Hi everyone! I hope everyone is surving in these strange times we are currently living through. Despite being two key workers, we have elected to keep the girls both home currently as we are able to do half a day each from home and cover childcare. We think this will lower the likelihood of the kids succumbing to A.N.Other bug and end up causing us both to be out of action when actually well. So that’s us right now. I’m posting lots on Instagram so if you want to see what we are up to or hear about life in GP land during this crisis, make sure you check in there. 🙂
Sometimes however a blog post is the best way to share information so I’m putting this together for all the mama’s reading who need help with the very little people in their lives. It has struck me that there are tons of resources to help parents of school aged children out with homeschooling or just keeping them happy, and less for toddlers. I have been quite outspoken on Instagram about asking people to just please #stayhome but I am under no illusions about how difficult that is with a small child especially if you haven’t got a sibling for them to play with. Having two is my personal saving grace right now (and there have been many points in the last 3 years that I never thought I’d say that!) So I shouted out to my Instagram friends and followers to point me in the direction of some great resources, ideas and online classes they can do at home to get through the day. I can’t vouch for all of them but there are some personal favs and each one comes recommended by another mum just like you. Take a deep breath – there’s loads here to keep you busy, and just remember you’ve got this, and its is finite. We can get through this together.
@fiveminutemum is full of brilliant play and learning set ups that aim to give mum 5 minutes peace to have a cup of tea. She also advocates play set ups being super easy and simple in case the kids don’t love them – then nothing lost, but if they love it she shows how you can extend the activities. She also has a website – start by reading her golden rule post and a book which is suspect is going to fly off the shelves!
@bbctinyhappypeople looks great for young babies with links to their BBC Tiny Happy People website and loads of things to encourage your Childs natural development if you feel you need something to focus on and replace the outside interaction your baby would normally get.
@organisedchaoswithkids makes incredible sensory play doh (we have the unicorn set) and kits for open-ended play for toddlers right through to much older kids. Her instagram grid is beautiful but her stories are bursting with ideas and before she started this venture her grid was full of play ideas so scroll back and get busy! This is her sensory dough Etsy shop.
@whatshallweplaytoday is slightly more prop intensive – ie you would need to have a decent range of open ended play toys to make it work) but also has lots of ideas for play set ups for littles. Also you may often think you don’t have the kit for this but scouting around different play sets often means you can pull something together.
@play.hooray is another personal favourite and she is doing a daily 10am play along live – with the required items (nothing more complicated than cardboard, elastic bands and some pens or crayons today) with ideas across her account for babies right through to preschool and early years learning.
@mumlife_mcr has lots of preschool level activities for I would say 3-5yo’s
@beckys_treasure_baskets is a great site for babies right up to 2 and 3yo’s with fantastic sensory play ideas.
Moon Dough – I think some people would know this as kinetic sand or we have bought some in the past called sand clay but what I didn’t know is you can make your own (and get any appropriately aged children involved in the making of it too, it’s another activity!) Afewshortcuts.com has this recipe you can use and which can be made Gluten free – bonus!
Montessori Family Box This was suggested by one reader because they get so much use out of it and when I looked into it I could see why. Aimed at slightly older kids (age 3-6) I think a slightly younger second sibling might also enjoy it and I can see there’s real longevity. The kids I see enjoying this however are the forest school loving preschoolers – perhaps those who are the older ones in their year and waiting to go to school, but getting a bit bored at home!
Along the same line is Okido Magazine which we asked for form the Grandparents for Bea this Christmas. It’s a monthly arts and science magazine for ages 3-7 which I mainly love because it has no plastic tat attached! It’s full of gender neutral stories, crafts and science experiments and provides loads of activities for dipping in and out off. I find it perfect for Bea’s age (5.5 or Y1.)
Painting for little’s – yes it’s messy but hey, what else have we got to do these days?! And the weather is perfect for messy play. Try food colouring shaving foam to let little’s do ‘mark making’ or make a ‘paint’ with cocoa powder, coffee granules or tomato puree for them that doesn’t matter if they put it in their mouth.
Easiest thing in the world to do with little kids is water play. Nice weather? Use a bucket or dishwashing bowl in the garden with some cups. Let them bath their dolls or wash their plastic animals. Crappy weather? Stick them in the bath and do the same!
Chalk on the floor outside or if you’re indoors, something like an Aquadoodle is also great for budding artists – no chance of drawing on the walls!
Little Linguists is a local class someone tipped me off to doing languages for babies and toddlers. They are doing online classes now for £4 – find out more via the Little Linguists Facebook page
Another local class (but a national franchise I think) is Toddler Sense, also doing online classes – See one of their Toddler Sense classes via Facebook live here.
TinyTalk South Manchester Baby sign classes – again local to me and run by a mum friend, she has moved her usual baby sign and toddler sign classes online for the same price.
Heartbeeps is a music class for 6w – toddler ages and is also doing online classes – more available here via the Hartbeeps Facebook page.
For Baby And Me is a local class I used to attend for Baby Massage and also running pram active classes. She has since expanded into Toddler yoga and is doing online baby massage and yoga classes currently via Zoom! See more on the For Baby and Me FB page.
Of course the downside of doing online baby classes is that you miss the social interaction with other mums which I think is one of the most important things about those classes. At least planning something gives some structure to your day which is half the battle. Also, if you’re still working from home, being able to carve out a small bit of time to dedicate to your little one might also make you feel a little bit less mum guilt!
This is by no means an exhaustive list and I would love for anyone reading who has a tip, link or contact to share to comment below. Thanks to all the amazing mums who answered my call out for sources for this blog post and I really hope it helps some of you in the coming weeks and months to stay sane and enjoy this albeit enforced but still very precious time with your Little’s.
Stay safe and #stayhome, Rebecca x