3 December 2016

12 great Christmas gift ideas for young kids and preschoolers

Do you need some ideas for Christmas gifts for kids? Here are a few Christmas gift ideas from me - these are especially great for preschoolers e.g. three, four and five year old kids. I've selected some toys (both role playing and normal toys), educational toys, books, and practical items for you to choose from. Please note, this post contains press samples.

Toys

Now what would Christmas be without some new toys? Well, it would probably still be magical and fun, but toys are still pretty exciting. Here are some toys we have tested and would be happy to recommend to you as well.



Hape Dumper Truck is such a classic toy most kids would love. It is sturdy, made from wood and easy to "drive" and "unload". My daughter loves putting toys inside the truck cabin to be her "drivers" and cramming all her wooden blocks on the dumper. She said to me "I love my truck" - words of approval from a three year old right there! I would recommend this toy to any child that loves cars and construction!   

Hape Shopping Cart - From a paren't perspective I love toys that help kids to role play. We have plenty of different role playing toys, from tea sets to shop fronts. This shopping cart is really cute idea for shopping games - I find shopping games help with vocabulary as you point at different items, and giving and taking as you pretend to purchase and pay, and with counting as you ask for different amounts of items. This is such a lovely sturdy item, wooden frame with a fabric basket, and feels like it will last a lifetime. It hasn't provided entertainment for just shopping games, but also doubles up as a trolley for dollies and transport for other toys on their adventures. The shopping cart does take a while to assemble, so I would recommend assembling this prior to placing it underneath the tree, as if your kids is anything like mine, they will want to play with it right there and then. 

Num Noms Series 2 Deluxe Pack - Diner Jumbo Combo - Num Noms are a bit of a weird one. There are squishy little figurines of different food items, which smell like that food. Then there are little motorised figurines too. That's Nums and Noms. For an adult they are a bit bizarre but I hear kids are going mad for these and I guess that's the point. My daughter really enjoyed playing with them, pretending to cook and serving us burgers and chips from her Diner Jumbo Combo pack. Her Nums and Noms have had wild and varied adventures so far... They are highly collectable, so you can get all kinds of packs. They smell nice, although the savoury smells don't last very long. 

Baby Annabell Doll - I've written a lengthier review of the Baby Annabell doll, but in short, this doll cries (real tears), babbles, drinks water, pees, goes to sleep and sucks a dummy and has really cute facial movements. It is perfect for role-playing and for kids to learn about their tender and caring side. My daughter loved cuddling it and the doll now sleeps on a makeshift bed next to her cotbed. We tuck her baby in every night. Do check my giveaway for Baby Annabell - you could win the same doll for Christmas! 

Clangers Lullaby Starlight Tiny Soft Toy - Lovely cuddly toy to take to bed. I wasn't sure if my daughter would like it as it seemed a bit baby for her, but she insisted on sleeping with it straight away and loves cuddling it at night. It is soft and cuddly, and you can use it as a night light. By pressing its tummy once you get a gentle changing light, twice you get music (Clangers lullaby), and third time it turns itself off. Just remember to switch the toy from the try me function to normal to enable this. You can also switch it off. I have a giveaway running on my Facebook page soon, where you can win a one. 

Educational toys

You can have fun but also learn at the same time with some toys - we find this very important and might try and increase quantity of these kinds of toys in our household. Here are a few examples of different educational toys that are particularly suitable for kids aged three to five.



Leapfrog LeapReader is a sort of pen that enables you to read Leapfrog books, listen to audiobooks and educational trivia, and write. It is not really a toy as such, but much more an educational tool to help kids learn to read and use books. By touching the words on the Leapfrog books with the pen you hear the words spoken. You can also touch the pictures to hear sounds and stories. I loved that there are audiobooks and trivia included, and think this would be a perfect accompaniment on long car journeys. I think this is great for kids just starting to learn to read, and will be helpful to my daughter when she goes to school. The guide age is 4+ and younger kids might find it a bit tricky to use unaided.

The pack comes with a sampler book. I would say do get a couple of additional books to provide variety, and before gifting this do take it out, charge it, register it online (you need to plug it in your computer) and download the audiobooks. Otherwise you might have annoyed kids waiting to play with their new toy as it won't work straight out of the box.


Hape Bead Do Game is such a brilliant game and improves finger dexterity, concentration and creativity. The guide age is 4+ but I found my three year old was happily playing with this. This is a classic toy and I remember having a similar one as a child - you have beads, which you use to form pictures with on a bead board. There are guide pictures included or you can free style. My daughter has loved this and spent ages just sitting quietly, beading away. She plays with it regularly, nearly every day, and it just keeps on giving. From a parent's perspective, a little piece and quiet this offers has been very welcomed! I would recommend this to any child, especially those that love crafting activities. 


Books

We are a big book loving family, with over 100 books in our kids library... So any hard packages are always welcomed in ours. I find books just keep on giving, and they can be enjoyed again and again and again. As a parent, it is nice to have variety too. Here are a few ideas for book-related gifts for pre-school children.



Jungle Jam - This book is about a monkey off to find fame. He meets a variety of music-loving animals and ends up forming a band with them. It was a fun read, with rhyming lyrics, and my daughter especially enjoyed pretending to be one of the animals and coming up with the tones and instrument noises.

The Incredible Intergalactic Journey Home is a a personalised book from Lost My Name. However, rather than just a personalised name and character appearance, this also includes your address! The book has an aerial picture of your neighbourhood, some local land marks (ours had the Gherkin and other City buildings) and also shows a door with your door number. We found this was perfect as we want our daughter to remember her home address - we have practised it using this book and it has really helped. She really enjoyed the story, which is a fun odyssey of a child finding their way back home from space with the help of a variety of space and earth characters. The book is nice and long, so plenty of reading to do!  

Wilf Books is a monthly book delivery service, where you get to choose from monthly subscriptions to three or six month packages. I love that the package is a surprise, but you do get to personalise it by choosing your child's age, gender and some guidelines (e.g. picture books, moral books, rhyming books etc.). They are packaged beautifully, with the child's name on top. Another fun thing is that the books are second hand, but all of ours were great quality, and some actually looked brand new.

We got to test one pack and got four varied books. All of the books were perfect for a three year old and captivated my daughter straight away. We have a lot of books and already had some of the books that were sent to us, and if this happens you can send the books back and get extra the following months. I think this is a perfect service for a family starting to grow their book collection!



Practical items

I am a great believer in practical packages. From a parental perspective it is nice to have a bit of variety when your home is already filled with toys. And while kids often gravitate towards toys on Christmas day, I think they do appreciate the practical gifts a lot when all the hustle and bustle has calmed down. And what are two things any kid needs...? Sock and pyjamas!



Heat Holders socks - There are a variety of different socks from Disney and Marvel inspired to Start Wars and just plain ones. My daughter got the Frozen and the Disney Princess socks. She especially loved the Frozen socks as she is Elsa-mad and slept wearing them for much longer than I would like to publicly admit... She just would not let us wash them. They are extremely soft and comfortable, and surprisingly stretchy (I should know as I tried them on...) and they feel very warm. The only issue I had was that they bobble quite quickly.  

Pyjamas - I love pyjamas as gifts as they are so practical and always useful. We got sent a pair of Clangers pyjamas which are incredibly cute and very well made. You can buy these from different supermarkets, and I know Sainsbury's and Asda definitely do Clangers pyjamas. I loved the different designs, and my daughter got really excited when she saw what she got! These are perfect for any sleepy Clangers fan! I have a giveaway running on my Facebook page soon, where you can win a pair.



What are you planning on getting your kids for Christmas?





1 December 2016

Why you should consider switching your energy supplier and how to do it

We spend a lot of money on heating and on electricity in our family home. One of the easiest ways to save money is to check your usage, compare supplier offers and switch to a better deal. Ofgem, the government’s Office of Gas and Electricity Markets, asked us to check out the Be an Energy Shopper site that helps you understand your energy bills, and what to do if you want to find a better deal. Please note, this post is written in collaboration with Ofgem. 






Our three bedroom Victorian end of terrace takes a huge chunk out of our monthly wallets to maintain.  It is probably the old windows and the roof in need of repair that make the biggest impact on our heating bills, and the fact that there is always someone in means we use plenty of electricity too. 

However, I have always suspected we also pay too much to our supplier. Currently our projection for the next 12 months is £1399. After checking on one of the Ofgem approved comparison sites I found out we could save around £200. That would be a big bonus that we could spend on small DIY projects, or perhaps even put towards our window fund in an effort to make our house more energy-efficient. In another home, that extra cash could provide funds to heat the house more, ensuring better health and more comfortable living.  

We have never switched our supplier, other than when we moved houses and left the old supplier behind and took over the new house and its existing supplier. Actually deciding to switch suppliers has always felt like a major effort. So I figured I would have a look to see if it really is such a faff. 





After looking through the page that describes how to switch suppliers, it actually is really simple. 

All you need to do is identify a good deal (by using the comparison sites), and give them few pieces of information. You need your postcode, the name of current supplier, the name of your current energy deal and how much you spend on this (check your recent bill for this!), an up-to-date meter reading and your bank details if paying by direct debit. Direct debit is worth considering as you can often get extra good deals doing that. The price comparison website will do all the work for you and switching will take about 3 weeks.  If you want to do the switching yourself check out the Be An Energy Shopper site for advice

Your old supplier should refund you any credit you have with them, or you might have to pay them for any current debits so check ahead to avoid surprises. And before you do any of this, you might also let your current supplier know you are thinking of switching and see if they can give you an even better deal. 

So, switching suppliers looks easy and you could save money. I am definitely considering switching now! 


Have you ever switched energy suppliers? How did it go?




You might also like: Our renovation story Part 1 - our new homeOur old and new home, and Using self-storage to help house move



30 November 2016

18 best cute Christmas jumpers for kids 2016

Here are my top Christmas jumper picks for young kids for 2016. This post has become a bit of a tradition over here at Wave to Mummy blog - I am a huge fan of Christmas jumpers, especially for kids, and have trawled the interwebs shops for my favourite pieces this year, again. These are my favourite Christmas jumpers from this year and there are ideas for both boys and girls, from babies to school aged children! 











We have not yet bought a Christmas jumper, as the ones from last year might still fit fairly well. If they don't, I think I am heavily leaning towards number 12, the blue light up dinosaur


Have you got your Christmas jumpers yet? What was your favourite of these?




21 November 2016

When your baby has a baby: New Baby Annabell dolly

When I was a few years old I got a baby dolly as a gift. It was the best thing ever and I remember loving it like crazy. So when my daughter got herself a new baby dolly, the new Baby Annabell, that does pretty much anything a newborn does, I think I was almost as excited as she was. Here I write how my daughter got along with her new baby, and I review the new 2016 Baby Annabell.  

You can also win yourself a new Baby Annabell, just like the one we have. Giveaway at the bottom of the post. Please note, this post is written in collaboration with Zapf Creation. 






The best judge is my daughter. She was smitten as soon as I gave her Baby Annabell. Now she wants to take it everywhere with her. The first night she woke up 4AM, crying for her baby. We had to make Baby Annabell a makeshift bed from blankets and a pillow and place her next to my daughter's bed, just so we could go back to sleep ourselves.

She tells me that "Aww, the baby is so cute!". She also tells me "it plays and it still plays and it talks like little children". 

The make believe play is endless. The baby is sometimes sick, sometimes crying, sometimes tired... She gets so much enjoyment out of it and it encourages her to use her imagination and role play. I believe her Baby Annabell has now been named Bethany, after her best friend at the nursery. She is now mummy and I am Nanny, and Bethany/Annabell is her baby. 

It is adorable seeing my daughter being such a good mummy to her baby - she cuddles it gently, and gets quite upset when it cries. She tells me off when I am being too rough with the baby or if I take the dummy away. She shouts at me I will make her Bethany cry. It is lovely seeing her interacting and being so gentle and caring in play. 

When I was little my dolly didn't really do anything. It was just a hard plastic dolly. You could move its arms and legs and that was it. But still, it was loved and cherished. I used to walk it around, proudly pushing the dolly stroller. I suppose this is one of those experiences most kids go through - loving and pretending to have babies of their own and mimicking their parents. It is so sweet to see. 




I think the interactive elements do make Baby Annabell even more magical to play with and I certainly had fun with it too, even if I am an adult. It babbles in a very cute way. It makes contented sucking sounds with the dummy and bottle, and the dummy moves as if being sucked. It closes its eyes independently, and can go to sleep and its breathing sounds change to happy snuffling. 

After feeding (or just using an empty bottle) it cries and needs a pat on the back to burp it. It "drinks" water, and this enables it to cry real tears and pee. You can make the dolly cry by taking away its dummy three times, after which it needs cuddles and cheek strokes. If you ignore it for a couple of minutes it will automatically turn off. 

The only slightly annoying thing I found with the doll is that the motorised component is quite loud. That said, this doesn't bother my daughter at all.

All in all the Baby Annabell works well and is fun to play with. Just remember to pack in three AA batteries if you give this as a gift as there isn't any in the box!


What was the best dolly you ever had?


You might also like: 10 things I learned in my first year as a mother and 24 hours with a newborn baby 





For the giveaway, win a new 2016 Baby Annabell for Christmas! (Can't guarantee Christmas delivery but will try...). Daily free entry, and daily tweet options to enter, alongside other options. UK entries only! 



a Rafflecopter giveaway




15 November 2016

When you feel like drowning: Little life update November 2016



I feel like drowning. Time is such a precious commodity and I have so little of it. I know I shouldn't really complain as the busyness I experience right now is the good kind.  The kind that comes from new opportunities, moving on in life, having a family. But still. I feel tired. 

It has been a few weeks of long days at work to finish off projects and handing over tasks. Making notes for whoever picks up my projects, making sure all important files are filed away safely, making sure my desk is cleared and bags packed. 


I have a new job now. New job, new responsibilities, new direction. Senior to my job title and a sizeable increase in my salary. 



mother with a toddler daughter with a punnet of strawberries on a field

mother and toddler daughter talking to each other on a field





Other than my real-day-job-pay-the-bills kind of work my blog work has also upped a step. There is a lot more interest from brands for collaborations, new exciting opportunities emerging, and commissions coming in. 


There are posts from May still in my drafts. Hours of video waiting to be edited. Ideas brimming in my head. I've interviewed a celebrity, an inspirational woman I feel a lot of respect for (transcribing soon!). I have booked my first ever press trip, somewhere here in UK I've never been to. 


And amongst all this I wonder have I lost my voice a little. There are things I want to write about but usually I feel too tired to get my thoughts in order and words on paper. I would like to write more about being a working mum, about building a career, about the hectic life we create ourselves, and about balance. Or rather, the lack of it. I love writing about the adventures we have as a family and sharing my photography but i would like to add to that, something from the heart. 


The last few weeks have been difficult. Our little girl has caught all the possible nursery bugs you can get. She has been sick and tearful and in need of mummy. Who of course has not been able to be there. 


It is tricky to balance it all. A lady needs her sleep too... 




mum and daughter cuddling on a farm field



It is all of course temporary. After the next few weeks I will get into a routine at work. I'll clear the back log of my commercial posts. And as we beat the winter bugs we will be able to sleep better and feel better. And then it'll be Christmas. And a well-deserved holiday!




How have you been lately?





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