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'It's a balancing act of, how do we keep them entertained until we lose the will and put the TV on'

Harry and Izzy Judd tell Lisa Salmon how they developed a play pack for kids and how they kept their own children amused during lockdown

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Harry and Izzy Judd with their children Lola and Kit

Harry and Izzy Judd with their children Lola and Kit

Press Association Images

Harry and Izzy Judd

Harry and Izzy Judd

Press Association Images

Harry and Izzy Judd with their children Lola and Kit

If you're searching for a shining example of how to remain positive during a crisis, look no further than celebrity parents Harry and Izzy Judd. Despite having spent every day of lockdown trying to keep their two lively toddlers entertained and happy, McFly drummer Harry (34) and violinist and author Izzy (36) aren't moaning, in fact, they've enjoyed spending more time together with their children, Lola, aged four, and Kit (2).

We quizzed the pair on how they've kept the kids entertained during this strange time, which has included helping to put together a downloadable Imaginative Play Pack (with Soltan) for other parents...

How have you both been coping with lockdown?

"I've found it easier since some of the restrictions have been lifted," says Harry, "being able to go outside a bit more for exercise, and getting the children outside."

"What I've realised through lockdown is just how much the weather affects our mood. When the days are sunny it all seems a little bit easier, and when it's wet and miserable - especially with young children, and you can't get them outside - trying to keep them entertained is so much harder," notes Izzy.

"That's why we've had so much fun putting together activities in the Imaginative Play Pack. We've been forced to think of other ways to keep the kids entertained, and go back to natural resources, crazy obstacle games and dad den building - anything we can to keep them smiling and happy."

What about the kids?

"They just love doing things with us, but unfortunately for me, when it comes to playing it's 'I want daddy!' I spend a lot of time playing," says Harry. "But then at night it's 'I want mummy!'" adds Izzy.

How have you kept them busy and active?

"It's trying to keep that healthy mixture of keeping them creative and progressing with their learning," muses Harry, "[but] it's a balancing act of, how do we keep them entertained until we lose the will and put the TV on?!

"It's forced us to get more creative. Pre-lockdown in our 'normal' life there was nursery, play dates and kids' clubs, and this has really stripped it back. As parents, we've had to take a deep breath and go, 'Right, let's go back to basics'."

"It's also made me really think about my childhood and the things I used to enjoy doing, like water painting with a bucket of water and a paintbrush," says Izzy. "I remember spending hours painting flowers and houses and people on the side of my parents' house - I just loved it! That's been good for both Lola and Kit, something they can both engage in.

"The other one is the memory tray game, which I used to play with my grandmother all the time. It's a great way to help Lola with her concentration and memory. It's fun learning."

How are you handling screen time?

"We try to get in screen time while we're getting their tea ready, and on a weekend they can watch a movie," notes Harry. "Sometimes when it's raining and it's the middle of the week you just think, 'I can't take this, let's put Moana on for the 500th time!'"

"But it's balanced," adds Izzy. "If they're in front of a screen for a long time it does affect them, so it's all about balance and remembering what's important for their overall wellbeing."

"Being outside and active helps the kids, but you've also got to be realistic - you've got parents at home trying to juggle everything," Izzy continues.

"We've got all our hats on at the moment, and there are times when you need that break. So, we've tried to look for educational things on the TV."

"Yes, that's true," agrees Harry. "Phonics for Lola, but every now and again it's a cartoon - Peter Rabbit, that's their favourite."

Were you worried when the kids returned to nursery last week?

"Ultimately, no, because if we were worried then we wouldn't do it," states Harry. "We felt they needed the interaction, and the nursery sent a very reassuring layout of their plans for reopening, and even sent us a video about it. It felt safe." Our concern was that by going back you increase the risks, and how much longer would that mean we couldn't see other people? My parents are over 70, for example," says Izzy. "We were confident with the way the nursery was handling the situation."

Do the children understand what the pandemic is?

"We were on a walk yesterday and the parks and playgrounds are still closed and Lola said: 'Daddy, how did the virus get into the playgrounds?', 'When will the virus go away?' and 'Where's it from?'" says Harry.

"They're not fazed. Lola will sometimes look at the playground and sigh, but then they just carry on.

"They're certainly a lot more adaptable than adults - they've been much better than we have."

Have you been able to work during lockdown?

"We recorded music at the beginning of the year, so my work has just involved the odd Zoom chat with the band and the producer, talking about the songs and changing bits. But apart from that, it's been Daddy Daycare!" says Harry.

"Our work projects are still bubbling along, but it's been harder to give them the same focus because the children need so much of our attention.

"On the flip side, we've had plenty of time as a family, and there's been lots of positives in that," says Izzy, who recently released her latest book, Mindfulness for Mums.

What are you looking forward to most about the end of lockdown?

"Family," says Izzy. "I want Lola to give my mum a great big hug."

Harry and Izzy Judd have helped put together the Soltan Imaginative Play Pack, which can be downloaded free from boots.com/soltan/imaginative-play-pack

Belfast Telegraph