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10 alternatives to getting them a pet

It’s now week 10 of lockdown and it’s becoming clear that my children are missing interaction with animals. Whilst we live in the city, we were frequent visitors to the farm at the weekends and on holiday. But now, the absence of animals, with the exception of the neighbour’s cat, is ever present. So, it’s not surprising that I’m fielding more questions than ever as to why we cannot get a pet. The honest answer is that looking after 2 young children whilst holding down 2 full time jobs is more than enough. Adding to the family is not a priority.

And it seems we’re not the only ones. The demand for domestic chickens sky rocketed shortly after the lockdown announcement. As well as the desire to get a dog. Maybe the shortage of eggs and the need for purposeful exercise were prominent factors. But I firmly believe we all miss some kind of interaction with animals.

As the saying goes, a pet is not just for Christmas, and so if your needs are purely temporary, here’s 10 alternatives that may help:

1. Chat to a parrot

As with any good parrot, the Rock-a-Too Show Bird will copy your words and phrases – simply press his beak to record your own voice and hear him repeat it back! Used to being centre stage, this parrot loves attention and so will show you some loveable affection if he is patted and praised.

2. Keep up with what’s going down

Get your farm fix with the BBCs Down on the Farm on iPlayer. This has been a firm favourite in our household, watching ducklings hatch and seeing the lambs playing. They also have interactive animal quizzes and games online too.

3. If you can’t see them, hear them

The Melissa & Doug Farm Animals Sound Puzzle combines the classic peg puzzle with an added twist of real animal sounds. Help your little one to distinguish different shapes as well as identifying farm animals by listening to each animal sound off in their own voice when a puzzle piece is correctly placed.

4. Get an interactive coding pet

Dog mad kids will love cute Ranger and Zip who are adorable and will become your kid’s new favourite toys. Let your child’s imagination go wild as they help Ranger and Zip get up to all sorts of fun and games. Your child can teach them to fetch a ball or even go for a ride on the slide. Using the storybook, they will have fun challenges to complete which makes this a perfect educational toy.

5. Build a den

Lockdown has given local wildlife more space and many creatures have thrived during this time. Take the kids to local woodland and build a den. If you manage to keep them quiet for long enough you’ll be surprised how many animals you can spot.

6. Recreate your own safari

Take yourselves on your own safari and explore an imaginary land of lions, tigers with the odd dinosaur thrown in using Papo figurines.

7. Accessorise

Get one step closer to pet ownership and order some pet accessories. It’s the perfect toy to teach children the importance of animal care. Whether they want to play vets, or simply pretend they have a pet of their own, this toy gives them plenty of opportunity to use their imagination.

8. Go to a very different pet shop

Take them to a very different kind of pet shop with a Funnybones story. It sees the big skeleton and little skeleton head to their local pet shop and swap the dog for a skeleton goldfish. Before long, they are swapping pets regularly until the fed-up pet shop owner gives them a box with a mystery pet in.

9. Play Pooh Sticks

Plan a visit to play pooh sticks by reading the kids a story about Winnie the Pooh the evening before. Go on a trail to find a bridge over a river and imagine yourselves as one of the book’s characters.

10. Dress up as your favourite animal

Re-imagine your favourite animals and become them too. Let your child practise their flying skills and looking after imaginary ducklings as they engage their brain and memory skills to create similar fairytales that they read in books.

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Head of Brand & CX at Whirli