This lockdown is hard. For big and little cooks. There are lots of reports about the impact schools being shut is having on children’s sleep, weight, stress and even eye-sight. We wanted to offer some simple ideas for helping to support your little cook, which will hopefully give you some respite and remind you that you're winning, even on days when it feels too hard.

NUTRITION - keep it simple and achievable

We have heard from a lot of parents worried about trying to juggle cooking wholesome meals for their families, with homeschooling and demanding jobs. Our message is don’t get stressed about it - we apply the 80 / 20 rule – if 80% of what we are eating is REAL then don’t sweat the 20%!

Our food philosophy is simple – eat a variety of good quality real food, and remove as much processed, refined food as possible. The more we do that, the healthier we’ll be. We have a large number of free recipes to try out here – all applying that simple principle.  Or follow us on Facebook for some simple ideas like homemade pizza, made with wholemeal tortillas, passata and grated cheese - super quick and we even used it to do a quick geometry lesson!

SLEEP - small lifestyle changes can make a big difference

While we sleep our stress drop; our immune systems get stronger; our brains process complex information, consolidate memories and clear out toxins; and we release important hormones such as growth hormones.  Getting a good night’s sleep is even more important during these challenging times:

  • Deadline on screen time – kids are having to spend a lot more time on screens than if they were at school. The blue light from screens has a big impact on the brains ability to wind down and get good quality sleep. Talk to your kids about this. Agree a time that screens will be shut down for the night (we recommend 1-2 hours before bedtime) and make sure children aren’t bringing phones or tablets into their bedrooms with them
  • Sleep inducing foods – foods containing an amino acid called tryptophan help the body to produce melatonin (a hormone that controls sleep and wake cycles). Try to incorporate these foods into dinner or your kids last snack of the day: nuts, seeds, kiwi, cherries, bananas, chicken, turkey, fish, oats, beans, lentils, and eggs
  • Sleep inhibiting foods – avoid stimulating foods and drinks before bed…anything with caffeine like fizzy drinks, chocolate, as well as high sugar foods like ice-cream, biscuits, sweets - the sugar in them increases insulin which has a bit impact on sleep
  • Bedtime routine – having a consistent bedtime signals to the brain that bedtime is coming and helps children to relax. Decide your routine and try to stick to it as much as possible – bath, warm drink, teeth, story time – whatever works for you

 STRESS - reduce stress with frequent activity

Reducing stress will also help sleep quality and one of the best ways we recommend helping to manage it in children is to make sure they move their bodies every hour. If children feel stressed while sitting on their computers doing their school work, the stress hormones created circulate around their bodies and getting up and running around will help release them. Make it fun by sticking on a song and doing a silly dance together, or play tag for 5 minutes in between lessons.

Not only will these help release stress hormones but it will help with weight control. During break time at school children run around and play – we should try to make school days at home the same, with time outside in nature if possible, as the calming effects of nature and green space are well evidenced.

Finally, limit children’s exposure to the news. They pick up on more than we realise and the news is not an accurate reflection of the world. It reports on what’s wrong (and rarely on what’s right) which gives a very scary picture of the world, even for adults! Here is a brilliant article we read about this topic.

January 23, 2021