Chicken and Black Bean Tinga Tacos with Watermelon Salsa
With the recent publication of The Flexible Family Cookbook, we’re celebrating by reproducing the recipe for Chicken Tinga Tacos from Jo Pratt.
“This is super-easy to make and for that reason I serve it frequently at home. Tinga is a Mexican dish where chicken is cooked with onion, tomatoes and chipotle sauce and shredded when cooked. I like to do a half-halfnchicken and black bean combo, to vary things up and reduce our meat intake. This juicy watermelon salsa is well worth making. Put everything on the table to make a sharing supper for everyone to dig into.” Jo Pratt.
Time taken 50 minutes / Serves 4
Ingredients 1 tbsp olive oil 1 onion, finely chopped 4 cloves garlic, grated or crushed 1 tsp dark brown sugar 1 tsp chipotle paste (or more for a spicier finish) 1 tsp red or white wine vinegar 400g/14 oz can chopped tomatoes 400g/14 oz can black beans or kidney beans, drained 2 chicken breasts, skinless or 350g/12 oz boneless chicken thighs flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the salsa
300g/10½ oz watermelon, diced into small pieces 4 spring onions (scallions), chopped ½ green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped ½ small bunch coriander (cilantro), chopped juice of ½ lime 2 tbsp olive oil
1 large ripe avocado, sliced or mashed sour cream 1 small red onion, finely sliced and mixed with juice of ½ lime grated Cheddar cheese coriander (cilantro) leaves, roughly chopped soft corn or flour tortillas, warmed
Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan or casserole dish.
Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes or until softened and starting to turn golden.
Add the garlic and cook for a further minute before stirring in the sugar, chipotle paste, vinegar, tomatoes, 200ml/7 fl oz/scant 1 cup water and the black beans. Mix everything together and bring to a simmer.
Add the chicken to the pan, spooning over the sauce to cover. Cover with a lid and simmer gently for 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked and the sauce thickened.
Meanwhile, make the salsa by mixing everything together in a serving bowl and seasoning with salt and pepper.
Once cooked, remove the chicken from the pan and sit on a plate or board. Using two forks, shred into strips and then return the shredded meat back to the sauce.
Serve the Chicken and Black Bean Tinga with the watermelon salsa, avocado, sour cream, red onion, cheese and coriander. Pile everything into warm tortillas, wrap and prepare to get messy.
Pescatarian: a delicious alternative to using chicken is to swap it for some chunky white fish such as cod, pollock or haddock. Let the tomato and black bean sauce cook alone for 20 minutes then add 400g/14 oz fish fillets to the pan. Spoon over the sauce, cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes. Break the fish into flakes in the pan and serve as above.
Get ahead: once made, the chicken can sit in the fridge for 3–4 days and heated through when needed. It can also easily be doubled up so you can freeze half for another time.
We’re celebrating Anorak’s 14th anniversary by offering you the opportunity to win a year’s subscription to Anorak.
With a circulation of over 20 000 worldwide, Anorak and sister publication Dot (now 5 years old) have carved a niche that is internationally acclaimed and recognised. Not bad for a magazine that distributors said would never last. As fellow print lovers, we’ve decided to celebrate this momentous milestone by offering City Kids readers the chance to win a year’s subscription to Anorak.
Their latest iconic issue features artist Mugariah and is all about imagination. It’s also available both as a paper edition and as a digital one.
Cathy Olmedillas launched Anorak 14 years ago without any real strategy in mind. Alongside its sister publication DOT, it’s become an integral part of family life and inspired many children and parents to learn through creativity. This effect has been especially prominent during the turbulent times of the Covid-19 lockdown, in which homeschooling had become necessary.
After 14 years, Anorak has not only launched many great illustrators’ careers but also brought back the notion of creativity in childhood.
Following Anorak’s mission, the publication created a Little Editors scheme helping to raise the next generation of creative doodlers through drawing missions that are sent out every month! Although Anorak and DOT have been spreading joy and creativity over the past years with their uniquely themed issues, there is still much more to come with books and podcasts during the planning stage!
All you need to do is complete the contact form below and we’ll draw a winner on Monday 5 October 2020.
Ts & Cs The decision of City Kids is final. No cash alternative. If the winner does not claim the prize pithing 24 hours of notification, City Kids reserves the right to draw a new winner. UK entries only.
Butterflies at the start of the new school year are normal, but after the year we’ve had, Dr Kathy Weston offers some advice for back to school anxiety.
By Dr Kathy Weston
It can be normal for parents, even in ‘normal’ times to worry about the new school year. Whether your child is heading off to nursery, primary or transitions to senior or secondary school, parents will worry. Often those worries centre on the administrative burden that comes with a school start and on the ‘unknowns’ that come with a child joining a new class or school setting. What follows outlines some ideas on how to handle back to school anxiety.
What is striking is that children very often possess a different set of worries to their parents. Parental worry typically centres around children or young people’s ability to socialise, connect with others, make friends and the extent to which their child’s physical and mental health needs might be met over the next academic year. Children tend to be very practical when it comes to worrying. How will I get to school? What will the bus be like? Will I get lost? Who will pick me up? Who will be at home when I get back? It is not uncommon for children to be concerned about how they might navigate around the school building, where they sit for their lunch and how they will remember all the things they have to remember.
Coupled with these ‘normal worries’ that manifest in ‘normal times’, some children may experience anticipatory anxiety related to COVID-19. Is the classroom different? Can I play with my friends? Will I be able to play the same games? Some, but not all children, will worry on a larger scale about virus transmission and carry some anxiety left over from the experience of lockdown.
The good news is that parents play a powerful role when it comes to both alleviating anxiety in children and modelling a positive and resilient approach that can help children get school-ready. As a family, it is a useful exercise to reflect back on the experience of lockdown and to extract positives associated with the experience. Where were the silver linings? What did we learn about ourselves and others? Celebrate your resilience as a family over that period, so that your child begins to see themselves as already resilient. This kind of reflection breeds resilience.
A second part of being school-ready is about airing all and any worries in a nice open chat with your child. Together, seek out solutions, ideas and thoughts that can alleviate or cancel a particular worry. Perhaps your child is worried about walking alone to school. What can we do about that? Coach them rather than provide solutions yourself. Model a proactive and positive approach and importantly, convey a sense of excitement and joy that your child is moving up a year in school, growing and developing. What are they excited about and looking forward to?
Controlling Covid anxiety
In terms of the dreaded virus, try and focus your child’s attention on life’s ‘controllables’; what your child can do or influence in relation to it. Underline the practical steps that they can take to stay healthy, emphasise the proactive work schools are doing in anticipation of school return and celebrate the innovation that is taking place across the scientific world, that will enable us, at some point to return to life, unmasked.
In the current climate, it can easy to forget the central role of school; as places of learning. It is important that parents continue to reiterate to their offspring, that we go to school to work hard and to learn and that is it important to try our best. Let’s stay aspirational, whilst making sure they stay calm, focused and positive.
Dr Kathy Weston is an academic, motivational speaker, wife and mother of two boys. She delivers talks to parents and teachers and also offers 1:1 coaching.
The Black Curriculum aims to shake up history taught in schools. Based on personal experience, Lavinya Stennett explains where the syllabus fails and how change will help us tackle racism in the curriculum.
The world seemed to finally notice the Black Lives Matter movement, following the murder of George Floyd. Global demonstrations gave rise to long-overdue conversations about racial history. This was the case of many parts of the world, including the UK, where cities have prospered on the foundations of the slave trade. It is a history rarely told in detail at school. The Black Curriculum is a social enterprise. It aims to revolutionise the history syllabus in this country for eight to 16 year olds. Its CEO, Lavinya Stennett, explains how she’s tackling racism in the curriculum.
Students are not being taught Black British History consistently. That is despite numerous findings which demonstrate its importance. Latest Home Office figures show that in 2017/18, there were 94,098 hate crime offences recorded by the police in England and Wales, 76% of which were racially aggravated.
The reality of racism operates in many ways, particularly through the lack of education and understanding of Black British history. The Macpherson Report showed that a culturally diverse curriculum is a way to prevent racism. Similarly, The Windrush Review recommended that colonial and migration history should be taught. So why are we still here today?
How racism in the curriculum impacts young people
When young people are not taught their history within Britain, their sense of identity is impacted. Social relations are hindered. A 2007 report on the over-representation of young Black people in the criminal justice system showed the link between these shortcomings as causing underachievement.
A proposed remedy suggests the ‘government should ensure history lessons are relevant to all young people in Britain’. The Black Curriculum recognises that Black history is British history.
The current curriculum and exam board specifications are limited in providing Black British history. Black history is not mandatory in schools that have their own curriculum. Without the resource, time and understanding, we are still going to face the same problems. We can not simply rely on parents and carers to provide this material.
Black British history is not merely a theme for October. It started hundreds of years before Windrush. It pre-dates European colonial enslavement. Our work aims to overcome these limitations. It provides a contextual and globalised history. Rooting the Black British experience in histories of movement and migration – 365 days a year.
We want to prepare students to become fully rounded citizens. Ready for an increasingly globalised world. Our curriculum is grounded in the arts, this allows them to engage with history imaginatively. It encourages satisfaction and critical thinking. Through our holistic approach we aim to remedy a wider issue.
Lavinya is a historian, writer and First-Class graduate from SOAS.
The vision to create The Black Curriculum came from her firsthand experience in British education. She saw the impact of exclusion. Learning ‘Black history’ in the lone month of October was not enough. Studying abroad, she found the Indigenous and colonial history in Aotearoa was part of their everyday. It was accessible to everyone. She is determined to challenge the Eurocentricity of the school curriculum at a nationwide level in the UK. She believes in the power of education, and the arts to ultimately transform the lives of people.
It’s the holy grail that all parents seek: SLEEP! Expert, Rosey Davidson offers advice on how to get back to normal bedtimes after an extraordinary year.
As the kids go back to school, we’re all hoping they’ll go back to sleep! 2020 has certainly been a year of challenges for most families. COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the sleep of our nation. Children are no exception. Increased screen time, later bedtimes, increased anxiety, time away from friends and normal support networks… the list goes on.
During the pandemic research tells us that there has been a significant shift in bedtimes and morning wake times – 70% of children under 16 are going to bed later (Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, ref: Sleep Council). The result of this is that it is harder than ever to transition to a ‘normal’ routine at the start of the school year.
Screen time has played such a big role in home schooling, but this heavy reliance on technology can have a devastating effect on sleep. Lots of exposure to blue and white light from devices can affect our drive to sleep and our production of melatonin (our sleep hormone). Essentially this means, the more screen time we have, the less sleepy we feel!
While it is quite normal for children to go to bed a little later during summer holidays, for many parents that bedtime/wake time has shifted far further than usual. Fear not though, there are positive steps that we can take to make the transition back to school a little easier…
My top tips to improving sleep habits.
Make sure that you and your child get exposure to morning light – this is really valuable for our internal body clocks. Get outside for some fresh air early in the day.
Cut screen time before bed – 1-2 hours of screen free time will really help you and your little ones to switch off.
If your child uses a reading light in bed opt for an amber light – this is far less disruptive that blue/white lights.
Ideally try to keep homework and other activities out of the bedroom – reserve it for sleeping only if possible. If not then perhaps put a screen across the room to cover the desk/workspace at night. This is important for your child to learn to switch off.
Stick to a calm, consistent bedtime routine. Bath, story/or chat, cuddle and lights out. Children thrive on having clear boundaries. If your child is resisting bedtime I really like to create a bedtime poster together – detailing all of the steps towards bedtime and teaching them about the positive benefits of sleep to their bodies.
If your child is anxious about returning to school and struggling to sleep, some simple mindfulness techniques can be helpful. Deep breath in and out, focusing on the breath and movement of the tummy can really help.
Prioritising your sleep and that of your child’s is not decadent. It will improve concentration, mood, support immune system, help maintain a healthy weight and more. Most of all, a well-rested child is a child ready to learn and embrace the new normal.
The annual RBC Race for the Kids, which will help to raise vital funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), is going virtual this Autumn.
Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the hospital needs more support than ever so the charity is urging people to sign up for the first ever virtual RBC Race for the Kids. Over 10,000 people took part in last year’s event to run, jog, walk and scoot around the 5km iconic course in London’s Hyde Park. The hope is that more people will be able to take part virtually, wherever they are in the world.
The virtual event is open to supporters of all ages and abilities. Participants are encouraged to choose somewhere in their local neighbourhood, park or even a garden and ‘race’ your distance, your way. Race weekend is 17 and 18 October and helps to raise vital funds directly for GOSH Charity.
Who will the funds help?
The money raised will go towards funding the hospital’s most urgent needs. This includes research into pioneering new treatments, cutting-edge medical equipment, support services for children and their families, such as parent accommodation and the hospital’s Play team, and the essential rebuilding and refurbishment of the hospital.
Six-year-old Daniel will be racing for the first time with his mum Rosemary, dad Michael and older brother Joshua. He was treated at GOSH for a rare form of arthritis. A few days after bumping his knee whilst playing at home, Daniel began struggling to walk, had swelling and severe pain in his knee, ankle and elbow. Following multiple tests at his local hospital, Daniel was then referred to GOSH specialists.
Rosemary explains: “Daniel underwent many tests as doctors tried to rule out a number of conditions, he had MRI scans, blood tests, an echocardiogram, liver tests and bones looked at. Eventually the amazing team who had taken him under their wing were able to come up with a working diagnosis of Systemic onset Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, an extremely rare disease.”
Rosemary said: “We are all looking forward to taking part in the virtual RBC Race for the Kids this October. We loved the event last year and feel so lucky that Daniel is able to run and take part in something like this, as there have been times over the past couple of years when we didn’t think that would be possible. Doing the race is a reminder of the freedom we have with Daniel since his health has returned and is maintained by ongoing support from GOSH. It will be really fun doing our own race in the countryside close to where we live and hopefully we’ll raise some money for GOSH Charity!”
Be part of something bigger
Created by Royal Bank of Canada, the RBC Global Virtual Race for the Kids will bring together for the first time tens of thousands of participants to support 36 children and youth charities in 16 countries – and by being virtual anyone can take part wherever they are in the world. GOSH Charity is thrilled to be the UK charity beneficiary and is urging supporters to sign up and help raise vital funds for seriously ill children from across the UK who are treated at GOSH.
Participants can now sign up for free at rbcraceforthekids.com, select their city and associated charity and choose their preferred race distance to complete during the weekend of the 17 and 18 October. The virtual race will have support and integration with most running apps and all participants will receive digital medals and rewards.
Over the last 10 years RBC Race for the Kids has raised over £6million for GOSH Charity, helping to make a difference to the lives of seriously ill children from across the UK.
About Great Ormond Street Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity:
Great Ormond Street Hospital is one of the world’s leading children’s hospitals with the broadest range of dedicated, children’s healthcare specialists under one roof in the UK. The hospital’s pioneering research and treatment gives hope to children from across the UK with the rarest, most complex and often life-threatening conditions. Our patients and families are central to everything we do – from the moment they come through the door and for as long as they need us.
Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity needs to raise money to support the hospital to give seriously ill children, the best chance for life. The charity funds research into pioneering new treatments for children, provides the most up to date medical equipment, funds support services for children and their families and supports the essential rebuilding and refurbishment of the hospital. You can help us to provide world class care for our patients and families. For more information visit www.gosh.org
We’ve launched our Autumn issue and it’s fab, even if we say so ourselves!
CLICK THE IMAGE TO READ:
With a cover image from bobochoses.com, an array of things to do in London, advice and tips on how to get back into the swing of things, the City Kids Autumn issue is out now!
We’ve all made it to Autumn, without too much collateral damage, I hope. It’s not every day that images from a world-renowned photographer grace our pages, but we are forever thankful to Misan Harriman for sharing an image he shot for Vogue’s historic BLM issue. Why relevant for City Kids? Well Lavinya Stennett is trying to change the way our children’s history curriculum is taught. Head to p 27 to read her mission.
In our education special we’ve Lockdown Lessons, some amazing reads and some advice for parents and children trying to adapt to school and life in general from Dr Kathy Weston. We’ve one mother’s account of organising a child-friendly Black Lives Matter protest and Bev Turner acknowledges the juggling act parents face and are still facing as we try to work at home and adjust to a different world.
Elsewhere, we round up places to go in town which are now open as well as some great interiors and fashion finds. And a fanfare please for our very own Jo Pratt who launches The Flexible Family Cookbook. One of her recipes is on p18.
The last six months has been the cause of much family stress for many. Zoe Blaskey tells City Kids that it’s time to reset
Six months ago, we were collectively thrown into the challenge of our lifetimes – a global pandemic and lockdown. Families braced themselves for a ‘perfect storm’ of challenges – school closures, loss of childcare, closure of all playgrounds, playgroups, camps and in fact, anything we could use to entertain our children. At the same time many parents were trying to juggle working from home (I’ve heard parents starting work at 2am to get half a day done before the children wake up) and homeschool at the same time. Family stress was at an all-time high, no wonder it’s time to reset.
It was unbelievably intense for many. In fact, 87%* of parents told me they are stressed with family life – still.
We had very little warning, and had to adapt our lives literally overnight. It was a time of survival. Getting through each day, collapsing at the end of it in front of the TV (or a laptop) ready to do it all again the next day. We had no idea how long this groundhog day would go on or what our future might look like.
And now it’s September and that ‘back to school’ feeling is turbo charged as we think about returning to some degree of normality for the first time since March. It’s time to reset.
Here’s how to use September to press the Reset button – to process what’s happened, build resilience for whatever else this year might throw at us and get back into some sort of routine.
5 steps to reset:
1. Stress is a natural response to uncertainty – but when we’re stressed for a long time without addressing it, it can become chronic and often shows in physical signs – exhaustion, headaches, digestive issues, aches and pains. Learn about stress – how it shows up for you (we all feel it differently) and what you can do about it.
2. Supporting ourselves: during lockdown many parents’ own needs went further down the pile than ever before. Of course it did. But in times of intense pressure, it’s even more important to look after ourselves. When things get pushed down and down, the result tends to be an explosion. Think of a beachball being pushed under water and then released. Your needs don’t go anywhere just because you’re not tending to them. ‘Self-care’ as a parent isn’t about expensive spa days or candlelit baths. It’s taking just 5 minutes every day to fill your cup back up. The trick is knowing what to do – my favourites are meditation, free writing and mindful breathing.
3. How to support your children: I’ve heard consistently that across all ages, children’s behaviour has changed through this experience – they too have been on an emotional corona-coaster. It’s really important we learn the tools to help our children process their challenging feelings. There’s neuroscience behind how to do this – it’s just a matter of learning the skills.
4. How to handle disappointments and change. One thing is for sure, whatever the future may bring, it will bring change. Despite the rhetoric, of children handling change well, studies actually show children need more help with change than we may realise. Learn the ways to help your child handle change and disappointments that will make them feel heard, loved and connected to you – not pacified.
5. Reshape your future. In a recent study* 83% of parents shared they want to make changes to family life going forwards but change only happens when we are deliberate about it. So this is a perfect time to reflect on where we’ve been and how you want to handle wherever we might be going.
Deep breath. And reset.
Zoe Blaskey is the creator of The Family Reset Plan which, together with Dr Emma Svanberg a clinical psychologist and Dr Nnkea Ikeogu a child psychologist, dives into each of these five areas with practical, yet really effective ways to future proof your family.
You can read more about it here and if you work for the NHS – it’s absolutely free in recognition of our gratitude.
When the kids go back to school each Autumn, parents are faced with requests for new bags, stationery, shoes, coats etc. At City Kids we aim to make parenting less painful, so we’ve rounded up some of the best bags around. Whether you want colour, neutral, big or small, we have 10 great school bags to take you through the winter.
The countdown has started and back to school chat is on the agenda. As we get ready to go back to school, we’ve a review of Start-Rite shoes from Ivy-May and her mum.
Words: Jenny Estacio, Digital Marketing Guru at CK HQ
The lovely lot at Start Rite were kind enough to send us a brand new pair of school shoes to get the ball rolling on our back to school journey here at City Kids HQ. This was a perfect opportunity for 6 year old Ivy-May to give them a whirl and get started on back to school prep. She’s excited to go back to school where she’ll be reunited with her class. We hope you find this first Back to school review of Start-Rite shoes really helpful!
We used Start Rite’s free printable measuring gauge to scope out just how much Ivy-May’s feet have grown over lockdown. Turns out she’s a whole half size bigger! Their measuring gauge is a lifesaver. It’s fairly straight forward and it’s great that you can beat the queues, especially with social distancing and if you’re in a hurry. In a nutshell, once you’ve got the width and length, you tap the measurements into their shoe size calculator and ta-da, you can start picking out your fave style.
TOP TIP 1: We had to do this step twice. Please be warned, don’t assign this task to grandparents, as they’ll suggest a S13 for someone that’s actually an S11.5! That’s our lesson learned. I certainly did get flashbacks of having to wear my high school uniform 5 sizes too big at year 7.
TOP TIP 2: If using Start Rite’s handy measuring gauge, double check your printer settings and be sure you print the measuring gauge to scale. A lot of printers will be set to “fit to page” which will make it pretty much useless.
Picking styles on site
For 6 year old Ivy-May this was one of the most exciting parts of the process. They had the loveliest styles for both girls and boys. From their classic Mary Janes to slightly more fun and playtime suitable looks. We filtered it down to the Patent Spirit, a modern twist on the Start Rite classic that I used to wear as a child.
TOP TIP 3: Get the kids involved when it comes to picking the styles! Back to school prep, especially following lockdown can help to spark some excitement.
The Start Rite Patent Spirit Girls School Shoes
They arrived nice and quickly – we’re giving Start Rite a gold star for packing them in an eco friendly recycled box too. Having things delivered certainly beats heading to the shops and being met by the queues of other last minute shoppers. Of course, the shoes fit perfectly. The measuring gauge factors in room for growth too, so there really is no need to go a size (or two and a half) up! The Start Rite Patent Spirit is super smart, comfortable PLUS we love the patent shiny finish as this means it’ll look new for longer.
Do check out Start-Rite’s wide range of school shoes here.
For more of our back to school bits, we’ve got a great round up of hand sanitisers etchere, and check out our roundup of lovely lunchboxes here. And in case you missed it, our back to school checklist here. Bring on the new school year, we are so ready!
To celebrate Afternoon Tea Week, we’ve borrowed a recipe from Carr’s Flour to help you make the best Victoria Sponge
There’s nothing quite like a Victoria Sponge and frankly, Afternoon Tea Week is just another excuse to scoff one. Not only is it named after our editor (;-), but it’s also delicious, light, easy to make and will put smiles on lots of faces.
Victoria Sponge Sandwich
Makes one cake, 30 minutes prep, 20-25 minutes bake time
Use our easy to follow recipe to create a classic sponge cake. Get creative and fill with different jams or curds and decorate with fruit and icing sugar.
It’s hot, sticky and we all want to cool down. What better way than to have one of the best ice creams in London. Here’s our guide.
Whether you’re a Mr Whippy fan or only the best Italian gelato will do, London serves up some of the best ice cream. Vegan, goats milk, cow’s milk, milkshakes, sorbets, sandwiches and toppings, you name it….
Customise your own Milk Train ice creams and milkshakes by swirling a creamy base with different mix-ins. Or choose sundae options. Go choo-choo and add a choo-choo candy floss cloud to your ice cream or milkshake to fully board the Milk Train!
Soft Serve Society
Box Park Shoreditch & Market Hall Victoria (temporarily closed)
We’re not going to complain, god knows we like to see the sun in this country. But some of us are overheating. We’ve put together a useful list of heatwave hacks to get you through those sweaty days.
In all seriousness, heatwaves can also be dangerous. If you have a newborn you’ll be stressing about the temperature of the room, what to dress them in and how to keep them hydrated. Older kids will likely want to sit in the paddling pool all day, while you would like an ice bath. Our heatwave hacks are here to help you stay safe and sane this summer.
Never mind the kids, get a paddling pool just for you.
Seek out a fountain and splash like a child (with or without your kids).
Keep a stash of bottled water in the freezer.
Stay home and plant yourself in front of a fan. Do not move.
Run a flannel or small hand towel under the cold tap and place on your neck. Better still, put the wet flannel in the freezer and use when required. Have a supply.
Hang a cold, wet bedsheet at the window.
Eat less meat. Yes really. Digesting it causes our bodies to use energy and consequently heat us up.
Athleisure gear always.
Put your moisturiser in the fridge.
Always wondered whether Birkenstock and sock man knows more than you? Well, socks can help keep you cool by absorbing sweat.
Keep blinds and curtains closed during the day to keep out the hot air and light. A bit Miss Haversham but desperate times call for desperate measures. Open at night to enjoy the (slightly) cooler temperatures.
Showering before bed is a great way to cool down.
Another freezer trick: put your pillowcase in a plastic bag inside the freezer and use on the pillow at bedtime.
Drink plenty of fluids! Rose doesn’t really count for rehydration but a spritz covers both camps in our view.
With sleepless nights on the increase, City Kids takes a look at the best products to aid sleep
2020 has seen anxiety hit new levels in kids and adults as we all try to navigate our new working and home lives. Sleep is commonly interrupted which adds to the problem. But sometimes restless nights or lack of sleep can just turn up out for no apparent reason at all. Insomnia is can turn into a vicious circle where we’re desperate to try ANYTHING to get some zeds. We’ve tried some of these natural remedies and put together our list of the best products to aid sleep.
New Family Club, GetSetGo! will open in Putney early next year
Work has officially started on a brand new club GetSetGo! which launches for families in South West London early next year. Expect a pool, studios, interactive play area, co-working space and a cafe. Opening in January 2021, GetSetGo! promises to be a safe, enriching and multifunctional space with a fresh take on activities for all the family.
GetSetGo! Putney is the brainchild of Claire and Alina who have secured nearly £2m of investment to get the works underway. Speaking about the brand’s vision, Founder and CEO Claire Harrison said:
“As both a parent but also a seasoned leisure professional, I saw a huge gap in the market when it came to children’s activities. I have experienced too many times the distinct lack of suitable space to provide children’s activities across the capital. I started asking myself the questions every mum, dad and grandparent asks: Why am I paying so much money for my children’s activities, yet sat on dirty church, village halls and pub floors? Why am I having to juggle schedules, dashing from one place to another waiting for my children’s classes to finish? Trying to grab twenty minutes to do some work in between classes and never ever having any time for myself. The potential for a setting like GetSetGo! became glaringly obvious and so I decided to do something about it!”
Claire’s no stranger to the family activity market having set up hugely successful Swimming Rocks. Probably why it was essential to build a pool into GetSetGo!’s plans. And those among you with your ear to the ground will know that GetSetGo! is being created on the old Purple Dragon site in Putney.
GetSetGo! Putney will offer a full programme of activities, combining a mix of in-house signature sessions and classes offered from established activity brands. From baby groups to teen fit, ‘mummy and me’ exercise, to post-natal sessions Dance, martial arts, swimming lessons and so, so much more for children; not forgetting the adult group sessions that will be offered before and after work.
After the action, mum and dad can hit the café lounge for a light bite, healthy smoothie or much-deserved glass of wine, while little ones explore the hidden nooks and crannies that have been cleverly incorporated to encourage and promote independent play and learning.
GetSetGo! have also created a unique hybrid workspace that will allow parents to pursue their career without comprising parenthood – or facing the overwhelming guilt of trying to do it all! The co-working space offers the ideal solution, while also having the option of a lunch and coffee break, as well as an activity during the day.
Families will be able to join classes on a pay-as-you-go system or as part of a monthly or annual subscription, ensuring that the inspired setting is accessible to all without the hefty membership fees just to get through the door.
Clubs in Chelsea, Golders Green and Marylebone are due to follow.
We’ve learned a lot about ourselves and the coronavirus during the past few months and hand hygiene has been a constant. Here’s our roundup of handwash, sanitisers and handcare.
*Virtual* hi-fives to families for keeping on top of hand hygiene, especially since the start of the pandemic.
We’ve searched high and low for the best handwash, sanitisers and handcare products on the market. They’re hands-down going to make hand-washing fun again (that’s aside from the happy birthday hack, of course).
As an added BONUS a handful of our great finds go the extra mile, either giving back to the community, charities or are #plasticfreejuly compliant.
For every product sold, Nursem donates a month’s worth of free Nursem products to a nurse or midwife. Space NK will double the Nursem promise – so for every Nursem product sold at Space NK, two nurses or midwives will receive a month’s worth of free Nursem products.
The Mucky Pups Hand Sanitiser is the first hand sanitiser for children which has been proven 99.9% effective against bacteria, spores, viruses and moulds. Easy to use, fragrance-free and gentle enough for repeated use.
For every pack of 3 bought, Neom gives a pack of 3 Clean & Happy Hand Sanitiser Gel to the true superheroes – the NHS. This gel has 65% alcohol to kill 99% of germs but with added glycerine, it won’t dry your hands.
Activity providers have just been given the green light to reopen so holiday clubs and camps are go!
The prayers of parents up and down the land have been answered as holiday clubs and camps have been given permission to go ahead this summer. If you’re still not 100% confident about attending a holiday camp or club in person, there are still plenty of online options available, whether you’re in London or not. Booking for in-person camps will be essential as all will be running with bubbles. Here’s our guide to holiday clubs and camps to help you out.
THE LITTLE GYM
After the enforced break, themed activity camps that not only teach gymnastics but also work on confidence, self-esteem and creativity are back. The doors are being flung open for pirates, princesses, magic wizardry and superheroes for children aged 3-12yrs in Chiswick, Westfield, Wandsworth, Hampton Hill.
A Hampstead favourite is now launching in Hammersmith too. Creative Wiz Kids is the brainchild of a professional artist who has run camps for 30 years. Creative Wiz Kids holiday clubs are packed with exciting art projects, both themed and free Art. Activities include painting, crafts, dance, drama games, music, face painting, free play and storytime. The wider age range enables children to create individually at their own level and also to collaborate across ages should they choose. We offer clubs that are both structured and free-form. 3-9 year olds
Multi-sports camp aiming to develop sporting talent as well as ‘Life Skills Through Sport’ such as resilience, teamwork, empowerment and responsibility. 5-13 yrs East Molesey, Teddington, Hampton, Esher, Kingston
Coding and tech-inspired camps which touch on themes such as music, robotics, nature, oceanography and art. Various locations are now open for in-person camps but there are also virtual offerings. 5yrs+
The planet is in crisis. If you want to make a difference, getting involved in Plastic Free July could kick start your eco-credentials.
Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities. The Plastic Free July campaign also provides resources and ideas to help you (and millions of others around the world) reduce single-use plastic waste every day at home, work, school, and even at your local café.
The easiest place to start is to make swaps for more environmentally friendly products.
Take a reusable cup to your local coffee house.
Buy plastic-free toothbrushes. Bamboo brushes are widely available now, but be wary if they still have plastic bristles. You’ll have to cut these off before recycling them. Also, look for a toothpaste that doesn’t have plastic balls in the paste and many health food shops will have plastic-free packaging options.
Sanitary items can now be plastic-free too. Amongst them Thinx makes washable underwear, Moon Cup is an alternative to sanitary towels and tampons and Eco Femme provides fabric towels.
Swap liquid soap in plastic bottles for bars of soap.
Try making your own beauty products to reduce the number of plastic containers you end up with in the bathroom. There are numerous online recipes and tutorials for soap, shampoo, shower gel, toothpaste, scrubs and lotions. Using simple, inexpensive ingredients, these products are better for the planet and reduce your use of plastic too.
Celebrate birthdays without plastic tat. Popular decorations that can be reused time and time again, include bunting, tassels, tissue pom poms, lanterns, fresh flowers, and more. And party bags no longer have to be filled with rubbish.
Stop using plastic wrap for food. Beeswax cloths from companies like The Beeswax Wrap Co are a great reusable alternative.
Teabags. Did you know that some contain plastic?! Ditch them and buy leaf tea and a teapot instead.
For more ideas on how to make a change head to our article about Going Green.
Small changes made to our lifestyles make a big difference to climate change and going green. Sophie Clowes investigates how we can all become more Greta.
Kids are so wise these days. Going green and climate change has been a ‘thing’ for decades but it took a teenager to call it a crisis and get the world to listen. When 15-year-old Greta Thunberg staged a school strike over climate change, she taught the world many things, not least that the accumulation of small acts can make a big difference. “Everything needs to change. And it has to start today.”
(c) Instagram: Greta Thunberg
This was Greta’s closing line of her impassioned TED talk on climate change in 2018. And at the World Economic Forum in Davos last year, in her famous “our house is on fire” speech, she opined, ‘The main solution is so simple that even a small child can understand it. We have to stop the emissions of greenhouse gases.”
There is much to be done if we are to put planet before profit. While the outlook is depressing, our efforts to redress the balance don’t need to be. According to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), we are under 10 years away from not being able to undo our mistakes. We must act now!
Where and how do we start going green? By taking our children’s lead and implementing small changes in everything from food to fashion, toiletries to transport. As Greta said, “The science is clear and all we children are doing is acting on that united science.”
Every company should use the UN’s Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) as their basis for greater sustainability and equality. The 17 SDGs address global challenges relating to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. If everyone works together, we can begin to make a real and positive difference. Here are some ideas.
Going green: general
Choose to walk, run or cycle. Or use public transport. Or, if you must, car share
Reduce air travel
Use reusable bags, water bottles and coffee cups
Take plastic bags to supermarket recycling points – used responsibly, plastic bags can be recycled and reused many times over
Turn off unnecessary lights
Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs
Change to a green energy supplier
Collect rainwater for the garden
Use your local library
Set washing machines to the lowest temperature
Buy washing powder in boxes
Line dry laundry
Buy bamboo loo roll. Try Don’t Give A Crap
Buy your soap, shampoo and conditioner in bar form
Use a glass bottle for washing-up liquid bought in bulk
Grow your own herbs
Return take-away plastic containers or take your own dishes
Repurpose old cans and candles as vases, tealight holders or pen pots
Fill your house with plants to purify the air and increase happiness
If threads are your thing, you are in luck: sustainability and going green is the height of fashion and it’s a trend that is here to stay. The obvious suggestion is to refrain from buying new but, if you must, there is choice, from Gabriella Hearst’s ‘honest luxury’, to the admirable efforts being made by the likes of H&M and & Other Stories.
We have to consider all the links in the chain, from eco materials to ethical factory practices, from compostable components to sustainable packaging and transport.
Miranda Dunn, whose eponymous label makes vegan fur coats and sustainable dresses, suggests you should wear any item at least 30 times. Stylist Kat Farmer, @doesmybumlook40, reckons you should be able to think of at least three occasions and three different outfits to go with it to justify a purchase. While author Daisy Buchanan, @thedaisybee, celebrates, “rented splendour, vintage treasures, charity shop rummaging and finding new ways to shop the old”.
Head to The Frugality site for stylist Alexandra Stedman’s words of wisdom. Or, Emma Watson, who has partnered with @thredUP to launch their new Fashion Footprint Calculator, which will tell you the carbon impact of your wardrobe. Check out eco-age.com, from the woman who threw down the challenge of turning the red carpet green, Livia Firth. If you are interested in renting clothes, try mywardrobehq, and for secondhand purchases head online to the likes of ebay or on foot to a charity shop.
Eco eating means consuming more plant-based foods, eschewing all plastic packaging, eating locally and seasonally and preventing waste. There are lots of box schemes, such as OddBox or Abel & Cole, that support farmers and small producers, as well as food-sharing apps such as Olio, Karma and Farmdrop, which ensure no food goes to waste.
Other tips include:
Milk delivered in glass bottles by Milk&More
Taking your own receptacles and shopping in bulk stores
Repurposing water purifying charcoal tablets by keeping them in the fridge to stop it going mouldy
Ensuring your online grocery orders are delivered in paper bags. Try Ocado Zoom
We have finally woken up to the horror of tides of plastic washing through our homes. Happily, many sustainable children’s initiatives are welcome money-savers. Here’s what we have learnt:
Washable nappies are initially expensive, but many councils run schemes that help with the outlay
If you swap just one disposable for a washable every day, that’s 365 nappies not going to landfill in a year
The most eco solution is to potty-train your baby. Sit them over the loo or on a potty after every feed. If a child is out of nappies day and night by two, that’s thousands of nappies saved from landfill and a saving of, at least, £800 per child
Use bamboo plates and bowls
Trade toys and clothes with friends
Research suggests we should be talking to our children about periods from the age of eight. Period pants are an expensive initial outlay, but each pair lasts about two years and produces zero waste. Try Wuka or Flux.
Let’s fill our houses with more love, more laughter and less stuff by going green. And quickly. “Adults keep saying we owe it to young people to give them hope. But I don’t want your hope. I want you to act as if you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house was on fire, because it is.” Thank you, Greta, for raising the alarm.
The strangest summer term is drawing to a close. We’ve all learned a lot about teaching children this term so now’s the time to give thanks with our teacher gift ideas.
Lockdown has strengthened our respect for our kids’ teachers. FACT. One key learning for us all over lockdown was that they really are super. From quickly adapting to digital classrooms, hours of marking all those assignments and remaining flexible at a time of uncertainty and helping to put their students (and parents) at ease. We owe a lot to our teachers for doing all they can to give our kids the best possible experience of learning from home. So here’s the City Kids roundup of teacher gift ideas which you could also access to give yourself a pat on the back!
A gift that’ll brighten up any teacher’s desk. We love that these Papier notebooks can be personalised PLUS Papier is donating 50% of profits to AKT, the brilliant charity dedicated to providing safe homes and better futures for LGBTQ+ young people.
The death of George Floyd has sparked many questions from children and all of us. City Kids spoke to children’s author, Mark Lemon, who says conversations about race must continue.
My name is Mark Lemon. I live in Bristol with my wife Simone (personal stylist) and our two children, Otis (9yrs) & Thea (5yrs). I’ve been thinking about how I can contribute to the tragic and senseless murder of, George Floyd – it stopped me in my tracks, and has made me re-evaluate how I view my children’s future in this world.
In 2015, I made the important decision to write stories for my mixed-race children, Otis & Thea. Disillusioned with the lack of diversity in children’s books, I decided to create a series of storybooks with non-white characters.
I wanted to create children’s books with characters that looked like my own children. My first book Otis Lemon & The Spectacular Submarine was awarded the Platinum Junior Design Award 2016 in the Children’s Book of the Year category. I wanted BAME children to feel represented in the mainstream bookstores.
Only a very small percentage of British children’s books feature a main character who is black or minority ethnic. In a research project that was the first of its kind, and funded by Arts Council England, the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) asked UK publishers to submit books featuring BAME characters in 2017. Of the 9,115 children’s books published that year, researchers found that only 391 – 4% – featured BAME characters. Just 1% had a BAME main character, and a quarter of the books submitted only featured diversity in their background casts. This compares to the 32.1% of schoolchildren of minority ethnic origins in England identified by the Department of Education in 2016.
Racism comes in many forms, and to still see such a lack of representation in the publishing industry is wrong on so many levels. I was speaking with Otis yesterday about George Floyd and why he died – it’s incredible how children think and their viewpoint of the world – and he was asking me why the police knelt on George Floyd for 9 minutes, and why they didn’t just talk to him about it. As we talked the news came on, and we continued the conversation over breakfast. And this is what we must do to continue the conversation as parents or guardians. Continuing to have these conversations at home is where education starts for all of us. Schools must get better, but as parents, we are obligated to teach our children, and ourselves, at the same time.
I understand that I must do better to educate myself, my children, and my friends & family. I want my children to grow up in a world where they feel equal to their peers. But, the Black Lives Matter movement has taught me that there is still a long way to go before this happens. Businesses and organisations must change at the root and introduce an equal playing field, and we must ensure that diversity is represented across all elements of our lives.
This conversation isn’t just for one day, a week, or more, but it should be a continuous conversation to educate ourselves behind the squares of our social media. I understand that I will never understand. However, I stand. I stand for my children, my wife and my friends of colour across the world.
Sun’s out, guns out, but more importantly, it’s time for the best family takeaway picnics! Luckily, one of our fave contributors, Tiny Table, has put together a fantastic list of ready-made picnics for families to enjoy.
LUXE LUNCHES: PIQUE Born out of Battersea, Pique’s luxury handmade picnics are vast in choice and ideal for families looking to really roll out the red picnic blanket. Birthday Breakfast hampers come complete with brunch essentials: banana and dark chocolate loaf with birthday candles, party hats, flowers and bubbles (for the big kids!). The natty named Leonardo de Veggie box is packed with veggie delights and the full monty is called The Pique-Nique. Chorizo, apricot and thyme sausage rolls, Lemony hummus and crudités, charcuterie, brie, pickles & chutney, orzo pasta salad, baguettes, brownies and more. Order with 48 hours notice and their picnic boxes will arrive to your door with disposable, compostable and plastic-free packaging. ORDER HERE
THE DELI DELIGHT: MELROSE AND MORGAN Melrose And Morgan are always our first stop for deli delights in Primrose Hill and Hampstead Village. From the Park to the Heath, their summer picnic hampers scale up from two to six, making them the perfect for family feasts in the sun. The Meadow is ideal for a family of four and packed with divine delights – salad, veggie or meat scotch eggs, cheddar cheese, hummus and spelt crackers, truffle crisps, broad beans, olives, feta stuffed peppers, cherry tomatoes, a punnet of strawberries and sinfully gooey chocolate brownies. ORDER HERE
FULL ON FAMILY FEASTING: JIMMY’S POP UP We waxed lyrical about their BBQ hampers and Jimmy’s Pop Up new picnic box is equally as impressive. Serving up to four, this hamper is just the ticket if you’re looking for a really special family alfresco feast. The best of British picnic fare, artisan cheese and meats sit nestled next to giant sausage rolls, handmade pork pies, homemade chutney, pickles, smoked salmon and for pud – strawberries and cream. Grown-ups can toast all their hard work during lockdown with a bottle of red, white or rose. Get ordering as Jimmy’s picnic box is set to be a popular one! ORDER HERE
SUNDAY LUNCH: THE EMPRESS East London gastropub The Empress is keeping to tradition despite recent events. Their takeaway Sunday roasts are pretty special and ideal for weekend picnicking. Their classic Empress Sunday Roast comes served with Yorkshire pudding, braised red cabbage, roast carrots & parsnips, spring greens & roast potatoes. So what will it be roast beef, pork belly or a vegan beetroot and nut roast? If you can squeeze room in for pudding there’s an unctuous sticky toffee pud and apricot Bakewell tart, both served with clotted cream. Order in advance to avoid disappointment! ORDER HERE
PIES, PASTRIES & PICNICS: POPHAMS We’re partial to their pastries, so when Pophams announced their picnic kits we jumped for joy…and in the nick of time for National Picnic Week. The ideal day-date treat for if you’ve snatched a few hours away from the kids whilst they’re at school, Pophams hamper is overflowing with deliciousness – root vegetables pithivier, olives, build your own porchetta focaccia sarnie, herby Isle of Wight Tomato salad, PB & J bread pudding sando, Pophams Eccles cakes with Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire cheese and more. A lush lunch in the sunshine if we ever did see! Nip over to pophamsbakery.com to order your picnic ORDER HERE
VEGAN PICNIC PICK: PETERSHAM NURSERIES Located in an area of outstanding natural beauty only moments away from the River Thames and on the doorstep of Richmond Park, Petersham Nurseries are serving up one heavenly park-ready vegan picnic. Priced at £40 for two (double for a family of four) the dishes are as mouthwatering as their restaurant fare. Vivid green pea hummus, farro and pesto salad, mushroom, chard and onion filo start, a moreish focaccia and English strawberries with mint sugar and Amalfi lemon. Orders for collection from Petersham Nurseries Richmond, Thursday – Sunday from 11.30am to 4.30pm. Order by 4pm for next day collection. ORDER HERE
MUMS THAT BRUNCH: THE FARMER’S MISTRESS If you’re bringing up your brood in South London, you’ll be familiar with The Farmer’s Mistress and their brilliant brunches. Their brand new Farmer’s Mistress Picnic box is not only environmentally friendly in a biodegradable box but is perfect for mums lunch dates on Clapham Common. With mini brioche aplenty tuck into non-Dairy cream cheese, balsamic onion, roasted pepper, wild garlic pesto, prawn, crème fraiche, avo, baby gem and chicken, smoked bacon. and sun-dried tomato. Caramelised apple & apricot sausage roll, date ketchup, scotch eggs and mustard mayo and wholewheat fusilli pesto pasta salad. Sweet endings? The salted caramel fudge brownie & millionaire shortbread bites are EPIC! ORDER HERE
MEAT FEAST: FIELD & FLOWER Award-winning online butcher Field & Flower have been keeping the country fed on the finest meat, poultry and fish during lockdown with their amazing array of delivery boxes. As part of their BBQ box range, their Summer Picnic BBQ box comes primed with thick-cut ham, artisan scotch eggs and British charcuterie alongside a hefty hunk of Barber’s Haystack Cheddar Cheese and pickles galore. With 32 whopping servings, this box will generously feed 3-4 people at least and comes in under £50. A top picnic pic for hungry families. ORDER HERE
ICE CREAM DREAM: CHIN CHIN LABS Kids picnics at home call for one thing – ice cream! Those clever chaps at Chin Chin Labs have gone all out this summer with their brand new Ice Cream in the Post! Using liquid nitrogen means their ice cream stays colder for longer so they can post freshly churned & hand-packed nitro ice cream straight from Chin Chin’s Soho kitchen to your front door! Each ice cream box includes one tub of Burnt Butter Caramel, one tub of Tonka Bean and one tub of Strawberry Milk ice cream. Please note that only grown-ups can handle the unpacking due to the dry ice in the box. ORDER HERE
ALFRESCO AFTERNOON TEA: HAM YARD HOTEL Firmdale Hotel’s Ham Yard Hotel may still be closed but they’ve kept their kitchen open to bring us one sweet treat – afternoon tea boxes. With delivery to most postcodes across London, Ham Yard Hotel have boxed up their favourite treats including delicious finger sandwiches, sumptuous savouries like tomato arancini and sausage rolls, scones with clotted cream and preserves and our mouth-watering cakes, including lemon drizzle and raspberry Bakewell tart. Place your order prior to midday on Thursday for a choice of Friday, Saturday or Sunday delivery. ORDER HERE
Protests supporting the Black Lives Matter campaign have taken place worldwide and families have been getting involved too. We asked one parent to give an account of her experience of organising a family friendly protest.
Words: Carey Johnstone
NW London Children’s Protest
Sitting in our flat, in a terrace on the edge of Kilburn, with our baby and our three year old, we were trying to figure out what to do. Like many people, we’d been staring at our phones, watching the Black Lives Matter protests in America, watching events escalate and spill over into the rest of the world, and our own lives. We were trying to work out how we could get to the protests that were happening in the middle of the city.
Protests and marches are a type of activism that I truly believe in and we have taken our toddler to various big protests since she was a baby. But in lockdown it was different. We didn’t feel like we could get to the protests safely, and once we were there we weren’t sure we would be able to keep ourselves and our children at a safe distance – small children and babies can’t wear masks. It felt wrong to go; it felt wrong to stay at home. Our friends Taio and Phoebe were in the same boat, with two kids the same age (one of whom is our eldest daughter’s best friend).
A throwaway WhatsApp suggestion by Phoebe on Wednesday night, to go to our local park together with our placards and hold our own family protest, grew by Thursday morning into the idea of organising a protest for children, families and whoever else wanted to come. We decided on the coming Saturday – three days away – and agreed that as long as we could get four families to attend then it would be a success.
Spreading the news
Taio volunteered to speak at the start of the protest, and my partner made us a flyer which gave the event a sudden sense of legitimacy. By that evening we were ready to send it out to friends and to post it on social media. We didn’t set up a specific page for the event, and had no names or contact details on the flyer – so once we’d posted it, we had no idea who or how many people would attend. We sent it to our nursery WhatsApp group; a couple of Instagram accounts (including @Citykidsmagazine!) with large followings; and we got some attention (mainly positive) on local mums Facebook groups. On Friday my two biggest fears were these: What if no-one comes? What if everyone comes?
On Saturday morning the weather was fairly grim. My fear of the protest turning into Woodstock and social distancing being impossible was allayed. It looked far more likely that our protest would be a small gaggle of friends meeting and marching through a rainy, empty park. Phoebe and Taio came round to ours, and we all walked to the park together – as always with toddlers, running a little late.
But as we walked through the park gates, 5 minutes before the protest was planned to begin, we could already see a crowd gathering. Some familiar faces, but mostly people we’d never seen before. More and more people arrived. Small and large families, old and young people, a group of teachers from the school where I work, black, white, mixed heritage. By the time Taio stood on a rock and called everyone to attention, there were around 250 people gathered (at a distance) holding placards and signs, wrapped up in raincoats or with umbrellas.
Communicating a message
Taio read from James Baldwin, and spoke about the specific fears black parents have for their children. He listed the statistics of the inequalities black people suffer in the UK’s justice system. He spoke about his experience of being black and a father, and his own fears. And then we marched. As we marched, social distancing meant that we formed a ring around the whole park, marching and chanting together. (Our daughter Joni announced she didn’t like all this shouting, and was worried we’d wake people who were sleeping!). Some teenagers walking through the park to buy Lucozade stopped and joined us, as did some people doing exercise. After the march, we knelt together for a minute’s silence.
What did the protest do? How did it feel? It felt powerful. It felt joyful. It felt good.
Two things really stood out. One, that very few people in that park knew who had organised it, or who was speaking, and it didn’t really matter at all. People came because they felt the same, because they really wanted to do something and, even though we’re in the middle of this awful, scary pandemic, they wanted to be together.
And two, that despite our surprise at the number of people who came, we were only 250 people, in a park, in a corner of northwest London. The government and the media wouldn’t even know that we’d been there. But we all knew. All the people in that park – and their children – could see that others living around them, felt the same way, supported each other, and are fed up with the way that black people are treated. Black Lives Matter.
In part two of our interview with Joe Wicks, he tells us about his inspiration and how he’s taken to parenting.
Thirty minutes on the phone with Joe Wicks flies by. What you get is what you see. He is how you’d expect him to be: friendly, talkative, genuine and interested in what you want to ask. There is no edge. And he seems at his most content when he’s talking about his family, whether that be his parents, babies or wife, Rosie. And during lockdown, there’s no other place he’d rather have been holed up.
“Apart from not being able to go for dinner or to the cinema and see our family and friends it hasn’t changed much in the sense that we’re always at home together, you know I do my YouTube videos and my content, recipes and stuff here so we kind of always live in each other’s pockets, even from the start, before we had kids. We’re our happiest when we’re together, we want to be together, so it hasn’t been too difficult. I’ve actually spent more time with them than ever while being busy. It’s been quite intense but in a positive way. I think we’ve had a nice time, I don’t think it’s been negative for us as a family.
Marley’s almost six months old now, but could you share the recent scare you had with him? For the first couple of months he was so needy, he didn’t want to be left alone and we didn’t know if he had reflux or colic. But then it got to the point where we realised he could never make eye contact with you. He would look to the right or to the left of you, never at you. It was this thing called delayed visual maturity and so he was always crying, you couldn’t put him down, he was blind as a bat basically. He was in a black room all on his own, he didn’t know where we were. One day, it was like the light went on and he could see and he’s become a different kid – it’s changed his personality. He’s more relaxed, he’s got this wonderful energy and he just smiles and he just wants to be looked at and smiled at, he loves it so much. I fully accepted that he could have been blind, 100%, I said we’re going to love him the same, it’s not going to change our world, we’re going to look after him and be there for him and as it turned out he was fine and we didn’t need to deal with that. It was definitely scary and upsetting.
Indie’s a good big sister? She loves him. She was really jealous of me being with him but now she’s cool. She understands he’s there and she knows he’s her little brother. I look round and she gives him his dummy and kisses him on the head and she wants to hold his hand. It’s an amazing thing to see, I love how nurturing she is. She’s very maternal and she looks after him like he’s her baby it’s so cute.
Indie’s often seen with you training, what activities does she enjoy? Indie goes to The Little Gym and she did go to Gymboree but that’s now closed but she loves all those activities and I’d love to take her to ballet and horse riding. I’d like her to try everything, have a go at karate, at skateboarding to see what she loves really and try to encourage her to be creative and active and whatever she finds her love for I’ll obviously encourage.
Image from @thebodycoach
Are you a strict dad? Do you deal with tantrums well? I try to be really patient with her, so we don’t shout and swear we try to be really calm around her. She’s challenging, she’s tough, we do have our moments. I think I’m a bit of a softie when it comes to it. She always wants fruit so she comes up to me and says “ a strawbee, as strawbee” and I can’t help but just give her one – I love seeing her little face light up and getting a kiss and a cuddle when I give her a strawberry. But I definitely need to stop as she knows I’m a bit of a softie, I’m a bit of a pushover. I just can’t say no, I just love her so much.
You’ve been through tough times and shown resilience when your business was getting off the ground. But you had the confidence and resilience to carry on. What’s the most important life skill you’d like to pass on to your kids? I think being kind and positive are amazing traits to have. When you’re considerate of other people, whether at school or at work, whether you’re in hospital, how you treat the people who look after you and are around you, that’ll be the most important thing I can teach Indie: kindness to everyone, either that’s being polite and sharing with kids in nursery or wanting to just be friendly and welcome new kids to the class. I really hope that those are the things that she picks up from me and Rosie. I think me and Rosie are quite similar in that way, we’re not judgemental, we’re quite open to people and her personality is quite open.
And who has shaped that open nature of yours? My mum definitely. She had quite a strict upbringing. She left school when she was young, got kicked out when she was 15, so how she raised me and my brothers to be who we are I really don’t know. My dad was in and out of rehab, he was a heavy drug addict and he wasn’t there, he wasn’t a role model. But my mum was. We always knew rules, we always understood what was right and wrong and we always respected her. She taught me how to look after my room, how to respect my clothes and my house and that means soemthing. When I look back now I realise that we had our difficult times during the teenage years, we obviously banged heads and stuff but she wanted the best for us and without doubt, she taught me to be loving and caring and she shaped the person I am, no doubt in my mind. But later on in my adult life, my dad is obviously a good role model and he’s there for me as well.
Image Maja Smend from Wean in 15
Do you worry about the world that your children will be growing up in? More so than ever. Especially around the environment and the impact on the oceans and the forests. Seeing plastic in the ocean breaks my heart and the animals and the wildlife getting squeezed out of their natural habitat, it’s depressing if you think about it. It’s hard to accept what’s going on and to realise as a human race we’re moving too quick and we’re destroying too many things. And now with everything that’s going on with equality and racism I want to make sure that I am being diverse in my life with Indie so she experiences that and so she doesn’t have any prejudices when she grows up.
You recently got into meditation. Does it help with the stresses and strains of running a business and parenting? I did Russell Brand’s podcast Under the Skin and he said just give it a go, I think it will really benefit you. I gave it a go every day for a couple of weeks and it really opened up my mind about leaving my phone and being present and having a little moment to breathe. I’d be lying if I said I do it every day but I do it maybe three or four times a week and on those days I do it, even if it’s ten minutes, it just centres me a bit, grounds me and gets me present cos I’m always on this conveyor belt of work, this hamster wheel that never stops turning. I really do enjoy it. I always said I’m too busy to do it, I’m mindful but I can’t be mindful, but you can. It’s like training. Some days you do a work out and it’s sh*t and other days you love it and feel really good and it’s the same thing with yoga and meditation, just good practice and bad practice.
Before we go, what would be your best advice for new parents? You have to go to bed when your kids go to bed, not every night cos that’s not going to happen. You’ve got to put them in bed, have your dinner early and then get straight in there with them, go to bed and if you can get that extra few hours sleep. If you stay up til half ten or eleven, and you’re getting woken up you can’t catch up so you have got to sacrifice sometimes you need to get to bed a bit earlier and you’re going to feel much better at the end of it.
Half a million pounds raised for the NHS, millions of followers on Instagram, nine best-selling books and now a PE teacher for the nation’s kids. In the first of two features, Joe Wicks speaks to City Kids about his motivation, his lockdown experience and his greatest work…
Just three months ago, Joe Wicks was putting the finishing touches to his latest book, Wean in 15. But the Covid-19 pandemic set him on another path, with lockdown accelerating his phenomenal success thanks to PE with Joe. The Body Coach tells Victoria Evans about what he considers to be his greatest work.
“It looks like an overnight success, but I’ve built my brand, trust and loyalty over eight or nine years of YouTube, going to schools and doing UK schools tours. I really believe in what I’m doing, I’m really passionate. It takes a lot for a parent who’s never heard of you or seen your content to let you into their room and their house live on a stream. I always dreamed, I knew this was going to happen, but I thought it was going to take me 10 years of hard work and it happened in the space of three months because of the lockdown and PE with Joe, that’s the truth. I know I would have worked so hard to make it happen anyway, but it just intensified it and magnified it.”
So, did you always want to work with kids? I dreamed of being a PE teacher, that was my first ambition. My career went into personal training and when I realised I had a massive audience and a massive reach, I thought, “what means a lot to me?” I really think young people, mental health and fitness is very important so then I did a trial whether it was a Facebook live or YouTube live with schools, very small numbers and it grew from that. Then I went out on the road to real schools and got to know the teachers, parents and the kids and really understood how to engage children, how to make it fun and that evolved into PE with Joe. We’re now in our 12th week.
Alongside PE with Joe, you’ve launched your ninth book, Wean in 15. Was this an obvious business decision? It wasn’t a forced thing, “oh now I want to capitalise and monetise this”, it was more like, I’ve got an opportunity and people really need this advice. I’m getting so many questions online about when to start, what to do, so I took all the information I learned and all the research from [nutritionist] Charlotte Stirling-Reed and put it into a book. I can’t believe how many people have got this book already. I’ve given out so much free content, I’ve given out all those free recipes, I’ve given so much advice on Wean in 15 that when you do the book, people support it.
Image Maja Smend from Wean in 15
That’s an interesting way to build your business as you do offer so much for free. I always believe you’ve got to share free content. You have to give before you get given. I’ve always been like that, even now. My YouTube is an example. I’ve had DVDs in the past, I’ve had cookbooks, but I still love doing my YouTube videos because they’re free and they’re for everyone. I also have my Instagram with loads of recipes for free because I don’t want anyone to feel they can’t access it or they can’t get to it. I always say, my 90-day plan is a great plan, but you don’t need that, you can use my Instagram recipes, my Wean in 15 Instagram or my YouTube videos and you can still have a transformation; you can still go on a journey and that’s important to me because I don’t want anyone to feel left out of my business and my brand. I mean you need money to survive and have a company, but the majority of my content is free for everyone to access. That really is the stuff that motivates me. When I get a million people doing a workout with me that’s fantastic, that’s true motivation and that inspires me you know.
Your life is very public, and your business has been built on social media. How often do you reflect on the kids being involved in that? I contradict myself sometimes about the way I feel about it. You either go all in or you don’t. We have conversations where we dip in and out of not wanting to be on there but then there are some things that we love to share – Indie’s on the front cover of my book. I suppose even if I didn’t have millions of followers, as a culture I think we all like to share our pictures and our children so it’s just the way of the world now. I just embrace technology. It’s allowed me to have a fantastic life so there are pros and cons to it.
Do you ever feel pressured, or is it stressful living your life so publicly? I don’t feel like it’s pressure, I feel like this is my role, this is what I’m supposed to be doing with my time. I could hand over my Instagram to someone else and ask them to run it for me and answer all these questions, but I know that I need to connect with all the emotions that people are feeling. I need to know why I’m doing this, why I work so hard and who it’s affecting and how it’s helping people and so I don’t feel like burning out I feel like I’m just getting into my groove and that I’ve got more to offer. and that I can reach more people so it’s not a pressure.
What memories will you take from this period? For me, PE with Joe is the thing I will remember forever. I’ve been there for people when they’ve needed it the most and it’s kept me sane and kept me happy as well. I think this is the greatest work, and it’s the most important thing I’ve ever done, and I don’t know whether I’ll do anything as meaningful as this again.
Image from @thebodycoach by Ollie & Nix Photography
You always talk so lovingly about Rosie, what’s your relationship like? There’s no power struggle really with us, it’s quite balanced. She’s an amazing mum, she’s really good with the kids. I always look at her when the kids are screaming and I think, how are you so patient and calm and it makes me think if she can be like that then I can too so I’m learning from her every day. 100% she’s made me a better person, especially as a parent. I was shouted at and screamed at as a kid. In my head I’m screaming and shouting but I’ve learned to internalise it and be more patient. There are days that you do want to pull your hair out and scream at the kids but it doesn’t get you anywhere, it doesn’t help. So, learning to communicate better is something I’ve learned from her.
Your parents must be so proud of the person you’ve become. A lot of my friends from my area ended up on drugs or in prison but we broke that mould. You’d have expected us to have been like that you know. I believe in three things and my motto is work hard, have fun and be nice. If you do those three things with relationships, with work, with everything you attack in life, if you have fun doing it and are kind to people and you put in the effort, you will be successful. That’s such a simple way of living life and it’s always what I think about. Am I being kind enough, am I working hard enough and am I having fun and living my best life and if I think I am then I normally am.
So back to Wean in 15, how will you approach weaning with Marley as you’ll be starting soon We’re going to repeat the process which his basically a two-week veg led approach so for the first two weeks we focus on one new vegetable a day so whether it’s spinach or kale so really develop a palate for those savoury tastes. Then you can introduce sweeter things and start combining stuff. It’s all about consistency so lots of variety, try not to offer alternatives if they kick something back. I really want Marley to love food like we do. Me, Rosie and Indie all love food, we live for food, we’re obsessed with it so I hope that if we repeat the same process and have the same principles that he’ll be similar or the same as Indie, but who knows. We’ll see, it might change.
Food does seem to be a big part of Wicks family life. I love any food. I love chocolate but I like being in control of what I’m eating and feeling energised. Food can make you feel so happy and energised but you can also have a complete blow out all weekend and it can make you feel knackered and tired and bloated and so I allow myself treats and I know the effect it has on me but I still really do prefer eating healthy food that’s home-cooked.
Picnic or Lion Bar? Lion bars and the white one’s good as well.
What’s your favourite recipe from the book? Broccoli and cheddar tots are really easy to make and super more-ish and there’s a chicken and and butternut squash stew at the back which is for older kids. They’re really good recipes for families. If you’ve got kids who are a bit older there are some great recipes in there, you don’t have to be weaning to enjoy it.
Recipe and demo for Broccoli and Cheddar Tots from @thebodycoach:
For more from our interview with Joe, stay tuned to the site and @citykidsmagazine when Joe talks more about family life, his inspiration and his hopes for the future.
Wean in 15 is available on Amazon and via all good bookshops. You can follow Joe on Instagram @thebodycoach and use his workouts on YouTube.
June is normally a month awash with rainbows celebrating Pride Month, a time to commemorate, learn and recognise the positivity of the LGBTQ community. It’s also a chance for LGBTQ families to share their experiences with the wider world.
Of course, Covid-19 has put a stop to large gatherings, but there are other ways to acknowledge the contribution of LGBTQ communities as well as educate those who are not up to speed. Here are some ideas and resources for family and child-friendly things to do.
Although based in the States, The Trevor Project has a fantastic range of resources and support for young people. It provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services and lots of materials for young people everywhere who are curious, confused and scared. It also is an incredibly useful place to use if you’re an educator, business owner or parent – in fact anyone!
Mermaids began as a group of concerned parents sharing experiences and trying to find ways to keep children safe and happy. It’s grown into one of the UK’s leading LGBTQ+ charities, empowering thousands of people with its secure online communities, local community groups, helpline services, web resources, events and residential weekends.
While your kids may not be direct beneficiaries of this homelessness project, you may want to donate of help with the charity for your own self-development. The Outside Project of LGBTIQ+ colleagues, friends & activists work in the Homeless sector & have lived experience of homelessness & the unique, complex issues their community faces.
akt supports lgbtq+ young people aged 16-25 in the UK who are facing or experiencing homelessness or living in a hostile environment. It was originally formed in Manchester in 1989 by Cath Hall, an experienced foster carer, and founder member of Manchester Parents Group (MPG), who had become acutely aware of the rejection and ejection of young LGBT people from their family home and the homophobia they faced within school and society.
Measuring your child’s feet without access to an expert in a shop is an issue during lockdown, but Start-rite has come up with a solution.
And with your new tools at the ready, you’ll be able to request the right size when you enter our competition to win this season’s top selling canvas shoes.
The College of Podiatry, those who take a keen interest in foot health, estimates over half of children have suffered injuries by wearing shoes that were either too small or unsuitable. We’ve all had the experience when suddenly your child’s feet have grown overnight or you’re looking last-minute online but don’t have the equipment for measuring your child’s feet.
Now Start-rite has produced a downloadable measuring gauge for parents to use quickly and easily to measure their feet at home. They’ll also send one to your address if you get in touch with them.
They’ve even produced a short film on how to use it here:
Start-Rite recommends measuring children’s feet every 6 to 8 weeks to ensure shoes fit and are also fit for purpose. Once you’ve made your purchase, there’s a really useful “Check If They Fit” checklist to help reassure you when you try the shoes at home.
Fancy trying it out? What better way than by entering our competition to win a pair of this season’s top-selling canvas summer shoes. Choose from Jurassic Navy Dino or Pink Glitter Floral.
All you have to do is complete our entry form. Simples. When we draw the winner we’ll get in touch to find out the size you require.
Ts and Cs apply: UK Entries only. Prize is non-transferable. No cash alternative. The decision of City Kids is final. Draw for winner will be made shortly after 12pm on 16th June. City Kids reserves the right to redraw if there is no response from the original winner within a reasonable amount of time.
Black squares and hashtags are all well and good. Promising to educate yourself, also. Actioning those promises is what’s needed, and knowledge is going to help you and your kids take action.
City Kids has put together a collection of books for children and their parents who are committed to making a positive change. Our anti-racist book list for kids features stories with black characters in central roles as well as highlighting leaders of colour and those who have stood up against prejudice through the years.
“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength”. Maya Angelou
This small list of what’s available is just the beginning…
AN ABC OF EQUALITY By Chana Ginelle Ewing 0-5yrs (Board book)
THE MEGA HAIR SWAP By Rochelle Humes 3-5yrs
LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET By Matt de la Peña 3-5yrs
THE NEW SMALL PERSON By Lauren Child 3-6yrs
LOOK UP! By Nathan Byron & Dapo Adeola 3-7yrs
LITTLE PEOPLE BIG DREAMS Featuring Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, Josephine Baker, Ella Fitzgerald, Harriet Tubman, Jesse Owens, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Evonne Goolagong 4-7yrs
ELLA QUEEN OF JAZZ By Helen Hancocks 4-8 yrs
THEA LEMON AND HER SUPER SPORTY FAIRY GODMOTHER By Mark Lemon 4yrs+
LEON AND BOB By Simon James 5yrs+
ADA TWIST’S BIG PROJECT BOOK FOR STELLAR SCIENTISTS By Andrea Beaty 5-7yrs
THE SILENCE SEEKER By Ben Morley 5-7yrs
SOMEDAY IS NOW: CLARA LUPER AND THE 1958 OKLAHOMA CITY SIT-INS By Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich 6-9yrs
DEALING WITH RACISM By Jane Lacey 6-8yrs
40 INSPIRING ICONS: PEOPLE OF PEACE: MEET 40 AMAZING ACTIVISTS By Sandrine Mirza 7-10yrs
LITTLE GUIDES TO GREAT LIVES Featuring Nelson Mandela and Maya Angelou 7-11yrs
YOUNG, GIFTED AND BLACK: MEET 52 BLACK HEROES FROM PAST AND PRESENT By Jamia Wilson 7-10yrs
40 INSPIRING ICONS: BLACK MUSIC GREATS By Olivier Cachin 7-10yrs
THE POWER BOOK: WHAT IS IT, WHO HAS IT, AND WHY? By Claire Saunders, Georgia Amson-Bradshaw, Minna Salami, Mik Scarlet, and Hazel Songhurst 7-11yrs
LESSONS FROM HISTORY, ELEMENTARY EDITION: A CELEBRATION IN BLACKNESS By Jawanza Kunjufu 7yrs+
LITTLE LEADERS: EXCEPTIONAL MEN IN BLACK HISTORY By Vashti Harrison 8-12yrs
LITTLE LEADERS: BOLD WOMEN IN BLACK HISTORY By Vashti Harrison 8-12yrs
BLACKBERRY BLUE By Jamila Gavin 9-11yrs
THE YOUNG MAGICIANS AND THE THIEVES’ ALMANAC By Nick Mohammed 9-11yrs
WHO ARE REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS? WHAT MAKES PEOPLE LEAVE THEIR HOMES? AND OTHER BIG QUESTIONS By Michael Rosen & Annemarie Young 9-17yrs
IGGIE’S HOUSE By Judie Blume 9-12yrs
SPEAK UP!: SPEECHES BY YOUNG PEOPLE TO EMPOWER AND INSPIRE By Adora Svitak 10yrs+
THIS BOOK IS ANTI-RACIST: 20 LESSONS ON HOW TO WAKE UP, TAKE ACTION, AND DO THE WORK By Tiffany Jewell 11-15yrs
THE HYPNOTIST By Laurence Anholt 12yrs+
WATCH US RISE By Renee Watson & Ellen Hagan 12yrs+
NOUGHTS AND CROSSES By Malorie Blackman 12yrs+
THE LIFE OF STEPHEN LAWRENCE By Verna Allette Wilkins 13yrs+
Where to buy face masks: our guide to face coverings you can wear with style
The latest government guidelines come into force on 24th July for shopping. Face masks are becoming part of everyday life so there’s a huge demand. Whether you’re using public transport, heading to the airport, going to the supermarket or social distancing, here are some of the less surgical looking coverings available from businesses large and small to help you wear face masks with style. This is our guide to where to buy face masks. Bear in mind that they sell out fast, but are restocked often!
Government guidance The official guidance outlines that children under two, who cannot put on their own mask, or if they have a respiratory condition, do not have to wear a covering. Also note that it is not mandatory that children under 11 wear a face mask on public transport.
Citizens of Humanity have been making masks for front line workers and they have several designs to choose from for public. They’ve also partnered with the Haas Brothers to make these limited edition masks in kids and adults sizes. $16.
Brora’s range of Liberty print face masks are raising plenty of money for NHS charities – £10 from every mask sale goes to NHS Charities Together. £19.
These Vistaprint RFS reusable masks are engineered with a Replaceable Filter System, tailored for comfort, and printed in unique designs for adults and kids. 10% of mask sales goes to local communities. From £13.
For something a little more high end, the designers at Wolford have put their minds to three designs. This lace face covering is made from the finest silk. For the less brave, there are other designs. From £20.
As the government loosens restrictions on lockdown, City Kids evaluates whether the socially distanced BBQ you have in mind is ok
From Monday, we are permitted to meet in small groups of up to six people from different households outside and, with the weather we’re having, it seems BBQs are top of the agenda. However, it’s worth noting that we are still on threat level four, which means the transmission of Covid-19 is still high. Confused? Us too! In fact, the initial Stay Alert message on the gov.uk website is the same as it has been all week, and it’s probably worth a reminder:
We can all help control the virus if we all stay alert. This means you must:
stay at home as much as possible
work from home if you can
limit contact with other people
keep your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible)
wash your hands regularly
Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms. gov.uk
It’s understandable that after almost three months of social distancing that people are desperate for some human contact. And following the Prime Minister’s words suggesting social distance gatherings can now take place, it’s the green light that most have been waiting for. But how to manage these gatherings while still adhering to social distancing?
Perhaps the best advice we’ve seen comes from Dr Xand van Tulleken, perhaps best known for Operation Ouch series on CBBC. Speaking on the Today programme, he said:
“Everyone is going to have to make a judgement on how much risk they are prepared to accept. For someone like me, I’m certain I have had it so I would be pretty relaxed. if you are someone older, more vulnerable, more anxious then bring your own plates, there’s no hard and fast rule. The important thing to say is that there is no way of stopping this virus, only slowing it down.”
He went on to note that a socially distanced gathering for six people would require a 48 metre squared space, around one-quarter of a tennis court, beautifully sketched on Twitter.
From @xandvt on Twitter
How to have safe 6 person picnic in park/ garden: – obtain TWELVE (!!!!) 2m x 2m blankets – sit at the intersections – bring your own coleslaw
How to run a safe loo for visitors: (not evidence based) – abundant soap – cleaning spray – disposable towels for drying hands & wiping surfaces – egg timer (enforce 20 seconds) – gaps of >2 mins between visitors – sign: “wash your hands & flush w seat down”
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s The World at One, Professor Sally Bloomfield, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, advised against groups hosting BBQs at all:
‘The thing that really worries me is people are starting to say to me, oh, can I have a barbecue? That is the really dangerous thing because then we are really starting handling things backwards and forwards to each other – plates, glasses, cups and so forth.
So if you really want to have a social gathering and a meal, and the more time we spend outdoors the better, then it should be a picnic where we each bring our own food and knives and forks and plates and everything and keep them to ourselves and take them away with us. Then we can have a really nice social gathering.
But barbecues, please no, at the moment.’
If you decide against the BBQ but do want to get out of town try our suggested walks which will take you off the beaten track.
Avoiding the hoards when the sun shines is not easy. Here are 10 easy day trips from London that you can take with your family while social distancing.
While the sun shines and the rain stays away heading to the beach is the obvious choice. But guaranteed you won’t be the only one thinking the same. So when we decided to research day trips we thought we’d choose places that shouldn’t be overrun by the public.
No matter where you go though, please respect the countryside and others around you, take care to follow social distancing rules and have consideration for the farmers and landowners who look after the countryside for us to enjoy. Also note that some car parks are now operating a booking service so check all websites for regular updates.
ABINGER ROUGHS AND NETLEY PARK
Hidden woods with ancient trees and flower-sprinkled grasslands, just off the North Downs and Pilgrims Ways provide plenty of options for a day away from the city. nationaltrust.org.uk/
Ancient trees, rolling chalk downlands and lush meadows in an area of outstanding natural beauty is what Ashridge is known for. Also expect to see deer roaming freely in the estate. nationaltrust.org.uk
Little Marlow walks The Water Walk is an almost flat route following the Thames Path National Trail to the flooded Spade Oak gravel pits. The gravel pits are now a haven for wildlife, particularly birds, with good access to the waterside on permissive routes. Keep clear of the water’s edge. No swimming.
Circular Walk near Christmas Common 2.5, 3 or 6-mile circular routes in the Christmas Common area, starting from the National Trust car park at Watlington Hill Box Wood walks chilternsaonb.org
Trails have been created that wind through the woodlands, past retained military features such as the Wellington statue and firing range walls. To the north of Duke’s Wood, the Basingstoke Canal provides walkable links to Lake and Canal Side and further reaches of Wellesley Woodlands. wellesleywoodlands.co.uk
CS LEWIS NATURE RESERVE
This tranquil woodland and large pond used to belong to celebrated Oxford author CS Lewis. It was said he enjoyed wandering here while writing his children’s book series about Narnia which includes The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. With the A40 nearby and surrounded by houses, it is a surprise that the reserve has kept its sense of stillness. bbowt.org.uk
When you visit in spring you may be lucky to hear woodlarks singing across the heath. On brash and log piles, look out for adders basking in the sun. You can also see grass snake, common lizard and slow-worm, and the large pond supports a breeding population of palmate newts. bbowt.org.uk
WARBURG NATURE RESERVE
A hidden wildlife gem nestling in the Chiltern Hills, rich in wildlife that will lift your spirits whatever the season. High up in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Warburg Nature Reserve is a remote and magnificent place, rich in exciting plants and animals all through the year. The flower-rich grasslands in the valley bottom give way to extensive woodlands rising up the valley sides. It is the richest BBOWT site in the three counties for orchids. From April right through to August orchids can be found in all of the habitats, including fly orchid and bird’s-nest orchid. Warburg Nature Reserve even has its own microclimate with exceptionally cold temperatures on winter nights. bbowt.org.uk
AUBRY BUXTON NATURE RESERVE
Visit a beautifully wild nature reserve with its woodlands, ponds and species-rich grasslands, filled with amazing wildlife. Once a wildlife and pleasure park to Norman House, this beautiful reserve was donated to Essex Wildlife Trust by the late Lord and Lady Buxton in 1976. It is now a thriving wildlife haven for the many rare and uncommon species found here, including the strange-looking Adder’s Tongue Fern and Lesser Lady’s Mantle. essexwt.org.uk
A varied natural landscape, including woodland, grassland, river valley and farmland. The three farms within the park encourage skylarks to nest in some of the fields and maintain hedgerows to support a wide variety of birds, such as linnets and yellowhammers, as well as mammals and invertebrates. The river Mole is stocked with coarse fish and is home to swans, kingfishers, herons, various duck species, and little egrets. surreywildlifetrust.org/
Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis have launched a wine that gives 100% of profits to US charities
There’s no doubt that wine buying has increased immeasurably and now Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis are helping you enjoy wine while raising funds. They’ve partnered with two companies to launch a quarantine pinot noir where 100% of profits go to charities they have vetted.
Each bottle has an interactive label where you can write who or what you’re toasting. And using hashtags #quarantinewine #ppe and #socialdistancing the couple are encouraging people to share their experience and important messaging on social media.
Sadly only available for delivery in the States, but worth sharing this with anyone you know over there. Meanwhile, we can give them a pat on the back for coming up with a creative and supportive idea.
Fashion brands are making charity tees to support our NHS workers, the World Health Organisation or other charities in the battle against Covid-19. Beware of bandits – the following are totally legit. And there are sizes for kids.
There are plenty of things you can do to support charities and NHS workers at this time. Rainbows are everywhere and fashion brands are diverting their profits to support NHS charities. All items are selling fast, so if they’re out of stock now, chances are they are working on producing more. The following brands are making charity tees for kids and adults or diverting profits from existing lines.
EVERPRESS has joined forces with Adam Tickle to raise funds for NHS Charities, with an homage to Adam’s iconic ‘Utopia’ tee. Let’s get through this together. Priced at £20 per t-shirt (or £15 for kids) 100% of the proceeds will go to NHS Charities Together to support frontline staff, emergency workers and carers.
Joules has created The Rainbow Edit from its collections. Many of their clothes and accessories are splashed with the colour of the rainbow so now, by purchasing one of these items, profits will be donated to NHS Charities Together. This money will contribute towards funding anything from well-being packs for staff to vital accommodation for front line workers.
Style icon Harry Styles has produced a charity tee with 100% of profits to be donated to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization, powered by the UN Foundation. It may take a while to come, but you’ll be saving the world and getting your hands on some of Harry’s merch when it does arrive.
Kindred was created with one aim: to raise the maximum amount of money for global charities through everyday purchases. The UK has seen amazing unity through the Clap For Our Carers campaign, and we wanted to do our bit to support our incredible NHS at a time when it is easy to feel a little helpless. Order this organic cotton charity T-shirt and do your bit for our wonderful NHS staff while staying safe at home. All Kindred’s proceeds from the sale of this t-shirt go directly to NHS Charities Together.
Marks & Spencer has just released a range of charity tees featuring a rainbow or the ‘All In This Together’ slogan made from soft and breathable cotton. The short-sleeved tees are available in men’s, women’s and kid’s sizes, so there’s a design for the whole family. Furthermore, all cotton used for M&S clothing, including these t-shirts, is sustainably sourced. The M&S design and buying teams brainstormed and re-purposed existing stock and printing the designs in the UK.
Remember writing your first diary? The content won’t be the same these days, but Morag Turner looks at ways to keep a family lockdown journal.
Right now we are all longing to return to normal life and for kids to get back to school. Real school. But a few months down the line we may want to reflect and remember the experience of this life changing and significant moment in history. Diary writing or journaling has also been recommended as being meditative and mindful, and who doesn’t need some of that in their lives right now. Like a lot of self-care suggestions, keeping a diary may seem like another task to add to the long list of things to do. But like yoga, meditation, running or any of the other things we make time for, this could be another routine you’re grateful for in a couple of months.
Adding children to the mix could also make this a fun family project, and perhaps get them using those imaginations and perhaps picking up a pencil to practise their handwriting. The journal could be one of Smythson’s finest (see below), a large scrapbook that you write and stick items in or it could be a box that you put objects in too. There are no rules here and the more creative the better.
Write it down
The most obvious way to recording your lockdown is by writing about it. Every member of the family can jot down what they have being doing and how they are feeling. Parents can takes notes for little ones. This can include what you did each day and how your new routine was formed. From what games you all enjoyed playing together and how you got your daily exercise in, to FaceTime calls with grandparents and Zoom quizzes with friends.
Make a note of all the things you did, especially the things that are new during this time. Even if this is just a few lines every other day, it will build up a picture of how your family spent their days. Maybe everyone gets a page or maybe it’s a page per day that you all add a few lines to. There are no rules so you decide.
Make it about feelings as much as activities
This is frightening, worrying and difficult time for everyone – kids included – as we adjust to our new reality and wonder what the future will hold. Many people are concerned about their health and the risk of catching Coronavirus. And many are dealing with grief.
But there can be pockets of positive emotions and happiness without the distractions of the outside world and our usual busy schedules. On a daily, even hourly basis how we feel can change. Children are getting used to their new routine and home schooling timetables. It can be frustrating and challenging for kids and for parents.
These are the kinds of things to write about it your journal. Times when each of you felt good and also when you really struggled and why you think that is. Not only will it form part of your memories when you look back, it may also be a very useful way of everyone communicating how they are feeling and coping. Use the journal as a mechanism for openness and resolving problems. It might help you to see the lockdown from your children’s perspective.
Take photos and print them off
A visual record is just as good as a written one. Take snaps of all the things you get up and print them out. If you bake a cake, build a fort out of sheets or create play do masterpiece then take a photo of it. Include yourselves and your kids as much as possible.
We are all chatting with family and friends online so take pics or screen grabs of these Zoom and FaceTime conversations. These human interactions are a vital part of staying positive and making sense of our current situation and a reminder of why it is necessary.
Make videos too. Keep them on a memory stick that can be stuck into your scrap book or places in a box. Ask the kids take their own pics and make films too. Maybe even video diaries for older children.
Draw pictures too. Little kids will love doing this. Keep all little doodles and stick them in.
Get grandparents involved
Missing relatives you haven’t seen for a while? Ask other family members or even friends to contribute. Ask them to email over their thoughts or write them down and pop them in the post. Older relations will be having a different time to younger ones and it’s great to have their input too. Or you could ask them to write down some family history to add into the mix.
Remember things unique to lockdown
There are certain things we are all doing now that are unique to this time. Clapping for Carers every Thursday night in recognition of our amazing key workers is one of them. Make a video and take photos of your family doing this. It’s most probably not something that will happen ever again. Likewise the drawings of rainbows that children are putting up in windows. But there are also other changes to our everyday lives such as home haircuts and zoom calls that are new to us. Make a specific note of these and their significance.
Keep items and documents that relate to this time
In years gone by this would include newspaper cuttings, but if you don’t get an actual paper then you could print out significant pieces from newspapers websites or jot down headlines and what they might mean.
Keep any letters and cards that you receive or government correspondence like the letter Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote to all households a few weeks back explaining the need for the lockdown. These are all part of our current experience, contribute to how we feel during it and also how we will feel as we hopefully start to move back towards some form or normal life in the coming weeks and months.
This is a historical document for the future
Right now this is a fun way for your family record the experience of lockdown and to express the emotions it brings. But in future this journal will become not just a family heirloom, but also a historical document of one of the most significant events in recent history. Our grandchildren will study this at school in the way we did the First and Second World Wars. It will be fascinating for future generations to delve into family life during this time and discover what it was really like for those living through it, as we did the diaries kept by soldiers and child evacuees in the 1940s.
By creating a journal you will not only helping your own family to remember a time that reshaped the world, but also help those in years to come have a greater understanding of what the Coronavirus meant to real people.
With lockdown well underway, the City Kids bonus issue has landed. We’ve scrambled to produce a bonus mini-version of our quarterly print publication.
It’s been created with a view to supporting small businesses who have been dealt a blow by Covid-19. Inside you’ll find most of our regular features with a bit of a twist.
Brands get to showcase their collections while their stores are closed as well as promoting new initiatives they have worked on during this crisis. Our What’s On calendar is neatly entitled What’s Online featuring fun and educational things to do for all the family.
Expect features on food, interiors, fashion and those all-important tips on schooling at home.
By signing up to our newsletter, you’ll be the first to receive links to our future digital editions. And you’ll hear about our latest offers, collaborations and competitions before anyone else.
We’re all feeling the pain of making three meals a day, preparing snacks, washing up, wiping down, thinking about the next meal etc. But thankfully, Jo Pratt has three great stir fry sauces to help make cooking in lockdown a little easier.
I’m sure all of our kitchens have never been busier with the whole family at home 24/7 requiring 3 meals a day. Oh and of course not to forget the numerous amounts of snacks demanded for by the never-ending appetites kids seem to have.
Now, more than ever we need easy to prepare, economical and nutritious recipes that require straight forward everyday basics. Forget the latest trendy ingredients or specialist products – it’s a case of enjoying the simple things in life again.
Yep – you may feel like you’re getting stir crazy being stuck at home so much, but here I’m referring a selection of easy to prepare sauces that you can add to any selection of meat, fish, tofu and veggies. Go crazy and have fun.
All of the sauces can be made ahead and stored in a jar or sealed container and used as and when you like, (they’ll keep in the fridge for a week or so). So, whether it is a meal for one or more, simply add the sauce to the stir-fry at the last minute to heat through.
Each sauce serves: 4 Preparation time: 5-10 minutes Cooking time: up to 8 minutes
SWEET AND SOUR PINEAPPLE SAUCE
• 200ml pineapple juice • 1 tbsp cornflour • 1 tbsp soy sauce • 1 tbsp rice vinegar or white wine vinegar • 1 tbsp tomato puree
Mix a little of the pineapple juice into the cornflour to make a paste then simply put all of the ingredients into a small saucepan. Place over a medium heat and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Simmer for a minute or so and use straight away or store in a screw topped jar in the fridge.
COCONUT AND PEANUT SATAY SAUCE
• drizzle sunflower oil • 2 cloves garlic, crushed • 200ml coconut milk • 2 tbsp peanut butter (crunchy or smooth) • 1 tsp soy • pinch dry chilli flakes • squeeze lime (concentrated long life is fine)
Heat the oil in a saucepan and gently fry the garlic until softened but not coloured. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil. Simmer for 3-4 minutes and use straight away or store in a screw topped jar in the fridge.
OYSTER, SPRING ONION AND GINGER SAUCE
• 2 tbsp sesame oil • 5cm piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated (from a jar is fine) • 2 cloves garlic, crushed (from a jar is fine) • 4 spring onions, chopped • 4 tbsp oyster sauce • 6 tbsp orange juice • 1 tsp rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
Heat the oil in a small saucepan and add the ginger, garlic and spring onion. Cook gently for about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil. Simmer for 2-3 minutes and use straight away or store in a screw topped jar in the fridge.
For more of Jo’s recipes head to our RECIPES page.
City Kids has teamed up with Micro Skate, the leading inline skate range endorsed by urban skaters and skating champions across the world, to giveaway a set of skates. Whilst we can still have our hour of exercise, these are a super fun way to keep fit and active while observing social distancing.
Stars of the skating world, including Giorgio Cossaro, Ekaterina Grigoereva and Faustina Busto, are already big fans, and now British kids can now follow in their footsteps by learning how to skate and improve their skills with the very best skates on the market.
Suitable for children aged 3 and over, the range has different models to suit varying skill levels, from complete beginners through to pro skaters. Each is adjustable up to four sizes to grow with your child.
Enter our giveaway
To celebrate the launch of this award-winning brand in the UK, we’re giving one lucky winner the chance to get their hands on a set of Micro Skates and protective gear.
All you have to do is head to our Instagram page, find the Micro Skates competition and follow the instructions.
To check out the skates (and some great tricks and tips!) head to Micro Skate’s social media pages.
Looking for some screen-free things to do to stave off cries of boredom during lockdown? Here are some ideas which need more or less input from parents depending on the age of your kids.
Teabag challenge The aim of the game is to get the teabag in the cup. All that’s required is a drained teabag and a cup. Take in turns, take scores and take steps back from the cup to make it harder.
Make a Facemask Great for adults as well as kids and easy to make. Squish half a banana with around 1 tbsp orange juice and 1 tbsp honey. Mix well. Apply to your face and leave for 15 minutes. It may be lumpy but that’s ok. Wash off and moisturise.
Sink or swim Fill a washing bowl with water and find objects that sink or swim.
Make a magazine But of course, we would recommend this! Start with a plan of what you’d include, what kind of magazine is it, who is its audience, research some pictures, draw sketches, think of headlines, copy out some recipes or useful tips. Check out magazine designs that you really like. Click on our Green issue below for some CK inspiration. No computer required, can all be done by hand and stapled together. Trust us. Our 12 year old self did just that!
Wash the car This has got to be a winner. Supply soapy water, sponges and chamois, crack open a beer and sit in the sunshine. Older kids may require renumeration…
Lego Tower Compete to see which family member can build the tallest tower or longest snake.
Guess the object Put various objects in a bag and then each person takes a turn to be blindfolded and guess what’s inside.
Donuts on a string If you’re lucky enough to have found ring donuts or clever enough to make them, tie onto some string and hang from more string across the room or garden. See how fast you can eat one. No hands and no licking the sugar off your lips!
Pin the tail on the donkey Old ones are the best ones. Haven’t got a pin, use a sticker. Click the link for a print out, or to buy some time, get the kids to draw a donkey.
Bushtucker trial A true test for the family’s fussiest eaters. Requires a blindfold and a selection of different foods, both nice and nasty(ish). Players guess what they’re tasting and the score master keeps note. The winner guesses the most correct. You could use ice cream, biscuits, pasta, olives, mustard etc.
Homemade snap cards Use a ruler and pencil to divide an A4 piece of paper into 12 cards. Draw pictures on each one. Do this twice and then play snap or the memory game.
Shave a ballOon Again, one for the older kids. Blow up a ballon, cover in shaving foam and try to shave it without popping it. Could also be seen as training for an important life skill!
Board games tournament For committed families, dig out your favourite games and run a tournament, jotting down the winner each time. We can’t promise there won’t be arguments and tears from the most competitive members of the family!
Paper aeroplanes Come on. You remember how to do this.
Make an obstacle course Inside or out. Be careful!
Build a den Again, inside or out and play with toys, eat lunch, snacks etc. Must have blankets, duvets and cushions.
Hangman Requires two or more people and possibly some adult interaction so coffee break will have to wait.
Research an animal Copy a picture of your favourite animal from a book and write a paragraph of fun facts. Older kids can put a little more effort into their research!
Hide and seek No explanation needed!
Paint pebbles Collect on a walk or find in the garden. Wash at home and then paint.
Alex Scheffler, well known for his work in The Gruffalo, has illustrated a free information book for children about the coronavirus. Alongside expert advice from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the aim of the publication is to reach every child around the world.
The book answers key questions about the pandemic in simple language appropriate for 5 to 9 year olds:
What is the coronavirus?
How do you catch the coronavirus?
What happens if you catch the coronavirus?
Why are people worried about catching the coronavirus?
Axel Scheffler, illustrator of The Gruffalo, said:
“I asked myself what I could do as an children’s illustrator to inform, as well as entertain, my readers here and abroad. So I was glad when my publisher, Nosy Crow, asked me to illustrate this question-and-answer book about the coronavirus. I think it is extremely important for children and families to have access to good and reliable information in this unprecedented crisis, and I hope that the popularity of the books I’ve done with Julia Donaldson will ensure that this digital book will reach many children who are now slightly older, but might still remember our picture books.”
Professor Graham Medley, Professor of Infectious Disease Modelling at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said:
“This pandemic is changing children’s lives across the globe and will have a lasting impact on us all. Helping children understand what is going on is an important step in helping them cope and making them part of the story – this is something that we are all going through, not something being done to them. This book puts children IN the picture rather just watching it happen, and in a way that makes the scary parts easier to cope with.”
We are all really missing the fun outings we would usually have with the kids during the Easter holidays. Normally we’d be off here, there and everywhere on adventures that both we are our children love. But instead of getting too fed up about our current lock down state, we are finding different ways to entertain our little ones without leaving the house with fun virtual days out. Here’s a round up of five we think everyone will enjoy.
Visit the Zoo
Explore one of the world’s best zoos and meet the animals close up with amazing animal cams. From the live Baboon Cam to Polar Bear Cams, the San Diego Zoo has something for everyone with a passion for wildlife.
Their dedicated educational site contains pre-recorded videos of the animals alongside extensive craft tutorials, downloadable colouring sheets and recipes. See the Live Cams here; pre-recorded videos here; and activities for younger kids here.
A trip to the theatre
It might not have quite the same feel as taking it all in from the dress circle, but it is possible to watch live recorded theatre shows on on your computer or iPad. Productions including George Stiles and Anthony Drewe’s musical version of The Wind in the Willows and The Habit of Art starring Matthew Kelly are available online, as theatre companies find ways to keep performances alive while venues close.
Older children may enjoy checking out Digital Theatre where they will find recorded versions of productions such as Twelfth Night, Hamlet and into the Woods.
Musical fans will love the news that Andrew Lloyd Webber is going to be streaming his hit shows for free. This will be done from his YouTube channel entitled ‘The Shows Must Go On‘. The series starts with the 2000 adaptation of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. A new show will be shown every Friday night at 7pm.
Explore a museum
The British Museum is one of the most famous and now you can have a virtual tour of the building’s many treasures. Visit the Great Court, discover the Egyptian mummies and the controversial Rosetta Stone as well as viewing hundreds of artefacts. Simply click on the time line and follow links to view a fantastic selection of what the museum has to offer.
The Tate and The Tate Modern are packed with inspiring masterpieces that any budding young artist will love to see. Take a magical online tour with children’s novelist Jacqueline Wilson and then have fun playing games, doing quizzes and creating your own works or art on the gallery’s website which has a section completely dedicated to kids.
The cinema has always been the go-to rainy day outing as while we can access lots of films on TV, kids love a brand new movie. Now thanks to Sky they can have that treat at home. The broadcaster has announced a number of movies will be available to rent at home on the same day as their cinema release dates.
As Odeon, Cineworld and Picturehouss across the UK close, Sky has partnered with Universal to release films on its box at the same time as their global premieres.
It will begin on April 6 with DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour, the sequel to the 2016 hit film, starring Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake.
Originally due in cinemas during the Easter break, families will now be able to watch it from their living room. Just make sure you add popcorn to your food delivery order.
So it seems like we’re in this for the long haul, so we’ve had a look at some of the best and fun art resources for kids.
There’s so much information out there at the moment, so we’re going to break things down into bite-sized chunks. Enjoy!
Melissa and Doug – Not only sell many toys (listen to the podcast How I Built This to hear their business journey) but they also provide free printables.
Create an art selfie – download the app, take a selfie and it will match your facial features to one of the thousands of worldwide portraits stored. Then you tap on your match and learn about the artwork.
Art for Kids Hub – YouTube channel with online tutorials following a family and their kids developing art techniques.
One week down, who knows how many more to go? We asked one seasoned homeschooling parent to give us her guide to teaching and parenting at the same time.
Words: Kate Blackwell
So homeschooling has begun. This is the third time I’ve homeschooled the girls (they were seven, nine and 11 first time around, then nine, 11 and 13 last time). I’ve learnt a few things that I thought I’d pass on. They might be useful to you or maybe not, but I’m all for learning from each other right now.
1) I am not a teacher, I am a mum who is doing her best. One of the reasons why I respect teachers and schools is because I have tried to teach our girls and found it very hard. I am not good at it!
2) You will see lots of posts of people doing an amazing job. Don’t compare yourselves to them, but instead pick up good tips. Everyone will be finding this very challenging.
3) Don’t worry that your children will fall behind during this time. No one is expecting you to produce a genius, and their whole cohort is going through the same thing. If you google how much time you need to spend homeschooling compared to the school day you’ll realise that actually a couple of hours a day of homework is plenty.
4) Affection, nutrition and exercise are just as important as schoolwork. You can exercise in a very small space and it will really help their mood. Learning how to make a healthy dinner might be messy, but it’s short term pain long term gain. I’m as proud of the fact that Sukie made dinner last night as any school test she’s ever done (yes it was pretty messy to clear up, but that’s not important).
5) Let go of some things. The house is going going to be messier. Give them the opportunity to be in charge of their own space – they can mess up their room, but before bedtime, it needs tidying away.
6) Don’t beat yourself up for putting the tv on to have some breathing space.
7) Our first attempt at homeschooling started with lots of big ideas and plenty of school books. It boiled down to nailing times tables and spelling bees in impromptu places (they became fun). Plus, we rolled with it – hearing a James Brown song on the radio then became a few hours learning about him, his music, his story. Making a meal can become a history or geography lesson. Kids love learning, let them lead it sometimes and it can go off on wonderful tangents.
8 ) Our girls missed their friends while we were away. They love school, probably because they love learning with their friends. I am relaxing my rules on phone use as I know it’s going to be very hard for them to adjust to not chatting to them all day. But I’m giving it some structure so a catch up with their friends is something they can look forward to rather than reacting to their phones during the day.
9) This is a chance to pause, and to give them the opportunity to work out what interests them the most. I know a couple of people who became successful after an accident – they were forced to sit still and think about what they really wanted to do. Looking back I don’t know how many of us really had that pause.
10) Ultimately this is a time of a big unknown. Our children will be looking to us for reassurance and love most of all. The last thing we need is to put pressure on ourselves that we are not doing a good enough job in homeschooling. We are spinning enough plates right now, and no one will be marking our teaching skills.
If anyone else has any tips, please do share them. Hopefully, we will come out of this with a respect for schools, and as happy and well-adjusted children as we possibly can. One day, this will be a time we will tell our grandchildren about.
One of the biggest challenges facing all parents during the Coronavirus outbreak will be how to keep their children entertained while they are off school. With no date set for a return to classrooms, teachers are preparing remote learning and online lessons to cover academic work from home, but this just isn’t possible for PE and sport.
We all know that no exercise is not a good thing for any child and can lead to boredom, frustration and bad behaviour, not to mention the negative effect on their physical and mental health and well being. Almost all kids need to be active in some way every day.
But never fear as fitness national treasure Joe Wicks, aka The Body Coach, is here to help out. As of next week he will be holding free live PE lessons at 9am Monday to Friday on his YouTube channel for children of all ages.
Social media sensation Joe has a loyal following of over 3 million on Instagram alone and is responsible for changing the lives of thousands of people for the better with his amazing exercise and nutrition plans.
Now the dad-0f-two plans to help children all over the UK stay active and healthy while off school during the Coronavirus outbreak. No equipment is needed for the kid-friendly workouts and if you can’t join in live then you’ll find them online to watch at a time that suits. Plus there are already loads of workouts on his YouTube site already. All can be done in your living room so even if the weather is rubbish you can still get moving.
“Parents are going to be under pressure next week and for 30 minutes a day I can take over and inspire and energise the kids to get active, bounce around and have fun. You can even join in with the kids,” says the fitness guru.
During this crazy, difficult time when so many parents are juggling the demands of working from home and looking after their kids, a fun half our session with Joe that enables youngsters to use up some energy is something all mums and dads will be incredibly grateful for.
Joe you are an absolute star and we will certainly be joining you with our kiddos!
Every day the Coronavirus seems to throw something different at us. We have all been told to maintain social distancing and many families are now self-isolating.
Easter holidays we know will not be the fun, active break most of us had planned as travel plans are cancelled. Full on lock down similar to that going on in Italy and Spain may be only a few days away and no one yet knows if children will return to school as planned at the end of the the planned Easter holidays.
These are surreal and worrying times when so much seems uncertain. However, the one thing us parents can be sure of is that when our children are no longer in school, but are unable to take part in normal activities, we will have to come up with other ways to entertain them, very possibly without leaving our own houses or gardens.
Here are some ideas of how to structure and plan the days ahead that will helpfully help to create a sense of normality and calm for all family members.
Stick to a routine
As yet we have no way of knowing how long our children will be a home when and if schools are closed. But sticking to some kind of routine will help both parents and kids. The normality of this will help to keep kids calm, especially older children who will be aware of the severity of the situation around them.
Consider getting up at roughly the usual time, get dressed, eat breakfast and start your day as if you were going to school. Ask the kids to help you draw up a timetable for the day that includes variety of activities. While you don’t have to stick to a rigid regime, planning out the day will make it run more smoothly for you and the kids.
We all know that bored, frustrated kids can play up and misbehave making this difficult time even trickier. With a plan to keep them engaged in a range of activities we can hopefully reduced that happening.
Break up the day by creating a timetable
In your new daily schedule, block out a set amount of time for each activity. This will depend on your child’s age, but for example you could plan for an hour of schoolwork followed by a 15-minute snack and then an hour of art and craft. Then reading and some time in the garden before lunch. You don’t have to follow it to the exact minute, but at least everyone will an idea of what the day is going to look like.
Consider what your children enjoy doing. That could be anything from baking and painting to building lego or playing board games. Have a dig through cupboards and you’ll know doubt find a range of games and toys that are both fun and educational. Trivial pursuit, scrabble and monopoly are great options.
Definitely have a few 15- to 30-minute blocks of dedicated child-led play. The more a child plays, the more they learn to play and keep themselves amused.
Ask your school for advice
Schools up and down the county are preparing to for children to take part in remote learning. From internet-based lessons to worksheet packs. These will provide a very useful structure, particularly if any lock down period extends beyond the planned Easter holidays.
While school is still open make sure that you have what you need to access all that is available such as login details and the necessary books. Speak to your teacher or email them. Ask if you can keep in touch with teachers during isolation and any period of lock down. This will be especially beneficial for older children who may be studying for exams.
Set up a suitable place to work from. That could be a desk or a kitchen table. Create a little classroom and make that fun for your kids by asking them how they would like it to set up. Are there things they have at school that they could also have at home? Maybe they could set their pencil cases and books our they way they would on their classroom desk? These little actions will encourage children to get on board with the new way of learning in this new environment.
Keep kids active
If at all possible, make sure your children are still getting exercise. Despite the limitations there are still things you can do. If the weather forces, you to stay inside then consider trying out a kid’s online exercise class. Think star jumps, squats and running on the spot. Sure-fire ways to let off some steam. You’ll find lots of videos on youtube.com if you need some inspiration.
If you have a garden, even a small one, encourage the kids to get out and play in the fresh air. Ideally let them do things like play football, cricket, ride their bikes or jump on their trampoline – whatever helps them burn of some energy – but remember old fashioned games like skipping and hopscotch don’t need much space. Or how about a little toy obstacle course? Easy to set up and fun to do.
If you do have a garden, then let children explore it. What bugs can they find? How about doing some digging or looking for and identifying different types of plants.
As the weather gets warmer and drier the garden is going to be a very valuable resource.
Screen time can be a good thing
If your children love playing on the PlayStation or iPad, then factor in some time for that during the day. Make screen time predictable: have a set time in the schedule so children know when to expect screen time and what they have to do to earn it such as tidying their bedroom or an hour of reading or schoolwork.
When that scheduled time is over switch the screens off. Don’t leave TV on as background noise and therefore constant distraction from other things. Possibly turn on some music instead.
Remember that screens can be your friend. If parents are working from home while also looking after their children, then frankly letting kids have some time on gadgets can buy you valuable l time to make work calls. No parent wants their kids to be on screens too much but sometimes we all have to compromise a bit to keep juggling everything which is absolutely fine.
Use screens as learning tools too. See our list below of some great websites that are both fun and educational for kids of all ages.
News about Coronavirus and how to wash hands is everywhere but many parents are wondering how to discuss it with their children. The Parent Practice has this advice to help us communicate without causing anxiety.
A hot topic in our classes this week was, not surprisingly, Coronavirus. You would have had to be extremely isolated indeed not to have been aware of the general panic setting in as the Covid-19 virus which originated in China at the end of last year has spread around the world. As panic stockpiling of toilet paper and other basics indicates, even the adults are becoming very anxious so it’s no wonder if our children are worried about what they’re hearing.
The first thing we can do to help is to be aware of what they ARE hearing. Never assume that your children aren’t listening to your adult conversations even if they seem to be preoccupied and not bothered. If you’ve been talking about it within earshot of your children or they’ve heard radio or TV reports about it or it’s being discussed at school then you need to address it with them in a way that they can process.
The spread of this virus is something that is still unfolding and we don’t know what the scale of it will be. It will probably have some effect on the lives of ordinary families even if they do not contract the disease themselves.
As usual in the internet era there is misinformation swirling about so do make sure you get your facts from a trusted source such as government websites. At the time of writing there have been over 100,000 cases worldwide with 460 confirmed cases in the UK and 8 deaths. While this is a serious public health emergency it is worth putting it into perspective by comparing the number of cases of influenza each year (about 600 deaths a year – Oxford Vaccine Group) and the number of deaths on the road (1,794 in 2018) which we are very used to. Researchers estimate that about 1% of cases of Covid-19 result in death and those who are elderly or who have immune system issues or underlying health problems are more at risk. Very few children have died from the virus. The risk of contracting the disease is higher if you have recently travelled to China, Italy, Iran or South Korea although the number of countries at risk is increasing.
Ask the children what they know about it already and give information according to their age. The questions they ask will help you to make what you say relevant for them.
Listen to your children’s concerns.
Obviously one of our main concerns is not to make our children needlessly worried. They need to know that the adults can and will keep them safe. But it will not help any anxiety they are experiencing to dismiss their concerns. Don’t tell them not to worry.
When –if your child brings it up do respond to them there and then if at all possible. If your child has brought it up at an inconvenient moment such as when you’re dropping them off at school or at bedtime (very common, in my experience) then bear in mind that if you put off the discussion they may be carrying around their concerns so will not be able to focus at school or get to sleep. If it’s just not possible then assure them that you will talk about it as soon as you can. If they don’t raise the subject it might still be a good idea for you to introduce the subject calmly so that you can set the tone before they hear rumours elsewhere which worry them. Choose a time when things are calm and you will be uninterrupted.
How –stay calm. We know that anxiety is very contagious so it’s important that you get your own feelings in check before having a conversation with the children. This is particularly important if you know your child is of an anxious disposition. If you’re aware that you seem stressed acknowledge that and let them know that you are handling your feelings by getting proper information and by using your usual stress-busters such as going for a walk, listening to music, taking a bath or meditating. Give your children hugs and accept hugs from them too.
What to say –acknowledge their fears and don’t make false promises. If your child is worried that people they care about might die acknowledge that some people might die from the disease but that it is rare, less likely when people are healthy and that there are things people can do to protect themselves. Explain that most people who experience symptoms will get better on their own. “I can see this is really bothering you. Of course you don’t want anyone to get sick. I’m glad you care. Mummy and Daddy and Gran and Grandpa are all fit and healthy so we should be ok. Papa and Nana are old but they are generally well and they are keeping themselves at home mainly so there is less chance of picking up the virus. If any of us do get sick the doctors and nurses will take good care of us.”
Much anxiety comes about from feeling we can’t influence events so it will help to empower children as much as possible and let them know how you as a family plan to deal with things in the event that someone gets sick or if you need to be quarantined or if their school closes. Let them know that the government has put in place plans for dealing with the situation. What they can do is follow basic hygiene procedures. Revisit proper handwashing and how to catch a sneeze or wipe a runny nose properly in a tissue and throw it away. Remind them about coughing into their elbow rather than their hands.
Dispel racist views.
Although the virus originated in China this does not mean that Chinese people are at fault. Challenge any racist views you hear and encourage your children to be compassionate and respectful. Depending on their age you may want to make them aware that there are racist views circulating and let them know that in your family you don’t subscribe to these and that they are based on misinformation.
About The Parent Practice
Established in 2004, The Parent Practice draws on the latest thinking in psychology, neuroscience and psychotherapy. The team is trained in parenting and facilitation skills and has vast experience in parenting training. They work with parents and carers, schools and nurseries, corporate and business clients.
“Everyone at The Parent Practice is a parent and encounters the everyday challenges that all parents face. Our own family lives have been enriched and transformed with the parenting skills we teach, so our aim is to pass on our skills to help parents bring up children to be happy and the best they can be.”
Hands up who totally takes full advantage of Mother’s Day? Well as much as we can, with kids still attached to our legs. It’s a day, just one, so let’s make it truly all about us this year! And let’s start with a great selection of gifts – because frankly we deserve them! Dads feel free to take notes. Move over kids… this is our day!
Every mama needs a Mary Poppins bag. Whether it holds the shopping or the one hundred and fifty million items you need for a day out, it has to look good, but most importantly be practical and easy to use. Mylo and Benny have created just that. From wool to linen, the choice is yours.
The ultimate classic wardrobe item. Fabulous feel, amazing materials and everlasting style. When you’re a mum on the run, a simple yet stylish jumper can lift your outfit and your mood in an instance. And this is it!
Shirts are a mum’s best friend. Not only are they breastfeeding friendly but even post that, they make a pair of jeans look so much smarter! And with the flannel collection that has just launched, we cannot think of anything nicer than a soft and stylish addition to our wardrobes.
Dominique is the only London florist you need to know about! Her arrangements are bursting with creativity and love. Mother’s Day captured in a bouquet! Isn’t that what us mamas are? Creative (think of the amount of play doh and kinetic sand creations you make!) and full of love (we couldn’t face each day without love, right?) And tonnes of it!
Y.O.U is a sustainable fashion brand with a range of amazing underwear for women (and men). For every pair of underwear they sell, they donate two to the charity Smalls for All. Smalls works in Africa and the UK to provide underwear to vulnerable women and girls. What is so nice about this brand is that they totally support body positivity and confidence, only using ‘real’ models and not airbrushing any images.
For the mama who just doesn’t get enough good snacks down her, a subscription to Nutmad is just the thing she needs. Soaked in water and then dehydrated, these activated nuts are crunchier, more nutritious and easier digestible than normal nuts.
Halla Ragi cut out portraits
There’s got to be something nostalgic about a true Mother’s Day gift and Halla’s cut out black portraits are just the thing. All you need to send her is a couple of portrait photos of your loved one and she does the rest. They are the ultimate keepsake. Email her for more details: Hallaragi@hotmail.com
Who doesn’t love a hamper filled with the most tantalising goodies, expertly pocked for your life desires? With so many hampers to choose from, every mama will be sorted for snacks, beauty and more!
Made by a dad, for mums and kids: natural skincare with no nasties. An absolute winner for both looking pretty on our bathroom shelves and for our dry and wintery dry skin. Yes please!
And last but definitely not least a very special book
Chloe is 7 years old. She has written a wonderful storybook to raise money for her very good friend Alfie who was diagnosed with SMA (spinal muscular atrophy) at 18 months old. This superstar girl is selling her book via her mother’s Instagram page @kittydimbleby for a small donation of £3. Our hearts have melted, and we are in awe of her. We know this would be the perfect Mother’s Day present for any mother in the world.
Thanks to Erica Loi @thestarwhisperer for putting this selection together
Our latest round-up of super-cool things for kiddos
Top interiors retailer Amara has launched a new section of their website dedicated to decorating children’s rooms. With a vast selection of toys, ben linen, furniture, gifts it’s a one-stop-shop for creating the a fabulous kids’ playroom or bedroom.
Aspiring adventurers will love creating their very own outdoor dens with kits from The Den Kit Co., and children will love Snurk’s fun bed linen that’s bursting with ballerinas, mermaids and astronauts.
Amara have been around since 2005, evolving from a small boutique to a huge interiors platform that stocks over 250 leading brands. Check it out for some serious style inspo.
Spotify have just launched a new app designed specifically for younger music fans. Spotify Kids is exclusive to Spotify Premium Family subscribers and intended for kids aged three and older.
The app is packed with singalongs, soundtracks and stories that children can explore, on their own or with their family. All of the content is handpicked by Spotify’s experienced editors who are focused on ensuring that the content available is appropriate for kids and there are no adverts allowed.
The app is designed to protect kids’ privacy and give parents peace of mind with parental controls. Parents can select the “Audio for Younger Kids” or “Audio for Older Kids” experience based on what’s best for their children.
Artists are selected especially for their resonance with UK youngsters and include CBeebies, Little Mix, Rastamouse, George Ezra, Hey Duggee, McFly, Adele, Craig David, Calvin Harris, Spice Girls, Take That and Busted.
Kids can listen to audio they love with their own account, hear playlists made just for kids and play their favourite tracks offline starting with iOS devices.
Sustainability has never been more fashionable and Frugi, the leading organic children’s wear company in the UK, has created a collection made entirely from recycled plastic.
In a selection of various colours and fun styles for toddlers and kids, Frugi’s outerwear is made from 100% recycled polyester and a waterproof rating of 3000 HH. The range is Flurocarbon free and is made without any harmful chemicals or dyes.
Plastic bottles are shredded and processed into flakes which are then cleaned and transformed into chips that are melted and whizzed around in a spinneret to make strings of yarn. This is then woven into fabric -it takes 36 bottles to make one jacket! Hats off to Frugi for turning waste into such lovely clothing.
If like most parents you would love to tear your kids away from screens more often without them complaining then check out this amazing new book. 101 Things For Kids To Do Screen-Free, £11.99, by bestselling author Dawn Isaac is packed with creative and fun ideas that will provide hours of entertainment.
From creating a mini golf course to mastering hands-free eating, from squirt gun painting to microwave mug cakes, every single activity is fun, easy and 100 per cent screen free. With exciting makes including no-sew sock creatures and stress balls, and wacky games such as outdoor noughts and crosses and thumb wrestling tournaments, Dawn’s engaging and entertaining ideas are sure to provide hours of fun.
So put away your tablets and mobile phones, switch off the TV and leave the computer alone – it’s time to get screen free!
With Shrove Tuesday upon us it’s time to get your eggs, flour, milk and whisk at the ready to make the best pancakes for your kids. We’ve rounded up some of the best recipes and ideas to help you make yours delicious.
There’s no better place to start than with our very own Jo Pratt. Here’s her recipe for American style pancakes
Makes: 12-14 American style pancakes, or 8-10 crepes
Preparation Time:5 minutes
Cooking Time:4 minutes
125g/4½oz/1 cup self-raising flour (either plain or self-raising can be used for crêpes) 250ml/9fl oz/1 cup milk (just under for American-style, just over for crêpes) 1 egg a pinch of salt butter or sunflower oil, for frying
Suggestions to serve
try some of these options: • clear honey, golden syrup, maple syrup or jam • chocolate spread or caramel sauce • fresh fruit, such as berries or bananas • grated lemon or orange zest and sugar • yogurt • ice cream … for breakfast? Some of you will!
1. Put the flour, milk, egg and salt in a blender or food processor and mix together well. Alternatively, use a bowl and whisk until smooth. The consistency should be that of double cream for crêpes, so add a little extra milk if you need to. (Cook straight away or chill for up to 24 hours until needed – loosen with extra milk if necessary.) 2. Heat a pancake or frying pan over a medium-high heat and add a small piece of butter or a trickle of oil until it melts all over the base of the pan. Add a spoonful of the batter, rolling the pan to spread it over the base of the pan, and cook for a couple of minutes on each side until golden. Keep the pancakes warm while you cook the remaining pancakes. 3. Serve with your chosen topping and enjoy.
1. Whisk the flour, baking powder, sugar, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt in a bowl using a balloon whisk until mixed. Slowly pour in the milk until you get a smooth, thick batter. 2. Heat a little of the oil in a over a medium-low heat, and add 2 tbsp batter into the pan at a time to make small, round pancakes. You will need to do this in batches of two-three at a time. 3. Cook for 3-4 mins until the edges are set, and bubbles are appearing on the surface. Flip the pancakes over and cook for another 2-3 mins until golden on both sides and cooked through. Keep warm in a low oven while you cook the remaining pancakes. 4. Serve stacked with lots of toppings of your choice, or serve with bowls of toppings for everyone to help themselves. bbcgoodfood.com
No cook options
There are obviously a world of lazy easy options if you’re up against it.
Waitrose have stocked these packets of vegan joy from Squeaky Bean at £2.50 a packet.
It can seem like a day out in London during the school holidays has to cost a fortune. But thankfully there are plenty of completely free ways to entertain kids that can be found all over the Capital. Here are our top five free places to visit.
The Museum of London
The River Thames has always been a defining factor in the history of London. Running right through the Capital, we can now discover how humans and animals have adapted to live alongside this iconic river and its waterways at the Museum of London who are hosting amazing interactive storytelling sessions.
These will look at the past, as well as what we might have to change in the future as the Thames adapts to our modern needs. For more info check out Museum of London.
The LookOut Centre
Get back to nature in the city centre by spending the day at The LookOut Centre in Hyde Park, discovering the amazing array of birds who live nearby.
Learn how to make a bird feeder (and take one home with you), follow a trail to learn more about the feathered residents, and don a pair binoculars to take part in some bird watching.
Such a great way for children to learn about the Capital’s wildlife. Check out royalparks.org.uk to find out more.
The Science Museum
The Science Museum is the most visited science and technology museum in Europe – and we are lucky enough to have it on our doorstep. Plus it’s completely free. There are over 15,000 objects on display and nteractive galleries that bring to life first scientific principles and contemporary science debates.
If you’d like your kids to see that there was life before gadgets then take them to the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. This fantastic place houses the UK’s national collection of childhood objects, ranging in date from the 1600s to the present day. As well as toys, dolls and games, the museum has a wealth of objects relating to aspects of childhood including home, childcare, play, learning and clothing. Rare, hand-crafted objects sit alongside well-loved toys from the 20th century, allowing an insight into how different children might have lived, thought and felt, through the objects they were surrounded by throughout their childhood. In addition, the museum runs temporary exhibitions and displays, activities, events and workshops. Check out vam.ac.uk to see what’s on.
Mudchute City Farm
If you’d like to experience a trip to the countryside without heading outside of London then head to Mudchute City Farm. Set in 32 acres of rolling hills in the heart of East London, the Mudchute is a community charity, with a working farm, stables, a children’s nursery and a wide range of education activities.
Kids can meet a range of animals in the petting zoo and residents include sheep, cows, pigs, horses and geese. There is a cafe on site or if the weather is nice, bring a pic nic. Plan your visit at mudchute.org.
Our collection of Cool Things for Kids rounds up fashion, food and floor mats this week!
Hundred Pieces is an amazingly stylish French kids’ brand that we love. Effortlessly fun and easy to wear, their collection is full of clothes that are high quality, but not ridiculously expensive.
Their latest collaboration with another fabulous and eco-friendly brand, Veja, has created the dream trainers for youngsters. This V10 style is made from leather, Amazon wild rubber and 100% organic cotton. Bright and funky, yet super practical, these are the sneakers every kiddo will want this Spring.
It’s great to get children to try all different foods from a young age. And the latest eBook from @My.Little.Food.Critic helps to do just that.
The much-loved baby and toddler-friendly recipe platform created by London mum Shikha Gill, has launched ‘Authentic Indian Family Food’ the first Indian recipe eBook featuring dishes suitable from six months and up.
The recipes focus on traditional Indian cooking simplified to create delicious meals for all the family to enjoy. Shikha provides invaluable guidance on how to introduce spice during weaning, plus tips on incorporating new textures and flavours to help build the foundations for a healthy balanced diet for babies, toddlers and the whole family. Over 120K people follow her on insta to get her great advice.
‘Authentic Indian Food’ was inspired by Shikha’s experiences of learning to cook with her Mother and Grandmother, many of the meals are those she grew up cooking with some modern tweaks. The recipes are traditional North Indian dishes from the Panjab, where cooking is rich, decadent and big on flavour. Shikha’s dishes and tips aim to tantalise taste buds both young and old, with new foods and eating experiences to help ensure meal times are nourishing and enjoyable for all the family.
Imagine how great it would be if you could find an enthusiastic, educated young adult who could pick up your kids from school, help them with their homework and get their supper on the table before you get home from work?
Well that’s exactly what Student Nannies are offering parents across London. By matching university students who are keen to take on part-time nannying work that fits around their studies with local parents looking for flexible childcare, this clever company are creating the perfect partnership.
Most importantly children are being looked after by fun, engaged young people. Kids will love playing and doing their homework with student nannies who are musicians, mathematicians, actors, artists, linguists… and even the odd rocket scientist!
It’s entirely possible to match your nanny to your child’s interests, finding someone who can really inspire and encourage them. Or indeed if you feel your youngster could do with a little extra help with their English or maths homework, you can opt for a nanny who is studying these subjects. While they are definitely not a replacement for a tutor, a student nanny can offer a helping hand with homework and make it a more understandable, enjoyable process for your child.
The Smart Option
Student Nannies refer to themselves as ‘London’s cleverest childcare platform’ due to the high calibre of those on their books. They are also one of its fastest growing – around 500 new nannies have signed up in the past few months from top universities like UCL, LSE, King’s and Imperial. The talent and skills they can bring to their new part time jobs is quite frankly superb.
To get started you simply sign up to the Student Nannies website and create your online profile, outlining what your requirements are – school pick up, babysitting, school holiday cover. Including the ages of your children, their interests and any tasks your nanny would be ask to do such as prepare dinner for the kids or iron school uniforms.
You can browse nanny’s profiles too and make a match by getting in touch and arranging to chat or meet up. Subscription is £12.50 per month and is paid directly through the website. This allows you to access hundreds of students. It may be that you find a couple of nannies you like, and they work for you on different days when they are available. There are so many flexible childcare options and that’s the joy of the platform.
Generally, student nannies earn between £10 and £12 per hour and will put pay expectation on their profiles. All payment comes through the platform and no cash changes hands.
Peace of Mind
Of course, the team at Student Nannies do plenty of checks to ensure both the safety of families and students. These are a combination of hi-tech meets the human touch. All potential nannies are ID checked using Yoti (a leading digital ID verification platform), while all parties are background checked with Comply Advantage (real-time checks on global Watch Lists, Politically Exposed Persons and Adverse Media).
Candidates are interviewed before their profile goes live and some don’t make the cut. The team ask a series of questions to check for fluent spoken English, babysitting experience, the ability to think on their feet and a kind, calm manner – all the things parents will be looking for.
All nannies are over 18 and sign up with a verified university/college email address. Most are women but there are some male nannies too.
On their website the team have a comprehensive F&Q section that will help parents navigate the whole process, from how to interview and hire a potential nanny to tax and online security queries.
This fantastic childcare concept is the brainchild of London mum Tracey Blake.
“As a working mother of two, I experienced the childcare crisis first-hand when I couldn’t find any after-school help for my two children on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Childminders wanted to finish at 6pm but I didn’t get home till 7.30/8pm; professional nannies wanted a full day, not 4 hours. I was stuck and getting increasingly desperate,” recalls Tracey.
‘Then I heard two students talking in my train station waiting room and I said, “Do you live locally and are either of you interested in some babysitting work?” One of them, Louise, said yes, we swapped numbers and after a chat at our house we hired her. Louise was an art foundation student and did amazing craft projects with the children so there was always something for me to admire when I got home. It was such a good fit for us that when Louise left I wanted to find another student but as a 40-year old woman I couldn’t reach into that network. So Student Nannies was born!”
It’s that time of year again when we turn our attention to all things skiing. Now you might have already been on the slopes this season (you lucky things!), but whether you have yet to go on your family ski holiday in 2020, or are planning a trip for next year already, it’s always great to get some top tips to make skiing with the kiddos even more fun – and straight forward.
So here are some amazing brands and companies we have discovered that we know all ski-loving parents will find useful.
Anyone who has ever been skiing with kids will tell you how important it is to have the right kit. Children who are warm, dry and comfortable are much more willing to learn to ski. So avoid early morning tantrums on the lifts by getting your little ones everything they need before you leave.
There are so many places to buy skiwear, but if you are looking for a one-stop-shop they get down to Snow and Rock where you’ll find literally everything – from salopettes and boots to gloves and helmets. There are a number of stores in and around London and all stock brands such as North Face, Roxy, Spyder and and Quicksilver. Definitely worth a look if you need to stock up.
If you’re dressing younger children for the slopes, then you must check out the super-cute ski-suit range from Dino Ski. This season they have introduced three new characters, including a unicorn, tiger and panda, all of which have been designed by children’s illustrator Jane Foster.
Each has aqua seal zips, is helmet friendly and has removable hoods and an anti-stain coating, ensuring children are kept warm and dry. All are made fromrecycled plastic bottles and products are shipped by sea to reduce the brand’s carbon footprint. Not only are Dino Ski’s suits adorable, they are also very distinctive – making it easier to keep track of your kiddos in the snow.
For thermals we head to Uniqlo because it’s hard to beat their HEATTECH range for mega-thin and comfortable base layers at very reasonable prices. Or for super-fine 100% merino wool tees and leggings go to Love My Smalls who have a great selection of colours and styles for both boys and girls aged from infant upwards.
Another favourite skiwear brand is Polarn O. Pyret. This Swedish company have warm clothing for for kids of all ages, from cosy thermal base layers to durable outwear including ski jackets and salopettes and The outerwear collection is windproof to keep out icy blasts, has a water resistance of at least 10,000mm and has Primalost Insulation to keep youngsters’ snug.
Plus, they have also just launched POP repairs, a free service available to all customers that have purchased any outerwear, regardless of when they bought it. It doesn’t matter if the garment has been worn by two or 10 kids, Polarn are offering a free repair service to fix zips and replace broken poppers to ensure their clothing is sustainable.
Find the perfect instructor
While ski school can be great, there is no doubt that one-to-one lessons with a private instructor will improve your child’s skiing much faster.
Particularly good for complete beginners, but also super for intermediate skiers who want to improve their technique, a lesson with an instructor is a great experience for kids of all ages.
Generally you can opt for sessions from one to four hours at a time and have solo lessons or in small groups if you’re on holiday with other families. Private lessons are considerably more flexible than ski school. Yes they are more expensive, but you really do get what you pay for when learning to ski is concerned.
But it’s not always easy to track down a great instructor who is based in the right resort, speaks great English and is available when you need them. Some ski schools find their one-to-one lessons get booked up a year in advance!
So we were thrilled to hear about SkiBro. This innovative new platform enables parents to find the perfect instructor, mountain guide, ski school or adventure and book instantly. Each provider has a comprehensive profile including profile video & customer reviews, so you know exactly who or what you are booking and can be 100% confident that they’re the best possible match for you or your kids.
With instant booking it’s sorted in a few clicks. With SkiBro, long-winded email chains, awkward phone calls, transfer day mayhem and closed booking offices are a thing of the past!
Get some pre-holiday practice
Unless you hit the slopes as a family three or four times a season, it can be quite a long time between one ski holiday and the next. And, therefore, all too easy for little ones to forget lots of the skills and technique that they have learnt.
So it might be a good idea for kids to brush up before they head back to the mountains again and an indoor ski slope is the best place to do it.
In London head to Chel-ski, London’s largest indoor ski centre offering the very best hi-tech slopes in a fun, safe and controlled environment where you can learn to ski or snowboard as well as advance existing skills as the speed and angle of the slopes are adjusted to match your ability.
Or for some actually white fluffy stuff, jump in the car and drive up the M1 to The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead which offers a range of great lessons for kids and teenagers on large slopes covered in faux snow.
If you’ve every been on a chair lift in a blizzard with a small child wailing because they are frozen, you’ll appreciate the value of handwarmers. If you haven’t lucky you and please don’t allow yourself to get into such a situation!
These amazing little pads from The Heat Company are 100% natural and so easy to use – simply open the packaging for instant heat within minutes that will last for hours. Pop them inside gloves to warm up tiny frozen fingers. They also do heated foot warmers too. The golden rule of taking children to the slopes is that cosy kids are much happier skiers!
If your kiddos seem to have the constant sniffles or more tired than usual it might be time to think about adding some vitamin supplements to their diet. Winter bugs and cold weather can take their toll on little ones, making them letharigic and run down.
From boosting their immune and digestive systems to increasing concentration levels and encouraging better sleep, there are countless studies to to suggest children benefit from taking vitamins. While these supplements are definitely not a substitute for a healthy diet, they can offer a top up of certain keys vitamins that children need through out the year – most especially in winter.
Here are some child-friendly brands that are packed with goodness and will appeal to even the fussiest eaters.
Knowing how notoriously fussy they can be, High Nature have developed a kids’ range with taste and texture in mind. It includes a vitamin D spray, a chewable multi-vitamin, a fruity omega-3 fish oil jelly and more.
We love their multivitamins that are filled with 19 essential vitamins and minerals. They’re ideal for young children and come in three playful shapes and flavours; mango robots, lime aliens and raspberry teddies. Free from artificial sweeteners and preservatives, just one chewable tablet a day provides children with the nutrients and vitamins needed to support their diet.
When it comes to ‘brain food’, Omega 3 is the original super food. For your little ones to benefit from an Omega 3 supplement, it must have enough DHA (crucial for brain and eye development) and EPA, the two most important Omegas which you’ll find plenty of in Super Hero – one drop (1ml) has 500mg DHA and 130mg EPA.
With no fishy aftertaste and a handy syringe to give them the perfect dose, Super Hero comes in its natural triglyceride form which also makes it easier for the body to absorb. It can be taken from 6 months and 1ml is perfect for most age groups. Add it to smoothies or simply pop a drop straight into your child’s mouth.
Ideal for encouraging pre-schoolers to take their daily dose along with Peppa, this multi-vits provide a comprehensive range of vitamins, specially formulated to help safeguard the nutritional intake of children aged 3-7.
These soft jellies provide 10mcg vitamin D, as recommended by the UK Department of Health. Vitamin D is needed for normal growth and development of bone in children and is included in the preferred form vitamin D3 (as vegan Cholecalciferol) which is naturally produced by the skin when exposed to direct sunlight.
And – most importantly if you are under seven – they come in a delicious natural strawberry flavour
This liquid contains 14 Vitamins & Minerals including Zinc and Iodine which contribute to the normal growth and cognitive function in children.Kidz Daily Multi-Vitamin & Minerals liquid is sugar free and contains no artificial flavours or colours.
It can be taken on its own or added to a smoothie. The natural banana flavour is a hit with kids and it’s suitable for vegetarians.
It’s a well known fact that it’s almost impossible to get a sufficient dose Vitamin D during the winter months as only exposure to sunshine can supply enough naturally. However it’s super-simple to add it this vital vit to our diets.
These drops Easy to use dropper bottle, pleasant orange flavour. Vitamin D contributes to the maintenance of the immune system and supports normal bones, teeth and muscles.
If decorating your children’s bedrooms is on your to-do list for 2020 then you simply have to check out Cuckooland, our new favourite one-stop-shop for all things interiors. This super-cool web-based company’s raison d’être is to be ‘unique, unusual, quirky and original’, sourcing items from all over the world to give their customers something really different to what they will find on the high street. There are hundreds of stylish brands to choose from. You’ll find all the furniture you could need for a kid’s bedroom or playroom – from bunks and desks to wardrobes and chests. The range of accessories is equally extensive. If you need a rug, lamp or bedspread they have it covered, along with wallpaper and fabric too. Themed children’s bedrooms like Astronauts, Fairies, Firemen, Surfers, Princesses, Footballers are all featured with complete room sets for inspiration.
And the sky is the limit (if your budget is too) in the shape of some pretty outstanding designs. How about a bed in the form of a VW camper?
This amazing powder blue design is modelled on the iconic VW split screen camper van and is kitted out with a bed, a desk, a sofa, a mini fridge and a TV, plus there is plenty of storage. Now what youngster wouldn’t want to wake up in one of these?!
It will set you back a whopping £33,140, but thankfully there are other much cheaper novelty beds to choose from, including a London bus bunk bed and a tree house high sleeper.
The toy selection is great too so keep that in mind when you’re on the hunt for interesting presents. Whether you are kitting out a nursery or a teenager room, there is something to suit for all ages.
Cuckooland are also committed to working with suppliers who take an ethical approach during their manufacturing processes and, for example, one of their rug makers use a percentage of their profits to support schooling for children in India.
So, if you fancy creating dream rooms for your kids, or just need a few items for a quick and inexpensive update, then definitely have a look at the Cuckooland website. They are a pretty cool company.
Ask anyone their number one New Year’s resolution and it will almost definitely be to improve their diet. After all the cocktails, canapés and puddings we enjoyed over the festive season, most of us are now desperate to eat more healthily by cooking from scratch with more wholesome ingredients.
But it’s not just us grow-ups who need to press reset on our eating habits in January. From chocolate Santas to mince pies, our children have also not been consuming the healthiest selection of food for the past month. Anyone else noticed their kiddos are expecting a couple of Quality Street with breakfast?!
Children can be pretty reluctant to make the switch to healthier options, however. While adults know a plate of kale will do them good, youngsters are less keen to ditch all the sugar that they enjoyed over the Christmas holidays. But this process can be made much more enjoyable if we encourage them to participate in the preparation of delicious nutritious meals. By getting kids to chop the vegetables, measure out the ingredients and add herbs to the pot, parents can teach the valuable lesson that cooking fresh food from scratch is both important and also fun.
So, here are five of our favourite kids’ cookbooks to spark their interest in all things culinary.
If your kids are fans of Julia Donaldson’s classic tales, then they will love the opportunity to make actual ‘Gruffalo crumble’. This clever cookbook is dedicated to replicating all the flora and fauna found in the deep dark wood.
From ‘mouse toast’ to a show-stopping chocolate cake depicting the Gruffalo’s warty, toothy face, this is a collection of recipes that are inventive and ideal for younger children.
This beautiful kitchen-garden cookbook, produced in association with the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, contains step-by-step guides to show children how easy it is to grow the likes of peas, beans, potatoes, carrots in the garden, in patio containers or in window boxes. Then transform the home-grown goodies into delicious meals by following easy, step-by-step recipes.
So much more than just a cookbook, this inspiring manual teaches kids how plants grow, from seeds to seedlings, watering and weeding, to harvesting and composting. It is also packed with information on minibeasts and garden creatures. The perfect way to encourage a love of wholesome cooking and an appreciation of how food gets to the table.
Good Housekeeping has created the perfect cookbook for kids of all ages who are eager to step into the kitchen. It features more than 100 delicious, fail-safe recipes, accompanied by colourful photographs and basic kitchen and cooking how-tos that kids will find easy to follow.
This book isn’t trying to follow any faddy diet trends, but instead is packed with classic wholesome grub that kids actually enjoy. From lasagne to salads and smoothies, together you can make their favourites from scratch.
When you do want to give them a treat, this is the book to turn to. The former Great British Bake Off’s winner Nadiya Hussain has created it using all her baking know-how and combining that with storytelling and lovely illustration.
It features 15 original stories that are paired with brand-new recipes from yummy butter-bean patties and the tale of Jack and the Bean-Patty Stalk, to Ruby-Red and the Three Bears and her Very-Berry muffins. Nadiya manages to understand exactly what will hold a child’s interest as well as the food they love to eat.
Try out recipes from around the world with this collection from across the globe. It is divided into continent sections Not only will this book teach children about food in different regions, it is also full of information about geography, history and other cultures too, such as culinary habits and favourite dishes. From curries and stir fries to snacks and drinks, it’s a feast for the senses that kids will love bringing to life.
Christmas can feel like a bit of frenzy of consumerism can’t it? All the Black Friday madness and emails constantly popping up in our inboxes tell us about all the ‘must have’ presents we simply have to buy.
If, like us, you’d like to give gifts are that are more meaningful and in some way give something back to the world, then here are a selection of ways you can still buy Christmas presents your children will love, but also support excellent causes and encourage your youngsters to understand the importance of supporting charities at Christmas and throughout the year.
Shop directly from charity’s websites
All children love toys, but did you know that if you buy them directly from a charity website you’ll also be donating at least some of the purchase price to a good cause?
Charities such as Unicef, Marie Curie and The Dogs Trust all sell brand new presents for children. From puzzles and books to wooden train sets and dolls, you can choose from a great selection that you’d find on the highstreet – the difference being a percentage of your payment will go directly to a good cause.
Oxfam now have a section on their website where you’ll find second hand toys, games and books in great condition, just as you would find them in one of their actual shops. You’ll discover some real one-off, unusual items for all the family. And of course Oxfam are selling their usual selection of ethical, fair trade gifts and products, the proceeds of which go directly to help those those who made them.
Shop from stores that donate to charity
Scamp and Dude are a brand that we love for their stylish clothing and amazing prints, but the thing we admire the most is that it’s a company with a conscience. If you by their cosmetic ‘swag’ bags then 100 per cent of the profits go to a range of charities.
To get your own £28 ‘Swag Bag with Purpose’ visit scampanddude.com or take a trip to the Scamp & Dude shop in Highgate village in London.
Pickle London have the most fantastic range of fun, bright clothing, as well as bags and stationary. This year £5 from every @picklelondon HAPPY Logo Sweatshirt , and £2.50 from every Happy logo tee will be donated to UK Mental Health Charity MIND. Check them out for lovely presents that also help and extremely good cause.
Adopt and animal
By sponsoring an animal you help to protect endangers species and the habitat they live in. There are so many charities that offer this gift, including the WWF , where you can choose from the likes of lions, elephants, polar bears and turtles.
For as little as £3 per month (you can opt to give a larger donation) your little one will receive a fact pack full of information about the animal they are adopting and why their help is so important; regular updates about what life is like for their animal including any developments in research; and of course a lovely little cuddle toy version of the animal they (or you) have chosen.
This is a wonderful way of connecting children with the natural world and encouraging them to care about animals they might otherwise not know much about in a very tangible and relatable way. Plus they will know that they are really making a difference to endangered species.
Give gifts to others
While we are definitely not suggesting you don’t buy your children toys for Christmas, giving them the chance to select a charity gift themselves is an excellent way to help older kids realise the importance of charity and giving. You could ask your children which cause they would like to support and why, encouraging them to think about those less fortunate who won’t be receiving gifts under the this year.
There are countless charities, such as World Vision and Save the Children which enable you to give gifts to people in developing countries, such as food for a family for a month or an mini library for a school.
Closer to home charities such as Refuge and Shelter offer the opportunity to give much needed aid to families in the UK.
The big presents are often the easiest to buy because our kiddos make it very clear exactly what they want in their (lengthy) letters to Santa. But it’s the great little stocking filler that can be trickier to track down. Here are 10 that we think most kids would love to find on Christmas morning.
Black Friday deals or not, here at City Kids we love supporting the small businesses that create and sell amazing toys, clothes and products for children. The kind of stores where you find that beautiful handmade teddy or unusual little outfit.
These shops and businesses are run by people who love curating a truly interesting and inspiring selection of brands – often from around the world. So, here are ten independent stores that we think you’ll love and where you’re sure to discover the most perfect presents for little ones.
Neon Marl creates hand printed pieces for both adults and kids at their UK studio. Shiny metallic or bright neon t-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies are what they’re famous for, plus you can personalise for that special touch. Sizes start from babies with vests up to adults so if you’re feeling the need for a matchy matchy day, you’ll have plenty of choice.
Cottage Toys and Interiors is online boutique online store run by mum of two Jessica, mother of two. We love the stylish selection of high-quality toys and accessories for children and babies. Think gorgeous wooden play dolls houses and train sets alongside adorable baby goodies. There is also room décor, nursery furniture and lighting.
ALL by MAMA is a fantastic marketplace selling gifts that are made by mothers. They offer a platform to small business from all over the UK. It all began just a few years ago as a place for talented Mamas with families to sell their products, with 40 sellers joining the launch.
Now it is a community of 350, featuring over 4,000 products – everything from personalised jewellery to teapots. The baby and children’s sections are a great source of present inspiration where you’ll find toys, books clothing and crafts. The type of website where you can get all your Christmas shopping sorted with just a few clicks.
Award winning creative children’s store Olive Loves Alfie was founded in London in 2006 by mum Ashlyn Gibson and has grown to be a go-to for those looking for sustainable, ethical and beautifully designed products. As well as opening a London store in Stoke Newington, Ashlyn has designed her own range of ethical children’s wear and stocks brands such as Mini Rodini and Veja. Pop into the shop or check out the lovely selection of books, toys and clothing online.
KidPix was launched in May 2018 by two friends Katya and Sian who met while studying together at the University of Oxford. Today the platform connects customers and independent designers and allows for a range style preferences, sizes (ages 0-14 years) and budgets.
The pair have a great eye and mix brands such as Lola and Blake and their bright prints with the more traditional looks of Beatrice and Bea – meaning there is something to suite all tastes. Plus, they offer a personal shopping service if you want some extra help choosing.
Discerning parents already know about the plastic free appeal of Cotton Twist’s craft kits. What started as a campaign to reinvent the tat in party bags has now become an emporium of tasteful, creative crafting for kids. From personalised keepsake boxes to craft kits with eco warrior credentials, you’re bound to find something to keep the kids amused, and perhaps a little educated, this Christmas.
Each of the hats made by Little Hotdog Watson are unique, produced ethically, and most importantly, can be chucked into the washing machine! For your peace of mind they’re also lined to be super warm, have reflective detailing for those dark days, and are water resistant. Different colour ways, patterns and styles are all available from this hat expert!
If you’re trying your best to go green this Christmas then look no further than this amazing site. Founded by Mims’ mission to be more mindful and conscious in shopping for her daughter, the site now offers products from a range of ethically driven small businesses.
We’ve been lucky to work with Jo Pratt since the very early days of City Kids Magazine. Here we have an exclusive, yet to be published recipe, straight from the test kitchen.
BAKED PEA AND PANEER SAMOSAS
I’m a huge fan of making family friendly recipes from simple to source ingredients, often using ones that are already sitting in my fridge or cupboard. These crunchy baked filo pastry parcels are a perfect example. Strips of pastry are filled with a mildly spiced vegetable and cheese filling. I have used paneer, a classic Indian cheese, but cottage cheese, feta or even halloumi would work equally as well.
It’s not just the cheese you can be flexible with, as you can increase the spice by swapping the korma paste for a hotter spice such as tikka masala or rogan josh. Once cooked, the samosas can be served hot or cold, as a snack, starter, lunch with mango chutney and raita, or as an accompaniment to a curry feast.
sunflower or rapeseed oil 1 onion, finely chopped 1 medium carrot, grated 2 cloves garlic, crushed or grated 1 tsp fresh grated ginger 1 tbsp korma paste 1 tsp tomato puree 200g paneer cheese, finely diced 2 tbsp desiccated coconut 175g frozen peas, defrosted 4 sheets filo pastry sea salt 1-2 tsp nigella seeds and or sesame seeds
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a frying pan. Add the onion, carrot, garlic and ginger, and sauté for about 10 minutes until the onion is beautifully soft.
Stir in the korma paste, tomato puree, paneer, coconut, peas, 1 tbsp water and a pinch of salt. Cook for about 5 minutes stirring frequently until the filling has all cooked together nicely. Check for seasoning and add more salt if you feel it needs it.
Remove the pan from the heat and cool slightly.
Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.
Cut each piece of the filo pastry into 4 strips. Working on 4 strips at a time, brush each one lightly with oil. To prevent the remaining pastry from drying out, keep covered with a damp towel.
Spoon a heaped tablespoon of the filling onto the bottom corner of each lightly oiled pastry strip. Fold over diagonally to create a triangle over the filling. Continue to fold/roll the pastry around the filling, keeping the triangle shape, securing in the filling.
For more of Jo’s brilliant recipes, or to buy The Flexible Vegetarian head to jo-pratt.com
Oh how we love a Christmas Jumper here at City Kids. From Fair Isle to sparkly, there is a great selection of festive knits for kids this season.
And there are so many opportunites to wear them, but none better than Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day on Friday 13 December. Sign up your work, school or friends and get a free fundraising pack. Then donate £2 (or £1 if you’re at school) and that money will help children all around the world. Raising money for a fantastic cause and getting to wear a super-fun festive outfit – what’s not to love?
So here’s our top 10 picks from the high street to keep your kiddos look cool this yule.
Taking the kids to see Father Christmas is a real Christmas highlight. There are still tickets available to meet Santa and we’ve rounded up the best grottos and places to meet the big man himself.
Santa Land in Hyde Park
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is a Christmas extravaganza. In the heart of the Capital, you’ll find fairground rides, the largest open-air ice rink in the UK, a Christmas market and exciting new attractions such as the world’s tallest transportable observation wheel. And of course, there is Santa Land where you can meet the man of the moment.
The grotto will be open from 10am to 6pm and is free. Santa will have a gift for all children who’ve been good but be aware that you can’t book a visit to the grotto as it’s run on a first-come first-served basis, so make sure to factor in some potential waiting time. There is certainly plenty to make your visit a great day out.
Father Christmas once again returns to his secret London headquarters at the Royal Albert Hall. In this theatrical walk-around event, children will encounter a range of magical North Pole characters in various spaces of the Hall on their way to meet Father Christmas himself.
During this fun and festive experience, they’ll discover the stories and characters of Christmas’ past through engaging puppetry and live music and will even gain some secret elf knowledge with the chance to make and bring home their very own stuffed toy.
The experience in this iconic London landmark will last roughly one hour and is most suitable for children aged three and up, but all are welcome. Those of all ages will love this special event.
For the quintessential festive outing into London to see the Christmas lights and meet Santa, head to the Christmas Festival in Leicester Square and it’s amazing grotto.
The man himself hosts an audience with small groups of children and parents (up to 20 people at a time), reading a Christmas story, before meeting them all individually and handing over a little gift to take home. The ideal place to pop into if you are in city centre for the day.
A Victorian Grotto at Museum of London and Museum of London Docklands
For a taste of Christmas past head along to the Museum of London to see Sant as he was over 100 years ago.
Part of the museum is transformed into a Victorian walk, with Santa waiting at the end. He’s once again taking up residence at both museums, to a soundtrack of Victorian carols and against a backdrop of festive decorations. A gift is included in ticket price and children will love this nostalgic step back in time.
Santa’s Victorian Grotto at Museum of London, £10 per child, 29 November-23 December 2019.
If you’re prepared to venture just outside London to find Santa and his elves, your journey will definitely be reward with a truly fantastic festive day out. Lapland UK in Whitmoor forest just outside Ascot takes little ones of an exciting journey to meet Father Christmas.
Along the way they will come across Mrs Claus, make toys in the workshop and decorate cookies as the elves guide them through the snowy forest.
This 4-hour immersive experience has been beautifully designed with fantastic attention to detail. It truly does feel like you’ve been transported to the north pole – complete with fake snow. There is a chance to meet husky and reindeer as well as try out ice skating and even send your letter to Santa at the special polar post office.
With a restaurant and shop onsite, Lapland UK is a truly lovely place to spend the day and, while it might be on the expensive side, you’ll definitely feel like it’s worth it for such a magical experience.
laplanduk.co.uk, prices start from £59pp and vary depending on the time and date of your visit. From 16th November to 24th December.
We still have a quite a few weeks to get all our Christmas shopping done (thankfully!), but considerably less time to to get the advent calendars sorted. Whether you prefer old-school paper ones, chocolate treats or toy filled boxes, or even those you fill yourself, advent calendars are loved by all kids. Here are some of our favourites.
Halloween is just two weeks away so it’s time to start thinking about all things spooky. Here at City Kids we love dressing ourselves and our kids in fun costumes and also decorating our homes for the occasion – just carving a pumpkin isn’t enough for us!
So here are some of our favourite places to pick up ghoulish goodies and devilish decorations.
If you’d rather do cutesy than full on scary then this is place to find adorable costumes. Think little cat ear head bands and witches’ capes.
But where Meri Meri really come in to their own is table decorations. Create the most fantastic Halloween spread with their paper plates, cups and napkins covered in sparkly bats and sculls. We also love their cookie cutter and cake topper sets. They even have skeleton crackers! Ideal for a party for younger children who might not like anything too scary or gory.
This online store is a one-stop-shop for all your party needs and at Halloween they offer everything to decorate your home. From hanging bat decorations, balloons and window stickers to full-on scene creating backdrops, Party Delights have it all.
Take your Halloween bash to the next level with fake gravestones and creepy props. They also have an amazing range of tableware and costumes galore for kids and adults.
Any excuse for a balloon garland we say. Opt for green, black, orange and purple to create a suitably spooking one that will look great over a front door or indoors as the backdrop to your Halloween party.
Tether and Float supply everything you need, including the plump and the glue dots to stick your balloons together. As well as that they have the likes of their ‘witches’ potion’ foil balloon bouquet and many more great Halloween decorations.
If you’d like to give your Halloween celebrations a ‘Day of the Dead’ theme, then check out Party Packs. They have everything you’ll need to add that spooky Mexican touch with tableware, balloons and decorations featuring the classic skull and flowers design as well as bright co-ordinating items.
Opt for one of their actual party packs that will include a set of everything you’ll need for your table including plates, cups and napkins.
It’s a scary, emotional word. That’s the theme of this year’s #worldmentalheathday. As every parent knows all too well, looking after their children’s young minds is every bit as important as caring for their physical wellbeing.
According to YoungMinds, the UK’s leading children’s mental health charity, roughly three children in every school class have a diagnosable mental health condition and the number of children and young people who have arrived at A&E with a psychiatric condition has more than doubled since 2010.
Today many charities, supported by celebrities, athletes, politicians and even Royalty are urging us all to become more aware of how to help those struggling with mental health issues.
The Mental Health Foundation have also issued a ‘WAIT’ checklist to help us spot the signs of someone who is at risk of committing suicide: W – watch out for signs of distress and uncharacteristic behaviour. e.g. social withdrawal, excessive quietness, irritability, uncharacteristic outburst, talking about death or suicide. A – ask are you having suicidal thoughts?” Asking about suicide does not encourage it, nor does it lead a person to start thinking about it; in fact it may help prevent it, and can start a potentially life-saving conversation. I – it will pass – assure your loved one that, with help, their suicidal feelings will pass with time. T – talk to others – encourage your loved one to seek help from a GP or health professional.
If you think you, or someone you know, is developing a mental health problem, seek help. Speak to your GP, tell someone you trust or contact any of the organisations below for help.
Here at City Kids we are huge fans of Boden. We love their great clothes – especially for our kiddos – but we also love it when help raise awareness for causes we support and strongly believe in.
Today Boden have launched three charity slogan t-shirts in celebration of World Mental Health Day 2019 for women, men and little ones.
Back in May, some Mini Boden fans got in touch to suggest empowering T-shirt slogans that they felt tapped into what it means to be a child today. Inspired by their words and enthusiasm, Boden decided to team up charity partner, The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, and launch a competition challenging Mini Boden customers to submit their very best empowering slogans for children to support Mental Health Awareness Week.
The winning design was been selected by The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust and Mini Boden, and the in-house print and design teams have produce a very special t-shirt that has launched globally alongside two womenswear and menswear t-shirts. All designs are complete with slogans highlighting the importance of talking, listening and being kind to each other, in celebration of World Mental Health Day, today 10th October.
From each sale, Boden will donate £5 to The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, who are dedicated to equipping young people with the life-saving knowledge they need to look after their mental and emotional wellbeing. Additionally, the factory where each T-shirt has been made will make its own charitable donation.
The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust were extremely grateful for Boden’s support and said: “The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust greatly values the support given by Boden since 2018. The partnership has been hugely productive and enabled us to develop even further in the mental health field. We are indeed proud and grateful to have been in partnership with Boden.”
Well done Boden. We will be buying your lovely T-shirts and are sure many others will be doing the same.
Looking for some super-fun days out this Halloween? We have some hair-raising ideas that your kids will love.
Scary Stories on the London Eye
The Coca-Cola London Eye is taking Halloween to scary new heights with the ultimate series of Spooky Storytime events this October, with delicious treats being supplied by Hotel Chocolat.
The attraction will host a brand new30-minute experience in one of their world-famous capsules. Designed with both kids and adults in mind, an eccentric storyteller will lead guests through four ghostly legends based around London and its history, with the trick being that one of them isn’t real. It’s then up to the guests to decide which story they believe to be true!
All guests will leave the experience with an exclusive goodie bag filled with Halloween Hotel Chocolat treats. The Spooky Storytime experience is available to book on the 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th and 31st October. With one capsule every hour from 2pm each day.
The London Eye Halloween Spooky Storytime, from £35 for an adult and child, £17.50pp for any additional people, all adults must be accompanied by a child, price includes: Spooky Storytime experience; Hotel Chocolat Halloween goodie bag; one 30-minute rotation and Fast Track entry.
Just in time for half term Roast Restaurant in Borough Market will be turning their much-loved classic afternoon tea into a spooky Halloween-inspired version. For just £25 per person, guests can indulge in an array of Halloween-themed sweet treats including spiced pumpkin cake and a decadent chocolate witch’s hat, alongside classic savoury delights such as smoked salmon and crème fraîche and roast beef, watercress and mustard finger sandwiches.
The scones have also had a spooky Halloween makeover, infused with charcoal in honour of the season. Complementing the experience is a selection of 13 teas and infusions, from apple and cranberry to Japanese sencha and organic camomile flowers. Available daily from midday – 6pm, in the light and airy restaurant, overlooking the historic market To book and for more information please visit www.roast-restaurant.com/whats-on.
Boogie Monsters Disco
Join Boogie Monsters, the UK’s award- winning LIVE rock and pop band for children, as they bring their fun and interactive daytime gigs to you with a Halloween twist.
Let the Boogie Monsters guys and ghouls entertain you and your little monsters at their ‘toadally eerie-sistible’ Haunted Halloween family gig in Woolwich.
Come and enjoy a spooky musical ‘monster mash’ up of Halloween themed chart hits, rocked up action songs and funky nursery rhymes, played by their brilliant professional musicians, with electric guitars, keyboard and drums, and brought to life with colourful props, bubbles, dance moves and more!
Fancy dress is optional, but kids are encouraged to wear a Halloween costume if they want to. Doors open at 3.30pm and the performance will begin at 3.45pm and last for 60 minutes. Get your inflatable guitars and flashing wands ready to rock!
For a great day trip head to Chessington World of Adventures. With hair-raising fun for all the family, untangle the web of lies with the launch of brand-new attraction, Spyders, plus the award-winning Creepy Caves Unearthed – Chessington’s scariest attraction.
This year also sees the return of Trick or Treat Wood and the Haunted Howl’o’ween Live Show, as well as rides in the dark. There’s also a series of spooky animal shows and a daily fancy dress competition all included in your ticket, which start from just £29.50 per person, if booked online at chessington.com five days in advance, with children under the age of three getting in for FREE.
Brick or Treat at Legoland
This autumn, the spooktacular Brick or Treat returns to the LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort. New for 2019, Lord Vampyre’s Brick or Treat takes place from 17 October to 2 November, complete with six nights of dazzling LEGO® themed fireworks shows.
This Brick or Treat, LEGOLAND’s newest resident monster; the fang-tastic Lord Vampyre, is throwing the ultimate Halloween party. Little ones are invited to get stuck into a host of spooky LEGO activities throughout the Brick or Treat season, including October half term. There will be plenty of fun for the whole family with LEGOLAND’s awesome rides, shows and attractions to enjoy and the chance to join Lord Vampyre and his monster friends at the topsy-turvy new Haunted House Monster Party ride.
On 19/20 and 25/26 October and 1/2 November, the skies will light up with a truly spectacular 3D fireworks display, celebrating Lord Vampyre’s favourite day of the year – Halloween! Plus with 3D glasses, families will see the fireworks explode into thousands of tiny LEGO bricks* Families can visit legoland.co.uk for more information.
Sweet Treats at Fortnums
For the ultimate sweet Halloween treat head to Fortnums. The Parlour is the perfect destination to indulge and try the Halloween Sundae if you dare…made with Bickfield Farm mint chocolate chip ice cream, spooky spirulina, raspberry sauce, Chantilly and charcoal powder, each finished with Fortnum’s very own Halloween sugar decorations.
With over 19 flavours of ice creams and sorbets, kids (and adults!) alike can customise their creations with hundreds of topping options, from sauces to sprinkles, it’s sure to solve any resting Witch faces.
Little witches and wizards will love this wand crafting class at Gunnersbury Park Museum. Create your own ‘Harry Potter’ style wand using a range of wood carving tools. Under the guidance of a talented woodcarver, you’ll be able to carve your own magical wand to take home. This workshop is designed for a child and their accompanying adult to learn wood crafting skills and make a wand together.
Please note that both children and adults will need to purchase tickets for the workshop as they will be learning and working together to create the wood craft. Suitable for children aged 8+
Hever Castle’s Bed and Breakfast scores 96% and maintains its 5* Gold status after Visit England assessment
Hever Castle’s luxury Bed and Breakfast has maintained its 5* Gold status and a Breakfast award.
The accommodation was assessed by Visit England and received a 96% quality score. To gain a 5* rating businesses have to score between 85% and 100% and are marked on bedrooms, bathrooms, cleanliness, hospitality and breakfast.
The Gold award is given to accommodation which offers the `best of the best’ including exceptional quality and going the extra mile for their customers and the Breakfast Awards recognises breakfasts which exceed guest expectations.
Visit England said that: “Hever Castle Bed & Breakfast presented extremely well on this year’s day assessment, comfortably retaining its Five Star Guest Accommodation rating.”
Hever Castle’s four bedroom holiday cottage, Medley Cottage also maintained its 5* Gold rating, scoring 92%.
House Manager Roland Smith said: “We are delighted that the hard work and high standards of cleanliness and customer service has been recognised by Visit England. It is testament to our dedicated members of staff that we have retained this accolade. We look forward to welcoming more guests to our luxury accommodation throughout 2019 and 2020.”
The bed and breakfast is housed in the ‘Tudor Village’ – an Edwardian extension to the Castle which consists of the ‘Astor Wing’ and recently refurbished ‘Anne Boleyn Wing’ – with 28 bedrooms in total.
The extension was added to the Castle by William Waldorf Astor to accommodate staff and guests was previously only available for weddings and corporate events.
In 2012 underfloor heating, flat screen TVs and wifi were added as part of a refurbishment to open the accommodation up to the general public. The doors opened in March 2012.
All bedrooms are en-suite and individually styled, with some offering four poster beds, roll top baths or walk in showers.
Guests to the luxury bed and breakfast, which recently received the TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence for the fourth year running, have exclusive access to some of the 125 acre award winning gardens when they are closed to the general public.
Half term is just around the corner so here are some super-fun things do with your kids across London. From spooky feasts to cultural activities and exciting days out, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Big the Musical
All of parents can remember the classic 80’s movie Bigwhere a young boy makes a wish to be to be older and wakes up as a grown up played by Tom Hanks. And those who loved the film, will be thrilled to hear that Big the Musicalis now at London’s Dominion Theatre and stars Jay McGuiness and Kimberly Walsh. Relive a childhood memory and take your own kids along to see it this half term.
Young witches and wizards will love Cutter and Squidges Potion Room, a truly unique experience.
Leave the busy streets of London behind as you descend downstairs into the potion class. Get cloaked up, and then take your seat at the school-style desks and await your Potions Master who will have you whisking up all manner of concoctions in no time.
During the immersive 2-hour experience, you will be treated to a delicious sweet and savoury Afternoon Tea inspired by classic British flavours. Combined with the drinkable and edible potions you will be creating, the Cutter and Squidge team will ensure that you are bubbling to the brim by the time your class ends!
The class is suitable for children from age 8 upwards and they cater for many dietary requirements, including vegetarian, vegan, and wheat-free, and the vegetarian menu is halal-friendly.
Prices start from £49.50 for adults, £39.50 for kids.
Families can join the hunt for the nation’s favourite hard-to-find character at London Transport Museum this October half-term. With a ‘Play Trail’ map in hand, visitors will weave among the Museum’s collection of historic buses and trains as they try to track down Wally in his iconic red and white striped jumper, taking part in family activities at different locations along the way.
The fun will include puzzle solving, singing and stories, sneak peeks inside special vehicles not usually open to the public, and family games for all ages. There’s also the opportunity to explore the Museum and its three newest galleries – Untangling the Tracks, Future Engineers and Digging Deeper and play on real buses and trains and the All Aboard play zone.
Kids go free and adult tickets allow unlimited daytime entry to London Transport Museum for a whole year, so families can come back as often as they like to explore, learn and play. For further information visit www.ltmuseum.co.uk or call (0)343 222 5000.
Ice skating at the Natural History Museum
This year for the very first time, the Natural History Museum Ice Rink will be open during the October half-term break, providing the perfect outdoor activity which is fun for all the family. Combine whizzing around the ice with a trip inside the museum for a truly amazing day out. Skating starts from Saturday 19 October 2019, throughout the winter period until Sunday 12 January 2020.
Book tickets for the Natural History Museum Ice Rink via www.nhmskating.com or call 0844 847 1576. For group bookings including schools call 0844 847 1575.
There are days out and then there is Kidtropolis. This mega family event at London’s Excel is aimed at children aged 12 and under and is packed full of live shows, well-known children’s characters from film and TV and a host of amazing activities.
Kids will love seeing their favourite YouTubers, character mascots and TV superstars. In the huge space you’ll find a gaming area, fairground rides, ice skating. and giant inflatables to play on, plus science shows and plenty of kiddie-friendly places to eat.
From 19th to 21st October, advanced purchased tickets are £12 for both adults and children.
Kids love a good giggle. Take them to the the Comedy Club 4 Kids for a hilarious afternoon.
Since 2005 the club has been getting the best stand-ups and sketch acts from the international circuit to do their thing for an audience of children (aged 6+) and their families.
Expect to do lots of heckling as well as laughing at this interactive show. At venues across London on various dates during half term. For more info visit comedyclub4kids.co.uk
Brick Wonders at the Horniman Museum
Lego fans will love a trip to the Horniman Museum’s Brick Wonders to see historical highlights from around the world made entirely from Lego bricks.
From an ancient Egyptian pyramid and Old London Bridge to a coral reef and the international space station, kids will travel through history and explore more than 50 models made using half a million Lego pieces, recreating the likes of Niagra Falls, the Great Wall of China, and even space travel.
Kids (and grown-ups) can build their own brick wonders in interactive play areas, which include a graffiti wall and big bricks for little hands. Plus the exhibition includes a mini-cinema showing short Lego animations. If Lego is your thing, Brick Wonders is unmissable. Until 27th October
World record-breaking beatboxer SK Shlomo leads kids on a beatbox adventure, teaching them how to make music using just their mouths and a microphone. Join this sonic superhero and become one of his sidekicks in a world of funny sounds, brilliant noises and cool music. Great fun for all ages. There are two shows on Wednesday 23rd October and tickets are £11.
Making spooky cookies is one of the most fun Halloween activities. If you think your little ones would like to have a go then head to a Gail’s Bakery as they are hosting Halloween biscuit decorating workshops throughout half-term. Designed for children under ten, classes will guide them through the process of decorating spooky-shaped gingerbread biscuits with icing.
Classes are free of charge and the workshops run in Gail’s bakeries across London. Various locations across London; from 29th October
This half term set sail on a musical adventure across the high seas with our Ports of Call activities. Enjoy music and dance performances inspired by Cutty Sark’s voyages and take part in some music-inspired arts and crafts.
There will be African drumming, Bollywood dancing and steel band performances. Visitors can join in and have a go, learning new skills and having fun. 21-26 October
New research shows most parents like to eat healthy meals as a family, but only 40% manage it. Charlotte Stirling-Reed gives us her top tips to make mealtimes easier.
Feeding kids isn’t always is easy is it? For so many reasons it can be a minefield. Finding healthy meals that children actually want to eat is often very tricky. Getting your toddler to swallow a piece of broccoli must surely be one of life’s simplest but greatest pleasures!
Add to the struggle of getting youngsters to eat well with the constant juggle of our busy lives and you have a recipe for a challenge. It’s hard to managed a family’s schedule and still try find time to prepare and cook nutritious suppers for all the family to enjoy together.
Of course, in an ideal world every family would love to sit down around the table to eat a homemade meal, but for many that’s a logistical impossibility as parents try to balance out their working lives and with kids’ – often equally hectic – school timetables. It can feel like you need a family spreadsheet just to get everyone together for dinner.
Indeed a recent survey of 2,000 parents of children under 14 by Scandinavian nursery brand, Stokke, found that while 86% of parents believe it’s important to eat dinner as a family, just two in five (41%) say they eat together every night. Stokke are behind the iconic Tripp Trapp highchair that has sold more than 10 million worldwide since its launch in 1972. Central to to principle of the design is that children should join their parents at the table.
So how can we make it a bit easier to eat together as a family?
Charlotte Stirling-Reed BSc, MSc, RNutr., a specialist in baby and children nutrition for Stokke, has given us her top 10 expert tips on how to enjoy a healthy and happy mealtime.
Eat together, whenever possible
Make the most of family time around the table and try to sit together to eat whenever possible. Even if it’s just you and your baby or child – you being a part of their mealtime can make such a difference to their experience and even how much they enjoy it.
Get kids involved
I love the idea of bringing baby into the mealtime and right up to the table as early as possible. Get them involved in food by surrounding them by everyone else tucking into a delicious meal. Children learn the skills of eating, social skills and even WHAT foods they enjoy by first copying others. For older children, get them involved in prepping, shopping or even choosing what’s on the table at dinner times.
Eat similar foods, regularly
Rather than serving separate meals for everyone in the family, try and have one option that everyone tucks into. Even if you’re offering similar options such as gluten free pasta, dairy free cheese etc, it’s good for your little ones to see you eating similar foods (including all those veggies) to encourage them to eat a wide variety themselves.
Establish a routine
Having a routine around when meals are served can help get little ones ready for food, especially for infants, who tend to like set routines. Establishing a “pre eating” routine can also help to get children involved and get them excited about mealtimes too. It might be clearing away toys, laying the table, playing some music or starting with a little game, which helps to set the tone for the rest of the meal & get everyone talking and excited for what’s to come.
Try and make it distraction free
Distractions such as toys, TV or phones can take away from the concept of food and meals being important. They also distract from what can be a really vital social occasion for a family too. However, if we want little ones to grow up to love their food, we need to show them that the delicious, varied foods you put in front of them each day are worth their attention and time. So, try clearing away, switching off distractions and just focusing on you, them and that delicious bowl of food!
Take the pressure off and leave out the rules
That said, making mealtimes too pressured and setting mealtime rules such as clearing the plate, eating veggies first, sitting down until everyone has finished, can end up making mealtimes pressured and less enjoyable for kiddies. Stick to rules that you think are 100% necessary and avoid too much pressure for children to “eat up” a specific part, or all of their meal. It’s good to keep mealtimes light and enjoyable to help children WANT to be a part of them.
Give kids some choice
Offering choices between A and B can give your little ones some autonomy when it comes to food choices. It’s a form of covert parenting that allows you to still have the ultimate control of what’s offered, but it gives them some independence and allows them to feel like you’re also valuing their opinions too. This can also help with fussy eaters. An example might be “do you want that with potato or pasta today?” “Do you want peas or carrots on the side?”
Try sharing platters
I love the Mediterranean style of sharing platters for mealtimes too, offering an array of foods, and allowing everyone to help themselves to whatever parts of the meal they want. This might not always work, but if you allow them to have their independence whilst also role modelling and showing how you, yourself, have a wide variety on your own plate, they are likely to pick up some tips and eating habit just from watching you!
Vary what’s on offer
One of the biggest reasons I see for children going off food is boredom. It’s SO easy to get somewhat stuck offering the same foods each week, but by offering a really wide variety, not only are you exposing your children to a variety of tastes and flavours and nutrients, you’re also preventing them getting fed up with the same meals over and over again. I am totally aware this one is easier said than done, but try making some bulk meals at the weekend and then tapping into them where possible during the week. Menu plans can really work for some families too.
Make it fun
Just try to relax, stay calm and make those mealtimes enjoyable for everyone. Once you step back, take away some of the rules and start enjoying the social time with your little ones, it’ll become so much easier to make the occasion fun and enjoyable for everyone else too. Try using colourful napkins, tablecloths or even a beautiful bowl of fruits and veggies to keep it vibrant or play some calming music in the background to set the scene. What works will differ from family to family, so have a play with some ideas that make you and yours happy, and see what works!
Is Rugby World Cup fever is sweeping through your house? It certainly is ours! Watching such amazing high-level sport is so inspiring for children as they see their heroes tackle opponents and score tries. It’s a fantastic sport that both boys and girls can enjoy watching and playing.
If your kiddos already play rugby then you’ll know that the school season starts soon, indeed many clubs are already training. And if your new to the game and your children would like to give it a go, then there has never been a better time to find out more.
Very little ones can join in with the fun sessions at the likes of Rugby Tots or Try Time Kids Rugby or Muddy Knees Kids Rugby. All offer the chance to take part in non-contact training and games (often a bit like tag) that help to learn the key skills involved in the sport. Boys and girls as young as just two years old can join in.
If your children are a bit older check out the findrugbynow.com website to located clubs near you or contact englandrugby.com for more information. Rugby is a sport that you can take up at pretty much any age and complete beginners will find that they can join in very quickly.
There are clubs and groups all over the Capital that would love to welcome new young players who might just become the World Cup stars of the future.
For rugby kit head to Decathlon. From tops and shorts and boots to head and mouth guards, they have everting you need play the game including rugby balls of all sizes so you can choose one suitable for little hands to pass.
We interview the founders of Bloom and Blossom about creating a dream business, working with family and building a brand
Three words to describe yourselves.
Julia: Committed, honest and a giggle.
Christina: Determined, loyal and fun.
What’s it like working with a relative?
Julia: It really is great, and we know we are lucky. At first our family thought it could be too close to home, but we really are each other’s biggest supporters. We give each other the sanity check we know is essential in business. We support each other emotionally and physically. We don’t take ourselves too seriously and, as we build Bloom and Blossom, we are enjoying seeing ourselves develop as business women and as parents, this ensures our brand is continues to grow authentically.
What’s the most challenging thing you’ve faced while being in business?
Christina: Business is challenging, that is the truth, but we have learnt to embrace that. Managing manufacturing, NPD, retailers and customers makes it the rollercoaster ride that it is but we are happy with that and know it will continue. We take time to look back and evaluate decisions, the right ones and the wrong ones, to ensure we learn along the way. We are brave, we take leaps, and we aren’t scared to try new things, and with that we also take on the challenges of business, but that is half the fun, it is a little bit bonkers, but we wouldn’t change a thing.
Who does what in the business?
Julia: We are lucky to have built an incredible team of talented, dedicated and passionate people. For many years it was just us two, so we have literally done every job within the running of our business from financial accounts to product development to social media and packing up orders. We are not afraid or too grand to turn our hand to any task, and this is the attitude we look for in all our employees.
Now we have a strong team means we can focus our time on fulfilling our sustainability promise, developing new products, discovering new innovations, understanding our customers’ needs and building an authentic business focused on helping families thrive.
How did the initial collaboration with Roald Dahl come about?
Christina: All our product development comes from a place of authenticity, flowing from the products we need and want as parents. We developed incredible pregnancy products when we were pregnant and incredible baby products when our children were babies. So, it was almost a given we would bring out products for older children as ours grew up. As parents we know the importance of routine in promoting quality sleep and reading plays an integral part in that. Reading should be part of every child’s day and particularly their switch off process at bedtime. Who better than to partner with the world’s number one author Roald Dahl. Two British brands in partnership promoting the importance of sleep.
How do you decide on fragrances for the different lines you have?
Christina: Our fragrances sit at the heart of our formulations and play a powerful role in the efficacy of our products. Fragrance is key in evoking mood and wellbeing – we start with how we want our customers to feel when they use our products then blend in the ingredients to achieve this.
What has it been like to support Beauty Banks?
Julia: Having seen Jo Jones and Sali Hughes set up Beauty Banks and having watched the incredible impact it has had to people living on the poverty line – it was a no brainer. Being clean is a human right and whatever we can do to help get toiletries in to the hands of families, we will do. Our ‘one for one’ initiative was kicked off alongside the launch of our hand washes, and this is just the beginning.
Last book you read?
Julia: Sara Cox’s Till the Cows Come Home: A Lancashire Childhood. I am from Lancashire, I adore Sara Cox’s writing, her humour and outlook on life.
Christina:I AM, I AM, I AMby Maggie O’Farrell. A brilliant biography of one of my all-time favourite authors and her many brushes with life and death.
What’s your top tip for date night in London?
A top tip for date nights in London is to try something new. We are so lucky to live and work on the doorstep of one of the best cities in the world and there is always something wonderful and new to explore. Some favourites include Palomar (amazing middle Eastern food) and Kyseri (Turkish) but also enjoying the London parks, grabbing a picnic, taking in the views and enjoying walks around the city, when the weather permits.
Where’s your favourite place to go in London with the children?
Julia: The Southbank. Walking along there with the children is incredible, taking in the views, the atmosphere and the entertainers.
Christina: Kew Gardens. It’s got everything. The new children’s playground is insane. Just make sure you book in advance!
Tell us one thing that people don’t know about you.
Christina: I bought my first house on a property TV show.
Julia: I have a Blue Peter badge.
What would you take to a desert island?
Julia: Suncream and Spotify.
Christina: Complete library of Sex And The City and a lifetime supply of mango sorbet.
Christina: Cooking is not my forte, but I do a mean Indian takeaway…
Julia: I love cooking, particularly cooking for friends and family. A favourite of mine is crab linguine – super simple, but so tasty. And then throw in some Ottolenghi inspired salads…I could go on and on, don’t get me started on puddings!
Your proudest moment?
Christina: my daughter recently won a coveted award at school for kindness. I really couldn’t ask for more. Very proud mother!
What’s next on the list of things to do?
Christina: is world domination too much? We have big, exciting plans ahead. Watch this space…!
Pottery Barn Kids UK have just launched their new autumn collection. Renowned for its furniture and accessories for children’s bedrooms and play rooms, this American company has taken the UK by storm. From desks, beds and storage to lighting, rugs and cushions, Pottery Barn is a one-stop-shop for all your kiddie decorating.
We can’t get enough of the beautiful bedding and stunning quilts. They have designs that cater for little ones who still want dinosaurs and princesses in their rooms, right through to more sophisticated, preppy looks for teens. The quality is top notch and every product is extensively tested to make sure it is perfect.
Or if you have a really tiny one check out Pottery Barn Baby. Think dream nursery and you’ll have an idea of what the brand has in store for their youngest customers.
Pottery Barn have plans to expand in the UK and open more stores, but for now you can find a selection of their range in John Lewis or online at potterybarnkids.co.uk.
The Little Writing Company
The kids are now all back in the classroom and homework is starting to appear in school bags most evening. While some will be gliding through their work easily, others may need a little bit of assistance.
If you’d like to help your little one with their learning, then check out the Little Writing Company. Launched by teacher Jo Britland in 2017, the company produces beautiful stationery and literacy workbooks for children. All are carefully designed by teachers to help parents improve their child’s handwriting as well as their overall learning.
They are perfect for primary school aged children but by no means exclusively for this age group. Lots of older and younger children use them too. Plus they have lots of free worksheets and tips on their blog . Well worth a visit if you’d like to find some really helpful and inspiring advice.
We particularly like the story writing activity notebooks that encourage children to be imaginative and really stretch their use of the English language through writing.
Here at City Kids we are huge fans of Scamp and Dude. We love their super cool kidswear and fun prints. So, we were thrilled to see the launch of Superga x Scamp & Dude, a range of trainers featuring their iconic Leopard and Lightning Bolt print.
The collection includes the 2750 Cotu Classic trainer, both lace up and with Velcro. 100% cotton, they come in neon coral with Scamp & Dude branding on the heel and an embroidered ‘Superpower Button’. Prices start from £33 for the littlest feet. The perfect trainers for Autumn.
Today is the launch of MORI’s The Gruffalo collection for babies and toddlers. The London based clothing brand has also devised a secret Gruffalo crumble recipe in celebration of the book’s 20th anniversary year.
Mori’s signature organic cotton and bamboo fabrics, which are the base for their sleep and daywear ranges, is now adorned by illustrative details from the celebrated children’s story. Expect to see favourite characters, scenes and quotes from The Gruffalo across the range. Featuring four exclusive prints, the day and sleep collection ranges from newborn up to 4 years with prices from £18 for a T-Shirt to £69.50 for the Clever Sleeping Bag.
Akin Onal, MORI’s Founder says:
“We were thrilled when Magic Light Pictures reached out to us about collaborating for the character’s 20th anniversary. The Gruffalo is such a memorable part of family story time, making this the perfect partnership for MORI. As a brand dedicated to helping to improve a family’s sleep, we believe that story time is an essential part of a child’s bedtime routine as it helps to strengthen bonds between families. That’s why we’re so delighted to be a part of creating this experience.”
Written by renowned children’s author Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, The Gruffalo has won countless awards and sold over 13.5 million copies, delighting readers – young and old alike – for two decades.
Stella Afnaim, MORI’s Head of Product says:
“As a grandmother, reading bedtime stories to my grandchildren is the highlight of my day. Being Head of Product at MORI, I appreciate how important soft yet functional clothing is for little ones, especially at bedtime. Our sleepwear is created with love and I can’t wait to read The Gruffalo with my three grandchildren sitting on my lap in their Gruffalo PJs.”
The Gruffalo collection is available now at babymori.com and in selected retailers nationwide.
Here’s our pick of our favourite cool things for kids this week
The Magic of Marvel
Marvel Universe Live tour 2019 will arrive at the O2 from 26th September until 6thOctober. This all new show unites Spider-Man, the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy and Doctor Strange in a race against time to recover the Wand of Watoomb. A must for all Marvel fans who want to see their favourite characters performing some amazing stunts in true action hero style. Visit marveluniverselive.com to book.
Footwear brand GEOX have developed a new capsule collection as part of their partnership with one of the world’s leading conservation organisations WWF.
This unique collection of footwear for both babies and children, which includes graphics inspired by endangered animal spices, such as the giant panda and the polar bear. For every pair of shoes purchased, 2€ or equivalent in local currency will be donated to the WWF to support their efforts in safeguarding the natural world.
Geox is one of our go-to brands for kid’s shoes – especially their super cosy leather high-tops in winter – so we are thrilled to see that the company has substance as well as style.
The benefits of reading at every stage of a child’s development are well documented and of course there is the simple joy of getting lost in a good story. In their new book How to Raise a Reader Pamela Paul and Maria Russo, editors of The New York Times Book Reviewhave created an indispensable guide to welcoming children—from babies to teens—to a lifelong love of reading. It will undoubtedly help all parents to encourage their kids to pick up a book.
All parents are constantly on the lookout for healthy eating options that their kids will actually enjoy. We suggest you check out the Great British Porridge Company for a great breakfast choice. All 100% natural, with no added sugar, their instant porridges are made with wholegrain oats and with no artificial colours or preservatives, making them full of protein, calcium for growing bones. Also, worth noting they are vegan, dairy and gluten-free
Ideally for filling kids up and give them the energy to get through the morning at school without the need to reach for unhealthy snacks. There are three flavours to choose from: Red Berry & Pumpkin Seed, Blueberry & Banana and Strawberry & Peanut Butter. Add some more fruit or a spoonful of honey to make them a little sweeter. Find them in Sainsbury’s, Wholefoods Market, Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and selected retailers nationwide, RRP £3.99 for 385g bag. For more info visit www.thegreatbritishporridgeco.co.uk
To celebrate national Read a Book Day, we have a bundle of six amazing books to give away. We have story books, an anthology, award-winning books, beautiful illustrations and books by the famous. Entry details are below!
Franklin and Luna Go To The Moon by Jen Campbell (hardback)
Be More Bernard by Simon Philip & Kate Hindley
How to Find Egyptian Treasure by Caryl Hart and Ed Eaves
Story Time by Georgie Adams (hardback)
Lightning Girl Super Power Showdown by Alesha Dixon
Mr Dog and a Hedge Called Hog by Ben Fogle
To enter, head to our Instagram page, follow us, like the post and tell us which is your favourite book in the bundle.
Smallprint: Not run in conjunction with Instagram
Even though we’re seeking out the last drops of summer it’s time to start looking at the autumn wardrobe and N21’s pop-up at Harrods will do nicely.
We’ve been blown away by the images from this collection and you will be too. The fashion brand, created and directed by Alessandro Dell’ Acqua is now available at Harrods. Signature tie-dye that Alessandro featured in his SS19 women’s collection is present here, as well as maxi logo sweatshirts and oversized bows.
Not only are there super stylish pieces for girls and boys, there are also some Mini Me items to double up with your sons or daughters.
For boys, expect prints capturing a fanciful image of the ‘American Dream’, using a strong, graphic statement on sweatshirts, cotton shirts and tracksuits. A stars & stripes theme characterises the check jackets with soft sheepskin detailing, as well as the tartan plaid shirts with logo embroidered, while a 1950s feel is featured in the maxi checkboard knits.
The collection for girls includes chic, modern pieces with fun at the heart of it. Rock’n’roll vibes are clear thanks to red & black leopard prints on maxi hoodies, retro sport tracksuits and bombers. Pop accents can be found on the black-on-pink star prints that add a graphic touch to piping-embellished shirts, smart pleated skirts which are paired with sweet ruche-trimmed stripe blouses and poplin polo dresses with stylish, yet simple yokes.
The range is suitable for girls and boys aged 4-14.
Head to Harrods for the N21 pop up which will remain open until early October.
The City Kids weekly round-up of super-cool things for your little ones to enjoy
If your children have grown out of nursery rhymes and the likes of ‘Baby Shark’, but you’d rather they didn’t listen to grown-up pop music just yet, then My Moozik could be the ideal thing for them to boogie along to.
This new musical venture for kids is designed to bridge the gap between kiddie tunes and inappropriate lyrics. Written by musician Newton Faulkner, My Moozik has just released the debut single ‘Breaktime’, and the album first ‘My Day’ will be available at the end of October.
The CD album comes packaged with a beautifully illustrated, hardback, lyric book. All songs can be streamed and downloaded via all the usual platforms and all songs will be available for the whole family to enjoy on the My Moozik YouTube channel.
As well as offering families an album that won’t make parents want to tear their hair out, the it has also been designed to support kids and their development. The songs explore key themes such as kindness, making friends, why we learn, why we have to eat our greens and everything in-between.
Catchy tunes and nice words to sing along to make My Moozik, perfect for kids of all ages.
Vild House of Little mix great Scandi-inspired design with stylish, quirky prints to create really unusual clothing for kids. The patterned pieces can be combined with their neural basics to make amazing outfits.
The new ‘Dog Family’AW19 collection is made up of prints featuring happy hound families including the curious pug, the brave beagle, the proud dachshund and adorable stray dogs. There is a long-sleeved t-shirt, a collared bodysuit and bomber jersey jacket. Super-cute and a little bit different.
So we are just over half way through the school holidays. Roughly three weeks left to fill with endless fun and activities. I mean it’s so easy isn’t it?!
Well if like us (all) parents you are frankly a bit frazzled and running out of ideas you might just like to hear about KiwiCo.
This amazing company make creative, innovative and educational hands on arts and science projects that are delivered to your door. Their ‘crates’ are age appropriate with a selection of activities for babies right up to age 16 plus. Projects include making models and instruments and encourage problem solving, experimenting and exploration.
Each crate is tested for over 1000 hours by the KiwiCo Team of experts, artists and scientists and engineers before they are delivered to you. Sign up for a one-off crate or take out a monthly subscription that you can cancel any time. Perfect for summer holiday entertainment or to bring out on any rainy day.
After a sneak preview in July, the long awaited, and cloaked in secrecy, Mini Boden collaboration with Harry Potter has gone live.
And what a collection! As you might expect from the appliqué and embroidery experts, the Harry Potter collection includes bespoke prints, one-off styles and embroidery inspired by Harry Potter and the Wizarding World. It’s incredibly clever, super stylish and uses incredible fabrics.
The 81-piece range has been designed entirely in-house by the highly skilled Mini Boden design teams in partnership with Warner Bros. Consumer Products and is only available from Mini Boden.
Far from the many collaborations you may have seen before between famous franchises and designers, Boden have kept this classy and high-end.