The closure of schools in response to the Coronavirus pandemic has meant millions of parents are having to play the role of ‘full-time teacher’ to their already busy work schedule. Murray Morrison, founder of learning program Tassomai and ex-supertutor explains why it’s more than OK to lean on technology for support.
Article by Murray Morrison
Let’s get one thing straight right from the start: it is not your job to replace your child’s teacher for the duration of the school closure. Parents all over the country are piling on way too much pressure to meet their own expectations of what homeschooling “should” be, while also trying to maintain their day-to-day job. Be under no illusions that your main obligation should be to your own work – you are not a teacher, and that’s fine.
Give yourself a break – and remember school will cover everything
When school resumes, the first thing that will happen is that teachers will run over everything from last year, and teach everything that had been planned for teaching during the “lost term”. There is no new learning that is meant to happen now that won’t be taught – so there is no pressure on families to exclusively cover this new content.
That said, getting your children to read what the school sends, and spend time practising, reading around the subject (and making notes where they can) will be positive – it means that when the material is taught in class, it will be easier to absorb. That’s going to be useful when the teaching next year is necessarily compressed.
Find things to occupy them so you can do your stuff
Self-directed learning will be a great stand-by: not only does it make for better, longer-lasting learning for your child, but also it gives you time to focus on your own work. The key thing is to make sure that work is done in a structured way with tangible outcomes that you can check periodically. Don’t let them just “read some notes”; instead ask them to make flashcards, make a video or write an essay. Technology comes in very useful here – especially if there is interactivity: Tassomai helps students practise knowledge through personalised quizzing while parents can see exactly how much has been done; other softwares teach through videos that track engagement.
EdTech can really be your friend when it comes to getting your children studying under their own steam: BBC Bitesize has fantastic learning games for all age groups, and a few minutes browsing YouTube will yield plenty of excellent learning channels for occasional use through the day.
Make the time you spend together happy, enriching, positive time that school cannot offer
When it comes to working one-to-one with your children, if you can take a few hours off for it, I’d recommend parents spend their time doing activities that schools cannot provide. There are a wealth of “enrichment” activities that schools struggle to support, but parents can do fairly easily. There are obvious options like craft projects, story-writing and baking which allow you to be creative and discuss words, ideas, maths and science. But you could also try some gardening projects or – with just a few materials like cardboard and tape – tackle some STEM projects like making beautiful 3D shapes, building bridges or constructing gliders.
Use technology where you can to make learning effective and powerful
My advice to parents is to spend a little time seeing what technology platforms are best-suited to solving your most pressing needs as parents: you want education technology that occupies your child’s attention so you have time to do your own work; you also want products that have a solid evidence base underpinning them, so you can be confident that their use will be beneficial.
Check sites like Edtech Impact and Edtech Evidence Group to see which products can be trusted to have a real learning impact so that you can focus on your work and make the time you spend learning with your children as wonderful as possible.
This is a contribution post written by Murray Morrison for The Expert Agency with consent to be shared on this blog.
It’s been so long since I last reviewed a beauty box. I still subscribe every now and then but either I have been too lazy/busy/not great enough to publish a review or I just lost interest in writing it. However since the lockdown, I have had more time to myself and able to show some love on the blog again… especially now that I have had a big influx of people passing by since quarantine, it’s nice to keep busy whilst I’m off work. I also purchased March’s Birchbox which you can read here.
April’s Birchbox Review
First of all, I have to give a huge kudos points for Birchbox’s packaging for April’s box. It’s stunning. Photos actually do not do it any justice, it’s really amazing. This May’s box packaging is also fantastic and totally unique so check that out too.
The design was created in collaboration with Anthropologie – a lifestyle-fashion brand that sells everything from clothing and jewellery to homeware, beauty and gifts. Their designs are funky, unique and fun. I’m a big fan of their homeware and gifts section, I really like their fun and colourful prints. It’s one of the reasons why I really wanted to try out this April’s box.
Can I just say… I am really excited to try all of the products in this box! Apart from This Works and Percy & Reed, I’ve not heard of the other brands before. It might just be because I’ve been away from beauty boxes for a while but it’s a nice treat for me.
So what’s inside…
KNDR Mood Balm in Positivity Pink
Huygens Infusion Blanche Purifying Face Wash
Brushworks Silicone Cleansing Pad (Birchbox exclusive!)
This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray
Percy & Reed Eau My Goodness No-Fuss Fabulousness Dry Shampoo
KNDR Mood Balm
I received this lip balm in Positivity Pink which is actually a bright purple colour. Once you apply the lip balm, the colour changes according to your lip’s natural pH level and adjusts to your very own tone of pink. Mine came out a light, bright pink. When Little Miss put hers on more, she came out with a subtle fuchsia colour. Very pretty and fun to use. It glides on smoothly and left my lips feeling soft. It’s also very hydrating, I got a few hour’s wear out of it before needing to re-apply.
My new fave lip balm
We love the colour-changing lip balm
KNDR mood balm in positivity pink
I really love the packaging of the mood balm – the feminine design is super cute! The outer packaging is made from card and the inside packaging is card with a plastic applicator. It seems like a good idea but if water gets onto the balm, I’m not sure it’ll last! I’m also not the neatest with lip colours and you can see from the image, I already smudged the colour onto the white bit of the packaging already! I also chipped the top of the lip balm but let’s pretend you don’t see that. 🙂
Huygens Infusion Blanche Purifying Face Wash
During summer my skin tends to produce a little more oil than normal so I usually swap out my creamy cleanser for a gel cleanser or wash. I will be trying this one out and let you know how it goes. The face wash states that cleanses effectively without stripping essential moisture from the skin and is suitable for all skin types. Containing a blend of tea-tree (anti-bacterial), aloe vera (skin repairing) and glycerine (hydrating), this purifying face wash looks like it will re-balance skin types and leaves skin cleansed and clear. It does remove makeup but I’m not sure if it’s suitable for eyes.
Brushworks Silicone Cleansing Pad
This is a Birchbox exclusive product and one of the products I was really looking forward to use. Made from ultra-hygienic, flexible silicone with tiny bristles, it’s designed to lift away impurities and makeup whilst gently exfoliate the skin. Definitely gentle enough to use every day. Again, another product great for all skin types especially dull and dehydrated skin. I’ll be using this in conjunction with my Huygens face wash but also with my Aromatherapy Associations creamy rose cleanser.
This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray
This stuff smells super calming. The relaxing scent of lavender, chamomile and vetivert will definitely help to soothe your senses. It’s also been clinically proven to help you sleep quicker than usual and wake up feeling more refreshed. I’ll try it and let you know as I already have a product which I use when I’m feeling restless (Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax roller ball). It’s the sedative aroma of vetivert that sends you off to sleep and it’ll take a lot to sway me from my AA roller ball, however I will say that a spray is definitely easier to dispense.
Percy & Reed Eau My Goodness No-Fuss Fabulousness Dry Shampoo
This product is not CG-friendly as it contains alcohol denat but I might give it a try near to the next time I’m doing a clarifying wash just to see how it works on my hair. I’m not usually a fan of dry shampoo but they do come in handy if you’re spending a night out or away from home ie on a city break, camping, glamping or on a trip where you aren’t able to take all your haircare with you.
So.. yay or nay?
Definitely YAY! I am so glad that Birchbox’s April beauty box was a hit with me. I remember a time when I loved beauty boxes so much but then what happens is the products start accumulating and I also end up receiving a lot of doubles from the boxes.
I love the fact that with the beauty boxes you can subscribe and un-subscribe whenever you want. There’s no contract to tie you down and if you want to save even more on your boxes, you can choose to pay for 3, 6 or 12 boxes in advance. If you’ve never given Birchbox a try but have tried other brands, let me know what you think of the box. Would you ever give it a try or do you think they’re all too samey-samey?
I hope you enjoyed this review, if you’d like to see more please do leave me a comment or click the like button if you’re also on WordPress! 🙂
The online world is brimming full of wonderful things to discover. More so now than ever as we are all still quarantined and in lockdown.
BoJo has said today that the UK will be easing restrictions and going forward, it looks like schools may reopen in phase two which is due to start around June 1st. I’m not sure how I feel about this but we’ll have to just play it by ear and see how it goes. As for work, I work in a spa which is classed as hospitality so I’m guessing I’ll still be furloughed until they execute phase three.
Free printable and downloadable crafty activities
I’ve compiled a list of fun and free downloadable and printable activity packs, posters and projects for you to try out. I’ll also include a list of resource links where you can access even more crafty activities. I’ll continue to add to the list when I find more so it’s a little more comprehensive.
You can bookmark this page so you can return back to it at any time for more crafts.
Free Activity Packs for kids & families
1. VE Day Activity Pack – word search, drawing challenge, home scavenger hunt and more.
9. NOW Gallery SE10 Creative Activities – from creating cat masks and crocodiles to colouring in and memory test games, this art gallery has a range of quirky and colourful projects to get the children’s creative juices flowing.
With London in lockdown for five weeks now and counting, the government have said that restrictions are NOT going to be easing up any time soon. As the country tries heavily to control and slow down the risk of more deaths and a second wave, more people will be celebrating their birthdays indoors this year. Last week we celebrated my little girl’s fourth birthday and next week will be Daddy P’s birthday. Little Man’s and mine are in August so hopefully restrictions will have lifted by then.
Firstly, I can’t believe it’s been four years since Little Miss was born! Time really does fly by – with it comes many tears, tantrums, angry moments but also many loving memories, best hugs, lots of laughter and love. These two little monsters really have turned my world upside down but I don’t think my life would be as interesting without them!
Little Miss’s birthday in lockdown
It’s been the first time we’ve celebrated the kids’ birthday at home. We don’t usually celebrate their birthday at home simply because there’s so many family relatives and friends to invite so we usually book for an activity venue instead.
We did two birthday calls via Zoom; one with friends and the other with family. It was fantastic! It was quite easy to set up and the video quality was pretty decent. There was a little bit of a lag-time with the audio but it wasn’t a major issue. Little Miss really enjoyed seeing her nursery school friends even though they were all a bit shy on the Zoom call (including us!). It was also my MIL’s birthday and she chose to do her call via Skype which was good but I found the video quality not as good and also couldn’t work out how to get all callers on one screen like I could on the zoom call.
It took me around 2-2.5hrs in total to hang up all the decorations, blow up the balloons and tidy up the living room. Our space is not big as we live in a city flat but it was spacious enough for a little girl’s birthday with just the four of us. Please excuse the broken TV unit cabinet door. That’s what happens when your kids decide to play with the furniture and lose the screws that goes with it. It’s on our long list of things to replace in the house… (¬_¬’)
Birthday parties are as unique as the person celebrating; whether you choose to go all out or just get a few things to add around the house. Here are some helpful points to consider when planning your party…
How to plan a quarantine birthday party for the kids
1. Plan your party at least a month ahead
Seriously, a quarantine birthday party needs a little more planning than you’d think. Mainly because it takes that bit longer to source things for the party and there’s no way you can chance leaving things to the last minute if you want everything to go to plan. I started planning Little Miss’s party a month before, well as soon as London’s lockdown was announced in March I started to plan out what we’ll need for her party.
Things like party decorations, food, presents and birthday cake should be at the top of your list. Try to have a back-up plan in case it doesn’t go to plan or things you order go out of stock. If you’re inviting family and friends to join you online, you can even make party invites online using sites like Canva which you can then send as an image via email, text or whatsapp.
If you’re setting up your decorations on the day, make sure you’re up early enough to get it all done. When I was checking the time, the hanging decorations took just over an hour but it was blowing up the balloons that took me forever. If you have a pump use it, if you have a helium tank, even better! You could potentially put up all the other decorations the night before and leave the balloons for the morning.
Note: make a list of things to do, buy, organise with a checklist so you can tick off the completed tasks as you go along. Get those birthday pressies in advance!
2. Save money buy ordering party decoration sets
I ordered Little Miss’s party decorations from Amazon. I have Amazon Prime so everything arrives in good time but I ordered early to avoid ordering for next day delivery – just to be considerate for vulnerable or priority customers. I found this fantastic 79-piece birthday decoration set which was excellent value for money. I also bought a smaller set of decorations with hanging lanterns and honeycomb balls to add some variety to the decorations. Confetti balloons are a great touch to any party, even if you can’t get helium to blow it up (we didn’t!) the balloons still look fantastic. We got confetti balloons as part of our 79-piece set.
If you also have any party decorations from previous years that you can use again, bring them out! No-one is going to judge you for having mis-matched party decorations. 🙂 These are the decorations we had for our party: Happy birthday banner, bunting, balloons and confetti balloons, ribbon swirls, tissue paper pom poms, honeycomb balls and lanterns, confetti cannons, party cups, party hats and poppers. You could also include party streamers, birthday crowns, plastic medals (for games), glow sticks, sparklers (use safely outdoors NOT indoors), glitter confetti to sprinkle on the table, party napkins, cups and cutlery.
Note: love sparkles? Get yourself a confetti cannon like this one or a glitter cannon. They’re cheap and you really get loads even in a small cannon – be aware, there’a lot of clean up though! If the glitter cannon is too messy for you, make sure you get a pack of party poppers for a true celebratory feel.
3. Save time (and money) with a supermarket birthday cake
We usually order a traditional Chinese birthday cake but with health and safety regulations, the Chinese bakers are not making any cakes – boo! I know that there are a few bakeries in London still open ie. Cakebox however we don’t drive so we wouldn’t have been able to collect. So we opted for a supermarket unicorn birthday cake instead which cost us £12 and tasted great! Asda do a range of celebratory cakes and birthday cakes from chocolate to vanilla sponge, in popular designs like unicorns, drip cake, Peppa Pig, Marvel superheroes. There’s even an option to create your own design in store. I think other big supermarkets like Sainsburys and Morrisons also have a great birthday cake department.
Note: if you decide to order a supermarket birthday cake, you can make it look extra special by adding a sparkler or number candle, personalised cake toppers, or anything else you’d like to decorate with. These can be also bought in store or online for personalised.
4. Prepare your party food the day before if you’re a big family
If you’re going all out with party food and have a large family, you might want to prep some of your food the night before. Most party foods can be cooked in the oven which cuts down cooking time, and whilst they’re in the oven you can concentrate on the other party foods you need to get ready.
For us, we’re only a family of four so I decided to make our party food on the day. Little Miss asked for burgers so we had burgers with chips, and crisps, sliced apples and animal cookie bags for snacks. We skipped making dessert as we ate the birthday cake -we still had so much cake left over it took us 2 days to finish it.
Note: whilst you are preparing the food, keep the kids entertained by giving them a game or challenge to keep them occupied. When you’ve finished or can leave the food to cook in the oven, you can join in on the fun!
5. Get the party started with a party playlist
With apps like Spotify to help you out, you can’t really go wrong with this one. Download Spotify, select a playlist and you can leave it running in the background. Failing that, YouTube playlists are also great. You can select chart toppers or cheesy children’s birthday songs, it’s completely up to you. If you fancy compiling your own, you can do so on both platforms.
Our top songs to include in a children’s birthday playlist:
Happy – Pharrell Williams Happy Birthday – Stevie Wonder Move your feet / D.A.N.C.E. – Trolls movie Girls like you – Maroon 5 ft. Cardi B Mi Gente – J Balvin ft. Willy Williams
Note: why not have a game of musical statues or musical chairs just to have a bit of silly fun? If your children are older, they might not want to play but perhaps a game of guess who musical version ie. “guess who sang this song?” by playing a snippet of the intro or playing an instrumental version of the song.
6. Ask friends & family to join in with you (virtually!)
Don’t party alone! Let the children enjoy their birthday party with family, friends and school friends. If you created a special playlist on YouTube you could even send a direct link to them so they can party along in their own homes.
We just kept it simple for ours and because our computer speaker isn’t that loud, we had our party with minimal music. We used ZOOM to host our birthday party call which allows up to 60mins of free unlimited calls of up to 20+ people. We only had 8 and that was big enough for us! We used the computer and could see all callers on one screen in the ‘gallery’ viewing mode. The screen is also much bigger than my iPhone 7 screen so I like using ZOOM on the computer for that reason.
Note: host your birthday party call on ZOOM or Sype or another conference calling platform. There’s so many you can choose from that there’s no excuse not to connect with others on your birthday.
If your child’s birthday happens to fall on a Sunday, you can party along with events organiser, Big Fish Little Fish events who host ‘virtual kitchen raves’ with their resident DJs every Sunday at 2-4PM via Facebook LIVE stream. It’s a family rave and has become so popular since the lockdown. I’ve been a fan of them since five years ago and still love the stuff they do.
Bonus tip: be prepared for the after party (clean-up!)
Once all the fun is over, the clean-up commences. It’s no small task I’ll tell you that, especially if you went crazy with the confetti and glitter cannons like we did. I still manage to find bits of confetti hidden around the room but I don’t mind. It’s a nice little reminder of Little Miss’s special day.
She still wore her party hat and party dress two days after her birthday and we left the birthday decorations up for the whole week because I was too lazy to take them down. Plus… they looked too cool to take down earlier. 🙂
Do you have children celebrating their birthday in quarantine? If so, make sure they have a great time. Having a birthday at home should be just as enjoyable as going out. Sure, it is hard right now as we can’t visit family and friends but with all the technology around us we are even more connected than ever before so utilise it.
This delicious recipe is vegetarian friendly (make it vegan by substituting the milk for dairy-free milk and butter for coconut oil). You could even try swapping the self-raising flour for oat flour but I can’t comment on how fluffy the pancakes will be… will have to be a new experiment for me! I’ve also made protein pancakes in the past, there’s two protein pancake recipes here which you can try.
Here’s a photo of the ones I made the other day with vanilla ice on top and a homemade peanut butter dulce de leche caramel in between.. it was delicious! The kids had their pancakes with chocolate-hazelnut spread and Daddy P had his with traditional lemon and sugar. I liked making the pancakes small as they looked so cute and perfect size for small hands.
Self-raising flour 100g
Whole or semi-skimmed milk 100ml
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp unsalted butter (melted)
1 tsp baking powder
oil spray (a few tbsp oil for cooking)
Sieve the flour into a bowl and add in caster sugar and baking powder – these are known as dry ingredients.
Then add in milk and butter – these are known as wet ingredients.
Whisk all the ingredients together until a smooth consistency is formed, it should be a thick creamy consistency.
Put the hob on a medium heat and add oil to the pan, only use a small amount and distribute evenly either with a brush or flat spatula.
Pour in the mix slowly and cook for around 2-4mins or until bubbles can be seen forming to the top of the pancake. You can check the base of the pancake, it should be a light brown colour before turning.
Flip over and cook on other side for about 1-2mins, you can check by slightly lifting the pancake
Cook remaining pancakes and serve with your own toppings!
Lemon and sugar
Chocolate hazelnut spread
Ice cream scoop
Banana and caramel sauce
Strawberries and whipped or pouring cream
Greek yoghurt, blueberries and honey
Cherry or mixed berry compote and vanilla ice cream
Oranges (sliced) with grand marnier liqueur (alcohol)
Syrup – golden or maple
Any combination of the above!
Did you give these pancakes a try? Let me know what you think of them!
A free children’s book about the coronavirus illustrated by the award-winning Gruffalo artist Axel Scheffler has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times.
Coronavirus: A Book for Children is aimed at five to nine-year-olds and hopes to simply answer key questions they may be asking their parents or carers about the COVID-19 outbreak.
It has been written by staff at the publishing house Nosy Crow, with expert input from Professor Graham Medley of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and advice from two headteachers and a child.
The opening page reads:
“There’s a new word you might have heard. You might hear people talking about it or you might hear it on the news.
This word is the reason that you’re not going to school. It is the reason you can’t go outside very often or visit your friends … But what is it and why is everyone talking about it?
The word is coronavirus.”
In just the first 24 hours the digital book was accessed over 100,000 times directly from the publisher’s website and hundreds of thousands of times further from other hosts.
Scheffler, who worked with author Julia Donaldson to illustrate The Gruffalo and many other books, said: “I asked myself what I could do as a children’s illustrator to inform, as well as entertain, my readers here and abroad. So I was glad when my publisher, Nosy Crow, asked me to illustrate this question-and-answer book about the coronavirus.”
“I think it is extremely important for children and families to have access to good and reliable information in this unprecedented crisis, and I hope that the popularity of the books I’ve done with Julia Donaldson will ensure that this digital book will reach many children who are now slightly older, but might still remember our picture books.”
Demand for the book means it has already been translated into 17 languages. Kate Wilson, managing director of Nosy Crow, said: “We have just been overwhelmed with the response to our book.”
Professor Medley added: “This pandemic is changing children’s lives across the globe and will have a lasting impact on us all. Helping children understand what is going on is an important step in helping them cope and making them part of the story – this is something that we are all going through, not something being done to them. This book puts children IN the picture rather just watching it happen, and in a way that makes the scary parts easier to cope with.”
I’ve always loved the idea of homeschooling but didn’t think I’d have the intelligence, patience or willpower to do so. After these two – almost three weeks – I can tell you that it’s bloody hard! I’ve always done so but now praise teachers even more for what they do with our children, it’s not an easy job with one let alone a class full of twenty plus.
We also must need to thank all of the key workers working hard to keep our country running. The shop workers, seriously – where would we be without them? It’s amazing that we can all stand together as one and as a community, helping each other out. In Greenwich there is a mutual aid group made up of locals volunteering to help out those in need who are struggling with their daily lives.
So we have been self-isolating since the school closures were announced on Friday 20th March. We have only gone out when necessary for essential shopping which we try to limit to no more than 2-3 a week. We didn’t stockpile but made sure we had a few extras of our normal shop to keep us going for a few weeks. We haven’t been sick or had symptoms *touch wood* and have stayed away from our friends and family.
Of course, we practice social distancing and we try to only nominate one of us to do the essential shop. I get Daddy P to do it as the last time I tried to go to the shops it was a little awkward and I felt very anxious. Social distancing wasn’t entirely possible in our local supermarket and other people noticed it too. One even commented “well we’re all gonna die anyway“… okay(!)
I wanted to say something so badly but we’re all entitled to our own opinion and in these uncertain times, who knows anymore. I wrote an earlier post about the racial tension I experienced which still looms in the air. Even an NHS worker in London was recently racially targeted because she was of Asian-looking heritage. There’s only two words that people need to think of in this situation and it’s “BE KIND”. Be kind to everyone but especially those who are working flat out to keep us safe.
The outbreak is affecting us all mentally, emotionally and physically. The kids are managing well and to be honest, haven’t been asking too many questions about it. They’ve just taken it on board and got along with things. I am so grateful that they are able to have this mindset especially as they’re not allowed outside more than once a week.
How to stay happy & healthy during the lockdown
1. Keep to a routine
Keeping to a routine will not only save your sanity, it will also give the family a sense of structure to your day. Most days, try to wake up at a reasonable time like (before 10am) and get that morning routine going. Especially as most of us are now at home it’s so easy to fall into a slump and put your body clock out of sync with the world.
If you are homeschooling you might want to wake up like you would do on a ‘normal’ school day and start your studies at 9am. For us, we’re a bunch of lazy bones and will wake up around 9-10am and start homeschooling an hour after. Our morning routine includes washing face/brushing teeth, eat breakfast, set up the desk and get into homeschool-mode. So much easier that we don’t have to faff around with school uniform!
Everyone’s routine will be a little different – the same goes with the homeschooling. Before I started, I had big plans for Little Man and a good day’s schedule all planned out. After the first day, we realised it wouldn’t work and so have adapted it to suit us since then. Now we limit school work to 2 hours a day and usually try to do it before their lunch at 1pm. However, we are also flexible so if we’ve had a lazy morning, we’d carry on with relaxing and playing then do the homeschooling after lunch or during the second half of the day.
2. Eat well
Don’t curb on all the processed food as now you’ll actually have the time to cook. If you’re not great at it or stuck for ideas, just head online and you’ll find that the internet world is really your (virtual) oyster. If the kitchen is not really your forte, subscription companies like Gousto, Mindful Chef and Hello Fresh can actually be very helpful however they will be very busy due to demand. Have a look for food boxes from your local grocery, they might even deliver for free. You can even check out their boxes recipes online too, here’s a link to Mindful Chef’s latest recipes to whet your appetite.
Note: get the kids involved with the cooking! It’ll count towards their ‘life skills’ and makes great bonding sessions.
Breakfast: make sure you have a good breakfast to start your day. Our favourite is oat porridge with a small dollop of jam or a slice of toast with cheesy scrambled egg. For myself if I’m being lazy, I have a slice of toast with tea and then coffee!
Lunch: we keep it simple for lunch as the kids usually get involved. Recently we’ve been making easy egg-less fluffy pancakes (recipe here!). There’s also a recipe for ‘protein pancakes’ on this blog if you fancy something different.
Dinner: Daddy P and I take it in turns but I would say 80% of the time, I’ll cook and he’ll clean because he’s the best at cleaning! 🙂 Our recent meals include salmon and dill quiche with salad, seafood and fish pie, easy macaroni cheese, veggie lasagne, and even fish stew! As Daddy P is pescetarian we don’t cook meat anymore – saying that I did make sticky soy and garlic glazed chicken wings the other day which was so tasty.
We try to get in our daily “together time”. This is any fun activity that we can do all together as a family. There’s also a weekly Sunday family rave courtesy of Big Fish Little Fish events at 2pm on Facebook Live so don’t miss that one! It’s pretty amazing. They put on an amazing show, we’ve been to a few family raves in person so it’s really nostalgic to watch them on Sundays. Also an excuse for us to make noise and go crazy with dance.
When I want to workout alone, I put on Zumba Workouts (Youtube) and work up a good sweat, my favourite workouts are from a lady called Ysel Gonzalez – she has such a vibrant energy it’s amazing. Sometimes the kids join in which is nice too. I’ve also bought a rebounder to use at home and the kids are having a good workout on there too! I’ve not had a go yet but will try it out this weekend.
If you’re stuck on ideas, here are some ‘together time’ activities you can fit into your routine:
Games – board games, console games, team player games, made-up games
Messy play or imaginative (role play, dressing up)
Arts and crafts-making
Watching a film together
Gardening (if you have a garden) or planting (indoors or outdoors)
Learning a new language
4. Do more yoga
We’ve been doing family yoga stories together once a week, sometimes more if they’re up to it. There’s also a lot of yoga teachers offering online classes (free, pay-what-you-can and donation-based) so have a look out for them. There’s literally a class for everyone and any family. If you’ve never done yoga before, don’t worry about it – family yoga is fun and the focus is on the bonding experience between parent and child/children and having fun! If you’re still unsure, you can put YouTube’s Cosmic Kids Yoga for the kids (ideally for 3-9 yrs) to keep them busy for an hour or two.
For yourself, now is a better time than any to start your own yoga practice. Yoga really is for everybody. Don’t think that you need to be flexible to start yoga – flexibility is a by-product of yoga!
My advice for you would be to look for yoga ‘flows’ (classes/sessions) that are specifically for beginners if you have no/very little yoga experience. These sessions are the best at easing you into simple poses and will have more options for modification. Restorative yoga flows are also great for beginners and they focus on releasing tight areas and are friendly enough for those who suffer from mobility issues or injuries. It’s also great for those who just want a much slower and relaxing pace.
5. Be flexible and realistic with your expectations
It’s so easy to try and cram as much in as possible, especially when we’re provided with so much choice and now have a lot more time on our hands. Take each day as it comes and as much as having a routine and structure is important, so is the ability to be flexible and realistic with your expectations. If the children seem like they have too much energy, have some time out and maybe even skip the schoolwork for the day. Enjoy the time you have with each other.
It’s hard for the children to not be able to release their wild energy normally like they would do running about in the playground and so they can become restless, mine certainly do! Be more understanding towards them and give them a little lee-way.
6. Practice daily mindfulness
Learning to be in the moment – being present, becoming mindful is something I am trying to teach myself. I can get quite riled up from the children that sometimes I lose my sh*t and go on a shouting rampage. What good does it do? Nothing. How does it make me feel after? Like a crappy parent. So why continue to do it?
Stop the cycle by observing and not judging whether it’s a good or bad situation, just accept it as it is. Only then can we move forward to a more positive outcome. I bought a mindfulness book which helps me to challenge my thoughts and behaviours – almost like a CBT book that helps me to keep calm and become more mindful of everything around. There’s also brilliant mindfulness apps for adults and children. For adults, I love the CALM app and for kids, we use the Moshi Twilight stories app. It really helps the children to relax and usually sends them off to sleep. Other mindfulness activities can include mandala colouring (great for kids too!), guided meditation and yoga nidra.
7. Boost your immunity
I’m sure you have heard this everywhere. Keep your immunity levels high to keep your health in good condition. You don’t have to purchase the world of tablets but multivitamins with omega 3 or vitamin D, and vitamin C tablets can go a long way. A good way of getting in vitamin C is through eating fruits like oranges. Try not to juice them as this extracts mainly the sugars that’s contained in the fruit. You’ll get more benefit from eating oranges whole and eat fruits with the skin on like apples as the fibre is in the skin.
When I’m not feeling too well, I like drinking my honey and ginger tea. Just hot water, a teaspoon of honey and a thumb-size knob of ginger (crushed) is the best thing ever.
Turmeric is also another fantastic ingredient that is an immune-booster, it’s anti-inflammatory and said to help with healing. My mother used to buy fresh turmeric root and rub it over her acne spots to help it heal faster. Unfortunately the root can be hard to find but they would be available in most Asian food stores but turmeric powder can be found in most supermarkets.
I like making turmeric lattes with turmeric powder and dairy-free milk (oat milk or brown rice milk is the best for this!) and enjoy. If you have a frothing tool you can get a really lovely foam going and a professional barista-style turmeric latte.
8. Get some fresh air
Whether you have a big garden or an apartment balcony like me, there’s always time to get some fresh air. We are still currently allowed to go outside for an hour of exercise so you could use a few minutes of this time to go on a gentle walk. If you’re up early enough, take the kids with you so they can get some fresh air too – by going earlier you’ll avoid unnecessary crowds of people. Of course, continue to practice social distancing and stay safe when outside.
If you prefer to go stay indoors the garden is a wonderful place to be, learn to make use of your green space – perhaps get the kids involved with some gardening or have a little campfire (no actual fire of course!) but you can teach them camping skills or scouts activities which you can find online. If like me you have just a balcony, leave the balcony door open for a few hours each day to let fresh air circulate inside the flat.
9. Don’t forget about yourself
When you have a family, looking after number one *yourself* can sometimes become the last priority but during this lockdown, your own mental/physical/emotionally self must be taken care of first. It’s the time to be selfish because you don’t look after yourself, who will look after your family?
I’m not saying splash out on something lavish – unless you can really afford to – I’m saying do something nice for yourself at least once a week or month. Whether it’s allowing yourself to binge on one whole Netflix series or eating that whole batch of chocolate brownies you made, just do it!
I re-joined Birchbox last month and I’m looking forward to this little treat. Other beauty subscription boxes include Look Fantastic (check out their pretty April box here), Glossybox and Beauty Pie. If you prefer natural or vegan beauty products, I’d highly recommend trying out the LoveLula boxes. I need to start reviewing the boxes again but I stopped as it took a lot of time, though now I have a little more time… why not!
These beauty boxes are life right now and the best thing is that you can choose to pay in block to save money or pay on a monthly basis and cancel at anytime. If you change your mind, you can resubscribe at anytime too.
Above all… stay happy, stay healthy, stay safe!
Lots of love to everyone during these uncertain times. Take care of family and more importantly yourself in both mind and body. x
I first met mumpreneur Nahdia @Nahdz_Adventures from a Paint & Slurp event that was ran by her and London artist @artsybeaumont which was super fun. This was a few years ago and the craft event is all about bonding with your child making art together on canvas whilst enjoying a healthy smoothie. Since then, I’ve been going to Nahdia’s amazing sensory workshops, Sensory Sunday with Nahdz.
The now-mum-of-three is an amazing, a real supermum – she blogs, runs her own business, takes care of her boys and travels with the kids in between. Mumspiration right there! She’s also supports lots of small businesses; when I first qualified for my kids yoga teacher training, she came along to my classes with her boys without fail. I’ve since moved away from there so haven’t been able to yoga with her and her boys as much anymore but I’m so glad I got to spend a good few months with teaching them family yoga. I could see the boys progressing in their yoga poses and strength every week.
What is Sensory Sunday with Nahdz?
Sensory Sunday with Nahdz is a monthly workshop that allows children to explore, play, and experience sensory stimulation (messy play) in a fun and safe environment. Parents can sit back and mingle with other parents or get just as involved with their children. The children can play to their heart’s content without anyone telling them “don’t make a mess” – every child’s dream. At the end, parents can walk away happy whilst Nahdz and her team work their magic clearing everything away. It’s guilt-free fun!
It’s a very inclusive event and is suitable for any child that likes sensory/messy play or you’d like to introduce your child to sensory/messy play. Little Man and my nephew loved the one I took them to a couple years ago. I haven’t taken Little Miss before so I think she will really enjoy the event. As I now work weekends, this makes it harder to do things with the kids when I’m not around. Daddy P is not really the best at looking out for these fun things to do.
Play, play and more play!
Nahdia usually sets up around 4 different trays (depending on number of children attending, PS parents/carers go free!) each with a different sensory element. The one we attended we had a dinosaur tray filled with pulses, rocks and plastic dinosaurs, another table had coloured rice and magnetic numbers and letters. It was even fun for me to plunge my hands into so I know the kids loved it. There’s also usually a special guest (ie. a book reading with an author) at the end of the workshop too which is a perfect way to wrap up the event.
The workshop is for children as young as pre-walking babies and toddlers up to primary school age. I took Little Man when he was 5 and he really couldn’t get enough of it!
Okay, where do I sign up?
Check out @Nahdz_Adventures instagram page or Eventbrite for upcoming Sensory Sunday dates. So far, the events have been held at Space@61 in Dulwich which is a cosy space that can be hired for events. I love the venue, it’s super family-friendly. It’s quite easy to get to with parking spaces nearby and outside the venue.
The first cases of coronavirus (Covid-19) hit our British
It’s been hard to write this as I don’t want to be negative but from the energy I can feel around me when I’m and about… I can’t brush it off and ignore it.
shores in late January. We are now approaching mid-March and the situation has not changed much in terms of case numbers and fatalities as compared to other European countries. However, the mentality and behaviour of people in the capital has become less welcoming… well, according to my own experiences anyway.
As a Vietnamese woman, I look Chinese. Over the years I have learnt to become comfortable in my own skin but I won’t lie to you – these past few weeks and especially last two days have tested me. It’s made me doubt myself and left me feeling paranoid and anxious to say the least.
On the underground, some people avoid being too close to me, for fear that they will catch coronavirus – even though I am not sick nor coughing nor feverish. Others make sly comments when I’m passing by or near them… here are some examples of what I’ve experienced so far; a young child in IKEA shouting “coronavirus” to his sister as they both passed me down the aisle. A man and his friend sniggering whilst looking at me and saying “oh shit, coronavirus… we’re in for it now!” And the latest one which I overheard in a conversation between the bartender and a woman when he mentioned about the outbreak in Italy, “well, who do you think brought it there?” It seems that Chinese people are being blamed for the coronavirus spreading worldwide.
I feel like I want to just hide away in a corner or stay at home and not go outside. When I board an empty train carriage, I find solace in its silence and can feel at ease with myself. It also gives me time to reflect on myself and my thoughts.
My friends would normally tell you that I am one of the happiest and bubbliest person that they know. I’m usually always smiling, happily greeting those who I pass by but these past few days I’ve retreated inwards, keeping my head down and just keeping it moving. It’s not been easy and certainly not as welcoming as it was pre-coronavirus.
Luckily in my little town, everyone is more inclusive. There is more sense of a community in which my family and I are accepted and treated without stereotyping or prejudice. I used to think that a city as diverse as London would always be so welcoming, inclusive and non-judgmental but in light of recent events, I’m now starting to doubt that.
I’d like to think that things will get better soon but I’m not sure how. I would like to believe that the passive aggressive comments and racial comments will stop – but I don’t think they will anytime soon. I would also like to think that people will stop stockpiling household items like toilet roll but I don’t think that will either. Who knows what the near future will look like for London but with all these talks about lockdowns and cancelled flights etc, it doesn’t look like it’ll be a fun summer.
I wish I could tell you half of the things. Alice used to say, beginning with her favourite phrase ‘Let’s pretend.‘
– Through the Looking-Glass, ch.1 ‘Looking-Glass house’
How can I sum up the ROH performance of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground? It was like a whirlwind of CRAZY! Just like Alice falling down the dizzying rabbit hole, the performance was a spiralling sensation. I really did not expect the performance to turn out the way it did, but am so happy I got to watch it.
I was invited to attend the press evening performance (Feb 4) with Little Man but unfortunately he was ill that week so I took Little Miss along with me instead. I wasn’t sure what to expect as she is only turning four so I thought it might be a little overwhelming for her but surprisingly she lasted well. You could hear the animated voices of other children in the auditorium who seemed to love it. What’s not to like about a chaotic performance from giant ‘eat me’ cakes, blue ‘drink me’ bottles, four giant crying baby heads and Humpty Dumpty?
A cheeky selfie before the show starts
The spectacular view of the ROH auditorium
We arrived slightly later than planned and the queue to collect tickets was much longer than expected – I was unfortunately not in the right queue! How was I to know?! LOL We made it to our seats in the auditorium stalls (row L) which had great views of the stage. We took a few selfies before settling down for the performance to start.
My thoughts on Alice’s Adventures Under Ground…
This opera is unlike any other; it breaks all the rules. Singers are pushed to the extremes with their vocal ranges (hitting over 30 top ‘C’ notes in the first five minutes of the performance!), Jabberwocky sung in English, Russian and German, and Humpty Dumpty recounts his tragic tale to a rendition of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy… all thanks to Gerald Barry and his clever mish-mash of Alice in wonderland and Alice through the looking-glass.
Alice: Claudia Boyle
The Red Queen: Clare Presland
The White Queen: Hilary Summers
The White Rabbit: Sam Furness
The March Hare: Peter Tantsits
The Cheshire Cat: Mark Stone
Humpty Dumpty : Joshua Bloom
All of the cast above also played various other roles.
A big well done to the cast for their vibrant performance. The fifty-five minute show was a little too short for my liking but at the same time, it was just the right amount of time for families with younger children to enjoy. I really enjoyed it but for Little Miss, she just didn’t get it which was disappointing. I guess it was just too much going on at one time for her. It was her first time watching an opera performance and I’m sure if it was Little Man, he’d probably would’ve thought the same thing. However for him, he’d be able to get by from reading the surtitles – that’s what he did when we went to watch The Lost Thing.
There were also moments that made me burst into laughter. My favourite scene was after Alice went through the looking glass and witnessed the battle between the red knight and white knight. It was hilarious watching the two duelling then falling off their horses, only to apologetically help each other get back on to battle again. Little Miss’ favourite (and recognisable scene) Alice falling d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-down the endless rabbit hole that even she had to catch her breath before meeting the rabbit and the four ‘eat me’ cakes. The four baby heads which represented the four bottles totally threw us both off which was quite funny very weird! I really don’t remember that scene from Alice in Wonderland at all!
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son
The jaws that bit, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”
“When Alice tumbles down into the Rabbit Hole into Wonderland… she meets a successions of strange characters in unusual situations… Following the trial of the Knave of Hearts – accused of stealing the Queen’s tarts – Alice finds herself in Looking Glass Land…
Here, Alice becomes a Queen herself.”
The story is told in a most peculiar yet enchanting way. Lewis Carroll would’ve been appreciative of this wonderful approach. There’s singing, shouting, speaking, growling and squealing alongside the orchestra accompaniment. With two performances a night for 6 nights, it’s pretty intense. The show itself was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it type of performance. It’s fast, it’s wild and it’s fantastic. If you missed it (it went by as quickly as its performance dates) then I hope the Royal Opera House will put this opera on again next year.
It’s definitely one not to be missed. 🙂
For a more formal take on the show, you can check out British Theatre Guide’s review from Vera Liber who I met at the last ROH performance I’d attended. Unfortunately I didn’t bump into her that night but if she’s reading this, I send my love and warm greetings!
So you want to hear a story? Yrots a raeh ot tnaw uoy os?
Last week we were invited along to attend a showing of The Lost Thing at the Royal Opera House. As the show was suitable for children aged 6+ I was allowed to bring a plus one and naturally, I took Little Man with me. We don’t go to the theatre regularly and normally when we do go, it’s usually to our local Greenwich Theatre (which is fantastic for families!) so going to a fancy one like the Royal Opera House, I had to make sure my little monster was going to be on his best behaviour.
We attended the evening performance (7.15PM) but there are days when a matinee performance is showing. We made our way from North Greenwich to Covent Garden easily and just missed the rush hour period as we set off around 5PM. When we arrived at the Royal Opera House, we were ‘greeted’ by the doorman (they just opened the door, no smiles and we were the first to initiate the actual greeting, but hey ho) who showed us the way to the reception desk. Looking around I could see why we were not as warmly welcomed as we would be at our little Greenwich Theatre. The majority of the ROH attendees are mostly older, mostly middle-class and attended without children. A totally different demographic than what we’re used to seeing.
As we headed downstairs to the Linbury Theatre, it was a little less intimidating as we saw more families and young children. Little Man didn’t notice anything but as a parent, I feel like the theatre should be a more welcoming place for those with young children. Perhaps if we had attended a matinee performance it would’ve probably felt less judging as we usually associate evening shows with adult guests rather than young families.
As we were a little early, we decided to head back up and have a look around the small gift shop. We bought a laser-light keyring and a ballet pump keyring for Little Miss. We then headed back downstairs to the cafe outside the Linbury Theatre and had a hot chocolate and a brownie which satisfied our sweet craving.
What is The Lost Thing?
The Lost Thing is a picture book written and illustrated by Shaun Tan. It became one of his bestselling books worldwide and well-recognised in the literature world. The story is about a boy who discovers ‘The Thing’ which doesn’t seem to belong to anything in particular, making it ‘lost’. In the book, The Thing looks very mechanical and is orange-red with greenish metal claws and legs whereas in the theatre production, it’s more organic and living with a green, moss-like body and ever-changing number of legs.
In this theatrical adaptation by Ben Wright and Jules Maxwell (from Candoco Dance Company, a world-leading professional dance company) we are treated to a different kind of storytelling; one that’s filled with not only music but also theatrical singing, opera and dance along the way. ‘Mixing it up’ is definitely a good way of exposing children of this new generation to a variety of performing arts.
Review: The Lost Thing at Royal Opera House
Despite the lukewarm review of the show being “too static and slow” from The Guardian online, I much agree with the reviews from Culture Whisper and British Theatre Guide. The performance was pleasantly executed, and provided both children and adults with some true thought-provoking moments. In the programme booklet they gave me, it mentions that The Thing in the performance is not meant to replicate Tan’s illustration but instead, represents something living and organic. The Thing can shape-shift changing from two legs to eight legs, growing larger or smaller depending on its mood.
“We wanted to take it in a completely different direction and build on the skeleton of the story, which is about celebrating difference, supporting what is lost, and potentially contemplating what we are losing. We decided to shift the nature of The Thing itself to be this odd, biodiverse, many-limbed organism…“ –Ben Wright, interviewed by Lyndsey Winship
I can understand why there may be some disappointment as to why the original story was never followed through completely but then again, adapting a picture book into an opera/theatrical performance is not ordinary neither. The story lines is minimal but I think that makes it easy for children to understand. There’s also surtitles and audio description for those hard of hearing. The diverse cast are fantastic – all extremely talents and a good mix of both disabled and non-disabled dancers, musicians, singers.
I thought the interpretation of The Thing as something organic and living, familiar yet somehow forgotten, was like a metaphorical example of the world we live in today. There is a scene where The Boy almost hands The Thing over to the odds and ends department, but then a janitor appears and strongly advises against it, saying that things left there get permanently forgotten. We then see the janitor being comforted by The Thing and feeling happy that it’s in his presence. It reminded me of how happy and content we once were to just enjoy simple things ie. nature but now we’re constantly fixated on our phones and devices.
“In the book, the denouement is that it finds a place where it belongs. In our version that place is a very saturated, green, mossy jungle…” –Ben Wright, interviewed by Lyndsey Winship
Summary: my thoughts on The Lost Thing
Little Man loved the performance and has asked to go back to watch The Thing come to life again. We will aim to go before the new year. He also lost his thing (a small toy) there at the theatre, which has now become his ‘lost thing’ – now isn’t that a story within a story for you?
I loved the story so much that I ordered the picture book online for Little Man, he instantly recognised the book from the ochre colour scheme and enjoyed reading it however he told me that he much prefers the ending that he saw in the opera adaptation.
The Lost Thing is showing until January 4th 2020 and tickets are between £7.00-£35.00 for a seat, how can you resist a familiar yet story?
You can watch the video of Shaun Tan’s story here:
P I N T H I S P O S T
[AD] We were given complimentary tickets to attend the performance of The Lost Thing at the Royal Opera House in exchange for this review post. All opinions and content are in my own words and photos that have been used are credited to their sources respectively.