24 January 2017

How we finally cleared the living room toy chaos: Tidy Books Sorting Box

Right before Christmas I got a new stacking toy storage box for review - The Sorting Box from Tidy Books. I am a big fan of Tidy Books. I've written about their bookcase and how it can help encourage kids to read, and I  reviewed their Book Box too. Now I am reviewing our third Tidy Books item - their stackable toy storage boxes. Please note, this post is written in collaboration with Tidy Books.

From a purely aesthetic point of view, it is nice to have a few items by the same maker. Much easier to match them than items from different suppliers. Because of ease, and because we are not sure which room they will move to in the future I have chosen all our Tidy Books items in white. 

This review could not have come at a better time. For quite a while we have been struggling with the endless mountains of toys, everywhere in our living room. It didn't take long to set the boxes up and it was pretty easy. Especially for me ha ha as I was working while my husband set them up. It looked quite simple though when standing on the sidelines!

So once we set the boxes up, we set to clearing the living room. We managed to clear away a lot of these little toys we have accumulated over the last year or so we have lived here. You can see in the pictures how many toys fit in. I liked that there were smaller fabric boxes inside, so you could sort the toys in different categories. We dedicated one section for small character toys, one for all kinds of cakes and cups and eating toys, and one for musical instruments and musical toys. 

We got two of the Sorting Boxes, and a lid. These are priced separately, with the boxes retailing at £59 a pop and the lids for £12. You can stack the boxes, maximum two at a time. There are a few different colours, like dark and light greys and natural, so you could mix and match them to get a bit of interest. For these toy storage boxes I was toying with the idea of getting them in a combination of greys and whites, to go with our grey living room... Having a  dark grey and a light grey box with a dark grey lid would have also been a nice look!

They are quite easy for kids to use independently as they are light. However, depending on which toys you store inside them, they might become a bit heavier to handle when stacked. I would say older kids are perfectly fine moving these, and for pre-schoolers you might want to supervise it in case they drag them around or drop them accidentally. 

All in all, I have been really happy with these toy storage boxes from Tidy Books and would recommend them to others too. I have been really pleased with the quality of all our Tidy Books items and love them! 

What kind of solutions do you have for storing toys? 

14 January 2017

Feeling anxious about the primary school application now...

So it is time to send off the primary school applications. We have been racking our brains with the question: Are we making the right decision? 

I'm from a completely different cultural background. In my home country, the school you go to is the one you live closest to. If you do not have any special needs, it is as simple as that. It is a bit different at secondary school and college ages, where you might choose to apply to a specialist school if you are that way inclined. I for example went to a special performing arts college, because I did music. 

But here in UK the school choices seem so important. So many people get swept into it, and sometimes I feel like people think that whatever primary school you go to will determine how well you do in later life. In London especially it can get crazy. I hear all the time of streets that appreciate in value because they happen to fall into a catchment area of an outstanding school. Outstanding schools are like property gold dust, sprinkled by the fairy Ofsted-mothers...  

mum and daughter looking at each other in winter sun

So now we have been racked with thoughts about which school we send our little four year old princess to. We have seen three schools, and they are all in their own way good. In fact, as according to Ofsted they are all "good". 

There is the one that my husband had originally pegged as "The One". It is traditionally the school all parents in the local area aspire to, the school that always has been good. It is next to a big park the teachers use for some lessons. When you walk up there from our house, you walk through a our local park, over a road (with pedestrian lights) a few blocks of suburbian houses, and there you go. And we thought it would be easy for our daughter to walk there on her own when she is bigger.    

Then there is the school which is also good, but a bit further away. My husband figured that would be a good back-up choice. When we went to view it, I liked it, but I wasn't in awe. It was big and felt a bit like a rabbit-warren with many many small rooms. We would have to take her there, as it is a bit too far and a bit too busy traffic wise to let your kid travel to alone. Then again, I loved that they had music lessons and other additional activities. We both consider those performing and creative activities to be really important.  

And then there is the school she goes to nursery in. This school has traditionally been the crummy school in our area. It has had it's chequered past. It is now and has been for about five years rated as good, but the many locals still remember its past. The school has put in a lot of effort in improving, and parents from the school tell me the change is marked. For us the biggest positive of this school is that our daughter has made very strong friends in the nursery, and most of these friends will attend this school. She knows the school area, it won't be new and scary for her. And I liked that the school is slightly smaller than the other too, with 90 kids in her year group, instead of 120. 

But there are some serious downsides. The school is close-by to a big road. The local area isn't exactly nice, and some of the crossings can be difficult even for an adult. It is somewhat likely that we will always do the school drop-off with her, although thankfully the school is very close to our home. 

mum and child sitting on beach rocks in winter

So what do we choose? Friends? Future independence? Fancy music lessons?

What really clinched the deal for us though is when my husband had a little chat with our daughter. 

He asked her would she like to go to a new school and make new friends, or stay in the same school with her best friend Bethany. 

And she said: "Hmmm, I think Bethany". 

So now the school we have selected for her as her first choice, is the last school. The school she has friends in. The school she knows. I know from experience how stressful it is to jump from one place to another. I did that three times during my primary school years. And if we can avoid that I rather would. 

And of course. The decision might be just made for us by the whatever randomised features finally end up deciding which kid goes where. We have five choices we have added, of which the last one I've never even heard of. And I am really hoping she gets to stay with her friends. 

What did you think when choosing a primary school for your children?

12 January 2017

What did we think of the Muddy Puddles ski clothing for kids?

We tested the Muddly Puddles ski clothing for kids while in Finland over Christmas. We got the Muddy Puddles Blizzard Salopettes and the Snowstorm ski jacket (Blue Star) kids ski wear for a review, and boy am I glad we got some ski gear for my child to wear. It was cold! 

So we tested Muddy Puddles ski clothing in pretty harsh winter conditions - and by this I mean properly arctic conditions. We tested it in wet snow, and we tested it in sub-zero temperatures of up to -24 °C. I was also quite excited about testing ski clothing as I have spent many a winters on the slopes, and in fact, pretty much lived a couple of seasons in ski gear so I know what to look out for and what works.

Please note, this post was written in collaboration with Muddy Puddles. Yo

a young girl smiling wearing ski clothing

frozen ocean scenery in finland

three year old wearing muddy puddles ski clothing

frozen sea and reeds scenery picture

child standing in snow and wearing ski clothing

Overall impressions of Muddy Puddles ski clothing for kids: 

The fit was perfect. I find my daughter is just about the medium size for her age, and the Muddy Puddles ski clothing fit her perfectly. The salopettes (Blizzard) were quite snug on the waist, so if your child is slightly bigger for their age (or has a big belly!), go for the bigger size. I found that when we really packed on the clothing, the waist could be quite tight, but when the layers underneath were fairly thin, the waist fit very well. 

They were warm. They are slightly padded which makes them nice and toasty. We kept on checking with my daughter how she was feeling, especially when we were in those properly freezing conditions (at some point it was -24 °C!). She never complained of cold on her body, just her toes and her cheeks.  

They were good quality. In my opinion they meet the technical needs for ski wear brilliantly - both the jacket (Snowstorm) and the salopettes (Blizzard) are waterproof (5000mm) and breathable (5000gsm) so perfect for playing in snow and skiing. For normal use, this is what you need,any higher is nice but non-essential. And like I mentioned above, Muddy Puddles ski clothing is also padded for extra warmth, but this isn't too thick so moving around is still easy.

They are fully adjustable. Also, I really liked that both the Muddy Puddles salopettes and ski jacket were adjustable in many ways, from adjusting the fit to being able to remove some additional bits like snowskirts, suspenders and hoods.

They are unisex. Well, I know my daughter loves pink and that is probably what we would have gone for... However I think the prints Muddy Puddles has chosen fit both genders well. And because Muddy Puddles is pretty much unisex in all of their ski wear, this will be perfect if we ever have a son in the future!

child facing away from camera wearing muddy puddles ski clothing

So here is a bit more detail on the jacket and the salopettes and my thoughts on their individual features. 

Plenty of pockets and there is also a pull out ski pass holder! The hood and the snow skirt are removable which makes the jacket a little bit more flexible to wear. There are lots of adjustable features, like you can adjust the cuffs and remove the snow skirt and the hood. With this jacket I found the neck was a bit too tight for my daughter and came up a bit too high for her. She found it unfomfortable, so we couldn't zip it up completely. With proper layers underneath this wasn't an issue for warmth, but I would have preferred there to be a bit more room.

I also liked that there were reflectors on this jacket - thin strips on the hood and a thin strip at the front, the zip pulls and the logo at the back. Great for dark weather, and you can always add more if you need to.

a pre-schooler lieing on snow and smiling at the camera

picture of muddy puddles salopettes hem detail

Like I mentioned, quite a snug fit on the waist, so for chunkier kids definitely go for bigger sizes. There are reinforcements on the knees and bum, and also on the bottom of the inner leg (where ski boots often scuff) so these should be long-lasting. There is a zipper on the bottom of the outer leg, making it easier to dress on and fit chunky winter shoes and ski boots in, and of course snow gaitors too. I liked that you can also remove the suspenders if you want (although I would keep them on - they are really practical with kids!).

Overall, I thought these were really high-quality items, and this comes from a person who has a lot of experience on the slopes and knows what to wear. I was so impressed that I am actually considering buying one in reserve for next year... 

Have you tried Muddy Puddles clothing before?

10 January 2017

My most popular posts from 2016

I thought it would be interesting to delve into my top posts from 2016 and see which ones were the most popular. I have a broad understanding of what has been popular on my blog but I have never actually put in the 10-15 minutes needed to look into my analytics to find out what do people actually read over here at Wave to Mummy. I've chosen to focus on the ones that were published in 2016 and the ones that have been most viewed throughout the year.

It was quite enlightening actually!  Unsurprisingly, posts with an added giveaway were super popular. They took the top five spots. As the posts are actually quite good and I think very useful I've decided to share them here with you so you can see them too - they range from travel tips to product reviews.

toddler sitting on trunki suitcase in front of a plane

How to entertain toddlers at airports

This post shares tips on how to entertain toddlers at airports, ranging from ideas to pack with you to what to do when you are at the airport. We have travelled a lot and this is what works for us. There are also brilliant tips in the comments.

toddler using a tidy books box

Introducing clever book storage solution for children: Tidy Books Box

I've worked with Tidy Books a few times and I am a big fan of their products. I reviewed their book storage box, and really loved it. It currently lives in our living room and houses all the migrating kids books and also some of my magazines.

child looking at baby annabell doll in box

Right before Christmas I shared a review of the new 2016 Baby Annabell doll - my daughter loved it and loved the baby noises the doll made. And it appears lots of other people loved it too!

sense organics dress hem

Sense Organics was a totally new kids wear brand for me and I reviewed a gorgeous penguin dress and a top from them - and did a giveaway too. There are a few more items I so want to get from them still...

trunki swimming bag spike the blowfish

How to have a great trip to the swimming pool with kids

In this post I gave tips on how to have a great trip to the swimming pool with kids, including tips on what to pack and how to encourage swimming. In this post I also reviewed Trunki swimming bag range. There are some wonderful tips from readers in the comments too. 

The other five are a range of personal posts on various issues - from raising my daughter to travel. 

smiling toddler

The trials and tribulations of trying to raise a bilingual toddler

I've been finding it hard raising my daughter bilingual and I shared some of the issues we have had recently. We have had many, form her refusing to speak in my language to just plain practical problems.

toddler standing in front of a blackboard with nursery drawings

My daughter has been back home with her daddy and now at three years of age, she has finally started nursery. I was feeling surprisingly emotional about her start at the nursery.

moomin family waving at you at moomin house

If you have never heard of Moomins you are seriously missing out! Moomin World is one of my favourite Finnish attractions and I shared our visit there, with some top tips on how to get the most out of it. We had actually visited Moomin World already in 2015, I just was seriously late in writing my post!

our picture wall in our living room

You know how it takes a while to put everything in it's place after moving in... After several months of living in our new home we finally got our pictures and other artwork on the wall and I love it. Our picture wall shows the story of our lives - there are pictures representing the places we have been and things we have experienced.

summer clothes from lilly and sid brand hanging on a rail

In the summer of 2016 I visited Bubble London, which is a kids wear trade show. I got to meet loads of brilliant companies and had a sneak peek of the spring and summer fashion for 2017. Not all companies were happy for me to photograph their closely guarded secrets, but luckily a few were cool about it. 

child sitting at a table on stokke tripp trapp chair

And as my most popular post ever... This has become my most viewed individual post in 2016 so I thought I would show it to you guys here even if it was actually published 2015. We are huge Stokke fans and bought pretty much every single accessory for the Stokke Tripp Trapp chair. So I decided to write a review explaining which Stokke Tripp Trapp accessories are worth buying. It now ranks quite high on Google results and is viewed by several people every day. Result!

What did you think of these posts? What have been your most viewed posts?

1 January 2017

What I have chosen to do instead of a New Years resolution

In the last few years I've gone for a New Years word rather than a New Years resolution. The idea is that by choosing a guiding word to represent the coming year you incorporate the principles more to your everyday life. By having a guiding principle rather than a distinct rule it should help you focus on your lifestyle as a whole and if you do stray, it is easier to get back on track.

I quite like the idea of choosing a word to represent what you want your year to bring. It may be because I have never been particularly great with New Years resolutions. The only one I've managed to keep was to floss my teeth every night. 

So for 2017 my word is "me". 

mum and daughter wearing colourful jackets in front of london eye

I've always been a bit of a work horse. I want to do and achieve as much as possible and sometimes it gets in the way of just being me. It is far too easy to think "I'll just do that one more thing" when the best thing for my own health and sanity might just be to drop it and go drink a nice hot cup of tea. Or wine. Or do whatever relaxing and enjoyable. Maybe go for a walk. Do yoga. Knit. Whatever.

They say you cant take care of others unless you first take care of yourself. Putting myself and my needs first and not always thinking I need to do one more thing to meet whatever expectation I've set myself is needed if I don't want to be the cranky tired woman I tend to be way too often. Relaxing, finding that me time, is important. And that will make me better for us as a family. 

There are some things I miss from my old, pre-child, pre-husband life. I miss just reading. Jumping underneath the covers and reading in bed. Enjoying the quiet and letting my head get filled with another world. I miss playing the violin. I miss going for aimless walks and bike rides, although, lets face it, I'm not planning on starting to ride a bike in London anytime soon. Too dangerous for my liking. 

london eye ferris wheel seen from westminster pier

So yes, my word for 2017 is me and that means more me-time, focusing on my interests and my health. And to do that somethings gotta give. Not sure what yet. As far as blogging goes, it is an important interest of mine, but perhaps I could do it smarter, leaving me more time to be me, for us. 

You may also wonder how I've done in the last few years with my New Years words. Well, I suppose they haven't been quite as quickly forgotten as my New Years resolutions, but they could have been thought about more too. For 2015 my word was well-being and honestly speaking, I did do some good stuff such as starting regular yoga practice. For 2016 my word was "space" and while I did not manage to declutter anything, I did clear some unnecessary clutter from personal obligations and have been quite disciplined about not adding to them. I say no a lot more now.

mum and daughter wearing bright jackets at westminster pier

Do you have a New Years resolution or a guiding word?

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