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    Blogs — parenting

    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.



    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

    Hot off the press - new baby products coming to the UK!

    Hot off the press - new baby products coming to the UK!

    We had a wonderful trip to Cologne to look at new, innovative and stylish baby and children's products exhibited from around the world.  It was our third trip and every year we are surprised and excited by the inventions and products that come to the market and only wish we had these when our kids were little.

    So here are our top 7 baby products:

    7. Extra large changing mat by Pinolino

    The nursery furniture by Pinolino were definitely generating nursery envy for us. Spacious 3 unit wardrobes with clean, modern lines would make any room fit for a prince or princess. What drew our attention was the extra large changing table.  There was an extra panel extending the back of the chest of drawers and the changing mat was wide so you can change the baby front on instead of sideways.  Great for those wriggly babies.

    6. Microscooter cabin case and seat in 1



    This cabin sized suitcase will take away the stress out of airports.  When you've checked in your buggy and you have a toddler who wants to be carried yet you have your own suitcase, changing bag and extras to carry, this suitcase converts to a wheely chair, almost like a ride along bike, for your little one.  They say it supports up to 30kg but I had a sneaky ride on it - check me out!  Just like their scooters it is well designed, sturdy construction and great manoeuverability. 

    5. Biobuddi eco building blocks

    This is an amazing company using sugarcane waste to build safe, eco-friendly and sustainable building blocks.  They have a good range of vibrant coloured educational sets as well as building playsets.  These are a great plastic free alternatives and compatible with Duplo.

    4.Je Porte Mon Bebe physio carrier



    A baby carrier that meets all your requirements from birth up to 20kg!  This carrier is suitable for front and back (from 6 months) carrying and for all season.  We were instantly drawn to this carrier as it has a flap that reveals a mesh lining for warmer weather which is a thumbs up as we know how hot and sweaty carriers can get for both baby and parent.

    3. WeeKee - changing mat for cars

    Imagine you're driving in the middle of nowhere, your car boot is full and your baby needs a number 2 nappy change with no changing facilities in sight.  We remember very well. Take a look at the superb innovative solution: WeeKee car changing mat comes in a small pack that self-inflates in seconds and counters the incline of the car seat.  It's so easy to roll back up and repack.

    2. Maxi cosi infant carseat with air bag (Axissfix Air)

    This car seat, although an expensive initial outlay, is suitable from approximately 4 months, for toddlers and going up to 4 years old.  It's the world’s first car seat with built-in airbags. In the case of an accident within 0.05 second the airbags inflate with cold air which give crucial protection to your child’s head, neck and shoulders.  It has a 360° swivelling seat to make putting your little one in and out of the car seat a little bit easier.  It also has a forward facing seat option from 15 months.

    1. Elvie breastpump

    Our favourite product wowed us - the Elvie breastpump.   This is a revolutionary breastpump worth the £299 for one pump.  It's handsized pump fits into a nursing bra without leads so that you can remain mobile and get on with what you need to do.  The world’s first silent wearable breast pump has a 2 hour battery life with a BPA free bottle for 150mL pump capacity and all parts can be sterilised where required.  A novel feature of the Elvie breastpump is that you can turn it on using a mobile app that also tracks how much you've pumped with a pump history. We think that if you can carry on with your daily life this could simulate breastfeeding and promote milk production during expressing. Amazing product! 

    Getting your little one school ready - Tips for Parents

    Getting your little one school ready - Tips for Parents

    As my nephew is starting reception soon I thought I'd put together a few tips for Alice of things that her little one should ideally have got the hang of before starting school and being on his own. Use this as a guide for your little ones to tick off to prepare for school:


    • I know when to wash my hands
    • I can wipe my nose
    • I can ask for help if I don't feel well

    Speaking & literacy

    • I am interested in reading stories & looking at picture books
    • I am able to talk about myself, my needs & feelings
    • I am practising recognising my name when it's written down

    Getting undressed & undressed on my own

    • I can button & unbutton my clothes
    • I can put my own shoes & socks on
    • I can put my coat on and & use the zip

    Interest in the world & new activities

    • I enjoy learning about the world around me
    • I am interested in exploring new activities or environments
    • I like asking questions


    • I can use a knife & fork
    • I can open my packed lunch on my own
    • I am confident at opening wrappers & packaging

    Writing skills

    • I like tracing patterns & colouring in 
    • I enjoy experimenting wit different shaped scribbles
    • I am practising holding a pencil

    Going to the toilet

    • I can go to the toilet on my own, wipe myself properly & flush
    • I can wash & dry my hands without any help


    • I am happy to be away from my mummy, daddy or my main carer
    • I am happy to tidy my belongings & look after my things
    • I am feeling confident about starting school

    Listening & understanding

    • I am able to sit still and listen for a short while
    • I can follow instructions
    • I understand the need to follow rules

    Sharing & turn taking 

    • I can share toys & take turns
    • I can play games with others
    • I can interest with other children

    Counting skills

    • I enjoy practising counting objects
    • I like saying number rhymes & playing counting games
    • I can recognise some numbers when they are written down


    • I have practised putting on my uniform & getting ready to leave on time
    • I have a good bedtime routine so I'm not feeling for school
    • I'm learning to eat at the times I will on school days


    Give me 10 minutes

    Do you have Whirlwind-itus?

    Since having a baby I have developed a strange condition. It's not life threatening, thankfully, and I'm hoping its manageable. On talking to other parents I don't think I'm the only one struggling with it. I've looked up my symptoms online to try and identify it but my search has come up blank. So I'm self-diagnosing. People, I've got 'Whirlwind-itus'.

    It used to take me about a week to wash any of my clothes. I would check the weather on-line to try and plan a good time to do it. I would take the clothes out of the washing basket and move them incrementally closer to the washing machine at a rate of approximately two metres a day. When finally close enough, the washing would then go in the machine where I would promptly forget about it. I would then forget about it some more. The forgetting (or wilfully ignoring) stage would go on for a few days until I ran out of pants/tights/work appropriate clothing and actually turned the machine on. It would then go out to dry (after a another delay, obviously), dodging rain showers (the weather check earlier in the week now obsolete) taken in when still wet and sometimes, in low moments, dried with a hair-dryer so I had something clean to wear to work.

    Now, due to my new condition, when A is asleep, things get done. She fell asleep the other morning and in the space of fifteen minutes I had eaten breakfast, emptied the dishwasher, put a nappy wash on (There is always a nappy wash to do in my house), hung some clothes away, put away the drying up, replied to some texts and I'm pretty sure if she had slept any longer I could have taken a crack at brokering peace in the middle east.

    I whirlwind. The minute that little girl closes her eyes I'm off, Tasmanian Devil style around the house; eating, cooking, cleaning, carrying, building, welding, talking, painting – doing anything and everything in that small, unknown amount of time that she sleeps Some days I marvel at my efficiency. Turns out my mother was right all along – Imagine what I could do if I only applied myself! (Big up Martha) But more recently, it's left me feeling frustrated. In that small sliver of time, that miniscule window that I get to myself all day, I choose to, what? empty the dishwasher? That seems a bit sad to me.

    I get stuff has to get done; the older child has to be picked up from school, the fire that's just started in the corner probably needs to be put out. However, now when A sleeps, (sorry, I mean, If A sleeps, there are no guarantees in this house) I try to just stop. Breathe. Resist the urge to carry out major house renovations in forty-five minutes. Maybe just have a cup of tea. Read a book. Sit. I don't want to go off on a well-being tip (I'm sure there a millions of other much better written blogs dedicated to that), but there is definitely something about using this precious time as a parent, to do something for yourself, to not try and fit in a weeks worth of housework into half an hour. A wise man once said to me 'Its not about the length of time,  it's about the quality' (It was my neighbour Vince, he's lovely) and I really think he is right.

    It's tough, I admit. To sit and write this I had to stop myself doing another million things. A sleeps for random lengths of time of at random times of day. There is no pattern to it. But I am trying to enforce a pattern. A pattern of stopping before I whirlwind and asking myself if it is really what I want to do with that time.

    Ironically I better finish this and call the G.P's while she is asleep – I'm hoping they can give me some drugs for this condition at the very least.