Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Best Toys for Toddlers

Michael has hundreds of toys, they have now completely taken over part of our living room(Michael has not got his own room). Here are some of the toys I think are really great value, and he too really loves them.

1. Playdoh. Michael has only really got playdoh for the last couple of months and really enjoys playing with it. You can get all sort of sets but I think they are pricey and a bit pointless for a toddler. So Michael has 4 pots that were £3 and a basic set from Wilkinson's that came with  some tools. We also use things we already had the house to make shapes, including Winnie the Pooh cookie cutters and stacking cups from when he was a baby. Also those shapes you get with some bucket and spades work well as well.

2. Bucket of dinosaurs. They also do other buckets of small toys like army men, cars, farm animals but Michael loves dinosaurs at the moment. I got this for £5 from the Entertainer and Michael plays with it lots. I also like it can all go in the bucket which means it's easy for Michael to take to his Nan's for the day.

3. Books, books, books! I love reading and have always been a bookworm. So it seems natural for me to read to Michael he has loads! It's also been nice to rediscover some old childhood favourites! Reading with your child can help their communication and it gives you some bonding time.

I find some of the books in the book shops expensive. That's not my money is £6 in WHSmith! So I get most of Michael's books from the charity stores, they have a wide range to choose from and are a lot cheaper. Most of Michael's books are 50p and less.

4. Dolly and Buggy. Michael loves pushing his buggy around. We try to raise Michael so he does not always get gender stereotypical toys. So yes he has dinosaurs and cars that he loves but he also has a dolly, buggy, Sofia the first doll and a doll's house for his second birthday. A nice wide range of toys. The buggy pictured was £5 in Argos and the doll £4 in B&M. 
Note he is not actually hitting the dolly, when you press its stomach it makes noises. It also came with a bottle, bib, cup and dummy so a pretty good deal. Sometimes however he just likes to chuck the doll out and race the buggy around!

5. Weebles. Most of us have seen the adverts for weebles. They don't fall down! Michael just has the peppa pig car that came with Peppa and that was £12. He loves pushing it along and trying to push Peppa down. We also got him George and that was £5 alone! So I would look around or get a set that comes with all the characters your child wants because they can be expensive separately.

6. Happyland. From the early learning centre or mothercare, you can get all sorts of sets that range from a pirate ship to a fairy house. I love Happyland, it wears well, and is played with loads. It's fine from a year old to I would say around 5-6 when your child may be ready for something for older children like playmobil. Michael has the pirate cave, rocket, farm, castle and loads of mini sets. 
I would also look around for this because as it wears so good, people do sell it on so you could get at a cheaper price from ebay, selling sites, charity stores etc. I got Michael a huge bundle of it for £24, retail price it would have been £150 so that is a huge saving.

7. Puzzles. Michael has had these since he turnt one but has only really started to show an interest in them. You can get all different ones and they are really educational and fun. I would try and get a little bag for all the pieces because they can get lost. We can not find the cow for love or money.

You might notice some of these toys typically have 3+ age guidelines. I do indeed use these as guidelines only and use my judgement. With supervision Michael has happily played with all of the toys.


How to study with a toddler around

Hi everyone,

I have not posted for a while. I am about to finish my last year of university so it's been a constant stream of coursework and my dissertation. My dissertation is due next Tuesday and then I am done with uni! I graduate in July, it still does not seem normal.

A lot of people ask how I manage to juggle coursework and studying with a toddler so I thought I would share some tips on how I get things done.

1. Make use of your child free time. We don't have a nursery/childminder for Michael so this year has been a mix of my partner, mum and aunt helping to look after Michael, thanks guys! Now before Michael, I would sit and do coursework and then check my phone, or go on facebook etc. Well no more when you know you only have 4 hours that day without a toddler, it's surprising how more organised and disciplined you become. 

2. Organise, organise, organise! How I miss the days when I could pull an all nighter to make the deadline. That was fine when I could sleep all day, no it's a little more difficult! Manage your time so you know you will make the deadlines easily instead of leaving it til the last minute. Michael was ill around December a lot when it was coursework deadlines. Luckily most of the work was already done. 

3. If you are at home with baby and have to do coursework... Work around naps and chill out time. Michael gets pretty restless if he is in all day. So I tend to take him to a activity in the morning and wear him out a little. By the afternoon he has  a big nap and then will be quite happy to chill and entertain himself. Failing that one of the Toy Story films is guaranteed to keep Michael happy for 30 mins-1hr. 

4. Make use of whatever childcare you can get. Student grants do give some help with childcare. We never wanted formal childcare with Michael so even though we are eligible, we never applied. So I use friends and family to help out a lot as well as work alongside my partner's shifts. So Monday & Tuesday Michael was at home with dad, tomorrow and Friday he with his beloved Nan-Nan and Saturday he is with his great-nan and cousins for a couple of hours. It all helps.

5. Don't feel guilty. One of the things I really struggle with is leaving Michael to go do work. I know it will benefit him when I have a degree but it does not make it any easier. The past few days I have hardly seen him and when I have my mind has been on my dissertation. So today we have played playdoh, cars, tea set, read, danced and just spent all day playing and having fun. Next week once the deadline has gone, I plan to take him out for the day, any suggestions welcome.

Studying with a child is pretty hard, but with support and good organisation, determination and discipline it can be done.

If you have any other tips with studying alongside a child, leave them in the comments below!