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7 mum bloggers share tips on entertaining kids and finding me-time during lockdown

The parenting advice we all need right now…

Sophie Hamilton

Mums, let's stop for a minute and do a group exhale. Hands up if the coronavirus lockdown with kids at home has totally floored you? Being a teacher, mum, worker, cook, fun-making-machine and all-round everything person is no mean feat - just thinking about it all is, quite frankly, exhausting. Multitasking to this extent at full gusto is neither sustainable nor healthy in the long term, so we need to take this strange new life in our stride and do the best we can.

If there's a lockdown survival tip on offer right now, we'll take it – and who better to ask than mums who run parenting blogs? These inspirational mamas are sharing daily online tips and insights on entertaining children in lockdown, plus ideas on how we parents can keep our sanity. Does anyone actually remember me-time? Have a read of their tips below…

 

Rebecca Wooldridge of Mummy to Triplets and Bro

Rebecca is married to David and the couple have four children: triplet girls Maya-Albertine, Amelie, Etta and their big brother, Felix. Together they share their daily adventures and chaos of parenting 'Triplets and Bro' on Instagram and Facebook.

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Rebecca has four children

On entertaining the kids…

"Have toys tidied away in organised categories - it really works for us. They’re not available every day - the children choose a different toy bucket each day and the novelty keeps them occupied for a couple of hours at least! It’s like having new toys. It keeps the playroom tidy from toys scattered everywhere and keeps the toys current and interesting to them."

"We’ve been baking and decorating biscuits; enjoying lie-ins of quality time together rather than racing to get up as we normally would. This is a novelty, accepting the slower pace and not feeling guilty! We're seeing this time as a gift."

On finding me-time…

"I’ve been trying to listen to a 10-minute meditation before the children get up to set me up in a positive mindset for the day. I’ve also been reading, tucked away in the garden and giving parenting responsibility to Daddio for an hour so that I can have me-time. We take it in turns as we need it."

Follow Rebecca on her blog, Instagram or Facebook pages.

 

Vicki Psarias of Honest Mum

Vicki Psarias is a mum-of-two and a TV Parenting Expert  - and blogs about her family and lifestyle on her Honest Mum blog. She's author of MUMBOSS - the Honest Mum's Guide to Surviving and Thriving at Work and At Home.

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Vicki has some fantastic tips for coping during lockdown

On entertaining the kids…

"Children need a routine and so do we as parents. Yes, by all means, please be more relaxed than usual (you can't replicate a school day) but try and keep some semblance of routine for your own sanity, sticking to the same wake-up time, lunch hour and home school period where possible (two hours of study a day will suffice)."

"Enter the party plate: a way for the kids to make their own sandwiches and curate a plate for lunch or snack time, so you don't have to. It might sound obvious but hold a Sandwich Making Masterclass for your kids and then give them some independence to make their own. They can add some crudités, fruit and a yoghurt to the plate along with a bag of crisps or a chocolate treat. I only cook once a day for dinner. Any more than that and the place fills with plates and mess."

On finding me time…

"It's critical, now more than ever, that parents take some time out for themselves. You can't pour from an empty cup as the saying goes, so think about the short bursts of activities you can do to destress: 5 to10 minutes of deep breathing, some yoga, a long bath, watching a comedy on Netflix or even taking an online course."

"My mum bought me an annual subscription to Masterclass for Mother's Day and I've been learning how to act thanks to Samuel L Jackson and how to cook and utilise my pantry better with videos by Alice Waters. Think about what makes you happy and do more of that. Small acts can make a big difference."

Follow Vicki on her blog, Instagram or Facebook pages

MORE: 9 educational websites and apps to help kids during school closures

 

Samantha Silver and Gemma Rose Breger of This Is Mothership

Sam is the former beauty director at Stylist magazine while Gemma is one of London's top celebrity stylists. Their blog is a 'fashion and beauty destination for busy mums'.

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We love Samantha and Gemma's practical advice

On entertaining the kids…

"Homemade playdoh and a colouring-in kids' time capsule are a few different ideas we've uploaded on thisismothership.com. The Time Capsule is great because it's something that our kids can fill in themselves and look back on. The playdoh is good for kids of all ages to get creative and also for smaller kids to work on their dexterity."

"We've made treasure hunt scavenger sheets for our kids which they take out on our morning walks and they can tick things off that they spot. For older kids, we write it, for younger kids we draw pictures."

"Another fun idea is rainbow rice or pasta. You can add natural food dye to pasta and rice, which makes mealtimes more fun when kids are getting bored with the same old, same old."

On finding me-time…

"We're holding bi-weekly "Get Ready with us to go Nowhere" Instagram Lives at 8am on Tuesdays and Thursdays for 30 minutes. This is generally the time where most kids are happy to sit and watch a little TV, as they've just been fed. Also, most partners are around to watch the kids before work kicks off. It's formed a little community where we can all sit, have a chat and get our faces on ahead of the day as we teach some tips and tricks. We love this as it's our only 30 mins of me-time a day."

"We play 'Hide and Snack' - where we hide and eat something our kids aren't allowed while they can't see us. The top places we've found include in the fridge door, in the washing machine door and while we're pretending to fold laundry to hide."

"Face Masking. We've uploaded an Evening Skincare Regime to our IGTV - now is the time to get on track with getting into a skincare regime. We've switched sheet masks for face masks as they're more environmentally friendly; our faves are Caudalie Glycolic Mask, Sisley Black Rose Mask and BeautyPie JapanFusion."

Follow Samantha and Gemma on their blog, Instagram or YouTube channel

 

Katy Flint of What Katy Said

Katy is a teacher turned stay-at-home mum of three. Katy blogs but also has a YouTube channel, where she shares videos from motivational chats to 'day in the life' vlogs.

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Katy is a teacher, so is a pro at entertaining children

On entertaining the kids…

"Collect stones on your daily walk, decorate them with paints and varnish ready to display in your garden or leave around your local area."

"Empty boxes are simple but loved by all kids. Cut a door and a window and turn it into a house. Cut off the lid to make it into a boat. Let their imaginations decide. Give them colouring pens to decorate it and they'll be busy all day!"

"Give them a bath! A couple of empty bottles of shampoo or bubble bath and they'll splash away for ages, leaving you time to relax nearby while they play."

On finding me-time…

"Get dressed every day. It sounds simple but it can change your whole mindset – and set a focus for the day, whether it be to make a cake, paint your nails or to sort the washing into the right piles. Having a focus helps you feel like you have achieved something. Then write 'ta-da' lists at the end of each day. Write down what you did achieve rather than focusing on what you didn't get done."

"Have a pamper day. Even if you get the kids involved it will still do you the world of good to take a day to look after yourself. Do your nails, have a face mask and moisturise your body from top to toe."

"Write in a journal daily. Mental health is so very important and so being able to let all of your worries and anxieties spill out onto a page can be so healing. It doesn't matter what you write, just start and the words will begin to flow."

Follow Katy on her blog, Instagram or YouTube channel

MORE: 9 family-friendly board games to play during lockdown: Cluedo, trivia and more

 

Cécile Blaireau of The Frenchie Mummy

Cécile is a French ex-pat living in the UK with 'Grumpy Boyfriend' and 'Baba'. She is on a mission to 'empower and inspire mums to be kickass ladies'. She loves presenting her followers with family-friendly places in Kent and London, as well as her French fashion recommendations.

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We're taking a leaf out of Cecile's book

On entertaining the kids...

"I make sure we do any activities for a short period of time, as my son is only four. I alternate games with crafts or learning time. We do a lot of learning through play. So we do role-play to help his imagination. I generally do a task for 20 or 30 minutes with him and then he plays on his own."

"I also involve Baba as much as possible in the house. He helps cooking more, but also with the cleaning! We make it a competitive task so that it is fun and he has a little reward at the end to get him going."

On finding me-time...

"I get up at 6 am every morning, so that I don't get frustrated and I still manage to work from home. It gives me up to 2 hours before my son gets up. I can then work peacefully and concentrate. Once he is up, it is breakfast time and I pretty much take care of him 80% of the time as my partner still works."

"Whatever we do in the day, I always do a workout in the morning. 30 minutes every day so I get energised and it really helps me mentally to brave the rest of the day. So my partner plays with Baba while I do it. I also go to bed half an hour or so earlier so that I can read and relax. It is my evening 'me time'. I alternate fictions with self-help books."

"More than ever, I make sure I dress up as I would go to work. I avoid staying in my PJs or wearing loungewear. It is a way to get my mind-set ready for a 'normal' day. This week, I also started to wear some bright lipstick even at home. It cheers me up!"

"Don't be too harsh on yourself if you have a bad time or you didn't feel like you rock the home-schooling thing. Tomorrow is another day! And you need to be gentle with yourself as you have to wear way more hats than usual! Parents also need to preserve themselves. Otherwise, they will not be able to keep up in the long term!"

Follow Cécile on her blog, Instagram and Twitter pages

 

Jen Walshaw of Mum in the Madhouse

Jen is mum to two boys 14 months apart in age, who are 13 and 14. They live in the North East of England and she says 'my home is never quiet, which is why my mum named it The Mad House all those years ago and it stuck.' She is passionate about crafting and cooking.

muminthemadhouse

Jen is mum to two teenage boys

On entertaining the kids…

"Create a 'bored' jar – it's one of the best things for keeping the kids occupied over the lockdown, which you can fill with lots of activities and also chores. So when they say they are bored they pick out an activity (or chore)! See here for ideas."

"I also love colouring pages for both kids and adults and have this fab 'Mummy and me' page. Get the colouring pencils out and all sit around the kitchen table. Pop some relaxing music on and try and just take time out. Colouring has relaxing properties for adults as well as children."

Follow Jen on her blog, Instagram or Twitter pages

 

Victoria Neave of INPO (In No Particular Order)

Victoria is a journalist and mum to four children with husband Chris: Liberty, 18, Millicent, 16, Tommy, 15, and Oscar, 10. The family also have three dogs: Bert, Babs and Florence.

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Victoria is navigating lockdown with teens

On lockdown with teenagers…

"With my 16-year-old we had to manage the emotions that came with the cancellation of her GCSE exams. She has no work to do, so we have created long term projects. I gave her a notebook and ordered some Instax Polaroid film and asked her to document her lockdown experience. Some days she takes a shot of beautiful blossom. Other days it is simply a blank wall. Writing just a sentence to explain her feelings. The book is not filling up fast but she liked the idea, so I take that as a win."

"Exercise. We quickly learnt after day three of Joe Wicks that you cannot make the children do something they do not want to. It just did not work for us. To be honest we never even attempted to get the teens up in time for the nations PE lesson but even Oscar was fuming. However - set him a task on the trampoline to learn a new move or do a 1000 jumps by lunchtime and the challenge was accepted."

On finding me-time…

"First of all, tips are just that. A little idea.  No rule book here. Secondly, it’s ok to scream. Don’t feel guilty for snapping now and then! On that note, it’s also ok to cry! I found my teenagers were a little more respectful for at least half a day when I had a bit of a blub in front of them."

"Parenting is hard enough so you need to be mentally and physically charged for it. We are all different and if you are like me, every single day is different. Some days I need to get out for a walk on my own. Some days I can manage to go with the teenagers who can be bothered to go. Some days I will go for a run with my husband. Some days I want to take it out on the punch bag. Catch up on Netflix. Have a bath. Or a gin/wine/chocolate."

"The main thing I am having to learn is that I cannot be everything. I can’t be fun Mum, chef Mum, working Mum, fit Mum, crafty Mum, baking Mum. I literally have to step back and just do the best I can and I will admit some days I am absolutely rubbish but do you know what - even on rubbish days, it is still enough."

Follow Victoria on her Instagram and on Twitter

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