76 articles Articles posted in Kids

Essential Tips for Potty Training

I know that having two kids doesn’t make me an expert by any means but Husband and I managed to get the girls through the potty training phase with very little aggro and it’s something for which I’m hugely grateful. There are a few tricks and facts to bear in mind when it comes to getting babies out of nappies, so I thought I’d share a few with you here.

Being dry in the day doesn’t always equate to being dry at night

I know SO many people who get really frsutrated because their kids are totally potty trained during the day but still wet themselves at night, and the simple fact is that night time dryness can’t be trained. It only happens when the body produces a particular hormone and this happens much later for some kids than others. Keep your kids in pull-ups until their go for a whole week of dry wake-ups, and even then I’d recommend having an underpad on the bed (like these Incontinence products available from HARTMANN Direct) to catch any accidents and save your mattresses.

Be prepared

If you’re ready to start venturing out of the house, you need to be prepared for a few weeks to carry a whole load of stuff with you. Travel potty, spare clothes, wipes, tissues – all things that you’re going to need if you have a toilet emergency or accident and it’s MUCH better to have them and not need them – take it from someone who once had to go and buy a whole new outfit including shoes for a kid who just couldn’t hold it any longer!

Skip the potty…

This one may be a little controversial, but it’s something which has really worked for us. If you live in a flat, bungalow or house with a downstairs loo (i.e. somewhere where your child will always have a toilet on the same floor as them), I totally advocate skipping using a potty and going straight to using a proper toilet. Potties are bloody inconvenient and need disinfecting every single time you use them, and you’ll still need to train them to use a toilet once they get bigger anyway. Invest in a good toddler seat and step to help them.

Remember to remember!

If your kids are anything like mine, they’re able to wilfully ignore all the signals that their body is giving them that they need to pee RIGHT until the very last second and then it becomes a mad, and often messy, rush to the loo. Remember to ask them every now and again if they need the loo and often this is enough to spur them on to actually go for a tinkle.

Do you have any potty training tips? Leave me a comment below.

Family Fun: Every Child Deserves an Amazing Party

Getting everyone together for a party is an excellent opportunity to reconnect with family and friends while creating lasting memories. If it is your child’s birthday or other special occasion, planning the best party may be your top priority–something for everyone to talk about before and after the event. Unfortunately, the grand idea often falls short of those expectations. That’s okay. An amazing party doesn’t have to be a budget-busting experience. It is a time when your child, family, and guests have a great time in the company of each other.

A solid foundation to start your planning process will make the experience go much smoother. Here are some tips for planning an amazing party for your child:

Make the Invite List

Before making plans for the party’s theme and location, get an idea of who will attend. Younger children may be content with a family party, but those in school may want their friends along for the fun. Determine your potential guests as a starting point.

Create a Budget

Maybe you want to throw your child one of the best parties ever. That mindset could quickly empty your wallet. By setting a reasonable budget before making any plans, you know exactly what your finances allow. Even if you don’t have a lot of money to spurge on the party, there are creative, inexpensive ways to play games, decorate, and feed your guests.

Pick a Theme

Talk with your child about the desired theme. What are his or her current interests? Does your child have a favorite book, toy, show, or movie? Once you agree on a theme, involve your child in the planning process. This could mean picking out party favors, decorations, or helping prepare food. Your child’s input helps build excitement and anticipation of the big day.

Select Your Location

Now that you know your budget and theme, it’s time to select a location. If you have the space and resources, you may pick your home as the best location. Some families enjoy cooking, decorating, and throwing a party at home. Other families like to take the party elsewhere like a local amusement center or bowling alley. They prefer professionals to take care of the party details and want to avoid the inevitable after-party clean up. There are pros and cons of each option. The choice of location is ultimately up to you.

Keep the Food Simple

Though you may think food at the party is a big deal, most of the kids will focus on the games and fun of the party. Save the elaborate dishes and desserts for the holidays. At a child’s party, finger foods and snacks are easy to put out and don’t require a lot of work. Try to include some healthy options, and make sure you know if any guests have food allergies. An allergic reaction in the middle of a party could really put a damper on the festivities.

Make it a Point to Enjoy Yourself

You may have high expectations for the party, but chances are your child just wants to have fun and see everyone around him or her happy. Don’t get stressed if the elaborate games you planned take the backseat to kids playing a game with the balloons you intended as decorations. Ease up on the expectations and enjoy the time together with family and friends. You don’t want to be remembered as the angry type-A parent grumbling in the corner of the party.

By following these tips, planning your child’s party will be easier and more focused. Just remember to relish all the smiles and laughter as everyone enjoys the party you planned.

Creating a Kid’s Wardrobe for Bad Weather

There’s nothing like a sudden-onset Snowmageddon to make me realise how woefully underprepared we are for cold weather. The girls both have decent winter coats, as do Husband and I, but in terms of proper cold weather gear, it’s only Husband who was sorted. Not only does he have water-resistant jeans and gaiters to protect his lower legs, he also has all-weather boots and merino layers for his top half. As you can tell, he spends a lot more time outdoors than the women of this household do!

We went out sledging on Wednesday, and it was so wonderful and fun, but we had to go home after an hour as the cold started to seep in and Sausage’s legs ended up damp after she decided to cheese-roll down a hill! I’ve been looking at kids winter clothes on the internet, in the spirit of being a bit more prepared if more snow turns up and thought I’d share some of my favourite items with you:

Didriksons 1913 Moarri Overall

Aside from the fact that this base layer is SUPER cute, I think both girls could really benefit from a proper thermal base layer to wear when it gets cold. We’ve been layering with wooly tights under their trousers but it’s not very comfortable or practical, so something like this would be properly fit for purpose.

Color Kids Tudo Pants

These fleecy pants would be so much better for outdoor fun, because they’re nice and loose fitting, unlike jeans which can be really restrictive and hard to run around in. These would make an excellent mid-layer over thermals and under a snow suit and the girls would find them super comfortable.

Isbjörn Panda Sweater

As well as being water-repellent, this fleece protects against sharp wind and is a brilliant mid-layer for wearing under waterproofs. Layering like this would give the girls the ability to still move around and either add more layers or take some off, depending on their environment.

Color Kids Klement Overall Children

This waterproof overall would be absolutely perfect for cheeserolling down hills in! The girls could play in the snow for as long as they want witout ever having to worry about getting wet, and the bright colours mean they’re really easy to see on a background of pure white. In fact, I love this overall so much that I wish they also made it in my size!

Sorel Whitney Short Boots

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from my very outdoorsy Husband, it’s that good footwear is VERY important. Having the right pair of boots for your environment is basically the most essential part of any outdoor wardrobe, and these snow boots look as though they’d be perfect for the girls. They have a decent sole, are lined with microfleece and are waterproof – ideal for afternoons gadding about in the snow.

Are you regular outdoorsy people? Do you have a favourite selection of clothes that you wear when the temperature plummets? Leave me a comment below as I’d love to hear from you.

The Best Travel Games for Children

Toddlers are not great in unfamiliar places, especially small and confined spaces like your family car. This probably explains why they are such terrible travellers, regardless of whether it’s just a quick drive to the bank or a longer journey on a train or an aeroplane. Even older children sometimes present a problem after the initial novelty wears off and boredom sets in.

Unlike at home, when toddlers and children get bored, cranky or tired in public settings, they will intrude on the personal spaces of fellow travellers. So there is an added pressure for parents to keep their children under control, which is easier said than done, for anyone who’s had the pleasure of going on trips with children. There is nothing as stressful as when your child is wailing at the top of his or her lungs and twenty eyes are staring daggers at you. Thankfully, there are several ways to handle and manage the situation – none of them is more fun though than travel games for kids.

Travel games for toddlers and young children are great tools to have in your armoury as they are capable of providing extended diversion for kids, who are famed for their short attention span. So if you’re planning on going on a trip in the near future, check our recommendations below of the best travel games for your children to give you an idea of what to get.

  1. Bananagrams

Bananagrams is a fun game suitable for children aged seven years and older. Like Scrabble and Boggle, the objective of the game is to form words using tiles drawn from a banana-shaped pouch. However, instead of using points, the winner is the player who has used up all of his or her tiles. Just try to keep the cries of Peel (to replenish tiles) and Banana (to announce victory) to conversation level. As a bonus, studies have shown that Bananagrams can help to improve a child’s reading and writing skills, and enhance their vocabulary.

  1. Travel Bingo

In contrast to traditional bingo, travel bingo requires users to match images instead of numbers to win. Most of the images are familiar to children, but to quickly draw their attention, pick one with a theme that your child loves (cartoons, TV shows, animals, etc.). There are many variations of travel bingo available in the market, but try to choose one with magnetic markers so you don’t have to spend time crawling under seats to find dropped image cards. Travel bingos are suitable for kids as young as three years old.

  1. Monopoly (portable version)

Portable Monopoly sets are perfect for long distance drives or train rides with slight older kids (eight to twelve years old). They are exactly like conventional monopoly, but the board, money, cards, tokens and dices are magnetised. Many manufacturers indicate that the game is suitable for children over the age of three, but we feel that the game would be more appreciated by children a couple of years older owing to the numeracy and reasoning skills required to play the game.

  1. Katamino Pocket

Would you like your child to improve their spatial awareness, deductive reasoning skills and logical skills, and have fun at the same time? Well, say hello to a portable Katamino. Just like the desktop version, the portable Katamino provides challenging 2D and 3D geometric puzzles with varying levels of difficulty. This engrossing game is perfect for children aged eight years and older.

Alternative Christmas Gifts for Tweens

There are members of our family who are easier to buy for each year, and then there are some who are just flat-out difficult every bloody year! This year, much to my surprise, one of the toughest people to buy for has been Sausage. Every other year, she’s been a doddle, but every time someone asks me for ideas of what to get her I struggle, and asking her is usually met with “I’m not really sure”. I guess it’s good that she’s either not a covetous kid, or feels like she has everything she needs, but it doesn’t make it very easy for the whole family to buy for her, so I’ve been trying to think outside the box for gift ideas for her. Here’s some stuff I’ve come up with:

Experience Days

Obviously she’s a bit small for supercar track days or afternoon tea, but there’s been a pretty big surge in experience days for kids, with things like kids paintball taking off. Sausage loves doing crafts and art, so a voucher for a ceramics studio would be the perfect gift for her as it would give her an afternoon of doing something she loves, with something to show as a keepsake at the end of it.

Band T-Shirts

Sausage seems to be one of the only 9-year-old girls on the planet who isn’t obsessed with unicorns this year, but she is finding her identity through music at the moment (her David Meowie t-shirt is probably her most prized possession!) so indulging her self-discovery with some cool band t-shirts would be much appreciated by Sausage.  

Books

Sausage has always had books for Christmas (last year it was Pokemon graphic novels!) and she’s at an age where books are still a cool Christmas gift, as long as we opt for the right ones! I’m thinking of getting her a set of The Hunger Games trilogy as I reckon she’s at an age where she’d really enjoy them.

Stationery

Sausage is 100% my kid when it comes to her love of all things pen-and-paper related. Rarely a day goes by when she can’t be found either drawing pictures or writing stories, and I know she’d love a proper hard-back journal for all of her writing, so we’re planning to find her something really funky.

Jewellery

Last summer, Husband and I bought Sausage a Pandora bracelet for her birthday, which means that charms are always a good option for gifts. She also had her second lobe piercing done and has a bit of a reputation amongst her classmates for wearing some really individual and cool earrings (I think today’s earings were BMO from Adventure Time!), so jewellery is always a really good option for us, even if it’s cheaper stuff which can be used as stocking fillers.

What are you buying your tweens this year?

Taking the Horrid Out of Horrid Henry

There’s no denying that Sausage and BB are very different in their personalities; Sausage has always been one of those kids who’s almost too well behaved and Husband and I have wished in the past that she’d been a little more outspoken so that she doesn’t just go with the flow and have her opinion disregarded. BB, on the other hand, is NOT the sort of kid to ever let her opinion go unheard and largely her strong personality is something we cherished (albeit through slightly gritted teeth at times!). Just recently though, we’ve seen a bit of a change in her personality and we couldn’t work out where it was coming from. Her normal strident approach to life was turning into a downright stroppy one, and it’s something which was impacting all of us.

One of the phrases which had mysteriously entered her vocabulary was “IT’S NOT FAIR”, which was usually accompanied by some sort of pout and throwing herself bodily onto the nearest soft surface, and I just couldn’t work out where it was coming from…until Sausage mentioned one of BB’s recent televisual favourites…Horrid Henry.

It wasn’t until Sausage mentioned how often Henry utters this phrase that we realised the direct correlation between BB watching the show and this phrase becoming her go-to protest. With age-gap kids, there was no doubt we’d face a bit of attitude from BB purely because Sausage is given a little more leeway and responsibility than her little sis – it’s normal; Sausage is nine, BB is three. However, the push-back has been so much worse of late and I’m definitely laying some of the blame on Henry!

I must confess, I’ve always been hugely sceptical when people blame things like TV or video games for kid’s behaviour. I’m a child of the Eighties, Husband of the late Seventies, so video games feel like they belong to OUR generation and I’ve seen far more evidence-based studies which prove positive effects of TV and computer games than the negative ones. We’ve always been pretty chilled out with what we let them watch and how much screen time we let them have, and with Sausage it never seemed to be an issue, but sometimes we forget that with BB, we’re not parenting Sausage Mark II, we’re dealing with a totally different kid…that and the fact that Sausage never watched a TV show, the entire premise of which was of a bratty little shit who no one actually likes!

So, in a somewhat unprecedented move for Husband and I, we’ve put a temporary ban on all things Horrid Henry for now, and if it makes a difference it will probably become a permanent ban. Instead of allowing BB to watch it when she’s using Netflix, we’re guiding her to shows where the characters aren’t mean and nasty all the time, where there’s no cries of “IT’S NOT FAIR” in every episode and where the main plot lines don’t revolve around mean-spiritedness. I never thought I’d be THAT mum, but it seems I am. And, after just a cursory search, it seems that we’re not the only ones either – I’ve found DOZENS of tweets from other parents about how they’ve banned Horrid Henry from their houses, making me feel a little bit less like Mary Whitehouse.

Horrid Henry Banned Tweets Horrid Henry Banned Tweets 2

Have you ever banned your kids from watching a TV show because of the effect it had on their behaviour? Did it make a difference? (we’re only 24 hours in and it already seems to be making a difference to BB but that could be a fluke) Do you think that it’s all nonsense and that TV doesn’t really affect the way they behave? I’d love to hear your experiences and opinions on this so please do leave me a comment below.

Keep Your Family Safe This Christmas

We’re quickly approaching the most festive time of the year, where most of us find ourselves swamped with requests for presents, party preparations and familial obligations. With so many arrangements driving tensions high, it’s easy to forget about the most crucial priority – the safety of your family.

While Christmas may be the time for open fires, mulled wine and an abundance of food, it’s also the time when we’re at our most vulnerable. According to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, “more than two million children under the age of 15 experience accidents in and around the home every year, for which they are taken to accident and emergency units.

With so many hectic undertakings and rosy-cheeked family members to tend to, it’s no wonder we’re at an increased risk of injury in our own homes during this time. It’s the excitement and energy of the season that gives way to this outcome, but there are various countermeasures available.

The Child Accident Prevention Trust recommend that you buy toys only from trusted retailers, ensure any visitors refrain from leaving any medicines lying around, and be especially careful around candles, fairy lights and decorations – especially when hung near a light or heater.

The risk of trapped fingers in closing doors is also significant, with even the BBC stating that children’s door crushing finger injuries can be lifelong. As a result, hinge protectors are unsurprisingly on the rise.

You also need to stay vigilant where any sharp corners on furniture, countertops and appliances are concerned: the kitchen is a dangerous enough place for a child without adding even more hazards into the mix. For example, there are snooker tables for sale at Hamilton Billiards that can be sanded down to a smooth incline, and many other adjustments and customisations are readily available.

The increased risk of fire hazard is one of the primary safety concerns at this time of year, with so many bright lights and candles raising the possibility of a fire starting. Thankfully, there’s a simple, painless method of improving your defensive solutions: Ironmongery Experts sell Dorgard fire door retainers in a variety of colourations, and each battery-powered model is designed to wirelessly close the door it holds open upon the sound of the fire alarm, creating a synergy between your fire alarm and every door you apply a Dorgard to as they activate in tandem.

No matter how you choose to approach it, don’t put aside your family’s safety this Christmas – they’re worth more than any replaceable possession ever will be.

This article was written by David Newman, managing director of Ad Lab – Magento E-Commerce Growth Specialists. David is a regular contributor of lifestyle blogs, writing about a variety of topics such as health, sports, hobbies and everything in-between.

What To Put in Party Bags

Sausage is now in year 5 at school which means that we’ve been to, and thrown, more than our fair share of birthday parties in that time. Party bags are an issue of great debate, with some parents choosing to go down the sweetie cone/pre-packed bag route, making it as low-effort as possible and there’s no denying that the kids love this type of party bag. There are, however, a lot of parents who’d prefer their kid didn’t get sent home with ten different types of sweet and nothing else, so I thought I’d make a list of all the things we;ve included in our bags or have had in bags we’ve received which have gone down well with both kids and parents:

ONE bag of sweets!

Most parents resign themselves to the idea that at least some sweeties will be consumed on the day of a party, but we find that sending home just ONE bag or Haribo sweets or similar is much better received than a whole selection. It gives the kids a treat without upsetting parents and makes the whole thing more economical in the long-run.

Erasers

I don’t know if this was just a trend with Sausage’s friends but one thing that they absolutely love getting in party bags is erasers, which I’ve discovered come in not only a huge range of shapes and sizes but also SCENTS! Buying multipacks of novelty erasers means you can open them and put just one or two in each bag, making it a cheap gift which goes a long way.

Books

When they’re smaller, buying packs of books is another thing which seems to be loved by both parents and kids alike. Keep an eye out in catalogues for multi-packs of card books or miniature books – this works especially well if your party is themed with something like superheros and you can get books on the theme.

Friendship Bracelets

Something that Sausage and I love to do together is make friendship bracelets and they make a really nice inclusion in party bags. We buy embroidery thread in bulk and make them in all different colours, depending on what her friends might like and they always go down a treat. It’s another thing which works well if your party is themed as you can make bracelets in the party’s colour scheme which will help your friends to remember a great day.

Hot Chocolate Bags

This works especially well at Christmas or if your child has a winter birthday – get plastic cone bags and layer hot chocolate powder and mini marshmallows – add a paper tag or even some antlers for decoration and you’ve got a gorgeous party favour which everyone will love.

Should You Sell Your Kid’s Top Favourite Toy Car Collection?


Toys are not just playthings. Instead, they end up forming the building blocks for the future of your child. When I first got my kid his favorite RC drift car, I was a bit worried that it might affect school work. Instead, I noticed that he learned a lot about himself and the world. Toys can communicate value and send messages. Even so, as a wise parent, it’s important to think about the number of toys that your child should keep.

I found that my kid’s bedroom is filled with different toys, from the ceiling and all the way to the floor. At this point, it was clear that I had to do something! So, I put together his old but favorite toys and held a garage sale. I knew that fewer toys would improve his life and I was not wrong!

Enhanced Creativity!

It’s good to remember that too many toys prevent your child from completely developing his or her fantastic gift or imagination. Among the toys I sold was a speed McQueen remote control car, a favorite of RC Rank. The car was still good in performance, but it was now old. Of course, my son loved to drive it through the compound every time.

After I sold the toy, I noticed a significant change in his behavior and interaction with people. He could now invent his own games using his basic surroundings and great imagination. Don’t you think it worked in my favor?

Improved Attention Spans

Too many toys in your child’s life destroy their level of concentration. I discovered that letting my child keep many different toys is quite harmful. How so? Well, a child rarely learns how to appreciate the toy in front of their eyes if he or she knows that several options are remaining on the counter behind them!

Improved Social Skills

Children with fewer toys learn how to form strong relationships with kids and even other adults. What I loved most after selling most of my kid’s favorite toys is that it gave him the opportunity to learn the importance of a good conversation. Nowadays, we sit together and watch TV after supper, as we talk about different things. He is very curious to know what is happening around him, something which I might have never noticed if he always played with his toy cars or trucks.

Responsibility!

Selling many of his favorite toys meant that he had little to play with. So, he learned to take care of the small number of toys which remained. Of course, he wouldn’t have learned how to take care of his toys if he always had a replacement in case one broke or mysteriously disappeared.

Improvement in Writing, Reading, and Art!

With fewer toys, your kid can now read more books, play more tunes on his musical instrument or paint an attractive portrait. With my child, I noticed that he developed a surprising love for art. It has gone on to help him appreciate emotion, beauty and express his feelings!

I have nothing malicious against toys. In fact, I love playing with them too! But here, all I’m saying is that selling your kids favorite toys is not such a terrible idea. Hopefully, with these pointers, you can follow in my footsteps. It’s worked perfectly for me, and I’m sure it will do wonders for you too!

Soccer for Children: A Guide to Getting Started at Different Ages

One of the very best things about soccer for kids is that they really can start at any age. It’s a very inclusive sport and is suitable for anyone regardless of height, strength or speed. Soccer is a relatively easy sport to learn when you’re just starting out, and it involves a lot of continuous action and running, which means it’s a great way for kids to exercise. Communication and cooperation are key skills on the field, which makes it a really nice way for kids to learn about teamwork (for more resources on teamwork and becoming a great footballer, take a look at Soccer Gap)

In fact, soccer is officially the most played sport in Australia, so they’ll always have friends to play with. According to a survey conducted by the Australian Sports Commission, 1,104,815 Australians participated in soccer in 2016. That’s over 400,000 more participants than AFL, and four times that of Rugby League.

There’s no ‘right’ age to start soccer, but here you’ll find some of the basics in terms of what you can expect in each age bracket, from 5 years old to 12 years old. Take a look…

5 – 7 Year-Olds

It’s really all about getting out and having fun at this age. Teams will be smaller, with usually only four players on the field, and each half of a game will only go for around 15 minutes. They also probably won’t have a goalkeeper. While they’ll start to learn the rules, they probably won’t be very strictly enforced – it’s more about getting familiar with the basics and giving them a chance to develop a love of playing.

Starting at this age can set up a great foundation for building skills and understanding the fun that can come from exercise. It also gives them an opportunity to develop strong friendships across their years of playing.

8 – 9 year-olds

By this age, there’ll be more players on the field, and there’ll be a goalkeeper too. The length of each half will probably be more like 20-25 minutes. Of course, it’s still mainly about having fun, but with more of an emphasis on preparing them for higher levels of the sport. Additional rules will be introduced, and some of that earlier leniency with enforcing them will start to reduce, giving them a chance to fully understand the details of the game. Some experts believe that 8 years old is the ideal age for kids to start playing soccer in a competitive team environment.

10-12 Year-Olds

This is when coaches will really start to focus on skills in order to provide them with a solid foundation of technical competence. At this age, children are ready for a more structured approach to training too. The number of players allowed on the field increases to 9 a side (at 10 years old) and then to 11 a side (at 12 years old). The length of the game also increases, with 12-year-olds playing full 30 minute halves.

While things are more focussed at this stage, the emphasis will still be on having fun and building positive experiences.

All children are different and it’s hard to say whether there is an ideal age to start soccer. But, whatever their age, there are many benefits of choosing soccer. It is a contact sport, but it’s not a collision sport, which means its relatively safe compared to a lot of other team sports (especially other forms of football).

Beyond that, it’s well known that there are a lot of benefits for kids who play sport – it contributes positively to their physical health, can give them a great range of social experiences and can give them a great sense of achievement as they build their skills. If your child is interested in sports, soccer may well be a great place to start.

A sports camp can be a great entry point and there are many soccer school holiday programs in Sydney or your local surrounding area that your kids can get involved with.