Walks by the Sea and Water Bracelets

Today, the morning stood out in stark contrast to the world around us. It felt fresh and the skies seemed to open up. I love the fact in Springtime the sky seems to lift higher and it feels like we aren’t closed into a grey box anymore. We got up early and got ready to go for a walk. I’m finding that starting the day with a walk makes the girls’ energy levels far more manageable. Otherwise, they’d be dismantling everything in the house and fighting with each other and driving me crazy ๐Ÿ™‚

We drove to the seaside and went onto the beach. I was surprised by how few people were there. I’d expected everyone to have the same idea as a location for a “remote” walk. We walked along the shore and the girls threw rocks in the sea, built miniature sandcastles with their hands, decorated them with shells and filled the moat with water they’d scooped up with sea shells. I liked seeing what they came up with in the absence of a bucket and spade ๐Ÿ™‚ They also started jumping in the shallow water, and I just let them get on with it, even if it resulted in wet feet, because it feels like we all have so little freedom at the minute. The Stena Line passed by and it whipped up the waves and the girls pretended the tide was chasing them and ran away squealing ๐Ÿ™‚ There were a couple of dog walkers out, but other than that, it was deserted, and we had the beach to ourselves. We stayed for a while, just absorbing some sunlight and looking at the view.

Afterwards, we went to a local health food shop to get a few things. I’d forgotten how much I like going there. I’d got into a habit of convenience shopping instead of supporting local shops, and I’m trying to break that now. The girls loved going there too. The lady who owns it is so friendly and has a box of toys for kids. We got some spelt pasta, which I’ve never tried before, some biscuits, yeast, chai tea and oat milk, so I could make myself some Starbucks-style lattes ๐Ÿ™‚ The lady very kindly gave the girls a lolly each and they were so excited about them ๐Ÿ™‚ I have already noticed the girls becoming a bit less demanding, and I think the simpler lifestyle will do them no harm, apart from maybe missing the social side with others.

I picked up The Simple Things magazine and a couple of magazines for the girls. I know a lot of people think kids’ magazines are a waste of money, but I find that it settles them and it makes us sit down at the table together to work on them, and they’re educational too. For some reason the cheap toys in them provide more entertainment than any toys I’ve ever bought them. They’ve been playing pizza restaurants all day, in between other activities, with a pizza that slices into quarters and comes with a box, loyalty card, menu etc. You could recreate it with cardboard if you wanted to, for a cheap activity to do indoors, cutting out and colouring the different toppings they can add. It might keep them busy for a few hours creating the toppings ๐Ÿ™‚ The girls have been taking “phone orders” and set up a desk in the living room for their takeaway ๐Ÿ™‚

When we got home, we did some word games and I helped them with their magazines for a while. We had some coffee and snacks and I’ve set up a snack shop. I’d seen the idea for it on a friend’s social media ๐Ÿ™‚ We have a list of snacks and prices and they get a pound each in different change so they can practise counting out money and learn about budgeting for the day. Once their money is gone, they aren’t allowed any more. It’s a good way to ration snacks, and then when they run out of change, you can announce that the shop is closed for the day ๐Ÿ™‚

I dug out some stencils we had in the cupboard and the girls used them for a while. I also had a book we’d borrowed from the library about beating boredom for kids. It has some great ideas in it that don’t require materials. I find most kids’ activity books require you to make a special trip to the shop to source all the parts. The book has simple things like drawing a picture without lifting the pencil from the page, making paper cup telephones, taking fun photos, inventive ways of blowing bubbles. If anyone wants me to share some of the ideas for them while they’re indoors with their kids, message me and I’ll send you them ๐Ÿ™‚

The girls played on their bikes in the garden for a little while to get some fresh air and I hung out some laundry. I usually shove everything in the tumble drier because I don’t have time to hang out laundry and iron it all, etc, so it was nice to have the time to do that for a change. I find it quite a restful chore when I actually get around to doing it ๐Ÿ™‚ I made some fried rice for lunch with leftover rice from yesterday and the girls devoured it. They’ve been constantly hungry since they stopped school; maybe because they know that snacks are accessible at any hour of the day now ๐Ÿ™‚

After lunch, we made water bracelets with a set I had got my daughter for her birthday. You just put stoppers in a tube, fill it with sequins and beads and then fill it up with water, adding a charm before you seal it. One of my daughters wanted me to help with hers and I realised how therapeutic they are to make. They should make them for adults too. I think it would lower all our stress levels at the moment ๐Ÿ™‚

I made myself a vanilla oat latte and got a chance to do some writing while the girls watched TV. I had already made bolognese for a handy dinner. I’m going to use some of my time in the house for batch cooking – not because I’m hoarding ๐Ÿ™‚ but just because I find cooking days relaxing. I lit my white chocolate candle and was bombarded with constant questions – which made me glad I’d prepared dinner in advance for once ๐Ÿ™‚

The girls have started a new game where they skate with one rollerskate on – like a mini skateboard. I’m half amused by it – half waiting for an accident to happen :/ Before bed, they wanted to play races in the living room. I started shouting ready, steady and something silly instead of go and it turned into a new game, like ready, steady, tiny baby chick poop (probably not the best game to discourage toilet humour) but they ended up lying on the floor laughing and I didn’t have to get up and got to drink my tea while it was warm ๐Ÿ™‚

I don’t know what we will do tomorrow yet, and usually I have everything somewhat planned out. But I’m actually happy to let the day unfold as it decides to do without my interference ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

Updates from the Inside

I feel the need to create something slow-moving and thoughtful to work against the fast-paced media bombardment weโ€™re experiencing at the minute. Iโ€™ve been trying to find the right balance between staying informed and staying sane, and because Iโ€™m empathic, I find it important to have times of rest where I fill myself with inspiration rather than negative news.

I spent the day indoors with the girls and explained everything thatโ€™s happening to them in childโ€™s terms. They listened (for a minute) and then asked if we could do salt painting again, so we did that, and I did a picture of my own ๐Ÿ™‚ I find doing physical things that employ your hands settles my mind down when itโ€™s getting overactive and realised the importance of not just being an instructor or observer, but of joining in with the fun when my kids do crafts ๐Ÿ™‚ Iโ€™d recommend salt painting for adults too – just sitting dabbing paint on the page and watching it move along the little channels of glue and salt soothes your mind.

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After the wild weather collapsed my little pop-up grow house (!) I got a window box for the plants Iโ€™m trying to grow (special emphasis on the โ€œtrying.โ€) My tomatoes and coriander have actually sproutedย ย and watching them get taller each day fills me with happiness. I think I might need to thin out my chives as theyโ€™re looking a bit straggly, but itโ€™s all part of the learning curve ๐Ÿ™‚ and with gardening, I never make my way out of the curve and onto the straight line ๐Ÿ™‚

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Iโ€™ve been thinking of ways to use up the food we have and to make things last longer so we donโ€™t have to make needless trips to the shops. I stretched out leftover sausages by slicing them up and making a variation on hot dogs ๐Ÿ™‚ It was the bribery I used to get the girls to eat my homemade soup. I had made a carrot and ginger one and a plain lentil one for my fussier eater. She announced sheโ€™d โ€œchanged her mindโ€ about liking it midway through her bowl though :/ This new way of life that we have all had to adopt is already making me slow down and think of ways to use leftovers/keep meal plans interesting ๐Ÿ™‚ I love these little sort of challenges ๐Ÿ™‚

The girls wanted to dance, so I put on some records and it ended up being a work-out for me too ๐Ÿ™‚ Their favourite game at the minute is making me slide them on the floor between my legs ๐Ÿ˜€ Itโ€™s exhausting and results in lots of squealing, which Iโ€™m sure my neighbours arenโ€™t thanking me for ๐Ÿ™‚

We had some milk and cookies (coffee for me) and played Guess Who. My younger daughter is very pro-women at the minute and sighs loudly if she is presented with a card that has a โ€œboyโ€ on it. Itโ€™s a bit of a giveaway as to what she has, but at least sheโ€™s showing interest is doing something that involves sitting down for once ๐Ÿ™‚
4EDA16DC-960B-44DF-8041-119C35C327D8We played hairdressers and I had to sit on a kidโ€™s chair while my daughter put fifty-seven bows in my hair and put some strain on my scalp ๐Ÿ™‚ But the resulting hairdressing photos made it worth it ๐Ÿ™‚ Iโ€™ve almost become so desperate for a massage that having my hair pulled out almost feels like a day in the spa ๐Ÿ™‚

This enforced social distancing has already made me slow down, keep in touch more with friends and see what is truly important. An opportunity to over-listen to music and find new bands is always a treat for me too ๐Ÿ™‚ I even got around to fixing one of my favourite necklaces I got in Camden Market with my jewellery wirework tools. (It took two minutes to fix and I had put it off for months :)) It turns out there are some benefits to being stuck in the house if you just take the time to look around and find them.

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Frugal Family Things: Card-Makimg with Kids

Frugal Family Things: Card-Making with Kids

I always thought of card-making as an expensive hobby, since there is such a vast range of materials and if you choose to buy fifty unusual stampers for ยฃ1 each, it quickly mounts up to a hefty total. My mum used to be incredibly generous with her supplies, trusting us with her hot glue guns and showing us how to emboss, but we were probably well past the age of considering craft materials edible (which my younger child isn’t; she particularly enjoys the taste of play doh, crayons and paper.)

I really love seeing my kids doing something creative instead of staring at a screen, but without the creativity creating stress for me. This is one of those activities where you provide the materials but arenโ€™t required to supervise their every move.

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Here are a few tips to make card-making kid-friendly:

  • Buy materials in the poundshop. They have an amazing range of craft materials and it doesnโ€™t matter if your kids tear them to shreds. We bought cards, envelopes, decorative paper, lots of stickers, ribbons and glue dots for just over ยฃ5.
  • Get lots of stickers. I donโ€™t know why, but with my kids stickers become the central focus of any craft activity.
  • Make coffee, because with their hands happily occupied yours will finally be free to enjoy a cup.
  • Let it be an activity for them to experiment instead of having a fixed outcome in mind. I find that my kids hate directed crafting; they just want to do their own thing without someone bossing or over-instructing.
  • Use glue dots or a glue stick instead of liquid glue if you want a quick clean-up afterwards. Wipeable tablecloths are a good idea too.
  • Give them people to make cards for (this makes the activity last longer.) For example, my kids made thank you cards and birthday cards for friends. They enjoyed adding personalised pictures that they associate with each person. You could also do a fictional version of this activity using their favourite characters.
  • If they go off on a tangent and end up not doing anything remotely related to card-making, let them. The point is to let them come up with their own ideas, not drive yourself crazy.