Wednesday, 25 March 2020

50 Fun Activities for Families in Isolation


Normal life naturally inclines us to spend some time apart from our nearest and dearest but now, in the midst of the Covid - 19 Coronavirus pandemic, we are suddenly required to spend all our time together. It's an anxious time for many and keeping busy is going to be paramount for our mental and physical wellbeing during this period of social distancing and isolation. It's not always easy to come up with ideas to amuse a whole household every day, so I've compiled a list of activities to distract and amuse in these challenging times. You could work through the list for fifty days, or just scroll down to the ones that interest you. 

Keep Your Mind Active - Creative Activities

 

Salt Dough Modelling  - Salt Dough is easy to make, using just a cup of flour, half a cup of salt and half a cup of water. Once mixed to form a dough, it can be shaped to make anything you like. Then, you just bake it on a low heat for three hours until it hardens, when it will be ready to paint or varnish.

Egg Painting - An easter activity, first make a hole at each end of the egg with a large needle, use a skewer or similar to pierce the yolk, then gently blow in one end to release the contents out of the egg. Once hollow, the egg can be painted using standard poster paint, or dipped in diluted food colouring.

Rock Painting - This is a great walking activity to get people outside. First, you have to find some good-sized smooth pebbles, then decorate them with your own design. You can buy special rock paints and pens, but poster paint or nail varnish works quite well. Once varnished you can either display them yourself or hide them outside for others to find and enjoy.

Colouring - What was once the domain of the primary-aged child has recently become more widely accepted. Adult (ie; more challenging) colouring is a popular pastime and there are many books available to buy, or you can find sheets to print out online. It's also very relaxing in times of difficulty.

Finish Abandoned Projects - We've all got them, those well-intentioned ideas we were once really enthusiastic about, but then life got in the way. There has never been a better time to dust off your knitting, unearth that cross-stitch, or finally finish that Air-Fix model and it won't cost you a penny!

Origami - Over on YouTube, there are lots of basic tutorials in the art of Origami. There's even one that I made, on how to make a gift box. It's not great, don't know why I chose that music. Anyway, al you need to start off is a piece of paper, about 15cm square and you'll soon be folding like a pro.

Friendship Bracelets - I don't know if I'm giving away my 90's roots here, but I feel friendship bracelets are an underrated form of indoor entertainment. All you need is some card and thread and the air will soon be filled with the blissful quiet of intense concentration.

Make a Stop Motion Film - There are lots of really easy to use apps available for smartphones and that is really all you need since you can literally animate anything, from a lego figure to a pepper pot. I don't have a video of a pepper pot, sorry.

Learn to Make Hand Shadows - This really simple guide from Hoglets shows you how to make different animals using nothing but your own hands and a strong light source. Once you've had a bit of practice, you can use your skills to illustrate stories and poems with the children.

Can't Cook, Won't Cook - In these times of food scarcity, have a good rummage through your cupboards and challenge yourself to make a recipe out of those forgotten ingredients you bought by accident/ because they were cheap/ you forgot you weren't actually a domestic goddess.

Fashion Frenzy - All the charity shops are closed now, so why not sort out your old clothes and try your hand at turning them into something else? It could be a different item of clothing, or perhaps something else: A bag? A cushion? Get your creative juices flowing!


Get Outside - Garden Activities


Feed the Birds - This is easy to do, you don't need special feed to invite birds into your garden and they are fun to watch. Birds love bread, seeds, old cereal, bacon rind, cheese. You can also make a birdbath out of a shallow dish or tray on an outside table or bench. If you want to get more adventurous, check out this post on how to make bird cake.

Gardening - The garden is a major asset if you can't go outside and gardening gives you much needed fresh air, sunshine and exercise, all of which are shown to improve low mood and make you feel a bit better. Tidying up your outdoor space will also make you feel more inclined to spend time in it.

Hoopla - use a stake/ tent peg/ stick or whatever you can find to make the pole, then find a hoop-shaped object, such as a cheesecake container or dog frisbee to try to snag the pole.

Growing Easy Veg/ Cress - Cress germinates within a few days of planting and is ready to harvest within a week, so it's a great option for young children who want a quick result for their efforts. If you are not a small child and have mastered the art of patience, you can be much more adventurous with your planting. You can buy cress seeds cheaply via this link.

Garden Camping - If you have a small tent, setting up camp in the garden is really fun. Once you're inside a tent, listening to the breeze outside, you could be anywhere, so let your imagination go wild. It will be cold, though, so don't skimp on the layers. You don't have to be a child to enjoy the experience, but children often love it and it gives you all a complete break away from normality.

Cookout - Food tastes so much better outdoors and, if it is a bit chilly, the warmth of a fire pit or barbecue will allow you to stay out for longer. It doesn't have to be complicated; baked potatoes, sausages, marshmallows and even bananas cooked in their skins are all easy options for alfresco dining.

Stargazing - If it's really cold, you could incorporate this with a cookout, as above, but there's no limit to the number of layers and blankets you can wear, so it's not difficult to make things cosy. Lie down on blankets on the ground to really appreciate the starscape and add some hot chocolate, for a warming treat.

Sports Day - Raid the shed for garden games, such as skipping ropes, hula hoops, etc and relive your school days! Unless you hated Sports Day, in which case, just have fun!

Nerf Practice - Use chalk to draw targets on the wall to fire Nerf bullets at. If you don't have any chalk, stack up some drinks cans to shoot. Other bullets also work for this, and you could use other projectiles too, like small balls or even a water pistol.

Patio Games - Use chalk to draw hopscotch grids on the patio, or if hopscotch is a bit complicated (I've never learned the rules) you could draw circles different widths apart and invent a jumping game.


Play Together - Group Activities


Sing - You don't need a karaoke machine to belt out your favourite song and it does a lot to lift the spirits, but if you do want to have a karaoke evening, just turn the track down low and sing along, or, if you're feeling brave, you can use headphones so only you can hear the track. If you're extra-keen, Gareth Malone is setting up a 'home choir' you can register your interest via the link in this article.

Bake - Make something easy with the children, or challenge yourself to try a new technique or recipe. There are lots of tutorials on YouTube for different icing styles and decorating ideas. If you are looking for something fun to do with the children, fabulous mummy-chef Emily Leary, from A Mummy Too, is hosting a daily bake along on her Facebook page.

Make a Den - A great one for younger children, you can use anything you have to hand; sofa cushions, sheets or blankets. They can be draped over a table, or propped up with chairs, the point is to create a tiny, cosy world where you can hide away from your usual, and by now very familiar, surroundings.

Board Games - This might not sound like the most exciting or imaginative prospect, but you'll be amazed how the atmosphere changes when you add in small prizes. I have a little box that I collect small prizes in for our game nights. I collect them from all over the place, but a great, low-cost option for small gifts is Pound Toy. They have excellent sales and a wide selection of small toys and gifts.

Film Afternoon - In the absence of trips to the cinema, this could be a great opportunity to reintroduce some classic films to the family film collection. There are so many films from yesteryear that young people have missed out on, even if some of us do still think films from the '90s are current! See what's lurking at the back of the DVD cupboard, or you can buy older films cheaply online.

Family Book Club - Pick a book that everyone in the family agrees on, go away and read a set amount of it, then arrange a time for everyone to come together, read extracts and discuss the story. You can pitch the age of the book to challenge or entice your youngest members and it's even a little bit educational!

Put on a Puppet Show - This one is mainly aimed at children, but nothing should be exclusively for children if you're a creative grown-up. You can actually use anything to act out your story, from cuddly toys to decorated socks, the important part is to have fun. Use the back of the sofa, or a sheet draped over some chairs to create your stage and take it in turns to act out scenes and skits, either made up or from a favourite story.

Mastermind - Challenge each other to learn about a completely new subject that you know nothing about, the more obscure the better, then test each other with questions. The winner is the one who answers the most questions correctly and the prize is unlimited smugness around the house.

Teach Each Other a New Skill - We've all collected many transferrable life skills over the years and now is a great opportunity to learn something new. This could be between adults, like putting up a shelf, or icing the perfect cake, or you could exchange skills with your children. Ever wanted to familiarise yourself with the intricacies of Minecraft? Become an expert Lego builder? Do a handstand? There's never been a better time to learn and get to know each other better at the same time.

Have an Indoor Picnic - It's exactly like an outdoor picnic, but with fewer ants. Hopefully.

Play the Close Up Game - This is an easy game to play with very little skill involved. It's like a more physical version of Eye-Spy. One person takes a camera (your phone camera will do) and, whilst everyone else covers their eyes, they take an extreme close up of a small part of an object in the room. The winner is the first one to find the object.

Make Up a Game to Play - It could be a board-game, or something to play outdoors, whatever your collective brains come up with. Just make sure you're clear on the rules before you start so no fist-fights break out. 


Physical Health Ideas


Fitness Contest - Challenge other family members to see who can maintain the longest plank or the most press-ups. For younger children, see who can stand on one leg the longest or jump the highest. I'm sure, with a bit of imagination, you can come up with lots more fitness challenge ideas.

Dance - Turn the music up and lose yourself in the beat, choreograph something with the children, or take advantage of Diversity's lovely offer of free access to their dance tutorials and learn something new.

Make a Home Gym - Dig out all the fitness equipment that's been gathering dust in the loft for years and organise some family gym sessions.

Walk a Neighbours Dog - If you've got an elderly or vulnerable neighbour, do them a favour and get yourself some fresh air and exercise at the same time, by borrowing a pooch for a while.

Treasure Hunt -  Make a list of nature items you can find at this time of year, such as a buttercup, a red leaf, a round stone, etc and take a walk to try and find them all.

Press Flowers - Go for a walk to find flowers, they don't have to be anything special, daisies and buttercups work well, then you can press them in some kitchen paper between the pages of a book.  a week or so later, they will be completely flat and preserved and you can use them to make pictures or in other craft projects.

Get Good at Yoga - There are plenty of YouTube tutorials for various levels of Yoga and no equipment is needed. All the family can join in and it's a great help when you need to relax your mind or stretch your muscles.


Mental Health Ideas


Sorting - I find sorting and reorganising particularly relaxing. The process of taking a cupboard or drawer apart and sorting out the contents is something you can become completely absorbed in and it's not at all taxing, mentally or physically. The end result is satisfying too, so it's a win-win. Pick your project based on how much time you have and don't overstretch yourself, many small efforts make a big difference.

Mending - In these times of reuse and recycle, it's become harder to throw things away. This may mean that you've already got a mending pile that desperately needs attention, or maybe you just wear your buttons hanging off with pride. Whatever your situation, fixing up old clothes, or other household items will give you a sense of achievement, especially when you work out how much money you saved on a new item.

Beauty Treatments - Homemade beauty treatments are not difficult to make and can often be created from storecupboard ingredients. They can be a me-time activity, or something you can do with children, or even your partner. This post on low-cost beauty tips features some of my favourite easy natural beauty treatments and there are probably lots more available online, or you may have some of your own.

Jigsaw Puzzles - Often maligned as old fashioned and not that exciting, jigsaws can actually be quite sociable. It's surprising how many family members can be tempted to join in if there's a tricky part of a puzzle to finish, but it can also be a relaxing and enjoyable solo activity if that's what you need.

Word Puzzles - Again, not always a popular pastime, brainteasers, such as word searches, crosswords and sudokus are, in fact, a great way to focus your brain away from anything troubling you. If you want to make it into a family activity, you could try making your own word puzzles to test each other. 

Write Letters to Friends and Relatives - Everyone appreciates letters, especially when times are difficult, it's a cheerful and welcome diversion both to write and to receive them. You can get creative, with drawings or stickers, or maybe write a funny poem. Whatever floats your boat. 

Send Postcards to Care Homes - The older generation has never been more isolated and this is a great opportunity to help, whilst stretching your creative skills at the same time. Cut out some plain card to the size of an envelope, decorate one side with a cheery picture, write some fun stuff on the other, leaving one side for the address, and you're ready to go. You can find out more about Postcards of Kindness via their Facebook group

Take Arty Photos - It would be easy to think that your photo-taking days are over when you can't travel very far, but that is not so. You might just have to look a bit harder for your subject. Bugs and butterflies make great close-up subjects and flowers photograph well too. Experiment with different angles and lighting to get different effects. 

Listen to Music - Music makes everything better. You can blast out an upbeat song to lift your mood or listen to some relaxing tunes on your headphones to calm your mind. However you use it, it's always there to pick you up and give you some much-needed headspace. 

Practice Meditation - Not everyone finds this easy, but there's never been a better time to master it. Try a YouTube tutorial, or you can buy beginners DVDs online.

However you get through this tricky time, I hope you stay safe and well.





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Monday, 2 March 2020

The Mother's Day Prize Bundle Giveaway



With Mother's Day fast approaching, it's a great opportunity to treat yourself too. Being a mum isn't always easy, it can be a rollercoaster of craziness, exhaustion, confusion, and stretchmarks, but we wouldn't have it any other way. So, whether you want to win treats for yourself, for your own mother, or maybe to share, this is the prize for you. I've teamed up with a group of bloggers to bring you some amazing prizes and all you have to do after you've marveled at the prizes on offer, is make your way through the rafflecopter below. It may look like a lot of entry mechanisms but, if you've entered blog competitions in the past, you may find you follow some of us already and you don't have to complete all the options to be entered, you just get more chances to win if you complete more options. Good luck! 


This Mother's Day some of the top UK parent bloggers have united to offer one lucky winner a fabulous bundle of goodies for Mother's Day worth in total £200. What's more we also have a Mother's Day hamper for a runners up prize.

The Prize Bundle


One lucky winner will win a fabulous Mother's Day Prize Bundle which includes:


Deco Gingko Leaf Habotai Silk Wrap from Fox & Chave

Deco Gingko Leaf Habotai Silk Wrap

This beautiful silk wrap from Fox & Chave is made from luminescent habotai silk, making it the perfect luxurious gift for any mum. It's very versatile as well as stylish.


Evolve Beauty Organic Skincare Bestsellers Gift Set

Evolve Organic Beauty skincare gift set

The Gift Set from Evolve Beauty is made up of their organic skincare bestsellers. It will leave your skin feeling deeply moisturised, plump and smooth. Contains 10ml Hyaluronic Serum 200, 30ml Daily Renew Facial Cream and 30ml Radiant Glow Mask.


Dotty About Paper Sweet Sherbet Dream Notebook and Desk Planner

Dotty About Paper Stationery

Stay organised with this elegant weekly desk planner and A5 Notebook. The planner is perfect for busy mums to keep track of their schedules. The notebook has 192 pages of quality lined paper and is the perfect size to fit in your handbag.


Wentworth Wooden Puzzles Country Garden

Wentworth Jigsaw puzzle Country Garden

This British-made premium quality traditional wooden jigsaw comes with a drawstring cloth bag and a high-quality box making it the perfect gift.


Sleep Mask by Sleep Master®


The perfect gift for any busy tired mum - a relaxing nights sleep! Sleep Master is an all-in-one sleep mask that combines light elimination and sound reduction. The soft and cool breathable fabric creates a relaxing effect inducing a refreshing deep sleep.


The AirDry Wine Glass Drying Rack


The AIRDRY™ Wine Glass Drying Rack holds up to 4 wine glasses. The rack suspends each piece of stemware well above the counter to give them plenty of air circulation, meaning glasses dry naturally with a crystal clear surface, spot and streak free finish. 

A box of Chocolates!


Because who doesn't love a box of chocolates!


The Runners Up Prize



There's also a Runners Up prize of a Mother's Day Tea and Treats Hamper from hamper.com.

Meet the bloggers


The parent bloggers teaming up to bring this fabulous giveaway are all listed below. Make sure you check out their blogs for amazing advice and inspiration, covering all kinds of topics including parenting tips and advice, family travel, slimming tips, humour, money saving ideas, competitions, self-love, healthy living, well-being, fashion, beauty and recipes.


My Balancing Act | Just Average Jen | AnkleBiters Adventures | Lylia Rose | Life with Lianne | Soph Obsessed


Typical Mummy | You Have to Laugh | Happy Family Hub | Our Transitional Life | Otis and Us | The Neary Diaries | Autumn's Mummy


Two Hearts One Roof | The Life Of Spicers | A Rose Tinted World | Big Family Organised Chaos | Dirt, Diggers and Dinosaurs | Crazy Little Thing Called Love | Side Street Style | Chilling with Lucas


The Parent Game | Pack The PJs | Welsh Mum Of One | At Home With Kayla | Mummy Matters | Slimming Violet | Dolly Dowsie


Mum on a Budget | Boxnip | Miss L J Beauty | MTB LM | Twins, Tantrums & Cold Coffee | Prize Warriors


Reality in Reverie | Rachel Bustin | Life in a Breakdown | Boring Mother | The Willow Tree | Accidental Hipster Mum


My Beautiful Mess | Five From The Swich | We Made This Life | Menna Rachel | Life Loving | Mighty Mama Bear | Too Tired To


Life with Jupiter Hadley | Missing Sleep | 4 Freckled Faces | I Live to Cruise | Healthy Vix

How to enter


You can enter by completing as many widget entry options below as you like. All entries will be collected and one winner and one runner up will be randomly chosen. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions


  • UK entries only.
  • The giveaway will run from 12am 2nd March 2020 to 12am 16th of March.
  • The winners will be notified by email from rowena@mybalancingact.co.uk.
  • The winner and runners up will have 7 days to respond after which time we reserve the right to select an alternative winner.
  • This competition is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube or Pinterest.
  • Prize open to over 18s only.
  • If the runners up hamper be out of stock then a suitable replacement will be found.
  • Anyone who unfollows before the giveaway ends or doesn’t complete the required entry action will be disqualified.
  • The prize is non-transferable, non-refundable and cannot be exchanged for monetary value.
  • We will be using a parcel service, such as ParcelForce, to send the Mother’s Day Prize Bundle, and their standard compensation will apply in the event of loss or damage.
  • Some items may be sent directly by the supplier and we are not responsible in the unlikely event these go missing.

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Saturday, 29 February 2020

This Country Book Signing and More About the Show


Two copies of the book This Country with the title overlaid Last weekend, Jade and I ventured into Bristol for a very exciting event. We have been fans of This Country since it first began and have really enjoyed following the characters as they've made their way through various adventures and disasters in their small village community. I was unaware that there was a book signing with the stars of the show and was amazed when Jade surprised me with tickets to attend last Sunday. It was a really enjoyable experience and I thought I would write a bit about the show, for the uninitiated, and what it was like meeting Charlie and Daisy May Cooper, who star as Kerry and Kurtan Mucklowe.

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Tuesday, 3 December 2019

10 Ways To Survive Christmas without Gaining Weight


Painted image of a happy Gingerbread Man. Anyone who struggles with their weight will know how hard it is to stay on track over Christmas. Temptation is everywhere; special offers in the shops, gifts from well-meaning friends, offerings at the school fete, the list is endless! Christmas these days seems to centre predominantly around food and there are no end of tempting treats that we feel compelled to buy in the shops, because it's traditional. No one wants to undo all their hard work in just a couple of weeks, though, so I've put together a list, with some ideas to keep us all motivated. If something has worked for you, feel free to comment below!
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Friday, 29 November 2019

Win a Philips Soundmachine for Christmas



Christmas is a lovely time of year, but can become stressful when we add up all the gifts we need to buy. Aside from the cost, there's also the task of thinking what to buy for everyone and then going shopping for everything. This competition might just take the pressure off, buy ticking one gift off your buying list. Everyone loves music, so hopefully this Philips Soundmachine will make a nice present for someone, or keep it for yourself, no judgement here!
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Thursday, 28 November 2019

How to Handle Difficult Relatives at Christmas


A house completely covered in festive lights and decorations.
In an ideal world, relatives would be like other people, we would be surrounded by the ones we like, and not obliged to spend time with those we don't get on with. Sadly, it doesn't work like that and Christmas is probably the prime time for testing the tolerance levels of the average adult, often to Hulk-esque proportions, but you can make it easier on yourself. If family politics (or personal guilt) rule out going away for Christmas, pretending to have a highly contagious disease, or faking your own death, here are some suggestions for helping things go more smoothly when difficult relatives threaten your Christmas spirit.
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Monday, 25 November 2019

Christmas Packaging - What can you Recycle?


A pile of wrapped gifts, under a small Christmas tree
Over Christmas, the UK population generates 25% more waste than normal. With waste collections becoming less frequent and rubbish bins getting smaller (in our county, anyway!), this can pose a real problem for households. Add to that, the strain on the environment, and this means it is even more important than ever to up our recycling and upcycling game to try to keep landfill to a minimum. This post aims to sort out the facts when it comes to recycling your Christmas packaging, as well as what you can do to ensure you don't end up with a lot more landfill waste this Christmas and some alternatives to traditional wrapping.
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