It’s been a long month already, and keeping the kids entertained and finding five minutes to yourself requires some very creative parenting. We consider this free audiobook from Banjo Robinson to be answering all the SOS calls, as well as putting smiles on your little ones faces.
It’s a lockdown January… What better time to start an enchanting round-the-world trip with a globetrotting CAT? Banjo Robinson sends personalised letters and creative activities to children ages 5+ twice monthly from a range of exciting destinations. Kids all over the world are already receiving his activity-filled letters – and writing back to him too!
Little explorers can start their adventure with a picture book that introduces Banjo and explains why he travels the world writing letters to his friends. Now Pandora Sykes, journalist and podcaster reads this story which explains explains where Banjo Robinson came from and why he’s the most fantastic explorer of all time. The accompanying video also shows the illustrations created by Ruki Chuki.
Banjo Robinson’s letter subscription is another screen-free lockdown activity which encourages reading, writing and creative play, all delivered straight to your door.
If your little one loves Banjo’s backstory, you can sign up to receive any of his letter subscriptions with a 50% discount, applying the code: MAGIC50 at checkout on their website. Limited time offer. You can also purchase the hardback picture book here.
As parents we spend much of our time weathering the storm, diffusing arguments between siblings and juggling homeschool with work. From morning til evening, it’s all go. So, it’s only fair that we take a little moment to reset. We’ve picked out a few of our favourite things that help us to remain zen, anytime of day.
Friday Five: things to do with the kids this weekend
Yes folks. It’s that time of the week already. Raise your cuppas in the air to the weekend! This week we’re bringing a wide range of activities including entertainment from Camp Bestival, theatre and a trek through history.
1. Sunday Club
Join the brand new Sunday Club. The Weekly online club for families hosted over on their facebook. Camp Bestival
Downsend School joins national campaign to get teachers vaccinated and children back in school
Downsend School in Leatherhead, has joined forces with other schools to offer their facilities for vaccinations. In a letter to the Prime Minister, the school’s parent company has outlined plans to bring forward the vaccination of school and nursery staff across the country and in turn, allow children to return to a normal and full education.
As increasing pressure mounts on the UK government to prioritise school staff in order to get children back in school, Downsend’s senior leadership team has been working with parent company Cognita to come up with a feasible implementation plan to get schools fully operational and physically open to students as quickly as possible.
In an open letter to Boris Johnson, together with other leading independent school bodies, Cognita CEO Chris Jansen wrote, “Our plan is to establish local “hub” schools dedicated to administering the vaccine to teachers, childcare workers and school support staff, starting with workers in nurseries and special schools so that these establishments can remain open over the coming weeks.”
Headmaster at Downsend, Ian Thorpe commented, ““Her Majesty’s Government has reiterated the importance of keeping schools open throughout this period of national crisis. The current scenario represents a race against time to ensure that schools are safe places, where the viral transmission rates are reduced, not increased. Vaccinating teachers is an obvious solution to help with this aim. Our larger schools represent perfect vaccination hubs – they have extensive parking, refrigeration facilities in which to store vaccines and close links with healthcare professionals. Downsend is happy to play its part in this national effort and it is inspiring to see Cognita, HMC and MATs collaborating to take the lead in support of this concept.”
By now, it’s likely that you’ve packed up all the Christmas decor and things may be looking a little bare. Fear not, we’ve a great way for you to fill your space thanks to the lovely lot at Urban Tropicana. And right now, we couldn’t need houseplants more. Did you know that they have psychological benefits that could all go some way to helping us all through a grey and locked down January? Amongst them are improved mood, increased worker productivity, improved attention span, reduced stress levels and increased speed of reaction in a computer task. We asked the team to give us a rundown of houseplants for kids that can be looked after by your budding gardeners. PLUS read on for our exclusive discount code.
Succulents are one of the easiest houseplants to look after – and they’re a pretty cool too.
Succulents do best in a sunny spot in very well-drained soil. Their chunky leaves are designed to store water, so they’re able to cope with periods of drought.
It is best to allow the soil to dry out between watering.
When you do decide to water, it is best to soak them, this will replicate a torrential down pour.
They need a lot less water over winter.
Urban Tropicana have put together a supercool box containing three baby succulents. Succulents will be selected at random – but we’ll make sure the trio is as varied as possible.
These cacti will bloom just in time for Christmas (hence their name), and they’re pretty stunning too. The hanging branches, which are made up of flat, glossy green segments, can grow to up to 3 feet long.
Flowers in red, white, yellow, pink, or purple appear at the tips of these branches and measure up to 3 inches long with several tiers of petals. This variety has white flowers.
In order to keep these plants looking beautiful, you need to follow all the steps involved with proper Christmas cactus care.
The Moonshine is an absolute stunner and one of our personal favourite snake plants. The foliage is the most delicious shade of silvery green. Easy to care for and looks amazing. What else could you ask for?
If you’re one of those people with a history of killing houseplants (we see you at the back) then the ‘Snake Plant aka Mother-in-laws tongue is for you. It doesn’t need much attention at all so if you forget you own it for a week or two – it will forgive you. They’re pretty indestructible – so totally safe for the ‘plant assassins’ amongst you.
They are also one of the best plants for removing harmful toxins from the air. Winner winner.
While it tolerates low light, snake plants will grow fastest in bright conditions.
Take care not to overwater. We water ours every 2 weeks or when the soil is totally dry.
This is one for those of you looking for a plant with maximun impact for not much effort. Spanish moss doesn’t need soil to survive, just keep it in a bright spot and mist or soak once a week. That’s it.
It’s native to Mexico, Central America, South America, the U.S., and the Caribbean. In the U.S. it grows from Texas to Virginia, staying in the moister areas of the South. Its preferred habitat is a healthy tree in tropical swampland.
Spanish moss grows on trees but it doesn’t put down roots in the tree it grows on, nor does it take nutrients from it. The plant thrives on rain and fog, sunlight, and airborne or waterborne dust and debris.
Urban Tropicana launched in the midst of lockdown and their mission is to fill homes with plants, whatever your budget, do show them some love by following them on Instagram and by picking out a plant or three. They’ve kindly offered us an exclusive 15% discount. Simply use the code: CityKids15 at the checkout. You’re welcome!
Friday Five: things to do with the kids this weekend
Hurrah fellow parents, we’ve made it through the first week back to business; school, work, piles on piles of laundry plus everything else we’d put on hold over the Christmas break. Here’s your usual mix of things to do over the weekend. With temperatures plummeting and tightened lockdown restrictions, we’re keeping it cosy. Think virtual panto and kids’ food subscription boxes.
1. Kipper’s Snowy Day, Watermans Online. On demand through to 31st Jan.
2. Call it science, home economics, nutrition or life class, get the kids cooking with a fab Cook School Subscription. Boxes from £20.
3. GirlGuiding x Join the Dots’ Sisterhood in the wood. Virtual panto.
4. Cinderella online brought to you digitally by the Fairy Godmother that is Nottingham Playhouse. Final call, available until 16th Jan.
The City Kids guide to the best resources on and offline to help us all through lockdown
Is it Groundhog Day? April Fool’s Day? Friday 13th? Nope, just another Lockdown. We’ve been here before but will it be harder trying to work, run a house, educate, feed and entertain the kids in Lockdown 3.0? We’ll let you know, but in the meantime, we’ll do our best to share what we think are the best resources to help with home learning. Good luck!
Depending on where you live, the age of your children or the type of school they’re at will make a big difference to how much time they’re expected to be online each day. But online doesn’t necessarily mean bad. There is plenty of great online help and tips for kids (and their parents) which you can take advantage of pronto.
The Little Gym
Move over Joe Wicks there’s a new PE teacher in town! With over 40 years experience coaching children in their purpose-built gyms, The Little Gym’s expert teachers are sharing some excellent, age-appropriate classes on their YouTube channel. Whether you have a baby or a bored 12-year-old, you’ll find sensory play, fundamental gymnastics skills, boot camps and more. They’re big on child development and their classes are backed by teachers, doctors and occupational therapists. It’s all free and their latest How to…Guides might even persuade you to cartwheel through lockdown! 4 months+
Ok, he’s a living legend and some of you have bonded. Tune in Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 0900 for PE with Joe on his YouTube channel. KS1+
The Study Bunny: Focus Timer
There’s no point flogging a dead horse, and there’s no point trying to make little ones study when they over it. The Study Bunny app helps time studying. You can hit pause when focus has flown out of the window, earn coins and aim to be more productive. KS1+
If you’re worrying about their emotional development minus play-dates, a social life and general life skills, it could be worth looking up these guys. They’ve got bags of experience and focus on promoting social & emotional wellbeing and dynamic thinking. Check out their online courses here. KS1+
This one was new to us but it’s a revelation, no wonder schools and teachers are using it. Plenty of free video explanations for Primary, KS3 and up. Explanations were so good that we can now solve questions on probability using Venn diagrams. And for a small payment you can sign up to get feedback and even more quality teaching. KS1+
Got a coder or engineer at home, or indeed someone who needs some inspiration, then guide them towards Dr Chips’ Daily Doses. Easy to follow and required tools are always outlined in advance. Lava lamps, slime and chocolate rocks are just a taster. KS1+
Need to swat up on languages, this one has clips of real native speakers as well as fun and effective games to practice skills. KS2+
If Hey Duggee can’t focus minds then we should all give up! Starting on 11 January, pre-schoolers up to those studying for GCSEs will be catered for daily across their channels. Every morning, CBBC will host a three hour block for primary aged children, with two hours of daily content for secondary aged kids on BBC Two. Early Years+
Got it Games
Got it games support and reinforce teaching in the classroom, while boosting their reading and spelling. In each pack of Got it cards, there are five, quick to learn 10-minute games: Word Race, Word Pairs, Word Switch, Word Sets and Word Match. In line with the National Curriculum and suitable for children aged five and over, the games cover important, frequently used words. Developed by an experienced teacher, the games are multi-sensory and dyslexia friendly.
Best known for their dictionaries, Collins have a tonne of experience in workbooks for several key stages of learning. They’ve set aside free resources and have some helpful tips to help when home learning becomes overwhelming for the untrained teacher in all of us. KS1+
30 Day Lego Challenge
Great for problem solving and improving fine motor skills, That Brick Life has created a 30 day calendar with a different task to complete each day. Kids will need to channel their inner Emmet for this one and you’ll have to do your best not to become President Business. Early Years+
We’ve always loved the illustrations that these guys provide and they’ve got some free downloadables on their site now. They’re US focussed but we’re told there’s a 100% UK English version coming very soon! KS1+
If you’re dead set on time away from the screen, Rory’s Story Cubes give you prompts for all manner of exciting fables. Early Years+
Subscribe to these boxes and you’ll not only have a lovely meal, but your child will have prepared it for you. This nationwide, not-for-profit organisation wants to help children to understand food by teaching them to cook it. Their new recipe boxes are suitable for children and young adults, making it the way to encourage kids into the kitchen, and start them on their cooking journey. KS2+
Supporting the national curriculum, TTS have provided free downloadables to help with Early Years, KS1 and KS2. They’re created by teachers so cover everything from grammar tools to guided reading and can also help with English as a second language. Early Years+
Janna White set up Fun Phonics in 2015 and teaches over 300 children per week. Her website has plenty of materials to help parents and pupils of pre-school and primary school. Early Years+
Last, but my no means least is Twinkl. They came into their own in March and they’ve got all topics covered. Download, print and off you go! Early Years+.
Mother and daughter duo, Judy and Melissa Blake have not only created a business together, they’ve also seen it grow at one of the most difficult times. Sweet Pea Spoons delivers fresh baby food – with no nasties – nationwide, giving time-poor parents a break from the parenting treadmill. The subscription service allows you to select a variety of nutritionally balanced meals which are delivered weekly or fortnightly. We spoke to Judy and Melissa about their enterprise and what makes them tick.
Three words to describe yourselves.
Judy: Caring, cautious and I’m afraid to say a bit of a worrier sometimes!
Melissa: Driven, passionate and loyal
Tell us about how Sweet Pea Spoons came about.
The idea for Sweet Pea Spoons was born 23 years ago, when my mum had me. Being an advocate for high quality food with ‘no nasties’, she found it frustrating that there were no fresh, pre-prepared baby food options on the market for busy parents.
So, she was forced to take matters into her own hands by making all of my baby food from scratch. She soon realised how time consuming and tiring this was, and that parents would benefit from having fresh, nutritious and tasty baby meals delivered to their door. The only problem was, she just wasn’t sure how to turn her idea into a business.
Fast forward 23 years, I achieved a First-Class Honours in my Business degree and also developed a firm interest in nutrition. After finishing my degree, I started to think about life after university and what career I would choose, so I started looking at the baby food industry. Like Mum all those years ago, I began to realise that many parents want to feed their babies fresh, healthy meals, but the realities of a busy family life mean this can often be a struggle.
To my surprise, parents still only have two options when it comes to baby food; make it from scratch yourself which is time consuming or buy commercially produced jars/pouches which compromise on quality. So, using my new business knowledge and my passion for nutrition, I decided to join forces with my Mum and turn her 23-year-old dream in to a reality. Our aim? To create a fresh baby meal delivery service and ensure that busy parents no longer have to sacrifice tasty, homemade food for the ease of mass produced, shop bought pouches.
How do you divide roles in the business?
With my business knowledge, I take more of the ‘leader’ role in terms of running the day to day tasks of the business-like organising deliveries, ordering ingredients, managing social media accounts, conversing with customers etc, while Judy’s roles are more focused in the kitchen. She’s head of quality control and chief taster!
Mum is always the one who provides suggestions of potential new flavours to try after taking inspiration from magazines etc. I then go away to develop and test the recipes. Judy then gives feedback on the tests and suggests any improvements to the tests.
While I would say that I’m the driving force behind the business and bringing it to life, I certainly couldn’t do it without Judy.
What’s it like working with a relative?
Working with your Mum really is the best thing! I see her so much more often than I would have otherwise which is really lovely. I think you can be a lot more honest working with a family member and say exactly what you’re thinking without causing tension. Most of the time we always agree!
No one wants you to succeed more than your own mum, so I always know she will do everything she can to help make Sweet Pea Spoons work.
What’s been the biggest challenge so far?
The biggest challenge we’ve faced is getting our products to customers whilst keeping them frozen. It’s taken nearly a year of testing to figure out how to get our products to customers all across the UK whilst maintaining frozen temperatures. When we first launched in March we were only delivering to customers in Twickenham and Richmond. But now we can deliver to almost all corners of the UK!
Last book you read?
Is it awful that I can’t remember? Life is pretty hectic balancing a business, a part time job, family life and a sort of social life. So if I’m being totally honest, I never really have time for books. I listen to a LOT of podcasts, always business ones as I enjoy listening to other successful founders’ stories and taking onboard their advice.
Tell us something that people don’t know about you.
I once jumped out of a plane. I have no idea how I did it, but when I was travelling in New Zealand I decided it would be a good idea to do a skydive. My mum stayed up until 2am UK time to check it went all ok. When I watch videos back all I can think is how the H*** did I do that! I get butterflies watching it!
What would you take to a desert island?
A photograph of my puppy Cavapoochon Blue, he’s my pride and joy.
Signature dish (not baby food!)
Judy: My either my Tomato and Pancetta Risotto, super simple but delicious, or my Thai roast chicken for something a bit different. Both are always crowd pleasers.
Melissa: My Chocolate and Orange Panettone pudding! A seasonal take on the classic bread and butter pudding. I used to make this for my girls at uni and it really is the most indulgent delicious pudding (I’m a dessert person always). In summer it’s my Strawberry and Rhubarb crumble, don’t get me started I could go on…
Your proudest moment?
Receiving a first class in my degree and the Deans Award for the most outstanding student. This really was a special moment after working so hard for three years.
In terms of the business, it was being contacted by a certain big brand who I’ve always looked up to. When I look back at where we first started when we were planning the idea, it makes me realise how far we’ve come and I’m incredibly proud (and a bit shocked) of that.
What’s next on the list of things to do?
We’re looking at developing a finger foods option as many parents are now going down the BLW route so we want to cover both basis. We’re also hoping to start getting our products into some local farm shops and other retailors in 2021 which will be super exciting!
So it’s official, schools won’t be open for the foreseeable here the UK. Which means that us busy parents must keep on top of the snack cupboard stock take. PLUS with very little time to even sip a warm cuppa between Teams calls, we know that busy parents like us will need a steady supply of healthy snacks to produce in front of the little snackers quicker than you can say “lockdown three”.
TOP TIP for those on a New Year health kick, we suggest substituting the usual snacks for something healthier. So we’ve picked out a bunch of organic, gluten-free, vegan friendly alternatives. All tried and tested – your resident snack monsters are in for a treat (or 8).
It’s official. Most school kids won’t be going back to school just yet. But this doesn’t halt our ability to keep up with their studies. While we all brace ourselves for another bout of homeschool/remote learning/stress, we’ve an edit that may help to get you top parent points. And most importantly, make this round of homeschool that little bit better, easier, exciting and rewarding.
Set timed tasks to test their learning. Use your handy home automation buddy, it’ll save you from having to yell for their attention later. Try out the small but mighty Apple HomePod Mini, £99
Pocket money. Older kids may appreciate this one more. We’d rather not call it bribery, but instead, incentivising them for their hard work. Try out one of the cool Pocket Money apps such as Go Henry. They’ve recently launched an eco card too!
How about getting the whole family kitted out in matching shirts? No? We’ll you’ll have to create a rota so you don’t all clash wearing the Home S’Cool T Shirt, Annual Store, £18
Regardless of which tier you find yourself in, the show must really go on. We’ve found five fab theatre productions that’ll help bring the magic of a storytelling and the creative arts to your own home.
We’ve gone in search for all things bright and beautiful for those hoping to give their kids’ room a new lease of life for 2021. With varying budgets in mind, read on for a showcase of wonderful products PLUS a TOP TIP on how you can share positive vibes outside of your own home.
When we came across this gorgeous image on Coral Atkinson’s Instagram feed, it ignited all the rainbow interior feels. The rainbow symbol has always been a fave here at City Kids HQ. The year 2020 has renewed our love for all things rainbow vibes. The rainbow symbolises hope, resilience and the togetherness we’ve displayed throughout the pandemic.
TOP TIP: Give back. While throwing together a rainbow edit inspired room for your kids, how about mixing and matching between the spend and splurge items and using some of your budget towards giving a small donation to a charity such as NHS Charities Together, Rainbow Trust or The Trussell Trust.
We’ve rounded up some of our favourite water bottles for kids (and grown ups too) that are bound to help keep on top of staying hydrated and healthy this winter. Funny how by changing up your bottle motivates you to drink more water. From neon reds to frozen blues, antibacterial and to suit all budgets, we have got your family’s hydration goals covered!
Things took an unexpected turn this weekend, so for many – the closure of non-essential stores will have thrown a great big spanner in the works. Lucky for you, we’ve a roundup of super last minute things to get for all the family. You’re welcome.
Last minute gifts for kids
Don’t worry if you missed the Noodoll delivery deadline. Hand them a Noodoll voucher and a whole load of choice. Anyone else got their eyes on the sprouts?!
London education provider Kings Tutors has launched Kings Tutors Club
Kings Tutors Club provides focused, flexible and fully interactive educational courses; all uniquely designed to enhance both academic education and twenty-first century skills for children and young adults. This new educational platform has been launched in response to identifying four modern-day realities:
1) The unprecedented success of online learning.
2) The need for consistent, reliable and entirely flexible education.
3) The ever-growing demand for vital life skills (from confidence to communication, resilience to critical thinking) in the modern workplace.
4) The unavoidable knowledge gaps generated by the pandemic.
By identifying and embracing all of these, Kings Tutors Club is aiming to enrich a child’s immediate academic requirements with wider life skills. Courses span from targeted workshops (including ‘Coding’ and ‘Creative Writing’) to broader programmes such as ‘Calm Clear & Confident’ and ‘GCSE Christmas Preparation’. A range of one-to-one and group formats are available, enabling parents to choose the teaching style best suited to their child. Each course is hosted by one of Kings Tutors’ expert mentors or tutors selected from a team of specialists recognised by the Good Schools Guide for always going “the extra mile” to ensure “children reach their full potential.”
All courses are held on Kings Tutors’ popular interactive learning platform. This is a free service, easy to use and named one of “the best online tutoring resources 2020″ by Mumsnet. It is likewise compatible with all devices (phone, tablet, laptop and desktop), enabling access wherever you are, whenever you need.
“True education is not – and never has been – confined to exam knowledge. Now more than ever, it is critical to recognise this from early years,” says Emily Jack, Founder of Kings Tutors, a qualified teacher and director of The Tutors’ Association.
This belief is enforced by robust global research, with reports from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and World Economic Forum identifying transferable skills such as creativity, communication, digital literacy and critical thinking as imperative for the future workplace.
The Top 3 Courses for Christmas 2020:
• CALM. CLEAR. CONFIDENT – The ultimate 2021 exam preparation for both child & parent. Includes dedicated educational consultant, mentor and tutors. Available from 11+ to A-Level.
• GCSE CHRISTMAS COURSE – Set of 5 online group lessons in key subjects with specialist tutors. Available for Maths, Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Geography.
• CODING – Fun, focused workshops to instil the basics of this career-enhancing skill. Put into the context of building a text-adventure game, the course also boosts aptitude for critical thinking and problem-solving.
Ways for families to pay it back and volunteer this Christmas
Let’s face it. This year has been ugly and as we reach the end of it many people are struggling emotionally and financially. But there’s lots we can do to help. Got a couple of hours to spare thanks to last-minute changes to your Christmas plans? Wanting to do something a little different this year and give back to our community? Don’t we all?! Family volunteering at Christmas is possible, and we’ve researched some ways we can all help.
Keep Britain Tidy
Help to Keep Britain Tidy. We’ve all seen it. Disposable masks not quite making it to the bins and flying free across the pavements. Not acceptable. Bundle up with the kids, get equipped and host a local clean up. How about giving them an incentive to work towards. The family member to fill up their bin bag the quickest can earn rights to selecting the Christmas movie for the evening. Join Keep Britain Tidy’s #litterheroes
Search for missing pets
We’re pet lovers here at City Kids HQ. So hearing of the number of cats and dogs going missing just breaks our hearts. Help to search for a local family pet that may have gone missing with tools such as petsreunited.com Does what it says on the tin.
Feeding Families – while they may not be accepting hampers anymore, there’s certainly ways that you can help out. Simply donating some money, finding out if they need a helping hand at their warehouses or spreading the word about the fantastic work that they do. Find out more about them here. There’s many more initiatives as we found out earlier this year with the Rashford campaign, see them here.
Using your skills
Do.it.org to find more general local volunteering vacancies also includes work that you can do from home such as voluntary admin, finance, marketing, or even picking up the phone to the vulnerable.
A friendly face and helping hand
Knock on an elderly or vulnerable neighbours’ door. Offer to do their weekly groceries, help tidy their garden or even just to bring over a tin of biscuits. It’s bound to make their day.
Donations and things for the less fortunate
Gather some old toys, books and various other things that you may not need and donate to a local charity.
You could do these as a family, alone, or both if you so wish. Volunteering is a fantastic reminder of what Christmas is really about and to ground ourselves at this time of year.
We’ve a Start-Rite review PLUS an opportunity for you to WIN a pair of of shoes of your choice in our giveaway. Read on to enter.
As experts in little feet, Start-Rite is forever our first port of call when it comes to selecting shoes for the kid. Whether it’s a new pair for school shoes or muddy-puddle proof boots, they’ve certainly got it all. We jumped at the chance of testing out their newest collection and in true Christmas spirit, we’re giving away 1 pair of shoes to a very lucky winner. Read on for a review and a chance to win our giveaway.
We went for their dazzling Multi Metallic Patent Girls Zip-up Ankle Chelsea Boots. They’re daring but are the boot of dreams for most 6 year olds. Their Chelsea boots are available in 5 other fab colours. We love that the patent material can be wiped clean should they come into contact with any dirt (very likely).
Here’s a number of seasonal looks to go with Start-Rite’s Chelsea Boots.
TOP TIP: We used Start-Rite’s free printable measuring gauge which is a lifesaver when ordering online. It’s fairly straight forward and it’s great that you can beat the queues this time of year. 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.
We all know that a handmade card is better than a shop-bought one. So it follows that some Christmas crafting will earn plenty of brownie points and nothing says Christmas more than food and goodies. Our festive round-up has some ideas for DIY Christmas food gifts which are possible to create with the kids without too much bother!
It’s fairly easy to find pretty bags or boxes to use to present your gifts, finishing off with ribbons and pretty stickers will work wonders.
We kick off with three recipes from our very own Jo Pratt who has some fantastic Christmas food gift ideas.
Gingerbread Snowflake Biscuits by Jo Pratt
375g (13oz) plain flour, plus extra for rolling 2tbsp ground ginger 1tsp ground cinnamon 1tsp baking powder 1tbsp cocoa powder 125g (4 1/2oz) butter, softened 125g (4 1/2oz) light muscovado sugar 1tbsp black treacle 1tbsp golden syrup 1 large egg, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder and cocoa powder. In a separate bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric hand whisk until it is slightly creamy. Add the treacle, golden syrup and egg. Beat until smooth.
Using a wooden spoon, gradually add the flour mixture, a little at a time, and then finish off with your hands, to form a smooth dough, kneading lightly on the worktop. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to around the thickness of a £1 coin. Using a pastry cutter, cut out as many small or large biscuit shapes as you like, and place on greased baking sheets. There is no need to space them well apart as the dough won’t spread while cooking.
Place in the preheated oven and cook for 10-12 minutes, until they are starting to firm up. If you want to hang them on your Christmas tree, make a hole with a skewer while they are still hot. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Once cold, the biscuits can be decorated like snowflakes (or with whatever pattern you like). Use coloured writing icing tubes – mine were done with Barbie glitter ones.
Cocoa Granola by Jo Pratt
Time taken: 1 hour 15 minutes including cooking Makes: 8-10 portions (vegan/gluten-free/dairy-free)
4 tbsp coconut oil, melted
4 tbsp maple syrup
2 ripe bananas, peeled
50g/1 ¾ oz dates, stoned (ideally the plump sticky Medjool dates)
4 tbsp cocoa powder, sieved
2 tsp cinnamon
250g/9oz porridge oats (gluten-free if required)
100g/3 ½ oz pecan nuts, roughly chopped
75g/2 ½ oz dried cherries, raisins, sultanas or cranberries
50g/1 ¾ oz coconut flakes
50g/1 ¾ oz sunflower seeds
2 tbsp linseed/flaxseed
Pre-heat the oven to 140C/120C fan/275F/gas 1. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment.
Put the melted coconut oil, maple syrup, bananas and dates, into a food processor and blend to a smooth puree. Transfer to a large bowl.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix well, making everything is coated in the banana puree mixture.
Tip onto the baking tray and loosely spread into a single layer. Place into the oven and cook for 1 hour, mixing the granola around every 15 minutes, breaking up any particularly large chunks.
After 1 hour the granola will still remain soft but will have a delicious toasted aroma and appear more golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. As it cools, it will become crisp and crunchy.
Once cool, store in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks – though it’s highly unlikely you won’t have any left by then anyway!
Flexible… Nut-Free: simply omit the pecan nuts and replace with some additional dried fruit such as banana chips, chopped figs, apricots or mango. Extra chocolatey: stir 100g/3 ½ oz dark chocolate chips or chunks into the granola when it comes out of the oven.
1. Line a baking sheet with baking powder 2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the corn and swirl the pan around to coat the corn in the oil. Cover with a tight-fitting lid. Reduce the heat to low and leave the pan for a few minutes until the popping has stopped, then remove it from the heat. 3. Meanwhile, put the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a separate pan over a low heat until the butter has melted. Increase the heat to medium and let the mixture bubble for 2 minutes. Pour over the popcorn and stir well to coat. 4. Spread the popcorn over the prepared baking sheet and leave to cool for about 15 minutes in a cool place (not the fridge).
Pop the popcorn in a bag, seal well and then put the bag inside a popcorn box for the best gift for movie fans.
These White Chocolate Truffles seen in Country Living were far too good to miss.
1/2 cup plus 9 tablespoons heavy cream, divided 310g plus 3 cups white chocolate chips, divided 50g cream cheese, at room temperature 32 Biscoff biscuits finely crushed. Aim for 2 1/2 cups crumbs Holly sprinkles, for decorating.
Heat 1/2 cup cream in a medium saucepan over low heat until bubbles form around edges, 1 to 2 minutes; remove from heat. Add 310g of chocolate chips and let sit 2 minutes; whisk until smooth. Whisk in cream cheese then fold in cookie crumbs until combined. Transfer to a bowl and chill until firm, 2 hours or up to overnight.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll mixture into tablespoon-sized balls; transfer to baking sheet. Freeze until firm, 35 to 40 minutes.
Microwave remaining 9 tablespoons cream and 3 cups chips in a microwave-safe bowl on high 1 minute. Whisk until smooth. Dip truffles in melted chocolate, tapping off excess, and place on a prepared baking sheet. Immediately place a holly sprinkle on top; let set.
Stained Glass Window Cookies from Jamie Oliver
1 clementine 100 g unsalted butter , (cold) 180 g plain flour 50 g caster sugar ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 tablespoon milk 12 coloured fruity boiled sweets
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4, and line 2 baking sheets with baking paper.
Finely grate the clementine zest. Cube up the butter and place in a mixing bowl with the flour, sugar, clementine zest and cinnamon. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the mix till it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add the milk and bring together to make a soft dough. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and place it in the fridge to firm up for about 30 minutes.
Separate the sweets into colours and place in separate sandwich bags. Press the air out and seal the bags, then carefully crush into small pieces with a rolling pin.
Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface, and roll out to 1cm thick. Use a selection of large cutters to cut out shapes and place on the lined baking sheets, then use the smaller cutters to cut a ‘window’ in the centre of each biscuit.
Sprinkle enough crushed sweets to fill the centre hole (don’t overfill or the sweets will melt over the biscuit), then use a cocktail stick to make a hole in the top of each biscuit, so you can thread a ribbon through them later. (You can re-roll any dough trimmings to make more biscuits, but you’ll need more sweets. You could also bake the cut-out centres and eat as a treat when decorating the tree.)
Bake for 12 minutes, or till the biscuits are golden and the sweets melted. Leave to firm up, then transfer to a wire rack. Thread with ribbon and hang them on the tree or package up for gifting.
We’re challenging super cool City Kids families to take some time out from the usual daily routine to explore outdoors and hunt down these rather festive things.
Don’t worry, there’s no need to venture off into the deep, dark woods, although you’re so welcome to do so if you wish. Most of these things can be spotted walking around the block or on the school run. Woolly hats, gloves and scarves are a must – it’s getting cold out!
On your street
Count the number of chimneys on your street
Spot a house with an extravagant Christmas display
Discover the coolest Christmas wreath
Find a good parking space for Santa’s sleigh
Out and about
Find a reindeer
Dig around for a really large acorn
Can you see some holly and ivy?
Collect some cool twigs perfect for snowman arms. Keep them handy
Gather ingredients for Santa’s favourite snack and drink
Vote on your favourite Christmas advert
Ask all members of your family to share the funniest Christmas joke
Tell your family which is your favourite Christmas tree decoration
Do draw, snap or document your findings, we’d love to see them. Send us pictures over on our Instagram.
9 great Christmas Books for little kids and big kids
If you haven’t already, now’s the time to swap the usual bedtime stories for something a little bit more Christmassy.
As with the rest of our usual Christmas traditions, all things 2020 and COVID have crept their way into some of the storybooks. Here are some of our favourite Christmas Books which we think will suit a range of ages.
2020 has been pretty dull. Agreed. So we’ve sent our team on a trail across the capital in search of some of the brightest lights and Christmas displays in London. Here’s what we found. This makes a fantastic early-evening Christmas activity for families needing a spot of fresh air and a welcome change of scenery too.
Not only the beautiful peacock-inspired lighting but a 5m tall Christmas tree will greet you at Bond Street. The towering tree offers shoppers a unique, virtual experience upon scanning a QR code, transporting visitors to a magical, fairy filled land. Offering a very special festive gift, shoppers can enjoy some seasonal sparkle, snow and fairy dust in the mesmerising, never-seen-before filter.
First stop is the Tate Britain which is a delight on a normal day, but this year it’s a must. It can’t really be missed as it sure does stand out. We spotted it all the way across the river from Vauxhall.
As expected, Harrods and Harvey Nichols are shimmering like never before. Knightsbridge is very much a crowd pleaser. The kids will soak the magic of the lights during which grown ups may well drool over the luxury boutiques and the out-of-this-world car dealership windows. [Photo credit: Harvey Nichols]
Inspiring store fronts from our favourites in fashion, food and interiors over at Walton St. Of course, Blue Almonds have aced it with their beautifully illustrated window display. Additionally, it’s an absolute joy to see small businesses finally up and running again after lockdown!
High Street Kensington
From the storefront at The Ivy Brasserie to the terrific arch that welcomes you back into an absolute children’s wear classic, Trotters. The entire street is completely lined with lights. Sure to lift your spirits. [Photo credit: Trotters]
Always quirky and of course home to Liberty. But the main event has got to be Carnaby St lights, they’ve partnered with charity Choose Lovein support of refugees. Spreading hope, love and positivity. Meaningful and much needed.
This year Fortnum & Mason have turned their front windows into an advent calendar. Following a peruse do take a stroll through Burlington Arcade and onto New Bond St where you can see the likes of Cartier et al really pull out all the stops! [Photo credit: Fortnum & Mason]
Spot Tiffany’s signature blue and silver Christmas trees. They’re sterling! For a blast of pink, Peggy Porschen’s display is as sweet as a slice of cake (or three).
A tribute to our key workers. This one truly speaks for itself. Do also head town towards Selfridges, word has it they’ll be running Christmas on the Mews, a market where you can grab everything from refreshments, gifts and even your Christmas tree! Find out more here. [Photo credit: Oxford St W1]
Have you recently come across a Christmas display in London worth shouting about? Give us a nudge on our Instagram.
Some of the best Christmas Craft activities to welcome the festive season
City Kids HQ is divided. Between those that do, and those that don’t do craft. Fear not! We’ve put together some basic Christmas ideas from Instagram’s finest which will be fun, even for those who normally do craft through gritted teeth. And for the pros, we’ve got some extended project briefs for you!
Dried Orange Slices
This project offers up multiple purposes. Use them to craft delightfully natural looking Christmas decorations, to fill the house with a wonderful aroma or parents you’ll like this one… you can pop them into your Christmas drinkies. PLUS if you’re anything like us, you may have a couple of neglected citruses lying around in the fruit bowl, grab them quick before they get waste!
How to dry your own orange slices at home:
Cut 1cm from top to bottom of an orange or clementine
Lay out a baking tray with greaseproof paper
Set the oven to a really low temperature. We had our fan oven on at around 60 degrees for around 3 hours.
While the tray heats up, use a muslin or tea towel to pat each slice dry, then place them evenly onto the baking tray.
Keep an eye on them, rotating them every so often.
The slower the better. Once the edges start to harden, your dried oranges are ready to cool.
Optional: Turn your orange slices into Christmas tree decorations by threading through the centre of the slices with ribbon/ string or thread. Also optional – add a blob of glue around the edges and dab them in a plate of glitter for extra shine!
Gone are the days of filling stockings with lots of plastic tat: we’re going quality over quantity this year
This is the part of Christmas where we probably end up spending more than on the ‘main’ present. Does that resonate? With that in mind we’ve hunted a selection of stocking fillers and smaller gifts for all ages.
We’re celebrating the launch of My Little Piccolo’s Just-for-you subscription box by offering 1 lucky City Kids reader a chance to WIN THREE boxes
My Little Piccolo’s Just-For-You box is a personalised meal plan, tailored to each baby’s needs. It factors in their age and dietary requirements, as well as parents’ eating goals for them. Piccolo bases the plan around their lifestyle, which then evolves as the baby grows.
As lockdown restrictions continue to have an impact across the country, Piccolo wants to make it easier for parents to take care of their babies. The Just-For-You Box supports mums and dads by giving them one less thing to worry about, offering a full range of products tailored to their needs.
Balanced, healthy meals and recipes for their children will be delivered to their doors, avoiding any stress or worries about meal planning and grocery shopping.
So to WIN three months of balanced, healthy meals and recipes for your little one, please follow the instructions below:
Ts & Cs The decision of City Kids is final. No cash alternative. If the winner does not claim the prize within 24 hours of notification, City Kids reserves the right to draw a new winner. One entry per person. Entries close Wednesday 24th November at midnight. UK entries only.
11 of the best subscription boxes which make great gifts this Christmas
The joy of receiving a package in post is a real novelty for our digitally-minded kids. With subscription boxes relating to food, reading, STEM and art there’s something for everyone.
Little Box of Books
Representative, diverse and inclusive children’s books, Little Box of Books exists so more kids see themselves in stories and learn about the world. £19.99 littleboxofbooks.co.uk
Tech Will Save Us
Every hero starts somewhere. Squishing sculptures. Sewing circuits. Playing with power. Crafting and coding. Explore our creative tech kits. Future is now. £39.99 techwillsaveus.com
Themed monthly adventures, delivered to your door, for ages 3-8. £8.95 toucanbox.com
Not just Nibbles
Healthy cooking kits for kids. Delivered through your door for hours of healthy cooking fun notjustnibbles.com
Mud + Bloom
The boxes are for 3-8 year olds and will be delivered through your letter box at the beginning of each month. Each box includes everything you need for four seasonal activities: gardening and nature crafts – along with instructions, nature news and a quiz aimed at teaching children about the seasons, plants, insects, birds, soil and rainfall. £9.95 mudandbloom.com
Little Cooks Co
The 100% recyclable box (and compostable packaging) is filled with all the natural and healthy dry ingredients of that month’s delicious recipe for kids to bake in the home. Every box bought pays for a vulnerable school child in the UK to receive a healthy breakfast through its partnership with the charity Magic Breakfast. £8.99 www.littlecooksco.co.uk
Toy Box Club
Differing from other subscriptions, Toy Box Club is a monthly toy rental service. We provide a box of the best toys and books in the country straight to your door. At the end of each month we will simply pick up the old ones and deliver a different set. Less waste, more space. £35 toyboxclub.co.uk
Mysteries in Time
Each month, a time machine package is delivered to your door bursting with fun activities. Follow Max and Katie as they travel back in history to solve a mystery in the illustrated adventure story and learn fun facts in the colourful history magazine. Bring the history to life with the hands-on activity and have fun solving the puzzles. From £6.95 a month. mysteriesintime.co.uk
Teen Calm subscription box is like a virtual hug…Founded by 14 yr old Freya and her mum, Teen Calm aims to help anxious teens by sending them a box of goodies every month to soothe them and bring them confidence, a sense of belonging and something fun. £25. teencalm.com
Parrot Street Book Club
A monthly book subscription helping families discover brilliant chapter books. Curated activity packs add to the fun. Perfect for kids aged 5-11. From £39.95 parrotstreet.com
Lots of Lovely Art
LoLA creates art projects for children inspired by real artists sent monthly. And we’ve just found this neat code…Use coupon code CHRISTMAS20 at checkout to receive 20% off ANY subscription! lotsoflovelyart.org
Whether Monopoly makes its annual appearance or if you make a point of getting a new game each year, we round up the best Christmas board games, starting with an intro from board game designer, Ellie Dix.
Board games have the power to bring families closer together, strengthen relationships and forge shared memories. Good board games evoke all sorts of emotions; happiness, delight, tension, intrigue, awe, trust, anticipation, surprise. Our emotional reactions connect us to the game, the experience and the people we’re playing with. Carving out moments for doing things together, like playing board games, gives families a natural focus for conversation. Tabletop chatter spills over into post-game analysis. Great experiences act as bookmarks in our mind, giving us memories to chat about time and time again.
Socialising with family
Many interactions parents have with their children are functional or transactional. It is all too easy for parents to get caught up with what needs to be done (homework, tidying, chores) and forget about stealing moments to have fun together. It’s so important for children to see their parents play. Board games develop many social and learning skills. They give children an opportunity to learn how to take turns, practise patience, work as part of a team, negotiate with others, compromise, communicate ideas, take risks, follow rules and directions and manage restrictions. Playing games improves memory formation and cognitive skills, increases processing speed, develops logic and reasoning skills, improves critical thinking, boosts spatial reasoning, improves verbal and communication skills, increases attention and concentration, teaches problem-solving, develops confidence and improves decision-making.
Game playing has proven health and mental health benefits as it induces laughter and reduces stress, boosting the immune system and lowering blood pressure. Importantly, board games give us a screen-free escape from our daily worries and allow us to focus on something else for a while.
Six games in a giant cracker. One cracker on the table, no waste. Replayable, zero-waste and entirely plastic-free. The games are designed for multi-generational play. Each game has a complexity rating, so you can pick a game that suits your level of post-Christmas lunch food coma level. The beautiful twist-end box is packed with high-quality cards and wooden components. 2-6 players | 5-15 minutes | ages 8+ | £19.99 + vat thedarkimp.com
Pop to the Shops
Orchard Toys have a huge variety of games for little ones which are simple to understand and easy to play. There’s always an educational element too. £10.99 orchardtoys.com
Five Second Rule
One for all the family (there is also a junior version), Try to name three types of cat. Easy. Then do it with the added five-second time limit. £11.99 amazon.co.uk
Move from the Awful Ancients to the Measly Middle Ages, through the Terrible Tudors and the Vile Victorians to the modern times by answering “Horrible” multiple-choice questions, acting out charades and trying to avoid Rattus and his tricky “Chance” cards! £16 johnlewis.com
Backgammon, chess, dominoes, cribbage and even snap. Start them young with this mahogany compendium. £99 jaqueslondon.co.uk
The aim of the game Pass the Pug is to be the first to get to 100 points and become top dog. The positions the pugs land in, determine how many points you get, but become a greedy dog and you could find yourself back to zero. £13.99 365games.co.uk
Trivial Pursuit Family Edition
A chance for parents to show off or for kids to beat the know-it-alls. £30 Wilko.co.uk
Can’t face a three-day game of Monopoly? Don’t blame you. Try this 15-minute version instead. £4.99 ryman.co.uk
The Pictionary Air app follows players’ movements as their draw in the air, allowing their team to see sketches on their device. Customise the game with the app – it can save sketches, interact with drawings and allow teams to add more guessing time or rounds. You can even cast your game to your TV. £16 marksandspencer.com
Ellie Dix is a game designer and author of The Board Game Family: Reclaim your children from the screen(Crown House Publishing: 2019). She runs The Dark Imp, a board game publisher specialising in games for families. TheDarkImp.com
A New series on Apple TV+ shows how parenting and child development across different global cultures is more similar than we may imagine
Becoming You takes a cross-cultural view of child development between birth and five-years of age. Each of the six episodes focuses on one aspect of development such as movement, thinking, communication and emotion. The series looks into the lives of 100 children from 10 different countries from Nepal to Japan and Borneo. This cross-cultural perspective shines a light on our shared developmental journey. Along the way, we also get to see how childhood and parenting differs from place to place. Advisor to the series, Dr. Nathalia Gjersoe, who is a Developmental Psychologist at the University of Bath, has put together some tips where parents will all find common ground.
5 tips for raising young kids
A quick look at the wide range of cultural differences in parenting styles shows there is no one “right” way of parenting and no quick and easy hacks. Parenting is a complex and involved process that changes from day to day. Culture influences who cares for children, how they are cared for and which behaviours are encouraged and rewarded or discouraged and punished. As parents, we are often blind to the influence of our culture on our parenting decisions. What seems obviously right to us may seem wrong to others. Looking at different parenting practices across the world can help identify some of the assumptions we make about what good parenting “should” look like and shows that there are lots of different ways to get it right.
1. Parenting is trendy: The history of parenting manuals in the West shows that ideas of ‘good parenting’ flips from one generation to the next. For instance, it was previously believed that responding to a crying baby would reward the behaviour and lead to more crying. However, research showed that responding to a crying baby actually reduces the amount and intensity of subsequent crying.
Tip: Many parenting books these days are better embedded in research but it’s worth remembering that this also changes. Parenting manuals are great to get ideas but if it doesn’t resonate with you or what you understand of your child, try a different one.
2. Motor development: This refers to when children meet specific physical milestones such as sitting, running and climbing. Research shows that toddlers in a nomadic society in a jungle environment were rarely allowed to roam more than a meter from their caregiver and were delayed in meeting their motor milestones. However, once they were a little older and had greater freedom they quickly outstripped their North American counterparts in physical dexterity.
Tip: There is a huge amount of natural variation in the time at which babies and children meet specific developmental milestones. Giving young children safe space to explore can help speed up their physical development, but milestones are normally reached one way or another.
3. Social development: Researchers distinguish between those cultures that prioritise independence as compared to those that prioritise interdependence. Independence is a focus on autonomy and self-reliance, interdependence is a focus on collaboration and social harmony. Of course there is a great deal of variety within cultures but these two groups do reflect some measurable differences in parenting style. Parents in more independence-focused societies, such as the USA, engage in more competitive games. Those in inter-dependent cultures focus more on collaborative games. Children in interdependent cultures score higher on tests of empathy, on average, than those in independent cultures.
Tip: Consider the games you play with your child and whether they are encouraging the characteristics you would most like to develop
4. Thinking development: Across the world we see children engaging in extraordinary feats of imagination. What is considered normal in some cultures has historically been a cause for concern in others. One example is imaginary friends. While some cultures consider it normal to talk and engage with invisible entities, in the UK and USA this behaviour in children was considered a sign of mental disorder and social dysfunction until well into the 1960s. Subsequently, it has been shown that children who have imaginary friends, or treat their toys as living entities, do not differ psychologically and actually perform better on some social tasks than those who don’t. Rather than being a sign of social inability, imaginary friends are often a sign of a socially precocious child.
Tip: Consider your child’s unusual or inconvenient behaviour carefully. Is it their behaviour that is the problem or the expectations of the culture they are in? Helping your child thrive in the culture they are in is an important task of parenthood, but reflecting on why certain behaviours are acceptable and others aren’t can help us deal with the situation more sensitively.
5. Independence versus protection: In Becoming You we see a 3-year-old in Tokyo traversing the city to buy breakfast and a 3-year-old in Borneo cracking open a coconut with a machete. The Western parent in me would quake at sending even my 6-year-old to do similar yet in different cultures we see very different expectations about what children can achieve at a young age.
Tip: Autonomy has been shown to be very valuable for children’s self-esteem and later physical and mental development. Where possible, let young children observe and participate in the day to day activities in your house and their care settings. I’m not suggesting you just give your child a machete! But try to give them opportunities to help and feel they have contributed in a valuable way, and support them to practise complex skills.
It’s a busy time of year for us magazine editors as we curate our Christmas guides. But there’s enough time to meet the founder of Turtle & Badger, champion of sustainable toys.
Lucy Cuthbert, 28, lives in London with her fiancé Tom. At the beginning of February, she left behind her job as an Events Director to pursue her passion in sustainable and eco-conscious toys. Having launched Turtle & Badger earlier this month, Lucy talks about the benefits of investing in sustainably made toys.
If you, like many, are beginning to take a look at how small changes in your lifestyle could help the environment, it might be time to look at the toybox. As more businesses are pledging to become carbon neutral, a number of design-led toys brands are emerging who are putting sustainability first. It’s all a step in the right direction, says Lucy Cuthbert, Director of Turtle & Badger, an online store championing sustainable and eco-friendly toy brands.
With four nieces to buy birthday and Christmas gifts for, Lucy was struggling to find somewhere that stocked eco-friendly toys. “Even when I found a sustainably made toy, they would arrive in wasteful packaging and wrapped in single-use plastic,” she explains. That’s where the idea for Turtle & Badger was born. “I wanted to build a site that people can visit and feel confident that every part of their gift is considered and sustainable. But I also wanted the toys to be beautiful and most importantly, good fun for the kids.”
Passionate about reforming our use of toys, Lucy is keen to spread the word about the advantage of investing in timeless toys that will last for generations. “Nearly 1 in 3 parents say they have thrown away toys that are in perfect working order, and so many of these – especially the plastic ones – will end up in landfill. Wooden and organic toys are an investment that are more likely to be kept as keepsakes or be passed down to younger siblings or friends.”
The materials bring benefits too. “The natural textures of wooden and organic toys are much nicer for kids to touch and feel. They don’t contain the chemicals or sharp edges that
some plastic toys do. And the simple designs encourage kids to use their imagination, helping them build problem solving and fine motor skills.”
Making it happen
“I was at a point in my life where I was becoming very aware of my own impact on the environment,” says Lucy. “Working in events, I was travelling all over the world and saw first-hand, the amount of waste this industry produces and wanted to move away from that lifestyle.” The nationwide lockdown earlier this year posed a challenge for Lucy who was hoping to conduct a little more market research in person before launching. “Lockdown did mean I could dedicate myself to launching the business without distractions, though,” she says.
“It’s been lovely getting positive feedback from customers who are enjoying the toys – especially when they send pictures of their kids playing with them.” So what’s next for Turtle & Badger? “I’d love to begin developing some of my own toys.” But for now – with her spare-room-turned-stockroom and the kitchen table a (sustainable) wrapping station – Lucy is busy packing up orders ahead of the Christmas rush.
Enjoy 10% off eco-friendly children’s toys and gifts at Turtle & Badger using the discount code CITYKIDS.
Our guide to 12 of the most stylish Christmas jumpers you’ll find this year
Wearing for charity, piling on the cheese or looking for stylish winter wear, our Christmas Jumpers Guide brings you some stylish knits. As with much of City Kids, we’ve tried to seek out some of the coolest togs to see you through the festive season.
We’ve edited a gift guide from brands with sustainable, ethical and eco-friendly credentials for a green Christmas gift guide of dreams. Say goodbye to single-use tatt.
Almost 71,000,000 milk jugs have been recycled to make Green Toys so far. Which means we can still enjoy some plastic toys in the house without the guilt. greentoys.co.uk
Pebble Octopus Crochet Rattle
Fair Trade and made with 100% organic cotton, we defy anyone who doesn’t smile with an octopus in their life. £10. kidly.co.uk
Cotton Twist has been a company on a mission to be 100% green with its craft and activity boxes. It’s nearly there. Quality, ethically sourced and almost zero plastic anywhere in the production. We love these brilliant water soluble pencils. £11.95 cottontwist.co.uk
The Den Kit Company
This collaboration with the National Trust supplies you with a hide, camouflage netting and waterproof tarpaulin to spot animal trails, learn bird calls and watch how the seasons alter the outdoor world around you. £60 thedenkitco.com
Handmade at Bex’s kitchen table in North Yorkshire, there is a great variety of creative crayons to choose from. £12. notonthehighstreet.com
A colourful set of 11 farm friends, along with a pen, zipped up in a fold-out field with pond. Made from beautiful handmade, eco-friendly, fair trade cotton. goodthingsgifts.co.uk
Little Feminist Book Set by Mudpuppy
The Little Feminist Board Book set of Artists, Pioneers, Leaders and Activists features colourful illustrated portraits of real women who have made a historical impact on the world. The board contains 90% recycled materials and it is printed with non-toxic inks. £12.99 ethicalsuperstore.com
Oli & Carol Brucy the Broccoli Teether & Bath Toy
We love Oli & Carol’s ecological toys made from natural rubber. And we love the names they give them! £14 kidly.co.uk
Someday Bambi Chair
Designed by Japanese artist Takeshi Sawada, the Bambi chair is handcrafted in Denmark and produced from fine solid European Oak and American Walnut An iconic piece to pass through the generations! £230 somedaydesigns.co.uk
Kids Concept Guitar
Got to be easier than drums, right? And it looks good! £28 kidly.co.uk
Tender Leaf Toys 10 Sea Creature Animals & Shelf
This collection of gorgeous sea creature animals made from sustainable rubberwood comes with a wooden shelf perfect for tidying away fast! £49.95 turtleandbadger.co.uk
Enjoy 10% off eco-friendly children’s toys and gifts at Turtle & Badger using the discount code CITYKIDS.
Toys and books to use to discuss diversity with kids
Vese, the brains behind Philly & Friends took over our instagram to discuss her challenges with finding toys and books that represented her daughter and how it inspired her to build her own brand. She recommends four fab toys and books to use to discuss diversity with kids at home.
Super Sapiens – 3 in 1 card game
The Super Sapiens 3 in one is the perfect pocket-sized empowerment game. It can be played 3 ways: Snap, Memory, and Super Guess? It’s a fun way to encourage conversations on real-world issues.
These Rosa & Bo Nesting Babies offer interactive play but also make a gorgeous decorative piece in any nursery. Babies and toddlers will be drawn to the bright colours as well as the friendly and diverse faces.
Vese’s book ‘Who Do I See in the Mirror?’ is a simple yet powerful book about Philly, who goes through a journey of discovering what makes her truly special. This gorgeous, colour-illustrated book concludes with a strong message that it’s what is on the inside that counts. As well as this empowering message, the book ends with a lovely finishing touch – a certificate that each child can hang up on their wall.
In light of the US election result, we’ve curated some of our favourite products that celebrate girls in power. May Kamala Harris’ election inspire our kids to go for the dreams, regardless of their gender.
We’ve been following Dream On’s collection for some time now. Their latest drop this weekend is very apt and we want one in all sizes. Available in pink or white, kid and adult tees and baby grows available.
They launched this collection to proudly celebrate powerful, strong women and profits go to Girls Out Loud, a social enterprise on a mission to raise the aspirations of teenage girls.
From pop sockets to sweatshirts and patches to sew onto the inside book bags, coats or cardigans, Muthahood has cornered the market for empowering march. We love the Chuck it all in bags and the Strong Girls Club branding. Owner Gemma also champions other small businesses which we also love. A lot.
Self-proclaimed feminist in progress, Suzanne Hemming has created series of books to inspire the next generation. Her latest, How Frank Helped Hank, tackles the outdated views that toxic masculinity place on society.
From Rosa Parks, Coco Chanel, Greta Thunberg and everyone in between – we enjoy sharing the inspirational stories with our kids and these Little People, Big Dreams books published by Quarto Knows are must on all kids’ shelves.
The vitamins and supplements for kids that could help boost immunity this winter.
It’s autumn, feels like winter, and if you’ve escaped a sniffle, a cough or the annual colds you’ve done well. But, winter is coming and with the cloud of Covid hanging over us, popping some vitamins or supplements feels like the right thing to do. We’ve found some suitable for kids at different stages.
The brainchild of Lizzie King, aka @lizzieloveshealthy, Lizzie Loves remedies reflect her passion for natural goodness and draw on her experiences as a nutritional health coach. As well as powders to aid sleep and unsettled tummies, Be Well is the one we’re after here. The key ingredient of elderberry, which is rich in antioxidants to help protect our bodies. Targeted vitamins C and D also give the immune system a boost. Be Well comes in powdered form with a berry flavour which can be added to water, milk and smoothies. It gets an added thumbs up from us for being supplied in eco packaging. Suitable for children 1-12 years.
Kendakids is a new kid on the block, made by Kendamil, the natural baby formula used by the Royal Family. It’s suitable for 3-10 year olds and available in chocolate, strawberry and banana and promises 100% natural fats from full cream whole milk.
Another blend of elderberry and vitamins here. It’s the elderberry which neutralises the harmful effects of free radicals and increases the production of cytokines – proteins that help regulate your child’s immune system and fight infections. As well as the powerhouse benefits of elderberry, the gummies also include other key health ingredients Vitamin C and Zinc. Suitable from 4 years.
Probio7 Kidskalm is a dietary supplement especially formulated for children 12 months and onwards. With 70% of immune cells in the stomach, maintaining a healthy and balanced gut flora can be considered vital for digestive and immune health. Each sachet of Probio7 Kidskalm contains 6 billion of the live bacteria strain L. rhamnosus GG*, a clinically proven strain.
Petition to extend free school meals over the holidays until Easter 2021 rejected by a 322 – 261 vote majority.
According to the Child Poverty Action Group, “In every school class of 30 children, on average, nine will be living in poverty”. Beyond the numbers and figures, the decision not to extend free school meals beyond easter will impact thousands of vulnerable children in the UK. To you and I, that could be our children’s classmates, a neighbour, a relative or friend.
So, here’s how we can work together to take action NOW and stand in solidarity with the families that rely on free school meals for their kids. In Rashford’s own words, “This is not politics, this is humanity” and we couldn’t agree more.
Write to your MP asking for free school meals and child poverty to be a priority in his or her plans. Regardless of how your MP voted, they represent you, so you are entitled to have your say.
Contact your local council. Some London councils have promised to provide free school meals during the Christmas holidays. Check in with yours and see if it can do the same.
Check on those that you know who may be struggling at this time.
Make a financial donation to any of the organisations listed on this page. No matter how big or small, it will make a difference. Seek out those close to home like The Childhood Trust in London or Alice Charity which serves the Newcastle and Stoke area.
Educate yourself. Educate your kids too. Did you know that 67% of children in poverty have at least one parent who works. There’s so many stories, facts and figures that you can find via the following sources:
October’s half term may not look quite the same as normal, but we’ve found some plenty of things on offer in London to keep them all amused.
Whether you’re looking for all day camps, online or in person, or simply some days out, here’s the City Kids guide to things to do this half term.
Firetech firetechcamp.com The UK’s leading provider of tech education for 8-17 year olds, is running week long tech courses online this October half term. Courses include: Python & Java Coding, Minecraft Maker, Artificial Intelligence, Creative Digital Design and MORE! Live teaching by expert tutors from the UK’s leading universities. In a safe and secure learning environment with class sizes of 8 students per tutor. Get £25 OFF now using code: CK25
Will to Win Junior camps operate in Greenwich, Chiswick, Lammas Park, Pitshanger Park, Regents Park and Hyde Park. 19th – 23rd & 26th – 30th October 4-7yrs and 7-16yrs willtowin.co.uk
The Little Gym thelittlegym.eu/uk Gymnastics based camps for all abilities in Chiswick, Hampton and Hampstead. From 19th – check schedules with individual gyms.
Cypher cyphercoders.com Creative coding courses in Ealing, Dulwich, Wandsworth, Fulham and Notting Hill. Also courses online. 5-14 yrs
Dukes Meadows dukesmeadows.com In person camps operating across tennis, golf, ski and multi-sport. Half-day or full day with lunch included. 26-28 October To book: 020 8994 3314
Mother Nature Science mnature.co.uk Kingston, Richmond, Sutton, Harrow, Southgate, St John’s Wood, Hampstead, Kensington, Herne Hill Book a day or a full week at these camps designed to have fun with science. Themed days include Rocket Launch, Powerful Air, Starry Light and Outer Space. 5-12yrs
Rocks Lane rockslane.co.uk Venues in Chiswick, Barnes, Bishop’s Park and Hurlingham Park, Rocks Lane offers football, multi-sport, tennis and netball camps for kids from the age of three (shorter hours). rockslane.co.uk
Chelsea Young Writers chelseayoungwriters.co.uk Online only creative writing courses delivered by authors and tutors. Also exam booster course. 6-12yrs
Role Models rolemodels.me Having conquered online teaching in lockdown, Role Models return with in-person Brilliant Me and My Mind courses. Online courses also available. 5-7yrs
THINGS TO DO
With fewer tourists in the capital, now is as good a time as any to get out and about and support the capital’s economy while doing so. Here’s some things to do which are worth the cycle or tube ride in.
Design Your Own T-shirt foundlingmuseum.org.uk In-person workshops from Bootleg T-shirts to Scary Skeleton Face Masks as well as online activities for all the family. From 27th October.
Horniman Museum horniman.ac.uk Listen to the wonderful adventures of Mary Seacole, the 1800s British-Jamaican war nurse, who will tell you her amazing story. 26-30 October.
Science Museum sciencemuseum.org.uk As well as Wonderlab, a new exhibition, Brass, Steel and Fire opens on 22nd October. This is free but all visits must be booked in advance.
Go Ape goape.co.uk Alexandra Palace, Battersea Park, Black Park, Chessington and Cockfosters are all open for tree top adventures All ages, min 1m height.
Where’s Wally Spooky Search phm.org.uk Can you find Wally in the People’s History Museum? All ages. Drop-in (closed on Mondays).
Roald Dahl Museum & Story Centre roalddahl.com Pre-book a tour in bubbles of six and enjoy a VIP experience tailored to your favourite books and characters. All ages. 26-30 October.
London Transport Museum ltmuseum.co.uk Track down Billy Brown of London Town at both the Museum in Covent Garden and the Museum Depot in Acton Town. Along the way they will discover who Billy was, a popular character from the 1940s, and how he used his playful rhymes to encourage passengers to be on their best behaviour on public transport. 17th October – 1 November.
Lee Valley Regional Park An array of activities available this half term break to keep the kids active and entertained. From Ice Skating and White Water Rafting to BMX riding and Tennis lessons, there is something for all ages and interests.
Rafting Unleashed (£50pp) Gowhitewater.co.uk 28 October – 1 November14:00 and 16:00 Ages 12+
Gruffalo Adventures at Kew Gardens kew.org Families can play the ‘little brown mouse’ and follow a trail to track down the Gruffalo as well as take in the Autumnal scenes.
IWM Duxford & Captain Tom Foundation iwm.org.uk A brand new Captain Sir Tom at 100 display and a host of other activities, kicking off with the chance to join Duxford’s very own spy school, with codes to crack and missions to complete in Spies & Disguise. 24 October – 1 November.
We’re celebrating the publication of Furry Purry Beancat’s adventures with a Furry Purry Beancat giveaway of five signed copies.
Just like every other cat, Furry Purry Beancat loves a catnap but unlike other cats, she wakes to find herself in a different one of her nine lives! Each book follows our hairy heroine as she embarks on a new adventure. Whether saving a train from disaster as a railway cat or creating purrfect potions as a witch’s cat, Furry Purry Beancat saves the day. And we have five signed sets of this double publication of Furry Purry Beancat to giveaway.
In her first adventure, The Pirate Captain’s Cat, join the furry (and purry!) heroine as she sets sail aboard a pirate ship, helping her captain and his shipmates fight a rival crew in an epic battle at sea! Can Furry Purry Beancat help save the day?
And in the second story, The Railway Cat, join Beancat and her friends as they uncover secrets and spies on the tracks. Who is the ticket-swapping, train-hopping stranger? Is Beancat’s beloved railway in danger? It’s up to our furry (and purry!) hero to solve the puzzle, before it’s too late.
This new series is written by Philip Ardagh, bestselling author of The Grunts series and Eddie Dickens adventures, and illustrated by Rob Biddulph, award-winning creator of Draw With Rob. Puuurfect for fans of Alex T. Smith, Pamela Butchart and Laura James. Suitable for children aged five and above.
We have five bundles of these first two books in the series to giveaway.
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. One entry per person. Entries close Wednesday 14th October at midnight. UK entries only.
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.
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
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.
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!
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+
A first UK Scott Dunn Explorers Kids club has arrived at Gleneagles, home to an 850-acre playground set in teh rolling Ochil Hills. Launching on 1st August, the action-packed programme will offer wee ones from 4 months up to those in their mid-teens a brilliant range of activities and country pursuits in the great outdoors – the ultimate active summer staycation for all the family.
Deep in the Hampshire countryside, you’ll find a green oasis of luxuriously appointed safari tents. It’s a safe wonderland for kids to explore, with eggs to collect daily and farm tours by the owners. Plus you can feast on homegrown produce cooked on your BBQ each day.
Not far from Cornwall Airport Newquay, the culinary delights of Padstow and and the botanic wonders of the Eden Project, these timelessly stylish boutique-barns have a contemporary and globally luxurious sophistication, blending architectural design and new interiors styling. Perfect for a mini-break or extended holiday.
You’ll have to get in quick to bag some nights away at one of The Pig’s gorgeous hotels. An eighth luxuriously appointed residence opens at the end of July with The Pig at Harlyn Bay near Padstow. July is almost fully booked and August is getting busy!
If space and tranquillity are what you’re after, Coworth Park’s reopening will be music to your ears. Stunning interiors, delicious food and even polo lessons on the menu. And for kids, there’s a whole house with seven rooms dedicated to younger family members plus a den for teens.
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.
We’ve all learned a lot about teaching children this year 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.
Wean in 15 by Joe Wicks contains 100 recipes to take your child from milk to solids and beyond, including this recipe for Caribbean Spiced Chicken and Squash Curry.
When we spoke to Joe Wicks about Wean in 15 he told us his favourite recipe was Caribbean Spiced Chicken and Squash Curry. So here’s the recipe for you!
This is the tastiest curry in the whole book. Remember your baby’s appetite can vary day-to-day, so don’t be upset if they don’t eat all the food you offer them.
Makes 1 adult and 2 child portions
1 ½ tbsp Caribbean curry powder or normal curry powder 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces 1 tbsp coconut oil 1 onion, finely chopped Sprig of thyme 1 bay leaf 1 clove garlic, minced 1 tsp minced ginger ½ tsp allspice powder 4 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped 1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk 400g frozen cubed butternut squash Juice ½ lime 6 spring onions, roughly chopped Small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
Sprinkle half the curry powder over the chicken, mix well and put to one side.
Melt the coconut oil in a large saucepan or casserole dish over a medium heat. Add the onion, thyme and bay leaf and fry for 2 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the garlic and ginger and continue cooking for a further minute.
Sprinkle in the remaining curry powder and the allspice and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add in the chicken and cook for a couple of minutes to seal. Add in the tomatoes and continue cooking until they start to break down.
Add the coconut milk and squash to the pan and continue cooking for 8-10 minutes or until the squash is cooked through. Stir in the lime juice, spring onions and coriander. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes to allow the flavours to meld together. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs before serving. Serve with Rice.
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.
For some, the summer has come to soon to dismiss concerns about Covid-19 so a UK staycation is on the cards. For others, a trip abroad on a family summer holiday is an annual event not to be missed. European resorts are open so we thought we’d take a look at what’s on offer if you want to book a last-minute family summer holiday. ALWAYS check health guidelines and quarantine of the country you are going to and returning to.
A true gem waiting for you in Corfu this summer is Villa 1870, a historical five-bedroom, three-bathroom residence offering a private hideaway just 3km from Corfu Old Town. Sleeping up to 16 guests, Villa 1870 is ideal for families wanting a reunion trip following lockdown, whilst still enjoying privacy and isolation. On the property, you’ll find a heated outdoor seawater pool and games room as well as a private in-house chef (yes please!), daily housekeeping, access to their own chauffeur-driven mini-van, and local, insider knowledge from the owners. Corfu Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers plenty of sightseeing even during the cooler months, so guests can spend their days discovering Venetian architecture, exploring quiet cobbled squares, and even joining the Corfiots swimming in the sea! Nightly rates between €800 – €1,400, depending on the season. Rate includes accommodation, daily housekeeping, private mini-van airport transfers and to/from Corfu Town, baby equipment, laundry facilities and in-house private chef. Guests only pay for the ingredients of meals, not for the Chef service. For more information, please visit www.villa1870corfu.com.
The photography from our next summer holiday destination is enough to get you to book your flight. Sani Resort is open from July and with it their 1,000 acre ecological reserve with 7km of unspoiled and private sandy beaches leading to the ocean, spacious rooms and suites with private terraces, gardens and pools. From beach yoga, windsurfing and paddleboarding, to more educational activities such as beekeeping and bird watching in the Sani Wetlands, there’s something for every family at Sani Resort. Prices at Porto Sani in a Suite with Terrace or Balcony start from €180 per night, on a half-board basis. For more information, visitwww.saniresort.gr
Spread across 22 acres of landscaped gardens, the luxury all-inclusive Ikos Olivia offers a range of outdoor activities to suit the whole family during their summer holiday. There are complimentary clubs for kids and teens aged 4 – 17, operated according to strict British OFSTED standards. Heros Crèche with professional childcare crèche services for children up to the age of 4 is also available at an extra cost. After a day filled with activities, families can enjoy Michelin starred cuisine. The resort’s spacious Deluxe Collection suites and bungalows (above) offer the ultimate privacy for families, including one- and two-bedroom suites. Ikos Olivia will reopen on 1st July with enhanced health & safety measures as part of Ikos Resort’s new Infinite Care Protocol: https://ikosresorts.com/the-ikos-world-of-safety-freedom
Located off the western coast of France, the Ile de Ré couldn’t feel further from our current surroundings in the UK. With its picturesque villages, whitewashed streets, long stretches of sandy beaches and cycle paths winding through cornfields and vineyards, the Ile de Ré is a picture-perfect destination for a post-lockdown getaway with the family. Stay at the idyllic Villa Clarisse, nestled down a quiet cobbled street off Saint-Martin-de-Ré’s harbour, and enjoy a laid-back retreat where the staff are on hand to arrange picnics, bicycle hire and day trips. There’s a lovely outdoor heated pool and sandpit in the walled garden – the property has a relaxed feel which is great for families after months in lockdown together. The summer months see Parisian families flock there too! Nightly rates at Villa Clarisse start from €290 per night in a Premium Room (room-only). For further information and reservations, please visit www.villa-clarisse.com or call +33 546 684 300.
Following its annual closure and full redevelopment, the five-star HotelCrillon le Brave is set to re-open its doors to guests on 2nd July. Nestled within a village eponymous of the Vaucluse region, the hotel offers families the chance to explore the picture-perfect Provençal countryside and quaint, historical nearby towns. Children can visit old Roman castles while parents enjoy a glass of rose from the neighbouring vineyards. Crillon Le Brave is a gateway of adventure where children will discover hidden doorways along the garden walls and can cool down in the hotel pool when the excitement of running around has tired them out. This timeless hideaway combines chic design, complete privacy and attentive but discreet service, offering the ultimate French getaway for families to enjoy a quieter pace of life. Nightly rates at Hotel Crillon Le Brave start from 350 Euros on a bed & breakfast basis. For reservations and information visitwww.crillonlebrave.com.
Image: Antonio Furigno
A winter favourite of City Kids, Courmayeur Mont Blanc, is also a summer playground. It’s situated on the Italian side of Mont Blanc with car-free cobbled streets, family-run hotels, charming atmosphere, short transfer times and the superb offering of hiking, biking and fresh air. Food is gourmet standard, and hands up if your child doesn’t like pizza or pasta. No, we thought not. Head to the Skyway for a unique view of Mont Blanc and the valley below or try white water rafting, ice skating, indoor climbing, tennis, table tennis, golf and 5-a-side football. For more information on Courmayeur Mont Blanc visit:https://www.courmayeurmontblanc.it/en. Images:Courmayeur Mont Blanc.
Villa Le Fauci is a traditional and historic 19th-century Tuscan farmhouse located between coastal Livorno and fashionable Florence. It’s quiet and secluded and ideal for families looking to escape the crowds. Surrounded by flora and fauna, it is perfect for exploring with the kids, and families may even spot some of the wildlife that is common in the area, such as wild boar, foxes and deer. It has plenty of outside space, a full-size pool and a thoughtful mini pool for little ones. A converted roof terrace with 360° panoramic views of the hilly landscape, is a great place for parents to end the day with a glass of wine in hand. The villa sleeps eleven guests in four bedrooms. Rates from £3,858 for a seven-night stay. To book, visit www.oliverstravels.com or call 0800 133 7999.
If you’re in need of a health MOT but the family deserve a holiday too why not combine the two at this spa hotel which also happens to be a superb beach resort in The Algarve. With a new 7 night Family Wellness Package,Vilalara Longevity Thalassa & Medical Spa is the ultimate family-friendly wellness destination. Families can enjoy a variety of activities together including yoga, fitness and healthy cooking sessions. It has one of the best Thalassotherapy Centres in the world set within 11 hectares of land with five outdoor pools of fresh or seawater, four tennis courts and two excellent restaurants providing quality healthy cuisine. There’s also a superb Kids Club and a range of options for kids to stay healthy and active alongside their parents.
Vilalara Longevity Thalassa & Medical Spa (longevityvilalara.com, email@example.com, +351 967 108 244) offers the 7-night Family Wellness Package from €2,347 / £2,028 based on two adults and one child staying in a Junior Suite Garden View and from €3,422 / £2,957 for a family of two adults and two children.
Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean on the Vale Covo cliffside, the family-friendly five-star Tivoli Carvoeiro Algarve Resort offers coastal bliss for all the family just a 10-minute walk from the small fishing village of Carvoeiro. As well as the iconic circular swimming pool and rooftop bar, the spacious hotel also offers three restaurants, a Tivoli Spa and easy access to outdoor a multitude of fun, family activities, like the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, that make the most of the beautiful location. Nightly rates at Tivoli Carvoeiro Algarve Resort start from 220 EUR.
With a spectacular setting in the rolling hills of Andalusia overlooking Spain’s southern coastline, the independently-owned Finca Cortesin is the epitome of refined, yet relaxed Mediterranean living. The resort comprises an award-winning 67-suite hotel; one of the best championship golf courses in the world; an outstanding spa and sports facilities; some of the best Japanese raw cuisine outside of Japan; exclusive shopping area and a Beach Club, in addition to stunning five-bedroom villas that are perfect for families. The villas are located at the heart of Finca Cortesin, offering the utmost privacy from the main resort and offer unsurpassed views of the Sierra Bermeja mountain range, the golf course and the Mediterranean Sea. These all en-suite residences have been built on spacious individual plots of up to 2,200m2 – perfect for multi-generational families or groups of friends seeking more space. Nightly rates in the 5-bedroom Green 10 villas start from €3,467 (currently approx. £3,057). www.fincacortesin.com
Hillside Beach Club in Fethiye, Turkey, is a luxury hideaway perfect for family summer holidays. It has extensive outdoor space, including three stunning beaches and a beautiful private bay. Children and adults looking for activities and adventure are spoilt for choice, with water sports galore and activities from robot building to football competitions and DJ masterclasses. Hike through history and explore nearby ancient historical sites including the deserted village of Kayakoy, or take to the water and explore the coast on a sunset boat tour discovering 12 magical islands speckled across the Turkish coastline. Nightly rates start from £250 based from on two people sharing a standard room on a full board plus* basis.
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:
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/
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.