Bond with your children and create happy memories of staying home with the family.

Hello everyone! Welcome back – I want to shout out to our new readers all the way from US, UAE and India – it’s time like this in a global crisis we really realise how alike we all are!

This week has been very busy with the increase in online sessions for our children with their school and the continuation with our online lessons for our students. We haven’t had a lot of down time as a family so we didn’t really do anything as arty as these guys right here; Making heart window decorations (but I have put it on my list for posting in our neighbourhood FB.) Also you gotta love Banksy -always on point 😊

During the week I was reading popular blog posts and read about lots of parents helping their kids make crafts and i’m sure we’ve seen the Dads on facebook turning their houses into full blown restaurants and drive thru’s. Now if I know my audience, I know that most of us are too busy to do all these fancy things so we’ve come up with some more easy ideas to have fun at home -ENJOY 🌞

So the restaurant idea was the easiest because all it involved was changing our venue for eating, the plan originally was to eat outside but by the time the food was ready it was dark so we changed to a meal in the living room, we placed cushions around the coffee table and with a ramadan lantern and a couple of candles managed to create a Moroccan theme. We managed to eat our food happily and the hardest part was bringing plates two meters further into the living room. They enjoyed it so much i’m doing it again for them right now so they can eat their lunch while I write!

So what have we done this week?? Well, it all started when my daughter came into the kitchen one morning to tell me the toilet was smoking – and lo and behold he was – cue the prank wars 😷😎

He really was smoking!

So when you’re bored of learning all the dances off of TikTok look for pranks

  1. Put a jacket on backwards (hood is on your face) open the fridge door and pretend to be getting something, the other person will come up to the door and take your hood off -Scare them!
  2. Boo! is a tradition in this house as i’m sure in everyone’s houses – you’ve just got to creep up to someone and scare them – it continues for a long time though because everyone wants to get their ‘revenge!’ hence our 10+ year long game.
  3. At dinner last night they started a game so M tells A an object and Z can guess it. He always gets it right! the trick is to mention different objects in the room, is it the table? is it the water cooler? is it the kettle? is it my jacket? One of the objects has to be black then the real object will be the one you mention after that!
  4. Another fun one is to tell someone they have string in their ear and hold one hand just outside their other ear – tell them to pull the string and you (lightly) slap them!
  5. Take a glass of water and ask someone what sound a cat makes? and continue with different animals until you ask them what sound a Whale makes and then spit out the water (more points if you’re brave enough to spray on them!)
  6. Tell someone if they can copy everything you do; you’ll give them some money. Do some random things – pick up a book, write with a pen, then take a gulp of water but keep it in your mouth, they should swallow theirs but you spit it back out into the cup!
  7. My favourite was when they pretended to vacuum the 5 yo into the vacuum cleaner because he was being naughty and the 3 yo -his mortal enemy(!) was upset and tried to save him!!

Make sure you talk to the younger ones about expectations and not to get overly offended or maybe even keep your more sensitive kids out of it. Once you’ve had enough of pranking each other try some of these “Never have I ever” questions for a bit of down time.

Parenting tip of the day: Whilst searching for ideas i came across “Who’s most likely to ….” and I’m gonna be honest and say I don’t care for that idea too much with the negative connotations but it could be used in a positive way. Children tend to believe what we tell them so if we say they’re the most likely to end up in prison, chances are they might well be; conversely if you tell them they’re the most likely to become a heart surgeon they might well be.

I’ve tried to stay offline this week as much as possible apart from their actual lessons but if you’re interested in online activities that you can set them up with while you continue working on the side? Go to Quizziz an online quiz website with thousands of ready made quizzes which will ensure your children can stay on top of or even learn some general knowledge whilst having fun. (Watch this video for help getting started.)

Hope some of these ideas inspired you and give you a chance to have some social time with your offspring and inject a bit of fun into the mundane aspects of isolation. Please do let me know how it goes and if you have more ideas do share!

How to keep your hair on during COVID-19 …DAY 30…

Hello!! Hope you’re all well, this post was motivated by reading all these posts and memes on social media about lots of families being stuck together and the thousands of parents who are finding this time hard. Especially working parents, we have to somehow to double the work expected normally because we’re under pressure to prove that we are actually working from home and do all the things at home without the usual help from people we outsource our chores to. We don’t even own a lawnmower so I was thinking of going out there with a pair of scissors today is what I’m talking about! My husband putting hand sanitiser on my son’s foot when he cut it, is another fun thing that happened today. We also played hide and seek and had to keep pretending not to find the 3 year old when she stuck her head under the sofa and I’m happy to announce- in an amazing turn of events our mish mash parenting style has somehow made the teenagers get around to not only cleaning their rooms but helped their brothers clean their room too!

IT IS HARD!! It’s not easy at all!! but you can do a few things to make it easier on yourselves by following three easy rules.

  1. Get ready. This means get ready in two ways -plan and prepare. Each day wake up and have a shower, get dressed, comb hair, brush teeth, – follow your daily routine. This puts you and the fam in the right mood for the day.
  2. Plan to have activities ready for the kids, my own kids are 3,5,10,13,16 which means that I have a little help with the little ones from the older ones but those of you that don’t, try to think of activities they can do with minimum supervision. The sensory boxes I spoke about last week are perfect for this. As is simple colouring, dot to dot, or an interactive toy. The 10 and 13 year olds have online lessons from their school, so we make sure the iPads are charged and ready for their day to save the whole “that was my charger” argument!
  3. Just as you would do in a normal day make sure the food is planned and the snacks are available -yes that might mean a bit of cutting up some fruits/veggies or buying some extra treats – this is a unique situation cut yourself and the kiddos some slack. If a biscuit will keep them busy for the few mins you need to send an email – do it. #Guiltfree

I really believe that organisation and planning are key to running a peaceful house but honestly we do still have times when everyone is just tired of being cooped up together especially with the new -no exercise rules. PE with Joe has been a life saver for us in this regard. As has story-time from Space and similar channels like National Geographic. Personally I don’t mind a bit of screen time each day and lets face it its literally a necessity now if we have other things to do but we should be mindful of how long they’re spending on screens.

I’ve found some really amazing websites online which allow the kids to have some downtime whilst also learning something (and their narrative voices aren’t as irritating as some of the kiddie YT channels,) one of these is NASA.gov -real pictures and videos taken in space provides prompts for some good, interesting conversations. Curiosity Stream has really piqued my interest and we will be getting the subscription as soon as I have a few mins.

Another point to note is to find something that you enjoy and do that as well, a good book, a long soak in the bath, doing your hair or nails will all give you a break and a chance to recover so you can be the best version of you. For me I like to keep busy so although my daughters started watching yet another Turkish drama (each episode is 2.5 hours long!) I try to stay outside and I began refurbishing a garden swing that we inherited when we moved to this house. I hope to share pictures soon and I also hope that my daughters will be so amazed that they might start learning to sew!! ( I can dream! can’t I?)

We’ve actually had a few moments of inspiration this most notably when we made KFC for dinner and also when my son logged into my husbands Google account on his PlayStation and we enjoyed an impromptu look through pictures from the summer holidays last year. We’re planning an online party with their cousins tomorrow as it’s the weekend here and I’m going to text my mum and sister to make some popcorn and poppadoms for a snack and we planned to cook a roast that we can enjoy in 4 corners of the world together.

Hope this post has inspired you to be a more creative and see the benefits in embracing this change for the betterment of the family. I am in no way, shape or form a perfect parent, I just wanted to share some ideas that have made life easier for me in the hope that someone out there will benefit. Take care, until we meet again. I’ll leave you with some images we’d all like to see in the house.

5 TIPS FOR TEENAGERS’ MENTAL HEALTH DURING LOCKDOWN.

I’m writing this post at 1am probably because I drank too much coffee today trying to stay awake and do a zillion things at once. Long story short – I was teaching online during a thunderstorm outside and had to ensure all my own kids were actively engaged too. We did it -just about!

I wanted to write this post as a reminder we are only human and not to expect too much of ourselves during this time. In particular I want to focus on our teenaged children, and how all this change and upheaval has affected their mental health. Two months ago they’d only heard of one kind of Corona and now here it is affecting their daily life and I don’t know what your teenagers are like but I did manage to get some quotes from a few I know and it surprised me a little bit how deeply they think about these things. I honestly thought they’d be happy to have no school for a few weeks in fact I asked my friend’s nephew for his opinion for my blog today and his mum told us he was asleep and glad there was no college for a few weeks! Although some of the other teenagers are very worried and stressed about this whole new situation that’s come about affecting our ‘normal’ daily lives,

I don’t mind if I get the virus myself but I am worried about infecting my baby sister as she has a heart condition so she’s really vulnerable.

M, 14, Bolton, UK

I am probably one of the few people actively avoiding corona updates because of the stress and fear and anxiety it induces in me instead I am trying to focus on the positives. One of my friends pointed out our WhatsApp group was filled with articles and corona news ever since we first heard that the schools were closing so we’ve purposely tried to talk about other things as much as possible.

Anyway the motivation for this post was to support those who may be feeling blue after hearing all this news. For a normal healthy person the anxiety levels are rising due to the uncertainty of the last few weeks so spare a thought for this who suffer from anxiety and worry on a daily basis.

My advice is to deal with such issues spiritually, whatever your religious inclination normally is, call on your Lord to guide you, protect you and keep you safe. Keep the information limited and focus on things you can do and enjoy the free time you have to pursue your hobbies or catch up on your chores and spring clean like one of my sisters’ has decided to do.

I’m sad that I’ll miss my prom and I might have to wait another year to go to college.

R, 16, Devon, UK

I want to point out that our teenagers may be feeling extra worried and they have every right to be because they’re living though something their parents (and grandparents) are facing for the first time in their lives so they are bound to feel some sort of anxiety. I think we need to just focus on them and reassure them that this will pass and it’s a temporary phase. Although that’s easier said than done.

I feel like Corona has made everyone step back and think that this World is temporary.

M, 15, Dubai, UAE
  • Model a calm persona outwardly – the last thing your children need is to hear your worries and hourly news updates. Try to limit their exposure to the news and internet free time.
  • Try to maintain some sense of normality, allow them to socialise be it online or over the phone. Ensure that they keep to some sort of a schedule (I obviously need help on this point)
  • Listen to them and validate their fears without constant empty reassurances. Allow them to express their worry and instead of saying “Oh don’t worry about it,” or “It’ll be alright – you’ll see!” try rephrasing and telling them you understand they’re scared and you will be there for them. This is a way of you telling them their is something to be scared of and its normal to feel that way but we will work through it together rather than ignoring the problem altogether.
  • Answer their questions matter of factly empathise with them but try not to emote for them, some teenagers may literally feel like it’s the end of the world and you may need to convince them its not. Even with their proms being cancelled, their exams uncertain, their future plans changing. This is a good opportunity to teach our children resilience and enjoying the journey of life rather than focusing only on each destination along the way.
  • Practice relaxation strategies and guide them towards meditation and Yoga as a way of calming the mind. Again this is a good opportunity to practice mindfulness and limit their exposure to passive TV watching or listening to the same tracks on end. Show them the life outside electronics can be fulfilling too.

Resources and references for this blog and links that can help:

Article Relaxation tips Building resilience Validate their feelings

Title image from

A non-stop day… COVID-19 DAY 19!

It started normally but then spiralled into non-stop issues, I was helping one then the other then another one needed me – I was going a little bit crazy to be honest. Then I remembered the plan – oh YES ‘The Plan!’

The plan was hubby was going to take the little two out for a walk so I could work on whatever the others needed to do… unfortunately the plan did not work, ‘need to find a shoe, ‘ ‘need to change a nappy,’ ‘oh their t-shirt has a stain.’ I honestly thought this day is gonna be the end of me. Then I remembered its ok, deep breaths “we can do this.” I rolled my sleeves up and directed everyone to a particular job – in just 10mins the house was visibly tidier and my mind relaxed. The little ones went for a walk around the block; The electronics were locked up (in the safe!) and we started again.

Back to basics

We then spent a lovely afternoon playing cards (Maths) and hangman (spelling) with charades and ‘notes and crosses’ for a bit of variety.

During the week I was making dinner and accidentally put too much salt in I knew instinctively that I need to make a dough ball and chuck it in but I still double checked with my dad; when he confirmed I realised that I learnt how to cook by watching my elders cook; and I picked up some good tips along the way so I decided I’ll make more of an effort to include the kiddos in cooking

So the plan today was to prepare a roast chicken dinner together, Z cut a salad like a pro and the older girls took care of the oven jobs. We’d marinated the chicken the night before so we just did the sides and some garlic bread and we were ready to roll. As if to confirm my thinking was right Z asked me to teach him how I cut lettuce (I tell them to use a chopping board but I do it freehand myself!) I think the kids enjoyed their food because they had a hand in choosing what to cooking and then preparing it together. It’s definitely going to be a positive I take from COVID-19 that’s for sure.

Just as we were finishing dinner and wondering what to do next? as if by magic my brother sent me a lovely resource that I will share now with you from the lovely SCOUTS organisation. CLICK HERE!

We look forward to trying some of these ideas tomorrow. I’d love to hear what you’re all getting up to and how the children are responding to more attention and time from their parents. Today I really felt I could make a difference if I stayed home. C’est la vie – we always want what we don’t have and then when we get it think the grass is greener on the other side. Such is the human!

Shared from a Homeschooler:

Since many kids are or will be home from school,  today i’m sharing an awesome list of ideas from a parent who homeschools. Keep the children busy and their minds active so they don’t fall behind at school but be sure to mix it up with lots of board games, library books (and Kindle), tinkering/up-cycling with household junk, (look out for our up-cycled garden swing coming up at the end of this week!)

Here’s some more online resources to help with kids at home – my suggestion would be to focus on one link from each list and work through it with your children, allowing them to be a bit more autonomous in choosing what they want to study (For example ask them -Science or Maths?) will bring out a sense of ownership and they will want to do well. I used this web 2.0 app earlier and my son challenged me to a game – I had to beat his score – which meant that he had to then beat mine! https://www.timestables.com/speed-test/

MORE WEBSITES

BrainPop- http://www.brainpop.com

Curiosity Stream- https://curiositystream.com/collections/

Tynker- https://www.tynker.com/

Outschool- https://outschool.com/ (love learning also offers this service – contact us if you’re interested)

iReady-http://i-readycentral.com/familycenter/what-is-i-ready/

Beast Academy (Math) – https://beastacademy.com/online

Khan Academy- https://www.khanacademy.org/

Creative Bug- https://www.creativebug.com/ – Andvia media is a new channel dedicated to painting and art… its mesmerising: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDctfCBlBMFmVfl0pUnZikA

Discovery Education https://www.discoveryeducation.com/


YouTube Channels

Brainiac – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQPKOYjy8W3ouIz8CGWW3ow

Crash Course Kids- https://www.youtube.com/user/crashcoursekids/featured

Science Channel- https://www.sciencechannel.com/tv-shows/

SciShow Kids- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRFIPG2u1DxKLNuE3y2SjHA

National  Geographic Kids- https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/

Free School- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCebMFnw6WxozGmqGekJHOJg

Geography Focus- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8HYERScBt-e0kV0fpe0asg

TheBrainScoop- https://www.youtube.com/user/thebrainscoop

SciShow- https://www.youtube.com/user/scishow

Kids Learning Tube- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7EFWpvc1wYuUwrtZ_BLi9A

Geeek Gurl Diaries- https://www.youtube.com/user/GeekGurlDiaries

Science Max- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1OHoETxoYa3Uvyc3hh8g0A

SoulPancake https://www.youtube.com/user/soulpancake


*Scholastic has created a free learn-from-home site with 20+ days of learning and activities.
https://classroommagazines.scholastic.com/support/learnathome.html
*Pretend to travel the world..Go on a virtual tour of these 12 famous museums.
https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours
*This is the awesome free curriculum that we use. Everything from preschool activities to 12th grade is here!
https://allinonehomeschool.com/
*List of thinking games by grade: https://allinonehomeschool.com/thinking/


**More awesome free learning websites that we like to use**
https://www.starfall.com/h/
https://www.abcya.com/
https://www.funbrain.com/
https://www.splashlearn.com/
https://www.storylineonline.net/
https://pbskids.org/
https://www.highlightskids.com/
https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/
https://www.coolmath4kids.com/
http://www.mathgametime.com/
https://www.uniteforliteracy.com/
http://www.literactive.com/Home/index.asp
http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/
https://www.switchzoo.com/
https://www.seussville.com/
https://www.turtlediary.com/
https://www.e-learningforkids.org/

Please feel free to share this with anyone who you think may benefit from this

Corona Virus Pandemic

Everyone is talking about the current world problem – The dreaded Corona Virus, I’m sure you’ve all heard about the crazy shoppers who are taking all the toilet rolls off the supermarkets shelves like there’s no tomorrow!

There is some sense in buying some essential shopping items – in case you need to isolate yourselves for a few days if you experience the common symptoms such as cough, cold, flu accompanied with fever. Better to be safe than sorry… the one thing to take away from this post amongst the myriad of advice out there is…

Wash your hands frequently

Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.

Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.

WASH YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public
Image result for corona virus
Image result for corona virus

Image result for corona virus
Image result for corona virus
Image result for corona virus

“And then what happened?”

A really nice way of getting your children to start telling imaginative stories is to simply ask them- ‘and then what happened?,’ other phrases to use are ‘where were you?,’ ‘who else was there?’ and so on…

Last night S told me a story about the time he was saving me from the tooth fairy who was stealing all my teeth; the tale was elaborate and became more exaggerated with all my extra questions

My 5 year old

Use family pictures of outings and scenery to prompt the conversation, in my experience young children love hearing about themselves and seeing themselves in situations they may not remember very well… they always insert themselves into scenes that were taken before they were born as well!

Have fun, talk to the kids! Enjoy the conversation and the subsequent journey your imagination goes on. An added bonus is that my children now prompt each other and I’ve noticed the older children use the same tricks to converse with the younger ones… once the stories have started they’ll develop them into more and more intricate scenarios -here’s a storyboard my 5 yo S made his sister M (15) as he was explaining his dinosaur story the other day:

You can even make food from different countries, find props from around the house, dim the lighting or sit with candles, just try to ignite their thought process and imagination; Have fun with it, let me know how it goes in the comments below!