0 Cart
Added to Cart
    You have items in your cart
    You have 1 item in your cart
    Check Out Continue Shopping


    Entertaining our children during lockdown

    Entertaining our children during lockdown

    We are living through strange times. With the UK on lockdown to try and slow the spread of Covid-19, families are now mostly confined to their homes. That means we are trying to figure out how to work from home or to safely travel to key worker jobs. We are adjusting to new domestic dynamics and the fresh parenting challenge of doing without schools, nursery and childminders.

    I am a teacher and I want to urge you not to add to your anxiety by worrying about your children’s education right now. Your job is to keep them healthy, heard and occupied. They will be learning as they play, so you don’t need to recreate the school environment at home.

    As parents who aim to live a low-impact lifestyle we are all trying to buy less, use what we have and recycle. With that in mind, here are some suggestions for activities your children can do with resources that you probably have at home already. Rest assured they will be learning at the same time, with no extra effort on your part.

    Cardboard Box

    The classic. We all know that children are often more interested in the box that a toy came in than the toy itself.

    Bigger boxes can be used to make a den. Let your child use blankets, cushions and their natural creativity. The box can become a cosy reading nest or a base for their imaginative adventures. They will probably appreciate a custom space of their own in a house unusually full with other members of the family.

    Spread out newspaper or an oilcloth and get out the pens and paints. My top tip when using paints is to let your child wear as little as possible. Then you can launch them straight into the bath for a hose-down afterwards. Alternatively, use a long sleeve bib. The box will transform into a car, a train or a spaceship. Your children can travel to the furthest reaches of the galaxy without leaving the house!

    Smaller boxes can be used for posting games, which are particularly good for younger children. Paint some discs of card different colours, cut slits in the box and outline them in the same colours. Your little one will be practising their colour matching and motor skills by finding the right disc for the slot and posting it through.


    If you have access to a garden or a balcony you can make bubbles. You can also do this indoors, but be warned: surfaces get very slippery. You just need to mix washing-up liquid with water in a bucket or deep tray. Obviously, if your local shops are running low on cleaning products, don’t use up the last of your supply on this. Use roughly 1 cup of washing-up liquid to 6 cups of water. I’ve always found it tricky to get just the right consistency to blow really big bubbles with homemade mixture, especially with the eco-friendly brands. Luckily children seem happy with frothy water and smaller ones. My weapon of choice is a tennis or badminton racket. Simply dip and swish to make clusters of bubbles.

    When they’re bored of bubbles, or if the mixture is a bit of a flop, don’t waste the bucket of soapy water. Add a couple of scrubbing brushes, cloths or sponges. You’ll be surprised how long younger children will be engrossed in cleaning. Let them scrub garden furniture, windows or their toys. If their toothbrush needs replacing, you can get a new bamboo one. The old brush can become a dedicated play tool, perfect for giving toy cars a thorough wash.

    If you haven’t got the soap to spare, plain water is just as entertaining. Get containers of different sizes from the kitchen or recycling bin and let your children explore filling and pouring. Older children can investigate the relative volume of containers; try and include a measuring jug with the millilitres marked for them to use.

    Of course, if the weather is warm enough, there’s always a good old-fashioned water fight!

    Egg box

    I’ve found that there have been shortages in some shops, but hopefully you have an empty egg box. Those little compartments are very versatile. Younger children might like to use them to collect little treasures from around the house. You can use a felt tip to write numbers inside and children can compete to flick a screwed-up piece of scrap paper into the furthest hole. Older children can make a score board and total the points.

    If you haven’t had enough of paint, you can coat the inside of each section a different colour and challenge young children to find small matching objects to put inside. They could also put the right amount of objects inside to match the numbers from the flicking game.

    Egg boxes make great seed planters. Simply fill with soil and sew your seeds. The box is the perfect size to germinate on a windowsill. If you have packets of seeds, older children can read the instructions themselves and use a ruler to follow them and choose the best place for the box. If you don’t have packets, experiment with using the seeds from tomatoes, peppers and squash. The boxes are also perfect for ‘chitting’ potatoes. Put a potato in each compartment with the more rounded end upwards. Shoots should emerge and when they are a couple of centimetres long they can be planted in the garden or in a large, deep pot.

    Toilet roll tubes

    Obviously, these have been in short supply of late! When you get through your current collection, save the inner tubes. To give little fingers a chance to practise fine motor skills, snip the tubes into shorter sections and give your child string to thread through. They can make a necklace or a wriggly caterpillar.

    With a bit of tape, two tubes can become a pair of binoculars. Even if you don’t have a garden, you can spot birds from a window. Older children could keep a tally or look online to identify different species. Their new binoculars can even come with them on a safari in their cardboard box car.

    The shape naturally lends itself to making a rocket. Once they’ve designed and customised it they can have rocket races or assemble an alien planet to land on. They’re also a good size for making puppets. If you’ve got a copy of Owl Babies your children could make little owlets to use to act out the story. Or perhaps they would rather make three bears and Goldilocks. They can take inspiration from their favourite book.

    After a few weeks of lockdown, you might have enough tubes to make a marble run. Your children can tape the tubes together and find inventive ways to suspend them from furniture to make a course. Let them experiment with sending different toys down the chute. Can they find the thing that travels fastest? Why do some get stuck?

    Kitchen cupboards

    Something I’m planning to do in the next few days is an inventory of the kitchen to see exactly what we’ve got and what we need. As with everything I want to do, I have to figure out how to get it done with a two-year-old in tow. Usually my answer is to involve him if possible, at least until we both get frustrated! You could do this too.

    Older children can make a list and sort things into categories. They can look through cookbooks to plan some meals from the ingredients you already have. While this is happening, younger children can sort tins into groups of the same colour or line up packets in order of size. A recipe for a messy kitchen but it’s important to teach children to value food and learn how to avoid waste.

    Once they’re done with the edibles, they can move on to the cookware. If you have the patience for it, allow your children to make an orchestra with pots and pans. They can use utensils made from different materials to create a variety of sounds.

    Be kind to yourself

    Living under lockdown is a chance for us to slow down. With shops closed and travel restricted we are all experiencing a more low-impact lifestyle. Take this time to appreciate and look after each other.

    These activities have rich learning potential, but don’t let that be your focus. In these uncertain times, your children need to be as free from worry as they can be and you all need a chance to relax and have fun. I hope some of these ideas can give you a few minutes to yourself, too!

    Let us know if you try any of the ideas and tag us in your photos @oncobabygoods.



    Beckenham Place Park

    Beckenham Place Park

    This beautiful park in South East London was a lovely find.  Plenty of parking  including electric charge points and a wonderfully built spacious playground nearby.  Beckenham Place Park has a huge (20 hectares) ancient woodland that you can cycle around and is fantastic for walking dogs.   

    The Georgian mansion is open to the public daily with displays of art and hosting yoga, wellbeing, arts and craft sessions.  It has a record shop and a small cafe that could be lovely if it was refurbised.  The toilet facilities are within the mansion and quite clean.  

    The lake is filled by natural water resources and runs into the woodland that will create a unique habitat for plants.  It is going to ready for swimming this summer 2019 (booking online) with lifeguards in the summer.  A free paddling area is also available without booking.  There will also be Canadian canoes for hiring suitable for children over 2 years old accompanied by an adult. 

    Definitely worth a trip over the summer to this part of town. 

    Ideal short break abroad - Boulogne Sur Mer

    Ideal short break abroad - Boulogne Sur Mer

    Long wide soft sandy beach, fresh delicious seafood and a children friendly town is not expected a mere 20 minutes drive from Calais but Boulogne Sur Mer was a lovely surprise.  

    The short 40 minutes on the Eurotunnel to cross The Channel was thoroughly enjoyed by our boys. They thought driving our car onto the double decker train was 'so cool'.  The time passed quickly.  As soon as we ate our packed lunch, took a trip to the toilets we had arrived in France.

    We decided to stop at the Carrefour hypermarket in Calais. We stocked up on some amenities but had we done our research we would have realised there's a small Carrefour nearby in town.  It's small town so there's no need to stop off in Calais unless you're arriving out of ours.

    We arrived mid afternoon and all the boys wanted to do was hit the beach.  The weather was sunny and warm with a breeze.

    They expended a lot of energy chasing the kite up and down the  beach.  There were only tears when big brother lost his grip and the kite blew along the coast. Imagine four grown adults and four little kids chasing it desperately trying to catch it before it flew up over the hills.  Only lots of cuddles and the promise of a new kite could console big brother. Wny did the beach shop close so early?

    It was a good time to get ready for dinner.  You can see our spacious apartment in the photo above. It was right across the street from the beach. Super convenient and very comfortable. 

    We randomly picked a well reviewed restaurant - Fleur del Sel from Tripadvisor not knowing it was probably too posh for kids.  Luckily we were the first ones through the door but we were all just so conscious the noise the kids were making that it made it much less enjoyable than it could have been.  To be fair no one made any comments or gave us any nasty looks and the restaurant were very accommodating with the children.  Still we did get out of there as quick as we could.  After we apologised the staff said 'they're just children -it was no trouble at all' and from our experience after the weekend Bouloge sur Mer is a very child friendly town.

    On Sunday morning we slowly made our way to the fish and grocer's market.  There's just something about fresh local produce that makes me buy more than we can eat.  Fresh bread and cheese made us too full for our lunch of simple fresh tomatoes and pasta.  Be sure to try some of the local oysters.  I don't think you can get much fresher than at the fish market.  Thanks to other half's fish skills we were able to indulge in the freshest seafood.  


    Crab pasta

    The old town is beautiful and worth a walk round.  We only discovered it when my friend and I nipped off just before dinner to buy some pastries for dessert.  Be sure to not make the mistake we did as they do close and sell out early.  After driving to 2 that were closed we did manage to find one just before it closed at 7pm - Le Délice de Palais.  .From the handful that were remaining and unembarrassingly bought out of desperation they were really yummy. It's just a shame we had to share it with the kids when they noticed we came home with cake looking boxes.   

    It was a very relaxed weekend with very little planned and plenty of fresh air. We definitely made the most of the beach across the road and the play ground - it's an ideal destination for a short weekend.  We didn't do many paid attractions but lots of walking around the town, beach and marina.   For those wanting to entertain the kids with more culture there's the sealife centre, museums and cathedrals to keep you busy.

    My plastic free journey - top 5 child friendly tips

    My plastic free journey - top 5 child friendly tips

    There's a lot of media attention to reduce plastic waste. The government started by charging for plastic bags when you shop and now companies are banning plastic straws.  I want to share how I slowly made small lifestyle changes to reduce my plastic footprint that are baby and child friendly.  

    The best way to go about reducing plastic usage and making these changes to your lifestyle is to do it gradually so you don't notice the inconvenience. The easiest way to switch to a plastic free alternative or to reduce plastic waste is to change we switch an everyday item like a plastic toothbrush to a more sustainable and eco-friendly alternative.

    Read more

    Christmas Tree Farm

    Christmas Tree Farm

    This little gem of a farm in Orpington is perfect for children who love to feed and pet animals.  There were sheep and goats at the beginning of the trail, alpacas, llamas and cows, horses and ponies as well as pigs.  You'll find chickens, ducks and geese freely wandering around - some may even have lunch with you.  Rabbits and guinea pigs are in a sheltered pen by the ticket office.  


     We visited during half term and it was busy but we managed to find parking easily albeit I had to put my reverse driving skills to the test when I found the small car park  was full.  There was an overflow car park right next door.

    For £4 per adult and £2 per child (over 2) the farm is large enough to not seem overly crowded but small enough to see all the animals in a couple of hours.  We did find that the animals were not wanting to feed towards the end of the visit - they probably had a field day with all the school children feeding them.  Feed buckets were £1 each for a small bucket including carrots.  

    It was an enjoyable visit.  The wash facilities were good with step stools for young children to stand on to wash their hands.  

    There is a strict no picnic policy at the farm and there are lots of signs to remind you so if you plan to bring any food to eat don't be surprised that the staff will ask you to pack it away.  They do serve a small selection of hot snacks (hot dogs and sausage rolls) and sandwiches including a packed lunch box for children. Their hot chocolates were surprisingly good!