We might think hay fever is fairly benign and boring. It can be. It can also cause misery to around a quarter of us every Spring and Summer; affecting sleep, daytime performance and exams on top of the unpleasant symptoms. It can also cause life-threatening asthma in those who have both hay fever and asthma, particularly in thunderstorms (very small particles are in the air at our level and trigger it) and the additional risk of COVID in this mix means that we must be on guard for those with both conditions, whatever their age.
The numbers have trebled in the last 20 years. Around 25% of adults are said to suffer from hay fever and up to 15% of children. Often it can be overlooked in children, the symptoms mistaken for a cold. However, unlike with a cold, hay fever won’t cause a raised temperature and will last a lot longer – weeks or months rather than a few days. Sufferers tend to be affected at roughly the same time every year, and other rarer causes include certain medications or thyroid disease. It’s usually worth trying an antihistamine if you suspect hay fever which can then help with the diagnosis.
Skin prick tests can be helpful and IgE levels to specific pollens can help in diagnosis – a raised total IgE suggests allergy of some sort, while not specific.
We’re just heading into the start of the hay fever season 2021. Its proper name is Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis (swelling and inflammation in the nose caused by allergy) and it can affect the eyes, throat, ears and head. So there’s one overall cause encompassing a wide group of smaller causes – pollen and all its subtypes. Birch tree pollen is the most allergic (peaking in April) and grass the most common (peaking around June/July).
How does it start?
You generally inherit an allergic (atopic) tendency from a parent who is also affected, they may have eczema or asthma rather than hay fever. This makes you susceptible though you may never develop it. Pollen though is out there in the air – if you go outside between March and October you’ll be exposed.
When you’re first exposed, nothing outwardly happens. The cells in your mouth, nose, throat and eyes are busy getting sensitised inside you. When they encounter the same pollen (allergen) again, special allergy cells called mast cells are activated, burst and leak all sorts of chemicals leading to the allergic response we see with the runny eyes and nose. The fastest and biggest volume of these is histamine, hence treatment with antihistamines. It’s only one of the chemicals and the others work slower affecting things like sleep and a reduced sense of smell for example.
So essentially if you’ve got it, you’re likely to keep getting it. You can’t completely avoid pollen, though you can massively minimise your exposure to it. It usually starts in childhood, peaks in the teens and can reduce as we go into adulthood. It may even disappear.
What can I do?
Weather forecasting, calendars and clocks are your friend. The Met Office produces predicted pollen calendars for each type of pollen – not just tree, grass, weeds or moulds (and they come in that order across the year), they show us the range for ash, birch and every other pollen. They can do this because pollens are released when the plants or trees are growing and these vary a bit year on year with changeable weather. You can roughly predict which you’re allergic to from when you’re most affected. If you’re worst in April, Ash and Birch are the likely suspects. The Met Office also provides a pollen count via the weather forecasts, which will generally be higher on hot and humid days. Thunderstorms cause pollen to break up into very small particles which can easily get deep into the lungs and are low down in the atmosphere and very concentrated.
Pollen counts vary greatly across the day. The pollen counts are highest from 7-9am as pollen is released from plants and trees and 5-7pm as the air cools and the pollen sinks down again. Try to stay inside at those times with windows closed. At least try and stay away from woodland, parks, grassed or rural areas. Bring washing inside before 5pm. Try and plan outdoor activities in the middle of the day when the pollen has risen up a bit.
Keep down pollen in your environment.
We know that pollen is in the air and constantly circulating and settling. Frequent hoovering and damp dusting help keep pollen low in the house. Keeping windows closed helps as does a pollen HEPA filter in the hoover or air filter. Pollen filters in the car and not circulating air from outside help. Wipe pets with a damp cloth as they can carry pollen on their fur.
Other environmental factors can make hay fever (and asthma) worse, such as smoking, exhaust fumes and air pollution. Bush fires in Australia hugely increase cases and their severity. Coastal breezes wash pollen inland so coast-dwellers tend to have fewer and less severe symptoms.
Minimise pollen on yourself.
The thing I’ve found most effective was close-fitting wraparound sunglasses. It is also effective to change outdoor clothes as soon as you get home (not leave them and their pollen lying around!) and shower and wash your hair, or at least wash your face. It is virtually indestructible on dry clothes, so water helps reduce the spread.
Another great tip is putting vaseline around the nostrils which traps a lot of pollen preventing it getting in. Salt water sprays can flush out pollens as well.
Prepare – treat BEFORE you get the symptoms.
As soon as you get symptoms the irritation is already well-established and it’s a challenge to get on top of it. Take antihistamines or steroid nasal inhalers at least two weeks before past experience leads you to expect symptoms. Antihistamines best treat the histamine symptoms (itching and runny noses) and milder cases, and are easily available cheaply over the counter.
Nasal steroid sprays can help relieve nasal congestion and sinus swelling. Combinations of antihistamines and steroid spray are becoming available.
Eye drops (cromoglycate on prescription) can help runny eyes since constant rubbing can cause significant swelling of the white of the eyes.
Nasal decongestants should only be used for a few days at a time as they cause rebound congestion when stopped (you end up worse off than before).
If you have asthma always carry your reliever – symptoms can become very serious very quickly. Take your preventer regularly, and treat hay fever symptoms aggressively as this can make serious asthma attacks more common.
Colds, hay fever, COVID and weather can all combine to make asthmatics very sick very quickly.
These aren’t working or it’s getting worse.
See your GP to look at your whole history and check for other causes or arrange testing.
If medications aren’t controlling it a specialist referral for medication optimisation or desensitisation treatment may help. Desensitisation is repeated injections of your pollen trigger under the skin in increasing doses to overcome the allergic response. Very new developments are looking at putting the allergy under the tongue rather than skin.
Unfortunately, some sufferers will become sensitised to more and more pollens or other allergens outside the hay fever season and then have a full year-round version resulting in perennial allergic rhinitis – no let up all year.
Need more allergy advice? Juno is here to help. Download Juno and start a conversation now.
What does a birthplace choice actually mean? From the very start of pregnancy your midwife will ask you what your preferences are. For most women at the start of pregnancy the choice between home, a birth centre and hospital birth is like trying to choose what type of sushi you want. Over the years providing midwifery care, I have often been asked:
“If I choose to birth in a Hospital birth will a doctor look after me? Is it safer?”
“If I want an epidural in a birth centre does it mean I can’t have one?”
“What do all these options even mean?”
Choices, choices, choices.
As midwives we ask the question so thoughtlessly, but on the other side women and their partners feel they are signing a 24 month contract with a dodgy mobile phone company! It is important to remember no matter what choices are made, no one will hold you to them if things are different on the day. For this reason you should view your choices as a wish list. Unfortunately, when pregnant, everyone around you suddenly seems to be a professor in midwifery.
They will feel very much obliged to give their stance on how pregnancy, birth and beyond should be. It is so essential to make the decisions based on your own values that are right for you and your family. There is no need to base judgements on someone else’s experience or perceptions of safety. No pregnancy, birth or baby is the same and your birth journey is unique to you.
Your birth. Your way.
As much as birth is a physiological event, it is just as much psychological – like running a marathon. Therefore, being comfortable in your surroundings is very important as it often will impact on how a labour will progress. It is well documented that fear of labour will inhibit the pregnancy hormones needed to sustain contractions. This is why focusing on relaxation in labour is vital for your pregnancy. There can be factors beyond control which will determine where a birthplace may occur – even with best laid plans.
Hypnobirthing is a prove practise to get you relaxed no matter where, what or how your birth will be. There are several factors that may influence your decision of where to give birth, personal to you. As Juno Midwives, we are here to support and help you to make the best choice for you. Here are some facts to aid you in your decision making, no matter what stage of pregnancy you are at.
Planned home birth is often viewed as controversial as it opposes the common belief and assumption that it is safer to give birth in hospital. However, research shows women wanting a home birth in low risk pregnancies is safer than hospital births. It also has considerable benefits for both mother and baby: greater satisfaction from the birth, lower intervention rates, better emotional and psychological well-being, aiding maternal and child bonding. For home births to be deemed as safe, careful planning is needed ideally between 34-36 weeks of pregnancy. Home births have the added benefits of having the midwife attend to you, in fact two midwives at the birth in your own environment with all the safety equipment required for a birth…Just make sure to cover the beige carpet!
Birth centres share the same principle as home births and they can be found across the country as either standalone units or as part of a maternity unit. These units are intended for uncomplicated pregnancies and are attended by midwives only. They aim to create a relaxed ‘home from home’ environment, often designed to have large birth pools. And like home births, women who labour in a midwifery led unit are more likely to have a normal birth with less intervention. Birth centres, otherwise known as midwife led units, can provide the bridge between home birth and obstetric led units. Although, it is important to note if either a home birth or birth centre is no longer suitable in pregnancy or in labour, referral is made to the hospital. The reason for this may include long labour, bleeding, requesting an epidural etc.
Hospital births may also be referred to as labour wards or a delivery suite. Like supermarket lipstick and designer lipstick, whatever the name – they all do the same thing! During a hospital birth you will be cared for by midwives, whilst an obstetric and anaesthetic team is on hand for women who may have pregnancy or non-pregnancy complications and women requesting epidural in labour.
If there is one message to take with you, keep calm and relax. Midwives and obstetric teams are here to be in partnership with you to ensure you and your birth partner have the best experience possible. This is why Juno provides such an important service. If you do have any questions, just ask Juno to point you in the right direction and find the best birthplace for you.
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I think it’s safe to say that people across the country are a tad unmotivated. After a disruptive Christmas and the emergence of a New Year lockdown, morale is low. We are in desperate need of inspiration! As a writer, writing this, I can honestly say, “I need inspiration!” Well, after days mining the internet for every ounce of creative content, I can happily say, “Humans are amazing!” We are resourceful, resilient and unrelenting in our endeavour to procrastinate into infinity. There is no limit to our creativity and ways to support and inspire each other, even in our darkest moments. Remember those things called art, theatre and music? Good. Need some culture in your life? Well, you’re in luck. Here is the very best virtual art, theatre, music and culture you can find online in isolation.
Tour iconic destinations
Exploring cultural cities and landscapes of the world was so 2019. The majority of people haven’t been able to leave their local area for almost a year and we all need a healthy dose of escapism. Whether it’s taking a tour of Rome’s Colosseum or yomping over the incredible sights of Machu Picchu, You Visit has everything you need to indulge the explorer inside you. I have absolutely no shame in sharing that I watched an entire tour of New York City, starting in a helicopter before being led around the city by my virtual tour guide Maria. So why not take the family on a guided tour now? It was informal, fun, addictive and I’m on my way to Barcelona now.
Explore The Royal Academy of Arts
Nothing beats seeing art in person. Physically stepping into galleries and absorbing the artwork with your own two eyes is unique as it is meditative. However, The Royal Academy of Arts is providing multiple experiences to cater to our art health during isolation. As well as virtual tours within the historic RA building, there are also plenty of other ways to experience art in the RA from every conceivable angle. Watch this dizzyingly insightful video about the RA’s Summer Exhibition presented by Grayson Perry. It gives an engaging introduction to art and is the perfect kickstart for anyone needing a bit of creative inspiration.
Watch the National Theatre online
We’ve all completed Netflix over the last year. We have even enjoyed some of those TV shows we promised to ourselves never ever to watch (Selling Sunset). So what is there to watch next? The National Theatre has a catalogue of breathtaking performances available for rent or subscription. From Warhorse to Shakespeare’s Othello, there is no better fix of culture than some of the finest actors in the world treading the boards. I know what you’re thinking, is this perhaps a bit pricey just to get a culture fix? But to have unlimited theatre for a year, at only £83, is well worth it. Just think, a single ticket in the West End could cost double that amount! Help the theatre industry and give yourself enriching entertainment.
Listen to the best quarantine concerts
Music cleanses the soul. At times music has been our primal source of joy and escapism, however, at other times it seemed our patience was wearing thin. Playing the same songs by the same artists was no longer a source of joy, but a medium of tedium. But the most important thing to remember is that there is so much more music for you still to be discovered, or an artist you haven’t heard of, or a song you haven’t memorised in entirety. The New York Times posted an article containing the 10 Best Quarantine Concerts Online which shows an incredible breath of music ready to inspire. There is something for everyone on this list with a huge mix of genres and watching these performances live is just the icing on the cultural cake.
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School closures can be a nightmare for parents. Forget dealing with a global pandemic, now parents everywhere are asking themselves, ‘How do I educate my child?’, ‘How can I work with my kids at home?’, ‘How can I keep my kids healthy in lockdown?’ All fair questions – without too many answers. Every parent at some point needs a helping hand and a little inspiration to keep their children learning in isolation. Here are some helpful tips to keep your kids preoccupied and happy whilst learning lessons at home.
Teaching At Home
Welcome back to your second term as a teacher. “Never again!” you shouted into your pillow when schools finally opened again. Alas here we are again, stuck at home and teaching our kids a lesson in…well…anything. Luckily this time around, the BBC are doubling their efforts by airing lessons on CBBC from January 11th. Not only that, but parents will still be able to peruse the BBC Bitesize website for interactive ways for children of all ages to learn from home.
Personalised Story Time
Story time can get a bit stale. “How many times has that tiger come for tea?!” Why not jazz up story time and put your child in the story itself with Wonderbly. There are a huge variety of stories for your children to inhabit on their website, giving bedtime stories a brand new personalised meaning. It’s a unique way to teach younger children the morals of stories and is definitely a special treat to distract them – at least for a little while.
Art Club For Children
As well as being the winner of Dave’s Best Joke of The Edinburgh Fringe 2019 and one of Sweden’s funniest comedians, Olaf Falafel is also an incredible illustrator and children’s author. During the first lockdown in 2020, he ran an Art Club for kids that proved immensely popular, inspiring kids of all ages to pick up a pencil and draw to their heart’s content. His brand of art is inventive and even touches on many famous artistic styles throughout time. You can check out all Olaf Falafel’s Art Club episodes and books right here.
Keeping Kids Healthy
Need access to a child health specialist but apprehensive to go to your local GP during Covid-19? Many parents are faced with the same anxiety. However, remote child healthcare is now here! Thanks to mobile app Juno, parents can now quickly and easily access a network of highly qualified paediatricians from the comfort of their own home. This app removes the arduous process of waiting weeks for an appointment and gives reassurance when parents need it the most. It has already garnered a hugely positive feedback from parents – just have a look at the most recent review:
“One of the best apps I have. I’m a new mum to twins and navigating an entire household of covid. This app has been nothing short of sanity saving. So reassuring, with detailed quick responses from caring and experienced paediatric consultants. Highly recommended.” – Hanfantasticxxx, 03/01/2021
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2020. You will not be missed!
Whilst it’s incredibly easy to dwell in the past and revel in just how bad 2020 was, I’m not going to. Instead, I think it’s important to focus on how 2020 might have changed us all for the better. As we have become more remote in our work and lifestyle, it has forced us to look more inward. Keeping physically fit and mentally fresh has never been more important for the sake of ourselves as well as our family. This blog is dedicated to health trends, fitness tips and wellness exercises to be healthy and happy in 2021.
If 2020 was the year of sleep health, 2021 will surely be the year of circadian rhythms. What are circadian rhythms? I hear you ask. Circadian rhythms are innate physical, mental and behavioural shifts over a 24 hour cycle. All these natural changes respond primarily to light and dark exposure and affect most living things on our planet. And before you start palming this off as nonsense, please see that the 2017 Nobel Prize for Medicine was won for the discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm. See, science.
Whilst sustaining a strong circadian rhythm will not eradicate our insomniac woes, we predict it will have an incredible impact on human health in 2021. With light as the central part of the solution, you can improve your circadian rhythm simply by adopting exposure to bright light when you are meant to. Products by Lumie have been constructed to give you a boost of light during the day, whilst dimming lights in the evening improve your circadian health. Restricting your eating times to when it is light will also have a positive effect on your health, as is setting a consistent bedtime (if that’s possible).
It won’t be long before an array of apps are brought out to help measure and manage our natural biological clock. An app called Timeshifter is already optimising circadian health and eliminating jet lag for travellers with healthy light and eating habits. Start 2021 with some light therapy and reset your biological clock for better physical and mental health.
Reconnect with Nature
Isolation has become such a prevalent part of my vernacular. It seems I can’t go a day without mentioning ‘isolation’ or ‘self-isolating’ at least once. So after all this time stuck indoors (isolating), it’s not just important to get outside but integral to our wellbeing. We require a renewed freshness and vitality or, as the Japanese say, “iki-iki”. We should follow their lead and make our connection with nature an important health prerogative in 2021.
‘Forest bathing’ became a Japanese national health programme in 1982, promoting millions of people to walk along healing forest trails. Studies support a host of health benefits: reducing blood pressure, lowering stress, improving cardiovascular and metabolic health, enhancing concentration, memory and energy. Nature is the mother of all health kicks.
In Britain, we are spoiled by some of the most beautiful countryside in the world. With national parks and rambling trails at our disposal, it’s time to make nature an important part of 2021. Simply go for a walk, surround yourself with nature and start to feel healthier again.
Join Online Fitness
This one isn’t necessarily ground-breaking, or innovative, or even new! But it is important. Often during 2020 it felt like we reached our limit with online fitness classes with Joe Wicks haunting us eternally in our dreams. However, there is an absurd amount of online fitness alternatives to be found online to help rejuvenate our interest and boost our physical fitness. Whatever level you are you can find something for you.
The Nike Training App is great for long or short workouts, focusing on strength, endurance or mobility. There is plenty of variety to get yourself started, keep you enthused for a long time and it’s completely free. Youtube has everything you need when it comes to online fitness. As long as you can stand the barrage of ads, it’s free and gives plenty of variety to your workout.
Do you miss that yoga or pilates class? Chances are they are still doing the class, but online. After a quick search on Instagram, you will be able to find a live zoom workout that works for you. Finding a local class is a great way to help your physical wellbeing and support an independent trainer.
Increase your Immunity
For some reason (pandemic), increasing our immunity and metabolic health has become a prime objective for 2021. But what exactly is metabolic health? Metabolic health, in essence, means balance. Having good metabolic health suggests that you have the ideal levels of blood sugar, cholesterol, body weight and blood pressure. Having an unhealthy metabolic health directly could increase a person’s risk of a stroke, heart disease, diabetes or even COVID-19.
As it happens, your metabolic health and immunity are linked. Scientists have found throughout the course of COVID-19, people who are metabolically unhealthy seem to be more at risk of getting severely ill when they do get infected with the virus. This is surely a wake up call for many of us to improve upon our metabolic health and therefore our immunity.
How do we improve our metabolic health? A bit of exercise doesn’t hurt, but the best remedy is the food we eat. A ‘flexitarian diet’ is a trendy and laid-back way of eating food that removes the stress of all-or-nothing diets. It is inclusive of all food groups, but moderation is the key. If you like meat, have meat! But in small quantities. This eating scheme is a unique way of allowing someone to feel like they’re making a difference (for the climate, planet, animals, etc.), without restricting their entire lifestyle. Improving our metabolism and immunity is not about going to extremes, but finding that happy balance.
Child Health Tech
Every year we come across a new hoard of health apps to help guide us, protect us and improve our way of life. Babylon has become almost a norm for people wanting quick access to GPs without having to go to your local surgery. This is testament to Babylon’s use and innovation in the healthcare market. However, whilst this service has improved the immediacy of healthcare, it still doesn’t have the specialist care some users require. Cue the parents.
When it comes to child healthcare, anxiety-driven parents need a specialist opinion. Juno was created to fill this void and provide parents with a reassuring way to get advice on their child’s health. Boasting an entire network of GMC & MRCPCH registered paediatricians, it gives parents that clarity and confidence they desperately need. Like Babylon, it is an entirely remote service that saves parents that arduous journey to their local GP and gives them all the guidance they need from their phone. With paediatricians responding to a parent’s concerns in less than 5 minutes, it’s a quick and reliable resource of child healthcare.
Yes, the country is still in tiers. Yes, there is still a worldwide pandemic. All the more reason for apps like Juno. And with more health applications on the horizon for Juno, this highly rated service is still free for the time being. Download and sign up for better child health in 2021.
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Did you hear the one about Santa getting the sack this year? Yeah it’s a classic. But have you heard the one about Santa getting the vac-cine? We really hope he does.
It’s a massive understatement, but 2020 hasn’t exactly been the year everyone thought it would be. From schools shutting to local lockdowns, postponed weddings to life on furlough, it’s been a year to forget. However, like a plethora of famous movies, there is something about Christmas that rejuvenates the human spirit and somehow saves the day. With that profound sense of positivity in mind, here are plenty of ideas and inspiration to keep kids happy for Christmas 2020.
Santa’s Beard Advent Calendar
Whether you are trying to get your little ones to cut back on chocolate or looking for a wholesome homemade activity, then this is the gift that keeps giving. All you need is some colourful card, glue for sticking and a lot of cotton balls. Each day of December your child can glue another section of Santa’s fluffy beard to the paper, until his beard is as full as his belly. For more construction details on this unique and inventive take on an advent calendar, check out Capturing Parenthood.
Gingerbread House Competition
Is your gingerbread inedible? Is it more tough than tasty? Could it make an excellent substitute for concrete? Well you’re in luck. Bake up some of your indestructible gingerbread and make your own festive themed gingerbread houses with your children. Perhaps add in a competition element to give an extra incentive. Using plenty of icing as glue and sweets for decoration, make your gingerbread constructions look good enough to eat.
Christmas Movie Marathon
Is there anything better than getting cosy and watching a bunch of Christmas films? No, there isn’t. Here are just a few of the very best family Christmas films to watch in 2020 and where you can stream them:
It’s a Wonderful Life – An oldie but a goodie. This warm and life-affirming film is a quintessential Christmas classic that inspires redemption and faith in humanity. Watch on Amazon Prime for £3.49.
Home Alone – If a small child almost killing two burglars doesn’t get you in the mood for Christmas, I don’t know what will. Stream on Disney+ to witness the inventive art of (s)elf-defense.
Elf – Will Ferrel fits perfectly (ironically) in this must-see Christmas film. His child-like wonder paired with the cynicism of James Caan makes for hysterical and charming viewing. Pay £3.49 to watch on Amazon Prime.
The Snowman – Take flight into this wondrous and beautifully animated film, introduced by none other than David Bowie (which is quite strange upon reflection). Sing loud, party with Snowmen and watch anytime on All 4.
Klaus – When a mysterious old toymaker and reclusive postman join together to save Christmas it perfectly embodies the season spirit. It is time to get wrapped up in this excellent animated film, only on Netflix.
Write letters to the North Pole
When I was little I used to write a letter to Father Christmas every year. As well drafting up a list of demands, I also used to tell him about school, my dog’s name and the best thing I did that year (not sure why). My mum then used to put it in an envelope and put it near the fire so the smoke would send the letter to the North Pole. I have no idea why I thought this would work, but I was utterly convinced at the time. Make this fun and imaginative Christmas activity top of your wish list.
DIY Christmas Tree Decorations
Decorating the Christmas tree with a colourful array of ornaments, old and new, is a typical family tradition. This year, why not make a few chocolatey creations to hang on the tree? Simply find the right mould, melt chocolate with some string attached, wrap it up in colourful foil and you have your very own special tasty Christmas treat.
Top Tip – use the mould from from an old box of chocolate or old advent calendar to get the perfect festive shapes.
Remember, if you need any guidance on your child’s health over the holiday period, don’t hesitate to contact Juno and chat to one of our paediatricians for reassurance in moments.
From the entire team at Juno, we wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
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Here we are again. Like the most monotonous and tedious reoccurring dream you have ever had, we are back in lockdown.
“Déjà Vu. I swear I’ve seen this before.”
Well the truth is – you have and you haven’t. Whilst there are a lot of similarities between this lockdown and the one we saw back in March, there are a few slight differences for parents, children and families across the UK. Here are the main differences between ‘Lockdown’ and the sequel ‘Lockdown: Part Two’.
So what’s different?
Schools stay open. Parents, throw your hands up in delight / praise! Schools, colleges and universities are going to remain open.
Just one friend. This time around, adults are able to meet up with a friend that isn’t part of a household, as long as it is in an outdoor public space. e.g. a park. Children under school age do not count towards the limit.
Playgrounds won’t close. Playtime for kids is still on the agenda, with a heavy emphasis on social distancing of course.
Childcare can continue. Childminders can carry on working and ‘childcare bubbles’ will continue to be allowed.
And what’s the same?
More failed attempts at sourdough. That’s right! Just when you thought you wouldn’t have to look at that sourdough starter ever again…
Window watching. Peering out of your front window and wondering where people are going has become a pastime for everyone. We’re glad to see it return.
Plenty of procrastination. Don’t worry, there are an infinite number of blogs, memes and silly cat videos to keep people occupied for another month.
Wishful thinking. Before going to sleep every night, tell yourself that you will do things differently, but forget exactly what those things were the following morning.
But seriously, what have we learned since last time?
Stay active. Fresh air and a bit of exercise will do wonders for our children’s and our own mental health.
Self-care. Take some time just for you. We are all much better and more productive people when we allow ourselves to recharge.
Keep connected. Just because there’s another lockdown doesn’t mean we can’t stay in touch. Try to organise online playdates with friends and family.
Be healthy. During the first Lockdown, many parents were not able to book their children a doctor appointment or speak to a specialist directly. However, thanks to Juno – the child healthcare advice app – parents can now receive guidance from a GMC registered paediatrician, from the comfort of their own home. Parents will be able to get trustworthy and reliable help, without the stress of travelling to their GP.
Need any more inspiration? Check out our other blog Parenting During COVID-19: 5 tips to make parenthood easier.
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You toss and turn in your bed to try and find that comfy spot (a space that has become far more elusive in recent weeks). You flip the pillow, but it makes no difference. Your mind races, leaping from one unfinished tangent to another, totally unable to switch off. Then you hear it. A whinge reverberates down the corridor. You hold your breath, hoping it goes away, but you hear the whinge again entreating into your bedroom. The subtlest of cries begins to transform into a full-blown tantrum and you realise all hope is lost. You decide to give up on sleep.
Here you are again, hunched over, cradling your newborn in your arms. You stare lovingly at the being that has brought you so much joy, yet so many sleepless nights. You attempted to stem the flow of tears, but as they say, ‘there ain’t no rest for new parents’. The tears are one thing, but in truth, there has been much bigger worry plaguing your mind of late. A concern that keeps you up at night. A question about your baby’s health. Anxieties flush through you as you grab your phone and decide to quickly Google the problem.
After an hour of non-stop searching, you are no closer to finding an answer. Instead, you are only gripped by a more intense anxiety and lost in a sea of misplaced views and advice from unknown sources. You squeeze the bridge of your nose with your fingers and feel the pain behind your eyes. You try to remain calm, but your adorable baby is still whinging and moaning. ‘Enough is enough,’ you decide. You will call your local GP when they open and put your worries, and hopefully yourself, to bed.
You realise it’s Sunday. ‘F@*#’.
As soon as the clock, which you’re pretty sure is running slow, strikes 8 AM you call your local GP. Hold. Hold. Hold. Hang up, try again. Hold. Hold. You’re through! On the coldest of mornings, the receptionist’s voice is warming and assuring, but you can’t get an appointment for a couple of days. ‘Great. Another couple of sleepless nights for me.’
Buzz-Buzz. Your phone vibrates with a start, almost as if it were surprised itself. Your friend, another new parent, has sent a link…
Juno. The child healthcare advice app.
Your head feels fuzzy, perhaps slightly delirious from lack of sleep. ‘Why not!’, you yell within your own head (remembering that you are trying to get your baby to sleep). After signing up with ease, you are able to contact a specialist paediatrician. You describe the spots on your baby’s face and send a picture to go with it. ‘Is this really going to work?’ you ask yourself.
The kettle boiled, tea is brewed and before you know it – a notification pops up on your phone. One of Juno’s child healthcare specialists has got back to you.
The tone is reassuring, the advice is clear and a wave of calm rushes over you. The relief is palpable as the worries, which clung to you only 10 minutes before, subside into nothingness.
You type, ‘Thank you.’
The doctor replies, ‘You’re welcome. Let us know if anything changes’.
And like some sort of magic elixir, you and your baby are fast asleep. The weight of the world lifted off your shoulders. The tea you made is over-brewed and will no doubt go to waste, but who cares.
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As if COVID-19 wasn’t scary enough! Now Halloween is just around the corner, trick or treating its way towards us. For many children, Halloween is a chance for monstrously dreadful costumes, an unholy amount of sweets and plenty of mischief. However, with the continued concerns over COVID-19 and local lockdowns across the country, outdoor activities are limited and some say Halloween is off.
But we say, “BOO!”
Here are 5 ideas and activities to make your kids lockdown Halloween spookier than ever!
1. Virtual Costume Party
Fear not! Dressing up and costumes are still high on the agenda this Halloween. Create a virtual costume party with other parents over Zoom (other video chat services are available) and let your kids show off their spooky attire. Need ideas for costumes? Don’t worry we’ve got you covered:
Classic – Cut a couple of holes in an old white sheet and voilà! You have your very own pint-sized poltergeist.
Creative – Got any big Amazon boxes lying around? Draw a creepy haunted house on the side of it with your child and turn it into a costume.
Current – Grab yourself a silly blond wig (the more ruffled the better), any child-sized suit (the more ill-fitting the better) and you have yourself an absolutely terrifying Boris Johnson.
2. Trick or Treat Treasure Hunt
If you’re stuck in the house, local lockdown or not, why not create your own scary treasure trail for your children. Write up some clues and get your kids scrambling round the house for special treats. But don’t make it too easy, add some tricks into the hunt as well to add an extra scare. e.g. peeled grapes = eyeballs, or jelly = brains.
3. Make Healthy Halloween Snacks
Just because it’s Halloween – doesn’t mean it has to be unhealthy. Our top tip is to make a healthy, yet creepy, snack with your kids before they attempt to gorge themselves on sweets. Here is a recipe we found that has high nutritional value, but still has a healthy dose of spookiness.
Monster Teeth Recipe
4 Granny Smith apples, cut into 8 sections each.
1 cup natural smooth organic peanut butter.
1 cup of yoghurt covered goji berries or mini marshmallows.
1 Tbsp. lemon juice.
For the lips: Section each apple and then drip over lemon juice to prevent browning.
For the gums: Spread about 1 tsp. of peanut butter on each slice. Be generous as this is the glue that keeps it all together.
For the teeth: Stick 4 or 6 yogurt-covered berries or mini marshmallows on an angle in the peanut butter, then place a second peanut butter apple slice on top.
Cool for 1 hour in the refrigerator before serving.
4. Host a Scary Movie Marathon
Pile all the duvets onto the sofa, break open the sweet & salty popcorn and get ready for a Halloween movie marathon to remember. No matter what kind of home streaming services you have, there are so many Halloween movies just waiting to be binged. Need a few pointers? Here are a few suggestions for spine-tingling, hair-raising and child-friendly Halloween movies:
The Nightmare Before Christmas – The classic, must-watch, animated spectacular for absolutely everyone. Watch now on Disney Plus.
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of The Were-Rabbit – Nothing quite compares to a Wallace & Gromit adventure. Watch this super slapstick child favourite on Netflix.
Goosebumps – No not the archaic old TV series, but the spookily silly adventure starring Jack Black. Get the creeps and watch on Netflix.
Coco – Pixar knows how to tell a story. Coco is a colourful, funny and incredibly touching ode to family. Watch now on Disney Plus.
5. Pumpkin Carving
You can’t beat a classic. Whatever the state of the world, you can always rely on carving yourself a Jack-o’-Lantern for Halloween. Whether it’s scary, silly or just plain funny, pumpkin carving is the quintessential Halloween activity. While the internet is awash with unbelievable designs, I found that sometimes all you need is a simple sharpie to bring your creation to life. Check out mine below.
Happy Halloween from everyone at Juno!
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Keeping up with COVID-19 in the UK seems to be an experience very similar to that of a ‘bucking bronco’. As soon you think you have a hold on the new rules and guidelines, you are suddenly flipped to the floor, discombobulated and completely lost. Whilst there are an infinite amount of questions floating around in the ether, we have decided to focus on how the latest measures will affect our children.
Are schools shutting again?
Keeping schools open is a priority for the government. In spite of the new COVID-19 rules and social distancing measures, shutting schools is very unlikely. Even if there was a second national lockdown, shutting schools would be a last resort. If a child at school tests positive for Coronavirus, they are told to self-isolate. What’s more, anyone that might have come into close contact with the child would also be advised to self-isolate. To this date, there has only been one school that has temporarily closed after an outbreak of COVID-19.
Does my child have to wear a face mask?
If your child is in primary school – no.
If your child is year 7 or above – they will have to wear a face mask when not in class. Secondary school head teachers also have the power to introduce face masks for their pupils if they choose.
Can I book a doctor appointment for my child?
Parents have been struggling to book healthcare appointments for their children throughout COVID-19. Social distancing and an overloaded health system have restricted parents everywhere, making it increasingly hard to take care of our children’s health. However, Juno – a new child healthcare advice app – is now available to download on IOS and is proving invaluable for parents, as well as our clustered health system. With Juno, it is now possible to get coherent and speedy advice on your child’s health from your phone. Each doctor is a highly qualified specialist paediatrician with vast experience working in child health. This healthcare innovation will help give parents the reassurance they need and also relieve some of the strain on hospitals and A&E.
Want to know more about Juno? Just visit the website and explore all the benefits for yourself.
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