There is nothing worse than having sick babies, especially if you’re trying everything to help them get better (if you’re looking for some ways to relieve your baby’s cold, here are 5 ways I’ve come with to combat your baby’s cold). But what do we do if our baby is sick enough to be kept in isolation at home, but well enough that they still want to play and explore and climb all over you every 5 seconds? I have found this to be one of the most challenging things this last season, as Starfish has been battling colds and the flu. Here are 5 play activities for sick babies when you’re at home, unable to leave the house and wish to maintain your sanity!
A friend from Playground introduced this activity to us that she found on Pinterest, and it was the perfect activity for us the do with Starfish indoors. It involved no mess or clean-up, so I didn’t have to wash him, his hands or his clothes afterwards (so he didn’t have to get cold in the clean-up process). I put some blobs of paint on the piece of paper, and then zipped the paper inside a zip lock bag. Starfish was able to smoosh the paint around without getting it all over his hands, and once he was done (there was lots of picking up and scrunching in his fists), I could take the paper out of the zip lock bag to dry.
Always a fun and simple activity, but running a bubble bath for your baby and having a couple of toys inside will keep them warm and entertained at the same time. Have a variety of toys for your little one to play with as well as a non-slip bath mat so they can sit safely in the bath. My favourite bath toys for my boy are the Mini Lolo‘s because they have no hole, reducing the risk of mould (plus he loves them!).
Books, Nursery Rhymes and Peg Dolls
You can never go wrong with reading picture books or singing songs, but there is something very soothing and relaxing about a calm, adult voice when your baby is sick. Make the most of this time for some extra snuggles, a few choice books and songs. We recently got some gorgeous Little Peggy’s farm animal dolls for Starfish to play with, and he enjoyed playing with these while we read his ‘Noisy Farm’ book. This is also a great way to cement their development such as associating animals with the sounds they make, and recognising that objects can have different shapes and forms (for example, the cow in the ‘Noisy Farm’ book is grey and big, whereas the Peggy doll is thin, with a white and black colour). I’ll be sharing soon some more reasons why we LOVE the Little Peggy’s Dolls, but they’ve been a perfect toy for Starfish while he’s been sick!
An activity I came across on Pinterest as well (LOVE Pinterest!), which I, unfortunately, didn’t have the resources for to put together photos today. BUT I’m looking forward to trying this with Starfish soon. Grab some contact or clear, plastic adhesive and upt it up on the wall with some blutack or the like. Have a variety of objects such as paper, feathers, pom-poms, etc, for your baby to pick up and stick on the contact. This engages your child’s fine motor skills in picking up different objects and placing them on the wall, as well as promoting creativity.
Sensory Play with Cloud Dough
I came across Cloud Dough when the lovely Casey shared with me a few months back her top 5 Sensory Tubs for Little Learners. I was a bit hesitant to try this when Starfish was so little, but today was the perfect opportunity to make it and let him have a play. I mixed 4 cups of plain flour and 1/2 cup of baby oil to make the dough, and then let Starfish have fun exploring it with some plastic measuring spoons. Any of Casey’s sensory tub ideas are awesome for sick bubs to play and learn at home while they recover.
What is your baby’s favourite activity for when they’re a bit under the weather and stuck at home?
Over the past month, I’ve FINALLY been able to start taking Starfish out and about to some infant-specific places as he’s become more aware of his surroundings and can crawl and engage a bit more. But I’ve found it really hard to find places he can enjoy at such a young age, especially since he isn’t walking yet. So I’ve compiled a list, with the help of my lovely followers, of places I’d like to take Starfish (as much as is possible) – his (temporary) Bucket List, as it were – and I’ll tick them off as we’re able to go and visit the different places! I’ve tried to include information such as the ages the places will suit (as I’m able) and will update the list often when I can. I’ve included links to other bloggers who have tried and tested infant friendly things to see and do, so you can see their reviews of these places as well!
Infant Friendly Things to See and Do
Okay, I may have snuck in a couple of things for primary-aged children because they look really cool, so if you have older children or friends with older kids, make sure you share this with them too!
Across Australia in September
New South Wales
- Symbio Wildlife Park, Helensburgh – Ages 0+ ($$)
- The Early Start Discovery Space, University Of Wollongong – Ages 0+ (but more beneficial if they’re crawling/pulling themselves up, walking) ($$)
- Nubo Play Centre, Alexandria – Ages 0-10 years old ($$)
- Artplay, Museum of Contemporary Art – An arty playgroup for toddlers and preschoolers
- Ready, Set, Play, Albion Park
- Zoom, Wollongong
- Tabatinga, Ingleburn
- Cafe + Playground, Helensburgh Tradies
- Monkey Mania, Top Ryde
- Live Streamers, Ryde, Wollongong, Albion Park
- Museum of Fire, Penrith
- Green Beans, Corrimal
- Skyzone, Miranda
- Madagascar, Caringbah
- Royal Easter Show, Sydney Olympic Park – Annually around Easter (School Holidays), great for Toddlers and up ($$)
- Ideas for Bathurst – Fun things to see and do with kids in Bathurst
- Another 10 Things to do Around Bathurst – If you’re planning a trip to Bathurst, you’re seriously set!
- Jervis Bay – A list of toddler friendly things to see and do
- Fruit Picking Near Sydney – A fun pastime you can enjoy with kids of all ages!
- Free Kids Activities around Sydney – Check out these FREE options for kids from 0 years and up
- Farm Stays Near Sydney – Keen to get your kids (any age) in the great outdoors and go rural? Check out this list of farm stays near Sydney!
- New Leaf Nursery, Sydney – A hidden treasure in Sydney for kids of all ages!
- Kid-Friendly Sydney Venues – More things to see and do with kids in Sydney.
Australian Capital Territory
- Child-Friendly Options for Canberra – A round up post of some excellent things to see and do in Canberra with children of any age
- 20 Things to Do In Canberra – An extra guide of things you can get up to in Canberra, including prices and links.
- Melbourne’s Best Playgrounds – A list of playgrounds suitable for various ages
- Play Pod at the State Library of Victoria, Melbourne – Free entertainment for Under 8 year olds
- Free Babychinos, Melbourne – A great list of cafes you can go to where your little one can get a FREE Babychino!
- Places for Kids to Eat and Play Free, Melbourne – A great list of places where your kids can eat and play for FREE
- Gold Coast Indoor Play Centres – A list of indoor play centres on the Gold Coast suitable for a variety of age groups
- Velocity Trampoline Park – They advertise from 3 years, but best for children over 6 years of age
- Chipmunks Playland and Cafe, Brisbane – Ages 0 – 11 years old
- Flipside Circus, Alderley – For Primary Aged Children
- Crank Indoor Rock Climbing, Brisbane – For Primary Aged Children
- Sunshine Coast Indoor Play Centres – A list of indoor play centres on the Sunshine Coast suitable for a variety of age groups
- Eat and Play options in Brisbane – Includes playgrounds, markets, and cafes suitable for ages 0+
- The Best Toddler-Friendly Theme Park, Gold Coast – Check out what has been named the best theme park for Toddlers on the Gold Coast
- Indoor Entertainment Venues, Brisbane – A great round-up of venues for kids of all ages, especially preschoolers and primary-aged children
- Family Membership Options, Brisbane – If you’re looking for great places to continue taking your children, check out these great value family membership options
- Free Things to See and Do with Toddlers, Brisbane – Because FREE is the best way to do things!
- Atherton Tablelands, Cairns – Wondering how to do this with a baby and toddler? Check out the trip here!
- Longreach – Another great review of a trip to Longreach with Toddlers
- Child-Friendly Places in Adelaide – A list of playgrounds, cafes and indoor centres to visit in Adelaide, suitable for Ages 0+
- Kid & Hub – A special indoor play space for children ages 0+
- Barossa Valley, Adelaide – Take your kids to see these wonderful things in the Barossa Valley
- Adelaide City Guide – Check out this list of interesting things for children in Adelaide
- The Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide – Check out what toddlers can enjoy at the Art Gallery of South Australia
- Everything for Kids in Adelaide – A great resource for parents of kids in Adelaide. Lots to see and do!
- Family Friendly Activities in the Margaret River – Away from the wineries (sorry mums), but still lots of amazing things to see and do!
- Things to do in Perth with the Kids – A range of family-friendly things to see and do.
- 15 Things to do with Kids in Darwin – A great list of things to see and do with kids of all ages in Darwin
- 10 Places to See and Do with Kids – If you’re visiting Tasmania and want some places to visit with the kids, check out this great list!
Do you have more to add to this list for us? Leave a comment below with the name and state of the venue and I’ll add it on! 🙂
As most women will know, our lives become a barrage of constant questioning about the personal details of our lives. The most common of these questions generally being, “When are you going to get married?” and “When will you have kids?”. Sometimes even random strangers will feel the need to comment on such topics, as though it were perfectly acceptable for them to judge your life on the minimal amount of information they know about you.
I thought I was “in the clear” after we had our son because, heck, I had done the marrying and the babying. I thought I was done and dusted with the questioning. Boy was I wrong!
Shortly BEFORE Starfish turned 1 (not after), we started getting some new questions. “When are you thinking about Baby #2?” I was surprised at how often I was asked it. I’ll admit though – I may have been guilty of asking this question a few times to my mum friends, but I’ve been learning that there are several reasons why I should stop asking this question.
Some mums want to wait a while.
I have recently discovered through conversations with family and friends, that like with all things related to motherhood, there are different opinions and ideas of when families want to have a second child. I’ve found some mums want to wait until their first child is much older before they go through the whole newborn baby process again. Whether it be because their first child has been a handful, or they struggled with the demands of a baby, these mums have decided they don’t want to have their children close together – and that is perfectly okay! What these mums don’t need though is constant questioning about when they’ll have a second baby, because they might be uncomfortable with talking about their decision.
Some mums might be struggling to fall pregnant again.
I’ve had mum friends who talked to me about their difficulty in falling pregnant a second time, and this is a source of pain and sadness for them. The question about when they’re having a second baby – much like asking people when they’ll be having a first, for the same reason – can further compound the pain around this, so it doesn’t need to be asked.
Some mums might already be pregnant.
Just like with any pregnancy, a lot of mums like to keep their news a surprise. Asking them about baby number 2 might put them in an awkward position (or if you’re like me, you can’t keep a straight face!). It is a lot easier if the question is avoided altogether!
Some mums only want one child.
I’ve also spoken to some mum friends who have decided that they only want one child. Again, this can be for a variety of reasons. However, just like some women choose not to have any children, I have found the decision to have only one child provokes differing opinions from people. Some women may be happy to talk through their decisions, while others might not be. Once again, it is just easier to steer clear of the whole conversation!
While some mums are more than happy to talk about their decisions and reasoning, I know many who aren’t. We also shouldn’t have to justify our decisions to anyone not involved in the process (which generally involves two people!). As mothers, we should create a supportive environment for each other free of judgement or criticism. So instead of asking when baby number 2 is coming along (again, guilty!), let’s keep asking our mum friends how they and their first baby are doing!
And you might be wondering which of these categories I fall into – honestly, none of them. We haven’t thought much about Baby number 2 because we are enjoying Baby number 1 too much at the moment!
Plus, if you haven’t had a chance to check it out already, I’d love for you to check out my New Mum Guide full of tips for starting solids, looking after baby’s teeth, developmental activities and self-care advice for mums. Grab yours below!
I still haven’t been able to write down my breastfeeding story with Starfish (mostly because of time!), but I’m still breastfeeding him twice a day and he’s just over 13 months old. I know some people have assumed I’ve stopped breastfeeding now that my son is 1 year old. As mums, we all know how controversial and diverse the opinions are between breastfeeding and bottle feeding. There are also differing opinions about the length of feedings. I wanted to share the story of my lovely friend Lauren, The Peaceful Lactivist, who is breastfeeding her children aged 2 and 5. Tonight on the blog she is sharing with us the 5 questions she’s frequently asked about breastfeeding baby over 12 months. I hope you find it as insightful as I have!
5 Questions Asked About Breastfeeding Baby Over 12 Months
I never set out to be one of those mums that breastfeeds her kids forever and ever. Before having kids I honestly thought that if you did things right, your kids would stop breastfeeding once they were 12 months old, and that kids who breastfed past that had been parented wrong. I was so naïve!
Remembering my own feelings about term breastfeeding from before I landed on this journey helps me keep my cool when people ask me questions about breastfeeding my older kids, that may feel offensive to other term breastfeeding mums. It’s never nice to feel like someone is challenging what I do with my kids, and perhaps suggesting I’m “doing it wrong”, but since I used to hold similar, uninformed opinions, I try hard to take the opportunity to present a different side instead of getting offended.
Here are five questions that I get asked most frequently about term breastfeeding: Do they have teeth?
1. Do they have teeth?
Yes, I breastfeed my kids even though they have teeth. My son popped his first tooth at 10 weeks, so we have been breastfeeding with teeth for a very long time! But teeth don’t really get involved during breastfeeding. Think about when you suck on a straw that’s in a drink – you don’t need to bite the straw to make it happen.
2. But can they talk? Isn’t that weird?
Yes, my kids can talk. I don’t find it weird when they verbally ask for their milk, any more than I do when they ask me for toast or ice cream. When you think about it, they’ve been asking for it since they were born, just not using words. Even a newborn can let us know they are hungry.
That said, I have always called breastfeeds “milk”. I avoided the use of words like “titty”, and “boobs” because I personally find them a little crass and didn’t really want to hear those words coming out of my kids mouths. Generally speaking, my kids just ask for “milk”.
3. Do they grab your boobs and pull them out in front of people?
No, they don’t. My kids don’t “help themselves”, they ask. How they ask has evolved and changed over time, and has included:
- Yawning, nuzzling and bobbing their head around for a lucky nipple that might happen to be close
- Crying if I missed earlier cues
- Gently placing a hand on the top of my breast, usually while looking at me with adorable, wide-open eyes (asking permission)
- Putting their face near my breasts and making suckling faces and noises (demonstrating what they want)
- Lying across my lap in the cradle position (showing me they are ready)
- Simply saying “Milk” and later “Mama, can I please have some milks?”
It isn’t this way in all families – some kids help themselves and some parents are OK with that – basically, if the person who owns the breasts is OK with it, then it’s their decision and we should respect that.
4. Why can’t you just give them a sippy cup or a bottle?
Let’s turn this question around. Instead of asking “why not”, tell me first, “why”? Why would I stop doing something that’s working for our family in favour of a solution that feels like more work? Introducing a bottle or sippy cup means I then have to spend money on buying them, spend more money when we lose or break them, and keep them clean and ready to go. I’m not signing up for that kind of workload if I don’t have to.
5. You’re doing it mostly for yourself though, right? I mean your kids don’t really need it.
It feels like this question is suggesting that I get some perverse enjoyment from having my boobs in my kid’s mouths, like I’m getting off on it somehow. I’m not.
Or is it suggesting that I breastfeed simply because I like to be able to brag about it? I’m not.
And how exactly do we define what another person “needs”? Who am I to draw a line in the sand when it comes to physical comfort? My daughter really “needed” 6 kisses before she went to sleep last night. Would it make sense to tell her she could only have 4? That seems unnecessarily arbitrary, especially when it’s not that hard to give a kiss, a cuddle or a breastfeed.
I don’t know exactly what people are implying when they ask this question, but I’ll tell you what – breastfeeding requires a certain amount of cooperation from my kids. I can’t force them to breastfeed when they don’t want to, anymore than I can force them to sleep when they don’t want them to, eat vegetables when they don’t want to, or wear shoes when they don’t want to. Any parent who has experienced a baby who can’t/won’t breastfeed should support me here – it takes two.
People will always have opinions about term breastfeeding, but I would encourage everyone to keep an open mind. One day it might be you who looks at your breastfed child, who is 11 months and 364 days old, and realise that they are still a baby. You may look at them, like I did, and realise that breastfeeding is too important to them still, for it to just be over simply because in one more day they will be a year old. My breastfeeding journeys with both kids have been so rewarding that I’ll always be thankful for my ability to let go of my opinions about age and breastfeeding, and just do what needed to be done.
Lauren is a passionate advocate of breastfeeding, and works with a number of associations to support mothers in their breastfeeding journey. She writes posts for Breastfeeders in Australia, and also has her own Facebook page for The Peaceful Lactivist.
Warning: Get ready for a LOT of happy snaps of the Early Start Discovery Space, because we absolutely LOVE this place!!
Now that Starfish is older, we’ve begun a hunt for places we can take him to engage his senses and promote his development and learning (while of course, having fun!). He’s still only just crawling and pulling himself up at this stage (and toddling around furniture), not independently walking, which narrows down our options for places to visit. While I’ve started compiling a mini bucket list of places to visit with Starfish, there is one place we have started going to and had to buy a year membership IMMEDIATELY because I was absolutely in-love with the place (and so was he!). Introducing, the Early Start Discovery Space at the University of Wollongong.
The UOW Early Start Discovery Space
The Early Start Discovery Space is located within the University of Wollongong Campus. I used to attend this uni, finishing in 2014, and the Discovery Space was a well-developed dream then. It has become a concrete reality since that time, and it sits predominantly at the top end of the University. It has its own car parking spaces if you are a member of the Discovery Space ($90 for 1 adult and 1 child, which equated to the same amount we’d spend on 3 visits. We’ve already been twice in 3 weeks). However be mindful of what time of day you go with car parking (whether you are a member or not: If you’re a member, there are only 40 car spaces so make sure you go at a good time to get a spot. If you aren’t a member, you’ll have to be mindful of university parking and the costs (I can’t remember them off the top of my head).
Inside the Discovery Space, you’ll see a gift shop to your left (which you exit through – goodie!), the information/payment desk and then the entrance to the space. There are two ‘lanes’ to enter through – the right lane is bigger for wider prams (i.e. Us!). We started at the far right of the Discovery Space, and then we worked our way around as it is like a big doughnut back to the entrance. There are upstairs spaces (including some used by the university for teaching and working), but there is also a huge staircase once you enter. We have never been up there as I’ve always had a pram, and well, effort. So there may be more goodies up there that I’m not sure of (if you know, please let me know in the comments!). However, what I absolutely LOVE about the Discovery Space are there are many different themed-areas for children to play in, so I’ve unpacked the main ones we explored for now.
My absolute other favourite thing about the Early Start Discovery Space is that each experience is accompanied with a poster that explains the activities within the area, the educational and developmental benefits of the space, and activities you can do at home to further promote your child’s development in this area. Basically in my zone as a teaching mumma!
Open Baby Play Space
Once you walk into the discovery space and head to your right, there is a big open space for babies to play in. It includes a foam pit in the back corner, small and large lego pieces, puzzles, activity cubes, and a magnetic board with cogs to play with. Starfish wasn’t a big fan of the foam bit, but loved the cog magnetic board (there are also magnetic letters for older children to play with).
The Dig – “Ancient Times China”
If you have children who love the sandpit, this is such a fun and creative way to get them involved. Next to the open baby play space (I didn’t even see it the first time!), there is a door that leads outside to two sandpits. There are a bunch of spades and mini brushes to uncover ‘fossils’ in the sand. Such a fun, imaginative activity for kids to play in. My boy isn’t at that stage yet, so we avoided the excess sand!
I must admit, I spent a little time wondering how this actually worked. To the left of the open baby space (you see it as you enter the Discovery Space), there was a wall with light up tubes of various colours. However once you removed a tube from the wall, it was no longer illuminated. I watched as kids of all ages loved taking the tubes out and re-placing them in the wall to watch them light up (some kids chewed on them, thankfully Starfish wasn’t one of them – for once!). Older kids liked to make patterns; younger kids, like Starfish, liked the repetition of taking the tube out and putting it back in. It was a very engaging activity for him, and for me as I wondered how it all worked (spoiler alert, not magic!).
Moving on from the light wall is the “Shipyard”, containing a wide open ship for the children to climb and play around. As you enter the Shipyard, to the right is an open book shelf where blue foam is stored – children can come and take as much or as little as they please (if there is any left!). It can be used to stack and build inside the ship, or climb around as my boy tried doing the first time around (he may have had a small tumble, but that was my fault for not making sure he was sitting properly – my bad!). There is a steering wheel children can pretend to steer, and a large globe that can be used as part of their imaginative play.
Starfish was too scared to go in here when we went both times, but as you can see in the photos, there are some mini flashlights children can grab as they enter into the Cave (which is opposite the Shipyard, fitted nicely under the big staircase). There are lots of tunnels, stalactites and stalacmites to explore, and overall it is very dark. Pretty cool to check out though!
A personal favourite of Starfish’s best buddy who came along is the Supermarket. There are a variety of fake fruits, vegetables and persihables that children an put into their (mini) shopping trolleys. Starfish isn’t at the stage of using walkers yet (he hates them!), but he enjoyed demolishing the bottom shelf of cans. The supermarket even has a cash register for pretend play, which will be great for when Starfish is a bit older.
The Human Body
We stayed well clear of these sections because Starfish just isn’t at that level yet, however if you have older children there are a couple of cool areas where they can explore and learn all about the human body. My friend and I did have lots of chuckles over the blow-up tunnel which goes through the human digestive system though – it makes a rather “pleasant” farting sound as children exit the tunnel!!
The Book Nook
The Book Nook has comfortable seating, cushions and a variety of books for kids of all ages. There is also a storytelling chair for certain times of the day when a volunteer can come and read to the kids. A lovely, quite, tucked-away area for parents to enjoy with their kids.
By far Starfish’s favourite part of the Discovery Space – and definitely the most suitable for his abilities. It includes a submarine tunnel to crawl through, sensory items on the wall, and windows in the floor to look through. This is the perfect area for little babies and breastfeeding mums, as there are comfortable seats for the mums to sit and supervise their bubs, and the space is open for babies to explore their surroundings.
Obviously Starfish was too young to be involved, but throughout the day the volunteers run craft activities for the children to be involved in. Announcements were made over the loud speakers to indicate the craft activity was starting, and many kids (and adults) were eager to participate in the craft.
I actually missed this the first-time around (maybe it looked too much like a real construction site??), but inside the Construction Site there is a whole lot of blue foam, and wooden conveyor belts that can be moved to send the ‘bricks from one spot to another. The older children in this space were loving it – Starfish just enjoyed biting the blocks. There was also plastic protractors and cement/tradie tools for the kids to play with to promote the imaginative play.
Another space I didn’t find the first time around, but goodness these were a beautiful spot! Surrounding by picnic benches and chairs (and many mums feeding their children), the discovery gardens were full of spots for children to explore and engage with nature. There was a creek bed, logs, concrete and tire paths, and there was even a huge metal xylophone for the children to play with (Starfish was very distracted when this was played – he loves music). Of course, Starfish’s most favourite part – and probably his favourite experience of the whole Early Start Discovery Space – was the water play tables. He couldn’t stop smiling and he concentrated very hard on the toys in the water (he cried when I had to drag him away!).
To finish the loop through the Early Start Discovery Space, there are a few extra little experiences the children can engage with. There’s a fish tank, which is always of great interest to Starfish (ironic much?!) as he loves to point to all the fish. There is a puppet theatre equipped with many types of puppets and a “stage”, and there are a couple of nook spaces for reading or extra play. The first time we visited, there were large dominos to play with; this time, there was a huge BFG statue (for Book Week) and a reading station with devices and headphones.
Starfish is also a big fan of the colourful sensory wall towards the exit of the Discovery Space. There are a range of activites on this wall for kids to touch, hear, feel and see (maybe not taste!). This was a great way for Starfish to stay engaged just before we left.
The Early Start Discovery Space has adequate facilities (male, female and kids bathrooms, as well as a parents room), and there is a cafe just outside the entrance/exit to the Discovery Space. The Gift Shop has a range of engaging and educational toys to purchase (and members get a 10% discount in the store).
While the individual admission may seem expensive (see below), I found the yearly pass well worth the cost. As I mentioned earlier, for me it is the same cost as if I visited the Discovery Space 3 times – and we’ve already been twice in less than a month. The Early Start Discovery Space is perfect for any type of outing, especially if you’re looking for something fun on a rainy day! To find out more about the Centre, click the website below.
The Early Start Discovery Space Details
Visit the Website
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 9am – 4pm (closed Mondays and Public Holidays)
Located: Early Start Discovery Space, Northfields Ave, Wollongong NSW 2522 (Google Maps). Building 21 on the UOW Campus Map
Children under 12 months FREE
Children 12 months and over: $15.00
Off-Peak (2-4pm, Tues-Fri, School Term): Half price, $7.50
First Year of Life: $60.00 (Child under 12 months + 1 Adult)
Cloud: $90.00 (Child over 12 months + 1 Adult)
Burst: $150.00 (2 Children + 2 Adults)
Note: There are options to add-on additional adults/children to each of these packages).
To be honest, I have never thought about purchasing children’s subscription boxes before – maybe it has something to do with my hubby’s aversion to spending money! However now that I have my son, and I’ve seen some of the amazing subscription services around, I have to say that I’m a lot more PRO-Subscription Box! But it is a matter of finding the ‘right’ ones.
The key I’ve found to choosing the right subscription service matches these criteria for me:
- Has some educational and developmental value to my son.
- Is a lot of FUN!
- Is worth its value (i.e. not too expensive!).
While this doesn’t seem to be too much in the way of criteria, for me they mean I scrutinise lots of details in each offer. Currently I have found 3 MUST-HAVE Subscription Boxes for children (even young babies, my son is only 1 year old) that I had to share with you.
Inspire Book Box
I know I’ve mentioned it numerous times, but I’m a massive nerd when it comes to children’s literature and picture books (utterly obsessed!). So the idea of a children’s book subscription box naturally appeals to me. What I wanted to know before purchasing this book box was, ultimately, would it be good value for money (rather than me going to the shops to buy a few books). When I received the Inspire Book Box, however, I was blown away by some amazing points of difference which convinced me why I SHOULD be getting an Inspire Book Box for my little one.
Firstly, the Inspire Book Box is so much more than “just” books. It is full of learning opportunities and adventures. Opening the box, there were a number of sheets that have been designed by experts (and lovely blogging friends of mine!) to help you create memories and learning experiences for your child. There is a Parent Guide full of questions and activities to help promote your child’s language development (for example, signing and dancing to ‘Row Row Row your boat’ after reading the book with the same title). As a teacher, I think this guide is just awesome to help all parents engage their child’s thinking and learning – this helps build comprehension skills for your child on top of understanding concepts of print (identifying letters of the alphabet, listening to the sounds of language, etc).
Our Little Hands (0-2yo) Inspire Book Box also came with an awesome craft activity and instruction sheet. Although Starfish is a little young for this at the moment, it is something I can keep for later and create with him after we read the associated book, “Muddypaws’ Big Day”. The box even comes with some clever recipe ideas to create a food experience to go along with your child’s reading – how awesome is that?!
To top off this gorgeous subscription box, there is a lovely engagement gift inside (we got a little dog soft toy) to help your child further engage with the books and learning experiences. For example, while reading the “Muddypaw’s Big Day Out”, your child could be helping you act out the book with their new soft toy friend.
As you can see, this box is jam-packed full of items and activities your child will love, fantastic memories to create, and important learning opportunities. This alone makes the Inspire Book Box worth every cent. However, I was blown away by the cost of this book box as well.
As a subscription service, you have the opportunity to subscribe to receive this box and pay monthly ($39.95), 3-monthly ($116.85, saving $3.00) or 6-monthly ($227.70, saving $12.00). There is also the option of buying the box as a one-off gift box ($41.95) or as a “Many Hands” box designed for families with 2 or more children (from ($54.95). To help make this book box even better value, they personalise the boxes for 0-2 year olds (the “Little Hands” box) and for 3-6 year olds (the “Bigger Hands” box). I bought the one-off gift box as I wasn’t sure whether I would be wanting to continue with a subscription. However this cost (plus shipping, so around the $50), gave me 4 books, a soft toy, a craft activity plus 3 guides/recipes to use with my child. It left me wondering how the owner of Inspire Book Box would be making money (as the cost of the materials would be getting close to that amount anyway!). I thought this was such an awesome deal, as children’s books are usually upwards of $10 – $15 each AT LEAST (for board books).
If you want to inspire a love of reading with your child, with an awesome craft, toy and recipe thrown in, the Inspire Book Box is a must have in your household. To check out their current subscription this month (there is a new theme each month!), check out their Website HERE, Facebook HERE or Instagram HERE.
My Kiwi Play Box
(I received the Balancing Movement Play Box for the purpose of this review and social media promotion. All opinions are my own).
Most mums will know that quality wooden toys are worth their weight in gold. Babies can chew and gnaw on them, and they are less likely to break over time from wear and tear. So when I came across The Kiwi Play Box, which sends subscription boxes with wooden toys amongst other things, I was super excited to check it out. Of course, they are based in New Zealand but they do send their boxes over to Australia for us to love and enjoy!
We received the Balancing Movement Box, which included:
- A Wooden Peg Bench and Hammer
- Veggie Crayons
- A Wooden Stacker Set
The box also comes with an instruction sheet detailing the developmental areas that the toys help develop, an extra game for you to play with your child and the attributes of the toys (for example, my “Balancing My Movement” box had the attributes of developing the pincer grip, challenging balance, and encouraging co-ordination).
What I love about this subscription box is that it focuses on your baby or child’s development in the toys it selects. The Balancing My Movement box helped me to focus on my son’s Fine Motor Skills by providing toys that required him to hold items (such as the hammer, wooden rings and the veggie crayons) and work on his hand-eye co-ordination (bringing the hammer to the wooden pegs, which he enjoyed doing, or by aiming the wooden rings to fit over the wooden stacker). Starfish also got to practise some Gross Motor skills in his arms, such as swinging his arm with the hammer to hit the pegs, or moving his arm around the paper while holding the veggie crayons (which we are still practising to achieve!).
My Kiwi Play Box offers a range of play boxes for children of all ages, from Newborn right up until school age. There are different types of boxes for each age group that support different developmental areas, so you can select one-off boxes you’d like to purchase for your child. Alternatively you can sign up for a subscription and receive all the boxes for your child’s age over the course of a year (for example, there might be 4 Play boxes for the 6-10 month age bracket, so you would receive one box every 3 months).
These Play Boxes from My Kiwi Play Box tick off all my criteria – they are super fun for Starfish (and I won’t lie, for me too. I’ve been playing with the pegs and hammer for ages!), they help his development, and they are extremely good value. As I started with, wooden toys are a loved item by many babies and mums, but usually at a high price. The Balancing My Movement box I received is valued at $58.50, including two wooden toys and the veggie crayons. Most stores that sell wooden toys that I have noticed (particularly boutique stores) sell wooden toys for upwards of $30 EACH. This would bring the value of the box to over $60, not including the veggie crayons or added developmental information.
Jack The Wombat
Growing up, I had a Penpal who lived over in France (a lucky opportunity, I know! My dad was Penpals with her mum, ahh long story!). I loved when I would receive a letter from her, which she had translated to English for me, and then sitting with my dad and learnign some French to write a letter back to her. We were Penpals for a couple of years and it was lovely. Having a Penpal made me feel special – someone else out there was thinking of me, carefully putting together a letter for me, and asking me about my life.
In this day and age of technology, we have lost some of the spark of traditional “snail mail”, however I know that all kids still get excited about having a letter in the letterbox with their name on it. That is why I absolutely ADORE this biz, Jack The Wombat, which is bringing back to life the magical friendship of having a Penpal.
Jack The Wombat is a monthly subscription service that encourages your child’s literacy development by sending an assortment of activities right to your doorstep (or mail box). Designed for children aged 4-8, each month your child can receive:
- An Adventuregram from Jack the Wombat (A Letter from Jack!)
- A Reply Adventuregram to Jack (write back to your new Penpal!)
- An Adventuregram to share with a friend – spread the love!
- A Sheet of High-Quality Stickers
- A Fun Colouring Sheet
- A Super Fun Educational Activity Sheet
With most subscripton services, there are a range of options for you to choose from – you can pay month to month ($9.95), pay for a 6-month block ($8.95/month), or pay for one-off gift options for one month ($12.95) or 6 months ($59.95).
As a passionate advocate for literacy development, the creator of Jack the Wombat Allison makes sure each month’s Adventuregram to your child is packed with lots of fun as well as lots of opportunities for development and learning. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to help your child develop a love of writing and find a new lifelong friend – visit the Jack The Wombat Website HERE, Facebook HERE or Instagram HERE.
Sherbet Creations is a subscription box that provides children with engaging and educational craft activities each month. The Sherbet Creations boxes are designed for 5-8 year olds by co-founders Teresa and Melanie, who has 8 years of Early Childhood Education experience behind her. Each box has 4 craft activities, accompanied by Youtube videos to provide children with direction on the tasks (or children can be left to their own devices to create masterpieces!). The aim of Sherbet Creations is to provide fun and developmentally appropriate activities for children and parents who are looking for an alternative to screen time or extracurricular activities. These subscription boxes give you a chance to sit down with your child (or for them to sit and relax by themselves) and get creative!
Plus, the Sherbet Creation boxes donate $1 from each box to the Bear Cottage (an initiative of Westmead Children’s Hospital), which makes it even more amazing as it also helps a worthwhile cause!
What are your favourite subscription boxes/services for your child? Have you ever gotten one before? What has held you back? Tell us in the comments below! x
While I’ve tried to be honest and transparent about my life (particularly as a mum), there have been some things I haven’t spoken about. Things like my experiences growing up. Due to a number of factors through my childhood and adolescence, I’ve developed a lot of deep-seeded anger that can boil over. It usually happens during inconsequential events, such as being stuck in traffic or playing video games (where I perceive myself to have been wronged or something doesn’t seem ‘fair’). It results in a barrage of angry words (usually expletives). However, since becoming a mum, I’ve found that my anger has started to rear its big, ugly head around my son – either inadvertently or purposefully. I’m becoming an angry parent.
For example, driving with my son has become a landmine of opportunities for anger to spill over. And especially now more than ever, as my son has started to mimic the words we say, I have to watch what words (or expletives!) I use around him. But it is hard. Being angry for so long means that in certain situations, it becomes second nature. It means that I have to rewire and retrain my brain to respond to those triggers in a different way to avoid the anger boiling over and affecting my son.
I’ve spoken to my husband numerous times about the kind of mother I don’t want to be – and most importantly, that I DO want to be. I don’t want him to remember his mum as someone who was always angry or yelling because she got annoyed with traffic or with games. I want my son to remember me as a loving, caring, nurturing mum who made him feel safe, protected and loved. In order to be the mum I want to be, it means that I need to change some of those responses, and more importantly, the underlying issues that trigger those angry responses. I recently posted on my Instagram about wanting to be a good role model for my boy, and that all starts now.
Of course, I have spoken to many parents who have been angry with their children – who doesn’t get frustrated when their child doesn’t listen, doesn’t behave, won’t go to sleep (guilty!), does the wrong thing, puts themselves or someone else in danger? We’ve all been there as mothers – it, unfortunately, is natural human instinct to be frustrated around those things (even as a teacher I am working on my frustration with some of those things). However there are ways we can work towards minimising our frustration to the point where it doesn’t boil over around our children. We need to work on keeping a ‘calmness’ in situations where our children are involved, as we are the adults. Are there times when you are an angry parent too? Do you struggle with controlling your anger or responses around your children?
Before I go on with some suggestions, I would like to state right here and right now that in no way am I talking about anger AT a child. My son is 13 months old – I have never yelled at him (he’s too young to understand) or done anything detrimental to him in any way. I am talking about situations where I have been angry near him but where he is not actually involved).
Find something that relaxes you
Some people commit to mindfulness practises, others yoga. Some pray (if that fits their belief systems), others go for a walk and exercise. Whatever it is that works for you to relax and unwind your body and mind, make sure you do this regularly. A little while back I was getting into adult colouring books because it helped me to focus on something else. While I love my work, and blogging helps exercise my mind, it can be stressful and provoke anger in me about not getting things done. Choose something that helps you to feel relaxed, as well as removes pressure and stress on you.
Find relaxation techniques to de-stress
I’ve had many people suggest that meditation or simple counting and breathing techniques can help your body to physically relax, ultimately leading to mental relaxation as well. Things such as ‘hold counting’ (Breathe in – 1, 2, 3 – Hold – 1, 2, 3 – Breathe out – 1, 2, 3 – Hold – 1, 2, 3 – Repeat) or unclenching your body (clench your fists together, then unclench your fists; clench your brows, then unclench; clench your shoulders, then unclench). Even a simple counting to 10, when presented with an anger-provoking trigger, will give you some extra time to relax and handle the situation in a different way.
Have a time-out
When something particularly maddens you (if related to the kids), give yourself a time-out so you don’t explode in front or around the children. Go find the activity that relaxes your or the techniques to destress you, and practise them for 5 minutes before returning to the situation and sorting it out. This will be more beneficial in the long term than responding angrily to a brief situation.
Find a support network
I am very fortunate that my husband is supportive and knows my struggles. He is my accountability partner and reminds me when I need some time to cool off and relax. Find your support network – whether it is your partner, friends or family – to help you in those heated moments and remind you of the need to relax. They will provide you accountability, support and encouragement when you need it. If you’re like me, after you have a brief moment of anger, you then get upset about your anger and break down (we don’t mean to get angry!). Our support network encourages us and reminds us of our positive traits and our mission to be the best parents we can be.
Talk to a Professional
If you’re concerned about your anger or would like to speak to someone about more advanced techniques, I’d encourage you to see your GP to get a referral to speak to a professional. There’s no shame in seeking out professional help for ways to deal with anger triggers. They can help you unpack why you respond the way you do, and how you can respond differently. Ultimately, it is about doing what is best for our family, so if this involves talkignt o a psychologist, then don’t delay in making that choice.
As I mentioned earlier, anger is a natural response for everyone. Everyone has bad days. Everyone has a particular habit or scenario that ticks them off. What is important is how we manage those situations in front of our kids (or if they involve our kids), to ensure that we can be the best possible parent and role model for them.
Is there a certain scenario or habit that really frustrates you? How do you manage your anger in those situations? I’d love to hear from you below xx
I’ve been pretty honest about the last couple of weeks. They’ve sucked. There have been lots of things going on (including new changes) that I have not dealt with very well. Last week was especially tough, because I had a few comments that were directly degrading my character. I’ve tried pretty hard to be a good person – and especially now more than ever, a good role model for Starfish. I know I have many downfalls (don’t we all), but I was pretty hurt by some of the comments I received last week that suggested that I’m not a good person. As a teacher, we always talk about the importance of being a role model for kids – they look up to you and see what you’re doing. They admire you, want to copy you. Now as a mother, I know that this is amplified 100 times over. I hope that he sees that I’m a hard worker; I hope he sees that I’m true to my word; I hope he sees I try to help others as much as I’m able. But I also hope he sees that I take time to look after myself (still a work in process!). I hope he sees that I look after my physical and mental health. Above all, I hope he sees what my priorities are – that he is my world and I’d do anything for him. Like taking this day off last Wednesday to just hang out. This is my commitment to you, little Starfish – I will try and be the best role model I can be for you (no matter what anyone else says), and you, plus daddy, will always be my priority ❤️
I might be a bit late to jump on this bandwagon, but Father’s Day is fast approaching (in a week!) which means it is time to get Daddy Morrison’s gift ready. It’ll be his 2nd Father’s Day, as last year Starfish was about 6 weeks old when Father’s Day came and went. An extra year with our little man, an extra year of being a daddy, deserves celebration and thanksgiving! However what I’ve found is it is hard to choose a Father’s Day gift for our baby daddies. There are lots of crafts and ideas for preschoolers and older children, but how can we celebrate Father’s Day when we have younger bubs? Here I’ve collated 5 (last-minute) gift ideas for Baby Daddies!
1. Matching Daddy/Baby T-Shirts
We all know that our Starfish loves dinosaurs (or he will one day…), so I could have simply DIED when I saw these gorgeous matching “Daddysaurus” and “Babysaurus” t-shirts from Bright Star Kids. You can personalise them to say anything you’d like with the dinosaur print. Bright Star Kids have a range of Father’s Day goodies, including options for other personalised presents too.
2. Washable Paint – Card or drawing
If you’d like to go down the creative, crafty route with your little bub, you can always assist them to make a card for daddy using washable paint (like the stuff from Crayola). We made some at Playgroup on Monday, just by putting some paint onto plates, and applying the paint to bub’s hand – I used my own finger and just smother Starfish’s hand in paint, bringing the paper to his hand to make the print. The Washable paint came off his hands (and my finger) super easy with wet wipes, making it a hassle and stress-free craft option for little ones!
3. Canvas Photos
If you have a partner who isn’t a big gift person (like Daddy Morrison), you might like to get some lovely photographs taken of your baby (or your baby with their dad) and blow them up onto a Canvas. It makes such a lovely centrepiece in the home and a lasting momento for your partner of their gorgeous little bub and the reason why they have the amazing title of “dad”. We like using Snapfish for all our printing needs.
4. A Powerpoint Slideshow
Yep, it sounds super corny, like something you’d do for a 60th or 70th birthday party, but bear with me. My husband always likes watching back videos and photos I’ve taken of Starfish during the days while he is at work. He misses out on a lot, and wants to see everything. You could create a Powerpoint of all the highlights to show him – and even try and get some good “Happy Father’s Day” footage (or if your child is like my boy, they don’t do anything when you ask them too!
5. The Gift of Time
As I mentioned earlier, it is hard to get our babies creating Father’s Day gifts because they just physically (and mentally) aren’t at that stage yet. But what you can do is give your baby daddy the gift of time with your child. Organise a play date for Daddy and his son/daughter depending on your partner’s interests – if he likes adventure, organise for them to go to a play centre or Symbio Wildlife Park. If he’s a bit more low-key, pack them a picnic and send them off to a local (or backyard) park. Show your baby Daddy that you both love and appreciate him by giving him a relaxing and fun day out with his favourite people!
So these are some tips if you’re scrambling around for a last-minute Father’s Day gift like I am (Eek!) What will you be organising for your baby daddy this Father’s Day? Did you find any other ideas I’ve missed? Share them below!
Back in January this year, I heard about a fantastic initiative called Babes + Picnics, which I immediately fell in love with! Babes + Picnics is an Australia-wide campaign aiming to bring mums and bubs together in their community to establish new mum tribes (and lifelong friends), support and promote small businesses, and support charity organisations. There are currently over 30 Babes + Picnics locations across Australia, including our very own Babes + Picnics Sutherland Shire (for which I am a co-ambassador).
Babes + Picnics runs each month on the following premise:
- A (different) location is selected within the region for mums and their bubs to meet (mostly outdoors, but occasionally indoors too);
- A charity organisation is chosen for the mums to donate material items too. There may be once or twice where a monetary donation is requested, but this is on “special” occasions;
- Local businesses donate prizes for lucky mummas to win at each picnic, and we return the favour by promoting and supporting them when possible.
We started Babes + Picnics Sutherland Shire back in February, and I have loved every picnic since! It has been a great opportunity to meet new mummas and make new mum (and bub) friends. Each picnic location runs through a Facebook group, and is also promoted on the Babes + Picnics Australia Facebook Page HERE and Instagram Account HERE.
For more information about Babes + Picnics, including how it started, locations around Australia and the Ambassadors involved, visit the website HERE