Parent Carers: Get Creative This Spring!
Here at Liferaft, we can’t believe it’s March already! Although it might not feel like it outside just yet, the promise of spring is just around the corner, creating lots of fun opportunities to spend quality time with our children.
However, we also know that when you’re a parent carer it can be difficult to find family-friendly activities and hobbies to take part in that are inclusive for all the family. Knowing first-hand how this can impact on family time, we’ve put together some ideas and suggestions to make the most of your time together this March – several of which fit in with fun awareness days and events taking place this month.
So, if you’re looking for things to do to celebrate craft month or nutrition month, creative ways to take part in Pack Your Lunch Day on the 10th or Plant a Flower Day on the 12th, not forgetting Mother’s Day on the 11th, this blog is for you!
Did you know that March is Craft Month? More widely celebrated in the United States than the UK, this fun month still provides the perfect reminder to get crafting – and it is perfect for all ages!
When specially considered for your children’s needs, arts and crafts are fantastic opportunities for sensory play, by effectively engaging with all the senses and in turn helping children to develop and learn.
Growing Hands-On Kids offer a fun selection of crafting activities to try this month, all designed to be of benefit to children with autism. From creating edible jewellery together to using everyday materials around the house to produce sensory collages, take a look at the list of activities here.
With Mother’s Day also approaching, creating homemade cards for mothers or grandmothers is another fun, creative way of getting involved in craft month. Whether you collect materials on your travels together to stick to cards, write a personalised message inside, or create handprint animals, the design ideas are endless!
This month, Mother’s Day takes place on 11th March. As we mentioned in the Craft Month ideas, creating greeting cards to celebrate the occasion is one activity to get involved in.
For homemade gift ideas for children, Activity Village have got some great ideas here. We love the ‘I Love My Mum Flower’ and the ‘Handprint Heart’. Family Lives also have an invaluable list of fun things to try with disabled children, which could inspire your activities and outings as a family on Mother’s Day. Creating a scrapbook to remember how you celebrated different events is a lovely idea, and something that can evolve over time.
Some children are also encouraged to use Mother’s Day to celebrate other important females in their lives, including carers or teachers, so creating homemade gifts and cards can still be an activity between mother and child.
Not only is it Craft Month this month, but March also marks Nutrition Month and is designed to promote healthy eating. Many parents will face ‘picky eaters’, but his can be even trickier when you’re a parent carer.
However, Deborah French’s story with how cooking with her children has helped their learning and development is inspirational. Deborah has two children, Henry, who was diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder at 2-years-old, and Amariah, who was born with Down’s syndrome. Knowing that children with disabilities or special needs can become fussy eaters or comfort eaters, she decided to get her children involved in the kitchen.
The story of Henry’s first time baking in the kitchen at home is encouraging: “When Henry was four years old, we decided one rainy afternoon to bake cookies. I purchased supersized cookie cutters to help compensate for clumsy fingers. Yet whilst at work in the kitchen, I was surprised that Henry’s movements were controlled and attentive. His cookie shapes were immaculate. It was clear that Henry loved being in the kitchen and it was the best therapy yet; it calmed him, channelled his energy and gave him a wonderful sense of achievement.”
In her article on the Scope website, Deborah outlines her top tips to try at home. You can read them all here: https://community.scope.org.uk/discussion/28295/guest-post-how-to-encourage-healthy-eating-habits-in-your-child
From getting your children involved in the preparation of their dinner where they are able to, to learning where food comes from, teaching your children the importance of healthy eating really is possible.
Pack Your Lunch Day
This is also where Pack Your Lunch Day, which takes place on 10th March, fits in so well with Nutrition Month. Although this year’s day falls on a Saturday, it’s an idea that could also be incorporated into a Sunday evening routine ready for school on Monday. Let your children get involved in the preparation of a healthy lunch, whether it’s for the weekend or lunchtime at school. Perhaps they can bake something for their lunch as a treat, like cookies, or choose their favourite snacks. You could also celebrate by going shopping and choosing a new lunchbox together. This activity will take some planning ahead of time, but it really can make those pack-lunch tears a thing of the past!
Plant A Flower Day
There’s nothing more spring-like than the blossoming of new flowers in the garden. Gardening is a therapeutic experience for everyone, citing many benefits for mental health, including children with additional needs.
As Gardening Know How explains, there are many benefits of gardening for children with special needs, including: “Improved motor skills, enhanced creativity, increased social skills and improved self-confidence. Gardening also reduces stress and helps children cope with anxiety and frustration.”
Use Plant a Flower Day to get out in the garden (weather permitting!) and make a child-friendly area, perhaps a sand box, to get creative. If you can, go to your local park, nursery or garden store and take a look at the flowers and plants available, to inspire your own gardening choices.
We hope you take some inspiration from the ideas above to celebrate the beginning of spring. We know being a parent carer can be challenging, but creating quality family time is essential.
To help you organise your activities, why not try Liferaft?
Our Liferaft application has been designed to help parent carers of manage their loved one’s care plan in a secure place. Use Liferaft to keep all your vital information in one place, track goals, manage your address book and more. It’s an invaluable tool in helping make caring for others easier.