A Soapy Issue…

I’m not talking about personal hygiene here, although if you follow me on Twitter you may be aware that this wouldn’t be entirely inappropriate after I got projectile vomited on yesterday during a lesson (the fact that Ofsted were in school was a minor additional detail)!

My children are growing up so fast and our days of Doc McStuffins and Dora the Explorer are long gone. Nowadays, whenever I switch the TV on, it seems to have been paused on some Disney Channel programme or other – Bunk’d, Austin & Ally, Girl Meets World, Liv and Maddie, you name it, my children love it.

The other day, my daughter asked when she would be ‘allowed’ to watch ‘more grown up’ programmes, such as Eastenders and Call the Midwife as all her friends watch them. Obviously I take this with a pinch of salt, but the fact is some of her peers are watching these programmes, just like some of her peers are allowed to play computer games recommended for over 18s. It has however got me thinking about what is suitable and what isn’t.

We all went to see Star Wars together at Christmas – a 12A, all was good, the same with Pitch Perfect. I remember a few years back all sitting down to watch Grease because hubby and I had both forgotten about ‘that’ scene in the car! Ultimately, it comes down to our own individual judgments I guess, but I’m really not sure with this one. It’s not like the children aren’t allowed to watch soaps and other ‘pre watershed’ programmes, it’s just because they are generally broadcast after they go to bed I haven’t really considered it, but then the children point out that we record other programmes like Strictly and Bake Off and watch them together later. It’s not like there is bad language in these programmes, and I think a lot of the storylines would go over their heads. Yes, they may ask questions, but I’m ok with questions. When I was my daughter’s age, maybe not my son’s, I definitely watched Corrie!

So, what do you let your children watch and when is the right age to move on from the Disney Channel?! That said, I do have a soft spot for Girl Meets World even if it does make me feel ancient given that I grew up with Boy Meets World and he is now the Daddy!

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Review: Nick Jr. Easter Treats…

With a daughter who sings ‘We Did It!’ after the successful completion of every mission, and a son who actually believes he is Umifriend, I’m not sure I could think of a more welcome parcel to arrive in the post than a DVD of the Easter specials of both of these programmes (especially when it also contains a wonderful Green & Black’s Easter Egg for me)! We really are on Cloud 9!

That’s exactly what happened on Wednesday, and we were so excited to get to have a sneaky peak at some of the Easter fun that Nick Jr. (Sky 615, Virgin 715, Talk Talk 318) has in store for us over the holidays.

The fun starts today at 4:30pm when you can see Dora’s Easter Adventure. Tune in to watch Dora and Boots as they attempt to retrieve the Hip-Hop-Bunny’s basket filled with eggs and treats for their big Egg Hunt, after naughty Swiper swipes it and throws it far, far away into the Rainbow Garden and towards a waterfall. With catchy songs, itchy-scratchy flowers, a Petting Zoo and a giant rubber ducky, you’re certain to enjoy it as much as my little darlings did!

You can also catch The Umi City Egg Hunt in April. I know my children aren’t the only ones who stumbled across, then became huge fans of Team Umizoomi when it started last year. This Easter special sees sibling superheroes Milli and Geo, along with their robot best friend, Bot, helping their pal April find the most special egg of all – The Rainbow Egg. When the egg falls down a rabbit hole, the tiny Team discover the amazing world of rabbits which lies just below the ground. Will they get across Rabbit Town to the egg factory before the rainbow egg is scrambled?!

As if that wasn’t enough excitement, Nick Jr. are also introducing a brand new weekday morning show next month, launching on Monday 23rd April at 8:15am. Tickety Toc lets us into the secrets of what happens inside the Tickety Toc clock, which hangs on the wall of an old clock shop. Every hour, on the hour the clock chimes, and out pop the little heroes Tommy and Tallulah, but what happens when they go back inside? Each episode takes them on an action packed adventure, which challenges them to save the day, return life to normal and keep the clock ticking. Teamwork, compromise, problem-solving and interactivity help them through their action packed adventures!

While I’m incredibly excited about all this lovely weather and spending lots of family time outside, we’re also very much looking forward to following some of our favourite characters on their new adventures in some of those rare moments when the children actually give in and accept they need a little sit down!

For more information and fun activities based around these and other Nick Jr. programmes, head on over to their website www.nickjr.co.uk

For the purpose of this post, I was very kindly sent a DVD of the programmes mentioned.

Review: Dora’s Enchanted Forest Adventures.

My four year old daughter is a hardcore Dora the Explorer fan, so when I was lucky enough to be able to be offered the chance to review the new DVD, Dora’s Enchanted Forest Adventures, I would have been a very bad Mummy to say no. It was like being asked if I’d like to eat some calorie free chocolate!

The postman arrived very late, so my daughter was already home from school. I suggested this would be an excellent DVD to sit down and watch at the weekend. This was not a good suggestion, and before I’d had a chance to argue my case, the DVD was already in the player, with my daughter negotiating the menu (how can they be so good with technology so young, even my 2 year old can pause and rewind Sky +?)!

Five minutes later, the curtains were drawn to create cinematic surroundings, and Evie and Dancing Dora had taken their places, ready to begin!

Dora’s Enchanted Forest Adventures is a three part special, where Dora travels to a magical world ruled by a Unicorn King. WIth episodes featuring Elves, Fairies and Unicorns, my four year old was never going to be disappointed! In typical Dora style however, things are never straightforward, so it’s up to Dora and her friends to be brave, kind, smart strong, and of course, in fine voice for all those songs to help bring peace back to the kingdom.

All three episodes are being shown on Nick Jr. (Sky 615, Virgin 715 and Talk Talk 318) this week. See more here.

Part 1 – The Tale of the Unicorn King was first shown on Tuesday 8th November, and showed Dora and her friends taking Unicornio on a journey to help him realise he was worthy to be King.

Part 2 – The Secret of Atlantis, is aired on Wednesday 9th November showing Dora, Boots, Unicornio and Diego trying to raise the lost continet of Atlantis.

Part 3 – Dora Saves King Unicornio is being shown for the first time today at 4:30pm and is repeated at 6:30pm and sees Dora and her friends restoring the Enchanted Forest to being a place where anyone is welcome, with Unicornio as it’s King.

If you’ve missed these episodes, you can catch the trilogy back to back over the next three weekends in two hour specials. This weekend it’s on on Friday at 4:30, Saturday at 11am and 4pm, or Sunday at 12pm and 3pm.

When my daughter first got into Dora the Explorer, I have to confess I wasn’t too sure about it, but she absolutely adores it, and the stories are told in such a way that she really understands them and can access the learning aspects too. She has a real interest in languages, which I am convinced came from the Spanish elements in the programme, and there are strong messages of right and wrong portrayed through the stories too which she is always very passionate about. I was told at a recent parent’s evening that my daughter was a ‘typical teacher’s daughter’ in that if there is a message that children are expected to learn, she will absorb it, and ensure that every child that comes into her presence absorbs it too!

And for anyone who’s thinking that Dora the Explorer is for girls, my son can’t get enough of it either! “We Did It!” is our successful potty training anthem, which you can read about here, he couldn’t resist watching it (see below) and this is how he insisted on going to bed the other night!

As for what the chief reviewer thought? In the words of my four year old daughter, Dora’s Enchanted Forest Adventures is “excellent!” This is praise indeed, because my cooking is only “okay!”

(Dora’s Enchanted Forest Adventures is available to buy on DVD from 14th November, but I was very kindly sent a copy for this review.)

“I Need a Wee!”

I love my new house, especially the beautiful cream carpets throughout. They’re just perfect for… a completely potty trained child!

Yes that’s right, it’s Round 2 of potty training in our house. That time when you realise why the age 2-3 rail of pants in 7 packs is always empty, it’s merely a day’s supply! That time when your toddler is starting to resent his daytime nap, and suddenly discovers that if he removes his ‘bed pants’ (aka the humble pull up) then wees on the bed, he has nowhere to sleep (and sometimes I question his intelligence)! And the time when a huge Number 2 becomes an essential centrepiece of any playroom floor! I walked in on this last occasion, to see my son, along with his big sister and her friend all gazing at this creation with wonderment and awe, as if they were face to face with the real Father Christmas!

That said, my approach to potty training this time has been completely different. I don’t feel a pressure for my child to be potty trained, and bizarrely, other people haven’t felt a pressure for my son to be potty trained either. Maybe when it’s first time round, people are trying to be helpful telling you at what ridiculously young age their own children were dry. I was apparently only 16 months clever me! My son is just over 2 1/2 but it was the right time. If he wasn’t ready, I wouldn’t be trying to get him to be, whereas I think if my daughter had reached this age, I’d have been cold sweating and feeling so much pressure!

Also, despite the fact I have cream carpets throughout my new house, the thought of the inevitable accidents doesn’t scare me in the slightest like it did first time round when I had wooden floors. I think it’s partly to my discovery of this:

and the fact that I’ve also discovered that anti bacterial spray doesn’t ruin my carpets like it says on the label that it will!

So I really have been quite chilled out about it this time. We put him in his big boy pants on day one. We stayed in the house for 3 days, and sat him on the toilet every half hour at first. When he did his first wee he was so proud of himself, and the song ‘We Did It’ from Dora the Explorer has become our anthem and celebratory dance!

We’re nearly into week 3, and he’s fully able to tell me when he needs to go, and we haven’t had an accident for 3 days now (tempting fate saying that I know!) so clearly things are going in the right direction. And talking of right direction, my top 2 tips for potty training boys, which was something I’d overlooked having potty trained a girl first time round:

  1. Make sure ‘it’ is pointing down! I have been ‘got!’
  2. Chocolate buttons!
I can however already see issues with tip number 2. Whilst it’s working great for my 2 year old, my 4 year old also now seems to think she deserves them for correctly working her bladder, and they’re diminishing in quantity so rapidly that I believe my husband may be feeling a bit left out in the ‘using the toilet correctly’ reward stakes too!

‘Tis The Season to fill the Trolley?

I have lots of memories of Christmas as a child. I distinctly remember one year when I was about 7 or 8. I was desperate for a pool table. Not the girliest gift in the world I know, but I had a very rich friend who actually had a snooker room in her mansion house and we loved it in there. We’d play pool all day, but she’d always win! I really wanted to improve my skills and I begged for a pool table. My mum told me that I wasn’t going to get a pool table for Christmas, but I was okay as I put it as the only  request on my letter to Santa, so everything would work out wouldn’t it?!

When Christmas Day arrived, but my much longed for pool table didn’t, I was devastated. As well as feeling sad though, I also felt guilty as I knew my parents had tried to buy me things they thought I’d like, and were doing everything they could to make Christmas a special time, but I’d been so looking forward to having a pool table, I couldn’t hide my disappointment.

Fast forward about 18 years, and I’m seeing a 7 year old child opening their presents, which include a TV and DVD player for their bedroom, an ipod nano, a Nintendo DS, a PS3 and a huge trampoline. These gifts honestly were the tip of the iceberg, and at this point in my life I was married, but didn’t have any children. I remember thinking that this amount of generosity was ridiculous, particularly as the giver of these gifts was not employed or financially secure. I have also been talking to a number of students about Christmas, and items on their Christmas lists include a whole range of ridiculously expensive things. iPhone 4s (in many cases to replace iPhone 3s, not older bricks like mine!), high priced designer clothing, games consoles, musical instruments, and so the list goes on. But they aren’t expecting to get one of these, no they form the list, and they fully expect to receive each and every item, not because they’re being greedy, just because this is how things are.

Is it just me or are things going crazy? I’m finding myself in a real dilemma about the whole Christmas present thing now. I used to think that parents must be totally stupid to get themselves into thousands of pounds worth of debt just to satisfy their children’s letters to Santa, but seeing the glee filled expressions on my own children’s faces when they open the presents makes me a lot more able to understand why they do do it.

My 19 month old son and 3 year old daughter totally ‘get’ Christmas now. Harry loves presents and parties and Evie has written her first proper letter to Santa this year. We went to Toys R Us a few weeks back with the children to get a picture of things they would really like. The £250 Ferrari play car didn’t make the final cut, but a large number of other things did. The trouble was, I’ve been finding as a parent you do need to exert some self discipline. Every time I saw one of them playing with something, my heart just wanted to buy it and my head had to step in and resist!

Where do you draw the line? We’ve done our Christmas shopping for the children now, and have already done ‘just one more ‘little’ thing’ a couple of times, however, now my daughter has decided that the thing she wants, more than anything else is ‘Dancing Dora.’ To me, I think it’ll just be a little novelty, even though it’s the best part of £40, and my head tells me not to cave in, but my heart tells me that this could be my daughter’s equivalent of ‘pooltablegate’ from my own childhood, and therefore I should get it so she doesn’t think of this Christmas as ‘the year she didn’t get Dancing Dora!’

We’re probably going to buy it and ask someone in our family to give it to her, who haven’t bought anything yet, but what happens when the next thing she ‘really really wants more than anything in the world’ comes along? I’m going to have to be the evil mummy unless I want to be in debt for the next goodness knows how long! There must be a point when enough is enough, but when is that point? I guess the days when you got one main present, supplemented with a tube of Smarties and a satsuma are long gone!

And in case you were wondering, I never did get a pool table as a present, and still to this day I have never won a game!