The guys are TARKA London are the experts in exercise fun for pre-school kids. We thought it only right we’d tap them up for some fantastic advice on how to survive isolation as a family.

Have a positive mindset

Having your children at home for an extended period of time can be a daunting task, especially when working from home is thrown into the mix. But keeping children happy and healthy shouldn’t be viewed as a chore. Your attitude and outlook will directly affect your children so look for the positives in everything this situation has thrown at us.

This is the perfect opportunity to enjoy time together and really share wonderful experiences that will benefit not only your child’s developmental progress but also create many happy memories for you as a parent.

Whether you are thinking of activities to keep your children busy while you are working, trying to prevent squabbles between siblings, or just hoping to spend some quality time with your children, it is key to be prepared and have a few simple games and activities up your sleeve to roll out when they come running into the kitchen and join the video call with your colleagues.

Get them working together

We have all seen how siblings can behave around each other when certain stimuli are taken away. There can be fights, name-calling and general unwanted behaviour to name a few. Now think of how that can be when they can be stuck in the house all day! Think of games they can play together to encourage teamwork like building the tallest Lego tower. This can be done through games such as home scavenger hunt, if you spend 10 minutes writing down and hiding clues or a list of 20 items to find then you can set them off for an hour of relative peace to clear your inbox.

Tap into their imagination

Children have incredibly vivid imaginations and will respond very well to the extra effort that goes into making a game go from good to great. Spend a few minutes reading their favourite book and then re-create the book or an imaginary world for them to play in. They can build a living room castles out of cushions to battle dragons or make robots and rockets to visit Mars out of Amazon Fresh cardboard boxes. If you can create a story to go with it, even better.

Exercise, exercise, exercise!

Children need to exercise. Try to take them outside when you can to an open space where they can be free and most importantly – loud. This will give them some fresh air and help to release some pent-up energy from being inside, where we are constantly asking them to keep quiet.

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If you are exercising at home, try and let them join in with you. Perhaps don’t give them the 20kg kettlebell but let them do body exercises such as squats, lunges, press-ups, high knees and running on the spot. Young children find it hard to relate to most adult exercises so make it more accessible by jumping like bunnies, flapping their arms like birds or crawling on their hands and feet like bears. Feel free to make the correct noises as long as you don’t mind some funny looks from the neighbours.

If you are after something more calming, you can do children’s yoga. There are a number of yoga videos online for children that are based around their favourite movies which can help hold their attention and increase their enjoyment of exercising.

The thing to remember is to make it as fun as possible. Make up a story to go with the activity you are doing, wear silly outfits, create an obstacle course around the house for them to complete (one of my favourites is taking tissue paper and creating a ‘laser field’ through a hallway that they have to crawl through). Your efforts will go a long way with your children, and you might have some fun yourself along the way.

Try some cooking to sneak in a practical science or maths lesson

Cooking can be one of the most enjoyable activities a parent can do with their child. There is always a temptation to make food which is comforting and less healthy than we would like such as cupcakes, brownies and other confections. By all means, cook these treats on occasions but try to steer clear from doing it too often, use it more as a reward for helping with chores, playing nicely that week or anything else you see as beneficial.

Try cooking things that can encourage healthy eating habits and use this time to teach them more about food. You can test their colours by asking which piece of food is which colour, get them counting out the number of blueberries to go on their porridge. Discuss weights and measurements or how different foods are affected by heating, freezing or blending.

Be prepared for some mess but that’s what cooking with children is about, and it’s always fun for them having their hands covered in flour or other foods. Using their hands as much as possible is also excellent for a child’s sensory development and progression of fine and gross motor skills.

The Internet is your friend

Although we would always advise to keep screen time to a minimum, the internet can be such a benefit for children for activities and, especially in this time, for socialising. Arrange playdates online with other children on apps like FaceTime or House Party. Children find other children much more entertaining than adults and can keep each other occupied for a very long time. If possible, see if you can coordinate with another parent that each child has the same arts and crafts equipment so that they can talk and see each other as they paint, glue or draw. As mentioned above there are many children’s exercise videos online you can use to occupy their attention when you need to get on with some other activities. You want ideas on arts and crafts for children? Check out Pinterest. Exercise videos? Yoga from the movie Frozen on YouTube. There is a multitude of activities to keep children occupied online.

If you put some extra thought into making a game or doing an activity with or for your child it will make time spent at home much easier and more enjoyable.

A few more things…

Having everyone at home for longer than usual can be tricky. Here are a few extra tips to help create a positive environment for everyone:

  1. Be disciplined. Establish a routine and stick to it. Create rules and make sure they are adhered to, don’t make empty threats as this may set a trend for unruly behaviour. Use this time to be disciplined on yourself too.
  2. Enjoy it. It’s not often you get to spend so much time with your loved ones. Make sure you enjoy this time together.
  3. Make time for yourself. It is vital that you try to carve out some time to do something you enjoy. No-one can be on the go 24/7, we need our own time to recharge our internal batteries. Grab that book for an hour, go for a run, chat with friends. Whatever it is, make time to do it for you.

This is such a rare opportunity to spend time with the people most important to you. We should all try to make it an experience we look back on fondly. And just remember, it will end so make the most of it.

For more information on Tarka visit: www.tarkalondon.com.

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