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The Arts Club – Picassos in the Park

Calling all child creatives there is a new class in town! If your Little One is between the age of 5-10 and is looking to demonstrate their artistic capabilities then I have just the right after-school club for you.

Picassos in the Park, created and run by two London mums, introduces a new artist from the spectrum of Art History every week and after examining what inspired the artist, the children are then let loose to create their own interpretation.  Using a variety of mediums they get to explore the works of iconic artists be it Picasso, Monet and Matisse and what’s more you get to keep your children’s masterpieces afterwards.

I love the concept of having a theme to each week and really talking through different artists’ styles and mediums and then seeing your Little One interpret them in their own style.
The new class is being held at the Skylark Cafe in Wandsworth on Thursdays 3.45 – 5pm but Picassos in the Park can also be found in Kennington on Saturday mornings and Barnes on Wednesday afternoons.
All in the detail:
Picassos in the Park, click here to view
You can take your child for a taster session for only £10 
Sibling discount of 10% for the second child
Classes are term-time
£180 for 12 week summer term at the Skylark
To book email picassosinthepark@gmail.com or call 07968 701223
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Through the Keyhole – The Magic Garden, Hampton Court

MGSometimes it so easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day of normal life and forget what veritable treats are right on your doorstep.  Raising children in London isn’t without its stresses but we are also so lucky to have some amazing adventures just a short hop away.

Last weekend the Mr N and I decided to embrace this and we loaded up the troops and headed off to Hampton Court to see their new Magic Garden.  What a treat it was.  Set just past the most amazing Veggie Patch (Mr McGregor eat your heart out) lies a wonderful garden designed solely to please the hearts of children.  Inspired by the history and stories of Hampton Court, you will find Tiltyard Towers, aerial walkways, slides, magical beast’s lairs, sand and water play, a huge bejewelled crown and did I mention the dragon?  Basically there is loads going on and as with any new attraction it did get pretty busy.  We arrived bang on 10 o clock and had a blissful forty minutes or so before it started to fill up.

Little A exploring

Top tip: you can buy tickets at the Magic Garden so don’t feel you need to queue up at the main ticket hall if you don’t want to go into the Palace itself

We bought tickets that covered The Magic Garden and the Maze and that easily kept us entertained for 2.5 hours.  There is a coffee shop for your caffeine fix at the Magic Garden and when it gets too busy head over to The Maze for some old-school fun rambling around it.  Little A took great pleasure navigating our way to the centre albeit after a few false starts.

All in all a great addition to the London Kids Scene and perfect for anyone 2-13 yrs old.

All in the detail:

The Magic Garden is at Hampton Court Palace
Open 7 days a week, 10am-6pm
There is good car parking on site but we went early to avoid the crowds
You can buy tickets at the Magic Garden so don’t bother queuing up in the central ticket hall in the palace
Coffee Shop and facilities within the Garden
We bought tickets that included the Magic Garden & the Maze
Adults: £7.70 and children £5.50 each
Kids under 5 are free
Click here for more info and to buy tickets

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I Spy… an iPad – Universal Tablet Mount holder

ipad mountSummer is round the corner and that for us means a few long, hot car journeys with two Little Ones.  Aside from good old ‘I Spy’ and ‘who can be the first to see a Red Lorry’, thankfully our generation’s kids can enjoy a cinema experience in the back of the car with a little help from the iPad.  Yes, shamelessly we often load up the iPad with the latest Disney/Pixar fare and plug in these headphones and voila peace for an hour.

I have previously recommended an iPad mount that fits directly behind your headrest and this had worked perfectly well until Little B arrived on the scene.  Now she is old enough to enjoy the wonders of Peppa Pig and co. I realised she was also at risk of developing a severe case of ‘iPad Neck’ as she had to crane over to see whatever Little A was watching on the other side of the car.  So with this in mind and to keep World Peace we have upgraded to this great bit of kit which restores harmony to the back seat and makes sure everyone has a good view. Easy to install and compatible with any 7-11″ tablet (with or without its case) it is sure to earn its keep this summer.

All in the detail:
Universal Tablet Mount, £19.99 by Qwerkity
Super quick to install you can pop it in when you need it for those long journeys.  I always remove mine when back home for fear of square eyed children!
Allows for portrait or landscape viewing.
If you haven’t heard of Qwerkity before it is well worth getting their Gift Guide.
Great for the woman/man who has everything and a fab section for kids too.

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Wheely good fun – bikes for toddlers

bike

Christmas is coming early in our house and my present is arriving next weekend and her name is Vita.  Her coat may be glossy and her saddle comfy, but sadly due to the confines of our London garden we will be stabling a shiny new bike rather than steed. Yes we are about to become the ‘family that bike’.  Mr N’s new wheels were picked up yesterday and Little B’s Hamax seat has been installed and so we will soon be ready to explore the city’s cycle paths with hopefully a few stops for Hot Chocolate along the way. This new found love of getting out and about is all down to Little A passing one of life’s milestones – being able to ride a bike all on his own. Whilst I would like to credit this feat with my amazing parenting skills it is in fact all down to his balance bike.

Father Christmas delivered one last year and 11 months later he has transitioned onto his first proper ‘big boy’ bike (courtesy of a cousin hand-me-down). With not a stabilizer in sight, he is now doing laps of the local park whilst giving me numerous heart attacks on the journey there as he bounces from one lamppost to the next. Forget scooting, walking behind your nearly 4 yr old cycling unaided is another terrifying part of parenthood. Only now though can I really appreciate quite how fabulous a balance bike is and if you are contemplating stabilizers vs. a balance bike then I would definitely opt for the latter. A year spent balancing his way to nursery on his, has meant the transition to learning how to peddle a real bike a simple and intuitive one. Now I just have to dust off my cycling skills in time for Vita to arrive.

All in the detail:

Our balance bike was a red Strider Balance bike
£85 from GLTC, click here to view
Little A is now riding around on a blue Ridgeback bike inherited from his
lovely cousins

It is obviously cheaper to attach stabilisers to a bike but definitely worth looking in charity shops or asking to borrow a balance bike as you only use them for about 18 months but it really does make the transition so much easier.
Don’t forget the helmet – Little A wears a punchy Union Jack one from Kiddimoto
Father C is kindly delivering me a Specialized Vita step-through bike

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Baby, it’s cold outside – children’s scooter mitts

scooter mitBrrrrr there is a chill in the air and all the weather forecasters are talking the big freeze. If your choice of transport for the nursery or school run is the trusty scooter then you might want to consider kitting it out with some mittens.  Perfect if your little one refuses to wear gloves and no chance of them going amiss/lost/tucked behind the sofa etc.  A great accessory which also might just set your Micro scooter apart from the hoards of others.

All in the detail:

Mitts by Scooterearz, £12.99
Available in classic black, car, Union Jack and Flower designs.
Click here to view

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Ladies who lunch – entertaining toddlers out and about

vinbagI am currently experiencing a rather nice window in the toddler years when I can actually go out for lunch with Little A and Little B.  Little B is still small enough to sleep in a pram and Little A, who is nearing three, is slowly mastering being able to sit still for about an hour over lunch.  Now I totally admit I am as guilty as the next mummy when it comes to whipping out the wondrous iPad if Little A is getting a tad rowdy but it also slightly fills me with horror.  On a half-term adventure to a country pub, my clever friend had come better equipped.  Once the fidgeting had begun out whipped the ‘Village in a Bag’.  Far more quaint than the glare of an iPad screen, a village in a bag is exactly what it sounds like.  Over 50 wooden pieces in a little drawstring bag perfect to spill out over a table and keep the toddlers entertained.  At only a fiver it makes for quite a good stocking filler too.  I am going to keep mine only for ‘lunches out’ so it still retains some sense of novelty rather than getting absorbed into our hundreds of toys.  If tiny wooden pieces everywhere is not your idea of fun then check out the Usbourne Little Girls’ and Little Boys’ Activity Books.  With bits to colour in, places for stickers and things to find they are perfect for quiet table-time fun.
books

All in the detail:

Village in a Bag, at John Lewis (don’t forget you can click and collect to Waitrose for free)
£5, click here to view
The Usbourne Little Girls’ Activity Book, £6.99
click here to view
The Usbourne Little Boys’ Activity Book, £6.99
click here to view

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Culture Club – toddler friendly theatre

THEATRELess than three months until Christmas and I have already gone festive-tastic by booking Little A and I into some kiddie friendly theatre productions.  Three different productions to take note of this Christmas are: The Gruffalo Live, Peppa Pig’s Big Splash and Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas.

All in the detail:

For tickets and more info click on the following links:

The Gruffalo Live – click here
On nationwide tour from 20th November, age 3+
Peppa Pig’s Big Splash – click here
On tour across the UK from October 2013
Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas – click here
At the Lyric Theatre, London from 22 November

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Going Potty – potty training begins

potty

As I type this I keep glancing tentatively to my right.  Little A is currently perched on his new potty for Day 1 of the dreaded Potty Training.  With babe no.2 on the way, now is the time to embrace the big boy pants and at 2yrs 5mths I feel he is ready for the challenge.  At his 2yr health check, the nurse said not to rush it and that girls were generally ready to train and quicker to learn than the boys.  Now Little A is talking lots and and I feel he has grasped the concept of “bye bye” to the nappies it was off to Waitrose to pick up our John Lewis click and collect oh-so-special Dinosaur Big Boy Pants.  I think the key is to buy lots and I have heard that Primark also do some good bulk packs.  We chose three packs of 5 mixed Dino ones for variety and the brain washing started a week ago with the arrival of our very smart Baby Bjorn party – we got the grey.  It definitely has a wider seat than most and it is really comfy for Little A and so far he has enjoyed sitting on it for relatively long periods.  The bear on the front is a help and I love the fact you simply pop out the inner potty to empty and clean it.

tools

Potty training in One Week by Gina Ford, £6.99 at Amazon
Ok so it might have an ambitious title but that’s fine by me.  Keeping Little A in the house for 3 days straight is like keeping a tiger cub in a hamster cage.  You may or may not be fans of the Gina way but this book contains lots of great case studies of what to do when things don’t go to plan alongside Gina’s straightforward approach.
Aquaint 100% Natural Steriliser Spray, £3.00 at JoJo Maman Bebe
Obviously germs are playing a big part in the potty training week and cleanliness is the top priority. Loving the discovery of this Aquaint spray in this handy travel version. Perfect to pop in the nappy bag (might have to rename that now!) and as it is 100% natural it is completely safe to use around babies and children and harmless should it be ingested.  You can use it on your little one’s hands, highchair trays, table tops, dropped dummies and teething rings, any grotty surfaces and it kills 99.9% bacteria in seconds.  Great to give Little A’s hands a quick spray if we can’t wash our hands when out and about.
BabyBjorn Toilet Trainer, £28.95 at John Lewis
Towards the middle of next week I am hoping that as well as mastering the potty Little A will have learnt how to go on the ‘big boy’ loo.  So he doesn’t disappear down there, I have bought a trainer seat which slots straight onto our loo seat.  Ours is this ‘toilet trainer’ (above) from BabyBjorn and as well as being the most aesthetically pleasing it adjusts to different sized loo seats and I think worth the money.
out and about
Onto the next genius invention to grace our home for this crucial period.  My Carry Potty is the brainchild of a mother of 3 and is perfect to take with you out and about. Sadly with no lawn to speak of in London Town we will be heading to our usual circuit of parks and playgrounds and this certainly fixes the quandry of what happens when Little A will need to ‘go’.  I am sure my mother would have just turfed me outside but alas urban living and revolting public loos mean I am very pleased that Little A will have his own travel potty.  Its bag free design means it is faff free and you simply empty it when you reach home.  100% leak and odour proof and with a cute handle which Little A has been constantly road testing, I think this will be invaluable once he is potty trained enough to leave the confines of our house.  It is also working a treat as our ‘upstairs’ potty so you don’t have to go to town buying lots of different ones. Perhaps one of the most clever aspects of the My Carry Potty is the fantastic book and sticker chart that comes with it.  Little A really responds to learning from characters in books and seeing George and Hollie’s adventures with their Carry Potty has definitely smoothed the whole process.  So far we have had 2 misses but more promisingly there are 3 stickers on the chart so things are looking up!

My Carry Potty with free Potty Training Storybook is £24.99 and available from Cheeky Rascals.  We got the blue.

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The Little Foxes Club – Football for toddlers

boots

With Becks now back in town he had better be aware there is a new breed of footballer hotly snapping at his heels – the toddballer.  That’s right toddlers who play football. Well if I am being honest it is more or less and hour of P.E but Little A is enjoying his term at Little Foxes.  The coaches have incredible levels of patience and control whilst dealing with groups of wiley toddlers but best of all it gets them out and about for an hour once a week having fun. With classes throughout West and South London take a look and get signing up for the summer term.

foxes

All in the detail:

For venues see listing above
Our summer term in Fulham is £110 for a course of 1 hr sessions from 25th April to 11th July
The club also caters for rugby and tennis classes too
Coaches are also available for birthday parties
More info click here to view website

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We’re going on a bear hunt…live


After the success of Little A’s first outing to the theatre yesterday for Peppa Pig’s Christmas show (amazing!) I am already looking to the new year for his next cultural outing.  You can book now to see the stage adaptation of Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury’s prize winning children’s book ‘We’re Going On a Bear Hunt’ which promises gigantic swishy swashy grass, the splishy splashy river and the thick oozy, squelchy mud-fight.

Click here for tickets
On stage at the Lyric Theatre, London in July and August 2013
Ticket prices vary
For children aged three and above.
Running time: approximately 55 minutes 
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