Posts tagged as: Parenting

What You’ll Need When Fostering Two Children Under Two Years of Age

More individuals and families are becoming interested in fostering across the UK.

GOV.UK report on fostering shows that in March 2022, there were 43,905 fostering households in England, with the total number of households approved to foster increasing from 14% in 2018 to 18% in 2022. Moreover, most children in foster care are under three years of age. In fact, 75% are under the age of 1!

If you’re a foster carer, you’ll know that it can be intimidating to care for more than one child—especially if they’re both under two years of age. However, with the proper preparation, you’re sure to be a great foster carer, even with two children.

On that note, here are a few essentials to prepare you for two new arrivals.

A Double Pushchair

Carrying or travelling with two children isn’t easy because both arms will be occupied! It can even be unsafe, as you might lose your balance. For this reason, a pushchair that can accommodate both children is a must.

The double pushchairs at iCandy can comfortably fit two children, especially one baby and one toddler. One child sits behind the other, making it convenient to manoeuvre through doorways, pavements, and public transportation. You can even detach the other seat and turn it into a baby carrier if that’s more convenient.

When choosing a high-quality double pushchair, ensure that it has sturdy harnesses and durable tyres that can withstand different surfaces and terrains. These contribute to keeping the children safe when they’re in the pushchair.

Separate Beds

Children need their own sleeping space. Our article ‘Can Foster Children Share a Bedroom?’ reminds us that foster care bedroom requirements state that children aged three and up need separate bedrooms.

Fortunately, you have yet to worry about this as a foster carer for children under two. What you can do, however, is prepare separate beds according to each child’s age.

For example, an infant needs a cot. If they sleep with a companion, they may get suffocated. Meanwhile, a child under two needs a toddler bed. These have low railings that prevent them from falling over the edge. Getting separate beds guarantees the safety and comfort of each child!

A Spacious Changing Bag

Twice the kids mean twice the belongings! When taking them for a short day trip, you’ll have difficulty carrying two bags while managing both children. A spacious changing bag is a remedy for this.

For instance, the shoulder changing bag from Vanchi offers many compartments for two children’s belongings, including nappies, extra clothes, and milk bottles. It’s also practical and versatile because it’s lightweight and can be clipped onto a pushchair or carried as a shoulder bag, depending on your preference.

A changing bag with lots of room for various essentials makes trips and appointments more convenient for you and the children.

Various Toys

Having toys is not just a perk but a benefit for children. It gives them entertainment and an opportunity to experience different colours, textures, and sounds – contributing to child emotional development!

Having appropriate toys for both children—depending on their age—can help them feel more comfortable in their new home and pick up some knowledge along the way. For infants and those under a year old, colourful shape-sorters and stacking rings are a great idea to keep them busy and allow them to explore textures.

For toddlers under two years, wooden puzzles such as the one from Bigjigs Toys challenge their developing mental abilities. Providing toys for both children prevents them from fighting over the same ones and encourages them to learn and seek adventure.

Fostering two under two children can be a challenge, but it can also be fulfilling. Prepare these essentials to give them the best stay with you.

 


A Step-by-Step Guide to Safeguarding Against Online Grooming

Online grooming is when someone uses the internet to build a relationship with a child or young person, with the intention of exploiting them. They may manipulate, pressure, or trick the young person into sharing personal information, or explicit images or videos of themselves.

The online world of the internet is filled with interesting characters. From TikTok stars, to various video social networking sites – there’s plenty to keep the kids entertained.

Many of us enjoy interacting with and talking to other people online. Social media sites have made this kind of communication easy and talking with others is a great way to feel connected and part of a community.

However, not everyone is who they say they are – especially on the internet. For some children and young people, this can be a difficult concept to come to terms with, especially when they feel like they can trust and confide in the people they’ve met online.

As online platforms continue to develop, and with online grooming crimes rising by more than 80% in the last four years, it’s important that parents and caregivers know how to identify grooming behaviour.

Disclaimer: this article contains descriptions of grooming, sexual abuse and other sensitive topics that could be distressing for some individuals.

What is Online Child Grooming?

Most online grooming definitions refer to the process of building a trusting relationship with a child or young person on the internet, and subsequently using that relationship to exploit them.

They may be a stranger, or someone the child knows in real life and will often use the online platforms children use to build rapport and make a connection. Children can be groomed online through:

  • Social media networks
  • Gaming sites
  • Forums
  • Apps
  • Email

The predator may also ask the child for their phone number (if they have a mobile phone), so that they can message the child or young person directly using text, or a messaging app like WhatsApp.

Types of Grooming

Online groomers target children and young people for various reasons. Some of the most common types of online grooming are:

  • Sexual Abuse. They may encourage the child to share sexually explicit messages, images, or videos of themselves.
  • Radicalisation. They may try to convert the child to support or become involved in extremist ideologies.
  • Theft. They may attempt to obtain personal information about the child’s family, such as financial information.

These different types of grooming are not mutually exclusive. A predator may have multiple intentions when grooming a child – depending on what they think they can get out of the situation.

How to Identify Grooming Behaviour

So, what does online grooming really look like? And what are the signs of grooming that parents and caregivers should look out for?

Below, we’ve broken down the online grooming process step-by-step, including how a predator might develop a connection and relationship with a child.

We’ve also included some tips for what parents and caregivers should look out for, and what you should do if you think your child is being groomed online.

The logos of different social media sites on a phone screen.

Creating A Persona

The first stage of online grooming often involves the creation of a persona. It’s important to note that not all online predators use a persona. However, due to the nature of online platforms, the internet can sometimes make it easier for predators to gain access to children or young people – as they can pretend to be someone they’re not.

Some groomers use fake images or names, impersonate celebrities, or adopt a mentor persona to get close to the child. Others may imitate someone who is already close to the child in real life, such as a family member, school friend or trusted authority figure – like a doctor, or teacher.

Tip: Review your child’s internet usage regularly and make note of any new connection requests, friend invites, messages, or interactions from accounts you don’t recognise. Likewise, be suspicious of any interaction your child has with celebrity figures or online influencers, and make sure to always look for the ‘verified’ symbol that most social media sites have.

A young person wearing headphones and sitting in front of a screen, playing an online game.

Establishing A Connection

Next, the predator will begin to form a connection with the child. Online abusers will often establish a connection with a child or young person by pretending to share similar hobbies or interests.

They may compliment the child on their skills in an online game or reach out about a recent picture they have posted on their social media. They may also reach out with an exciting or exclusive offer for your child to gain their interest.

Tip: Keep an eye out for any changes in your child’s internet usage and device usage. Are they suddenly texting much more than usual? Are they being secretive about their online activity? Most social media sites and online platforms have built-in parental controls that you can make use of. Your Wi-Fi will also have certain configurations you can set that will limit which websites your child can access.

A person texting on a phone.

Filling A Need

Once this connection is established, the predator will begin to deepen the emotional connection they have with the child or young person by attempting to find and fill any needs the child has. According to a 2012 study, this is the most dominant stage of the online grooming process.

The predator may talk to them about their family and school life or try to find any insecurities that the child has. They will then provide the child with comfort or companionship, talking them through their issues, and providing advice where needed. They may even provide financial support or send the child gifts, to strengthen the relationship.

The groomer may also form a romantic relationship with the child – especially if this is something the child or young person appears to need. They may shower the child or young person with compliments, flattery and praise in order to fulfil their own agenda – this is sometimes known as “love bombing” them.

Tip: Look out for physical and emotional changes in your child. Does your child have money, or new things like clothes, games, or gadgets that they can’t or won’t explain? Are they expressing views that don’t align with things they have said in the past? Have they mentioned an older boyfriend or girlfriend that you haven’t met? These could be indicators that your child is engaging in a dangerous relationship online.

A child wearing headphones, with their face in their hands - looking upset.

Isolating The Child

As the relationship develops, the next step involves isolating the child from their real-world connections. The predator will build a relationship with the child that is deliberately separate from other aspects of the child’s life.

They may assert that they have a ‘special bond’ with the child, or that they are the only one who really understands them. They may also sow doubt about the intentions or feelings of the child’s family or friends by questioning relationships and manipulating situations to make the child feel like they cannot turn to their family or friends for help.

Tip: Be conscious of any changes to how your child is interacting with the people in their life. Does your child appear more withdrawn or aloof than usual? They may avoid conversations or spend more time in their room or out of the house. It may also be worth speaking to their school about their performance, and how they are interacting with their teachers and peers.

A person typing on a laptop.

Desensitisation And Exploitation

At this point, the predator has established what seems like a deeply trusting relationship with the child. They may begin to introduce intimate and inappropriate behaviour and conversations, in an effort to normalise them.

This includes asking intimate questions about the child, describing explicit activities, or even sharing explicit content directly with the child. Modelling this type of behaviour desensitises the child and encourages them to reciprocate.

The abuser uses the trust they have built in their relationship with the child to coerce or pressure the child into giving them what they want. This often involves the child sharing explicit images and videos of themselves. They may also try to get the child to meet them in real life.

Tip: Pay attention to any sexualised behaviour, language or knowledge of sex that is not appropriate for your child’s age. Some curiosity is natural but be aware of sexual behaviour that is non typical. NSPCC Learning’s guide on sexual development and behaviour in children shares useful information on what normal child sexual behaviour looks like.

A teenage boy sitting on the floor, looking distressed.

Blackmail

Unfortunately, once a child has shared images or videos of themselves online, they lose control of the content. Anything that the child shares as a result of grooming can sometimes be used to blackmail the child.

The predator may also use shame or blame tactics in order to control the child and the situation, all with the goal of preventing the child from revealing the abuse and exposing the groomer. Blackmail may also be used to pressure the child into further sexual exploitation.

Tip: Be vigilant of your child’s emotional state, and how they react to certain questions. A child that is being groomed may be emotionally volatile as a result. Are they experiencing mood swings more often than usual? Have they had any unusually explosive outbursts?   

Safeguarding Against Online Grooming

Any child can be at risk of online grooming – regardless of their gender, age, race, or location. That’s why it’s important to develop an open line of communication with your child to ensure they understand how to be safe online.

Online and Offline Friends

Have a conversation with your child about the difference between online and offline friends. Explain to them that online friends can still be a stranger, no matter how friendly they seem – and that you should never agree to meet with online friends in real life.

Help your child to compile a list of all the differences between people they might know online, and people they know offline. What kind of things help us trust someone? And how can we know someone is who they say they are?

Warning Signs

Talk to your child about the warning signs and red flags that might suggest someone is not to be trusted. Warning signs include asking for personal details or to send photos or videos, asking to meet up offline or asking to keep certain things secret.

Discuss with your child: What are normal things to talk about, and what things are not appropriate to talk about? Why might it be dangerous to meet someone offline, or send them personal information or photos? And what should we do if we think someone online is displaying warning signs?

Seeking Help

Make sure your child knows that they can come to you if they need help. Some children and young people worry that their parent or caregiver will react badly if they seek help, which can prevent them from doing so.

Reassure your child that they can come to you for help, no matter what has happened. You will be there to support them regardless, and make sure they are safe online.

You should also make sure you’re both aware of where the report and block buttons are on different online platforms, and how to use them. Read about video social networking sites parents should know about here.

Reporting Online Grooming

It can be distressing to think your child or young person might be being groomed online. It can also be incredibly distressing for your child – which is why it’s important to act quickly and seek support.

If you think your child is at immediate risk, call 999. You can also call 101 if you think a crime has been committed.

If your child is being groomed online, you can also make a report to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection service (CEOP). CEOP is a division of the National Crime Agency who help deal with reports of online abuse, including grooming.

Once you have made a report, one of their Child Protection Advisors will get in contact with you. They will help guide your next steps, supporting you to keep your child safe.

You can make a report to CEOP here.

Childline also offer a free counselling service for children and young people who have been affected by online grooming. Children and young people can talk to a counsellor online or over the phone. Conversations with counsellors are completely confidential and offer valuable one-to-one support.

Find out more about getting support from ChildLine here.

A teenager looking solemn while she stares out of the window.

When it comes to safeguarding against online grooming, the most important thing is to make sure your child knows how to keep safe online. Being aware of the signs of grooming and paying attention to your child’s internet usage will also help protect your child from online predators.

At Compass, the safety and wellbeing of our children and young people is our top priority. We work tirelessly to ensure that our children and young people’s needs are kept at the heart of every decision we make.

All our foster carers are provided with extensive safeguarding training, ensuring that the wellbeing of the young people in their care is protected both online and offline. To find out more about fostering with us, get in touch with our team today.

 


What is Empty Nest Syndrome?

When your children leave home, it can feel bittersweet. You’re happy for them and excited for their future. But you’re also overwhelmed, wondering what comes next for you. Could you be experiencing empty nest syndrome?

What is Empty Nest Syndrome?

Almost half of all parents in the UK say they have experienced empty nest syndrome at some point in their lives. Most empty nest syndrome definitions refer to the emotional turmoil that parents experience when their children leave home, in particular the feelings of grief, distress, loss, and anxiety.

This transitional period can be challenging for many parents, with research suggesting that the experience may lead to a variety of mental health issues, including depression and anxiety – impacting both men and women.

Is Empty Nest Syndrome Real?

There is no official diagnosis of empty nest syndrome meaning it is not a recognised medical or psychiatric health condition – however, that doesn’t make it any less real. While not a clinical diagnosis, it is a widely accepted term that many parents and professionals alike are familiar with.

Causes of empty nest syndrome typically include children moving into their own place, going to university, getting married, or leaving to start a new job or go travelling.

However, the feeling of an ‘empty nest’ can be exacerbated by other difficulties, making some parents more susceptible to it than others. This includes people already experiencing difficulties in their relationships (such as marriage issues), single parents, or people who parent full-time.

A picture of a woman staring out of the window.

What Does Empty Nest Syndrome Feel Like?

There are a few key symptoms that can be associated with empty nest syndrome. Everyone experiences it differently. For some people, change can be energising, while other people can find it unsettling and stressful.

You may find that you and your partner or your friends have different symptoms, or that they seem fine, while you’re having a tougher time coping.

Loss of Purpose

From school-runs, to seeing friends, to cooking meals and keeping on top of housework – raising children can be a full-time job. For many parents this means structuring their days around their children’s needs.

But, when children leave home, some parents suddenly find their days feeling empty. You may feel like you’ve lost your purpose and are unsure how to fill your days now that your children have moved out.

Sadness and Grief

Alongside feeling like you’ve lost your purpose, you may be feeling sadness or grief. While moving out of the home is a natural part of growing up for your child, it can be tough to see them go.

You might pass by their old room or find an item that belongs to them and feel tearful – even if you only spoke to them on the phone this morning.

Restlessness

Feeling so many complex emotions might also leave you feeling restless. You may not be able to focus like you used to, or you may find you have a difficult time relaxing.

When our brain’s emotional centres are fired up, we can find it hard to unwind. Some people fear that if they take a moment to pause, their worries and negative feelings might catch up with them.

Fear and Anxiety

You might find yourself preoccupied with your child’s wellbeing now that they’ve left home. What are they doing on a day-to-day basis? Are they safe, and happy?

You may also find you’re experiencing some anxiety about your own circumstances. You may be anxious about what your future holds and be fearful of so much uncertainty.

Emotional Distress

The symptoms of empty nest syndrome aren’t always negative; some parents feel relief, or even an element of excitement for the next chapter in their journey, and what this new independence could bring.

The combination of both positive and negative emotions may leave you feeling confused or distressed. One minute you’re relishing your newfound freedom, and the next you’re overwhelmed with loneliness – which can be exhausting.

A picture of a family photo resting on top of a shelf. In the photo, the family are sitting together and smiling.

Coping with Empty Nest Syndrome

Empty nest syndrome can be challenging to deal with. It may last a few weeks, while for others, it can last a few months.

A study of 2,000 empty nesters found that, on average, it takes about 3 months and 14 days to recover from empty nest syndrome. But no matter how long your feelings like this last, it’s important to find ways to cope in the meantime.

As difficult as it is, there are some things you can do to help cope with the symptoms of empty nest syndrome.

  • Reconnect with yourself. Cast your mind back to your life before you became a parent. What kind of things did you enjoy doing? Parenting can be full-on, and you may find that there are some things you once enjoyed doing, that you’ve since let slip. Perhaps you can pick up an old hobby or try your hand at something new. It might even be time to take that long-delayed holiday!
  • Establish new social connections. Now’s the time to draw on your support network and get in touch with old friends. As a parent, you probably barely had any time for yourself – let alone others. Take this an opportunity to rejuvenate your social life. After all, laughter is the best medicine!
  • Make time for self-care. The next few months might be tough, which is why it’s important to take care of yourself. With the kids out of the home, this can be the perfect time for some self-care. Find time for mindfulness. Treat yourself to massages. Take long walks in the outdoors. Make the most of your newfound freedom and invest in your wellbeing.
  • Revitalise your relationship. If you have a partner, now may be the time to focus on bonding with them. This is the perfect opportunity to reconnect with your partner and reignite the romance, without having to worry about the kids. It’s time to make more memories with just the two of you, from planning date nights, to finding new activities and experiences you can enjoy together.
  • Know when to seek help. Coming to terms with this new phase in your life can be challenging. If your empty nest syndrome symptoms are severe, or feel like they’re not getting any better, you may want to seek professional guidance. You may benefit from grief support or therapy, from a trained counsellor who specialises in empty nest syndrome UK.

Consider a Career in Fostering

Some parents feel like they aren’t ready to give up parenting. Caring for children is something they deeply enjoy, and they’re unsure how to translate the skills they’ve learned from parenting into a fulfilling career.

Fortunately, fostering can provide empty nesters with the opportunity to continue making a difference to children’s lives.

There are currently over 80,850 children living in care in the UK. They may not be able to live with their birth family due to abuse or neglect and would benefit greatly from the support and stability that a family home can provide.

That’s where our brilliant foster carers step in. Our foster families help give our children a childhood, providing them with a warm, loving, and caring home and supporting them to secure better futures.

Empty nesters make excellent foster carers because of the skills and experience they’ve already gained through their years of parenting. In fact, nearly 6% of our foster carers turned to fostering because ‘they didn’t feel done with parenting’, while 34% said they chose fostering because they cared about children and wanted to help them.

If you’re looking to put your parenting skills to use and want to make a difference to vulnerable children, consider a career in fostering. Being a foster carer can be incredibly fulfilling, as you’ll witness first-hand the impact of your work on children’s lives.

To learn more about becoming a foster carer with Compass, get in touch with us today to request your digital brochure. You can also look at our list of 8 things to know before fostering here.


How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Children?

In a modern world, it’s difficult to avoid the use of technology. The average adult will spend 34 years of their life looking at screens – with a recent poll suggesting people spend nearly 5,000 hours a year using technology.

The negative effects of screen time on child development has becoming a growing issue. Research suggests that too much exposure to technology may hinder children in their developmental years, impacting their ability to communicate, process emotions, maintain attention and achieve quality sleep.

We spoke to Systemic Psychotherapist Michelle Newman Brown, on the effects of too much screen time on child development. Michelle is the Senior Director of our Therapeutic Services, with over 30 years of experience working with children and young people.

How Much Screen Time is Too Much?

Many parents and caregivers turn to screens to help keep younger children entertained. The use of colourful cartoons and catchy tunes as a ‘babysitter’ near doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many parents sought to keep the kids busy during month after month of lockdowns.

Nowadays, 61% of 5-15 year olds have their own tablet, and 55% their own smartphone. But how much screen time is too much?

While there are no definitive answers, experts advise children should be limited to no more than two hours of screen time a day. However, children under 18 months should have a zero screen time rule (with the exception of the occasional video call), while for children aged two to five years old, the recommended limit is one hour a day.

Of course, there are also many benefits to technology for children and young people. As Michelle Newman Brown tells us, ‘there are educational components to many electronic devices,’ including access to a wealth of information that enables them to learn, explore and grow.

Still, Michelle recommends ‘finding ways of enabling our young people to spend less of their time using technology,’ as ‘young people need a rich and broad means of developing their brains’ – something that too much screen usage can interfere with.A young child using an ipad with headphones.

Screen Time and Child Development

Children develop skills through playing and interacting with the world around them, improving cognitive abilities such as problem-solving and self-expression. Spending too much time on screens can inhibit their engagement with their environment, which is why providing off-screen experiences is critical.

If children fail to engage properly with the environment around them, they may experience delays in their development that can impact them later in life.

Decreased Attention Span

Did you know that boredom can actually be good for you? Technology and social media can make passing the time easy, capturing our attention and (sometimes) resulting in us spending hours on electronic devices.

Yet, allowing the brain to be bored can actually be positive, stimulating our creativity and problem-solving and allowing our brains to recharge. Social media, among other things, can alter our attention span. The quick, instant gratification associated with the use of screens can influence the brain’s ability to focus on things that might be less stimulating.

Children who are exposed to too much screen time at a young age can suffer from a decrease in attention span. Being constantly stimulated by screens means children forget how to rely on themselves or others for entertainment, discouraging them from using their imagination and engaging with the environment around them.

Sleep Disturbances

Getting enough sleep is essential when it comes to child development. Sleep is crucial for maintaining mental and physical health, affecting everything from children’s cognitive performance, to their learning, to their mood.

When children are exposed to too much screen time, their sleep can suffer. This is because electronic screens emit blue light, a type of light that can suppress melatonin levels and delay sleepiness.

Technology should be limited especially in the hours before bedtime – allowing enough time for children’s brains to wind down before bed.

Emotional Development

Screens are increasingly being used to replace in-person interaction, with technological tools like Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Facetime being used more and more in our day-to-day lives.

More time spent in front of screens means less time spent interacting, playing and engaging with their peers. Children learn to navigate interpersonal relationships from a young age; a lack of face-to-face interaction reduces children’s ability to read faces, meaning they may struggle to understand and interpret non-verbal cues.

This can lead to problems with regulating behaviour and emotions, including a decreased level of empathy, as well as increased levels of frustration – contributing to arrested social development.

As Michelle says, the developmental impact of too much screen time can ‘hinder opportunities for understanding and conceptualising as adults,’ making it more difficult to form meaningful relationships as children mature.

A parent speaking to their child, who is frowning and looking upset.

Too Much Screen Time Symptoms

There are some physical indicators that may indicate your child or young person has been spending too much time in front of a screen.

Symptoms of too much screen time include:

  • Headache
  • Sore or dry eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurry vision
  • Decreased cognitive function
  • Mood swings
  • Weight gain
  • Overstimulation

In particular, overstimulation is one of the most common indicators of too much screen time. If your child is exhibiting aggression, unusual crying bouts, irritability, meltdowns or oppositional behaviour that all seem out of character – it’s possible that they’re overstimulated.

If you notice your young person displaying some of these symptoms, it might be time to think about their screen exposure.

Managing Screen Time

It can be difficult to set boundaries when it comes to electronics, as so much of our lives involve the use of them, and many parents and caregivers report feeling distressed or worried when it came to reducing screen time.

As Michelle explains, ‘focusing too much on one thing has a restricting capacity when it comes to child development.’ A broad range of experiences are essential for healthy brain development, which is why it’s important to find balance.

Some basic guidelines when it comes to managing screen time include:

  • No screens during mealtimes. Screens can make children less mindful or conscious of eating, which might lead to a range of food-related challenges such as disordered eating, bingeing or even obesity.
  • No screens in the bedroom. Preventing screens from being used in the bedroom will help to eliminate some of the sleep problems associated with screen usage, as well as ensuring that screen usage can be monitored.
  • Make use of parental controls. Many screen devices come with that allow you to limit your child’s usage and the kind of content they can access online.
  • Communicate openly. Be open and transparent about your expectations when it comes to technology usage. Set some clear boundaries and explain the reasons behind them. Consistency is also key when establishing a routine for screen usage.
  • Provide alternative activities. Try to organise some other exciting activities to keep your child entertained – like crafts, painting, or scavenger hunts – that encourage them to engage with something other than screens.

Remember, not all screen usage is bad. There are many benefits to screen usage when it comes to parenting – such as educational content that helps children learn and grow, or social sites that keep them connected with their friends.

The important thing is to find balance. Part of this involves understanding the screen time recommendations for your child’s age and finding an agreement that works for both you and your child.

A young child using a laptop and a phone whilst wearing headphones.

Further Resources

Looking for more information on how to promote healthy development in your child and keep them safe using screens? Take a look at our list of resources below!

At Compass, we work hard to provide our children and young people with everything they need for healthy, positive upbringing.

Our foster carers benefit from an extensive array of training, including how to promote child development and safeguard them online. Get in touch with us if you’d like to find out more about fostering with Compass.


“Why Won’t My Child Sleep at Night?” A Guide to Understanding Children’s Sleep

Getting enough sleep is essential for child development – it plays a crucial role in maintaining your child’s mental and physical health, directly effecting their mood, cognitive function, learning, memory and much more.

However, if you’re a parent or caregiver, you probably know that getting kids to go to sleep (and stay asleep) isn’t as straightforward as it sounds.

Lots of children and young people find it difficult to sleep at night. They might struggle to settle down or wake up at various points in the night – disrupting not only their sleep, but yours too! Children who are short on sleep are also more prone to hyperactivity, irritability and emotional dysregulation, impacting their day-to-day life both at home and in school.

If you’re finding yourself wondering, ‘is there a reason why my child doesn’t sleep?’ – you’re not alone. To help, we’ve compiled a list of some of the possible underlying causes to help you identify the reason behind your child’s sleepless nights.

Picture: A young girl sleeping.

  1. Their Basic Needs Aren’t Met

As simple as it sounds, making sure your child’s basic needs are met can play an important role in ensuring they rest soundly.

Things like needing the toilet or being thirsty can prevent your child from falling asleep easily. These unmet needs also risk waking them up at night, disrupting their sleep cycle and making falling back asleep again more challenging.  This can apply for both younger and older children – all of whose sleep cycles can easily be disrupted if they have unmet needs.

To avoid this happening, try to make sure their needs are fully met before they go to sleep. One way of doing this is by incorporating it into their bedtime routine, like having a nightly ‘check-in’ with your child as they are getting ready for bed.  During this ‘check-in’, you can ask them if they need the toilet, some water, or anything else that might help them in the night.

Picture: a child using an iPad in bed.

  1. They Don’t Have Good Sleep Hygiene

Many people say ‘my child won’t sleep!’, without realising how important maintaining good sleep hygiene is in helping children fall asleep.

Sleep hygiene refers to the lead-up and routine around your child’s bedtime. This means the various steps you and your child take to get them ready for bed – like brushing their teeth, getting into their pyjamas, and being read a bedtime story.

Having good hygiene is essential for helping children fall asleep and stay asleep. However, when children have an inconsistent or poor bedtime routine, this can quicky cause issues.

Good sleep hygiene means:

  • Having the same bedtime each night
  • Having a predictable, calming bedtime routine
  • Limiting the use of technology before bed
  • Limiting heavy food intake at least 2 hours before bedtime
  • Avoiding taking too many naps during the day
  • Avoiding caffeine and sugar consumption in the late afternoon and evening
  • Avoiding any exciting or over-stimulating activities before bed – like pillow fights.
  • Engaging in calming, quiet, relaxing activities before bed – like a warm bath or reading.

Children should also be encouraged to only use their bed for sleeping. Lying in bed during the day or doing other activities in bed can make it difficult for the brain to associate the bed with sleep, making it harder to fall asleep at bedtime. This also means you should avoid using the bedroom as a place for punishment, like ‘time-outs’, as this can discourage children from viewing the bedroom as a good place to be.

Similarly, if your child is struggling to sleep and is tossing and turning in the bed, it’s often better for them to get out of bed for a while. While this might seem counterproductive, tossing and turning in bed can encourage the brain to associate the bed with sleeplessness.

Instead, have your child get out of bed and do something calming and not too stimulating – like reading a boring book, or counting sheep. Once they feel sleepy again, they can return to bed.

Picture: a man reading a child a bed time story.

  1. Their Sleep Environment is Being Disrupted

We all know how difficult it can be to fall asleep in the wrong conditions. Your child’s sleeping environment should be a place where they feel safe and calm. If your child’s bedroom doesn’t have the right environment, they may have trouble falling asleep.

There are a few things to consider when it comes to assessing your child’s sleep environment:

  • Light. Is it too dark, or too light? Some children prefer sleeping in total darkness. Darkness can help the production of melatonin (an essential sleep hormone), which is why your child may sleep better with blackout blind. On the other hand, some children may have be afraid of the dark, and need the aid of a nightlight or stuffed animal to help make them feel safe.
  • Noise. The wrong kind of noise – such as noise from a TV, or street noise – can easily disrupt sleep, keeping your child up or waking them throughout the night. Limit the amount of noise in your child’s bedroom by installing soundproofing curtains or playing white-noise or calming music to help them fall asleep.
  • Temperature. Surprisingly, temperature is one of the most important factors affecting sleep. A sleep environment that is too hot or too cold can cause increased restlessness and wakefulness in children, decreasing REM sleep and causing a myriad of issues. Your child’s bedroom should be cool (approximately 18°C) to ensure they can get a good nights sleep.

Picture: a child hiding under the covers.

  1. There is a Psychological Cause

Sleep is closely connected with mental health. If you feel you’re doing all of the things listed above, but your child is still experiencing restless nights – there may be an underlying psychological issue.

Most children will likely experience psychological sleep disturbances – such as stress, anxiety, separation anxiety , fear of the dark, or nightmares – at some point in their life. These psychological issues can be caused by many things, including stress, attachment issues, trauma, changes in routine – or even just an over-active imagination.

Mindfulness activities like yoga or meditation can help children unwind and clear their mind before bed, as well as encouraging children to talk openly about their feelings.

However, while some children may grow out of things like nightmares, there are other psychological issues that may continue to disrupt their rest if not treated properly. If you suspect your child is suffering from a psychological issue that is causing them distress and impacting their wellbeing, it’s important you seek professional guidance as soon as possible.

As well as speaking to a GP, you can get guidance from one of these services:

  • Samaritans: call 116 123 (open 24 hours a day), email [email protected], or check your local Samaritans branch
  • MIND: call 0300 123 3393 or text 86463 (weekdays from 9am-6pm)
  • YoungMinds Parents Helpline – call 0808 802 5544 (weekdays 9:30am-4pm)

Picture: a child waking their parents up.

  1. They Have a Health Issue

Sometimes, health issues like snoring or sleep apnoea can prevent children from falling or staying asleep. Although snoring is most common in older adults, many children are known to snore too.

Snoring is generally quite easy to recognise, due to the snorting or rattling sound that is made when some people are asleep. Snoring can be caused by a range of reasons, from seasonal allergies, to colds, to a deviated septum.

Light, occasional snoring should not raise any health concerns. However, if your child’s snoring is affecting their sleep, they may be suffering from primary snoring – the first stage of disordered breathing that can interrupt sleep quality, without posing any serious medical consequences.

If your child snores loudly, has start-and-stop breathing and is restless at night, there’s a chance they may be experiencing a condition called sleep apnoea. This occurs when the airways are blocked by enlarged tonsils and/or nasal tissues, and often requires medical intervention.

If you suspect your child is suffering from a health condition that is disrupting their sleep, its important you seek professional guidance from your GP – they will be able to advise you on the next steps to take, including treatment.

Picture: a child sleeping.

Supporting a child with sleep problems can be hard work and requires a lot of patience. Fortunately, many children grow out of most sleep-related issues as they age. By the time they’re teenagers, you’ll find yourself wondering – can my teenager ever get enough sleep?

Unfortunately, there are still thousands of children in the UK without a safe, secure place to sleep at night. If you think you could provide a child or young person with a loving place to grow up, get in touch with us to find out more about becoming a foster carer.

 


Free Activities in Birmingham to Keep the Kids Entertained

Parents and caregivers around the country are familiar with the struggle of finding something entertaining for the kids to do that doesn’t break the bank.

A day out with the family can be expensive; from admission fees, to ticket prices, to keeping hungry tummies filled, the costs can quickly pile up. That, and with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis – it’s natural for families to want to keep expenses down!

Fortunately, there are plenty of things to do with kids in Birmingham. Once a Saxon village, Birmingham is now the second largest city in England! With its rich history and diverse cultural background, families are spoilt for choice when it comes to finding fun things to do in Birmingham.

So, if you’re wondering what to do for free in Birmingham, look no further! We’ve put together a list of the top 5 fun and free things to do in Birmingham. These activities are easy on the wallet and guaranteed to be a good time for all the family!

Picture: a child using a virtual reality headset.

Expand Your Mind at Birmingham Open Media (BOM)

Founded in 2014, this innovative art gallery uses creative technology to provide visitors with exciting and thought-provoking digital experiences. A unique day out, BOM is perfect for families who are looking for fun things to do in Birmingham.

Based in central Birmingham, BOM run a range of free exhibitions, events, community workshops and educational programmes – all aimed at exploring the connection between technology and our day-to-day lives.

Their recent exhibitions have included futuristic virtual reality sculptures, colourful digital projections, and an immersive dreamscape experience.

Picture: the grounds of a stately home.

Walk Through History at Himley Hall and Park

Standing tall against 180 acres of landscaped parkland, this stunning 18th Century building is a shining example of Birmingham’s historical background.

Once a family home to the Earls of Dudley, Himley Hall and Park is now open to visitors looking to explore its grounds – for free! From open greenery to dense woodland, the grounds are perfect for a spot of exploring on a sunny day. Himley Hall and Park also frequently hosts a range of outdoor events that families can enjoy together. These include antiques fairs, live music, food festivals, and much more.

If you’re feeling peckish after a day of exploring , Himley Hall also has a café located within its grounds, offering up a range of refreshments including hot and cold drinks, crisps and a selection of sweet treats.

Picture: two canal boats moored on one of Birmingham's canals.

Explore Birmingham’s Canals

Did you know that Birmingham has more canals than Venice? Birmingham’s canal network is one of the most intricate canal networks in the world, spanning over 100 miles in total. Pack a picnic, its time for an adventure!

For those wondering what to do in Birmingham for free, we recommend taking a day to wander the historical canals and learn more about Birmingham’s unique industrial history.

Built in the 1700s and 1800s, the canals were once primarily used for the transportation of coal and other industrial materials to nearby cities.  Nowadays, however, the canals are mostly used for leisure activities.

Now, they’re populated with colourful narrowboats and a range of local wildlife, including ducks and geese. Their walkways are also bordered with a range of independent restaurants and cafes – meaning you’re never too far from a coffee or tasty snack.

Why not check out this free canal walking route from Canal & River Trust? You can also find a free audio guide to the canals here!

Picture: a donkey in a field.

Visit Sutton Park’s Donkey Sanctuary

Like Himley Hall and Park, Sutton Park is ideal for adventurous families looking for free things to do in Birmingham. This impressive 2,400-acre National Nature Reserve is only 6 miles from Birmingham City Centre and combines history, adventuring and animals all in one!

Alongside its vast open landscape and its seven lakes, Sutton Park also has its very own Donkey Sanctuary. Open to the public every Saturday and the first Sunday of each month, Sutton Park’s Donkey Sanctuary is home to Shocks, Cisco, Oscar and Jimmy – their resident rescue donkeys. The donkeys at Sutton Park love visitors, and enjoy spending their days grazing and laying around the sun.

Entry is free, but entry tickets need to be booked in advance to avoid disappointment.

Picture: two children performing a science experiment.

Get Thinking at The Science Garden

Dig out the lab coats – it’s time for some science! Thinktank’s outdoor Science Garden is full of exciting activities that will keep children of all ages entertained.

Their outdoor activities include over 30 hands-on exhibits that focus on themes of engineering, mechanics, and transportation. Visitors of all ages are invited to get involved. Why not have a go on their with their eight-metre high ‘Terminus’ machine, or take a stroll in their human-sized hamster wheel? A visit to the Science Garden will inspire and entertain, all while teaching your children valuable knowledge about machinery and its place in the modern world.

The Science Garden is free to enter every day from 3pm, however closing times will vary as winter draws on due to light levels.

These family things to do in Birmingham are sure to keep the whole family entertained – without placing too much strain on the wallet! If you’re looking for some more cost-free family activities, why not check out our list of 10 Free Activities that Are Fun for The Whole Family?

Unfortunately, there are still thousands of children living in Birmingham, and throughout the UK, who would benefit from the safety and security that foster care provides.

If you think you could make a difference to the life of a child living in Birmingham, find out more about fostering in Birmingham with Compass Fostering. Or, get in touch with us to speak to a member of our team today.


8 of The Best Family Activities in Wolverhampton

From its fascinating Industrial history to its sprawling countryside, there’s plenty to do and see in Wolverhampton.

Wolverhampton is incredibly well connected to other nearby spots in the West Midlands, making travelling a breeze for those looking for activities to do in Wolverhampton. Just minutes away from stunning country parks, historical manors and award-winning museums, families are left with plenty of choice.

Read on to find out some of the best family friendly activities in Wolverhampton.

A picture of a historic manor in some countryside.

Wightwick Manor and Gardens

Perfect for a sunny day, Wightwick Manor and Gardens allows visitors to take a peek at life in the late 19th Century. Owned and preserved by the National Trust, Wightwick Manor and its surrounding gardens make a great day out, stoking the children’s imagination, with plenty of opportunities to learn and play.

As well as guided and self-guided walking tours, the Wightwick Manor regularly host a variety of events, from summer holiday family activities, to fascinating historical talks.

A picture of some horses in old-fashioned tack.

Black Country Living Museum

Located just outside Wolverhampton and accessible by train, this award-winning open-air museum is a must-see for history buffs, Peaky Blinder’s fans and everyone in between!

Set across 26 acres, visitors have the chance to explore a wealth of ‘carefully reconstructed shops, houses and industrial areas’ that represent the history of Black Country. Registered as an Educational Charity, Black Country Living Museum also offer various events, including activities for children in Wolverhampton.

A picture of a child on a high ropes course.

Challenge Academy

For those looking for a walk – or swing – on the wild side, Challenge Academy is the place to go! This outdoor activity centre offers various courses for all ages and abilities, providing a range of adventure experiences that meet the needs of all their clients.

Just a 20-minute drive from Wolverhampton, their Baggeride Adventure site boasts plenty of exciting challenges. From a high ropes course to zip wires, to bouldering and much more, Challenge Academy will test your limits and find out if you really are #upforthechallenge.

A picture of some children exploring a nature reserve.

Pendeford Mill Nature Reserve

An idyllic spot with a host of wildlife and peaceful views, Pendeford Mill Nature Reserve is one of many nature reserves located in Wolverhampton and the surrounding countryside.

Over 60 acres large and described by visitors as a ‘hidden gem’, Pendeford Mill Nature Reserve is ideal for families looking to spend the day reconnecting with local nature and exploring everything it has to offer. Pack a pinic and strap on your walking boots for a fun-filled day in nature.

A picture of some children feeding some tropical birds.

Dudley Zoo and Castle

Located in the neighbouring town of Dudley, Dudley Zoo and Castle is open every day from 10am – 5:30pm. Filled with exotic animals from around the world and based in the grounds of a historic Castle dating back to 1070, Dudley Zoo and Castle has something for everyone.

Great for those looking for fun activities in Wolverhampton, at Dudley Zoo and Castle, there is lots to do. As well as general admission, the park offers unique experience packages that allow visitors to get up close and personal with some of the Zoo’s fluffiest, scariest and scaliest animals. They also have a range of talks that run throughout the day, and plenty of eateries dotted throughout the park – perfect for filling hungry tummies.

A picture of a Tudor House.

Moseley Old Hall

A stunning Elizabethan era house, and just a 15-minute drive from Wolverhampton city centre, Moseley Old Hall is yet another example of Wolverhampton’s rich history.

Inside, the house is furnished just as it would have been in the 17th Century, with the ground floor Hall open on a ‘free flow’ basis from 10:30am until 4:30pm. Visitors have the option of joining a guided tour whilst there, which describes the story of Moseley Old Hall and its curious connection to King Charles II. The site also has a tearoom, bookshop and gardens that are perfect for those looking for a relaxed day out with the family.

A picture of some ducks sitting on a fence.

Northycote Farm & Country Park

Favoured by local families, Northycote Farm is one of the best free activities in Wolverhampton. Like Dudley Zoo and Castle, this day out combines animal-fun with a slice of history.

Free to enter and located on the grounds of a 16th-century Tudor House, Northycote Farm boasts 90 acres of stunning scenery, woodland, and meadowland. The farm is home to chickens, geese, ducks, pigs, sheep and a variety of wildlife that roam the surrounding countryside. There are also Tearooms on site, serving up a range of hot and cold drinks, cakes and locally made breakfasts and lunches.

A picture of a royal airforce plane.

Royal Airforce Museum

Get ready for take-off – this is another great free family activity in Wolverhampton, the Royal Airforce Museum! Open daily from 10am, this award-winning museum is jammed full with aircraft and aviation and Airforce themed memorabilia.

Their multiple hangars encase various exhibits, ranging from the Cold War to the invention of the very first aeroplane. With life-sized models, real-life planes and interactive displays – such as their flight simulator or Virtual Reality Zone – the Royal Air force Museum is sure to keep the whole family entertained. Entry is also free!

With so much to see and do in Wolverhampton, families will be spoilt for choice! However, if you’re looking for entertainment that is easy on the wallet, why not check out our list of 10 Free Activities for Children – we’re sure you’ll find something the kids will love.

There are still many children living in Wolverhampton, and throughout the UK, who would benefit from the safety and security of foster care. If you think you could make a difference to the life of a vulnerable child, find out more about fostering in Wolverhampton with Compass Fostering, or get in touch with us to speak to a member of our team today.


Pinching the Pennies: Frugal Money Saving Tips for Families

The cost-of-living crisis has placed financial pressure on thousands of households throughout the UK in the last few months. With the cost of everyday essentials like food, fuel and energy rising, many people are wondering how to save money as a family.

With the cost of living looking like it’s only going to continue to rise, now is a great time to re-evaluate your household finances and look for ways to save money wherever you can.

To help, we’ve compiled an ultimate guide of our top money saving tips to help you and your family cut the costs this year. From how you can reduce the cost of your food shop, to free family activities and much more, read on for our money saving tips for parents and carers.

Our guide covers…

1. Save on Your Household Bills
2. Save Money on Your Food Shop
3. Where Can Children Eat Free?
4. Free Family Activities
5. Foster Carer Discounts
6. Seeking Support from Foodbanks

A person calculating their bills.

Save on Your Household Bills

When it comes to saving money on household bills, house modifications like insulation or solar panels are usually the first port of call.

However, adjustments like these can be expensive and time consuming – making them less than ideal during a cost-of-living crisis. Fortunately, there are a range of short-term money-saving solutions that will help reduce the overall cost of your household bills.

From advice on how to negotiate your bills, to smart meters and much more, these affordable, easy tips will go a long way in helping families across the UK manage their bills this year.

See whether you could save on your household bills here.

A supermarket interior.

Save Money on Your Food Shop

Food is one of many everyday essentials that has seen a drastic rise in the past few months. Shoppers across the UK have been shocked by the rise in grocery prices this year – more than 20% – with many having to cut down on their intake of certain foods.

However, there are a few ways that shoppers can keep costs down without sacrificing the foods they love. In our guide to saving on food shopping, we take a look at the psychological element to Supermarket advertising – and how being aware of this can save you money. We also look at other Supermarket hidden gems, such as the World Foods aisle.

If you’re looking for single parent money saving tips, or if you’re a larger family, be sure to read how to save some money on your food shop.

A child eating a meal.

Where Can Children Eat Free?

Alongside saving money on your food shop, there are plenty of restaurants offering Kids-Eat-Free deals for families with hungry tummies to fill.

With the approach of the holidays, families are working hard to keep the kids entertained. However, this can be tricky – especially given the rising cost of living.

For those saving money 2022,  there’s nothing better than free food! Eateries throughout the UK are currently offering free or discounted meals for children and young people. From pizza, to sushi, to IKEA’s famous meatballs, there’s plenty of choice!

Take a look at where children can eat free this summer.

A family on a walk.

Free Family Activities

Despite the cost-of-living crisis, spending time with the family doesn’t need to break the bank.

Our brilliant guide of the top 10 free family activities is perfect for keeping the kids occupied this summer. These activities are fun for the whole family, costing you nothing but time – and maybe a few craft materials from the kitchen cupboard!

Whether you’re after a Geoaching adventure, or a cosy camping night in, there’s lots of ideas to keep you busy.

Read about free family activities that are being held all over the UK.

A wooden model of a family house.

Foster Carer Discounts

Foster carers dedicate a lot of their time to caring for others, helping to transform the lives of vulnerable children for the better.

At Compass, we understand that raising a child in the UK comes with various financial implications. That’s why we pay all our foster carers a fostering allowance that far exceeds minimum rates.

But during these trying times, we want to make sure that all our foster carers are making the most of the discounts and benefits available to them.

These benefits and discounts come on top of the support and benefits we offer at Compass Fostering, aimed to help ease the strain on your wallet during these trying times.

Have a look at all the extra benefits you could receive as a foster carer here.

A foodbank box.

Seeking Support from Foodbanks

While these money saving tips ought to help in lessening the financial pressure placed on many households right now, it’s important to be aware of the kind of support available to those who need it.

Foodbanks are an essential support system for households who are in crisis. However, many are run by local communities or non-profits, meaning they rely on donations to operate.

If you’re wondering how Foodbanks work, including what you can to do support your local foodbank, read on to find out.

Find out more if you’re wondering how foodbanks work, including what you can to do support your local foodbank.

There’s no denying that times are tough for many families across the UK. Hopefully these tips for saving money as a family go some way in helping to ease the strain on your wallet. However, it’s important to seek support should you need it.

You can find out more about getting help with the cost of living here.

At Compass, we want all our foster carers to feel supported and looked-after throughout their fostering journey with us. We understand that this is a difficult period for many, and will do everything in our power to ensure our carers receive the right support.

If you’re a Compass foster carer who is struggling during this time, please approach your Supervising Social Worker with any concerns you have. They will be able to advise you on the best next steps to take.

Alternatively, if you’d like to find out more about fostering with Compass or how to become a foster carer, get in touch with us here.


Top Spots Where Children Eat for Free (or for Cheap) this Summer

With the holidays upon us, parents and caregivers throughout the UK are scrambling to keep the kids entertained. But with the cost-of-living crisis placing financial pressure on many households, its natural to want to keep expenses down.

Fortunately, there are plenty of eateries offering free or discounted meals for children throughout the UK. Whether you’re looking for a snack pit stop, or a summer banquet, there’s plenty of spots where kids eat free 2022 – perfect for filling hungry tummies!

Hang up the apron – its time to let someone else do the cooking! Check out our list of the top spots where children eat free over summer.

Where Do Kids Eat Free?

 

Morrisons LogoMorrisons Café (Nationwide). Available at any Morrisons Café throughout the UK, this fabulous deal offers a free kid’s meal with any one adult meal that has a value over £4.99. Their kid’s meal must be from their kids menu, and includes a piece of fruit and the choice of a tasty orange juice, apple juice or bottle of water.

ASDA LogoASDA Café (Nationwide). While kids don’t necessarily eat for free at ASDA, they can access a hot or cold meal for just £1 – without any minimum spend for adults required. An ASDA spokesperson said they are ‘so pleased to be able to offer children’s meals for just £1 (…) to ensure that those who would normally rely on a school meal aren’t left without.’ Offer available 25th July – 4th September.

Yo Sushi LogoYo! Sushi (Nationwide). For those looking to expand their children’s tastebuds, Yo! Sushi are offering a Kids Eat Free deal between 15.00-17.30, Monday-Thursday unt8il the 29th September 2022. For every £10 spent by an adult, one child eats free! They’re even offering their own ‘Mini Ninja’ children’s menu with plenty of tasty Japanese meals that are sure to be a hit.

Dunelm LogoDunelm (Nationwide).  While best known for their furniture and homeware, Dunelm stores are also home to a delightful chain of cafés – Pausa Cafes. This summer, kids eat free at Pausa Café with every £4 spent in store. So, whether you’re on the hunt for a new rug, or in need of a couple lightbulbs – why not bring the kids along and make the most of this appetising deal!

Beefeater LogoBeefeater & Brewers Fayre (Nationwide).  Perfect for early risers or those heading out for a day of adventuring, Beefeater are offering free unlimited breakfast for children at all their locations throughout the UK. And if breakfast isn’t your thing, they’re also offering a kids 3 course lunch or dinner for just £5.99, with a choice of Sausage and Mash, Pasta or Oven Baked Fish bites.

Bella Italia LogoBella Italia (Nationwide). Hungering for Pizza? Head over to your nearest Bella Italia between 16:00-18:00, Monday-Thursday, and enjoy a kid’s meal for £1! This price comes with the purchase of every adult main and includes three delicious courses, a fruit water, and a colouring sheet that will keep kids on the younger side entertained.

Sizzling Pub LogoSizzling Pubs (Nationwide).  With hundreds of pubs across England, Wales and Scotland, you’re never far from a Sizzling Pub. Ideal for a relaxed meal, kids can now eat for £1 at all Sizzling Pubs! Enjoy a weekday lunch or dinner where the kids get to choose from a huge range of nutritious dishes – from fish fingers, to pasta, to pizza, to chicken wraps, there’s something for even the pickiest of eaters.

IKEA logoIKEA (Nationwide).  Who doesn’t love an IKEA day out? Part of the joy of IKEA is their Swedish restaurant, offering diners a selection of tasty food – especially their iconic meatballs and gravy dish! This summer, kids at IKEA can eat for as little as 95p, or £1.50 for a combination meal. Combo meals include one hot meal, a jelly, soft drink, and a piece of fruit.

Cafe RougeCafé Rouge (Nationwide). Café Rouge are offering parents and caregivers the chance to treat their family to a ‘taste of summer in France’ over the holidays, with the return of their kids eat for £1 offer. For £1 with every adult who purchases a main course, children have the choice of 2 or 3 courses from the kids menu. This offer is available from 22nd July – 21st August, so make the most of it while you can!

These restaurants and cafes are just a few of the many eateries offering discounted or free eating for children throughout the holidays. Alternatively, if eating out isn’t your thing, why not check out our guide on reducing the cost of your weekly shop?

There’s plenty to do, see and eat this summer. If you’re looking for some inspiration on budget-friendly things to do with the kids, check out our list on 10 free activities that are fun for the whole family.

 


Fun for the Whole Family: Museums in Coventry

With so many school holidays each year in the UK, keeping the kids busy can be a tricky feat. Parents and caregivers have got their work cut out!

The UK weather is also famously unreliable. That’s why it’s good to have an idea of the kinds of activities available to you and your family on a rainy day.

There are various benefits to visiting a museum with your children and young people. For children, museums help to improve their cognitive ability, provoking their imagination alongside teaching them about the world they live in.

With this in mind, we’re looking at some of the most popular museums in Coventry to visit with your children!

Picture: a child looking at an exhibition.

  1. Coventry Transport Museum

This one is for the automobile lovers! Described as a ‘truly unique day out for all the family’, the Coventry Transport Museum is full of fascinating exhibitions from the worlds various motoring industries.

This museum in Coventry city centre allows visitors to wander through history, telling the story of Coventry and how the city changed the world through transport. This museum is also an excellent choice for families who are looking for a full day out, with a coffee house and picnic areas located throughout the museum.

Foster carers in Coventry also get free entry to the museum. When we spoke to the Coventry Transport Museum, they explained our carers need only pay for their children’s admission – which is free for under 4s, and £8.00 for those between 5-16 years old. A single ticket is also valid for 365 days, meaning you and your family can visit as many times as you like within one year, while only paying once!

Find out more about Coventry Transport Museum here.

Picture: a young boy inspecting a telescope in a museum.

  1. Midland Air Museum

Like with the Coventry Transport Museum, the Midland Air Museum is ideal for lovers of all things transport and machinery based.

Located just outside of Coventry, this volunteer-lead museum is full of fascinating planes that come in all shapes and sizes. Stand in the shadow of a full-scale US Airforce Military Jet, or marvel at the intricacies of a Rolls Royce Spitfire engine – there’s plenty to see, with many of the planes dating back to World War 2.

Admission for adults is £7.75 and £4.00 for children over the age of 5, making it an affordable trip! However, part of the museum’s exhibitions are outside – so we recommend choosing a day with clear skies or packing a raincoat if you’re thinking of visiting the Midland Air Museum!

Check out the Midland Air Museum here.

Picture: a family enjoying an exhibit together.

  1. The Coventry Music Museum

This multi-award-winning museum in Coventry is a great day out for music-lovers and families alike. Visitors describe being ‘overwhelmed with the knowledge and depth of the memorabilia’ on display at this museum.

Brimming with various exhibitions showcasing music throughout the ages, this museum gives visitors the opportunity to trace the history of music and its development. From witnessing some of the worlds first performers, to an interactive 60s-era sound booth, to the famous bench John Lennon and Yoko Ono once posed on – there’s lots to keep the children entertained.

Foster carers are entitled to a reduced entry fee of £3.00, with children and young people under 15 years old enter for free.

Read more about the exhibitions on at The Coventry Music Museum here!

Picture: a child painting.

  1. Herbert Art Gallery & Museum

This stylish museum is home to art from around the world. Featuring exhibitions on archaeology,  natural art, modern art, social art and much more, the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in Coventry is sure to expand your knowledge and inspire.

Alongside its various exhibitions, Herbert Art Gallery & Museum also host a range of family-friendly activities and workshops that are open to the public. Some of their activities include Summer Holiday Crafting Sessions, or an Art Masterclass in Street Art Murals with local street artist, Katie-O. These activities are affordable to book, ranging between £2.50-£10.00 per child, with many running at daily, weekly, and monthly intervals.

The museum is also free to enter, encouraging families in Coventry to immerse themselves in arts, history and culture.

Read more about visiting Herbert Art & Gallery Museum here.

Picture: a family looking at an exhibition together.

  1. The Reel Store

Unlike other museums, The Reel Story is a relatively new addition to Coventry. Following on from the popularity of immersive art exhibitions around the world, the Reel Space is an innovative, 360-degree art experience that is suitable for the whole family.

Using digital projections, the Reel Store is the UK’s first permanent digital art gallery, allowing visitors to walk around within its art exhibitions. From beautiful hues of yellow and green, to stunning splashes of vibrant pink, the Reel Store takes experiencing art to a different level – making it ideal for children and young people looking to experience new things.

Tickets range between £8.00-£10.00, with flexible admission times that allow visitors to enter throughout the day. However, the experience tends to run on a continuous loop throughout the day – meaning that visitors may have to wait for a short period before entering the exhibition.

Find out more about visiting The Reel Store here.

There’s plenty to do and see when it comes to museums in Coventry. For some children (including foster children) this might be their first time visiting a museum – which is bound to be an exciting experience for all!

However, there are still many children living in Coventry, and throughout the UK, who would benefit from the safety and security of foster care. If you think you could make a difference to the life of a vulnerable child, find out more about fostering in Coventry with Compass Fostering or get in touch with us to speak to a member of our team today.