Sunday 31 May 2015

Perfect Lunches

  The school holidays are fast approaching. This might mean that you find yourself out and about, enjoying packed lunches in the sun or that your little ones might be at a childminder or holiday scheme and need to take their lunch with them. If you have children at school or one starting in September now is the time to start thinking about perfect packed lunches. 

First of all, perfect doesn't have to mean expensive or particularly time consuming. While schools often have a packed lunch policy which asks parents to avoid chocolate, fizzy drinks and a number of other foods deemed unhealthy or messy generally speaking parents are free to enjoy creating fun packed lunches for their little ones. 

Choosing a Lunch Box or Bag There are hundreds of boxes and bags on the market, all claiming to be the best thing for your little one. Make sure when you are choosing that you look for something that is suitably sized, easy to open and close, may be put in the dishwasher or easily wiped out and that it is recognisable. We have a number of water bottles and lunch boxes and bags available, all of which are brightly coloured, easy to recognise and very fun. 

If you already have something you want to use make sure that it is properly labelled as these things seem to grow legs and run around when left to their own devices away from home!  

Use Leftovers If like us you  hate waste and like the idea of a thrifty packed lunch why not use leftovers in your child's packed lunch? Cold pasta the next day is absolutely fine to eat from a tub with a fork, quiche can be boxed up to eat while out and about and cold meats and similar make perfect packed lunch fillers. 

Sandwich Alternatives Want to try your hand at something different to the traditional soggy sandwich? Cold pastas go down very well, as do wraps, savoury egg muffins and similar. Not only are these all great for using up leftovers they also offer a wider variety of choices for your little ones. 

Frozen Yogurt A great tip for packed lunches is to freeze your soft fruit "squeezie" or yogurt pouch or tube, putting it into the lunch bag frozen in the morning. By lunchtime it will have softened yet still be cold. No-one like warm yogurt! 

Let Them Choose Packing the perfect packed lunch is only possible if your little one likes what they get. As we all know preferences may chance with the weather and so why not let your children help pack up their lunches? With you on hand to guide them into making fun yet nutritional choices you can't go wrong. 

If you are looking for more hardcore lunchbox ideas (think shaped and decorated sandwiches) head over to Pinterest which is packed with creative lunch box inspiration. 

What is your top tip for packed lunches?  

Friday 29 May 2015

Get Prepared For Out and About Fun

The second May bank holiday hits next week and brings half term for many of us. This also means that we are all mere weeks away from the long summer holidays.Are you prepared? 

Here is our mini guide to getting yourself organised so that you have everything you need ready so that you may grab and go whenever the good weather shows its face! 

Freezer Related Fun The freezer offers a wealth of fun as well as practical aid when needed. Make sure that you have grapes and assorted fruits frozen for quick and healthy fruity summer snacks, plenty of ice cubes for cold drinks as well as summer sun science(melting ice cubes outside) and of course home made ice lollies. Don't forget to have ice packs for packed lunches and similar ready asthese are great for keeping picnics fresh when you don't want to use a cool bag or box.  

*Top tip - put yogurt pouches and similar in the freezer asby the time everyone is ready to eat they will have defrosted / softened yet won't be warm. These also make easy make-do lunch box coolers.  

Sun Cream, Hats and Screens British weather being what it is we often have a mildly warm morning followed by a scorching afternoon. When you are going to be out and about, even if it's just in the garden make sure that the children (and all grown ups!) have a suitable factor of suncream on, wear hats and cover up as appropriate. Keeping all sun related items including sunglasses together makes them easy to grab when you're ready to go. 

Stay Hydrated The chances are that if you are venturing outside this summer that the weather will be warm and that there will be lots of running around / walking. Make sure everyone stays hydrated by giving everyone their own water bottle that they can carry themselves. Having their own backpacks is a great way to make sure each child has their own drink, hat and what not with them all the time. In the case of tiny tots little backpacks offer a dual purpose as many of them are fitted with reins for safety. 

Assorted Accessories As much as travelling light is something parents hope to achieve it rarelyworks out that way, especially when you have little ones. Having each child wear their own backpack to carry light items, using a caddy or organiser for the pushchair/ buggy and using car accessories such as pop up trash bins, cool bags and more all make life easier when on the go.

What is your one must-have item or top tip when going out and about with your child? We'd love to hear. 

Sunday 17 May 2015

Introducing Telling The Time Skills

As your child grows and develops he, she or they will learn a great many skills that are simply invaluable. One of these skills is being able to tell the time and an extension of this is timekeeping and an awareness of how long segments of time last.  
As with many things that children need to conquer, the earlier you introduce it and the more fun you make it the easier it is for children to grasp. 

Top Tips  

It's Never Too Early 
Learning about time can never start too early. Familiarising children with the idea of time using clocks and tools such as the delightful Janod Owly Clock adds a layer of fun to what is an important skill. This two sided tool for example allows children to move the hands and place the numbers on one side and work with chalk on a chalkboard to practice skills on the other. Being suitable for ages 36 months upwards this would be a great tool for working with children on demystifying time and making the learning process fun. 

Know the Maths 
Time is all about maths. If you want to help your child master the time a great way to do this is to help and support them with the underlying numeracy skills. Practice the 5 times table and ensure that they understand the concepts around wholes, halves and quarters. The better they understand these numeracy skills the easier learning to tell the time will be. 

There are some fantastic story books available which not only talk about time but which make the subject fun. A personal favourite of ours has always been What's The Time Mr Wolf, although there are so many time telling stories and activity books available at the library and in book shops. If you can find one which features your child's favourite character at the time this will help add some fun. 

There are so many time-related games out there that you really are spoilt for choice. One very popular game from Orchard Toy's we are aware of would be Tell the Time. This particular game goes down very well with many children. You could of course make your own games up! 

As the saying goes "practice makes perfect". Some children will pick up time telling skills very easily while other might take longer. Certainly having a good basic grasp of numeracy helps. Again making practicing fun and creating opportunities for learning through play will help the process. 

Older children looking to practice the skills that they've worked on at school might benefit from workbooks and printables (there are many printables available online, particularly on sites such as Twinkl and even Pinterest). Again you could also make up your own worksheets or similar, not forgetting stickers or rewards for doing well. 

Do you have any tried and tested tips for helping your young children learn to tell the time? 

Saturday 9 May 2015

Family Organisation

Keeping your work or your home properly organised is a task and a half at the best of times. Throw children into the mix and sometimes it may feel like a job for a team of people, not one or two. With children come immunisation appointments, play dates, doctors and dentists, school plays, clubs, after school activities and more. Trying to keep on top of it all can be quite a juggle. 

For everything to go as smoothly as possible and to ensure that nothing is forgotten you need to be organised. Thankfully this may be more fun and easier than you'd think. 

The Big Diary 

It pays to have one big diary for the home so that you have somewhere that you can put birthdays upcoming appointments, payments, trips and more. A weekly planner keeps you on track but if you have events that are planned months in advance then you need a yearly diary or calendar to note them down. 

A Weekly Planner 

This is a must for any busy household as it will tell you at a glance what is going on and where everyone needs to be and when. We love the brightly coloured and easy to customise and personalise Fiesta Crafts Our Week Weekly Planner for keeping families organised at a glance. It looks fun too so you are more likely to glance at it and be reminded of what is coming up next. 

Fiesta Crafts Weekly Planner Front
The Organisation Station 

Having an area dedicated to being organised is a great idea. Choose somewhere that gets a lot of foot traffic (if you choose somewhere no-one goes very often it may be out of the way but it may also be ignored). Use the chosen place to have your noticeboard, your weekly planner, yearly calendar or diary, a place to sort mail and school / nursery notes and to make sure everything received ends up on the wall planner or similar.  
The noticeboard is perfect for pinning school permission slips to, flyers for upcoming events and envelopes with dinner money etc. 

Keep Clutter to a Minimum 

In order to stay organised make good use of the organisation station and the tools you've put in place there. Keep it clear of clutter so that it is easier to keep on top of and remains a place you want to visit. The same could be said of anywhere in the house. The kitchen especially can be a terrible place for collecting clutter so invest some time in reorganising your kitchen area, throwing out or donating anything you don't need and use tools such as a recipe file to keep cuttings from magazines and similar in one place, keeping your kitchen clear and tidy. 

Make a Schedule to Make a Schedule 

Once you have everything the way you want, clean, tidy and have a system in place make sure you use it regularly. Make Friday night perhaps your night for updating the weekly planner with the kids, ensuring you have time to organise over the weekend anything you might need for school or nursery on Monday. 

What are your top organisation tips for busy families?