Keeping Cool

Keeping Cool

Having just entered another spate of ridiculously hot weather, I thought I’d share my tried and tested, budget-friendly tips for keeping the children cool and entertained.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I find that when it’s hot I become a heat raged gremlin. My patience is shorter, I get agitated and flustered. It is therefore unfortunate that during the heat is when parenting kicks up a notch. On top of all our regular weather parenting, we now need to be on top of hats, sun cream, and hydration. We also need to make sure that the activities our children are doing aren’t going to result in overheating or sunstroke. It’s a tough slog, especially if like me, you don’t fair well in the heat.

With the unpredictability of the weather, we’ve progressed from baking sun to thunderstorms, onto hailstones and back to clear skies in the space of one afternoon. It’s mad! Still, it’s always a good idea to have some handy tips and tricks on hand to make sure that your little ones are stimulated, entertained and occupied whatever the weather.

Here I share my top 5 things to do at home to keep cool when the sun has his hat on and the temperature is creeping up.

Ice Box Rescue

This is a great and cooling sensory activity. You need to prepare it the day before so it’s always a good thing to check the weather forecast. If high temperatures are looming, you can get this game ready for when your little ones need to cool down. It’s a simple yet highly effective idea. All you need is a plastic storage box, a small selection of plastic toys, water and a small child’s hammer (or any other device they can use to tap with). For my version, I used the Master of Mischief’s Scooby-Doo characters. I put the figurines into the box and filled it with water. I then popped it in the freezer overnight which allowed the water to set, trapping the mystery gang in a block of ice. The next day as it got hotter, the Master of Mischief was getting bored and irritable. I got this out of the freezer and told him that a snow monster had trapped Scoob and the gang in the ice and that they needed saving. The excitement that came over my son was fantastic. I set him up in the shade outside and we set about whacking the ice block in a bid to free the toys trapped inside. The cold water was cooling him down while the game was occupying him. As a bonus, it was a great learning moment, while we were playing, we were talking about the toys and the ice. We talked about how it looked and how it felt. He even noticed that the ice was melting and turning into water.

This kind of activity can be made from whatever toys you have at home so shouldn’t cost anything. Some other themes you might want to explore is to trap farm animals, cars, dinosaurs, coloured blocks or even Lego. If you wanted to incorporate additional learning, you could use animal figures of animals that live in cold and ice habitats. This could facilitate a conversation about animals and their homes, which is always a great way for children to learn.  

Paddling Pool Lake and Boat Making 

When the hot weather first started, it was a bit up and down. The forecast was constantly changing. Whenever I went shopping, I would overlook the ample paddling pool selection. I made the rookie mistake of thinking ‘I’ll just buy a paddling pool next week when it’s hot’. Fool! As the temperature has continued to rise, every shop I have been to has sold out of paddling pools. The only place I was able to get anything was Tesco, who was selling a £3.50 three-ring pool which ripped almost instantly (I guess you get what you pay for on occasion). Honestly, it was so small you’d struggle to fit a toe in, never mind sit and splash around. A few days ago, I had a surge of luck. Our local Aldi is selling themed pools at a reasonable price (£5.99). I was only 122cm diameter so wasn’t big enough for all three to sit in, it was, however, the perfect size for our small patio garden and big enough for all three to sit around and play in. It was to be our paddling pool lake, and what is a lake without boats!?

I had some boxes and odd pieces of plastic recycling which I managed to rescue from the grasps of my cleaning wizard husband. With this, some wooden sticks, a few pieces of A4 paper cut into sail shapes and some wooden chopsticks, I set the task for each of the children to build and decorate a boat. The boats were then to be tested on our paddling pool lake. Whoever made the boat that survived the longest would win a lollipop.

We had a great time creating and testing the boats. For those interested, Little Fairy won the competition.  

Toy Bath

This is an excellent way to keep children cool in the heat. It’s so simple; all I do is fill a large tub with cool water and throw some toys in. Dinosaurs are usually the go-to for the Master of Mischief, however, with a few recent activities to do with Shark Week, we are now shifting slightly more towards Jaws and his mates.

Between the imaginations of Little Fairy and the Master of Mischief, the games pretty much make themselves. We’ve had dinosaurs fighting sharks, sharks eating Frozen characters, and a very daring rescue carried out by Scooby-Doo involving a monster truck and some pretty dicey shark-infested waters.

If you wanted to add an educational twist to this activity you could create an underwater habitat for your water-themed animal toys.

Water Balloons

What child isn’t obsessed with water balloons? I recently purchased a fantastic pack that are self-sealing. Genius!

It took me no time to fill them and the small ball contraption within the balloon meant there was no fiddley twisting and tying involved.

Now, I don’t like ‘water fights’. My children (and husband) are extremely competitive. Anything involving ‘fight’ no matter how playful the intent, will undoubtedly end in tears. So, if you are lucky enough to have children that can have a ‘civilised’ water balloon fight, please know, I envy you.

For the mums like me who have a band of children who don’t know what friendly competition is, try playing toss the balloon.

Fill the water balloons as you like and then play a spread out game of catch. It’s always a laugh and removes all the risk of fallouts.

Fan Making

Fan making is an age-old tradition that children of any age can participate in.

All you need is some A4 paper. Have your children draw a picture or decorate one or both sides of the paper.

Accordion fold the paper, pinch at the bottom and bind together. Fan out the paper and it’s ready for use.

Alternatively, you could make a paddle fan. For this, you will need a lollipop stick, card, glue and scissors.

Cut out matching paddle shapes from your card and decorate them.

Glue the lollipop stick to the back of one paddle piece ensuring there is a large part of the stick extending out from the paper.

Cover the back of the second paddle piece and stick this to back of the fan. Make sure you spread glue onto the back of the handle and the edges of the fan so that they stick together. This will hide the stick and make the fan sturdier.

Once the glue is dried you are good to go.

I hope these ideas can help keep your children occupied and cool at the same time. Hot and bored is a terrible mix. For us, these activities have meant that keeping cool can be fun.

Let me know if you try any of them in the comments section and stay cool.

Until next time….

Hannah XO

The Many Uses of Lego

The Many Uses of Lego

Lego has been around a very long time. You will be hard pressed to find a person who hasn’t at least heard of the dynamic and ever loved toy that is suited for adults and children alike. In our house, Lego is something that we all engage with. For my children, they spend hours building, breaking, and rebuilding whole worlds in which their imaginations are let loose. For me and my husband, we have unlocked a whole new vocabulary of words we spout when we stand on said Lego creations, which are often scattered all over our house. As hard as it may be to find a child who doesn’t love Lego, it would be harder to find an adult who hasn’t stood on Lego without swearing like a sailor. That said, you cannot deny the amazing possibilities that come with Lego. Although it can be expensive to buy large sets, there are some very reasonably priced packs that can be worked and re-worked into a variety of different things. In this post, I share a range of things that you and your children can do with Lego. All of the ideas given are things that me and my own children have enjoyed doing. I hope they inspire you to try new things with your Lego sets. 

Boat Making

This was a great activity, that usually turns competitive in our house. Through the summer, we filled a small paddling pool and had a competition to see who could build the best boat, we started using recycled junk, however this quickly turned into a Lego building activity. This is great for hot days and water play. HOWEVER, you do not need to wait for the sunshine to play boat building. One of our favourite ways to play is to tape some paper down onto the floor and draw a river. The kids build their Lego boats and use their imaginations to create stories on the river (sometimes all afternoon). The Master of Mischief usually brings in bad guys, dinosaurs and a whole host of other toys to play on his Lego boat river. Regardless of how or what your boat looks like, this is a great way to encourage imaginative play.

Bridge Building

This activity idea often ties in with our boat making, bridge making is an excellent STEM activity that gets your children thinking about ways to construct a sturdy bridge. Again, you can stick a sheet of paper down and draw your own river. You can colour it blue for water or get creative and colour it green for slime, or orange and red for lava. Encourage your children to think of creative things to build to get their toys safely to the other side. The Master of Mischief really enjoys this activity and he has come up with so many innovative ways to construct his bridges.

Ring Toss

This was a game that we built on a rainy afternoon while we were bored. After making it, we somehow ended up playing for almost an hour and a half. All three children got involved. One of the reasons I liked it so much was the sheer simplicity of it. It was a small tabletop version of the beloved garden game which took no time at all to put together. We used pipe cleaners to make the rings for tossing. You can buy a pack of pipe cleaners from most craft places or cheap shops with a craft section. I bought ours from Poundland. The game was great for promoting hand to eye co-ordination, fine and gross motor skills, patience, and turn taking. I often find that the simplest ideas are the most fun.

3 in a Row

Another tabletop game that you can create from Lego is three in a row. This game is more commonly known as noughts and crosses. I have found over the years that my children can fill a whole notebook playing this game. I wanted a version that used less paper, so here we are. All you need is a small base piece, some dividers, and two different colours of small square bricks. Both of the girls have loved playing this. It is another great way to promote cognitive development and turn taking.

Lego for Teaching Fractions

I am sure that within schools they have a vast range of classroom resources that they use when teaching. For us though, Lego has become an invaluable tool while we have been home schooling. The maths work that we were receiving for Little Fairy and Kiki was all based around fractions. Trying to explain the whole concept of fractions, equivalent fractions, how one fraction can be the same as another was becoming tricky (pizza and pie will only get you so far). Lego became a great way to visually present the different kinds of fractions as well as allow the girls to add and subtract fractions. The different sizes of the pieces and the colours made it so much easier to explain and visually represent.

Symmetry

This is an activity that I have used for all of my children. You can make your patterns as simple or complicated as you like based on the age and ability of your child. We have used a medium sized Lego base which I split down the middle. I then made a pattern on one side and gave the Master of Mischief the blocks to recreate the pattern on the opposite side. It was a great activity which gave him a hands on approach to learning symmetry. As your children get older, you can make the activity harden by creating a more intricate and complex design for them to copy. If like me you have two children close in age, ask them to create a pattern and then swap and see if they can complete each other’s design. Meanwhile, you can put your feet up with a nice hot beverage (maybe a biscuit) and relax knowing your children are playing nicely and learning while they do it. 

There are likely to be a million more uses for Lego, these are just a few that we have enjoyed. If you have any special uses for your Lego that I can use with my children, please do share them. We love building with Lego and I hope that these ideas can motivate you to think and build outside of the Lego box.

Until next time…

Hannah XO.

Father’s Day: A Sprinkle of Last Minute Magic

Father’s Day: A Sprinkle of Last Minute Magic

Father’s Day is a day dedicated to celebrating and honouring fatherhood and the paternal bond. Not all people celebrate it. Then there are those who go all out celebrating. Some will go above and beyond, showering their fathers with personalised gifts, fancy breakfast foods, family meals, balloons, you name it. Our family falls somewhere in the middle. I don’t plan an elaborate event. My husband isn’t one for fuss, he’s a pretty chilled out dude who dislikes being the centre of attention. However, he does a lot for our family. He loves, protects, supports, and encourages all of our children. He should be celebrated. That said, I am not the most organised when it comes to planning ahead. I also get so frustrated with the fact that one any other day of the week a pair of socks will cost you £1.50 yet bang ‘World’s Best Dad’ on it and you can instantly charge £5 a pair, it’s ludicrous! So, if like me, you are unorganised and reluctant to spend ridiculous money, fear not, I have you covered. Here I share a list of ideas to work some of that last minute magic and celebrate dad in a budget friendly way!

Baking

There are a range of budget friendly recipes to be found. One that goes down particularly well in our house is Rocky Road! It requires few ingredients and is easy enough that you can get the kids involved. You could serve these as an afternoon treat for Dad or box them up and give them as a gift. Check out the recipe on the link below.

https://budget-mum.com/2020/06/19/rocky-road/

Framed Photo

This is a cheats gift in the sense it costs very little but almost always brings a big smile to the face of the receiver. If you have managed to capture a special moment between father and child(ren) on film, then print it and pop it in a frame. Many supermarkets now have photo printing equipment and a single picture is pretty cheap to print. You can pick up frames in a range of sizes from places like Poundland, Home Bargains or B&M. If you don’t have a photo of your children with their dad, simply frame a photo of the child(ren). This is also a good gift for the Grandads (if you like to celebrate those guys too!)

Gift Vouchers (Homemade)

These are an awesome gift for dads. Great for if you have older children. You can create vouchers for all kinds of things. Here are some examples:

  • Washing up: Get dad out of chores for a night and get the kids to wash up the dinner pots.
  • Weeding: One job my husband hates but always gets tricked into doing is weeding our garden. If your kids are old enough, get them pulling up the weeds and give dad a free pass.
  • Dad’s choice on the TV: Rightly or wrongly our children predominantly rule the TV at points of the day. Give dad a voucher that gives him total control over what is on the box for the day. (I’m sure it’ll come in handy if there are sports to watch)
  • Kids go to bed early: This is a good one for both parents, it’s a voucher promising that the kids will go to bed earlier, giving you some extra adult time.
  • Uninterrupted gaming time: If dad is a gamer then this will go down a storm. My husband is an avid Playstation player, although he is usually interrupted by our children either asking for a go or just generally disrupting what he is doing. I know that uninterrupted gaming time means the world to him and costs me nothing!
  • Extra sleep time: What parent doesn’t want an extra hour or two in bed! This one is always a winner!
  • Family game night: This is a great voucher for families who are usually so busy they can’t find time to spend all together. This voucher means you make the time. Bring out a board game or sit and do some quiz questions. Time together as a family is always well spent!

Breakfast in Bed

This is always a hit. The is nothing nicer than an extra hour in bed and waking up to a tray of coffee (or tea) and a plate of food. Whatever breakfast you make your dad, serving it to him in bed makes it 100 times better! One of the best twists on a traditional bacon sandwich is a bacon naan. My husband loves them. It was something we discovered on a weekend away for our first wedding anniversary. I recreated it at home for his birthday and it worked really well. It’s now my go to breakfast treat for him. Check it out here.

https://budget-mum.com/2020/06/19/bacon-naan/

Homemade Cards

Nothing says Father’s Day better than a home made card. It’s usually something that children will make in school. Just because it’s lockdown, doesn’t mean the tradition can’t continue. Grab some pens, crayons and some paper and let your little ones creativity come alive. For the older ones, you could even have them write a poem or a special note to stick inside.

Homemade Keyrings and Magnets

I recently found excellent offers on Amazon for ‘make your own’ keyring and magnet craft packs. The keyring pack included 8 keyring frames and 16 pieces of pre-cut paper that inserts into the frames. I had my children design and create their own

Dad Bag

If you want to splash out a bit, try filling a gift bag full of dad’s favourite food and drinks. You could buy him his favourite crisps, sweets, pop, and chocolate. If you have a few extra pounds to spend, you could even buy him a DVD or a book to enjoy with all of his treats. Just make sure it’s for dad only.

All About My Daddy

This is a great activity to do with younger children. You can write out a series of questions about Daddy and write down their answers exactly as they say them. The results are often hilarious. This is also something that you could do every year. Make sure you keep your answers and add them into a folder for Dad to read over as the years go by and see how much the answers change.