1 Summer holiday ideas - Persil Wild Explorer's App #dirtisgood - The Little Pip

We are about to experience our first ever school holidays (and my first time looking after 2 children all day every day for 8 weeks until Pip starts school in September). Slightly intimidated by what I see as a rather daunting job of providing activities day in and day out, I’ve been busy planning. I’ve been putting together a new series for The Little Pip Things to do in the school holidays – posts about ideas and things to do over the summer, or indeed, all the myriad half terms that will soon be on our radar. This time round, I’m not at my day job as I’m still on maternity leave, so this summer, the series will be about things to do as one off days to entertain with your child(ren). Some will be local to me, some London centric but others are available nation wide, and I’m trying to include a mix of different price points.

Join the Wild Network, get outside and remember that #dirtisgood!

Several years ago, I joined the Wild Network and pledged to try and get outside with my children every day, even just for 10 minutes. I don’t always succeed but I do think it is very important to try and get fresh air and allow kids to grub around without too much direction.

This summer, the Wild Network have launched a Wild Explorers App with Persil. It is packed with more than 100 outdoor activities to get kids enjoying the great outdoors. You can filter by location, age or time to get inspired with outdoor activities.

“In partnering with Persil we hope to set off the sparks in kids whose parents can’t let them walk home from school, or who have no opportunity to walk through a cemetery, or a park. With every tiny step into the wild, we are changing things. And from those seeds of change… great Wild Time will grow!”

Make a mud volcano!

We tried out the headline activity – a mud volcano – a couple of weekend’s ago in a London park. This one was made of food grade materials to create a bubbling erupting coffee like sludge which trickled, poured and bubbled down the side of the volcano – a compelling substance which just begged to be explored.

Persil Mud Volcano - The Little Pip

Don’t be afraid to get dirty

This point was reinforced on the parenting course that I did the last few weeks (again, more on that soon) – children need to be free to experiment with different textures and materials. Parents are, understandably, far too keen to keep children inside and clean and safe and reluctant to let them get messy. I have been guilty of this in the past and have been working hard on relaxing, not complaining about dirty clothing and reassuring Pip that it really is ok and that clothes can just be washed.

Persil Mud Volcano 5 - The Little Pip Persil Mud Volcano 4 - wearing in June 2

Persil Mud Volcano 3 - wearing in June 2

Persil Mud Volcano 3 - The Little Pip

Whilst this particular volcano was made on a large scale, volcanoes are fun to create in the garden at home using vinegar and bicarb of soda to create an eruption. If that sort of science like experiment doesn’t appeal for whatever reason, here are a few more ideas for the garden:

Mud pies

As kids, my sisters and I used to spend hours pretending we were running a bakery – using buckets and jelly moulds and flat stones we collected at the beach to make mud versions of cakes, decorated with small leaves and petals we found in the garden, and then sold to each other.

Water painting

Perfect if you have a patio or terrace and the sun is out. Give each child a paintbrush or two and a bucket of water and they can ‘paint’ patterns on the on the paving slabs over and over again. (I’ve also found this works well in the bath – Pip likes to use a paintbrush to ‘paint’ the shower screen. Keeps her occupied for ages!)

Face / body painting

This one requires a little more prep and patience, but essentially, let them loose with some stick face paints (like crayons) and let them draw on their own arms and legs (sit them in the shade). Washes off along with the mud in the bath in the evening. As Pip has eczema on her face, she can’t have face paint but we have found wrist and arm paint to be an excellent compromise.

Persil Mud Volcano 2 - The Little Pip

If, like us, you don’t have that big a garden and outside time is mainly restricted to the park, we’ve found the following to go down well – and can be found on the Persil Wild Explorers app:

Treasure hunt

Not exactly a ground breaking idea but it has always been a favourite of Pip’s. This can obviously be easily tailored to the age of the child(ren) and can even be done as a competition with a prize (like an ice-cream) at the end. We also play versions of this in galleries, using the leaflet that comes with the exhibition as the source of the items to locate.

Creating faces

An extension of the treasure hunt idea, we play this in the park or at the beach. Each person collects interesting items for a set time period at the beginning (or the adult can collect/find/provide them at the start) and then each participant makes a face (leaves for hair, stones for eyes etc). At the beach the possibilities sadly include all of the rubbish at the high water line which makes for a more nuanced piece of art, the bonus then is we throw the items away afterwards, therefore also having done our own version of the 2 minute beach clean (post on that coming soon too!)

What about you – any other fun simple outdoor games to add to the list?

Our family were guests of Persil and The Wild Network at the launch of the mud volcano to celebrate the new app.

My Travel Essentials - The Little Pip

As part of my series on Things to do in the Summer Holidays, I thought I’d also share some of my tried and tested travel essentials. From a day trip to the park to taking on board a flight, these are the things I pack time and time again.

Travel with kids- The Little Pip essentials (1)

Some of them are quite obvious – a bag to carry things in is clearly essential. I like this Fjällräven Rucksack No. 21 for carrying all this stuff around in. It’s not a baby bag but it does have 2 good outside pockets for water bottles (not pictured, my favourite Klean Kanteen stainless steel bottle, as well as a laptop sleeve inside, and allows you to keep your hands free to deal with 2 kids. In it, I carry the Tiba + Marl Etta changing pouch with WaterWipes, nappies etc and several muslins.

I also always pack our Green People children’s sun cream which I love because I can use it on Pip’s skin even though she has eczema, and sun hats for everyone.

If we are going to be travelling in any car which is not ours, such as a taxi, I always pack our Bubblebum which is a portable, inflatable booster seat. It comes in a little travel pouch and is much easier to stow than a normal seat. It is also great if you travel by plane and plan to pick up a rental car as it means you can avoid the heavy hire costs on the other side. We were sent ours to review, and it is one of those products which I genuinely don’t know what we did before we got one, and am telling everyone how useful they are!

Lastly – two more random things but ones which I find incredibly useful. First, the Love Boo Sleep & Snuggle Room & Pillow spray. I am a big believer in scent and the positive associations which can be built using it. I spray this every night in the kid’s rooms before they go to bed (now that LB is 3 months, I spray it near his bed too) – it is calming, and soothing and smells of lavender and chamomile and particularly in hot weather makes the room seem cooler. As we use it at home, I also take it with us when we go away, so that their room or bed, whilst not actually familiar, at least smells more familiar.

Secondly, an enamel plate (& knife/fork/spoon) is something I use time and time again. Particularly in the car, although on foot as well, having a plate & cutlery to hand for impromptu picnics saves so much hassle. I usually carry the pasta plate type plate which doubles as a bowl (and on one memorable occasion a sick bowl – I was very proud of my reflexes to manage to lean round into the back seat having whipped this plate out of my bag in the front seat in time to catch all the vomit in it!)

And because no trip or bag is complete without a book for entertainment, this Peepo book is our current favourite reading for both kids together.

Not pictured – a first aid kit & hand sanitizer.

What have I missed? What is on your essentials list?

Summer holiday ideas - take up a new sport #sportingstarts - The Little Pip

We are about to experience our first ever school holidays (and my first time looking after 2 children all day every day for 8 weeks until Pip starts school in September). I’m launching today a new series – posts about ideas and things to do in the school holidays. This time round, I’m not at my day job as I’m still on maternity leave, so this summer, the series will be about things to do as one off days to entertain with your child(ren). Some will be local to me, some London centric but others are available nation wide, and I’m trying to include a mix of different price points.

First up: Get inspired by the Olympics and take up a new sport

The Rio 2016 Olympic Games start on 5 August and will provide plenty of inspiration to look into trying out a new sport. One of the most compelling athletics events is the Heptathlon which is a track and field combined event, consisting of seven elements, taking place over two days; with the first four contested on day one, and the remaining three on day two. Each competitor takes part in the 100m Hurdles, High Jump, Shotput, 200m, Long Jump, Javelin throw and 800m.

British athlete Denise Lewis was originally inspired by the Olympics when she was a child:

I watched the Olympics in 1980 and just loved it. I didn’t know something like that existed, I was riveted, I watched all of it during the summer holidays, and I just wanted to be an athlete!

Denise then started specialising in the Heptathlon, going on to win gold in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

Weetabix #SportingStarts

Throughout July and August, Weetabix are running a ‘Summer of Sport’ Campaign and every pack purchased gives you the chance to receive a free or 2-4- 1 Sports session plus the chance to win a money can’t buy prize. Top rewards consist of sporting experiences with athletes, including Denise Lewis, and other rewards such as team kits and biking sets.

All you have to do is enter the code from a box of Weetabix at www.weetabixsport.co.uk and then enter your postcode to find your nearest sporting options.

The idea of the campaign is to give people a chance to try a new sport that they may not have had a chance to try. The campaign was launched by Denise Lewis who tried out cricket:

Collaborative post