• This lovely order went out last week. Djeco Duo 2-piece jigsaw puzzles, Djeco Edu'stick shape… https://t.co/YmpvL8ecqe

      Oct 22, 2017

Category: Blog

5 Tips When Choosing a Dolls House
5 Tips When Choosing a Dolls House

I got this lovely message from a customer today and I thought I’d share my answer here, as I’m sure many of you are asking questions like these at this time of year.

“Can you please tell me which dolls house would be best for my 3-year-old granddaughter for Christmas – Mayberry Manor or Sweetheart Cottage?  I can’t decide!”

This is a really hard question to answer, as both dolls houses are gorgeous. Before answering, I think you need to answer the following questions…

  1. Does your granddaughter really love dolls?

I know this may be a crazy question but I feel I should have asked this question before I splashed out on a dolls house when my eldest was two years old. She was not a ‘doll lover’ but I longed for her to love them, as I loved dolls when I was a child. I felt that a dolls house would help develop her love for dolls. Unfortunately, it didn’t and the dolls house was hardly looked at. It was/is a beautiful dolls house and just about every child who comes into our house plays with it. Thankfully, shortly after, we had our second daughter and she is a doll lover. She has played with the house a lot, so we did get value for money. However, if I’d only had one child, the house would have been wasted on her and a less elaborate, cheaper house would have been enough. Mayberry Manor is the larger of these two houses. It measures 69cm x 61cm x 37cm while Sweetheart Cottage measures 63cm x 44cm x 35cm

Choosing a wooden dolls house

Mayberry Manor and extra accessories

2. How much space do you have for it?

Following on from the first question, you need to be aware that wooden dolls houses are heavy toys that generally are placed on a table or attached to a wall and they stay there! If you only have a small room, then the smaller house would probably work better. Please bear in mind that both these dolls houses have fronts that open out, making it easy for the child to access every room, but also this means they need space on both sides of where they are kept. Other toys that your grandchildren play with can be put away when they leave, but dolls houses are much harder to move and store.

Choosing a dolls house

Sweetheart Cottage

3. What comes with the dolls houses?

Mayberry Manor has five rooms but it doesn’t come with any furniture and dolls, so if you choose this house, you’ll need to buy furniture for each room. Sweetheart Cottage has three rooms and it comes with 30 pieces of furniture but no dolls.

Dolls house furniture

Extra furniture which may need to be bought

4. What quality of dolls house do you want?

Both these dolls houses are made by Le Toy Van and they are top of the range dolls houses made from sustainable wood. These dolls houses will last a long time. Mayberry Manor is not better quality because it is more expensive. It is more expensive because it is bigger, that’s all.

5. What type of dolls fits into these dolls houses?

These dolls houses are both designed for peg dolls. These dolls are perfect for little hands and great for imaginative play. However, you cannot dress and undress these dolls. Lottie and similar sized dolls would be too big for these houses. If you think your granddaughter will want a larger house in a few years for Lottie sized dolls, and you have no younger grandchildren to grow into using one of these dolls houses, then maybe choose the cheaper one so you don’t resent when she grows out of it. Saying this, my youngest is six and she still plays with her peg dolls house. Neither of these dolls houses come with dolls, so you’ll need to purchase them separately.

Budkins Peg Dolls

Peg dolls

I hope this helps with your decision. She is a lucky girl getting one of these gorgeous dolls houses and I’m sure she will be thrilled with whichever one you choose to buy.

xx Suzie

Toy Review : The Lottie, Finn and Friends Treehouse
Toy Review : The Lottie, Finn and Friends Treehouse

My daughters received the Lottie, Finn and Friends Treehouse this weekend and the timing couldn’t have been better. With ex-hurricane Ophelia hitting our shores on Monday and the girls being off school Monday and Tuesday, it was fantastic having a new toy for them to play with and that’s exactly what they did.

Lottie Doll Tree House Treehouse Play Set

The play treehouse is gorgeous – made from real wood, it’s really sturdy. It’s not too big to take over a room and yet it’s big enough for both my girls to play with it at the same time without any pushing or shoving. We haven’t tested to see how many Lottie dolls fit into the house at the same time, but at one stage, I spotted 5 dolls standing or sitting on the balcony of the treehouse. No dolls come with this set but you can purchase them separately from my Lottie range on my website.

I love the design, partly because it looks very similar to the treehouse in our own garden but also because there are lots of ways for Lottie to enjoy it and for the girls to view them ‘enjoying’ it. There are two large windows – one at the front and one at the side and a door that opens and closes (but can’t be slammed). Underneath the treehouse there’s a rope ladder leading to a trap door, which is spring loaded, so it stays closed but can be opened with a gentle push. One whole side of the treehouse can open downwards, allowing children full access for their dolls to have tea parties, discos, planning meetings or whatever they like! This is held closed by magnets. The dolls can also enjoy a swing underneath the balcony of the treehouse. It does take a bit of patience to get Lottie balanced on the swing but it can be done. The green slide is also a decent length and angle for Lottie to enjoy sliding down. The slide isn’t screwed onto the balcony, so it can be lifted off so the dolls house doesn’t take up as much storage space when not in use.

It really is a beautiful, unique wooden dolls house which I would consider amazing value at only €69.99.

Lottie Doll Tree House

The treehouse comes flat-packed, so if you do buy one of these, I’d recommend giving yourself at least 2 hours to assemble. I love building Ikea furniture so I came at this project with positivity. However, there is no written step by step instructions and only visual ones, which I found difficult to interpret as the pictures were quite small. I had to unscrew screws several times after realising that I’d jumped the gun in assembling one piece to another or that I’d put the piece facing the wrong direction. My advice is to do this when your kids aren’t around you!! Towards the end of assembling it, I couldn’t get a screw to fit into the spot it was supposed to meet (maybe I put a screw in too tight or just off somewhere else, which meant this one wouldn’t meet) so I called my husband who finished off the project. He did need me to squeeze the parts together, while he screwed, to get the screw to go where it should, so it was a two person job at one point.

Assembling the Lottie Doll Tree House

When we put on the roof, we found that the side that should open up was catching on the roof and wouldn’t open. Again, this could have been my fault although I did feel like I was being careful in making sure everything fit where it should. Thankfully my husband was able to find two ‘spacers’ (for clueless people like me, these are like flat metal hula hoops). He put one on each side, between the roof and the walls and screwed the screw through it. It raised the roof by less than a millimeter but this was enough to let the side of the house open and close and they can’t be seen from the outside or inside.

Spacers for the Lottie Doll Tree House

If you are giving this as a gift at Christmas time, don’t try and make it with a glass of wine on Christmas Eve but instead, take your time another night and enjoy putting together this beautiful, extremely well made and designed treehouse without the time pressures Christmas Eve brings.

I hope your family will enjoy your one as much as mine is enjoying ours,

xx Suzie

5 Ways to Clean your Child’s Toys without using Chemicals
5 Ways to Clean your Child’s Toys without using Chemicals

Late last year, my husband and I watched a Netflix Documentary called ‘The Human Experiment’ which showed how bad chemicals can be in our lives and how they have got into our homes without us thinking twice about it. Since then, I made a new year’s resolution to cut out as many chemicals as possible. It’s easier said than done, but I’m enjoying experimenting with new products and even making some of my own. I thought I’d share how I’m cleaning my children’s toys now without using chemicals.

1. Use a Steam Cleaner on Larger Toys

Steam Cleaners have come down in price a lot recently and they are easy to pick up in places like Dunnes or Powercity. You fill them with cold water, plug them in and when it has heated up, it shoots out steam onto the item that you are cleaning. The force of the steam and the temperature mean that dirt is removed and bacteria and germs are killed. You can’t use a steam cleaner on all toys. Avoid using it on any battery operated or electric toys. I find it works really well on large plastic toys (where paint cannot chip) like plastic sit on cars, slides, walkers, buggy handles and shelving in the toy room. It’s best to use a steam cleaner when your children are sleeping as the steam can burn badly and you wouldn’t want your child being curious around your cleaner in case an accident happens.

How to clean your child’s toys without using chemicals

2. Use Chemical-Free Laundry Detergent on Soft Toys

Soft toys, blankets, and rugs always went into my washing machine regularly. I’ve stopped using shop-bought laundry detergent and replaced it with this chemical-free recipe which I’ve found is working equally well. Teddies and rugs get drooled on and have snot rubbed on them regularly. Where possible, I try and dry them outdoors.

Chemical free living

3. Put Diluted Vinegar into a Spray Bottle for Smaller Toys

When I finished my last bottle of Anti-Bacterial spray, I kept the bottle and filled it with one part vinegar, 10 parts water and some drops of essential oils to mask the vinegar smell. Vinegar kills germs and is great at removing stains and stickers (leave on few a few minutes before wiping off). I know the smell will put some people off trying it, but honestly, after you add a few drops of your favourite essential oils, you’ll hardly smell the vinegar at all. I spray it onto the toy and then just wipe the toy with a clean cloth.

Chemical free toys

4. Wash Toys in the Bath

Some toys like Duplo bricks, small plastic or metal cars (without batteries), Lottie Dolls and ball pool plastic balls are difficult and time-consuming to clean. I throw them all into the bath. I fill the bath with hot water so that all the toys are covered with water. Add some vinegar to the water to kill the germs. After swishing them around for a few minutes, I let them sit for 5-10 minutes. Then I lift them out onto a bath towel and carefully fold the towel so that I can carry them outside, to dry in the sun.

How to clean your child’s toys without using chemicals

5. Wash Lego in the Dishwasher

I have purchased dishwasher powder that is chemical free. Now I’m happy to wash toys on the top shelf of my dishwasher and the great thing about this way is that the steam dries them. For smaller items like Lego pieces, I put them all into a pillowcase (or if you had a net laundry bag, you could use it), fold over the flap of the case, so that toys don’t escape from the force of the water and place the pillowcase on the top shelf of your dishwasher.

I’d love to hear any other ways in which you clean your toys without chemicals, so if you have some tried and tested methods, please comment below and we’ll all benefit from each other.

Xx Suzie

10 Toys for Children with Special Needs
10 Toys for Children with Special Needs

All kids have different needs and abilities and some need a lot more focused help and special toys to help them develop skill sets that come naturally to other kids. The interesting thing about some of these toys is that all kids can enjoy them. I think a prime example of this is the recent craze of Fidget Spinners. These were designed for children with autism but then everyone else discovered them and wanted them for themselves too. Below are some toys that I stock that are primarily for children with special needs.

  1. Expand a ballToys for children with special needsThis is a sensory ball that expands and contracts. Children will be visually amazed as they watch the ball grow and shrink mid-air.

2. Putty Peeps Toys for children with special needsThis putty is great for developing fine motor skills as well as being a fidget toy. It is great for developing imagination.

3. Shape Sequence Puzzles.Toys for special needs kids These are great for problem solving and fine motor skills. Choose from the shape sequence sorting set from Melissa and Doug or a Pattern Blocks or Mosaic Tiles set.Water painting. Some kids hate getting their hands messy so why not give them an alternative painting experience. Melissa and Doug have developed two different water painting books. One is called Water Wow. Fill the water

4. Water painting. Toys for kids with special needsSome kids hate getting their hands messy so why not give them an alternative painting experience. Melissa and Doug have developed two different water painting books. One is called Water Wow. Fill the water pen with water and then ‘paint’ over the pictures to reveal colours and patterns below. After a few minutes, the colours disappear and can be re-painted over and over. The second type is for those who would become more upset that their painting has disappeared. It’s painting with water on the special pad. Colours appear once they have been painted and they remain.Chinese Checkers or Solitaire. These are great for older children. They are quiet games to play that involve

5. Chinese Checkers or Solitaire. Toys for children with special needsThese are great for older children. They are quiet games to play that involve fine motor skills and some memory, as you move the pegs on the boards. Solitaire is a one person game while up to 6 people can play Chinese Checkers.

6. Musical instruments. Toys for kids with special needsI have a whole section on musical instruments. These instruments allow children to get used to loud noises in the comfort of their own home. It also teaches them rhythm and fine motor skills.

7. Wooden Puzzles. Special need toysTeach your child letter and number recognition using these Melissa and Doug Peg Puzzles.

8. Jacob’s Ladder. Special Needs ToysHold the ladder at the top and rotate your wrist back and forwards to create an optical illusion. This is a quiet toy.Threading Toys. These are great for developing fine motor skills. Choose one that is more than just

9. Threading Toys.Toys for children with special needs These are great for developing fine motor skills. Choose one that is more than just coloured blocks and it can encourage speech development as you chat about each piece that is being strung together. I stock a lovely wooden train set and a wooden fruit salad set.

10. Magnetic Mazes. Use the wand to move the balls through the maze to their destination. Great for concentration and distraction. I stock a lovely wooden butterfly maze.

This list could literally go on and on, but I’m going to keep it with 10. If you’d like to see my full range of toys for children with special needs, click on the link or feel free to send me a message and ask for a recommendation.

 

Xx Suzie

5 Birthday Present Gifts for 7 Year Old Girls
5 Birthday Present Gifts for 7 Year Old Girls

I received this text yesterday and I thought I’d share my answer, in case more of you are in similar situations.

“Hi Suzie. I’m looking for your advice, please. We need to buy a birthday present for our niece, who is turning 7. She is into girlie stuff (makeup, jewelry etc) and craft stuff. Can you recommend something from your shop that we can buy? It needs to be light as we’ll be posting it to the UK. We are looking to spend €15-€20. Thanks”

Here’s what I replied:

Hi Mairead,

Thanks for your inquiry. I have two girls aged 6 and 7 who constantly want things from my shop so this is easy to answer. My eldest is quite girly, while my youngest is what I would consider more rounded. In a sense, it’s a shame you need this order immediately, as I have just made some large orders of new stock for Christmas, but I still have lots that I can recommend from what I have in stock.

  1. Make your own Paper Beads

Birthday present gift ideas for 7 year old girls

If your niece likes jewelry and crafts then this kit will please both pleasures. It includes a contraption which you screw onto the top of an empty drink bottle. Then you cut strips of paper and use the device to make beads. The set comes with some lovely paper and once this is all used up, you can use magazines, newspapers or any paper you find around the house to make more beads. It’s really easy to do and the beads are gorgeous.

2. My Fairy Garden – Magic Bean Pot

Birthday present gift ideas for 7 year old girls

Any of the My Fairy Garden products are light and fun. This one is the smallest one for sending abroad. It comes with a plastic pot, a fairy called Hope and a bean seed for you to plant. It can be kept indoors or outdoors, although, at this time of year, I’d recommend you keep it indoors. It’s less than what you’d like to spend, so if you choose this and you want to bulk up the present, I’d recommend some of the GoGoPo Stationary.

3.  Djeco Step-by-Step Drawing

Birthday present gift ideas for 7 year old girls

Both my girls love this set which includes step by step illustrations on how to draw certain items be it an animal, princess, castle (to name a few). It comes with a white board and wipeable pen to practice drawing with.

4. Shrinkles Princess Fairytales

Birthday present gift ideas for 7 year old girls

We opened a pack of these over the summer holidays and the girls had a great time cutting them out, colouring them in and watching them shrink in the oven. Then they made them into magnets and keyrings.

5.  Glitter Tattoos

Birthday present gift ideas for 7 year old girls

When my girls get to choose birthday presents for their friends, they nearly always want to give a set of these glitter tattoos. They are really easy to use and they are much more effective/impressive than the paper ones that you wet.

Like  I say, if you’d had another week before having to send this present, there would be a few more items that I would add to this list, like the large Melissa and Doug Scratch Art Set and this Spiro Art Pad and Accessories. But sure, Christmas is just around the corner!!

Birthday present gift ideas for 7 year old girls

Thanks again for your inquiry and I hope this helps with your choice.

xx Suzie

Are we Stopping Boys from Playing with Certain Toys?
Are we Stopping Boys from Playing with Certain Toys?

I recently had a lovely conversation with my sister-in-law about boys toys and I discovered that she was passionate about gender neutral toys and how some toys are marketed just for girls. After our chat, I asked if she would put it into a blog for me. So here it is, thanks, Beverly!

My 5-year boy loves guns, bows and arrows, setting traps, digging in mud, cars, and fire engines and that’s all ok.

He also loves pink, doing my hair, makeup and nails, dressing up, playing with dolls, pushing prams. Is that ok?

He came home from junior infants last year and told me that he didn’t like pink anymore because “it’s a girls colour”, someone had decided to “enlighten” him to this “fact”, I told him there’s no such thing as girl colours and boy colours, there are just colours and all colours are beautiful- he decided he liked pink again. But is it true? Is there no such thing as boy colours and girl colours or boy toys and girl toys? Most toy shops would lead me to believe that sadly this isn’t true. The glowing pink isle that’s full of beautiful dolls, tea sets, vacuum cleaners, washing machines- all of which my son loves but are very clearer aimed at girls.

Equally the boy’s isles mostly consist of weapons of some description or superheroes like Spider-Man and Batman which FYI my daughter loves- she’s not so fussed with cat woman and Wonder Woman. And don’t even get me started on Lego- which I adore but find the fact that they brought out a pink range Lego friends for girls the most infuriating thing! Since when is Lego gender specific, it’s bricks for goodness sake?!

boys and girls toys

So why is it that both genders can’t play with both gender superheroes, why are these superheroes in different isles, why is there now girl Lego and boy Lego ? What exactly are we afraid of? It’s not a problem for my daughter to be a tom boy and play with boys toys but when my son wanted to go out with clips in his hair I tried to dissuade him, not because he didn’t look adorable but because I was afraid of what other people would say to him. I hate myself for that because I want to raise him not to care what other people say but at the same time I don’t want to put a target on his back as life is hard enough.

Toy manufacturers have a lot to answer for but they are only doing it because it’s what sells so who can blame them. maybe if parents bought their boys a pink buggy and a baby doll and let him walk up the street pushing it, the manufacturers might start to follow suit and stop promoting gender stereotypes. I want both my children to be happy, confident leaders, not followers, as I think most parents do, so maybe we should lead by example.

Thanks, Beverly. I have spent ages trawling the internet for pictures of boys playing with dolls, prams etc but couldn’t find any that I could reuse on this blog. It says it all, doesn’t it?

3 Marks of Recognition for Toys and Games Ireland
3 Marks of Recognition for Toys and Games Ireland

What a year it has been! Us, Irish are very bad a boasting about our achievements and I’m finding it hard to write this blog, but, at the same time, I think it’s important to share how far I’ve come. This year in particular, I/my shop was nominated and shortlisted/longlisted for three different awards.

Early in the year, my website was a finalist for the Micro Business Awards in the ‘Best e-commerce website’ category.

award winning toy shop

Just before that, I was nominated and a finalist in the Mums and Tots Magazine Awards, in the category ‘Best Mumpreneur’ category.

Toy shop award finalist

 

And this week, I’ve been notified that I’ve been longlisted in the ‘V for Very Blog Awards‘ (Blog Awards Ireland) in the Corporate Section. I’m not expecting to win, but I’m happy that my hard work is being recognised.

Blog Awards

 

Thanks for all your support, help, nominations and votes.

xx Suzie

PS. Just a quick update to let you know that I received a Silver Award  in the V for Very Blog Awards Ireland.

Toys that Help Develop Gross Motor Skills
Toys that Help Develop Gross Motor Skills

Gross Motor Skills are the movement and coordination of larger body parts like arms and legs. For most children, this comes naturally, but for others, it needs to be encouraged and helped along. Gross motor skills are needed for everyday activities – balancing, walking, running, throwing and catching. For babies, it includes sitting up, rolling over and crawling. Gross motor skills develop before fine motor skills. Here are some exercises you can do to help your child strengthen their gross motor skills.

  1. Lie your baby in a baby activity centre/baby gym. These are generally colourful rugs that have toys dangling down. Show your child the toys and encourage them to reach for them. Usually, these toys will have some extra special effects – some may be on elastic so it’s possible for your child to pull them and watch them bounce back or others may have crinkle sounding material or a squeak area for your child to press and listen to.

My first nici activity centre baby gym gross motor skills baby present babies gift

2. Lie your baby on the floor on a soft rug. Put their favourite toy near them but not within arm’s reach. Then encourage them to roll over to get it or crawl over to get it. Don’t make it too difficult for them and encourage them as they try and when your baby gets bored with this ‘game’ move onto something else.

Ragtales oscar dog favourite baby toy gross motor skills soft toys for babies

3. When your child is about 10 months old, buy or borrow a ‘walker’. This will help them balance while they learn to walk.

Small Foot Design Legler Baby walker with blocks wooden toys gross motor skills help learning to walk balance

4. Play ball games with your child. When your child is young, use a soft ball but as they get older and more competent, introduce heavier balls. Start with throwing and catching. Then try kicking and saving with their feet. Learning and strengthening gross motor skills should be fun. Use a light ball or balloon and play a game of trying to keep the ball in the air for as long as possible.

Goki soft baby ball gross motor skills

5. Spend time at your local playground. Even small children can learn skills like climbing steps (up to a slide) and balance (on swings)

6. As your child gets older, help improve their balance with jumping games. Buy a skipping rope or some street chalk and draw a hopscotch or an obstacle course on your driveway or path outside your house. Or invest in a trampoline.

Street chalk pavement sidewalk chalk outdoor fun chunky chalks gross motor skills

7. On a wet, cold day, play some dance music and get your child dancing. Teach them new moves like rolling your hands, pointing your feet, and swaying to the music. All these will strengthen their gross motor skills without costing you a cent. Younger children may prefer learning action nursery rhymes.

8. If you have a garden or a large room in your house, then buy a play tent with a tunnel. This encourages crawling.

As you can see, strengthening your child’s gross motor skill doesn’t have to be expensive and can be fun. However, it will take time-investment as you participate in these activities with your child and encourage them every step of the way.

Xx Suzie

6 Christening Gift Ideas for a Baby Girl
6 Christening Gift Ideas for a Baby Girl

 

Hi there I was looking for something for a baby girl for her christening. I have searched your website but can’t quite see anything. I wanted a special wooden toy or gift but was looking to spend 30 euro or so I know this may not be enough .do you have any suggestions? Thank you

Thanks for your message and sorry it has taken me so long to spot it. I love getting questions like this and regularly, I’ll post my answers up on a blog so it helps other people looking for similar things. Most toys are certified for children aged 3+ (to mainly protect the producer, in case a child swallows a small part and the parent makes a claim). This means that toys that are designed with younger children in mind are placed in my ‘age 3+ category’. If you saw these toys in a toy shop, you probably wouldn’t see the age restriction and you’d buy it. Anyway, although the child is small now, I think you’re looking for a keepsake type of toy that she will play with for some time?
The wooden pull along toys are very popular and durable and are perfect for children who push toys around the floor and crawl after them. When they are a little older, they can walk and pull them behind them. Since they are wooden, they are the kind of toys that once the child has finished playing with them, they will be put in the attic for the next generation. I stock 3 pull along toys. The Owl one is really pretty and has a baby owl who fits inside the mummy one but can be pushed along separately. Along with the owl one, I stock Luhna the Dog and a Snail. These three toys are priced less than €20 each.

Pull along owl christening gift toy present

One of my favourite wooden toy brands is Le Toy Van and the Bird House Shape Sorter is gorgeous. I gave one to my niece when she turned one and she still plays with it.

le toy van birdhouse shape sorter wooden toys christening present

If it is more of a keepsake gift rather than a toy that she will play with regularly, then I’d recommend the Ragtales Tooth Fairy. I know it’s not wooden but it is gorgeous and it will come out every time she loses a tooth (approx aged 5-12 years). This little tooth fairy has a backpack for the tooth to be placed in and then, overnight, she returns the tooth to wherever tooth fairies bring them and comes back with money in her backpack for the child. When she’s not busy, she lives in a gorgeous box.

Ragtales Toothfairy keepsake gift toy

Another lovely keepsake toy that she will grow into, but which isn’t wooden, are musical jewelry boxes. I have two designs, both made by Djeco. This is something that she will grow into and will love and will be reminded that you gave it to her on that special day.

Princess musical jewellery box christneningk keepsake present

If you are thinking of an educational toy that she will grow into, the Melissa and Doug Shape Sequence Sorting Set is lovely.

Melissa and Doug Shape Sequence Sorting Set wooden keepsake toy educational toy christening present

Or, how about buying her her first wooden tea set . Again, she may not appreciate it now (to be fair, she probably won’t appreciate anything you buy her at this age unless it’s a Lega or Rusk!) but it’s a toy that she will grow into. My girls are 6 and 7 years old and they still play with their play food regularly.

Wooden tea set wooden toys christening gifts

Sorry again for taking so long to reply. I hope you find the perfect gift, either from me or elsewhere.

Kind Regards,
Suzie

7 Quiet Activities for 3-Year-Olds
7 Quiet Activities for 3-Year-Olds

My sister has a 3-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter. During term time, her daughter gets to sleep in peace in the morning as her son is at playschool. However, now that he is on his school holidays, my sister is looking for quiet activity ideas to do with him while his sister sleeps, which could last for a couple of hours each day.

Here’s a list of some ideas, I had.

  1. Read Stories to Him. He loves stories and it’s great to sit down and read stories of his choice without having his sister vie for attention or pull at the pages of the book. I know it’s hard to keep the attention of three-year-olds, so don’t feel you have to read every word in the book but rather draw them into the story by asking questions about pictures or what they would do if they were the character in the book. If buying books isn’t an option, take regular trips to the library and pick up different books every time. Kids love repetition and I think you’ll find that they enjoy listening to the same story over and over.
  2. Do a Craft Together. My sister was quick to point out that it’s much harder to find crafts for boys than girls, and she is right, even at this age. There are lots of mums who craft with their kids and blog about it, so if this is something that might interest your child, start following some of these blogs and pick up new ideas every week. It is so much easier to do a craft with one child than it is with two, so take advantage of the two hours you have with one child and get the messy play done for the day. The Melissa and Doug Farm Animal Stamps is a good mess free option which can come out regularly and still be exciting and fun to use. Or, these fun Djeco mosaic stickers help with fine motor skills and learning about shapes.

Djeco Edu Stick Shapes Crafts for 3 year olds3. Work on Learning Something New in a Fun Way. Unless you have a good monitor which you can bring outside, playing outdoor games or teaching your child how to ride a bike, isn’t an option during this quiet time. However, you can do things like helping your child recognize letters and sound them out. My daughters loved the Octaland 4D+ Occupational Flashcards. Each card showed a letter and had a picture of a person whose name started with that letter, working in an occupation with that letter. So, for example, The ‘D’ flash card had a girl called Daisy who danced. What makes these flash cards different from regular ones is that you can view them through a free app on your phone and they take on a 3D appearance and move, so Daisy does some dance moves when viewed through your phone. Or teach your child how to spell their name using magnetic letters. If they manage this, you could start teaching them basic spellings with these really lovely See and Spell Boards from Melissa and Doug.

Octaland 4D+ occupation flash cards alphabet three year olds

4. Do a Jigsaw Together. My eldest never really got into jigsaw puzzles but my youngest loves them. They are great for developing concentration and fine motor skills and they are fun and satisfying to do. Again, it’s really hard to do jigsaw puzzles when you have little brothers or sisters in the room. There are two jigsaw puzzles that I’d recommend from my stock for this age group. The first is the wooden puzzle of the World and the second are the 36 piece puzzles from Djeco. I stock a Pirate one and a Ballerina one.

The world wooden jigsaw puzzle map for three year old boys and girls

5. Play a Game Together. You are never too young to learn how to play simple games. Snap is a good place to start or dominoes. Once they have mastered the skill of taking turns and the ability to accept that they won’t always win, then you could introduce some memory games. I think you’d be amazed at how quickly they learn how to play these games and how good their little memories are.

Djeco Memo Game memory matching pairs three year old boy girl6. Build Something Together. Use lego or wooden blocks or sand or play dough. Enter in with your child to the imaginary world they are making. I think you’ll find this lots of fun and therapeutic as you’ll be able to make your own creations too.

7. Teach your Child how to Cook or Bake. Prepare dinner but involve your child in the process. Bring the food down to their level or have them stand on a chair so they can see what you are doing (provided it’s safe for them). Count spoonfuls going in together, get ‘help’ stirring and adding. They’ll love being involved and they’re probably more likely to eat it since they made it. It also helps you do something productive.

This time that you have one on one with your child is special and it won’t last forever. Your child will be back in school in less than a month and although it’s draining now, you’ll miss it when they have gone back. Next summer, your baby may not nap any more, so make the most of this special time.

xx Suzie