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Child Friendly Holidays Close to Home

If you’re anything like us then you’ll always be on the lookout for new holiday inspiration that is family orientated but still brings the wow factor for us grown-ups too. The travel industry is open and and whilst you take to find somewhere that fits your criteria, both for scenery and safety, we caught up with Laura Riley, the Altrincham mum who set up Little Clogs Holidays along with an Amsterdam based friend. Holland and Belgium were not even on our radar, but after a sit-down with Laura and doing some of our research, these countries might just the perfect family holiday destinations we visit next!

Beekse Bergen safari lodges

Why Holland and Belgium?

When you mention Holland or Belgium, most people think about hotel city breaks or party weekends, rather than family holiday destinations. However, these are some of the most child friendly countries in Europe with some of the cleanest and safest sandy beaches, beautiful woodlands, national parks and lots of fun family days out. The Netherlands, in particular is awash with fairytale references with its Efteling theme park and its Hansel and Gretel pancake house, and is the birthplace of some iconic childhood characters, such as Miffy the rabbit! These are small countries which means you are never far from the famous cities and everywhere is a doable drive away. They are also very quick and easy to get to from the UK and whilst the flight is under an hour it is just as easy to drive to these destinations.

Where to Stay

We’ve got that covered! Little Clogs features a collection of the most child friendly accommodation options in Holland and Belgium which are all set in beautiful nature. These range from glamping farm holidays to excellent holiday parks with accommodation including bungalows, safari lodges, treehouses and wellness villas. On most holiday parks there is the option of booking accommodation with special features for children such as toys, games, pull along carts and child sized furniture, cutlery and crockery. The parks have been selected for their toddler friendly pools, play areas and accommodation, but in many cases, they are also ideal for older children with kids clubs, sports, waterslides and plenty of indoor and outdoor activities.

Landgoed t Loo lake pully

The farm holidays offer a relaxing escape from everyday life where children can interact with their favourite farmyard animals and maybe even enjoy a ride on a real tractor. Accommodation is luxury glamping tents, all set in beautiful scenery with lots of space to run around and play whilst mum and dad put their feet up.

With travel looking like it’s back on the cards, why not go somewhere a bit different, and somewhere you can get to easily, without the need to fly?

For more info visit https://little-clogs-holidays.co.uk or drop Laura a line on laura@little-clogs-holidays.co.uk or on their facebook page.

 

Images:

Beekse Bergen safari lodges

Efteling gnome house

A farm Holiday

Landgoed t Loo lake pully

Our Top Tips for Camping, Glamping and Caravanning with kids!

Our Top Tips For Camping, Glamping And Caravanning With Kids

With staycations at the top of the list for many of us this summer, we thought we’d share some of our tried and tested tips to make sure the whole family can make the most out of enjoying a natural, outdoors focused holiday, whether you are camping, glamping or caravanning.

guide to camping

 

Do A Test Run. If you haven’t been camping for a while, it is wise to check your tent is still intact. Pitch it in your garden or a park on a sunny day and get everyone involved in checking for mould or damp, making sure all the seams are intact and there are no holes anywhere. The same principle applies to caravans, make sure there are no damp smells or patches, check all the wiring and plumbing.

camping gear

Be Prepared. Just like any Boy Scout or Girl Guide, being prepared is vital. Pack for all weathers and include plenty of changes of clothes and shoes – if you do end up being drenched in rain, it will be a lot easier to recover everybody’s spirits if you haven’t been soaked through and can change into clean, dry clothes.

Build Independence. When you have arrived, let your children experience a degree of (age appropriate) of freedom. If they have bicycles, you could let them go to the campsite shop and buy some supplies, or simply allow them to play in the campsite on their own. Remember, campsites typically have a 5mph speed limit for cars, so the risks are much lower than being on roads back at home.

playing outside

Play House. Camping (and caravanning) are really like grownup excuses to ‘play house’! Get the children involved in all the practical aspects, from setting up the tent itself to arranging where everything will live, from the cooking area to making the beds and storage. Just as at home, encouraging the children to tidy up, help prepare meals and wash up is an important part of helping them to learn the importance of carrying out everyday tasks and contribute to family life positively. This is part of the reason on each of our recipe cards, we remind children that all chefs help tidy up after making their meal.

Create A Nature Adventure. Set everyone tasks to find in the natural environment around your campsite – for example, 3 smooth things, 3 rough things, 3 colourful things. You can collate a treasure trove of your collected items or see if you can make a pattern from them all, a natural form of collage.

Limit Screen Time. Ideally unplug all your devices. Children learn by watching you, if you are glued to your smartphone, they will pick up on this. It’s a holiday for you too and making an effort to not be plugged in helps everyone to talk, connect and slow down.

carvanning
camping

Play Games. Forty forty is a great camping, outdoors game. It is a combination of elements of ‘it’ and ‘hide and seek’; allocate a safe base or ‘homie’, a tree or your tent or caravan. One person is the ‘spy’ and has to cover their eyes and count at the base whilst everyone else hides (if your children are very young then you could hide with them and play in teams). Your mission is to get back to base under cover without being spotted by the spy and if you are caught you have to help with the spying.

playing games

Wild Swimming. This basically means swimming in natural spaces such as lakes, rivers or the sea. It has enjoyed a surge in popularity recently and with the current global health climate, it feels like an attractive option this summer. Do some research into your destination to find out if there is anywhere suitable near you, it will promise to be a cold but invigorating experience for everyone. Remember safety first!

lake jumping
swimming in a lake

Be Positive. Whatever the weather, remember that you are creating memories here. Make the most of the time you have together, take time to play, connect, slow down and relax with each other.

What are your favourite tips for a happy holiday? We’d love to hear from you!

craft boxes for kids

Kids Activity Craft Boxes

Kids Activity Boxes

Nothing gives you greater pleasure then seeing your little ones have fun whilst learning.  It’s often hard to find the right balance between the 2 so as to avoid boredom or frustration. This is why our kids activity boxes are designed to do both equally as well. These are sent out monthly using a subscription service direct to your door.  They are packed with letters, crafts, cooking and colouring tasks, all designed to educate whilst they have fun.

Prices start from just £11 per month and we also ship worldwide.  They are designed to educate about all things worldwide and teach your children about the globe and all the fascinating and interesting places in the world.  kids activity craft boxesThey can learn about cultures, how people live and try new recipes too. It’s simple to get started with our kids activity boxes, just choose their adventure, select the duration of subscription, be it 1 month, 6 months or 12 months then tell us the mini adventurers name so we can personalise their content. You can then write a gift message for them too to read when they open the parcel.

Once all this is complete then we can start creating their fantastic content.  We take inspiration from the early years foundation stages and key stages 1 and 2 national curriculum, so they learn whilst having fun. You can read plenty of reviews from many happy customers on our website.  Why not follow us on Instagram and see the many pictures of happy children in play with our kids activity boxes which are filled with content they will love.

We always include mixed activities that help to inspire independent and create play. They include fun ideas and enable your little one to go on a great adventure whilst still at home.  If you take out a subscription then the joy of knowing the parcel is being delivered will give your child a sense of excitement, especially as it’s the same date every month so it’s something both you and your little one can look forward to.

Each month the content is unique and is based on a new place in the world. All the content including any letters is personalised with your child’s name.  Our kids activity boxes are created in such a way that both you and your little one can spend time together and enjoy the contents.

Kids Craft Boxes

We know how important it is to spend quality time with your children, especially when learning and being creative in a fun way. This is just one of the reasons why we created our highly educational and fun kids craft boxes, available as a one off or as a monthly subscription.  To see exactly what’s inside each box just click on the link in the menu at the top and watch the video of an unpacking. You will see every inch of the contents is taken up by educational and fun content. Each month the box and its contents explore a new country, with fun facts and letters as well as recipes all related to that country.

kids craft boxesWe send out the new kids craft boxes every month on the same date so your child has a date they can get excited about, the parcel will come to them in their name and all contents will be personalised to their name too.  The contents aren’t just letters or colouring there are many small gifts such as pouches they can use on a daily basis or stickers, pens and more. You can choose a monthly subscription or maybe go for the longer 6 months or 12 months option.  Each month with unique and new content and things to do and inspire your little ones.

If your 2 children share the kids craft boxes, we can do this and we can still personalise the contents so it includes both children’s names. We can ship worldwide too should you wish to order from another country.  If you home educate, we can offer a discount of 15% from our 6 and 12 months subscriptions as we respect what you do and know the challenges it can sometimes bring.

We have kids craft boxes for every budget, and you can cancel your subscription at any time too.  Each month you and your little ones can go on an exciting adventure together. Watch our video to see what’s inside the box.  Little ones of all ages can enjoy and learn whilst having fun. Get started and order your first kids craft boxes today and make sure you personalise the contents with your child’s name for added excitement.

Kids Activity Boxes & Childrens Craft Boxes

Balancing Lockdown learning and working from home

Most children will not be going back to school for the rest of this summer term and even if they have returned, the school summer holidays are fast approaching. Can you believe that we have been in this situation since March?

Many parents are finding this period of being ‘everything for everyone,’ increasingly challenging to manage. We know from our own experience that juggling work commitments whilst keeping the children happy, occupied and motivated, has been really tough.

At the moment, we (Erin and Fi) both still work full-time and run our business, Our Little Globe in the evenings and weekends. It is what many small-business owners do and in truth, there have been times in the last few months when we have both have felt completely exhausted. Fi says, “When we have finally got the girls to bed and tried to open the laptops again, we simply have not had the energy. The children are naturally going to bed later and by 9pm sometimes we need our beds too.”

Erin agrees, “We are extremely lucky that as mums, friends and business partners we can rely on each other to push through.As long as we are both not exhausted in the same week, one of us can take the lead so the other can take a bit of time for themselves. These have been the most unsettling months we have ever experienced and how we handle it changes most weeks.”

Fi Neate and Erin Rodgers, Co-owners of Our Little Globe

Both of us happily acknowledge that each time we think we have cracked the daily routine, it goes to pot. It is about trial and error (with most things) and finding that the small simple steps provide the best help. Take a look  below to read what has gotten us through 108 days (and counting!) of lockdown.

We are not teachers or homeschoolers

First of all, take time to remember we are NOT home schooling! Home schooling is when you have made a well-thought out decision to keep your children at home, and usually is carried out knowing you have the energy, time and resources to commit to it.

Lots of homeschool mums and their kids, subscribe to Our Little Globe and they agree that this is different, even for them! Museums, leisure centres and play-centres are not available for us to use yet and it is hard to be the maker of fun all day, every day! 

The current situation can be better defined as distance learning – a big difference as it has been enforced and is not a conscious parenting choice. It helps to bear this in mind if you are battling to complete school work, you are only doing your best, and that is good enough!

children at homeschool

Do not overburden yourself; if your child is managing to do some work during the week, this is a great achievement. Everyone’s energy levels change day to day, and if you are struggling one day with the children’s motivation to work (or even your own), leave it until later or the next day and approach it when you are feeling fresher.We speak to lots of teachers and they all agree that putting your child’s mental well-being ahead of schoolwork is the priority.

Learning can take on so many different forms and one of all our all-time favourite quotes is “not all classrooms have four walls.” Therefore, if you can find time to go outside for a walk and get some sunshine happy Vitamin D and fresh air, class it as an outdoor P.E lesson! Right now, excercise in any form, is one of the most beneficial things you can do to boost your family’s mental health and overall long-term health. 

kids outside

Maintaining a routine, particularly with younger children can be helpful, but again, don’t be too hard on yourself when it sometimes goes out of the window! Fi, sets out her eldest girl’s homework each night, so it is readily available the next day and she is not frantically looking for pencils and rulers, whilst trying to complete her own work as well. “If I spend ten minutes or so each night getting Georgie’s work ready, it leads to less fuss and arguments in the morning,” she says.  

Erin says when she found out her husband was going back to work after seven weeks off, she panicked because that meant taking on all of the childcare, whilst still working full time. “My husband being off work, meant I could work more or less the same as before. So when he got the call to say he could come back, my first reaction was to burst into tears. He then gently reminded me that he was one of the lucky ones who had a job to go back to, which set me off again. It was not a good day!”

bike riding

Erin’s daughter is not quite at school-age so there has been very little in terms of homework from her daughter’s pre-school. Therefore, she’s tried to focus on how best to break the day up. 

Erin decided to make a conscious effort to teach her four year old how to ride her bike without stabilisers. Now each morning before breakfast, Erin and her daughter complete their ‘daily mile’ around the park. Erin runs and her little girl cycles next to her. It is the only staple that they keep, but it starts the day well and she knows that even if they don’t manage to get out again that day, they have had a good run around anyway. “The park is five minutes away and it’s been an absolute blessing. Last week an older couple shouted across that they were glad to see Anabelle riding much more confidently these days, it made us both smile.” 

Screen-time – saviour and demon! 

Both Erin and Fi have struggled with how much screen-time their kids are getting. On the one hand when you have an important call or need an hour to deliver on a deadline, they both agree that screen-time is their safety net to ensure some quiet and they are both clear, that they are not going to feel guilty about it. 

child watching television

They have recently added into the mix some child-friendly chores to reduce that time on the screens when it is not needed as much. Erin says, “Anabelle loves pretending to be a mummy to her dolls and I hate emptying the dishwasher – I knew there was a solution here! Each morning Anabelle sets ‘her girls,’ down to their breakfast. She goes into full-on ‘mummy mode,’ reminding them to eat their breakfast and chiding them about their naughtiness, whilst she puts all the cutlery away. To her it’s just another form of role-play, but it also means I can avoid having to empty the dishwasher. It is a win-win!” 

child doing the washing-up

Teaching kids life-skills not only helps the endless household chores, it also keeps kids active and improves their problem-solving skills. So what, if the washing-up turns into a bubble explosion or the socks and underwear end up in the wrong drawer, at this point a small routine will help everyone get through the summer break. 

We have been focusing on the children, but of course you need to look after yourself too and we know how difficult this can be. With half of UK adults reportedly not sleeping as well as usual during lockdown, we think it is super important to be flexible and kind to yourself as we all navigate this time of uncertainty.

Fi recommends a car journey to no-where! “Jumping in the car for a drive on my own with the music turned up, gives me that time just to chill out,” she says. “A bit of Celine Dion blasting out and a drive around is really one of only a few options I have at the moment. I genuinely come back a calmer person after one of my drives.”    

Erin and Fi with Our Little Globe box

The main takeaway is to give ourselves a break. These are unprecedented times that you and your children will remember forever. We say, unexpected family time has to be cherished, but so do the moments of quiet solitude.

Ps. We all know, come September we will be missing our babies like mad as we wave them off to start a new term! 

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Kids Activity Boxes & Childrens Craft Boxes

Celebrate a traditional Indian Festival (and make a friendship bracelet!)

The activity below is PERFECT for a rainy day!

In India there are many festivals and events held throughout the year to celebrate the country’s history, culture and beliefs. A large number of India’s population are Hindu and therefore there many festivals that are intertwined with religion and culture.

Let’s talk about The Raksha Bandhan Festival! 

brother and sister Raksha-Bandhan Festival

Raksha Bandhan is celebrated in August each year and usually coincides with the Monsoon season in India. The word Raksha means protection. whilst Bandhan means to tie. The festival traditionally celebrates the special relationship between a brother and sister.

Traditionally, during the festival sisters will tie a rakhi, a bracelet made of coloured threads (usually red and gold) to tie around their brothers’ wrists.

Today the festival has developed further and rakhis are often tied around other family members and close friends.

Ask your children to make their own friendship bracelet. We’ve attached a video How to make a friendship bracelet

You will need:

  • 7 Coloured threads (120cm long)
  • Pair of scissors
  • Square cardboard (the back of a cereal packet would work well)
  • Pen
  • Circular object (a water glass) to draw around

 

 

 

 

craft box for toddlers

Why a Treasure Hunt can be enjoyed by the whole family! (includes free download)

During lockdown parents and kids have had to get creative in their playtime. A quick dash to the shops is not as easy as it was and as playtime has pretty much been stretched to a three month stint, a new era of ‘make do and mend,’ has begun.

children playing in a field

Whilst lockdown has been hard, we have a new-found appreciation for simple games that keep our kids busy or that can act as a springboard for more educational fun, ticking the homeschool box as well. For example using a world map to plot a virtual adventure across the world, serving a meal themed to a different country and let’s not forget that new staple of throwing the bbq to pretend we really did make it abroad this year.

family cooking in the kitchen

One of the positives of lockdown for Fi and I has been quite simply exploring the parks, forests and streams that were always nearby but we never had the time to appreciate. It has given our children plenty of exercise and allowed us some much needed time in the fresh air.

walking into the forest

Many of us have competing priorities such as juggling our jobs, navigating a full house and at times just coping with day to day life in lockdown. We hear you! Fi and I are both working mums and have experienced a rollercoaster of emotions as well as motivation levels to keep up the fun in our homes. It is not easy, even as owners of an arts and crafts business.

Of course social media can can be a double-edged sword. It is fantastic for picking up activity ideas that others have tried but there are always some posts that make you feel that you should be doing more than you are.

So what does this have to do with National Scavenger Hunt Day? Everything! Scavenger or Treasure Hunts are literally the family dream for us all to enjoy. It is a game, typically played in an outdoor area in which kids have to collect or find a number of miscellaneous objects. You can go large (or small!), depending on your own energy levels and time to plan.

family out on a forest walk

Theme your treasure hunt indoors or outdoors depending on the weather. Everything from counting the number of doors, windows and cupboards in the house to discovering the different variety of trees on your daily walk. From nature to nurture, sizes and shapes or even a subject they are learning about in school. Throw in a prize at the end and you have the perfect scavenger hunt!

If it has been a particularly tough day, theme your treasure hunt to whatever you think will keep them busy for the longest amount of time. A mutual friend recently tasked her three boys with finding ten sticks all the same size, genius!

harassed mum with kids

If you are looking for a Treasure Hunt with a focus on learning about different countries and that can be completed indoors with some kid-friendly internet involved, simply download our activity sheet below which is completely free. We have designed this activity sheet so that it can either be printed off or for you to duplicate.

Treasure Hunt Activity Sheet