Pretend Plants and Handprint Rainbows

I’m just taking some time to reflect on what we have done in last week and catch up with recording some of it. Before the weather changed for the worse, we made good use of our garden and I set up a gardening game for the girls. I just filled the old barbecue they play with with soil and put it on their tuff tray, supplying them with kids’ gardening tools, empty plant pots and some sunflower and pumpkin seeds I found in the kitchen. The girls loved planting their own seeds and watering them. I doubt they will actually develop into plants, but the fun of this game was in making a mess and recreating gardening for them without adult interference ๐Ÿ™‚

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My younger daughter has taken to bugs in the last couple of weeks and says she wants to have one as a “pet.” It was good to see them being gentle with insects and showing an interest in their body structures and eating habits ๐Ÿ™‚

We still have a book from the library filled with activities for bored kids, so today I drew out some random shapes and the girls enjoyed filling them in to turn them into cats and dogs. It’s interesting to see that even if the girls are presented with the same starting page, they come up with their own ideas of how to draw them.

I got myself some yellow carnations and cheap candles at the shop, and it’s funny how such small things seem to enliven everything around you. I’ve decided that flowers might become an essential on my shopping list, and I love the fact that carnations last so long. A week later, they are still going strong ๐Ÿ™‚

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I made some tea for us and got out some recipe books out of the bookcase that I never seem to get time to look at. The girls enjoyed flipping through them too and announcing every recipe they wanted to try ๐Ÿ™‚ One of the books had homemade lollipops in it that the girls, of course, want to try. I’ve never made homemade sweets before, but I might try it now while we have time to experiment with such things ๐Ÿ™‚ It involved fewer ingredients than I would have imagined, but recipes involving sugar reaching exact temperatures intimidate me ๐Ÿ™‚

I found a recipe for seafood chowder in one of the books and adapted it to go with salmon we had in the house. It worked out really well and the girls enjoyed it too. I’d always thought it would be a complex recipe but it was pretty straight forward.

My older daughter enjoyed drawing a map of our house (it was part of her homework.) She chose objects to hide, marked them on the map and we had to figure out where she had hidden them. There seems to have been a revival of hide and seek in our house too.

I also got the girls to do some fingerpainting. I might suggest adding faces and features to turn them into animals now they’re dry. We also made a big poster for the living room window of a rainbow made out of handprints. It was a good chance to talk about mixing colours too, since we only had four in the house. The sun had completely faded our other rainbow pictures in the window, which shows just how long we’ve been in lockdown for ๐Ÿ™‚

My daughter and I made some homemade pizza together. I made my own pizza sauce and I let her chop the mozzarella with a blunt knife, which she was excited about. She laid them on top of the pizza. She is really enjoying learning about cooking, and I might look up some more savoury recipes later to try with her.

My neighbour kindly gave us some date and walnut bread. It was lovely with a cup of tea ๐Ÿ™‚ We have a new tradition of leaving baked goods on top of each other’s bins since we’ve been staying at home ๐Ÿ™‚

On Sunday, I was feeling depleted and suddenly worn out from constantly cooking and washing dishes, so I ordered brunch to the house. It was so nice to have a latte made for me by someone else again ๐Ÿ™‚ The girls said it was the best day ever, so they must be tired of my cooking too ๐Ÿ˜€

I ordered the girls a kids’ encyclopedia online and it is presented in a vibrant way that actually holds their interest. I made some hot chocolate and marshmallows on a grey day, dug out a felt board dress-up game and we played a versionย  of tic tac toe suggested by my daughter’s school using different coloured dots cut out of paper.

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Posting Letters and Guided Drawings

I needed a gentler sort of day today. I feel like we have been cramming a lot into our days, and although it works well as a distraction, the exhaustion has hit me a bit. This morning, after having some breakfast, coffee and managing to squeeze in a few hundred words of writing, I put on a live PE video for the girls. The idea was to tire them out in the living room, but they showed little interest in it and ended up rollerskating instead. I guess it is just trial and error – figuring out what will interest them and what won’t. To be fair to them, PE was never my forte either ๐Ÿ™‚

Afterwards, the girls decorated the envelopes for the cards they had made for their friends. We went for a quick walk to a nearby postbox so they could post them. It seemed a bit silly, since one of the friends lives within walking distance of our house, but I think the postbox added an element of novelty to it for the girls ๐Ÿ™‚ I remembered writing letters to penpals as a kid. I had one in England and another in a different school to mine. We wrote each other regular letters and finally met in person for a shared school trip. That’s a fond memory, and I think it’s good for the girls to experience some form of that in the modern world ๐Ÿ™‚

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I did some schoolwork with my daughter when we got back while my other daughter completed some of her magazine. I’ve noticed that they have been sitting for longer when I refer to what we are doing as “school.” Although, they still tired of it after an hour and asked for TV ๐Ÿ™‚

We went for a short drive to the roadside honesty box again ๐Ÿ™‚ They seem to have expanded it now – maybe they are getting a lot of custom. It’s a good way to buy what you need without having any human contact ๐Ÿ™‚ I got some huge kiwis, a loaf of homemade whiskey bread (which I’m curious to try) and a jar of homemade bolognese sauce.

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After we got home, we had some lunch and then the girls watched a recording of a live art show. The fact that a little girl was involved in it seemed to hold their interest ๐Ÿ™‚ They learned how to draw unicorns and Batman and were completely engrossed in it ๐Ÿ™‚ I hadn’t used guided drawing before with them, but I will again ๐Ÿ™‚

I photocopied a page of my daughter’s magazine so they could both make matching letter holders. They just had to paste them to cardboard, cut them out and paint the legs to hold them together. I don’t know if they have any letters to put in them, but I might dig out some birthday cards etc for them to put inside ๐Ÿ™‚ For once I was glad of the junk box we have that is filled with cardboard and empties itself every time I open the cupboard ๐Ÿ™‚

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Finally, the girls had a play in the garden and I tackled some of the housework. I’m noticing our piles of clutter are worsening since we’ve been in the house and I think we might have to build an extension to contain them all in by the time September comes ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m taking some time to myself to write, drink tea and let my children entertain themselves. I feel the need to just sit and “be” for a change and to allow myself some time for creative output too.

Creating Calm with Kids

Today I needed a calm day. I realise that the idea of calm is incongruous with having kids, but I decided that I would try to balance the day out with activities for my kids and activities for me, to get the closest feeling to calm that I could. The last few days have been exhausting. My daughter had to get her bandage changed on her broken finger in hospital and the next morning, it fell off and the doctor refused to see her, so we had to go back to the hospital. On top of that, my other daughter came down with a vomiting bug the night before, and none of us had had any sleep. After days like that, I need to retreat and go into hibernation mode when they are over. I knew my daughter would be off school today – she’s at the stage where she is back to her normal self, but too contagious to be allowed to go in. So, we did some simple art projects and baked.

First, the girls painted pasta tubes. We left them to dry so they can thread them onto necklaces later. You can also use PVA glue as a varnish to put on top of the paint. It stretches out the pasta necklaces activity for longer. For boys that don’t want to make necklaces, you could make pasta snakes instead and thread them on pipe cleaners.
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Then, we made dried food collages. Sometimes if we don’t have card, I cut up old cereal boxes and they use them instead. It works better than paper for gluing solid items. I just set out plates with dry beans, lentils, rice, seeds, oats, etc. You get the kids to draw a large picture and then fill in the different parts of it with whatever they like. You can also do this with cut-up coloured paper, fabric remnants or string painted with a mixture of glue and paint. This activity took more than an hour and the girls didn’t get bored with it – which is rare for them ๐Ÿ™‚ A word of warning – the clean up took a while, but it was less painful than I’d expected it to be.
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The girls watched a film for a while and I got an opportunity to have a cup of tea and write. I think it’s important to squeeze in time for your own things when you’re with kids all day. If you never get time to yourself, it’s easy to get snappy!

We made some easy shortbread. It was just three ingredients and we tried some new cookie cutters we hadn’t used before. They have cut out parts so you can balance them on the rim of a teacup. I made some babyccinos and a vanilla latte for myself and then allowed TV time again so I could drink it and write uninterrupted. It reenergises me, so when I do something else with my kids I’m able to focus more on them. Jazz helped us survive the day in the house too. I’m convinced that it cuts down on the number of squabbles over toys and creates a calmer atmosphere.

It can be hard to treat yourself as a stay at home mum, but I think the things that work best for me are taking time out in the kitchen, listening to music, lighting scented candles and wax melts, making coffee-shop style coffee, squeezing in short times to write, read or draw. You can colour alongside your kids too if you get an adult colouring book. I like using the kids as an excuse to bake too so I have freshly-baked treats ๐Ÿ™‚ There is a youtuber I like watching called “Coffee with Kate.” She makes videos about her simple lifestyle and the creative things she does. My daughter likes watching it too, because she does cooking videos and has two children. Finding something you like to watch that your kids enjoy too is a good way to attend to your need for a break while they’re awake ๐Ÿ™‚ At the moment, our house is a dump, and I’m just letting it go, because being with my kids and sitting drinking coffee in the midst of the mess are more important today.

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Ways To Make Time To Read When Youโ€™re Too Busy To Read

8 Ways To Make Time To Read When Youโ€™re Too Busy For Reading

I aim to read more than I actually ever do. Itโ€™s hard to get immersed in a book when you have young kids and a multitude of distractions coming up on a minute-to-minute basis. I still like to have somewhere to escape to when Iโ€™m mired in mundanity. ย When you have little time, you have to sneak your reading in in small snatches. Here are a few tips to read more with less time.

1. Read in Unexpected Places

My favourite place to read is in the bath. Itโ€™s the perfect time to get peace to read since youโ€™re already lying in one place (provided your kids arenโ€™t awake.) I keep books on the kitchen counter too, so I can read a page here and there as Iโ€™m waiting for water to boil, etc.

2. Donโ€™t Tackle Huge Chunks of Text In One Go

Plan to read a poem in a free moment, or a short story. Read a chapter at a time so you are still making time for stories. Donโ€™t expectย to complete a 300 page novel in one sitting. Expecting to achieve this will only lead you to abandon attempts at reading altogether.

3. Read With Your Kids

If you have kids, read alongside them. Read one of their stories aloud and then encourage them to โ€œreadโ€ to each other using the pictures while you read some of your book too. Get used to broken reading if they are around.

4. Go To Bed An Hour Earlier

Plan to go to bed a little earlier so you can read in bed. Itโ€™s one of the best places to read because there are no distractions and itโ€™s comfortable too ๐Ÿ™‚ (if you can stay awake.)

5. Read Instead of Checking Your Phone

Cut the amount of time you spend staring at your phone and spend it reading something valuable instead. Put a book somewhere as accessible as your phone, so when you reach for your phone, you think to pick it up instead.

6. Read With Your Morning Coffee

I found a book about squeezing artwork into your day by drawing your breakfast each day. I guess if you donโ€™t have the energy to embark on that, reading would make a good substitute. A bonus is that it makes you sit down and slowly enjoy your coffee instead of gulping it down on your way out the door.

7. Find More Substantial Magazines

I find that magazines like The Simple Things send you away with ideas for your day and it is easier to find time for a short article than more in-depth reading, without missing out on solid writing and storylines.

8. Read Books That Combine Text and Image

Sometimes books with imagery are easier to dip in and out of. You can pick up ideas books, design books and travel books to flip through in a spare moment. The pictures break up the text and make it feel less insurmountable.

Enjoy fitting in ways to be a bookworm in a busy world: itโ€™s better to read little than to read nothing at all ๐Ÿ™‚