How to turn Public Holidays into super fun family affairs!

A lot of people DREAD spending the whole day with their significant other and the kids in the same house. Others love it and can’t wait for those rare days off! Which camp do you fall into? Or are you somewhere in between?

Love it or not, public holidays are basically days when you are forced to spend time with those nearest and dearest to you. Only YOU can choose whether that is a blessing or a curse! No matter what the kids normally do, what your better half does or what you try do, things will go wrong, figts will possibly break out and the kids might or might not try and cook their own breakfast and ruin the kitchen! In the end, the decision on wheter or not it will be a good day lies with YOU. You can’t control what anyone else does, but you CAN control how you react to it. Will you see only the bad (ruined kitchen) or the silver lining(wow, they cooked their own breakfast!)?

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Here’s a few ideas on making the most of these golden opportunities:

You could choose to spend quality time at home.
You could pop some popcorn, whip out the fluffly blankets and oversized pillows and watch the latest movies with the kiddos.
You could dust off the old board games (Monopoly or Scrabble, anyone?) and have a good laug while daddy kicks everyone’s (including your!) butts!
You could also be ambitious and tackle a project you’ve always wanted to to. You know, those Pinterest boards full of DIY coffee tables and kitchen table overhauls? How about the bathroom mosaic or the garden steps? Get daddy and the kiddos involved, tackle one project as a family and walk away with a satisfied grin and sore muscles (you know, now you don’t need to go to the gym tomorrow 😉 ) Oh, and be clever about it. Sneak in some Math while you’re buying supplies!

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You could be a little more ambitious and decide to go for an outing instead.
What are your hubby’s interests? And the kiddos? Go on a day trip to the lion sanctuary or the gem shop or the Lego megastore! You’ll be the coolest paren, for a week or 2 at least!
Feeling a little more academically inclined? Visit a local museum and learn about your history!
You could go to a few local attractions like a lake or the botanical garden.
If your kids are mad about animals, you could go to a petting zoo.
If you’re feeling really adventurous, you could go and do something physically challenging like an obstacle course, bike ride, horse riding, tenpin bowling or even ice skating!

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Tell me- how do you like spending your public holidays?

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All-natural Dry Shampoo

I have been ‘no poo’ for almost 3 years now.
And, no, that doesn’t mean that I’m constipated! 😉
It simply means I don’t use store-bought haircare products. So no shampoo, conditioner, styling gel, etc. I simply ‘wash’ my hair with water, and I like doing a kombucha wash every few months just to put some shine back.

 
This may sound really weird, I know! We’re used to washing our hair with shampoo and conditioner every second day, or we end up as either a grease- or frizzball! Thing is, shampoos and other haircare products strip our hair of its natural oils, so our scalps have to work overtime to produce enough! Hence your hair becoming oily and uncontrollable so quickly!

 
So, on to the topic at hand: Natural Dry Shampoo.
I do get times in-between washes where I get irritated with my hair. I need a tad more body. A little more oomph! And obviously it also gets a little oilier between washes, so I also needed a little something to combat that. Enter all-natural dry shampoo (since I simply despise chemical nasties).
This is the recipe I used (and absolutely love, because it smells like oranges and chocolate!).

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All-natural Dry Shampoo

4 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon bicarb
1 Tablespoon carob or cacao powder (leave this out if you have light hair)
10 drops Orange essential oil

Blend it all together using a fork. Sieve it if you can. Pack in a jar and keep by your beauty supplies, away from dampness.

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To use, simply sprinkle about half a tablespoon onto various areas of your scalp (top, behind ears, neck, etc.) and massage into hair. Brush through hair and style as usual.

The tween was kind enough to be the Guinea pig! Left- before and right-after.

Let me know if this works for you! Experiment with different essential oils, and let me know which blend you love most! Happy hair days 😉

 

Materia Medica (Herbal Journal)- What it is, and why you need one!

As part of the curriculum we follow (Ambleside Online, Charlotte Mason based), we get to choose a different Handicraft each term.

Term 1 we chose Herbalism.

We chose that because, when it comes to health and a great many other things, I prefer a more natural approach. Instead of painkillers, I’d rather grab my Lavender essential oil. Instead of shampoo, I use kombucha or water. Instead of commercial disinfectants, I prefer to use Care. Or water. Instead of antibiotics, I prefer Colloidal Silver.

I believe God knows best, which is why he gave us all the tools we need for healing ourselves and our kids. Don’t get me wrong- we have medical aid, and doctors and hospitals have their place in my life. Broken bones, severe infections, etc. BUT cuts, scrapes, bruises, bites, stings, etc. get treated naturally at home.
Which is where the Herbal Journal AKA Materia Medica comes in.

I used a super cheap unlined book I got from the local stationary shop (I think for something ridiculous like R4), and it serves its purpose.

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In this journal I include:

The herb’s common name

Latin name

Plant family

Parts used

Medicinal uses

Recipes

Warnings

 

I add to my journal on a continuous basis. At the moment it contains info on:
Lavender

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Peppermint

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Thyme

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Rosemary

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Amaranth

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Sage

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As I learn more about a herb, I add to the page.

I find it a lot easier to simply refer to my Materia Medica instead of a Herbal Reference Guide when I’m looking for a recipe. It’s quicker, easier, and as with most tried and tested recipes, I know it’s one that’s worked for me in the past!

Would you also like to start a Materia Medica? What would you include in yours? Which natural remedies are staples in your home? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you!

What to do for the school holidays…

School holidays are upon us! Most of the craziness of the pre-holiday rush has died down. We’re starting to get excited about (or dreading!) the upcoming break.

But what to actually DO with the kids? If you’re not going to just continue with work like a lot of homeschooling families, but are actually going to take time off of schoolwork, you might already be dreading the cries of “Mommy, I’m soooooo boooooooored!”
Here are a few of my favourite suggestions when it comes to keeping them out of your hair (and keeping your sanity intact 😉 )

Paid options:

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If you’re feeling brave, you could take the kiddos to the mall for a movie, tenpin bowling or to play a few games at the game arcade. A mall close to us recently opened an ice rink, and it’s a huge hit with the kiddos! If you’re on a budget, window shopping and an ice cream could be just what you need to ward off a bit of cabin fever!

 
If you have a look on a few local websites, you’re also bound to find a treasure trove of unexplored local places, perfect for day outings. I’m talking water parks, amusement parks, gem shops, petting zoos, snake parks, animal sanctuaries, to only name a few. Maybe take the kiddos for a day of cheese tasting, go to a local factory or workshop, or even take a leisurely stroll through a museum or an art gallery. Take the time to expand their horizons and expose them to exciting stuff you normally wouldn’t have time for.

 
Even a picnic at the local Botanical Gardens could be an absolute treat (and you can sneak in some education. A tree identification treasure hunt, anyone?)

 

Free options:

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One of the best free things you could do with the kids is to volunteer. Bake some cookies for the nice old ladies at the old age home, take it to them and listen to their stories. The kiddos could even do a little play or concert. The pensioners always appreciate a little time spent with young children- it gives them such an injection of energy! It also gives your kids some patience with and appreciation for a much wiser (albeit slower) generation.

 
You could take them to the SPCA or Wetnose for the day, to help bath and play with the puppies, and maybe even leave with a new furry family member.

 
You could help out at a local non-profit organisation by planting trees, feeding the poor or even knitting a square for a blanket. The possibilities are endless!

 
Getting fit together can be a super fun (and cheap or free) way to spend time together. You could start doing local Parkruns together, do workouts at the park or even start playing tennis. There are a whole host of cool workouts just waiting to be discovered on Pinterest. Search for Darebee workouts, and thank me later 😉

 
If you are lucky enough to stay close to the beach, take them through for the day and do a beach clean-up while at it (another undercover learning and volunteering opportunity!)

 
Other free options include taking a walk in a nature sanctuary, going to a nearby park or the local mall’s playground. A walk (or bike ride) around the block could also help get rid of some excess energy!

 

Rest!

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This sounds like an impossible task, but hear me out!

 
Switch off the alarm clock. Let the kids play outside until late, then come inside and play board games or cards. Have them sleep until they wake naturally (and you do the same!) Eat when you’re hungry, nap when you’re tired and cancel all other responsibilities.

 
Take this short little time to recharge your batteries, reconnect as a family and just BE.
Something I’ve always preached is ‘let them be bored’.
I know how that sounds!
But boredom leads them to interesting discoveries. Don’t feel the need to keep them entertained. If you take a step back, they’ll soon think of something to do. Be it climbing trees, baking mud cakes or trying a new craft, at least they’re using THEIR brains, and not continually picking yours!

 
If all else fails, put them to work. I’m pretty sure you have clothes that need to be mended, a light bulb to be screwed in, dishes to be washed or a garage that needs some TLC! Or is it only me?

 

What are you doing with the kiddos these holidays? Let me know in the comments!

How to avoid the crazy ‘end of term’ rush

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A lot of us are currently in that ‘just before the end of term’ space. You’ve been cruising, getting used to the new way of doing things and starting to enjoy it all. Things are good! And then you realize that exams are looming and you still have SO MUCH to do!

 
Panic sets in. All playdates and co-ops get cancelled, outings are postponed till next term and the kiddos are cooped up in the house to ‘do school’.

 

Worksheets need to get done, exam memos drawn up, work drilled just to pass the tests so you can breeeeeaaaaaathe through the holidays. Just for it all to start again next term!

 
Stop the craziness, my beloved people. It’s unnecessary, and bad for your health. ‘Yeah, yeah, easy for you to say! You don’t know what it’s likkkkeee’, you whine.

 
Really? I’ve been there. Done that. Wayyyyyy too many times! That’s why I finally know better.

 
So, how do I avoid this mad ‘end of term’ craziness?

 
It’s simple:

1. Prioritize

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First, tally up all the work that still needs to get done. Have a look at the exams. Do they actually ask anything about that king you still need to read 3 chapters on? No? So skip it now and read them next term.

 
Take everything the kids still need to know, chapter or page wise.

 
Divide this into the days that are left to get the work done before exams start.
Now you know you still need to cover 20 pages of History, 3 pages of Science and 5 short stories.

 

2. Keep it manageable

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From here, break it up into manageable chunks during the day. Do 5 pages of History, take a break, do 5 more, go for a quick walk.

 
Maybe download the audio book and squeeze in a chapter in the afternoon drive.
Get innovative, and use your time wisely.

 
Also remember to take frequent breaks, feed them (and yourself!) healthy stuff, move frequently and get enough rest! Don’t let them study into the early morning hours. Don’t cram the day before. Do it spread out over time!

 

3. Find your child’s learning style and work with it!

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It’s so much easier to help your child study for a test if you know HOW they learn (you could use this handy dandy quiz I made especially for you, you awesome person 😉 ). You can use different study techniques for different learning styles.

 

This keeps things interesting, and gives the kiddos a huge sense of accomplishment because they actually ‘get’ the work now!

 

There’s no feeling in the world that compares to sitting down to a test and knowing what to write!

 
My biggest take-away tips are these:

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Don’t get overwhelmed
And
Start NOW. Don’t put your head in the sand, ostrich style, but man up and get it done. Face the music, find your beat and dance the heck out of it!

 
So, how are you surviving the rush? What are your pro tips? Let me know in the comments!

My Top 3 Tips for surviving the week when you’re having one of ‘those’ weeks…

We all have one of ‘those’ weeks once in a while. You’re tired, or sick, or just hormonal. You don’t feel like adulting, never mind parenting. Actually raising little humans… You just want to crawl into bed, pull the duvet over your face and soak up the warm, dark nothingness for a week or two…

 
Annnnd, back to real life. The tween needs to finish school work, the baby is not letting up for one second and the toddler is screaming over everything and anything.
Stay in bed and drive yourself nuts or man up, get up and get stuff done even though you feel like an extra in The Walking Dead? Tough choice.

 

 

So, I’m not an expert on the topic, but this is what works for me when I’m having one of ‘those’ weeks, but the show must go on:

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1. Take care of yourself.

 
Even when (well, especially when) you really don’t feel like it, force yourself to eat a healthy breakfast. Get up, get moving and do some light exercise (even if it is just a few stretches- it counts). Apply a drop of Lavender essential oil to your temples. Pick some pretty flowers and put them on the kitchen table. Watch a cat video on YouTube if it helps 😉 Read a bit. Pray, meditate and read your Bible. Journal. Even if it is only for 10 minutes. Because these small acts of self-care will make you feel like you’re worth something. That you have purpose. That you’re loved. Just do it. It helps. Pinkie promise.

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2. Ask for help.

 
Delegate tasks you’re not feeling up to. Get the kids to wash the dishes, sweep and mop and take out the bin. Bribe them with chocolate if you have to. Ask your hubby to cook supper for a few nights. Ask your mom to help out for an hour or two. Say no to commitments you don’t feel like keeping. If the people really care about you, they’ll understand. Ask a friend to drop the kids off at extra murals. That is why we have the beautiful, kind angels we call friends- to help us out, to be there and support us when we are feeling weak and vulnerable…

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3. Get organized.

 
Plan, plan, plan. Write everything down. Have a to-do list, a bullet journal, a shopping list, a schedule written out NEATLY (not in my drunken-spider scrawl) so that you can simply pass that on to the person helping you out and they actually know what to do and when to do it! It helps tremendously if you don’t have to try and explain things when you’re already feeling like crap. And it feels so good knowing you’ve got a contingency in place.

 

So, not a super long post, but hopefully a helpful one! What do you do when you have one of ‘those’ weeks? Who do you turn to for help? What systems do you have in place for when you’re in a dip? Let me know in the comments!

What to give this Valentine’s Day

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Love is in the air! Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and each and every shop is drowned in pink frilly hearts and red plastic roses. Everyone is starting to think about what they’re getting that special person- the youngsters with giddy butterflies in their tummies and married couples with a desperate ‘I can’t get the same thing as last year, so what now?!’ Okay, I’m joking. It’s not that bad (for me, anyway!)

So, how do you figure out what to get/make for your special person?
Firstly, figure out their love language!
Not sure where to even start?
Try this nifty quiz.

Some people like gifts. Physical things. Like teddy bears, flowers, a new gadget, chocolate, a hand-knitted sweater… They like something they can touch and hold and smell and cuddle with.
Some like it when you take them on adventures! You could take them ice skating, tenpin bowling, mini golf or even something crazy like a hot air balloon picnic… They treasure memories, and carry those with them for a lifetime. They remember life in snippets, pockets, of things they DID with people they love.
Others like it when you serve them, like re-doing the bedroom, washing dishes, changing the car’s oil! This seems like the most un-romantic thing for those that like gifts, for example. But for someone who appreciates gestures, this is seriously the most romantic thing you could do!
Some people even appreciate it most when you simply spend time with them. Switch off your phone, and watch a series marathon with them. Do a spa day. Take a walk together. Have a chat over coffee. Even relaxing on the couch with a bag of chips and good conversation would be more appreciated than 10 boxes of chocolates. In this technology-driven disconnected age, switching off the tech and really connecting with another human is a priceless gift…
Figure out what your person needs (even if it isn’t necessarily what you would choose), and roll with it!

With gifts, you could easily step into the big, fat, clichéd pothole of red, roses, hearts, generic cards and cheap chocolate…
Be original!
You still have some time. Put a bit of thought into it!

Do something unusual.
How about a cool video professing your undying love (the Viva Video App or Lumen8, an online program, are great ideas! Powtoon, another online resource, even enables you to make a cartoon video! )
How about an ebook or ecard? You could use Canva (app or online) or Cymera (app) to create some amazing, personalized graphics.
Maybe a homemade treat is more up their alley. Cookies, cakes, marshmallows or even homemade jams could also go down a treat. Even a shop bought chocolate, melted down and poured into a different mould gives it that bit of a personal touch.
You could even put on a production/play for the family a la Winnie the Pooh!
A passion-based gift is also a very good idea, especially for the kiddos. Minecraft coasters, anyone?

Secret Valentines is something I’m planning on doing this year. Almost like Secret Santa- everyone draws a name out of a hat, and then has to write a letter to the chosen person to tell them what they like about them, what nice characteristics they have, and how they have impacted our lives in a positive way. This is a non-romantic way for friends to show appreciation for each other, and it’s a pretty cool homeschool craft (and gets a bit of letter-writing practice in there without them noticing 😉 )

 

All in all, just like Christmas is a time of giving and good spirits, so Valentine’s Day is a time of love. Everyone (well, mostly everyone) is giddy and happy and in a romantic mood. It’s the perfect time to connect (or re-connect) with a crush (for the kiddos), your spouse (if you’re the parent) and family.

 

Valentine’s Day is, if nothing else, the perfect excuse to spread some love in this unhappy world!
Go visit that old age home. Bake cookies for your sour grandma. Encourage your daughter to tell that boy she likes him. Even help her write a poem! Go on, get crazy with it! Everyone else is!

As Jesus said, go and love the world ❤

 

How are you spreading some love this Valentine’s Day? Tell me allllll about it in the comments!

How to avoid end-of-January burnout

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The year started off on all-out, full-throttle energy! Now, the initial hype is over. Things are starting to mellow out a bit, getting calmer. You’ve got more time to think. So the doubts and uncertainty starts to creep in! Did you choose the right school (or was homeschooling really the best choice)? Did you really need to spend on the new TV, or the gym membership, or that expensive December holiday? Can you even do this? What on earth have you let yourself in for?!

 

Stop. Breathe. Chill.

 
Let me quickly remind you of something- YOU, my dear, are totally epic, and you CAN do this (whatever your ‘this’ is 😉 )

 

Now that we’ve got that little pep talk out of the way, let’s move on to the important stuff!

 

Curricullum:


My best advice here is don’t buy anything! If you want to test out a new homeschooling curriculum, try the free resources first. Want to do CAPS? Download a PDF for free to give a bash before you fork out thousands for a boxed curriculum you might hate! Want to try Charlotte Mason? Do Ambleside Online. Want to do worksheets? Download and print some out. Don’t commit too much money, time or energy to something now. Try as much as possible, take it slow. Learn, experiment and re-evaluate constantly.

 

Routine:


A good routine is a solid foundation for a good day. Trust me on this one. But, as with most things, you need to find what works for your family. What works for me (getting up at 5am, for example) might not work for you!

 
Set alarms. Multiple alarms! Also, keep them far from the bed, so you have to get up to switch them off instead of just snoozing them on the nightstand. I find something like classical music a nice intro to start waking up, and then to follow that with something jarring (like a cock crowing) on another phone! Usually does the trick!

 
Have your routine written down, preferably somewhere everyone can see it, like the kitchen wall. This is especially helpful with little ones. They really like knowing what comes next. Use stickers, whiteboard markers, whatever! Just get everyone to actually look at it, and most importantly, do what it says! Every single day, until it becomes a habit. If you suck at sticking to things like this, get an accountability partner! My hubby is mine. He can be harsh at times, but I’m thankful because I know he’ll always tell me the truth and keep me on the straight and narrow!

 
Remember to eat a healthy, wholesome, low-GI breakfast every morning. This sets you up for a good day. A hungry parent or child simply can’t think the way they are meant to. And no, cereals don’t count as breakfast 😉 Try something like egg on toast, rolled oats or even a breakfast smoothie instead!

 
Drink your vitamins (let me know if you want to use what we use!), pack a water bottle, move your body (even light exercise is better than no exercise!) and make some time to be quiet. Read, meditate, pray. Even if it is only for 10 minutes. It’s really important!

 

Extra murals:


Take it slow! Don’t do too much, too quickly! Find ‘the one’ by trying different things and then focusing all your energy on it. Also, start with a cheap to free extra mural, and later move on to the more expensive stuff. Take clothing, gear, kits and petrol into account when doing your sums. If you need to save up and only start Term 3, do that. Use your kids’ extra murals to make new friends and socialize! (Or use it to catch up on work stuff so you can chill with the kids once you get home). Extra murals should be fun. They should not add even more stress to your already-crowded life.

 
Last tip- don’t live through your kids… Please don’t force your nerdy kid to play rugby because YOU always dreamed of making the 1st team. Allow them to choose things the like, and love them regardless. Try and view things from your child’s point of view. Believe me, it’s quite refreshing!

 

 

How are you keeping your eyes on the important stuff? Are you slowing down a bit or still racing ahead? Are you taking care of yourself and refreshing your soul on a regular basis? How? Let me know in the comments section below!

 

Life Lessons Winnie the Pooh taught me…

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My kids have become obsessed with Winnie the Pooh lately!

 

The toddler sings the songs, and says (in her best British accent!) “Pooh Beah” whenever she wants to watch it! “Lumpy Wheeeen” is also a well-known refrain in the Myburgh house.

 
I’m generally not a huge fan of mindless twaddle, and I must admit that the wrong pronunciation bothered me at first… “Lumpy” and “heffalump” for elephant, “unspookables” for ghosts, etc. BUT I’ve come to realize that the stories are doing more good than harm. They’re not twaddle!

 
The toddler has started counting because of them.

 

 

The tween is less grumpy and sulky because she doesn’t want to be like Eeyore!

 

 

The stories actually DO teach value life lessons to young and old (and even the odd homeschooling mom 😉  )

 
Here are a few things the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh has taught me:

 
It’s okay to be sad at times. Your friends are there to help you through it.

 
You’re never too small to make a difference.

 
No matter how scared you are, when you CHOOSE to be brave you can accomplish big things.

 
Alone we are weak, but when we have friends watching our back and supporting us, nothing is impossible.

 
It’s okay to eat honey, be a little squishy and still love yourself.

 
Sometimes we just need to look at the world from a different perspective to see what we missed the first time.

 

Be kind to all people, be sensitive to their feelings, and they will love you even more.

 
“How to be a Tigger is up to you”- There is nothing wrong with being your own unique YOU.

 
Always be the type of person others can count on. Be reliable. Be trustworthy. Be someone else’s ‘safe place’.

 

 

Have you gained any valuable insights from the stories your kids watch? Share them with me!

More Ways to Entertain a Homeschooled Toddler

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Kids grow up so fast… Thing is, we need to grow with them!

So, here are a few more ideas for homeschooled toddlers (original here)!

1. Do hopscotch (I use this paint that simply washes off with water- Video DIY here) or play on a painted number line.
2. Draw henna shapes on their hands and feet and have them show daddy!
3. Do sensory play with cooked oats, yogurt, finger paint, spaghetti or instant pudding.
4. Go on a nature walk and pick up nature finds for the nature box (great to play with on rainy days).
5. Go on a nature walk and try connect the sounds to what they can see (dog, bird, plane, etc.)
6. Blow bubbles to encourage them to jump and clap.
7. Make a mud pit and give them old kitchen spoons and bowls to play with.
8. Give them fruit pieces and some sosatie sticks to skewer them on.
9. Play hide and seek by hiding stuffed animals and letting them find the ‘elephant’ or ‘tiger’.
10. Paint outside or in the bath with dishwashing soap (I use this non-toxic cleaner for EVERYTHING)

Have any ideas to add? Leave me a comment!