Mellow Mummy : Taking life as it comes...

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

20 Kitchen Activities for The Summer Holidays - Part 2

Last week I shared with you the first ten of the Betta Living summer holiday activities from the Kids in the Kitchen guide - lots of different activities that can be done in your own kitchen for as little as 99p. This week features some of the activities that we have most enjoyed doing, and all for a matter of pounds (and no need to worry about the weather).

11. Set Up Shop And Become A Kitchen Retailer
My Girls LOVE to play with their toy food in their toy kitchen and they have a handy "market stall" / puppet theatre but I had never thought about letting the girls set up their own "shop" using the food from our cupboards. The role play and imagination was great to watch and Lara has started showing signs of understanding money; these days she is also able to read the labels of all of the things she sells in her shop. Great rainy day fun that could last for hours!

12. Make Some Papier Mache Mini-Beasts
All you need to make these is a balloon, some ripped up paper and some papier mache glue (that you can make from flour and water, or diluted PVA).  Paste the ripped up paper onto the inflated balloon and leave to dry.  A few days later, come back and paint and decorate your balloon as a bumble bee, ladybird or any other creature you can think of.

13. Play Some Outdoor Games Indoor

Our kitchen is a galley kitchen which makes it rather handy for playing skittles! Who knew?

14. Cool Down With Homemade Ice Lollies

Holly had SO MUCH FUN making homemade ice lollies.  All you need is a flavoured juice or, in our case, Angel Delight and milk!  Our ice lolly moulds (supplied by Betta Living) cost less than £2.50 from Aldi and you can use the moulds again and again.

15. Make Your Own Bunting

Making bunting is a great activity for learning shapes and measurement.  For older children you can get them to sew the bunting.  We cut out paper and card, used a hole punch to make holes to thread through a ribbon and then decorated our triangles with brightly coloured tissue paper as part of our Elmer the elephant parade.  Bunting can make an indoor space seem more bright and fun.

16. Hold Your Own Wacky Races
Place straws in two long lines to create a race track.  Each player puts a ping pong ball or cotton wool ball on the track and then has to blow the ball, using a straw, over the finish line.  Very silly fun for all of the family.

17. Make Your Own Dough


What better way to make the most of your kitchen this summer than to get your kids cooking?  My girls love to help in the kitchen.  Making your own dough doesn't have to be complicated, in fact there are some great ready-made bread mixes out there that don't even need proving.  Making dough is messy and fun!  But most fun of all is turning your dough into a pizza afterwards and it is a great way to use up left-overs of lots of different healthy toppings.

18. Time To Scrub And Do The Washing Up
After all that cooking, let the kids do the washing up!  You'll be surprised how much fun washing up can seem to a tiny person who doesn't usually get to do it.

19. Build A Marshmallow Tower
Children of all ages love to build towers.  Build an edible tower using mini marshmallows and cocktail sticks and see how high you can make it!  You can make towers out of all sorts of kitchen equipment such as plastic cups, paper plates and cutlery.

20. Make A Junk Model
I have been collecting toilet rolls, boxes and food trays for a couple of months before the holidays started so that we would have a stash of junk for modelling with.  Lara loves making robots, rockets and boats from junk and then painting them after she has built her creation.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Little Live Pets Review

Little Live Pets are small, interactive toys from Character which are designed to encourage interaction and responsibility in children.  Lara was sent a Little Live Pets butterfly a couple of weeks ago and she immediately took up the challenge of making it 'happy'!

The Little Live Pets respond to your child's touch and interaction.  The more you play with it, the happier it becomes.  Lara's butterfly started off with short sharp fluttering movements but after feeding it and playing with it for a few days, the movements became more fluttery and less juttery and it will flap its wings for longer.

When Lara first received the Little Live butterfly she was a little wary of it.  I think she found it very realistic.  The wings of the butterfly are almost paper thin and the movement was unpredictable.  Once she understood that it was responding to her and seemed 'happy' to be touched Lara relaxed and enjoyed herself.

To make it work, you place the butterfly on the palm of your hand and the sensors trigger the movement.  It flaps for around a minute before waning to be fed.  To feed it you place it back on the flower which also acts as a charging point.  After a period of inactivity it will fall asleep.  You can also place it in its own little display mount.

I was worried that the novelty of the Little Live Pet would wear off quickly.  I had been expecting the interaction with the pet to be a little more of a challenge - something akin to a Tamagotchi.  I felt that the Little Live Pets would be suitable for younger children as it really only required two levels of interaction... feed and play.  You don't have to time it for particular times of day or make sure that you remember to attend to it, you simply have to give it a little love and attention when you're around.  I remain to be convinced about the longevity of Lara's interest in her Little Live Pet but two weeks in, she does still like to come back to it when she gets home in the evening and play and feed it nefore her own meal.

Little Live Pets are also available in a bird design; the bird will sing and chirp in response to your touch.


Sunday, 27 July 2014

Toddler Massage Tips and Techniques

Bedtimes for Holly have been a struggle ever since the clocks went forward and so I have had to find some innovative ways of soothing her, especially when it gets to bedtime. Over the past two years I have, on and off, dipped back into the baby massage and I have found that it definitely helps Holly to settle down to sleep.

Sometimes Holly fights bedtime so much that I have to try quite hard to start massaging her feet. She wiggles a lot. But, once the magic has worked, she lies more still and lets me continue massaging. These days she is very bossy about "this foot" or "no, this foot" and will even say "my head" if she wants me to massage there too. If you are struggling with bedtimes for your toddler then I recommend giving some of these techniques a try. Don't worry if they don't work miracles to start off with, keep trying and see if they begin to recognise a pattern after a few nights. It isn't a foolproof bedtime ritual but it occasionally helps me and Holly. No massage oil needed!

1. Foot Massage
I always start with the feet - it is my message to Holly that it is time to chill out. I stroke the tops of her feet, down from the top of the ankle to the toes about 3 or 4 times. Then I hold each toe in turn and give it a tiny squeeze. If she is in the mood then I will use my forefinger to make tiny circles on the base of her feet while holding her foot with my other hand. You can make tiny circles on the base of the heel too. To finish, clasp the foot in both hands to keep it warm. Then move on to the other foot.

2. Hand Massage
One of Holly's favourite pasttimes is to play "round and round the garden" with me, Daddy or her toys. At bedtimes, if she lets me, I make little circles on the palm of her hand with my forefinger, and then circles on the back of her hand with my thumb. I gently pull one finger at a time and give it a little wiggle to try and loosen things up. Rub gently in circles using your thumb and forefinger around the wrist, then gently rock the wrist forwards and backwards. When it is just about time to move on to the next hand, hold the hand firmly between your palms and give it a squeeze before gently lying the arm down to rest.

3. Temple Massage
Holly and her older sister both love having their temples massaged at bedtime and it is a guaranteed way to turn my grumpy toddler (above!) into a mellow toddler! I press my forefingers quite firmly on each eyebrow, working out from the centre of the nose to the temples. When you get to the temples, press with two fingers and then give your fingers a little wiggle. I like to stroke upwards from the nose to the forehead ever so gently to help soothe them. Sometimes Holly falls asleep at this point!

4. Stroking Legs
If your toddler is feeling particularly boisterous at bedtime then try to encourage them to settle by quite firmly running the palms of your hands down the backs of their legs as they squirm around. I have no idea why this works but it often encourages Holly to pay attention. Maybe she knows that it normally means she will get a foot massage too?

5. Stroking Back
As with the stroking legs, this technique seems to work best when Holly has been particularly wide awake beforehand. My older daughter still quite regularly requests that I stroke her back if she is struggling to sleep. I encourage them to lie with their back facing me and I run both hands down either side of the spine from the top to the bottom. Nothing more innovative than that, but it soon builds up a rhythm if you do it several times and I think it is this which helps at bedtime.

6. Tummy Circles
If bedtime is full of smiles then I will occasionally still perform some more traditional baby massage moves on Holly. Holding one hand to the left of her belly button (under or over pyjamas is fine) I take my right hand and run a circle clockwise around her belly button until my hands meet. Do this several times if they are enjoying it.

I hope these tips help to make bedtimes with a toddler a little bit more mellow for you as they have done for me.
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