Review: Little Tikes Activity Garden

Review: Little Tikes Activity Garden

It sits a little uncomfortably with me how much my kiddies love this toy. I’m a lover of slow toys made with natural, sustainable materials. So far for B’s 1st birthday I’ve bought her a xylophone and Robinia blocks from the lovely Myriad Toys. They arrived yesterday and are beautiful….

…I digress. I console myself that if we must have a large plastic toy in the middle of our living room at least it’s a very much loved and played with bit of plastic. To be fair Little Tikes don’t rate too badly on the ethical front anyway. Ethical Consumer gives MGA Entertainment an Ethiscore of 14/20 which is actually really high!!! Good news for all those Baby Born’s and Baby Annabel’s out there as it’s the same company behind them. However, I admit this was an impulse buy and not a premeditated ethical purchase! Luckily this is one of very few successful impulse buys. Two years on and we’re on our second child and she loves it just as much as her big brother.PicMonkey Collage 10

We bought it when J was just starting to sit up. We propped him up inside and he spent ages playing peekaboo and passing balls through the hole in the window. Once he got on the move he loved crawling through the open “slide” end. Now he’s 2 1/2 it’s “My house” where he role plays being the postman or the Tesco delivery man! It took him a while to master the doorbell although his sister has caught on much quicker!

11 month old B loves it equally as much and has just mastered the shape sorter letter box. She’s also found it a fantastic place to practice pulling up and now cruises around in circles.

Probably most surprisingly it’s one of the few a places that both kiddies will play together…for a little while at least!

The only parts that they don’t bother with is the telescope and the electronic phone unit. To be honest I’m glad because telescope tends to block the door a little and the phone is actually quite hard to put back onto the receiver. Both of which would probably make my 2 year old’s head explode with frustration! I was trying to imagine what I would put in the phone panel as an alternative. My top three ideas were:

  1. Climbing frame/wall. They climb over it anyway so why not make it purpose built!
  2. Ball track and pounder
  3. Lots and lots of holes to feed a ball through – the hole in the window alone has given hours of fun!

Anyway, have you experienced the joy of a Little Tikes Activity Garden? One of the few plastic toys that I’d say is well worth the money.



Top Spots for NI Tots – Transport Museum

top spots

A lovely baby and/or toddler day out is the Transport Museum at Cultra, about 20 minutes out of Belfast heading towards Bangor. It’s on the same site as the Folk Park but with two slightly snotty kids in tow we opted for the indoor transport museum. It would have been much better value to visit both in one day but the Wee-est Green Folk just don’t have the stamina! We paid £9 per adult, under 4’s go free.

PicMonkey Collage 8

Plenty of parking (on a midweek, term time morning at opening time!) onsite so it’s very accessible – we didn’t encounter a step all morning! It’s also right beside Cultra station if you fancy public transport. Inside, Berkeley Bear is on hand to guide you through he exhibitions but, lets face it, if you have a toddler he will be leading the way! The vast dome shaped exhibition is every toddler’s dream and well set up to let them loose quite safely (mind the gap in a few places!) Full of giant steam trains some of which you can climb aboard and pretend to drive. The biggest steam engine built in Ireland is an impressive piece of engineering. Our toddler appreciated it’s big wheels but for him the railbus was the outright winner!

There is a cafe on this floor. It wasn’t open when we were there and to be honest Mr Picky is only currently happy with a very specific cheesy sandwich anyway. Bringing our own packed lunch is also good bribery for getting him back to the car – carrot  cheesy sandwich on a stick!! Personally, I would have loved a cup of coffee and a scone!

I’m sure the Titanic exhibition is great but I’m afraid our toddler careered through it in search of the next ramp to run down. We hurtled into the bus section. You can feel old remembering when you used to ride one of the buses only decommissioned in 1994! If, like us, you are currently in potty training mode this is a good place for a toilet stop! To fid the toilets proceed passed the horse drawn ice cream van, right beside the big yellow removal lorry. Again, you can briefly reminisce that when we were wee there were loads of red telephone boxes on the streets.

The ground floor is a collection of cars ranging from vintage to relatively modern. Of course the locally built De Lorean sits pride of place beside it’s timeline charting it’s rise to fame and fall from grace!

At this point we abandoned our trip. One sleepy baby was running out of rice cakes and a hungry toddler was getting fractious. We headed back to the car. If your children are still fully fuelled there is an aviation building on down the lane. We’ve been there before and it’s fantastic. Well worth a visit to see all the planes and sit up in a cockpit.

Safe to say we had a lovely morning. Mr Picky enjoyed his cheesy sandwich on the way home, read his take-home Berkeley Bear book and fell fast asleep shorty afterwards….perfect:-)


Sharing: An art or a science?

WP_20160224_001I have a 2.5 year old and an almost one year old. The littlest one loves her older brother but the feeling really isn’t really reciprocated! He likes her in theory but in practice it’s a very different matter. I often look on jealously at other people’s toddlers being so loving and gentle to their baby siblings. But, I console myself that I’m watching the one’s who have left the house! I hold onto the hope that there are lots of other Mummy’s stuck at home, lying across the living floor to create a Mummy wall, between a besotted crawler and a toddler yelling “IT’S MINES!!!”Please tell me it’s not just me!

First off, I have a feeling I’ll have to re-adjust my expectations. Word has it, kids don’t really understand the concept of sharing until nearer 3 – that’s just developmentally the way it is😦 Call me impatient but if you’ve found a way to speed up the process PLEASE share it with me! In the meantime here’s what the web is advising:

  1. Re-brand sharing as “Taking Turns”
  2. Try not going bonkers when your toddler yells “I don’t want to share” for the millionth time. Positive reinforcement is the way to go.WP_20151216_009(1)
  3. Don’t force them to share too much or it might teach them more about resentment than generosity.
  4. Hide away extra special toys if there’s a play date. Sharing less prized possessions is a better entry level.Set up activities which lend themselves to parallel play – blocks, sandpit etc.
  5. Distraction, distraction, distraction.
  6. Lead by example.
  7. Don’t worry….you’re 2 year old is acting like a 2 year old.

Any other Mummy walls out there? Any veteran Mummy’s with tips? Is buying two of everything the only way to cope……?


2-year-olds tell it like it is!

WP_20151216_009(1)We are always so impressed by the development of J’s speech and it’s very sweet when he uses colloquialisms he’s heard around the house. He’s a teenager in the making with yes and no already turning into “Nope” and “Yep”  – where on earth did he get that from!

Some of his other classics have been…

What are these, Mummy?

while literally swinging off both breasts in the middle of Water Babies session.

Kiss it Better, Mummy

followed a by a wide opened, food filled mouth as he tries to present the inside of his mouth to you.

And even better…

Kiss it better, Daddy

while pointing to his private region! Sometimes it’s hard work being a Daddy in a public park!

Mummy, where’s your penis…I’ll find it

even Mummy’s have to pee sometimes!

You got it wrong!

Do not makes mistakes around this child. He will NEVER EVER let you forget!

I don’t like…

fill in the blank with any word in the dictionary….most frequently….breakfast/lunch/dinner/my little sister/that/it/her/him and so it goes on!

I want a fork

Nothing wrong with that except when fork sounds like an expletive and it’s shouted repeatedly across a crowded restaurant.

Anyway, I’d love to hear what other 2 year olds are saying right now. I bet there are some classics!!!

Potty Bubble

Potty training my 2 year old continues at full pace this week and to be fair he is getting the hang of it. The aforementioned “potty box” was a semi success. He can easily pee for prizes! But an even bigger hit is “Pee for TV” especially if it’s our family favourites, Bing or the Twirlywoos:-)

As the potty training experience encompasses our lives we do feel quite the experts in some areas. I thoroughly recommend the Pourty toilet seat and Becopotty.

I chose the Becopotty for it’s green credentials as an alternative to another bit of plastic “tat” to clutter up our house (and the world). We’re very excited about burying it in the garden when our potty training days are over. Be warned though, it doesWP_20160123_002 seem best used backwards for boys or you’ll soon hear a shout from the dining room that “pee pee’s on the floor Mummy!”

The Pourty has no green credentials (as far as I know) but it does work well and adjusts to any toilet seat. If I’m going to buy plastic I at least want a good quality that does the job!

Apart from some pee projectile issues the whole procedure is becoming much less messy and the dog hasn’t even eaten the poo from the potty for a least a week now…go us!

We’ve had a few car trips this week nappy free and so far the car seat has survived! The high-chair is another story altogether!

Despite this weeks successes there are some questions which still allude answers…

Where on earth do you put the crawling baby sister when using public toilets?! Dear only knows how parents of twins manage (maybe they can synchronise their pee stops!)

How many times should you clean a toddler’s hands for them to turnaround and grab on to the toilet seat/re-flush/stick their head in the toilet bowl….?

Is it really only us who thought we should demonstrate what a potty is for?

Outside of the potty training bubble we’ve also enjoyed mouth ulcers and teething – in separate sprogs!

At least the evenings are getting lighter so there’s time for a walk and breath of fresh air after nap times! With one in a buggy and the other on foot the kids are suitably separated for harmony to be enjoyed at least until we return home!