Expert tips to deal with the kids being off school
-Mar 19, Tanith Carey, Living -
Parenting is tough at the best of times, and every parent knows how much work goes into having the kids at home. With the news that the schools are closing util further notice, we’ve called on an expert to come up with ways to keep the kids occupied, and you sane. Tanith Carey is the author of the best-selling book Mum Hacks and has kindly shared her best tips with us.
Mum hacks aren’t about short cuts. They’re about smart time management and keeping the little ones happy, while making sure you’re not stressed out.
As the author of Mum Hacks – Time-Saving Tips to Calm the Chaos of Family Life, I know that having the kids off school can be very stressful for many parents – especially if you are also trying to juggle work and childcare. My book already contains hundreds of short-cuts for every conceivable challenge you will face as a parent of little ones. But here’s a small selection which will help reduce your stress levels and win you back more time to have fun with your kids during this difficult time.
The benefits of family meetings
If your kids are over five, hold a family meeting at a meal time at the start of the school break, so they can talk about any projects they’d like to do – and then stock up with the supplies they need. Draw a colourful mindmap diagram of each child’s ideas and stick it to the wall to jog their memories next time they complain they’re bored.
How to feed kids on days you can get into the garden
When the weather’s clement, spend less time sweeping up crumbs and wiping down clean kitchen surfaces by suggesting kids eat outside as much as possible. On windless days, take their art projects outside too so it doesn’t matter how much mess they make. Enlist them to hep with cleaning and chores too.
How to make a baby’s outdoor playpen
Blow up a high-sided kids’ paddling pool – but don’t fill it with water – to give babies an outside play pen and a place to keep their toys clean.
The ultimate hack for long car journeys with kids
If you’re planning some long car journeys to go and self-isolate with family in the country, pack one towel in the back seat for every child. It can be used as a blanket, a mop for any spills, or it can be placed on toddlers’ laps to help toys stay put.
Why you should cook less
Do less cooking. Now is the perfect time to serve raw as well as pre-cooked food. It’s not only less preparation, it’s also less mess and washing-up afterwards. Get kids to help you put together a ploughman’s lunch, with some cheese, and a hunk of bread, an apple. You can also try oatcakes, hummus, chicken drumsticks, and half baby tomatoes. Just make sure there’s a good selection of protein, whole carbs and vegetables. Kids also love anything they can eat off a stick, so thread some little mozarella balls with baby tomatoes onto a wooden chop stick – or try chunks of strawberries, kiwi and half-grapes. In fact, if you cut anything into regular bite-size pieces and arrange them in some sort of order, they look more appetizing for kids.
Get them to keep diaries
A historian was asking for people to keep diaries of this time in history the other day to share with future generations. It’s a great way to keep kids occupied, they can also share them with their school mates when they’re all back at school, and if they are too young to write a lot they can draw a picture every day. A great one for adults to do too! You could also get them to start blogs (WordPress is free and pretty simple to use) or work on community projects like reading and talking to elderly neighbours in isolation on Facetime.
Teach them life skills
Amanda Gummer, who is a psychologist and founder of Fundamentally Children says parents should keep in mind that a lot of skills children need to learn aren’t taught at school. ‘It’s a great opportunity to teach children how to do laundry, budget to do a weekly shop, look after house plants, change a bed, sweep/vacuum the floor and so many more life skills that they will enjoy learning if you make it fun.
‘Try playing match the socks when sorting laundry, or playing hunt the thimble when tidying the front room.’
Also, look into educational toys and games that can help children engaged with their school subjects, enjoy movies together and above all, try hard not to worry too much! We’ve put together tips for looking after your mental health and anxiety.
Mum Hacks – Time-Saving Tips to Calm the Chaos of Family Life, by Tanith Carey is published by Crimson, price £9.99.
You can buy at any good book shop or click here.