We are so excited to have such a relevant guest blog from Priya Desai, a specialist speech and language therapist at create.play,talk. helping us all entertain our little ones during lockdown mark 2!

“We all learnt during the first lock down that even though we love our children unconditionally, being with them 24 hours a day, entertaining them, teaching them whilst also looking after ourselves and working is hard …

So, with this in mind, what can we do in Lockdown 2 that is easy for us parents and fun for our kids? Here are some ideas.

With your Baby

All babies this year have missed out on a fabulous range of baby classes such as baby sensory and sing and sign classes. Here’s how you can bring these classes home:

  • At home baby sensory – get your own baby sensory toys such as: different coloured organza, foil blankets, ribbons, mirrors, bubbles and introduce them to your baby one by one (go to Ebay,  Amazon, Etsy to find what you need)
  • Babies love to hear their mother’s voice – spend 5-10 minutes singing to your baby every day. Make sure baby can see your face – sing slowly with big, exaggerated mouth movements and use signs (if your baby sits independently). Sing the same song every day so that in time your baby learns the melody and words. Some of my favourites are: Wheels on the Bus, Row Row your Boat, 5 Little Ducks, Hickory Dickory Dock, Grand Old Duke of York, Baby Shark
  • Swim class in the bath tub? – Okay, so you can’t recreate the swimming pool experience at home but what about some water play during the day? Fill up your bath with warm, soapy water and place different tubs and containers (so use toys different to bath time) in the bath for your baby to explore and play with. This activity is suitable for a baby that can sit up well and has a strong core (7/8 months plus).
  • Other ideas: try some mum and baby yoga – You Tube has everything! The movement will be lovely to release any tension in your body and your baby will love watching you move and be involved in some of the poses.  Baby massage is also a lovely bonding experience for parents and baby – many practitioners have now take their classes on-line, so it’s worthwhile taking a look so you have something that’s actually booked-in and it will be something to look forward to.

Toddlers/Older Children

Cooking – I love cooking and actually when I get to cook kid-free in the kitchen it’s a bit of me time; but these days my toddler gets involved quite a lot – yes she makes a mess but she loves being a part of the process. Cooking is an activity that can be really stretched out: first choosing a recipe, next getting ingredients from the cupboard, making a shopping list and getting what you need if necessary, and then of course there’s the actual cooking! Your child even if little will learn so many different things: vocabulary for different foods and kitchen utensils, how to measure, pour, stir, even cut and grate if they are slightly older.

Constructing – Keep some interesting packaging on one side: cardboard tubes, cereal boxes, fruit trays. All you need is masking tape and glue. Lay everything out, follow your child’s lead and see what they create. If you do need inspiration, have a look at any story books you might have.

Reading – Reading can be a brilliant way to unwind for both children and parents. As a parent, you don’t have to think, you can pick up a book and just start reading; and of course, your child will benefit by hearing a wonderful story and hearing lots of interesting words! If you find that your child finds it hard to sit, don’t force them – even if they get distracted and want to play you can still carry on reading as they will be hearing the words; and who knows maybe they will come back to you and look at the story again.

Finally, just to make your day a bit more manageable I recommend planning your day by setting up a timetable. Depending on the age of your child this could be visual (so using drawings/ pictures showing what you’re doing during the day), or written if your child is older. This is such a basic tip, I know, but having a structure is great guidance for you as a parent – taking that time to plan perhaps the night before or first thing I promise will make you plan your day more carefully and as you’ll have that visual representation in front of you. It will help you see if there’s too much of the same type of activity and if more variation is needed.

Just to give you a guide, I try to ensure we include some of the following in our day: reading time, free play (kids play with that they want to and I join in), dance/music time, singing sounds, outdoor time, nap, art/crafts, TV time and finally one mummy-led activity – this could be a game I choose, working on numbers/letters for my big girl etc.  Make sure you show your child the timetable first thing, so they know what they are doing and when, and keep referring to it over the day.

Days with our children can be long, days with our children can be short. Just remember though, at the end of the day if your children have played well, had 3 meals and had a nap – that can be the most successful of parenting days.

Priya Desai, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist

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