How to keep kids occupied during lockdown

GREAT FUN: Jethro and Hope York, the inspiration behind Mayhem and Chaos, enjoy indoor playtime at home
GREAT FUN: Jethro and Hope York, the inspiration behind Mayhem and Chaos, enjoy indoor playtime at home
Image: Supplied

As all South Africans, except essential service providers, go on lockdown for 21 days,  it means there is no escaping our little — and sometime annoying — housemates.

For parents with restless toddlers and chatty young housemates, Port Elizabeth mom Victoria York has some home activities to keep the kids busy, on her blog Mayhem and Chaos.

Mayhem and Chaos blogger’s Ninja Stress Balls 

Ninja stress balls
Ninja stress balls
Image: Supplied

What you need:

Balloons (about three or four per ball)
Cake or self-raising flour
Decanting container
500 or 440ml cool drink bottle (cut in half)
Short people (smaller, sometimes annoying, versions of yourself)
A heap of patience
An area you don’t mind having covered in flour and probably a cup of tea (if too early for gin).

What to do:

Insert cut cool drink bottle upside down into decanting container and pour in flour.
Remove cool drink bottle while telling short people to remain patient and make sure all the flour is in the decanting container.
Stretch balloon neck over the opening of the decanting container and turn upside down so the flour falls into the balloon — if you’re feeling courageous you can allow your short people to attempt this.
Then very carefully remove the neck of the balloon from the bottle.
Gently squeeze the air of the balloon while still keeping the flour in the balloon.
When you are satisfied that you’ve removed all the air, carefully snip off the neck of the balloon (just above flour level).
You can either now ask one of the excited short people to hold the balloon while you snip off the neck of the other balloons or you can snip the others beforehand (the last balloon you add will need to be snipped top, bottom and sides, preferably in a contrasting colour to the other balloons to really make it “pop”).

You will now need to stretch the empty snipped balloon over the flour balloon, making sure you cover the opening of the flour balloon with the non-flour balloon.
If you want a really firm stress ball you can add another balloon before the final ninja touch otherwise go straight to gently stretching over the balloon with all the cut-out parts.

Mayhem and Chaos blogger’s flapjacks/crumpets/griddle cakes recipe

Mayhem and Chaos blogger’s Flapjacks/ crumpets/griddle cakes
Mayhem and Chaos blogger’s Flapjacks/ crumpets/griddle cakes
Image: Supplied

What you need:

One cup of self-raising flour,
One egg,
One cup of milk (no sugar, no salt, no worries).
Including short people is compulsory.
Makes about 20 depending on how big you make them.

What to do:

Let the short people mix the ingredients together (makes them really happy for some reason),
Add more milk or flour until you have a decent runny-ish mixture (or until you’re happy with the consistency).

Then, if you have one, add the mixture to a squeezy bottle (old school red and yellow squeezy bottles).
Needs to be a screw-top squeezy bottle otherwise you’ll end up with batter and the top part of your bottle in the pan.
Heat pan.
Squeeze out some batter.
When you see many tiny bubbles,  turn over.
Paranoid checking is welcome until the bottom side is also a nice golden brown, remove from pan.

Depending on the size of your pan you can do a few of these at the same time so as to prevent the short people from screaming that they haven’t been fed in the last 21 months.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with shapes (the shorts will be in awe and crown you as their leader)..

Serve warm with a bit of syrup drizzled over (if you have more than one short person, make sure to give them both equal amounts of flapjacks simultaneously  to prevent war from breaking out in your living room area and having the house set on fire).

For more fun activities from York, visit

Another PE mom, Shannon Ntshikose, says making her son’s playdough herself  is a good idea as long as there are no harmful ingredients in it.

“If you have a toddler that still puts things in their mouth it is imperative that he or she play with things that are non-toxic. Store-purchased dough might not be non-toxic,” she said.

Below is Ntshikose’s favourite playdough recipe for little ones from 18 months up.

Home-made playdough
Home-made playdough
Image: Supplied

What you need:

One cup of flour
Half a cup of table salt
Two tablespoons of cream or tartar
One tablespoon of oil 
One cup of boiling water
Food colouring

What to do:

Mix all the dry ingredients together in one bowl
Mix all the wet ingredients together in a jug
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients bowl
Mix with your hands until you get a smooth texture.

“It’s really that simple,” she said.

“I love to put my playdough in a sandwich bag and seal it. Then put in the fridge or a cool place.

“The playdough should last at least a month. I make it in various colours. It’s a great way of introducing colours to your toddler.” 

Sensory bins are amazing for little ones

“It’s a great way of introducing colours to your toddler," Ntshikose says. Sensory bins are amazing for little ones.

According to Ntshikose, one the popular ways to make a sensory bin is taking a container and adding sensory rice.

“This can get a bit messy so try to do it on a sheet or outside,” she said.

Sensory rice
Sensory rice
Image: Supplied

What you need:

Food colouring
Sandwich bag or packet tray

What to do:

Take rice and put it in a sandwich bag. Add some vinegar and food colouring and shake till the rice changes colour.
Pour it out on a tray and allow the rice to dry out.
Then you will have coloured rice.
You can put this into a container and add shapes. You can use it as sprinkles with the play dough.

“It is non-toxic and safe and even if your little ones happen to put it in their mouths and swallows some. They will poop it out. No worries,” Ntshikose says.

Adult supervision is advised  with toddlers.

For more of Ntshikose's creative DIY projects, visit her Instagram page everydayloveplay everydayloveplay.

The Herald will be sharing more activities from local mom bloggers during the lockdown period.           


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