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A childhood friend of mine, Emma, who is a wife, mumma, dramatherapist and home-maker has created an amazing A-Z of ideas to keep littlies entertained during lockdown. She has been posting them on her personal Facebook but knowing how much we all need inspiration I asked if she would be happy for us to share them as posts and a blog and she was more than happy to!

She describes this A-Z as “finding was to keep my little ones (and myself) entertained during lockdown; currently through creating an alphabet themed activity box for my daughter to find each morning.”

We are posting a new letters on our Instagram and Facebook throughout the week, which then get added here as they are posted!

I think you’ll agree with us, that they are amazing inspiration and she has done a great job!

If you try any of them out, please do tag us on Instagram (@happity.co.uk) and we will share! We would love to see you and your littlies having a great time! Do tag Emma too (@nesting.in.hope)!

Over to Emma!

Hi I’m Emma; Wife, Mumma of two and Dramatherapist. 

As a Dramatherapist (creative form of psychotherapy) I work primarily with children, adolescents and their families, specialising in trauma, attachment and emotional/behavioural issues. 

I’ve been on maternity leave for the past year and as lockdown set in and my own mum became poorly with Covid19 I found motivation levels to parent took a dip. Creating a daily alphabet themed activity box for my daughter to find each morning helped install a spark back into parenting and made life at home easier. I hope some of these ideas help you too. 

Tips: 


1) Choose activities that you want to do so you’re excited to do it with your child. Some parents love arts and crafts, for others getting messy is a parenting nightmare. Make it fit you and your family. 


2) If your child chooses to disengage in an activity you spent time preparing try doing it yourself, I promise it will leave you feeling less downhearted, give you a boost and might even convince your little one it’s more fun than they originally thought. 

A is for…

Painting APPLES with icing & decorating them with sprinkles ready for snack time, doing APPLE paint printing, having a paper AEROPLANE competition in the garden whilst dressed up as one ourselves, making an AMBULANCE to play in & saving lots of peoples lives (including a toy helicopter and a duck doorstop) and going on an ANT hunt on our daily walk, which started with one very ANGRY toddler who had been refused an icecream & ended with an ANNOYED mum as the toddler then woke the baby!

To see the next letter hot off the press, head to Instagram or Facebook!

B is for…

Celebrating my goddaughter’s BIRTHDAY over Zoom, painting with BUBBLE-wrap, making BUNNY shaped BISCUITS & a BIRD feeder out of a coconut & (my favourite of the week) an indoor BEAR Hunt using the story as inspiration for some imaginative and sensory role play.

C is for…

Changing the names of a game to ‘what’s the time Mr CROCODILE’, writing/posting a CARD to someone we miss, growing CRESS in emotion themed egg cups we had painted, making a paper chain CATERPILLAR, pretending to build a CASTLE to live in & then packing our bag to go pretend CAMPING. 

@nesting.in.hope 
#DailyABCbox

D –

E –

F –

G –

H –

I –

J –

K –

L –

M –

N –

O –

P –

Q –

R –

S –

T –

U –

V –

W –

X –

Y –

Z –

Our resident Clinical Psychologist, Dr Zara Rahemtulla, has some advice on how to support our kids transitioning back to nursery and school settings.

As the government announces the plans for children to go back to their childcare or educational setting, it is important that parents feel confident in supporting their child with this transition. It is a transition that will feel different for every child and parent, and it is important to remember that none of us have been here before, so it is always best to expect the unexpected in terms of ours and our child’s reactions.

Through my experience of supporting families and children, I have created some top tips below for parents to help manage this uncertain transition:

1. Start talking to your child about their nursery or school and their keyworker / key teachers NOW

Young children (Under 5’s) don’t have a fully developed ‘sense of time’, so weeks and months can feel long and they will need time to remember their old settings and relationships. Start to talk to them about nursery/school – e.g. what do they remember, who are they looking forward to seeing, look at photos online of their setting/key worker/teachers. If possible, arrange a Facetime Playdate with one or two of your children’s friends before going back. It is also useful to do the journey to nursery/school a few times to re-familiarise your child with the routine. Create a ‘countdown to nursery/school’ calendar for your child so they have something visual to help them prepare.

A top tip when talking to your child about going back is to stay calm, positive and excited.

2. Be prepared to listen to your child’s worries about going back

It is possible that your child may feel confused, sad, worried or angry about the transition back to their setting. Depending on their age, some children might worry about leaving their parent(s), be confused about why they have to go back and/or feel anxious about the virus. Your child will show you their feelings in various ways (again, age depending) so be on the lookout for: increase in tantrums or bigger tantrums, your child becoming tearful in situations they usually wouldn’t, being more withdrawn or an increase in aggressive behaviours. The best way to support your child with these reactions is to accept them, listen to them and not judge them.

It is important to remember that all of these reactions are normal and to be expected, and for most children, temporary.

3. See if your child can have contact with their keyworker / key teacher before they go back

Before they reopen, it might be possible for your child to reconnect with their keyworker via telephone, video call, email or letter. For example, you could ask whether your toddler could have a virtual ‘hello’, sing a nursery rhyme or read a story with their keyworker using an online platform.  If you child is school age, perhaps you could email pictures of activities/learning to their key teacher and they can receive a response. This kind of contact reassures the child that their key person still exists, remembers them and is looking forward to seeing them again.

If your child is getting a new keyworker or teacher, they could also connect with them in these ways.

4. Arrange to have a catch up phone call with your child’s key person

In addition to your child having contact with their key person, I would recommend that parents also touch base with them before your child starts back. It is helpful to talk through any worries or questions you might have about the transition; this will help you feel more at ease about the process and support your child. It is also a good idea to talk to the keyworker about how your child has experienced lock down – if there have been any particular difficulties for your child, any behaviours you are worried about or if they have lost anybody close to them during this time.

Some nurseries may be offering a second settling in period, do ask your nursery about this option if you think your child might benefit from a gradual re-integration.

5. Plan a treat for everyone after the first day/first weekend is over!

Make sure you celebrate the fact that you have all persevered and worked hard to make the return to nursery/school as manageable and positive as possible. Praise your children for working hard, for being brave and not giving up… And then praise yourself even more! Take a moment at the end of the day/week to tell yourself you have accomplished something that no parent has ever had to do before and you are proud of yourself for it.

Most children will enjoy the return to nursery or school; the structure, routine, learning and social interactions will be welcoming. However, if you feel that either yourself or your child needs more support with this transition or you have concerns about your child’s behaviours, please get in contact – we are psychologists specialising in child and parent mental health and can support in various ways. Our contact details, and available slots to book can be found on here.

Dr Zara Rahemtulla Clinical Psychologist – Specialist in parent-child mental health

Choose from a huge variety of classes to support Mental Health Awareness Week (18-24 May 2020) – for just a £1 donation!

This Mental Health Awareness Week, you can join live interactive #HappityTogether classes for just £1. With everything from baby signing to West-end starsdancingFrench and mum and baby yoga – we even have Lucy Sparkles live from Singapore – you’re sure to find something great! See below for a preview of what’s on, or search happity.co.uk for the full timetable.

We recently had the honour of representing parents “at” the House of Commons, in response to a petition signed by over 200,000 of you, about extending maternity leave due to Covid-19.

They had a record-breaking level of engagement for this petition on social media – showing just how much parents are being affected right now. Our own survey highlighted a wide variety of issues, particularly relating to the mental health of parents – with 78% saying their lockdown had had a significantly negative impact. This is really just the tip of the iceberg.

Now, more than ever, mental health matters.

We all know how important in-person baby and toddler classes are in helping us get through day by day, but today, in a socially distanced environment, they sadly aren’t available to us right now.

Whilst an online class can never be quite as good as being able to hug and sing together in real life, our community of incredible class providers has come together – and we are doing our level best to bring the benefits of baby classes to your very own living room!

Try a live interactive online class to boost wellbeing

Those of you who have tried live interactive online classes, talked about the positive mental health benefits – with 63% saying these were better than any other type of online class (like downloads or live Facebook broadcasts).

Held in a small group, they tend to be more engaging for toddlers who respond to hearing their name (and love to show off!) and the can help you feel more connected as a parent – especially if it’s with a class provider you’ve met before.

Many of you also talked about some of the more unexpected benefits – such as helping to maintain a daily schedule, giving you something to do with extended family members, or even creating the motivation you need to get dressed each day!

What’s coming up…?

#HappityTogether is all about trying out this new interactive format and having a great time together. Whether it’s meeting new people in the class, inviting your friends to joining in with you, or getting your wider family on facetime to watch your family having a great time. Everything is better together.

And with the donations going to PANDAS Foundation you can be helping your family’s mental wellness, whilst supporting the great work they do to help others.

We’ll be releasing timetables day by day during the week – so follow us on Instagram or Facebook to see the timetables, and we will also send out “what’s on” emails each evening. You can sign up for our newsletter here.

So pick a class, see if some friends want to join, or get the grandparents on facetime to join in too (they love it – we do it often!)

For just a £1 donation to Pandas you’ll be helping your families mental health, and others through their great work!

Hope to see you at some classes and dance around together!

The #HappityTogether Collective x

Here are just some of the great #HappityTogether classes you can find and book on happity.co.uk. Search the site for the full timetable details.

Monday

Tuesday

  • Tappy Toes – Dance classes for babies, toddlers and preschoolers
  • Pudding & Pie – Help spread the word on food glorious food through fun lessons!
  • Amanda’s Action Club – Fun, active baby and toddler music classes and children’s birthday parties
  • Baby College – Physical and multi sensory classes for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers
  • [email protected] West London – Multi-sensory musical adventures for babies & young children

Wednesday

  • Phonics with Robot Reg – Lively and fun classes to give your child a head start with literacy
  • Latino Bambino – Award winning postnatal and pre-school salsa classes
  • Nanos Spanish – Introduce a second language through games, action songs and educational activities. 
  • Prasarita Yoga – Post-natal recuperation with massage, movement & songs for baby
  • Happy Hands Club – Explore the world around them through music, movement and song in a secure and exciting environment.
  • PS Get Fit – 30 minute fitness classes for pre/post Natal and baby friendly

Thursday

Friday

Weekend

Search Happity.co.uk

On the 7th of May I had the honour of talking “at” the House of Commons about a petition signed by over 200,000 parents about maternity leave extending by 3 months during Covid. You can watch the full session here.

In preparation for the meeting we sent out a survey to gauge the views of parents across the UK. And the response was huge – thank you for your input!

The views regarding extending maternity leave vary widely. 82% wanting maternity leave extended to enable bonding with wider family, building peer support networks, and attending baby classes to help their child develop.

Although interestingly for those with a bump, or already back at work only 66% agreed, compared to 87% for those currently on mat leave. Those already back at work hugely stressed the importance of mental health support (over double the amount felt this was of importance) – having already themselves faced that transition back to work.

But others see this an economic cost society can ill afford at this time. That new parents need to accept the situation they find themselves in, with everyone paying the price in a different way.

For me the key questions to ask are, how is Covid affecting children’s development, what impact is it having on the mental health or parents, and hence their children, and what can we be doing at this unprecedented time to help.

1)    Covid is having a detrimental impact on children’s development

A lack of bonding and learning opportunities are the main developmental issue facing babies and pre-schoolers at the moment. They are not doing normal life – going to the shops, meeting family and friends, or if they have siblings, they don’t even have mums undivided attention whilst older siblings are at school. Babies learn so much from faces and the environment, and right now there is no variation.

Worryingly a few parents in the survey said their child was now scared seeing the faces / hearing the voices of people outside their immediate family. Given babies learn from faces this is really worrying.

2) Lockdown is having a hugely negative impact on maternal mental health, and in turn, childrens’ mental health.

78% of the parents we surveyed felt lockdown had had significantly negative effects on their mental health.  

There are currently two main reasons for this. Firstly parents are lacking any support systems – from wider family, friends and peers. And secondly many parents are finding themselves in the impossible situation of working full-time whilst homeschooling or caring full-time.

One parent said:

“It has pushed us to the brink. We have had to work almost as if it was BAU but looking after our son full time too. This is a crazy demand that is putting too much strains on parents and families and children are paying the price.”

And this is affecting children’s mental health as they are anxious due to their parents being highly stressed, often passing them back and forth between meetings. Parents who have no time for a break, no time to even talk to one-another, possibly with huge financial strains. Poor interactions are known to negatively effect children throughout their lifetime. So something needs to be done, and now.

3) The Government needs to support the mental health of parents, and the development of babies

Whilst it is imperative the government works out how to support parents – whether they are coming off maternity leave, or beyond that point – who are trying to work and look after their children at this tricky time, I feel we need to do something now that both helps parent’s mental wellbeing, and replicates the bonding, developmental and learning experiences that babies are missing, being unable to explore the world outside their four walls. 

Whilst many normal life experience can’t be had now, adults have become adept at replicating interactions through zoom chats and phone calls. We need to replicate this for our children. We don’t just sit watching TV all day to feel like we have interacted, so we can expect children to develop social skills watching youtube?

4) Attending baby classes was the top thing parents felt that they needed right now to help maintain their mental wellness

One parent said:

“The importance of baby groups & activities on parental mental health cannot be underestimated – and poor mental health can have a negative effect on bonding with your baby. All of the advice on how to deal with feeling low / anxious post natally is around socialising, finding your “tribe” to find solidarity with other parents, getting outside, exercising, having someone else look after the baby for a short time to have some “me time” – all of which is difficult at the present time (especially for those with other children)”

And they are of course fundamental in helping children to develop. Additionally they will help (as best as we can right now), to socialise children if they do need to head to an unfamiliar nursery for their parent to start working.

As an organisation with mental wellness of parents at the core of its mission, we at Happity have worked with class providers to develop an interative class format that is the next best alternative to in-person classes.

Happity interactive classes happen live, with a small number of families all able to see each other to participate in a class. Families are encouraged to stick with a regular timeslot and get to know other participants in their class, or invite friends to join with them.

Once parents try these interactive classes, an overwhelming majority find them to be hugely beneficial and of much more valuable than the free options they are currently being promoted. But until they try them they don’t understand the difference of a truly interactive class, or don’t understand the benefits for their families mental health.

One parent said:

“The interactive classes have been the most helpful as we’ve had opportunities to talk with other mums and feel less alone. We can also consult about baby behaviour and feel reassured that our children are developing in the realms of normal compared to other babies.”

So, to help parents in trying out interactive classes we are leading a #HappityTogether charity week for Mental Health Week (wc 18th May) where many classes will cost just £1, and proceeds donated to PANDAS – the UK’s largest parental mental health charity. The classes will be up to book soon at www.happity.co.uk, and we will share more information on this soon.

5) Other areas parents wanted the government to help were:

  1. Mental Health support for parents and children now and after covid (27%)
  2. Interactive classes funded by the government (12%)
  3. Opening of classes/parks ASAP for families only (10%)
  4. Reopening of schools/nurseries ASAP (10%)
  5. Video calls with Midwives/Health Visitors (5%)

6) What’s next?

I have submitted a paper to the Government regarding supporting parents with the mental health, and promoting (or even funding) the provision of interactive classes as these are most beneficial for parents and children alike.

We have also created another survey, focusing more on interactive classes as this is what they would like us to input on next. Please find the survey here and pass onto parents to fill out and have their say when we submit a proposal to Government.

These solutions will support parents’ mental health and support the development of babies and children. This will reduce the need for huge amounts of mental support now and for the years, if not decades to come. The cost of perinatel mental health is estimated to be £8.1bn per year per cohort. The figure for this cohort of babies is going to be significantly higher. And with 70% of this cost attributed not to the mother’s recovering, but to supporting their child throughout their life, this is something we need to investigate financially if not morally.

Mothers and children might seem a luxury to invest in given the challenges our economy and services face. But enabling this major section of society to function effectively will have a large effect on society, the economy, and services more widely than just the narrow experience of mums and babies in the short term.

Keep well,

Emily x

‘Mummy… when you die, will we have to get you out the door and bury you??’.

TRUE STORY. Kids can be brutal. When my 4 year old asked this at the dinner table, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry! But seeing as he’d started the conversation, we had to talk about it as best we could…

We asked our resident Clinical Psychologist, Dr Zara Rahemtulla, to help share some tips on what to say when children (inevitably) ask questions about death, so that you don’t get caught out like I did. Although he meant this in the most innocent, literal way, the panic and confusion I felt upon hearing this was real.

The whole situation prompted a lot of reflection on my part – as well as the impetus to get my own will and end of life plans sorted. We have also reached out to a top online will provider, Guardian Angel, to help give other parents peace of mind and to raise money for our chosen mental health charities – MIND and PANDAS Foundation. Find out more about our half price offer here.


Dr Zara’s Top Tips on What to Say When Your Child Asks About Death

You are not alone if you find the prospect of talking about death and dying impossible. Usually in our Western, British culture we avoid talking about these concepts, and go to great lengths to ensure we don’t have to discuss them with anyone. But our world has changed in recent weeks and for many of us, its now a part of daily life.

Talking about this topic is a complex and personal task. People have different beliefs, cultures and family stories that must be honoured, heard and understood. My intention with these tips is not to tell people what to do, but to help provide some guidance, reassurance and understanding when faced with answering these questions from children – especially pre-schoolers.

1) Acknowledge their questions

The first thing we need to remember is that children have already had some exposure to death in various contexts already – they see insects die when playing outside, and they may hear about it in their story books, nursery rhymes and cartoons.

They already know that death exists, but they are not developmentally sophisticated enough yet to understand its permanence – or its context within their own lives. They take their cues from us, so trying to avoid their questions or pretending that they don’t need to know about it, may make them feel more worried rather than less.

Help support them by being open, and let them know it is OK to talk about the subject.

2) Stick to simple, factual explanations

Its best to give brief, simple explanations to your child. Be factual and use practical language.

For example, you could explain that when people die “they stop breathing, eating, talking, going to the shops” – referring to familiar functions that you know your children will understand.

Avoid saying things such as, “grandad has gone to sleep” or “grandma has gone away” – children will take these phrases literally and may then be scared to go to sleep because of what it might mean to them in their minds. Equally, the phrase “grandma has gone away” may then make a child feel anxious whenever someone “goes away” for a holiday, to work, and so on.

3) Be calm and reassuring

Alongside the above, children will also need extra adult reassurance and care when the concept of death has been highlighted within their lives. It is normal for children around the age of 3-4 to ask questions such as, “When will you die?”, which catch you off guard. Be ready to answer with a calm and reassuring answer, and one that is again concrete and simple.

Possible answers could be, “It sounds like you might be worried that I won’t be here to look after you. I don’t expect to die for a long time”/ “I expect to be here to take care of you for a long time, most people live for a long time.”

If they are older, or probe more about who would look after them, or how they might survive without you, having a will and guardians in place so they know they would be looked after by “Auntie Helen” or “Granny” could be useful (more on end-of-life planning below).

Children rely on their parents to both validate their feelings and relieve their worries at the same time, so by using these confirming and simple phrases, we can help meet their needs.

4) Give it time

If a loved one has passed away, it may take some time for children’s emotions to catch up with what has happened. It’s also normal for children to show no emotion when told that their grandparent has passed away, yet become overwhelmingly upset over their LEGO tower falling over.

A wonderful friend of mine recently reminded me that children’s thoughts and feelings take time to percolate as they slowly put together the pieces of our complex lives. Therefore the golden rule with children is that we must give them time. Give them time to come to us with their questions about death, give them time to show us their big feelings and give them time to speak openly about has happened.

Although I offer some guidance within this blog, what we haven’t talked about is the messiness and unpredictability of death and dying.

When a person loses someone they love, what they experience goes beyond what can be put into words. The experience can be felt deep within the body and expressed in such a multitude of ways that it can catch someone off guard and leave them feeling overwhelmed.

It’s this confusion and overwhelm that is likely to occur in children (as well as adults), which is why allowing space and time for conversations about death is so very important.

Dr Zara x


End-of-life planning

As a parent experiencing this situation, it raised a lot of questions about my own personal attitude towards death.

Why did I feel anxious discussing it with him? 

Why was I trying to brush away thoughts about my own ‘end’ – pretending (to myself at least) as if I’m going to live forever, when I know that’s certainly not true?

I’ve never felt comfortable thinking about death, and as a result, I realise I’ve fallen short on my own end-of-life planning. I hold my hands up. 

In recent weeks, I lost someone dear to me to covid-19. For me, it has never been clearer; to feel at peace with death, we need to accept it is a part of life, to come to terms with it, and to make our plans for it.

More than half of us do not have a will.

As Dr Zara shows above – it is really up to us as parents to break this cycle – to be open, and let our kids know it is OK to talk and think about death. It can be a positive thing too – we won’t be here forever, so how do you want to make the most of life? How do you want to be remembered? What legacy and memories will you leave behind? It’s a reason to be kind.

For parents, end-of-life planning is especially important. If a child is left without a legally appointed guardian, it’s up to the courts to decide who should look after them and it’s not always a straightforward process.

With our busy lives, it’s all too easy to make excuses. 

Too expensive. 

Not convenient. 

No time.

I’ll do it later.

But we believe EVERYONE should have access to a will. 

That’s why we’ve reached out to our friends at Guardian Angel – a top online will service provider – to raise money for charity and to ensure every single one of us has access to an affordable, legitimate will. It can be created in minutes (if you already know your wishes) and completed from the safety of your own home.

For every will completed using Happity’s exclusive offer code, Guardian Angel will donate £20 to our chosen mental health charities – MIND and PANDAS Foundation.

It costs just £45 for a simple single will, or £65 for a joint will (half their normal prices and saving hundreds of pounds vs. traditional lawyers).

Read 5* Reviews of Guardian Angel on TrustPilot.

They have experts on hand to help advise you every step of the way, and human-being professionals who’ll review your will before it’s finalised. There’s also a panel of 9 law firms who can help if you need more complex arrangements.

How To Get Your Half Price Will

  1. Register an account at GuardianAngel.network
  2. Answer the questions if you can – or take a note if you want to think it over
  3. Enter the code ‘HAPPITYEVERAFTER’ at checkout
  4. Show you care – share this offer with your friends and family.

As long as you register your account by 31st May 2020, you’ll be able to use this offer. You can start it now and come back to fill in the gaps later.

Start your will today. Do it for your loved ones, for your children – and for peace of mind for yourself.  No excuses now. 😉


Disclosure – Guardian Angel did not pay to sponsor this post, but they have kindly made a donation to PANDAS on our behalf. Whilst we believe in the importance of this service and cause, Happity will earn a small fee from their referral programme for any completed wills.

If you need support with your mental health please click here.

If you’d like to receive updates about the next #ShoutieSelfie campaign please sign up here.

What is everyone shouting about?

Do you know five parents? One of them is struggling with a mental health issue. And the likelihood is that all of them struggle with loneliness as some point each week.

Do you know which of your parent friends are struggling? I bet you don’t. And not because you’re a bad friend, but because they are probably hiding it from you.

Emily Tredget, Co-founder of Happity

This is what #ShoutieSelfie is all about. It’s about showing parents that are struggling that you love and support them. That they are not alone, and that it’s ok to feel they way they are.

Luckily mental health issues have been getting more and more airtime. Celebs are talking out about it (watch this space for their #ShoutieSelfies!) and normal parents like me are too.

And it’s important, because no parent should feel alone in this.

That’s why I launched #ShoutieSelfie back in 2017 – to help parents out their struggling with their mental health to know they are not alone. I launched it because after struggling for 2 years with Post-Natal Depression and Anxiety I started to share my experience and realised it wasn’t just me who was struggling – and knowing that helped me on my road to recovery.

I launched it in 2017 (with just 10 days planning and 2 months social media experience, but bags and bags of energy and passion!) and it was a great success. It got maternal mental health trending in just 30 minutes of launching, and a million impression in the first week.

Anna Williamson, TV presenter and Life Coach

It’s been a huge success, with over 10 million impressions and the support of amazing charities, organisations and celebrities such as BBC5Live, HeadsTogether, Baby Buddy, NCT, PANDAS, World mental health day, Binky and Jane Felstead, Anna Williamson, Josh Paterson and many more!

#ShoutieSelfie 2020

This year (published Spring 2020), with the awful isolation that Covid-19 is forcing on parents across the UK, and across the world, we are making it even bigger.

Because our survey found that loneliness increases the risk of maternal mental health issues by 50 per cent.

And 93% of mums are lonely each week.

Which even before Covid-19, cost the UK £8.1bn for each one-year cohort of births.

We need to be supporting each other in understand why looking after our mental health is so important, and how to do it.

How to do a #ShoutieSelfie

So, if you love someone who is struggling – or have/are struggling yourself – of even if don’t know of anyone struggling but want to let those around you know that you support and don’t judge them, please:

  1. Take a selfie of you shouting (feel free to write #ShoutieSelfie across it if you fancy!)
  2. Post it using #ShoutieSelfie from Wednesday 15th April on your social media platforms ideally tagging 5 friends who also understand (If you’d like to use the suggested wording please see here.)
  3. Tag @HappityApp to join the #ShoutieSelfie Hall of Fame!

If you want to see more updates about #ShoutieSelfie and Happity please follow me on InstagramFacebook or Twitter.

Let’s do something great!

If you would like more help with regards to supporting anxious children we will be hosting a live webinar by parenting expert and acclaimed author Alicia Drummond on Thursday 16 April at 7:30pm. You can find more info, and book here.

Supporting Organisations

NCT

Pandas

MMHA

World Mental Health Day

Best Beginnings

Heads Together

Baby Buddy

BBC 5 Live

ITN

Glamour

Channel 5 News

Our resident Clinical Psychologist, Dr Zara Rahemtulla, has some advice on how to support our kids during Covid-19.

Hi everyone,

As we approach mid-way of the Easter holidays I thought it might be a good time to share some of what I have been noticing since my last blog post.

It seems like the novelty of Joe Wicks’ online exercise class is starting to wear off. The enthusiasm we had for conjuring up fun and creative activities for our children is starting to wane. And we are starting to notice that our children are not as interested in them as they were a few weeks ago…

What do we think is going on, as we are now in week three of official lock down? As wonderful as the huge selection of online classes, social media apps and online chat functions are, there is something about physical contact that I think we are all beginning to yearn for. 

Humans are not meant to live in isolation. We start to become ‘skin hungry’ as we crave physical connection with others.We need physical, non-virtual relationships to keep us both physically and mentally well. This is because the experience of being in the presence of another, where our senses can be ignited and physical touch can be involved, actually produces feel good hormones in our brains. These feel good hormones (called serotonin and oxytocin) can then protect us from feelings of anxiety and depression, which in turn keeps us physically well too. 

Indeed, research shows us that social isolation and loneliness are major risk factors for poor physical health. It leads to lowered immune system functioning and in fact, lonely people have a 50% increased risk of early death – this risk exceeds the risks associated with obesity! 

However, I must stress that I am absolutely not saying that we shouldn’t be using our online platforms and digital world to support us in our current situations! I want to reiterate that I think online support systems are brilliant and they should be continued to be used, but I wanted to help us understand why some people might not be finding these platforms as fulfilling as they were a few weeks ago (and let’s be honest, why Happity – and MummyLinks previously – always focused on in-person meet ups and classes!)

Another important take away message that I want to give this week is that boredom will set in. For both ourselves and our little ones at different points throughout our days/weeks/hours. This is inevitable despite the plethora of Instagram ideas, creative resources and online inspirations that are being helpfully offered to us. We simply cannot set up every day to be full of amazing treasure hunts, fairies and unicorns and beautiful baking delights. 

So is the problem that we create an expectation for ourselves and our children that our days will be full of excitement, magic and joy? What if we were to be honest with our children and turn around and say, “it’s normal that some days we are going to feel bored together”/”it’s disappointing that you can’t see your friends today”. Or simply, “today feels like a tough day doesn’t it?”

Because feeling bored, frustrated and in limbo are real feelings that both our children and we will be feeling at the moment.  To be able to acknowledge these feelings and let our children know that they can experience them too, and not feel overwhelmed by them, is going to be key for their emotional development (and your sanity over these coming weeks!) 

As our children grow, they will be faced with many life situations and challenging circumstances that they will need to navigate. Of course, we hope they never have to endure something like Covid-19 again, but there will certainly be other scenarios where life won’t do what they expect and they will feel disappointed, frustrated, confused or annoyed at times. Getting told off by their teacher, losing a pet, feeling unsure about their subject choices, not getting the job they wanted – these are all examples of when they may experience uncomfortable or difficult feelings that they will need to manage and tolerate.

So what if we could help them out with this now, giving them a head start for their future? If we can help our children to understand that these feelings are expected and normal now, we will be putting them in good stead for the rest of their evolving and ever-changing lives.

As we all enter this Easter weekend in ways we would never expect, have a ‘go’ at lowering your child’s and your own expectations. You might be pleasantly surprised!

If you would like more help with regards to supporting anxious children we will be hosting a live webinar by parenting expert and acclaimed author Alicia Drummond on Thursday 16 April at 7:30pm. You can find more info, and book here.

Dr Zara Rahemtulla Clinical Psychologist – Specialist in parent-child mental health

To celebrate reaching 300 interactive, online [email protected] classes across the UK, and with the realities of the Easter Hols settling in, we’ve decided to give away £50 of [email protected] classes!

Happity has always aimed to help parents beat loneliness and maintain good mental health. This could never be more needed than now.

Our [email protected] classes are truly interactive as families and teachers can interact. One mum even said she felt like she had been out after her class, despite just being in her living room!

And they are good for the mental health of families and teachers. Families can talk to the teacher, and the kids can be encouraged by name. And providers can see the joy their class is giving. This is so important at a time like this.

If you haven’t tried a [email protected] class yet, this is the moment!

How To Win

1) Every paid class you book between now and the end of the Easter Holidays will get one entry to the competition. (If you book a batch of 6 that counts as 6 entries.) You can search and book here.

2) Tag a friend on the Facebook or Instagram post for an extra entry per tag!

Competition closes midnight on Monday 20th April 2020.

The lucky winner will be announced on Wednesday 22nd April on our Facebook page. Terms and conditions apply.

Competition Terms & Conditions

  1. The prize is for £50 of [email protected] classes which must be used by 30th June, and booked through the Happity platform.
  2. The prize is non-transferable to cash.
  3. UK entrants over 18 only.
  4. Employees and agents of Happity and anyone professionally connected with the administration of the Competition are not permitted to enter.
  5. To enter the competition, you must book a paid class through happity.co.uk or have tagged a friend on either the Facebook or Instagram competition post. Free trials or £0.00 classes will not qualify.
  6. Each individual comment tagging in an extra provider will count as an additional entry
  7. Competition opens on Tuesday 7th April 2020 and closes Monday 20th April 2020 at midnight
  8. The winner will be randomly selected out of all valid entries.
  9. Competition winners will be announced on social media channels and notified directly on Facebook or Instagram on Wednesday 22nd April 2020. You must provide accurate contact details on notification within 72 hours (through a private message). Failure to respond to this message means an alternative winner will be selected from all valid entries received.
  10. All entrants agree to their names and comments being used for promotional purposes. Copyright in all material submitted as entries rests with the promoter.
  11. We will not pass on your personal details to any other organisation without your permission, except for the purpose of awarding the prize.
  12. The Competition will be run and the Prize will be awarded at Happity’s sole discretion. Happity’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  13. We reserve the right to refuse entry into the Competition
  14. We reserve the right to change the Competition rules and these Terms and Conditions from time to time. If we do so, we will always have the most up to date terms and conditions on this page
  15. The Competition and these Terms and Conditions are governed by English Law. England & Wales shall have exclusive jurisdiction to settle any dispute or claim that arises out of or in connection with these Terms and Conditions.
  16. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. You are providing your information to Happity and not to any of these platforms. By participating in this promotion you agree to a complete release of Facebook from any claims. Participation in this promotion is subject to the official rules.

As you know, Happity is all about helping parents to beat loneliness, in a way that supports mental health. Our resident Clinical Psychologist, Dr Zara Rahemtulla, has some advice on how to keep mentally well during Covid-19.

Hello everyone,

As we move into the weekend, I wanted to try and offer some thoughts on how to keep calm and carry on, despite the fact that we are faced with the restrictions and worries of Covid-19. 

This will be our first weekend in official lock down and we can’t deny that it’s going to feel difficult, frustrating and even painful at times, as we won’t be able to see some of our loved ones, have a coffee and catch up with friends or just take the kids out to a soft play or playground so we can get some respite from our four walls.

It goes without saying that these are strange times and as parents, we are going to be faced with so much uncertainty. Uncertainty breeds worry, anxiety and feeling overwhelmed. And feeling overwhelmed triggers us to sometimes get short tempered, agitated and/or angry and in this case, probably with those around us (i.e. our kids, our partners). 

Brene Brown

So we need to keep two things in mind. We need to make sure we look after ourselves as parents, and then of course, our children. In that order. It’s the same as being on an airplane – we are told to first put on our own oxygen mask and help ourselves before we help others. It sounds cliched, but if we think about it, we are no use to anyone if we cannot first breathe ourselves.

So find a way to keep breathing and schedule it into your day. Whether it’s having a bath once they’ve gone to bed, catching up with a friend on the phone, putting your feet up with a glass of something, exercising, reading a chapter of your book. I speak from experience when I say I know how hard it is to make time for oneself! But that pile of washing really can wait while you give yourself some time to recharge.

The next step is to remember that caring for our children is not about creating amazing, super duper, Instagram-worthy activities. Nor is it about entertaining them every second of the day. Neither of these are possible and if you set yourself up to think they are, then this will just feed into feeling overwhelmed. Caring for our children is connecting with our children. It’s laughing with them when something is funny in a book or on TV, it’s watching them as they delight in smearing yogurt all over their face (and then running quickly to clean it up!), it’s holding them when they feel sad and it’s letting them throw themselves on the floor and be angry because they don’t know what else to do. It’s being with rather than doing with that shows care and creates connection.

Caring for our children is also about how we reconnect with our children. When you feel overwhelmed, angry, tired or fed up over the coming weeks and you accidentally lose your temper, remember to repair things after. This means going back to your child (or even your partner) once you’ve calmed down and saying something like, “I’m sorry I shouted at you earlier, I shouldn’t have. Mummy/I was feeling angry. I am feeling better now, and I love you”. 

Letting our guard down and showing our vulnerability to ourselves and our children is the key way to keeping calm during covid-19 (and through life in general!) It allows us to process our feelings so we are likely to feel less overwhelmed, and it teaches our children how to share and understand their feelings, which means they are less likely to become upset really quickly and have tantrums (this can only be a good thing!)

Psychological research shows us that 1/3 of parent-child interactions will “go wrong” and that’s okay. The important part is how we repair them. Remind yourself of this fact every day as you make time in your day to adjust your oxygen mask in this turbulent and uncertain time.

Dr Zara Rahemtulla Clinical Psychologist – Specialist in parent-child mental health

With so many of us facing a difficult time of isolation, the baby & toddler community has been working hard to launch baby & toddler classes online as quickly as possible.

Obviously face-to-face classes can’t continue at the moment, which means you aren’t getting the interaction and structure you are used to, and your activity providers businesses have stopped overnight.

We’ve created a slick way to do online classes, with interaction not just streaming, and we’ve taken away the manual nature lots of small providers are currently putting up with to host.

If your class providers isn’t yet providing remote sessions (and you’d like them to so you can go!), or their not providing them through [email protected], please support them by sharing this blog with them – it gives them a step by step guide to how to set up and make the most of online classes.

As this is a new world for all of us, we’ve prepared a few guidelines to help everyone get the most enjoyment out of virtual classes. We’re working together to create a consistent experience so that you know what to expect and don’t have to grapple with lots of different technologies.

Most of us are using a tool called Zoom for this, and we’re aiming to make your class feel as interactive as your regular classes ‘in real life’!

But to make it really great, we need everyone to play their part – so please read on for some tips on how to make the most of online classes.

All virtual classes that are listed on ‘[email protected]’ will be using the technology in the same way, so you can join any of these classes with confidence and know exactly what to expect.


How to get the most from online classes

1. Location

Find a nice, safe comfortable spot to take part. Use a larger screened device – like a tablet or laptop, if possible and prop it safely out of direct reach of your toddler. Ideally position it so that the camera will be on them when singing and dancing, so that the class practitioner can see them and talk to them.

2. Be visible!

Please resist the urge to switch off your camera! You’ll enjoy seeing everyone and their children singing along, and your kids will love seeing themselves on screen too. It will also mean the class practitioner can interact with you and your children in a live environment, and give you so much more than a recorded YouTube video.

Try switching between the different the view settings in Zoom (depending on your device) to find one that you prefer. We like the ‘Speaker’ view that lets you see your class leader as well as a few of the other families at the same time.

Photo by kind courtesy of Little Folk Nursery Rhymes

Please remember that your first session or two may take some settling in for you and your child(ren). Even if it’s a class you’ve been to many times before, treat it like a first session! Also remember that this is going to be a very new experience for nearly all class providers, so please be kind – and give feedback to help everyone improve this service for all.

3. Take part

It’s the people that really make a class – so please take part, sing along, dance, and move! Be present with your child, and get them involved – just as you would in a real class. 🙂

If you have any shakers, scarves etc. in stock at home, you might like to keep these close by ready for your classes. There are also some great tips on how to make your own instruments here.


What to expect (the technical stuff)

The first time you attend a class, you will be asked to install Zoom on your device so please make sure you allow a few extra minutes for this process. After that you can attend any [email protected] class within seconds, by clicking on the link in your booking email. 🙂

When you join, we suggest you pop your child’s name in when prompted, as this will help the host welcome your child and engage with them during the class, since their name will then be shown on the host’s scren.

Please respect other participants, and remember to click your link shortly before the start time, as it may be difficult for the host to check you on the register and let you into the room if you’re very late.

For the majority of the class, you’ll be put on ‘mute’ – this is so that everyone can hear the host clearly, and your kids can make as much noise as they like in the comfort of your own home. (You can also sing as badly as you like!)

In between songs, it’s lovely if you can join in – so do unmute yourself if the host is asking your kids to shout out answers or do a singalong!! Just remember to pop yourself back on mute afterwards if the class provider hasn’t done this.

You can find the ‘mute’ button usually in the bottom left hand corner of the screen.

Happity is a small biz run by 4 parents. We want as many providers to be able to keep their businesses going, and for parents to keep some semblance of normality in these crazy times.

We hope you’ll support our industry and help us spread the word across the UK to all your parent and class provider friends. Please share!

Keep safe,

Emily & Sara x