Tuesday 3 December 2013

Guest Blog: 3 great ways to keep your kids happy indoors this winter

As the mum of two very active toddlers the winter months frankly scare me. Especially when I’m trying to juggle launching a business – www.cahootsy.com  - and keep them happy and entertained at the same time and away from Cbeebies. So here are a few activities I’ve found that let us enjoy our time together, minimise cleaning up, and lets their imaginations go wild – indoors!

Way 1: Construct a Den
What you need: kingsize sheet or quilt, large Winged clothes horse, wooden pegs, cushions & little stool, pirate or fairy hat or flag for entrance, torch.

This is a great way to while away the afternoon and gets the kids really proactive in scouring the house for ways to kit out their den. The trick is to let them select the spot and help build it with you. Once you put the clothes horse up you’re ready to go with placing the sheet over it, using pegs to hold it in place and for adding the odd accessory. Make sure you leave a bit of cloth for the door flap as half the fun is sitting in the dark with a torch on.

If you need a ‘winged’ clothes horse (had no idea that’s what I had!) here’s a link http://fave.co/1gyzFAm

Alternatively Ikea has a great range of quick assemble and affordable tents for under £20. Check here http://fave.co/1gyzXas

Way 2: Make an enormous batch of Lalo’s famous cookies
(more like a granola bar than chocolate chip cookies. Healthy and very addictive).
Warning: has almonds.
I’m a terrible cook with very little time. Since having kids I’ve had to learn a lot – from the early days of understanding what a great combo squash and blueberries are for a baby (via ice cube trays), to how to present food in exciting new ways and shapes (broccoli “trees”, pots of “gold treasure” sweetcorn or “wriggly worm” cabbage) so that it’s eaten without fuss.
This is one recipe no one can fail to master. Few ingredients, healthy and so much fun to make together. Put them in a glass jar once cooled and they keep nicely.
Lalo’s Famous Cookies  (from MY FATHER’s DAUGHTER by Gwyneth Paltrow) http://fave.co/1gyAoS3

What you need
 Aprons, hair-tie, giant bowl, medium wooden spoon, large baking tray, baking sheet and these - Preheat the oven to 350°F.
4 cups barley flour,  3 cups raw whole almonds crushed in a food processor (about ten 2-second bursts), 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 cup canola oil (also known as Rapeseed oil – I never knew), 1 cup maple syrup, jam (Strawberry, Blueberry, Apricot)
Get the kids to mix all the ingredients, except the jam, in a large bowl with a wooden spoon. My little one uses her fingers to mash it all up which is fine by me (gets a bit messy but entertaining and means two or three kids can all work on it at the same time).
Ask them to roll the mixture into little tablespoon balls and space evenly on baking sheets lined with greaseproof paper. Get the eldest to use their thumb to make an indentation and fill each cookie with a small amount of jam. Bake until cookies are evenly browned, about 20 minutes.

Way 3: Make your own simple Mister Maker bus panel

My kids are mesmerised by Mr Maker and the stuff he can create. If you’re like me you’ll have tons of little boxes and pouches of paints, craft paper, cardboard, pompoms, etc but its always a pain to get them all out and re-pack them.  So a friend who has 3 kids suggested re-creating the Mr Maker bus side out of a quilt.

Here’s how.
Ingredients – large quilt or thick colourful sheet, PVA glue (polyvinyl acetate), large vinyl sheet or plastic pouches, cutter or scissors.  All your arts and craft material from around the house organised just as you’d like it.  You can label each pouch and the kids get very good at remembering exactly where everything goes back when it’s finished with.

If you’re an arts and crafts free household here’s a handy kit to get you started - http://fave.co/1isSVUh

I use PVA glue to stick the vinyl to the fabric – again, very little time! If you like to get more creative here’s a useful blog from another mum, Ashley, that explains exactly how to get sewing and make it look professional http://www.makeit-loveit.com/2011/08/tip-for-sewing-with-vinyl-it-sticks-making-clear-vinyl-pouches.html

Tarika Marshall is mum of two energetic toddlers aged 2 and 4 and COO at Cahootsy, a Q&A site dedicated to products for parents, launching in the UK, and co-founded by her and her husband Paul. Be sure to check out their blog (http://blog.cahootsy.com/wp/) or facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Cahootsy ) to follow their story as they prepare to beta launch next week.

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