu is a viral infection which leads to a headache, nasal congestion, fevers, and aches. It is mostly just very unpleasant but in some case can be serious with more under 5’s admitted for flu than any other age group. The flu vaccine is offered as a nasal spray to children aged 2-8 or any child with a serious health condition like asthma, kidney or heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and splenectomy. It is needle-free, incredibly safe and very effective at protecting your child.

Important things to note: The flu vaccination is not suitable for severely immunocompromised children and those with egg allergies. If your child is unwell, their vaccination may be postponed until they have recovered. Your child may get a slight runny nose after the vaccination and this is normal.

Two teddy bears acting as a doctor and patient

A reminder for Covid safety

We can’t talk about how to stay well this winter without touching on the safety guidelines for Covid, so here is a reminder of what you should do on a daily basis:

  1. Clean your hands often (with soap and for 30 seconds).

  2. Cough or sneeze in your bent elbow – not your hands!

  3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

  4. Limit social gatherings and time spent in crowded places.

  5. Socially distance from others (1-2 metres apart).

  6. Avoid close contact with someone who is sick.

  7. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

  8. Stay at home as much as possible.

  9. Wear a face mask in public.

If Your Child Gets Unwell

If your child gets unwell, don’t panic. Cold and flu, sore throats and winter vomiting are mostly simple and uneventful and your child will recover completely in a few days. If you are worried, or you think your child may be displaying Covid symptoms, speak to your pharmacist, call your GP or call 111 for professional advice. They will advise you on what to do.

If your child just has a normal cold, a healthy diet and good hydration will aid recovery and simple medication like paracetamol (Calpol®) and ibuprofen (Nurofen®) will help to relieve aches and fevers. Avoid using products with caffeine in and avoid aspirin products in under 16’s.

 


 

*Disclaimer: this article is purely for advice on how to stay well this winter. If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that have read on this blog or in any linked materials.

 


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:

5 Healthy Habits to Adopt in the New Year

2020 was a year where we all became grateful for what we had. It was a year where our family’s health and happiness was the most important of all. As 2021 starts with its own restrictions, yet with a glimpse of hope to return to some normality, maybe, like us, you are thinking about how you can carry some of this gratitude and sense of peace where less is more throughout the year. If you are, here are 5 healthy habits to adopt as a family in the New Year.

1. Get Outside as Much as Possible (even if it’s just in the garden)

We know it’s difficult with the changing restrictions and the different lockdowns that are being put in place, but make sure you find out what the most recent rules are and make the most of the time you are allowed outdoors. Getting outdoors in any weather has many benefits, especially for our mental health, so try to get as much fresh air as you can as safely as you can.

Even if it’s just getting out for 20 minutes. Breathing fresh air increases the oxygen in our brains which in turn, increases the levels of serotonin. Pair this with endorphins that are released when we do light exercise – such as walking, cycling or even throwing a ball around in the garden – and the whole family will feel much more relaxed and happy.

Read: Surprising Reasons Why Outdoor Play is Healthy in Winter

two boys at home looking out the window

2. Limit Time on Gadgets Indoors

Technology is taking over our lives in today’s world, especially since our children have been home for most of the year! While it’s been a difficult time and a stressful one at that, try your best to limit how much time is allowed to be spent on them. Spending a lot of time looking at a harshly lit screen can affect our sleep and lead to other problems such as headaches, so try to establish a routine where there is dedicated screen time.

A routine is so essential for our families right now as the world keeps changing so drastically from week to week. So even if your children aren’t at school or nursery, try to keep as much of their daily routine as normal as possible. When it comes to screen time, choose a time of day that works for you. Avoid it before bed if possible, as it wakes the brain up rather than helping you wind down.

Read: Why Routines are Important for Your Child’s Well Being

A mum and daughter looking at a laptop screen

3. Eat Healthy and Get the Children Involved with the Cooking

One of the best healthy habits to adopt this year as a family is to eat healthier. Now, by healthier, we obviously do mean, eating more fruit and veg and maybe, replacing snacks with healthier alternatives. But ‘healthier’ can mean a few things. One of them being, making sure that you are all eating regularly together, and that meals are never rushed and are purely a chance to bond without any distractions such as phones or the TV.

It’s also a great idea to involve your children as much as possible with the cooking. Since we have more time at home, why not teach them how to cook some of your favourite recipes or get them to help you lay the table every day until they are doing it themselves? The more you can involve your children, the more they will feel like they contribute to the household and that will have a very positive impact on them. Plus, you may even find that they will have a much bigger appreciation for food and family time too!

Read: 7 Tips for Meal Planning No Matter How Busy You Are

A child baking

Need ideas? Check out these Kid’s Cooking Recipes!

4. Exercise for 20 Minutes a Day

Exercise is essential for our health, so if you’re going to make one healthy change in the New Year, make sure to try and do more. Just 20 minutes a day is the daily recommendation which, even with how busy our lives get sometimes, every single one of us can make time for!

Obviously, exercise outdoors will offer even more benefits but with the weather and restrictions, that’s not always possible. So, get creative! Introduce a fun workout in your household that gets the kids involved, from an assault course or skipping to an exercise video or your own made-up routine. (Try P.E. with Joe). You’ll soon find that you all enjoy it, are happier for it, and you’ll almost always end up doing more than 20 minutes which is great for the heart. 

Read: The Best Inside Activities for High Energy Kids

Home fitness equipment

5. Work on Building Healthy Routines Together 

One of the best ways to make a family healthier is to bond and work as a team. Every family has their own areas they need to work on, so why not do it together? Do you need to make more quality time to have with each other or is it simply showing more gratitude? Do you need to improve your current bedtime routine or do you need to get outside more?

Whatever you feel like you could work on, the healthiest way to do it is to sit down together and decide on how you’ll achieve this together. Not only will it make you all stronger for it, but it will show your children that they are valuable members of this family and they will want to work together.

Read: How to Create a Daily Routine that Works for Your Family

A family and dog in a forest

When building healthy routines as a family, get creative. Introduce things that every family member will like such as a Friday film night, and when it’s too cold to get outside, make your house an indoor playground! It’s really important for our health to burn off excess energy, especially for children, so think of ways you can do this indoors when you need to. This could be anything from buying a trampoline for the garage, playing board games, hosting a Wii sports competition or building a giant fort in the middle of the living room. The important thing is that you get everyone involved in doing something instead of just sitting around.

 

So there we go, 5 simple and completely do-able healthy habits to adopt in the New Year! Start off by working on one habit and you’ll soon find that they will all naturally become part of your daily family life. Here’s to a happy and healthy New Year!

 

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 and inspiration? See more from us here:

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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