"Children will remember this time for many years... so let's make it as great as possible"
By JB Gill- singer, presenter, farmer and Red Cross ambassador
Living on a farm means my energetic kids have space to run around, dig for worms and pick flowers for Mummy. I know that I am blessed.
With all this uncertainty, many of us will be finding the current situation frustrating, myself included. But I also know that in these difficult times, it’s more important than ever to be kind to ourselves and to each other.
I am grateful that being at home is allowing me to spend more time with my loved ones. And, as a supporter of the incredible work of the British Red Cross, I’m trying to focus on the small acts that can create a large impact.
Connected communities are strongest together and collectively we will all get through this.
Having two children, a toddler and a 5 year old in full time school, it’s not always easy to keep them both entertained all day. But I believe that my children will remember this time for many years - good or bad - so I always think let’s make it as great as possible, and let’s make it count!
When children are happy, the whole household is happy. And as a farmer, I know that your back garden, however big or small, is full of surprises that can keep your children entertained.
Below are my top five tips for making the most of your outside space, whatever the size.
1. Get arty and help our wildlife
Although we can’t get out and about to interact with wildlife, we can encourage it to venture into our back gardens, yards or whatever outdoor space we do have. Even a window box. Making a bird feeder is a great way to do this, and you can use everyday items lying around the house.
Encourage your children to cover a used toilet roll tube with butter, lard or peanut butter. Empty a selection of seeds onto a large plate. Roll the toilet roll tube in the seeds until nicely covered. Loop a piece of string through the centre of the toilet roll tube to hang in your garden.
Let the bird watching begin!
2. Play bug or leaf bingo
You would be surprised how many creepy crawlies and different types of plants we all have in our gardens and communities.
Why not find ten different bugs or leaves in your garden or out on your daily walk and identify them?
Encourage your children to look for and draw any distinctive marks or colours which will help when researching different species.
Complete this task a couple of times a week to see if there are any changes with what you can find.
3. Grow a garden in an egg carton
Gardens come in all shapes and sizes. Using an empty egg carton, a few seeds and some soil you can help your children create their own mini project.
Seeds that produce small flowers or vegetables are great for this. Make sure to poke a few holes in the bottom of the egg carton too so there is room for drainage when watering.
With regular care, your children could grow their own plants to pop in the garden. They can be directly transferred in the egg carton into your flower bed as the cardboard is de-compostable.
I live for being sustainable, so this is a great way to help the environment whilst keeping the kids entertained and educated.
4. Enjoy the sky
During this uncertain time, it’s almost impossible to keep the kids in their normal routine. If they are having trouble sleeping think about using the evening for some relaxing learning.
Set up a blanket, binoculars or a telescope if you have them and enjoy the sky! Even if it’s looking out of your bedroom window.
5. And if all else fails, ask the kids…
Children have the best imaginations. Think about making an outdoor activity jar.
Encourage them to write different activities they would like to do in the garden or out on your daily walk on little pieces of paper and pop them in an old jam jar. Each day they can pick one out to let the fun begin.
Think about doing this in weekly cycles. Taking each week at a time will prevent feelings of being overwhelmed. This will also help to maintain an element of control and choice in your children’s lives in a time where this is hard to achieve.
Encourage your children to write down some questions about what they see so they can do some research the morning after.
Singer, TV presenter, farmer and Red Cross ambassador
JB Gill rose to fame as a member of one of the UK's biggest boy bands, JLS. Now working in television and running his own farm in the Kent countryside, he is a British Red Cross ambassador, raising awareness of the effects of climate change in some of the poorest areas of Zimbabwe.
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