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Games, Games, Games… Reasons we choose the board variety…

Post by on February 16, 2017

Okay, so we all know that in theory we should limit screen time, increase our interaction with our children – blah, blah, blah… I always believed that this was a pipe dream.

This was until we embraced board games (I know hello, 1983 ).  But before you switch off and imagine this is another rant about hands on parenting, I’d love you to know that our battle with screens has been going on for years (you can read some of my other posts) and I can say that quite honestly NOTHING has worked for more than a few weeks.

Limiting time, limiting days, using screens as a reward, refusing them as a punishment.  Nothing worked; yet old skool board games are now in the running.

How we play, why we play & what we play.

  1. As a family we have always tried to embrace board games and the simple truth is, sitting down with the kids to play a board game sounds kinda tiresome but in actual fact is really rewarding.
    1. So, we basically have an entire games department in our cupboard so on any particular day we can choose from a number of games – this keeps everyone interested and ensures we are always playing a game that is age appropriate regardless of who joins in.  Just a tip but “Tummy Ache” is the absolute best 1st game ever! It is a game of chance which ensures your child occasionally looses without you “throwing the game”, it teaches turn taking, waiting and can help fussy eaters – any age can play but definitely once they are 2+!
  2. Hubby and I play board games with the kids to teach, to learn but mostly to spend time with them.  But the secret key is that we find out – especially for Miss E our sweetheart 2nd child –  where she’s at with reading, numbers, cognition, all the things we are all over with child number 1 but start to miss in our subsequent children (sorry child number 2).  As it turns out she is a true strategist and underestimate the 5 year old at your peril, especially when she’s playing a 10yr+ game (LOOT is a favourite at the moment) she will board your pirate ships & plunder your bounty all with a smile on her sweet lil face.
  3. As with any typical household we have – Snakes and Ladders, Monopoly, Game of Life etc, etc but we’ve discovered the card based, slightly less popular games have proven the most successful.
    1. In our store we have started stocking a range of these sorts of games and we play ALL of them, choosing which ones are awesome (Sushi Go) and which ones are not so (Monster Cafe).

Games are like books you always feel good when you give or receive them and if you’d like to pick our brains as to age suitability, gender etc drop in, check out our range online or chat to us on facebook as we’d love top help you pick one of our favourites.  We love playing them & I’m sure you’re kids (and hubby’s!) will love playing them just as much as we do.

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Travelling to Bali with Kids…

So, this Easter was the first time we have traveled with Master 5 & Little Miss 4 overseas. Yes, we took the easy option –
Bali, only 5 hours on a direct flight & we met the grandparents there, so all in all it was a blissfully easy experience.

But, saying this, a couple of items came up which I thought would have been useful had I known them to begin with & a couple of other experiences which were simply too good not to share…

The Airport. Thank you Adelaide, as at least the airport is user friendly and the play area for the kids helped kill time, as Virgin Airways require that you check-in 3 hours prior to your flight.
First hindsight moment – this was complete overkill – the international departures lounge only opened an hour before the flight,
so we spent 2 hours wandering aimlessly around the airport looking for spots where the wi-fi worked & actually wishing we weren’t leaving on Good Friday
so we could go out & take a stroll around IKEA (this was my lovely husbands idea, which probably gives you a good idea of just how over the airport he was at this stage).

The Flight. Second BIG hindsight moment and if you don’t read any further than this please take note of this next sentence.
When travelling Virgin if you don’t download the Virgin Entertainment App prior to boarding you cannot access the inflight entertainment.
And no they don’t advise or remind you that this is the case. Yes, we learnt this the hard way.
Oh, & I would ensure you have earphones for all devices you plan to use on board.
So there we were no entertainment, Master 5 devastated as he is a tech (dare I say nerd) head. But wait Mummy to the rescue.
Ta-Da a Tiger Tribe Piccolo Colouring Set that I’d thrown in my bag thinking it was probably a waste. Both children Loved It.
They spent hours colouring and we, sat back, read a book & felt like great parents as our children were being entertained “the old school” way.
An edible meal combined with being thoroughly amused watching Miss 3 drink wine out of the bottle
(ok, so actually this was Mr Ks plan & as it turns out a washed out small wine bottle makes for a significantly safer option for juice when experiencing turbulence –
though the stewardess did look at us twice more than once) and lovely hosts made the journey, quick, effortless & enjoyable.

The Arrival.

Immigration as you would expect it – slow and rather hot, but at long as you are prepared for the 1-2hours it’s not too bad.
Oh, & you need to have $25USD per person (children as well) in order to purchase your visa.
They will accept AUD, but it was simply easier to have the exact USD in each passport ready to go –
remember by this stage the children have been waiting &/or on a plane for close to 10 hours and patience tends to run out by now.
We also took the easy option here & had previously arranged for a transfer direct to our Villa,
which took all the hassle out of looking & negotiating with 2 tired & grumpy children in tow (also it was now 10pm).

The Holiday. Idyllic. Seminyak is a perfect destination for a family friendly holiday.

Quirky shopping, no being hassled on the street, lots of food options and staying in a private Villa was perfect as we could cook for the kids if needed, send out for food if required or
simply lay by the pool in the privacy of (essentially) your own home.
The only improvement I would suggest would be to track down one of the companies in Bali who will construct pool fencing and invest in this
as it would take the concern of having Miss 4 fall into the pool significantly reduced.
But we did bring Wahu Vests with us and they worked a treat.
If you don’t use them & you’re concerned about your little ones and water these are a fantastic option.

The Highlight. Brunch at the St Regis, Nusa Dua.
I honestly believe you would be hard pressed to find a better buffet anywhere, I most certainly have never come across a buffet like this before.
From Egg Nouvelle, to River Lobster Omelette, to Spanish Avruga Pearl Bilinis, with traditional Balinese fare & a full BBQ outside on the deck and a seemingly endless dessert table.
This was 3 hours of culinary bliss! And, did I mention it included an hour of signature cocktails to start!
All this for $55AUD per person, it was heaven. But, don’t eat breakfast because you want to be hungry when you arrive!
Have I missed anything? Oh children, that’s right.
Because, unless your child is a 1 in a million like our 10 year old nephew who would actually eat this incredible food, you probably want to have them leave you alone for these 4 hours.
But don’t worry the amazing team at the St Regis have taken care of this as well.
Included is Kids Club and this is no token room with a TV. It’s a fully equipped early learning centre, complete with music room, craft centre and dining room.
Miss 4 and Master 5 had a great day and were able to spend the day with other children from all over this amazing planet of ours.
So you may have picked up on the fact that we loved this particular day!

If you wish to enjoy this, make sure you book well in advance as it books out very quickly and they will ask for copies of your passport and credit card to secure the booking. We were a little dubious about this but after attending we understand & it really is an amazing experience.

The Summation.

I wasn’t sold on Bali as a holiday destination, but have subsequently done a 180 turn around.
It was gentle, clean, welcoming, safe & only a 5 hour direct flight.
Anyone looking for a brilliant family holiday, I would recommend Seminyak, Bali – in fact we are already planning our next trip…

Bed Wetting & Night Time Toileting

Nocturnal enuresis, night-time accidents, wet sheets – bed-wetting… It’s something we as parents experience with our children at some stage or another.
And whilst some children seem to simply “get it” others take a little longer. To make night-times easier & drier we have our top tips to dry nights.

1) Mattress protectors

2) Brolly Sheets

3) Always toilet before bed

4) Books and stories on “Potty Time”

Firstly I would like to say, we are not doctors, nurses nor trained specialists in this field but saying this, listening and talking to a wide variety of parents and trained specialists over the past 5 years –
combined with being a parent to both a 6 & 3 year old has given us some insight into tips that hopefully will help with those little accidents.

Mattress protectors are an absolute must. Modern day waterproof mattresses are guaranteed waterproof whilst also being both breathable, soft & “crinkle-free”.
When purchasing any mattress, a good quality mattress protector is a good investment, it will help with all accidents and will help keep the room clean and fresh.
We recommend Bambi cotton/bamboo products as not only is the company owned and operated by a lovely Australian family their products are also machine wash & tumble dry –
essential in my books as a busy mum!

Layering the bed is a concept which works really well.

Step 1) mattress protector

Step 2) sheet

Step 3) repeat step 1 & 2 if your child has multiple accidents in an evening

Step 4) Brolly Sheet!

Brolly Sheet is a fantastic product. It is a thicker version of a mattress protector which simply sits over all the sheeting & the tabs tuck into the side of the bed
BUT the best thing about this product is it actually absorbs up to 2 litres of liquid. When its wet simply pull off the bed & you still have perfectly dry sheets
(& back up mattress protector) underneath – with Little Miss Three this has been my favourite item this year!
Oh and this item works really well for Great-Grandparents as well…

Obvious steps such as sitting on the toilet every night before bed and books and stories about bed wetting & accidents all help in letting our little ones know it is
perfectly normal to have an accident – I Want My Potty was a household favourite.

Remember most children will learn to be dry in good time but using these simple tips will help make the process a lot less Wet! Good luck!

Is Screen Time An Issue In Your Household?

Soooo…. I always planned to be one of those parents who baked cookies, played dress-ups, cooked home-made playdough whilst creating Princess Castles out of empty toilet rolls.

But, Master 6 had different ideas.

He discovered Television & Computer Games!

From the age of probably 2, our gorgeous Master 6 would love nothing more than playing with the iPhone, iPad, Laptop,
watching movies and most of all playing “real” computer games on Daddy’s computer.

At 3, we thought it was cute, clever & oh so modern but now at 6, he is, dare I say obsessed?

So I thought I’d share a couple of options we’ve tried & finally we think we’ve hit the nail on the head for our little “gamer”.

1) The Reward Chart

Setting up a reward chart with time slots allocated, meant that every time he did a chore or good deed he earned a time slot.
This, whilst good in theory did not work as

a) he was only 3

b) we found lots of additional stickers on the chart

c) timeslots of 15 minutes are rendered useless when an episode can be anywhere from 5 to 25 minutes long, and a game even harder to monitor.

The other issue we discovered, was we monitored computer gaming but didn’t place any time restraints on phone playing or television watching.
Resulting in a continual jump from one screen to another.

2) The Weekend Only

Option number 2 for us, was banning all computer games during the week. Again we thought we were oh so clever, wrong.
Television was still be watched morning and night. Phones were being sneaked out of handbags and games were being played on them.
But worse than this, Master (then) 5 refused to play outside, have friends over or even leave the house on weekends as this was his “Game Time”.
I hate to use the words Epic Fail but this really was. but it does lead us to option 3.

3) 2 Hours Per Day of Screen Time
Yes we have loosened the reigns a little and now allow computer games during the week but before you think 2 Hours, What???
Let me break it down for you, as now that he is 6 & more capable of understanding rules we have set pretty strict guidelines with this.
Namely, that Screen Time relates to – Television shows, Movies, Smart phones, Computers, Laptop, WII, Playstation, DS – infact any & all technology which has a “screen”.

What we have found from this is that we have actually cut down his daily intake of screen time, as previously the television would be turned on during dressing time,
breakfast etc. But now he is allocating his time towards games & shows he actually wants to be involved with. Once the time is used it’s time for Reading,
Lego and Boardgames (we have recently rediscovered Mousetrap – I love this game).
Master 6s behaviour has improved as he knows exactly how much time he has & he actually enjoys being in charge of his own options.

Now I don’t for a second believe that this will be our final “perfect” solution as things constantly change but at least for now we are feeling in control,
of the endless quest for watching the Screen!

Are Your Kids Fussy Eaters Too?

So, my husband was a Chef before we opened Out of the Cot and I have always loved Food, the more interesting, the better.
We both grew up with lots of healthy different options, when it came to breakfast, lunch & dinner and yet….
We have 2 of the Fussiest Eaters I have ever met.
And the worst part, it is completely our own fault, the second worst bit is that they are fussy in exact opposite ways
so we have to make 2 meals & then struggle to get them to eat it, no matter what we put in front of them.

Master 6 “The Healthy Fussy”, Caleb is our eldest child & I blame him for us having this issue, as he is what I call Healthy Fussy.
From a very young age he loved vegetables, sushi, fruit, nuts and berries.
This was incredibly deceiving, as he always chose healthy options we didn’t vary his diet, he lived on broccoli, chicken (often in nugget form), sausages & other assorted veggies.
But by not offering lots of variety, he became unwilling to try new things & then just when we should have been encouraging new flavours, along came Miss Evie-Mae.
Dealing with the new dynamic of 2 children, (& just quietly why does no-one actually tell you just how much work an additional child is)
meant we let Caleb continue to eat what he wanted as it made our lives easier.
Introducing the “Starchy Fussy” Miss 3 is what I refer to as a carb addict! Potato, chips, crackers, toast, crumpets in-fact if its stodgy she’s bound to want it.

Now up until recently we have kind of let the unhealthy, unbalanced way the children eat, slide; but it’s reached the point where he have to do something about it.
It’s bad enough that Caleb’s diet is limited, but it’s really not good that Evie-Mae’s is high in calories and very low in nutrients.

Yes, we know what is required for a balanced diet but how do you get a 3 & 6 year old to change their eating patterns?
Well, my incredibly clever husband (yes I can give credit when credits due) came up with an idea & so far, so good.

The Basic Concept.
Both children are old enough to understand why they should be eating well, yet too old to simply eat what we offer,
Daddy thought, why not find a Kids Cookbook and let them choose meals they want to eat.
Great! Well, sort of. We looked for a couple of weeks in every book shop, newsagent and department store for a kids cookbook but no luck.
Every book we found was either cupcake & biscuit recipes, for cooking with your child, or breakfast, snack, lunch & dinner, which meant we only had a handful of actual meals for the kids to choose from.
We were almost at the point of putting together a book ourselves, when Ta-Da “The Women’s Weekly – Quick Family Meals” appeared on a shelf of a local news agency.
Now, whilst not exactly a Kids Cookbook it has over 100 simple, tasty & quick recipes which each has a lovely big colour photo – this was what we were looking for.

Our Rules.
We have kept the plan very simple. Each weekend both children get to choose 2 meals each from the book.
We mark the pages & then cook the meals over the next 7 days.
Both children have to eat what the other child has chosen & it’s fine if they don’t like it but they have to eat it this time & then we won’t cook that one again for at least 6 months.

The Results.
Well, I’d be lying if I said we haven’t had tears & tantrums but 6 weeks in,
we have children who have eaten Grilled Asian Vegies (a big hit) Chorizo Stew (not such a hit) & Chicken, Almond & Veg Stirfry (a new family fav).
But the biggest turnaround?
We now have children who greedily devour the kid staples, sausages with veggies or chicken, fish fingers etc, instead of complaining about every single meals we put down.
Also they are both eating the same meal as us 4 nights a week…
And whilst they are not yet ready to jump in & eat everything at least they are wholeheartedly eating some things…Things are looking up!