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Now that days are getting shorter, looking after your baby can sometimes feel like a lonely task. This is especially so if you are spending most of your time home alone with baby. And never more so than in Lockdown 2 at time of writing.

We all need to be looking after our mental wellbeing, and being mindful about the time with our babies can really help both us and them.

Here are a few guidelines, from Moni Celebi, a parent-infant psychotherapist from babies1st, that many parents have found helpful:

  1. Once you are over the baby shock, or past the first few months of “baby-moon”, establish a routine. But don’t beat yourself up if you cannot stick to it perfectly. It should be more seen as an aspiration than a rigid rule. Try to start with a clear bed-time routine and then work backwards. In the morning it is of course tempting to lie in, especially if you had a night of interrupted sleep, but in the long run it is good to aim for a regular get up time for yourself, even if baby is still asleep.
  2. Talk to your baby whenever there is an opportunity. Describe what you are doing, what you will be doing etc. Initially this may feel strange, as if you are talking to yourself. But babies love their mother’s voice, and are often curious and understand more than we give them credit for.
  3. Go out once a day, even if the weather is not inviting. Wrapping your baby up tightly you can then meet up with another mother, a friend or family. Establishing a walk and talk space becomes an opportunity to have a chat, a catch-up, a space where you get some adult attention.
  4. Join either a face to face or an online group for one of the many baby classes. There are so many activity available, from singing, to signing, to dancing. Try them out and discover what you and your baby like doing together. These are all good ways of building a structure, which will help you and your baby get through the day. Beware not to overdo activities though. It is good to do at least one thing a day, but don’t rush from one activity to another. Make sure you leave space for downtime.
  5. Create special times. These are the opposite of educational activity classes and can help you connect with your baby in a different way. Put away your telephone and turn off the TV. Set aside 10 minutes to just watch and give your baby your undivided attention. Make sure baby is safe, but then give space to notice what baby wants to do or not to do. Do not educate, stimulate, or initiate, but just be mindful and responsive if baby seeks you out for a cuddle, or wants to look around, move away and explore. Don’t be tempted to rush off to do some chores, when baby is calm, but stay in the present moment. You may just want to describe what you see you baby is doing. Be curious about what baby make be thinking, if s/he had words, and at the same time notice what you are feeling, when you just watch your baby. It can be a relief to be with baby and not be doing something. Babies love their parents’ attention. Try to do this once a day if you can. Over time you will see the benefits.
  6.  At the end of the day make a list of things you are grateful for. Remember the moments you enjoyed and think of what you did to bring them about. Always remember that everyone has good days and not so good days. Don’t strive for perfection, but for “good enough”. Your baby will love you for it.

Moni Celebi is a parent-infant psychotherapist specialising in the 1001 Critical Days (from Conception to age two) [email protected]

It’s been a difficult challenging time for our sector and many baby & toddler classes have really struggled to return. This is because there are no clear specific government guidelines for baby & toddler groups. Providers are having to refer to many different documents to work out how to operate covid-securely.

Through our community of thousands of class providers, we have brought together a shared understanding of the existing Government Covid Guidelines, and summarised all the the relevant information that applies to our sector into one place.

The Government is currently reviewing this document and we are assisting with creating more formal official guidelines for the sector for the future.

Baby & toddler classes provide a vital lifeline for new parents. We hope this will help others to re-open their classes, or to avoid sudden closures from their venues.

This is an evolving document as Government Guidelines are changing constantly and we’re continuing to work with Government departments to help secure greater clarity for our sector, and support with re-opening.

To ensure you have the latest version therefore, we are asking for your email below to a) download the latest Operational Guidelines and b) receive updates on any substantial changes as Tiers/Rules change.  You can of course unsubscribe from this list at any time. (Please see Happity Privacy Policy)

This is a collaborative document and we are super grateful to everyone that has helped bring this together so far. If you have comments or feedback to add please email us on [email protected]

NB – If you already list your classes with Happity, you’ll receive updates via our regular sector newsletters, so you don’t need to sign up again. 😊

Please let other providers know about this blog so they too can benefit from these Operational Guidelines.


Summary of government covid guidance for baby & toddler groups

3RD NOV 2020 – PLEASE NOTE – WE ARE AWAITING CHANGES TO THE GOVERNMENT GUIDELINE DOCS DURING NATIONAL RESTRICTIONS. PLEASE SIGN UP FOR UPDATES.

The National Restrictions state:

Parent and child groups can continue where they provide support to parent and/or child, and children under 5 will not be counted within the 15 person limit – meaning parents and carers can attend such groups in larger numbers.

Please also see, Children’s Minister, Vicky Ford’s answer to the question:whether private (a) toddler groups, (b) singing groups and (c) other educational classes for children under the age of five can continue to take place under the new national covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

Introduction

This document aims to reflect England’s existing government guidelines and share how they are being interpreted and implemented by the baby & toddler sector at present.

Happity has coordinated the input of a wide range of practitioners into this document. It draws together information that is currently spread across a number of different guidelines – much of which has not been written with the challenges of our sector in mind.

It aims to summarise how the current guidelines are being used in practice to enable baby & toddler groups to operate both safely, and in a viable manner (financially, if they are commercial and practically, if they are community-run). Practitioners should not use this as an instructive document itself – but rather, as a useful guide as to where they can find information in the official guidelines when making their own decisions over how to run classes.

Disclaimer: the official guidance documents change frequently, and whilst we aim to keep this document updated as much as possible, you will need to refer back to the original guidance linked within. 

If you would like to receive updates via email as this document evolves, please subscribe here.

Context

A number of Government ministers and MPs have stated their support for our sector to re-open and operate, as well as recognised the importance of our sector in supporting the health, wellbeing and development of children and their families.

However, the baby & toddler sector faces unique challenges in managing the risks of covid as there are no specific guidelines for this sector. Unlike other activities, classes involve both adults and children participating together, and can cover a very wide range of different types of activity, including sports, fitness, music, drama, dancing and much more. It includes commercial businesses, as well as a significant amount of volunteer-run or community provision.

At present, the most commonly used guidelines in our sector are:

Also often referred to:

As none of the above guidance has been written with our sector in mind – some guidelines do not apply to children under the age of 5, or they are not intended for settings where parents attend. Others have been written with reference to groups of adults meeting. 

This means a great deal of care needs to be taken as to how and why each part of the guidelines may or may not apply in our settings – keeping classes safe, whilst enabling a sector, that provides a crucial service for families, to survive.

Alert Levels

Children’s groups are permitted to run in all three Tiers of the alert levels (Medium – 1, High – 2, Very High – 3, provided they are operating in covid-secure venues according to guidelines. See the Official Gov Alerts poster (‘Children’s groups permitted’ under ‘Childcare’). 

Whilst the ‘Childcare’ labelling has left many confused, an earlier Government table released in the national press had a label of ‘Childcare & Children’s Groups’ and the Early Years Alliance states that “The Department for Education has confirmed to the Alliance that “in community settings, such as a church hall, and community centres, the exception for supervised activities for children is maintained in all local alert levels”. The DfE has previously confirmed that baby and toddler groups (where parents and carers attend) are included in the definition of supervised activities for children.”

It also appears to be a broadening of the term ‘children’s playgroups’, which was used in previous guidance, after concerns were raised that this only applied to a very specific type of baby & toddler group.

Classes for very young babies (such as baby massage) are able to operate under this broader definition, where parents are being supported in promoting their child’s development – just as they would do in classes for older babies.

Postnatal exercise and fitness classes are also categorised as organised sporting activities, and are therefore permitted outdoors, and indoors in all alert levels so long as individuals do not mix and can be safely distanced.

In a Medium risk area, parents can attend classes with friends and they are allowed to have socially distanced interactions with one another (i.e. within the Rule of 6, individuals can interact in groups of up to 6. The classes themselves may host gatherings of more than six, determined by the venue size. For more info see ‘Headcount’ section below).

The main difference at the higher alert levels (Tiers 2 and 3) is that:

a) High Alert (Tier 2): parents must not socialise with others indoors; the Rule of 6 continues to apply outdoors

b) Very High Alert (Tier 3): parents must not socialise with others indoors OR outdoors 

c) extra care must be taken to ensure households do not mix during class

It is worth noting that the alert/tier level travels with the person based on their residency. So a Tier 2 person, even if they travel to a Tier 1 area, must still abide by the Tier 2 rules.

People are permitted to travel from and to Very High risk areas, if it’s for the purpose of work or education.

UPDATE 3 NOVEMBER – During England’s lockdown (November 2020), the DfE has confirmed in writing to Happity that baby & toddler groups may continue to operate under the definition of a ‘support group for new parents’ – adhering to the 15 person limit for the duration of lockdown (this number does not include practitioners or children under the age of 5). Groups must take place in covid-secure venues, not private homes, and be organised by an official body (such as a business or charity) rather than a parent. This has also been confirmed publicly by Minister for Health, Nadine Dorries.

  1. Risk assessment and basic mitigation

Class providers should undertake a thorough risk assessment before resuming face to face classes, and follow the core public health guidance, covering the basics of good hygiene and essential mitigation (i.e. washing / sanitising hands, social distance, ventilation). They can contact local Environmental Health Officers for additional assistance with plans and discuss them with their venues. There are also a wide range of covid-safety training courses available online.

  1. Headcount Limits

The DfE have confirmed to us directly that baby and toddler groups ARE expected to continue during the national lockdown in November, as an essential service for new parents and young children. They are covered by the definition of support groups – and this is intended to be much broader than groups that target support for issues such as PND and breastfeeding, recognising the difficulty with engaging young children via online classes and the importance of supporting development for this age group. We are expecting to see further specific guidance stated on this in official documents shortly, as well as clarification for venues.

  1. Social Distancing

Wherever possible, class providers are seeking to maintain a 2m distance between participants, most commonly by marking out a space for each family that they must stay within during the class, either by tape or by using mats which families stay upon. Distances are measured edge to edge, rather than middle to middle.

If this distance is not viable, some providers are taking a ‘1m plus’ approach. This requires families to keep face masks on at all times, unless an exemption applies. There is increased risk with this approach as this places families within the definition of ‘close contact’ (close contact is defined as within 2m for 15 minutes, within 1m for 1 minute, or physical contact). Best practice is to make a note of where families are positioned in the room to help assist NHS Test & Trace.

In England, the general guidance is that children are still required to socially distance. However, the DfE has acknowledged to the Early Years Alliance Young children and children with special educational needs may not be able to understand the need for social distancing and may also seek close interaction with their peers or adults to provide reassurance at a period of disruption to their routines.” 

It’s also noted that there’s no mention of social distancing for children in the updated guidance for ‘Places of Worship’ which states: “This includes, but is not limited to, activities such as mother and baby groups with multiple adults supervising children. In these situations, adults should maintain social distancing with other adults from different households.”

Class providers are therefore using their judgement as to how much social distancing is required of toddlers in their classes, based on the type of activity and how much it affects the ability of adults to maintain their distance.

It’s extremely difficult and stressful for parents to strictly enforce social distancing amongst toddlers, and could lead to a poor learning environment. But equally, allowing toddlers to roam freely just as they would do in the past, could pose an increased risk to adults as it makes social distancing harder for carers to maintain.

Many class providers are taking a pragmatic approach to this and incorporate it into the content of their classes. They encourage children to stay with their adults within their ‘special islands’ and coach parents on how to bond and praise their children to show them how they are expected to behave in class. Parents are asked to refrain from leaving their designated spaces as much as possible, but to retrieve wandering toddlers safely and swiftly. Young children in the covid era are more able to remain closeby to their parents, and so far some class providers have reported seeing children wandering, but then quickly returning of their own accord.

For stay & play style groups, providers have implemented social distancing by having ‘zoned’ activity areas and rotating families. In Medium risk areas, where families are allowed to meet other households indoors, families might be put into small groups of up to 6 and rotate zones together for the duration of the session (space permitting). However, in higher alert areas, families must not socialise with other households whilst indoors, and in the Very High (Tier 3) areas, families cannot socialise with others outdoors either.

  1. Face Coverings

Children under the age of 11 are not required to wear a covering, and children under the age of 3 must NOT wear a face covering.

For adults, the guidance for Multipurpose Facilities states:

‘On entering a community facility users will be required to wear a face covering, and will be required to keep it on, unless covered under a ‘reasonable excuse’. This could be for a gym class, if users need to eat or drink something, or if they have a health or disability reason to not wear one. Face coverings can be removed if users are undertaking exercise or an activity where it would negatively impact their ability to do so. See guidance on wearing face coverings.’

The guidance on face coverings also provides an additional exemption and allows coverings to be removed ‘if you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate’. (See ‘When you do not need to wear a face covering’).

As one of the key purposes of baby and toddler classes is to develop communication skills, this is seen as a valid reason for removing face coverings, especially as the interaction is between a parent and their own child. 

It is also stated in the Early Years Settings Guidance that “face coverings are not necessary when adults are interacting with children, even where social distancing is not possible. Face coverings may have a negative impact on interactions between staff and children.”

Many providers are therefore taking a ‘mask to mat’ approach, particularly if the class is specifically aimed at developing communication skills. The primary purpose of using face coverings is to reduce transmission between adults, so carers are asked to wear coverings at any time they are moving around. They may only be removed if seated, stationary and communicating with their own child. The risk can then be mitigated by ensuring carers are spaced at least 2m apart. This is consistent with official guidance in Scotland specifically for the baby & toddler sector.

The guidance does seem to technically allow for masks to also be removed even at distances below 2m – however, this appears to be very rare in practice, especially as many classes have some level of group singing or talking involved. (See also Singing.)

  1. Shared Resources

The most relevant guidance on how to mitigate risks around shared resources can be found in Playgrounds (outdoor settings), soft plays (indoor settings), and Early Years settings

The Early Years document is particularly helpful with measures listed under ‘Handling equipment and instruments for organised sessions’, and the Soft Play guidance says ‘Roleplay props will also be considered as single-use items and a suitable system must be in place for the handling, cleaning and sanitisation of props to facilitate this’.

In all of the guidelines, the emphasis is on having an extensive cleaning and sanitisation programme, and limiting sharing as much as possible – particularly where it includes props or smaller items that a child is likely to put in their mouths.

In practice, class providers are switching to materials that are easy to clean as far as possible, avoiding soft toys and swapping to disposable materials. They are also making the process more manageable by encouraging parents to bring and use their own props only; either from home or by preparing a kit bag for the class that carers can purchase. 

If props are being provided by the class provider as single-use items, then it’s important to have a good system for managing this, e.g. clearly labelled tubs for used items to go into, ready for cleaning between sessions. If an item cannot be easily cleaned (and is not disposable), then in-line with the guidance for schools and Place of Worship, it could be quarantined for 48 hours (e.g. books) or 72 hours (if plastic) between uses instead. 

“Resources that are shared between classes or bubbles … should be cleaned frequently and meticulously and always between bubbles, or rotated to allow them to be left unused and out of reach for a period of 48 hours (72 hours for plastics) between use by different bubbles.”

Where equipment has to be shared within a session (such as certain larger toys in stay and play style classes), then providers are managing the risk by limiting the number of children that have access to the equipment at any given time – and asking parents to assist with cleaning equipment before and after their child uses it.

Although there is no specific guidance in England on the risks of certain common materials, it’s noted that Appendix 9 of Infection Prevention and Control for Childcare Settings Guidance in Wales (prepared before Covid) states that “play dough and plasticine should not be used during any outbreak of an infection.” Class providers have also switched to using electric powered bubble blowers (if using at all)

  1. Singing

There was previously some concern about the increased risk posed by singing. However, the Performing Arts guidance and Early Years guidance now permits singing and other types of wind instrument performances to take place – in particular, this means practitioners can sing or play instruments when leading their class, positioned at least 2m away from the audience.

It is less clear what the correct guidance is when it comes to carers participating however, and this is a challenge for some classes, as carers have an important role in actively encouraging children to engage and to learn songs and movements.

Guidance that suggests singing is allowed

Section 3.8 of the Early Years guidance allows small group singing and contains useful information on possible mitigations – for example, maintaining a 2m distance, using microphones (to reduce projection) and setting background music at a lower level. However, it’s noted that this guidance relates to settings where all participants are children, so may not be directly applicable to a group of adults singing.

The Performing Arts guidance permits small groups of adult performers to sing with other mitigations in place, provided they do not mingle in groups of more than 6.

The Places of Worship guidance says that professional performers as well as those under 18 ‘are not limited in number’ both indoors and outdoors, but that ‘where the number of adult performers will be greater than 6, each group of up to 6 performers should ensure that they do not mix and that appropriate social distancing requirements are observed.

Guidance that suggests singing is not allowed

The Place of Worship guidance instructs that the congregation should not sing.

Performing Arts: “When members of the public are attending performances, organisers should ensure that steps are taken to avoid audiences needing to unduly raise their voices to each other, such as shouting, chanting and singing along.”

In both of the above instances, the group being referred to is a substantially larger number of people than would be found in a baby & toddler group.

As this is an area which is unclear, some class providers are taking the safest option by discouraging parents from singing along entirely – whilst others are asking carers to keep singing to a soft / spoken level only. They are also incorporating the use of other actions and clapping / tapping etc. to encourage other types of interaction and musical learning from the children.

The role of group singing is fundamental in a large number of baby & toddler groups and has a clear purpose in child development. Many are opting to mitigate the risks of singing with other alternative measures, such as smaller class sizes, or keeping face coverings on throughout. There are many practitioners who feel they would be unable to run their classes if there is any greater restriction on this and others who currently aren’t running classes yet, due to the lack of clarity on this.

  1. Refreshments

It was previously common practice to offer families a drink and a snack during playgroups. There is no consistent approach on this at present, with some venues permitting refreshments within their risk assessment, and others that are not.

The guidance for Close Contact Services (such as Hairdressers) states “Salons can provide hot or cold drinks to clients in disposable cups or bottles. Practitioners should encourage clients to only remove their mask to consume the drink. When clients have removed their masks, practitioners should ensure they are socially distanced from the client (2m, or 1m with mitigations).​”

There is also some information in the Places of Worship guidance about how to safely manage the distribution of food and drink.

  1. Consistent bubbles

A large part of the baby & toddler sector previously operated on a ‘drop-in’ basis, with no advance bookings. As spaces are currently very limited and demand is high, the majority of services have now moved to a system of pre-booking only. 

Many providers are continuing to offer ‘single session’ bookings, as this helps a wider range of families access services. It makes classes more affordable, and helps vulnerable parents who may have trouble committing to a whole term in advance – particularly those who may need extra support with mental wellbeing.

In the Holiday Clubs and Out of School guidelines, the idea of ‘consistent bubbles’ is promoted as being one way to reduce the risk of transmission. It is also mentioned in the Early Years guidelines as a way to mitigate the risk around singing groups.

However, this approach represents a big shift for the baby & toddler sector where classes typically run once per week, rather than daily (as in the case of Holiday Clubs or Early Years groups).

Implementing a ‘bubble’ approach would have a substantial impact on the number of families that can be served by any one class – and the wider impact on health and society of this needs to be taken into account. For example, a 10-week term of 10 spaces in normal times could potentially reach up to 100 different families on a drop-in basis, running once per week. If the sector was to follow a ‘consistent bubbles’ policy, it would mean that the same amount of provision is now only able to serve 10 different families, whilst having only a limited impact on minimising risk.

Instead, it would be more appropriate to issue guidance to carers to a) limit the number of different classes they attend in any given week, b) space these out rather than attending classes on consecutive days, c) where possible, attend classes with the same small group of friends to reduce the number of different individuals they are exposed to (noting the area specific guidance depending on alert level).

  1. NHS Test & Trace and QR Codes

All classes should maintain a record of attendance to assist NHS Test & Trace and update their Privacy Policy accordingly. (See Guidance on Maintaining records for what to collect and for how long). For most classes, the best way to manage this is by taking bookings in advance through an online system like Happity.

QR Codes are designed to help assist Test & Trace. In most instances, class providers will be operating in venues that already have a QR code displayed – so it will not be necessary to generate their own code (unless they prefer to – in e.g. an especially large venue).

It is up to your participants as to whether they wish to use the QR codes. However, in hospitality venues, it is legally required for attendees to provide contact details – either by allowing you to keep a record of their attendance in your register, or scanning the code if not. If they do not provide contact details for an event in a hospitality venue, they must be refused entry. 

Last updated 2 November 2020 |

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Well it’s been another busy few weeks in Happity-land!

Buckle up for a fairly long post – but one worth reading. It includes the highs and lows of the last couple of weeks and some videos that I’m sure will make you goosebumpy on one hand, and desperate for change on another.

Meeting with BEIS and DHSC

Sara and I recently met with representatives from the BEIS and DHSC Government departments to share the importance of baby & toddler classes, why they haven’t returned despite Government allowing them for a while (e.g. since July in England and August in Scotland), and what is needed to get them back successfully.

We shared that classes and groups are important for baby development, preparing them for nursery/pre-school, and also for a parents mental health. With 92% of mothers admitting to feeling lonely, and feeling lonely making mental health issues 50% more likely, AND having a parent with mental health issues impacting negatively on a childs entire life (to the tune of £5.7bn yearly per cohort), groups are all agree that groups are needed.

Happity Industry Survey Results (Sept 2020)

We highlighted why so many classes and groups are yet to return respite the Government allowing them for well over 2 months, and having a specific exclusion from the rule of 6.

It comes down to the lack of guidelines.

  • 42% of providers surveyed said they were still unsure whether the Government is allowing this sector to re-open
  • On average providers had to read 5 different guidelines to piece together what they felt was allowed
  • But still, 52% stated they had low to no confidence that these guidelines apply to their organisation – and for good reason…

Government officials are continuing to direct people to use incorrect guidelines that SPECIFICALLY say they are not for use where both a child and parent/carer are attending a session together.

We discussed how the baby & toddler classes sector is predominately run by small independents (often mums themselves) who are not prepared to put their customers’ health at risk – and the lack of confidence over how to operate safely is preventing a large number from re-opening.

Of those that have re-opened, half reported a significant increase in ongoing running costs (50% or more) as well as upfront costs in new equipment. However, less than 5% were willing to pass these costs onto customers – and are unlikely to be financially viable in the medium to long-term.

We foresee significant risk to this sector going forward – and a mental health crisis waiting to happen.

And of course, this effects vulnerable families the most:

“Families on lower income have contacted me to say they can no longer afford to come and feel priced out of children’s activities now.”

“My aim is to reduce isolation in parents in the rural areas where I live. If I increase my prices to cover these costs I’m alienating the very people who need this service the most.” 

We asked for clear guidance, which we are well-placed to help coordinate with feedback and consultation from the sector.

And because the voluntary groups and children centres are harder to reopen yet due to the “stay and play” nature of their sessions, we asked for a voucher scheme to enable the most vulnerable families to attend paid classes – many of which will have to increase their prices if they haven’t already due to the increased venue, cleaning and equipment costs if they are to survive.

They agreed about the importance of classes (as do so many others – I think this post on Facebook and Instagram is one of our most shared to date), found the information re the realities of the lack of guidelines and the issues this is causing, and have promised to discuss it further internally and revert. So far we’ve not heard anything back re positive change, but we are following up periodically and have offered to coordinate the sector to help formulate sensible guidelines, reflecting the best practice that’s already being put into place.

We need even more signatures on our petition though to make this jump even higher on their agenda (we are aiming at 100k to get a Govt debate!) so PLEASE sign and share this petition.

Maternity Petition Debate

Then there was the Maternity Petition debate – the first debate physically back in Parliament with the amazing Catherine McKinnell fighting the corner of new parents. There are about 14 other MPs also agreeing with her report (which contained I think it was 24 recommendations, only one of which the BEIS Minister had agree to progress – the one to talk to Happity re the baby and toddler class industry).

One MP didn’t agree – saying maternity leave was for the physical recovery of the mother and so extended time wouldn’t work (we would argue that many mothers haven’t been able to physically recover due to physio/surgery not being as readily available and of course many not being able to take the time to look after the physical recovering being home alone potentially looking after school age children too!)

She also highlighted that lockdown was only actually March to July. At this point I was almost shouting at my TV screen that whilst that was true for many sectors of society, many new parents actually felt worse over the summer holidays and more lonely as over 5s could head merrily to clubs and groups with no social distancing, but there was still nowhere they could take their child. And of course now with the introduction of 6 person max (including babies) the informal meet-ups that mothers had started to resort to are banned. (NB baby groups are excluded and so can run with more than 6 but the lack of guidelines it why so many haven’t been able to return.)

She was also concerned about the impact of increase maternity leave on discrimination of women – a viable concern – however given this petition is about extending maternity leave just for those on mat leave during Covid, I think the positives of extending would far outweigh the negative of this (given that this is likely to be the case unfortunately anyway with many redundancies on the way – sad but true)

But the overwhelming story from MPs up and down the country was that more time, and additional support needs to be given to new parents at this time. I for one just don’t understand why the dentistry provision – given because a mothers teeth are impacted due to low calcium levels through pregnancy and breast-feeding – is not being extended despite it not being available the last 6 months for new mothers.

I wanted to share this clip of the closing part of Catherine McKinnell’s speech (I dare you to watch it without feeling emotional of going goose-pimply, I know I can’t.)

Catherine McKinnell, Chair of the Petitions Committee

We know baby and toddler groups are needed to help babies develop and prepare for nursery/pre-school. We know parents need the peer support and community they provide. And it is worrying that the Government still isn’t doing anything to help.

Tim Loughton, another MP shared this horrible image of how some babies are now reacting when meeting others:

Tim Loughton, MP

And we know this to be a problem. In the survey Happity conducted a few weeks ago many providers highlighted that children who used to be confident, in returning to their class were shy and nervous. That children felt overwhelmed, and in some cases unable to last the full 30minutes.

We need to get back to groups ASAP so that those yet to benefit from groups can do so, and those who used to attend, can get back to their normal sparky selves.

Another personal favourite moment of the debate (although it may be as I know his amazing wife who campaigns like me for mental health provision for new parents!) was when Gavin Robinson, the MP for Belfast said that we are “yet to hear a substantive rebuttal for the report”. And that the “government is nothing other than tone deaf” on the topic of new parents.

And this is true. The only reason the BEIS Minister gave to the petition, to the petition committee sessions, the report, and now this debate, was that the maternity benefits in the UK are sufficient and one of the best.

But as I was quoted during the session (with some interesting pronunciation!), and as numerous MPs quotes the UNICEF findings throughout the debate, this simple isn’t true:

Catherine McKinnell, Chair of the Petitions Committee

But after all bar one MP wholeheartedly supporting the maternity petition, each bringing up different recommendations as necessary during these turbulent times, Paul Scully the Minister for BEIS again gave the same resounding no.

He said the session for interesting and informative. That he as a father remembers that social contact is important. That he sympathises that maternity isn’t being used as envisaged, and that he recognises we want to give babies the best start in life, and as social creatives that includes socialisation…

But yet again he then said nothing will be changed. That mothers have still been able to recover, bond and breastfeed. That they have had time to prepare for work. He highlighted the additional unpaid leave parents are entitled to each year (of course if they can afford it…) and once again that internationally it’s a good deal.

The one recommendation they did okay was to talk to us re getting baby & toddler classes back. That the convo we had I mention further up this blog. What would really help in getting those conversations going even faster would be for more signatures on our petition (we are aiming at 100k to get a Govt debate!) so PLEASE sign and share our petition.

But the story of our progress with the Government doesn’t end there.

Meeting with Andrea Leadsom

The next day I met with Andrea Leadsom who is doing a Childcare review – from the view of the baby and giving them the best start from conception to age 2.5.

(She was also at the maternity petition debate and said she wanted to ensure that after lockdown, parents can use maternity leave as the expected. Of course we all know that despite official lockdown being relaxed (in most places), baby and toddler groups in the most part are not returned. )

She wanted to understand what Happity did, how we have helped parents during Covid, and how we could help parents going forward.

Although she was unable to help with the immediate needs of the sector around guidelines and intervention, we are hopeful that some of the ideas shared with her about supporting the sector longer term will be considered in her review.

We offer free Happity membership to all Charities, CICs and community groups – and at this time we’ve been able to help many of these organisations manage their bookings and get their information online, especially as it’s often difficult for parents to get hold of.

Although we don’t make money from these groups, they are hugely important for parents to access, and we would love to have the support of Government particularly in helping Children’s Centres reach more parents.

It’s a segment of provision that we’ve always been dedicated to listing on Happity, even where it’s been expensive and time-consuming for us to do so – because it’s so important that every family can access this information. However, especially with the impact of covid, this is difficult for us to sustain financially in the long term. Children’s Centres need the help and resource to be able to manage their own listings.

I will be following up with her this week and next, and hope that by working with her on the best outcome of children, we can get the Government to listen and make changes.

They agree to the importance of baby and toddler classes and groups. But they are yet to make any huge positive changes.

I think they are trying (e.g. the exclusion of “baby playgroups” from the rule of 6) just they don’t know the ins and out of this amazing special industry, so need some pushing in the right direction.

Sara and I will continue to do our best to get as much support back for families through baby & toddler classes.

We can’t however do it alone.

What you can do to help your family

If you want more classes back, please sign and share this petition. It’s not just for providers to sign – it’s for all parents who also want to get back to classes.

If you want to input to Andrea Leadsom’s Childrens review you can fill out the survey (by 16th Oct midnight) here.

If you are a provider, you can also join our Facebook group for chat and tips on returning covid-secure, and you can list your classes for free on Happity. Even if you haven’t returned yet, you can register and get parents following you so that as soon as you do return they are easily notified.

If you are a parent, you can find classes near you on happity.co.uk, and sign up to our weekly “what’s on” newsletter which will send bespoke classes to you – importantly highlighting face-to-face classes available near you.

Finally, if you are on social media, we would really appreciate you helping us spread the word about Happity and what we are achieving. We are a team of 4 mums who absolutely love supporting you all, and if you can help us reach your corner of the UK, we can support you all the more.

This is us on instagram, facebook and twitter (although currently we are using Emily’s Twitter more for these debates!)

Yes!

That is the short answer.

However, that is only relevant for informal meet ups.

For formal, Covid-safe classes, “baby playgroups” are now exempt. We have been lobbying the Government for months on this – so when we say this added to the official exempts to the 6 we were very happy to see it!

So, if you run or go to a formal baby or toddler group, the good news is that the 6 max doesn’t apply.

However in practice this is proving more difficult to achieve than you might think.

The issue is the lack of thought and guidelines for groups where children AND parents attend. There are currently no guidelines for this demographic. And therefore providers are having to sift through multiple guidelines aimed at different demographics to work out if they can continue.

Now the good news is that baby & toddler classes have been able to continue since July, and still can despite the new 6 person max rule as they are exempt. However, in practice this has been very difficult. With only about 5% having actually returned.

We are therefore continuing our petition, to call on the government to provide clear guidelines for classes and groups where children AND parents attend.

Please sign the petition below, and share it with your family and friends.

Emily will be talking with a Government minister soon (and spoke about this on the BBC News recently about all the confusion – not that they way they cut my sentence made it much clearer…), and the more people who sign this petition, the more likely she will be able to get help for all new parents and providers. Be it through guidance as we have put in the petition, or through excluding children from the 6 max like in Scotland and Wales. As this would reduce the confusion, and enable more commercial and community groups to return.

Please sign and share:

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/331261

It’s been a long road to reopening for baby classes, and with this week’s announcements about maximums returning to 6 people, you are understandably worried about whether classes can return! 😫

The new regulations apply to the general public when socialising – but rest assured, properly run baby and toddler classes are operating as professional businesses, with high safety standards and your best interests at heart. 

Everyone has been working incredibly hard behind the scenes to complete their covid-safety training, undertake full risk assessments, and work with local authorities to ensure classes are as safe as possible. ❤️

Please do be careful of some informal baby group meetups that are being organised via Whatsapp at the moment, as they may not have put in place the proper to operate safely.

Here are just a few of the examples of the things you can expect from returning classes:


⭐️markers or mats placed 2m apart or more
⭐️controlled entry / exit points
⭐️hand sanitisers on site
⭐️’one use only’ sanitised equipment – no sharing between families
⭐️appropriate use of face coverings (this might be ‘mask to mat’ in some settings so you can remove your mask once in position – face coverings may need to be kept on in others)
⭐️use of microphones and visors for class leaders, reducing the need to project voices
⭐️smaller class sizes, in larger venues

Some providers also are putting in place extra measures, like having temperature checks on the door, and allowing families to purchase their own kit that they can bring to each class.

As a community, we care hugely about the safety and wellbeing of parents and their children – and none of us have taken the decision to return to classes lightly.  There are higher costs, and greater risks. This means you might find classes need to be booked in blocks, or that they are only transferrable to online classes if there is a local lockdown or the situation changes.

For classes that are coming back, their small biz owners have put in weeks, if not months of planning and hard work, just so that they can get back to you – all the families that have missed them – as soon, but as safely as possible! ❤️

Please support your local class providers – visit happity.co.uk to book your favourite classes.

We would also LOVE you to spread the word about Covid-safe classes by sharing our post on Instagram and Facebook.

Oh, and if you haven’t already signed the petition to get guidance for class providers so more can return ASAP (that’s another story!) please sign here.

When you heard “Hoop app closing” I’m sure you were sad 😥 but weren’t yet looking for classes to fill your week, help your baby develop, or make friends locally.


But now, judging by the 100,000 visits to Happity by parents last month, we’re guessing you might be looking for a baby or toddler class to get out of your four walls 🤗


So if you’ve found the Hoop app not working on your phone as you want to search desperately for something to get out and do, look no further…


Happity is here to help you with all your baby class needs! 😍


Thousands of parents are booking up in-person classes already through Happity – so make sure you grab your spot as classes are filling up fast!


🏃‍♀️ Find and book classes now at www.happity.co.uk to start creating your community today.


If you’re a business that runs classes, you can list them for FREE: www.happity.co.uk/add-activity


Please SHARE this post to let others know about us, and COMMENT below letting us know what classes you are looking for!


As a thank you we will enter you into a prize draw to WIN:


FIRST PRIZE: £50 of allbymama vouchers – so you can not only support our small business, and the small businesses of class providers you book with, but also mums running small retail businesses too! 🥰


SECOND PRIZE: 5 packets of Percy Pigs to scoff when your kids aren’t looking – or as we like to say “eating them to stop the kids eat too many” – we see it as our duty 🤣


Team Happity x

How To Win

It’s super easy to enter! Simply head over to the competition posts on our Facebook page or Instagram. Share the post (to a local mum group / on your story) and comment on it which classes you are looking for.

Competition closes midnight on Wednesday 30th September 2020.

The lucky winner will be announced on Thursday 1st October 2020 on our Facebook page. Terms and conditions apply.

About Happity

Happity is a website that helps you find local baby and toddler classes. Fast. When it’s a race against naptime to escape the house, our handy filters help you find drop-ins and community-run groups that cost under £2. It’s all handily plotted on a map and you don’t need to download anything to use it!

As a team of parents, we get that it’s all-important to find something that’s fun for you too – so we’ve also added a filter to help you find baby-friendly activities that are really For Parents. Use this filter to find yoga, fitness, photography classes, life drawing and more. Our own founder Sara even attended a bring your baby coding course at the start of her journey building Happity.

Competition Terms & Conditions

  1. The first prize is for one £50 allbymama voucher.
  2. The second prize is for 5 packets of Percy Pigs!
  3. UK entrants over 18 only. UK delivery only. The prize will not be valid for addresses outside of the UK.
  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 share and comment on the Facebook or Instagram post. Therefore there is a maximum of 2 entries per person – one for Facebook and one for Instagram.
  6. Competition opens on when the post is live and closes at midnight on 30th Sept 2020.
  7. The winners will be randomly selected out of all valid entries.
  8. Competition winners will be notified directly on Facebook or Instagram on Thursday 1st Oct 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.
  9. All entrants agree to their names and comments being used for promotional purposes. Copyright in all material submitted as entries rests with the promoter.
  10. We will not pass on your personal details to any other organisation without your permission, except for the purpose of awarding the prize.
  11. 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.
  12. We reserve the right to refuse entry into the Competition
  13. 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
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
Are you missing this? We are!! 😭 – Photo kindly provided by Foxtots

The baby and toddler class sector is really struggling in a post-covid world – and so are parents with young children.

Whilst there’s government guidance for children’s classes and adult classes, there is no specific guidance for classes where adults and children attend together. Providers face conflicting and confusing advice, and practically impossible conditions to return.

Babies and toddlers are included in the group headcount, making many classes financially unviable – especially with all the additional costs of equipment and infection control, and longer changeover times between classes on top. We are also not permitted to sing in groups, even outdoors – whilst those in the performing arts can.

Our sector needs urgent attention from the government so that we can find ways to return safely ASAP. Businesses are closing. We need your help – urgently.

There are two things you can do right now:-

  1. Write to your MP to highlight this problem – whether you are a parent, or a provider (see below for templates)
  2. Sign the official government petition we set up (or for Wales there is a different petition), and share it far and wide (this is the best post to share with all the info needed) with #babyclasspetition
  3. Support your favourite class providers – many of them are still depending on income from online classes. Find them here.

Happity, the children’s activity listings platform, has submitted an official petition requesting clear guidance from Government for the sector, as well as an intervention, such as a voucher scheme, to help kick start this industry as it returns – just as they are doing with others.

It’s clear that class prices will have to be higher in the sector, whilst Children’s Centres remain closed – many permanently. There will be many vulnerable families left without access to baby classes – which can be a lifeline in the early days of parenting.

Please don’t let these families suffer even more isolation than they have already.

Although we are also supporting a number of other petitions already circulating on Change.org, signatories must go through the official channel to get a response from MPs.

At 10,000 signatories they are required to respond. At 100,000 the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament.

We have now hit 10,000 signatures (yay!) and are pushing for 100,000. Please sign and share the petition to show your support.

Although we have been speaking with the House of Commons and Government in a number of departments on other campaigns (such as an extension for maternity leave), and our platform represents thousands of class providers, we are still only one voice.

It needs many voices working together to create real change.

If you are a Class Provider who would like to follow updates and get community support please join our Facebook Group for activity providers.

We also have a separate group for parents interested in finding children’s classes and connecting with other local parents.

So please, if you are a provider or a parent, download the template letters and send them to your local MP below. Or write your own if you prefer. Feel free to update and make them relevant to you.

Parent’s Template

Provider’s Template

You can find your local MP here: https://members.parliament.uk/FindYourMP

You can find your MSP here: https://beta.parliament.scot/msps/current-and-previous-msps

Please share this blog and ask all your parent friends to do likewise. We need to get as many people writing, (and if possible many times!) to get this done as soon as possible.

We have also prepared a press statement and are in contact with a number of media outlets.

If you would like to provide a quote about your personal experience and would be happy to either be included in our release or speak directly to press when needed, please fill in the form below.

Thank you!!

Emily & Sara xxx

Co-Founders Happity.co.uk – connecting parents through baby classes.

We are all struggling. Parents of small children. We’ve been on our own for months, juggling work and childcare/homeschooling. And with the summer holidays looming and the end of furlough for many as businesses open up, the question “what can I do to keep the kids quiet for an hour” becomes more important.

So when we heard that Hoop – What’s on for Families, a service which helped parents find and book classes for kids, was shutting down on 17th, many were concerned. Very concerned.

Luckily, Happity is here to step in.

Happity connects parents through baby & toddler classes. It is the only platform dedicated exclusively to baby and toddler classes, listing over 8,000 weekly classes, with over 200,000 parents trusting us to find and book classes last year.

Happity is run by two mums who experienced loneliness and post natal depression in new motherhood. Who spotted a glaring gap in technology for mothers, so one of them trained in tech, the other building awareness of maternal mental health to reduce the stigma surrounding it.

Introducing Sara and Emily!

Sara (on the right) has two kids, and is the techie who is passionate about flexible working for parents (their team of 4 has always worked via Zoom across the UK).

Emily (on the left) has one son and has a passion for helping parents maintain good mental wellness (you may have come across her #ShoutieSelfie campaign, or heard her share her experience in the media).

Like others, we have been hit hard during Covid. But thankfully as a smaller, organically grown business, we are not at the mercy of VC investors and have done what we can to manage costs, adapt business and access government support to keep afloat.

In just one weekend, as lockdown became imminent, the team pulled together to enable all providers to switch to online classes.

” Happity has been the backbone to so many online businesses of late (and in person ones before lockdown) and I (along with many others) continue to be eternally grateful xx”

Rosie Fox, Foxtots
Victoria, We are Footsteps

“Thank you. From the bottom of my heart. What you and your team are doing is phenomenal. My business died overnight on Tuesday when all my venues closed and it was clear my classes couldn’t continue. I spent hours and hours trying to find a way to run classes remotely but simply couldnt get my head around how to do it and still make a small income. You have made this possible. Receiving my login on a Saturday night has been the best news that a pregnant lady with a chronic illness and a small business could receive in the middle of isolation in what is the strangest of times. Hopefully my little classes can now bring happiness to the homes they reach in this scary and uncertain time.

They have also been supporting parents during this tricky time. In the last month, Emily has featured in The Sunday Times, The Guardian and on the BBC, campaigning for the rights of mums on maternity – and speaking out about the gender inequalities arising due to covid19. They have also been lobbying government of the need to support the children’s activity sector and how they have been affected just as much as the more visible shops, restaurants and cafes.

So we are all round good guys (sorry, girls – makes a change in tech eh!)

With in-person classes for 0-5yos still not being advised by the Government, online classes are key – and Happity believe in proper, interactive classes – ones with set times, small groups, and interaction between families and providers.

But we are ready for in-person classes to return – our system allowing parents to search just for in-person, just online, or both as they choose. As well as obviously searching via area, age and day.

If you want to hear about in-person classes as they return near to you, please sign up to Happity’s “What’s On” mailing list – you will be the first to know when classes are starting up in real life near you. You can sign up on our website, www.happity.co.uk via the form at the bottom.

And do tell your parent friends. Happity is a small, but highly effective company, which relies on word-of-mouth. So tell your friends up and down the country who are desperate for classes to restart – to get on to Happity now for fun online classes, and hopefully soon for in-person ones!

Looking for an alternative to the Hoop app for families? Happity is here to help!

As you may have heard, Hoop announced they are closing the app on 17th July. With such short notice, this has left many parents and providers in the lurch, not knowing where to turn to find and book classes.

There are many things to consider when choosing a new booking system – or marketing platform – for your classes. Whichever platform you choose, it will take some investment of your time even if the listings are free, so it’s important to check if it will meet your needs.

Happity is the only truly integrated platform available in the market. We offer a service that’s comparable to Hoop helping parents to find children’s classes, but we are specifically for the under-5s – and our philosophy is very different.

As a small independent business ourselves, we’ve grown organically by working in partnership with Happity class providers. We’ve always worked hard to do the right thing for small businesses.

We’ve got to where we are because class providers and parents recommend us to their friends and colleagues. Happity reached around 1 in 4 of new parents in London last year, and we are now accepting listings from all parts of the UK. Both the Evening Standard and The Independent picked us as one of their top parenting apps this year. 😊

Over 200,000 parents trust Happity already.

Happity is both a fully-featured booking system and a discovery platform for parents and is now UK-wide.

Unlike the Hoop app, Happity focuses specifically on supporting classes for bumps, babies & toddlers where there’s a real social and community need. We help people through the difficult days of early parenthood, and understand the challenges that face class providers in this sector.

You can meet other small biz owners like you from all over the country in our online Facebook community for free, and join in with our wider campaigns to support mums – and the official government petition to secure clear guidelines for the under-5s sector.

Happity is tailor made for the baby and toddler sector – from sibling tickets, to pro-rated term tickets, and powerful search and mapping features so parents can find exactly the right class for them.

Happity is here to help you grow your business with less effort, and more time for your family.

It’s free to register.

… and only 3% commission on bookings – *inclusive* of VAT.

With all the features you’d expect of your main booking system, Happity helps you fill classes and save time.

We encourage parents to commit to classes longer-term, because we believe it supports their wellbeing, children, and local communities – it’s also better for your business too. Happity makes it easy to manage all the ticket types you need, and it’s affordable to offer block or term tickets too. You can also easily view your sales reports, registers, and even share them with external teacher, so you don’t have to worry about juggling spaces with another booking system. And when you’re not running classes, you don’t pay anything.

But you don’t have to take bookings if you don’t want to!

Many class providers in the under-5s sector prefer to run on a drop-in basis (at least pre-covid), or are part of a larger franchise with it’s own booking system – and that’s OK with us. We’ve designed our model to support you too. 🙂

For classes which need an extra boost now and then, we offer a marketing service that runs like Google Ads on a pay as you go basis. It gets you at the top of Happity search results and into newsletters, and you can use it even if you’re not taking bookings through us.

For charities, and CICs, we also offer a special FREE membership package. Just let us know your details when you register!


Here are some things class providers say about us

Cat, Little Folk Nursery Rhymes

“Listed with Happity and I’ve had 5 bookings in less than 24 hours! Absolutely thrilled!” – Claire, Tappy Toes

“They are really good. Our area manager did months of research before deciding on them and we can’t fault them. Any feedback we offer them too, they always act on.” Happy Hands Club

“Happity team were amazing in helping class providers transition online. They offered technical support as well as lots of other practical advice. I wouldn’t go virtual with Latino Bambino if it wasn’t for them rooting for us and families. Very grateful to Happity!” – Urska, Latino Bambino

“Thank you. From the bottom of my heart. What you and your team are doing is phenomenal.” – Victoria, We Are Footsteps

“It’s been challenging and emotional for many. It could, however have been a much harder journey without you and your wonderful team.” – Nichola, Franchise owner

Happity might ‘just’ be another booking and marketing platform for baby & toddler classes, but we are more than that too. Come join us on our mission to make life better for new parents and small business owners and let’s do this together. 😊

Stay safe & well. ️

Sara, Emily and the Happity Team x

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!

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. 

D is for …

Helping Mummy lead a DRAMATHERAPY Zoom session, DANCE competitions, DRAGON craft, playing DOCTORS with teddies, hiding toy dinosaurs around the house for a DINOSAUR hunt & squeezing in DAISY chain making once the rain stopped. 

@nesting.in.hope 
#dailyABCbox 
#alphabetbox

E is for…

ELEPHANT hand prints, bringing EASTER back for EGG hunts in the garden & chocolate nest making, small world play using her EMERGENCY vehicles & dressing up as ELSA to dance, sing and watch Frozen. 

F is for…

FIREMAN and FAIRY-themed obstacle courses, FISHING games, making a FROG and FOX out of paper plates and collecting FLOWERS on our walk to make ‘nature FACES’ back at home. 

G is for…

Making a GUITAR out of cardboxes, sticking GOOGLEY eyes to objects to make them come to life and eating popcorn in front of The GREATEST SHOWMAN

H is for…

Pretend HORSE showjumping in the garden, playing HAIRDRESSERS, drawing around our arms to send a HUG to someone in the post and creating a HOPSCOTCH obstacle course with chalk for our neighbourhood to have some silly fun with.

I is for…

Rescuing a toy duck from a block of ICE, playing ICECREAM shops and then making some to eat from a frozen banana, playing the party game of Musical ISLANDS and ICING gingerbread men.

J is for…

Using a pillowcase for a JUMPING sack race, decorating a JEWELLERY box, making JELLYFISH out of egg cartons, setting strawberry-shaped JELLIES to eat (which I only remembered were still in the fridge when feeding Hudson at 2am!) and acting out the story of JACK and the Beanstalk (where Lila decided we had to socially distance ourselves from the giant because “all the people getting poorly” 🤣 found a fire in the castle that Jack had to put out and then cut the giant – not the beanstalk – up at the end; vicious!)

K is for…

Making a KING crown and then a KITE which we attempted to fly in a local field, KISSING a piece of paper with lipstick on (Daddy ‘enjoyed’ getting involved too), changing the song name of ‘hop little bunny’ to be a KANGAROO instead and helping mummy clean the KITCHEN – win win! 

L is for…

Drinking homemade LEMONADE, hiding the letters of LILA’s name around the house for her to find and then hang up in order on a washing line, making LADYBIRD cupcakes, playing LORRY ‘Pooh Sticks’ (waving at them as they travel under a bridge from one side to the other) and collecting LEAVES on our way home to put in order from LITTLEST to LARGEST.

M is for…

Playing the MEMORY tray game (guessing which object is missing), making MUD hot chocolate, paint-printing using silver foil to create a MOON and finishing the week with an obstacle course that featured waving a MAGIC wand at MONSTERS in a cave, feeding a baby MEDICINE and pretending to be a MONKEY and a MOUSE 🤦‍♀️🤣)

N is for…

N is for going on a NATURE hunt around the garden, making play-dough NATURE bird NESTS, making animal NOSES out of egg cups and paper plates, dressing up to play NURSES, making and eating chocolate Easter NESTS, opening our own NAIL salon and playing pin the NOSE on the snowman.

O is for…

O for running as fast as we can for an OSTRICH race, having a strop in a homemade OCTOPUS costume during a game of tickle-tag because Lila wanted to be a tiger not an octopus, obviously print painting using ORANGES, making a hand printed OWL picture and going on a colour scavenger hunt for everything ORANGE we could find. 

P is for…

P is for making PIRATE handprints and a PASTA necklace, making homemade PIZZA’S for a PICNIC lunch, role playing POSTMAN PAT and pretending to be PENGUINS by sliding down the water slip and slide on our tummy’s, and making a Mr POTATO head using a real potato and bits we could find in the fridge. 

Q is for…

Q is for making QUEEN handprints and using them to put on a puppet-show, doing a toddler friendly QUIZ, painting using Q-tips (earbuds to us in England), making a QUILT for a soft toy bunny using wrapping paper offcuts and playing the QUICK/slow game where you run really fast or move really slow around the garden when they are shouted out. 

R is for…

R is for doing RUB drawings using leaves, getting messy making footprint ROCKETS, collecting flowers to make a RAINBOW, using masking tape as a ROAD for car play (which Lila had limited interest in, but Daddy had lots of fun with after work) and hysterical giggles on a virtual ROLLERCOASTER ride whilst sat in an Amazon delivery box on Daddy’s lap (Mummy also got to have a turn, and broke the box 🤣). 

S is for…

S is for blowing bubbles using a SOCK snake, making a SNOWMAN out of kinetic SAND, going on a SCAVENGER hunt around our village, blow painting with STRAWS, using ourselves as counters in a giant SNAKES and ladders game and doing a SCIENCE experiment of SINK or float.

T is for…

T is for painting bread using milk mixed with food colouring to then TOAST for a snack, decorating a TREASURE box, walking a TIGHT-rope in the garden, making a cup TELEPHONE, having a TEDDY bears picnic and brushing giant TEETH (my maddest idea yet, but Lila genuinely loved brushing pesto sauce out of yogurt pot teeth 🤣!) 

U is for…

U is for playing UNICORN hair salons and having a UNICORN obstacle course, making an UMBRELLA from a paper plate, having phone conversations with her UNCLES and hilarious laughter over milking a pretend cow’s UDDER (washing up gloves with holes in the fingers). 

V is for…

V is for laughing hysterically whilst making talking-chin VIDEOS, flower arranging into a VASE, painting using toy VEHICLE tyres and taking them to a pretend car wash after, screaming in excitement at an exploding VOLCANO science experiment, making music using our VELCRO shoes and playing a silly game we named VULTURE scavenging where Lila had to search for her snack around the garden and pick it up using her mouth. 

W is for…

W is for WATER play using guttering, making fairy WINGS using cardboard, sellotape and fresh flowers she picked, making a WORM house, playing a WEATHER themed game where Lila had to get dressed as quickly as possible in different outfits depending what weather I shouted out, throwing pennies into a pretend WISHING WELL, helping mummy make a pretty front door WREATH and joining daddy before bedtime for his WORKOUT. 

X is for…

X is for making a XYLOPHONE out of loo rolls and later playing a water XYLOPHONE, pretend play of ‘going to the hospital for an X-RAY’ and playing X-marks the spot where Lila had a map of the garden and had to stand in the location I marked the X with – this game was a hit and went on for weeks after. 

Y is for…

Y is for going on a YELLOW scavenger hunt around the house, making YOGURT paint – which meant it was safe for Hudson to paint with/eat, making rainbow frozen YOGURT, using the empty YOGURT pots to make a pull-a-long snake and a ball-in-a-cup game and playing with a giant YO-YO made from paper plates. 

Z is for…

Z is for making a ZEBRA using a paper plate, setting up a small-world ZOO using playmobile and cereal as textured flooring on a tuff tray, making Z shaped biscuits for a Z themed tea party with her Z named friend Zanna, having the ZOO visit her at home using Google 3D and making music using her coat ZIP. 

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