Eimear Hutchinson: Tips on surviving at home with the kids

Eimear Hutchinson, a mum of four, shares her advice on how to manage at home with children, during these challenging times
Eimear Hutchinson: Tips on surviving at home with the kids

"There are numerous resources online where you can download fun educational activities,” says Eimear. Picture: Stock, posed by models.

WITH schools still closed, many of us are now waking up to the expectant look in our children’s eyes as they turn to us for entertainment and reassurance — two things we didn’t have to expect to dole out with such abundance just a few short weeks ago.

However, things are as they are, and regardless of the worries that may wait for us at the front door, our children need us now more than ever.

As I write this, we don’t have any idea how long the schools will be shut, so while there is a certain onus on us to provide our children with some degree of education, we must also go easy on ourselves as parents. There is an overwhelming amount of information to take in lately and to think that we can become fully fledged teachers at the same time is probably just a little too much for many of us to take on board. So, instead of frantically downloading the primary curriculum, take comfort in the fact that we can take this opportunity to teach our children lots of other life skills.


Given the abruptness with which the schools had to shut, some children were sent home with lots of books and homework and others weren’t.

Regardless of whether they have school work laid out for the next few weeks or not, there are numerous resources online where you can download fun educational activities.

My favourite is Twinkl.ie, which has an incredible amount of resources and is currently offering one month free to parents if you use the code IRETWINKLEHELPS when you sign up. Pinterest is another useful, largely free resource for colouring sheets, educational resources and craft inspiration.


We’re not quite into the warm weather territory so work-outs on YouTube have become one of my favourite ways to let them off some energy. My ladies love Joe Wicks, The Body Coach’s workouts for kids, they are short and simple but a great way to get a bit of cardio in.

Cosmic Kids are great for yoga work-outs should you want to tone the energy levels down a little. Alternatively, invent your own workouts, stick on some music nice and loud and let the children lead the way with jumping jacks, squats, running on the spot and lunges to name but a few.


It goes without saying that when you have small kids in the house, food tends to dictate a lot of the day. I for one, while not a massive fan of routine, do set out set times for when they eat throughout the day similar to when they would eat and snack on a normal day if they were in school. This time provides the perfect opportunity to get them involved in food prep (and the tidying up!) by giving them age appropriate tasks. In our house the three-year-old can set the table, help with mixing ingredients when baking, and add toppings to sandwiches.

The five-year-old can make sandwiches, crack eggs, pour liquids and help set and tidy the table.The eight-year-old can make scrambled egg, get the breakfasts sorted, empty the dishwasher and read and weigh out ingredients.


Free play is hugely important for children and don’t be afraid to let them get bored for out of boredom comes resourcefulness. However, free play in my world generally equates to a huge mess and while I’m aware that the volume of visitors arriving at the door is negligible I still like to have an orderly house.

I think most parents will find that simply telling a child to tidy a room doesn’t work, they get overwhelmed and bored within the space of about 30 seconds. So for me its all about competitive tidying. Use a timer or a song to give kids a set amount of time to tidy up and make it fun, if you have more than one child it teaches teamwork and an understanding that their actions have consequences.


While I tend to let the girls lead some parts of the day, there are inevitably times where they need an activity. Some of our favourites include Lego (look for 30 day challenges online), playdough (you can make your own too from simple store cupboards staples), painting, baking, sewing seeds, a long bath in the middle of the day, board games, making beaded bracelets, writing to friends or grandparents (especially important at this time of separation), treasure hunt, get the children to make up and put on a show, face painting, crafting (look to Pinterest for inspiration), video calls to friends and family and finally, but most importantly, get outside while you can!

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