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Top tips for keeping the kids happy at home

Expert advice and activity ideas for keeping your little ones busy

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Top tips for keeping the kids happy at home

With the majority of families in the UK staying at home for the foreseeable future, we’re now spending a lot more time at home with our little ones ‘working from home’ alongside us. But just like adults, children need clear breaks away from learning time to relax and play, that’s why we’ve put together a whole host of brilliant ideas for keeping everyone happy and entertained when they’re not doing school work...

 

1. Make a timetable 

You may now find yourself working from home and juggling your kids' home-schooling at the same time, which can definitely be tricky! We spoke to Professor of Clinical Child Psychology, Sam Cartwright-Hatten, who says ‘Children will react to being off school in different ways. Some will see it as an adventure, and if so, go with that! Others will need more reassurance. Try to keep your daily routine going as much as possible – get up at the same time each morning and go to bed at the same time.’

Children love structure, and parents often forget this. One of the best things you can do is create a timetable for them, so they can understand exactly when they'll be doing school work and when they can have a break. Using a sticker and reward system can also be a useful tool for getting them to engage. 

If you can, keep your workspace separate from your kids' work/play space. This will help enforce the idea that when you are in your space they need to let you focus. Likewise, keeping their school workspace away from their play space will help your little ones define when they need to concentrate, and when they can enjoy themselves.

2. use your outdoor space 

With government guidelines suggesting we should avoid leaving the house, the challenge is to make better use of the space we do have. Luckily, there are still so many activities you can do with your kids to help them stay active at home. Getting some fresh air (even if it's just opening all of the windows) and adding in exercise to their daily routine is amazing for overall wellness for both you and your kids.

Sam says: ‘Children need a lot of exercise. If they don’t get enough, they can get antsy and stressed and badly behaved. Get them out in the garden if you have one – kick a ball around, bounce on the trampoline, do cartwheels, or find some fun dance videos online and do them together in the sitting room.’

DO A P.E. CLASS 

The Body Coach, Joe Wicks, has lots of brilliant advice on motivating kids' to get active. Joe suggests: ‘A game like Simon Says, where kids follow fun instructions to do certain movements, can be a great way to get children to do a quick HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout without them even knowing.’ Read all of his tips and tricks here.

He's also posting daily P.E classes on his YouTube channel every day at 9 am, so you and the little ones can tune in and follow along in your garden or in your living room. 

GET GARDENING 

Perfect for getting outside AND teaching your little ones a bit about plants in the process, gardening is a great activity for all. Kids' will love digging holes in the soil, patting in new seeds and plants, helping to water them and watching how they grow. And if you don't have a garden space, why not try planting some herbs in a planter? We've got all the tips for getting them involved here

HAVE A FAMILY SPORTS DAY 

At the end of the day, one of the best ways to expel some energy is just to get the whole family outside in the garden to play a game. Why not kick about a football, or practice throwing and catching? Have a parent VS child hula-hoop competition or take it in turns to see who can throw a beanbag into a flower pot first?

3. Find some fun indoor activities to do 

Make your indoor space an exciting haven for activities after home-schooling and into the weekend. Discover some fun activities the whole family can be involved with too!

Sam says, ‘spot the opportunity here – use it as a real chance to reconnect as a family. We are all so busy usually – most children say that they don’t get enough time with their parents. Well, here’s your chance! Play silly games, watch films together, read to them. Have fun and try to find the silver lining – if you can do that in a situation like this, you are teaching your children a truly wonderful lesson.’

FEEL LIKE AN EXPLORER WITH AN INDOOR TREASURE HUNT 

 What could be more exciting than finding a hidden prize? This game can be as simple as a planting rhyming clues around the house that point to an ultimate treasure, or if you want to go all out, create a themed event that your kids can dress up for.

CREATE A SHOW WITH YOUR OWN SOCK PUPPETS

Grab an old pair of socks, some glue, bits of ribbon, odd buttons, then help the kids craft their own unique sock puppets. Once they’re happy with their creations, it’s showtime! Recline and enjoy a front seat at a very exclusive theatre production.

HAVE AN INDOOR CAMPING TRIP WITH A HOMEMADE DEN

Build a den with rugs and bedsheets by draping them across the living room furniture. Add pillows, sleeping bags and cuddly toys, then gather around a make believe campfire for a picnic, just don’t forget the marshmallows! 

 

CRACK OUT THE BOARD GAMES

Forget tablets and TVs for a while and rediscover your board-game collection. This is a great way to get your kids engaged with an activity away from their screens, as well as being a great activity for you to do all together as a family when and where possible.

CREATE AN INDOOR CINEMA 

 Who needs a drive-in when you can create your own cinema in your back garden or lounge? Create a cinematic atmosphere inside by pinning up some fairy lights, too. Get cosy with as many pillows and cushions as you can find. You can use your own television of course, but if you have a projector that's even better! Don’t forget to pin up a white sheet to create that big screen effect!

GET CRAFTY 

You can turn practically anything into a fun craft, as proven by these brilliant cereal box crafting ideas or why not try some paper-crafting to see who can design the best paper aeroplane or marble run? Setting them a craft to do is a great way to get your kids' to concentrate on something for an hour or so, away from screens. 

 4. HAVE A Bake up and don those aprons 

Baking is the best way to get your little ones involved in something fun and hands-on in this period of time at home - while you might be trying to juggle work and play. Have a go at some of our tasty recipes, have fun and get messy!

Looking for a fun, lunch-time snack? Whip up these lion filo crinkles in no time! They're low in sugar and salt and provide one of your kid's 5-a-day. 

 Create these super cute bunny crumble tarts with comforting baked apple and a crunchy oat topping; they are almost too cute to eat! And the sweetness of the Gala apples means you don't need to add any additional sugar. 

Love gingerbread? Then these doggy spiced turmeric biscuits will be right up your street! The turmeric adds a golden colour and a lovely flavour to these cute treats. 

We'll be posting more brilliant ideas for keeping the kids busy on here and across our social channels over the coming weeks, so stay tuned!