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Parenting Advice Places to visit

Sea Vs Air travel with kids

We recently went on holiday to France with the children and we took the ferry for the first time and I have to say we all preferred it to air travel.  Travel by sea is of course limited to your destination choices and can take considerably longer however the time goes quickly as you are able to walk around, there are activities on board and you can go outside to watch the world go by.

We have done air travel a few times with the children and although I would do it again I would choose the ferry over plane any day as it is so much easier with children.

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One of the biggest benefits for us of travelling by ferry is that we could take our own car, every time we go on holiday we always hire a car so that we can travel around and explore so being able to take our own car saved us a lot of money. It is always nicer being in your own car than a hired one and is great that you have your own child car seats. 

Having our own car also made a huge difference to the children as through the whole boarding experience they just got to sit there and chill oblivious to everything.

When we first arrived at the port we handed our passports to the staff through the car window and all we were asked to do was wind down the back window so they could see the children in the back. We were then waved through and drove over to security where they asked us questions and checked the boot and around the car but for the kids they were already back to playing on their tablets and didn’t notice a thing of what went on for us to pass through security.

As my eldest daughter suffers from anxiety so boarding the ferry was a breeze compared to facing airport security. When we have traveled by plane before, she needs to be encouraged to walk through the air port scanner by herself which she can just about cope with but last time I failed big time and I forgot to take her bow out of her hair so she set it off. This happened to be at Gatwick where she then had to go through the full body scanner which was very difficult for her and took quite a while and a lot of tears to get her through it. 

It is also much easier to keep children occupied on the ferry journey than on a plane. They are free to move about and walk around the ship, there are normally lots of things to do on board. The ferry we were on had shops, restaurants, a cinema, play area and arcade to visit. You can also go out to the back of the ferry and look over the sea as you travel through the waves and right up to the top open deck.

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We went with Brittany Ferries so they offer lots of activities for children during the journey like a colouring competition, magic show, balloon animals and a hunt round the ship.

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When we have flown to our destinations the most excitement the kids have on the plane is when they get to walk down the aisle to use the loo and trying to keep them entertained for 4 hours whilst sitting on a plane is a hard task.

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We are now even considering getting the ferry again next year either to Spain or to France and we drive across to Spain. The journey will take 3 times longer than the plane but it will be so much easier. We can take our car and the children will find it less stressful. To us travel is about enjoying the journey just as much as the destination.

Although sea travel is now our favourite method we will still be travelling by planes in the future as the destination has a big impact on how we travel as the ferry is limited to where it can go, but to countries where we have the choice of sea or air we will be choosing sea from now on when we are travelling with the kids.

If you enjoyed reading my post why not take a look at my other post –

Why Madeira is a great family holiday destination

Our road trip to France

The Wonders of Wookey Hole

Rainy Day Children’s Crafts and Activities

Children’s Christmas Decoration Craft Ideas

Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.


Categories
Parenting Advice

Why a Plastic Jug should be high up on your hospital bag list.

Why a small plastic jug can be so beneficial after pregnancy.

Giving birth is not an easy job and can put a lot of strain on the body to push out a tiny little human. Child birth can be painful, last for hours and be tiring but at the end of it you are filled with relief and happiness to be holding your little bundle of joy. 

This feeling will take over for a while and nothing else matters. If you are lucky you will be offered your celebratory tea and toast after giving birth, which I swear I still remember as being the best cup of tea and a slice of toast I have ever eaten, which will give you some much needed energy, but eventually you will have to move for the bed and that is when you realise how much your body has taken a beating.

After a while when your body starts to settle down again and the tea has worked its way through you will eventually need to go to the loo. If you have given birth naturally you need to be warned that going for a wee after giving birth is soooooo painful. It stings so bad it is like you have just sat on a bed of stinging nettles. 

I was never advised of this fact before having my first child and had to find out the hard way. Yes I know that if I had used a bit of common sense it would have been obvious but I was only 20 at the time.

After going through agonising pain every time I needed to relieve myself I was finally informed about the wonders of the plastic jug. If you pour water over the area at the same time you are peeing it neutralises the urine and there is no pain. The other option is just to pee in the shower but the jug seems the better more hygienic option, just don’t put it back in the kitchen afterwards.

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I wanted to share this piece of advice to save others a lot of agony and to make sure that the humble plastic jug is high up on the hospital bag list. Plastic jugs are quite cheap which is handy as you don’t really want to be using it to mix your gravy for your Sunday roast afterwards.

Please do comment with any other tips/advice that you would pass on to other expectant mums.

Why not take a look at my other posts –

Why I turned Vegetarian and my journey on cutting out meat

Being a writer with Dyslexia

Art is good for the soul (even if you are not very good at it)

Love the skin your in

Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought

Categories
Mental health & Wellbeing Parenting Advice

Love The Skin Your In!

With the rise of social media and the ability for anyone to add filters and edit pictures with ease our screens are filled with flawless looking people all showing perfection in every picture. We are bombarded with these unnatural pictures of celebrities, acquaintances and even friends with the pictures being changed from the subtle overlay filters to full on Photoshop/airbrushed photos.

It’s no wonder so many people feel self-conscious and have the need to add these filters to their pictures to keep up with how we feel we should look.

I have never been confident with the way I look and until I started writing this blog had never taken a selfie in my life. I always tried to be behind the camera taking pictures instead of being in them. I could not stand to look back at myself and I never would have dreamed of sharing a photo of myself. 

A changing point for me was recently when I went out in a snow blizzard and when I got home my mascara had run all over my face and my family were all laughing away at me. There is nothing better than spreading laughter even if it is at me so I thought I would take a picture and share on my page for all my lovely followers to enjoy. After taking my selfie I loaded it onto the computer and immediately started flicking through filters to make myself look half decent but then I stopped in my tracks and thought why am I doing this?

I can’t stand how everywhere we look there are fake edited pictures of people making us feel insecure and yet instead of taking a stand I am adding to the problem by sharing my own filtered photos to the world of social media. That was it enough was enough I was going to face my demons and show me for me.

As you can see from my Facebook post I did post my unedited selfie and to top that off I wasn’t even wearing any make-up as it had all run off. Even though it did take me an hour to gather the courage to actually share my post I am so glad I did because I realised that I need to start loving the skin I am in and not caring what other people think.

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Let’s help put a stop to these unhealthy touched up images one unfiltered selfie at a time. Let’s stop hiding behind filters especially the dog/bunny ones that are everywhere at the moment. Be proud of how you look and share your pictures of your true beauty. If we all dropped the filters and filled social networks with true pictures of real women and men then we would all feel a lot better and more confident about ourselves and embrace the way we look.

Beauty comes from the inside and radiates out through your smiles. So share your unfiltered selfies and let your true beauty shine through for everyone to see.

Share your natural beauty with #lovetheskinyourin 

Why not take a look at my other posts –

Why I turned Vegetarian and my journey on cutting out meat

Being a writer with Dyslexia

Art is good for the soul (even if you are not very good at it)

Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.

Categories
Mental health & Wellbeing Parenting Advice

All You Need Is Laughter

The Beatles may have famously sung ‘All You Need is Love’ and while Love can bring you together it is Laughter that will keep you together.

We hear stories all the time about people who love one another but argue all the time and this doesn’t just go for couples it is the same for families. While you may love your mum, sister, brother or child unconditionally you may not get on with them or even like them.

Laughter can strengthen relationship bonds and bring you closer together. Real laughter can only be achieved when you are in a state of true happiness so the more laughs you can achieve together the happier you will be with each other.

As we grow older we tend to laugh a lot less as the stresses of life take over which is a shame as laughter can help alleviate stress and there have been some evidence to show that laughter benefits our health too. (Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine.htm )

If you ever needed an excuse to take time out and watch a comedy sketch, movie or even visit a comedy club together this is it, put down phones and immerse yourself in comedy allowing the laughter to take over. You also find laughter can strengthen memories. If you have been somewhere with a friend or family member and had a really good laugh in the process you are more likely to remember this event in time and put it as one of your happier memories.

If you are in search of laughter as a family there are plenty of ways to achieve this together. If you have children listen and pay attention to them kids say and do the funniest thing no doubt you will catch something to make you laugh and children most of the time will join in the laughter and smiles when they see you doing it even if they have no idea what the laughter is about.

You can also play games together, there are games like Pie Face and Speak Out that are designed especially so you can laugh at each other. Also you can make your own games my children love the ‘try not to laugh challenge’ they either make up their own version or put one on youtube. We as a family have also been getting really sour sweets and taking it in turns to eat them and laughing at the faces we all pull whilst sucking on them and if all of the above fails to raise a laugh then a good old tickle fight is sure to have you laughing.

Installing a good sense of humour in children is important and it will help them in the future to build relationships and combat stress and as adults we need to work on adding more laughter to our lives to help balance out the stress we already have. Not to mention laughter is a great tool towards helping mental health issues and stress. With 1 in 6 of us experiencing mental health issues at some point in our lives  it is important to try and look into ways to prevent and aid recovery from mental health.

The BBC Trust me I am A Doctor states that laughter can be as effective as exercise as it release endorphins, which can make us experience positive feelings. 

So let’s do our best to try and install some laughter back into our lives and spread the joy of laughter to as many people as we can.

If you enjoyed reading my post why not take a look at my other post –

Why you should choose memories over material

Music brings families together

Rock Painting

Rainy Day Children’s Crafts and Activities

How to Make a Pom-Pom Rug

Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.


Categories
Parenting Advice

The horrors of slime

Aggrrggghhh is what springs to mind when I hear or see slime, this stuff is driving me mad.

From slime to putty to the self-made bluetac, soap, flour and anything else they can find concoctions it is everywhere and a growing craze. Whoever started off this craze and thought it was a good idea to start selling slime in all the toy shops clearly doesn’t have children and has never had to try and get this stuff out of a carpet or worse hair.

At first I would not let my children have any slime/putty as I hate the stuff and they don’t look after anything so I was worried that I would find it stuck everywhere.

I then found out that all the children without slime were taking the school bluetac and making their own. I walked in and found my youngest child with this blutac slime melted all over her hands and it was really hard to get off. This is when I decided that I would get them a tub of real putty as I thought it would be better than their homemade stuff.

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After seeing the putty I thought that I had found the solution as this stuff is fine to play with in the house it stays together and if dropped as long as it is not trodden on it can be picked up easily and best of all it doesn’t melt in their hands. I was happy they were happy win, win.

Fast forward to this morning when I get up to find flour all over my kitchen side when I quizzed them to why they have had the flour out it turns out that they have all been making their own slime concoctions at school and sharing it between the kids in the class.

Lia had a pot of something that was once blu tac but now a dark blue squishy mess that she had been adding flour and soap to this morning and Bella had another ball of homemade slime that her friend gave her. Luckily I caught them at the right time as when I took it off them it was so sticky it was all over my fingers and took me a while to get it off, thankfully they had not got it anywhere around the house or the carpet. This is the stuff of nightmares.

The same morning I get a text message from my friend as her daughter in Lia’s class has ended up with this homemade stuff stuck in her hair. The poor girl had to have a clump of hair cut out as it was just not coming out no matter what her mum tried. I have found out as well that another mum had to throw away 2 of her child’s cardigans as they had been ruined by slime getting all over it.

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From now on I will be on slime patrol checking their pockets before they enter the house and confiscating any that I find except the official putty that I bought them. I am hoping that this craze will be short lived. I wish they would go back to the fidget spinners craze that was so much simpler.

Who else is being tormented by the horrors of slime, maybe we should start a partiction to make it illegal?

Please share your slime horror stories. 

If you enjoyed reading my post why not take a look at my other post –

Window Sticker Activity for Children

Children’s Halloween Craft Ideas

Rock Painting

Rainy Day Children’s Crafts and Activities

How to Make a Pom-Pom Rug

Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.

Categories
Parenting Advice

Why I let my kids use the sharp knives!

My girls have free reign in the kitchen and are allowed to use what they like. My eldest 2 children happily get out the knives from the cutlery draw and will use them unaided for things like cutting up strawberries and cucumbers.  

Alexa my youngest at 5 years old is also allowed to use the knives for cutting but only when I am sitting with her. This is because she is not quite ready to be left alone with a knife mainly because she talks a lot and becomes distracted easily. However she is still allowed to use them and I hardly ever have to help her I just sit next to her and watch.

I know this will cause some controversy, I have been advised that it is too dangerous to let children use knives, including my mum looking at me in horror when she saw Lia using a knife at home. However to put it in perspective, Lia is the only one of my children who has cut herself and that was once on a potato peeler. Yes she did bleed a little but it was not a deep cut and a quick wash then a plaster and she was fine.

This didn’t put her off using the potato peeler again.

Now Lia is my most accident prone child so if I compare that one time she cut herself, when she uses a knife most days, to the amount of head bumps, cuts, grazes and bruises that she comes back from school with then you see there is less risk to her using a knife than there is letting her go to school. My other 2 children have never cut themselves in the kitchen but again have hurt themselves occasionally in the school playground.

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My girls handle knives really well and usually better than I do and this I am sure is because they have started from a younger age. We as parents are always telling our children how dangerous knives are and to stay away from them, this I believe causes children to then have a fear, which in turn can affect their ability to use a knife.

I have always told my children not to run with knives and shown them how to carry them safely and to make sure they are not left on the edge of the table. I have also explained what could happen if they don’t follow these safety advice but I have never told them they are dangerous, or told them they couldn’t use a knife, as if used correctly they do not pose a danger.

As my children don’t fear knives they are very confident when using them. We need to stop wrapping our children in cotton wool and let them try these things. Starting at a young age can install a love of cooking and a confidence to cook in later life. I read that 1 in 3 university students can’t even boil and egg. I am going to make sure that my children have all the cooking skills they need long before they leave for college or university.

We recently got into watching Junior Master Chef USA which my children loved and it really inspired them to start cooking by themselves and to become more independent in the kitchen. The kids on the program are aged between 8-11 years old and the dishes that they make on the show I couldn’t even comprehend preparing as an adult, all the children are truly very talented chefs. If you haven’t seen Junior Masterchef it is definitely worth a watch, I prefer it to the adult version.

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Could you imagine though if these children had been refused the use of a knife by their parents and had fallen at the first hurdle towards their dream of being a top chef. On the program they are using knives, hobs, ovens and even blowtorches, I haven’t even used a blowtorch before and they are all used with such skill, accuracy and confidence.

Since watching the show my older 2 now make their own porridge and scrambled egg for breakfast, while I am still asleep usually, I have to admit though they do use the microwave rather than the hob to make these but it is still a step in the right direction. Lia is still a bit too short to reach the hob safely so the microwave will have to do for now.

All 3 of my girls can crack eggs and usually out of all of us it is me that gets the shell in the bowl rather than them. They have also made cakes completely on their own without any adult help, apart from me getting them the ingredients from the shops and down from the high cupboard.

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They always want to make cakes and are starting to understand the different types of sponge cakes and flavorings for the sponges. They are also starting to think more about decorating but still when they have chocolate to go on the top they try and fit as much of it as possible.

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We do have a really good cake recipe book (The Best Ever Book of Cakes by Ann Nicol) that I picked up a few years ago that the kids always look through to find recipes that they want to try and it has a lot in there.  My girls can read and they understand the weights and how to measure the ingredients out so they are happy to crack on with just the recipe book to help.

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A great tip for measuring out baking powder is using the Calpol medicine spoons I am sure we all have one in the draw.

Having my children be independent in the kitchen is great as not only does it give them a big confidence boost but it means I can have a few minutes a day to relax as they make their own breakfast and lunch. Unfortunately though they are not as keen to do the washing up afterwards so that is something to work on for the future. I am also determined to make sure that when the time comes and they leave home that they are self sufficient and can look after themselves properly.

Hopefully in a few years I will have them making me dinner.

Why not also take a look at some of my other posts –

Alternatives to chocolate this Easter

Why I don’e force my children to read

Homemade Pizza Recipe

Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.


Categories
Parenting Advice Places to visit

The fun that can be had in open spaces

Nowadays there are so many different activity places available to take children to. You have soft plays, parks, farms (most are more play centres now than animals) and theme parks. 

Do we really need to take children to these places to have a good time?

Today my girls and I had one of the best days so far of the summer holidays and we achieved this by visiting Epsom Downs which is a wide open field in between the famous race course. 

We arrived at midday and the place was near enough empty. We started off by having a lovely picnic. 

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My girls had brought with them a frisbee and some tennis rackets to play with.  They were all so happy with the freedom to run about and hit the ball as hard as they liked without it going over a fence or landing in the road.

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We ended up staying there playing for over 3 hours. We played frisbee, tennis, I.T, stuck in the mud, handstand and cartwheel competitions, granny’s footsteps (the girl’s taught me this game it is a bit like what’s the time Mr wolf) and running races. 

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It was amazing how much fun we had from an empty field and the best thing it cost nothing! We already had the frisbee and tennis rackets and we just bought the sandwiches that we would have eaten at home anyway.

It was so great to see the kids making their own fun and I got to join in, unlike when we visit places especially designed for children where it is normally me sitting on the side watching them play. We received loads of fresh air and exercise and had a great enjoyable day. We would have stayed a lot longer but ran out of water and it was a very hot day.

Our open spaces are slowly disappearing and as we saw for ourselves not that many people use them which is such a shame as there is so much fun that can be had when using them. As a parent you can let your children run free without worrying as much as you would in a busy place.

*Edit* We still to this day enjoy visiting open spaces the only thing that has changed is instead of a frisbee and tennis racket we now have a football that is always in the back of the car and I have just bought a rounders set.

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Why not also read my other posts –

The Wonders of Wookey Hole

Giant Bubble Fun

10 Cheap Activities to do with the Children this summer

Disclaimer

Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.

Categories
Mental health & Wellbeing Parenting Advice

Why parents need yoga and the benefits it can have on stress

I have never really had much interest in yoga before, I didn’t understand how slow movements and deep breathing would ever help me achieve any health and fitness benefits. I was ignorant when it came to yoga and its power.

I have always been a ‘go hard or go home’, type of exerciser looking for the highest intensity workouts and pushing myself to my limits, taking things slow was never my style.

It wasn’t until this year that I truly discovered the amazing power of yoga. It truly has the power to melt away stress and transport you into a peaceful serene.

I suffered from a bout of stress and anxiety that left me feeling physically ill. I would feel sick, have bad stomachs and physically shake.

Being a parent of 3 children and working full time looking after another 9 children as a childminder my life was pretty stressful anyway so when we then decided to move 150 miles away my stress levels rocketing.   

I needed to find a way to combat my stress.

Someone told me that yoga is great relief for stress. So I thought that I would give it a go, after all I had nothing to lose. I did some research into yoga and its benefits and watched some Youtube videos on basic yoga and gave it a try.

After doing yoga a few times I was able to control my breathing and movements and I could then clear my mind. This in turn helped my stress and anxiety just disappear and put me in a calmer frame of mind. Once you can really immerse yourself in the moves and can control your breathing, you can really feel the positive energy running through your body.

After doing just basic yoga moves for over a week, I am seeing improvements in my flexibility, strength and most importantly my stress levels. Yes I still do get stressed it is hard not to especially with children however a quick yoga pose or deep breathing exercise and my head feels so much clearer and I am then in a better frame of mind to deal with the situation.

When dealing with children you always need to have a calm persona to be beneficial and yoga a great way to do this. 

To start of my mornings now I carry out some basic yoga moves which is great as it only takes about 10 mins of my time, it leaves me feeling energised for the day ahead and starts me off stress free. The best thing is that if you are pressed for time in the mornings then the basic moves will not leave you hot and sweaty so you can head off straight to work or on school runs without needing a shower. 

You can also fit it in throughout the day, I am on my feet a lot and I find that doing a yoga pose helps to ward off stiffness in my back and legs. My back especially has benefited as I do suffer from backache from picking the children up and yoga really helps to stretch and relieve tension.

Yoga is going to be a long term activity for me and although I am still at a very basic level of yoga, I mean I can barely touch my toes, I intend to one day to be able to achieve the advance yoga and will definitely be looking more into mindfulness and look forward to discovering the power it can have.

Why not also read my other posts –

Self care tips for busy parents

Why I don’t force my children to read

Body Image/Body Confidence photo shoot

Art is good for the soul even if you are not very good at it

Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.

Categories
Parenting Advice

Why Children With Fewer Toys Have More Opportunities.

Being a childminder and having my own 3 little ladies I have over time gathered up so many children’s toys. Every where you look around the house you will see toys and quite often there is more toys than floor. No matter what I had out for the children to play with, I would always end up with the same outcomes. 

  • The children would argue over who had what first
  • They got bored easily
  • My house would be a complete mess, as every single toy would be out.
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I have carried on like this for a very long time and it was only recently when we decided to move house that I cleared out at least a skips worth of toys. I then packed away the few remaining toys that my girls were going to keep in boxes ready for our move to the new house.

As these things go, our house move was delayed by two weeks, so I was faced with the decision of leaving my children without any toys to play with or painstakingly re-open the packed boxes.  After spending hours packing I was definitely not going to open the boxes back up so I choose the latter.

I dreaded what my kids were going to be like not having anything to play with and to add to it the weather was not great either. I was not working at this point so luckily it was just my children I needed to keep entertained.

After all my worries I was surprised that completely the opposite happened, I was amazed with what I observed.

The only thing my girls could access was a few dress up clothes. They all dressed up in different outfits and for hours they entertained themselves with no arguments. They played mums and dads, shopkeepers imagining up the money and things to buy, pets and owners then they carried out performances, in which they sang, danced and did some gymnastics moves.

They created a beautiful happy atmosphere full of laughter and adventure and best of all is the fact that THEY created it. It was not adult led or based around any resource I had set out for them. The bonus for me was my house was still as tidy as it was when they woke up. I just needed to get them to put the costumes back away once they took them off.

Even when I needed to go to the shop to get dinner the role play didn’t stop there they stayed dressed up and in character all the way.

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As soon as we move house I will be ruthless with the remaining toys that are contained in the moving boxes as I have seen with my own eyes that ‘Less is more’ especially where children are concerned. 

Having less toys allows their young minds to create and imagine what they want, if they can do that then the play possibilities are endless.

There was a study carried out in the US by Claire Lerner a licensed clinical social worker and childhood development specialist that was funded by the government. She concluded the following on children through her study, “They get overwhelmed and overstimulated and cannot concentrate on any one thing long enough to learn from it so they just shut down. Too many toys means they are not learning to play imaginatively either”.

Also in the 1990s there was research conducted buy two German researchers, Elke Schubert and Rainer Strick. They took toys away from Munich nursery for three whole months. They concluded that after a short period the children re-adjusted and their play became more social and creative. 

Within a day of me removing the toys from my children I noticed how much more social and creative their play became. I would recommend having a toy clear out. In the long run it will benefit your children and your house will be tidier and less cluttered of toys. 

Why not also read –

Finding the balance between screen time and outdoor play

Self-care tips for busy parents

A Poem for an amazing mum

Disclaimer

Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.