6 alternative things to do with a toddler in Cardiff

Everyone’s writing family bucket lists for the year ahead… I thought I’d try an alternative take on the must-do things for a toddler in South Wales… forget Barry Island and St Fagan’s…. what about…

  1. Car wash – the nearest theme park is probably Oakwood which is a couple of hours away. Save hundreds of pounds on a theme park trip by using one of the drive-through car washes… your toddler will find it amazing (and maybe scary) and funny! It’s a good few minutes of entertainment (longer than a rollercoaster) and you end up with a clean car… bonus! There’s one by the Tesco on Western Avenue, pop in there to get a free piece of fruit for said toddler and then treat them to a McDonalds which is also nearby!
  2. Cardiff airport – can’t afford a foreign holiday? Check the departures/arrivals on the airport website (they’re not that frequent) and go and watch an aeroplane land and/or take-off instead! Much excitement for the little ones and chuck in a car picnic for the full sense of adventure! We’ve watched them from the Premier Inn car park and also the playing fields in St Athan where you can see small/private planes take off too!
  3. Pugh’s garden centre – we don’t have an aquarium or zoo nearby so here’s the next best thing. The fish shop at Pugh’s in Morganstown is AMAZING… such a massive selection… plus a tank that little ones can stand in and watch the fish swim past them! With free parking, this is a great, low-cost way to spend a couple of hours…. see snakes and lizards in the reptile shop, treat them to a cheap book or toy in the Works then have a cuppa and a cake in the family-friendly cafe in Pugh’s itself… perfect!Pughs Garden centre fish
  4. Ikea -another great place to kill a few hours…. let your little ones run wild over the showrooms, they will play house for ages! And follow the arrows around the store to the family-friendly restaurant, great value food and good facilities e.g. Plastic cutlery for kids. On a nice day they also have a play area outside. Just don’t go on a weekend. Or when you actually need to buy something. (For those times put them in their crèche!!)
  5. McArthur Glen – best place to get toddler’s feet measured? Clark’s McArthur Glen…. you get the quality of Clark’s but at a fraction of the price! Free parking so a much better idea than going into the city centre… kids love running wild here and wait til they see the free dinosaur-themed play area! One parent watches them while the other gets some retail therapy in! Finish your visit off with an ice-cream or Wagamamas (crayons included!) just don’t let them see the Little Tykes cars you can hire…. oh also this is the only place in South Wales I’ve seen family-friendly toilets with an adult-sized and child-sized toilet in the same room… cuuuuute!
  6. Funky little chickens – if getting your feet measured is a milestone, what about haircuts too… are you really a toddler from Cardiff if you haven’t had your hair cut at Funky Little Chickens?! You get to sit in a car and watch cartoons, so don’t even notice the hair cut going on… genius! Plus they have toy box to keep them entertained while they wait 🙂

So there you have it. Can you think of any other random places that could be added to the list?!

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Toddler S’s 18 month update

A few days before Christmas, toddler S turned 18 months old. We can finally call him toddler S…. because he’s finally toddling!!

Walking

He’s been walking for about 6 weeks now and so he finally has his first pair of shoes (3.5G) a bit smaller than his big brother’s (a 5 at this age!)

As the weather’s bit a bit wintery we haven’t ventured outside for too many walks, I’d forgotten the fun of teaching them to stay on pavements… and now we have double the fun as the first time I took both boys out without S’s pushchair of course they walked in different directions!

Talking

S can say a handful of words… mamma, dadda, his brother’s name, banana, tractor, tigger, cat, dwr (Welsh for water)

But he’s pretty good at communicating. He knows a few signs that we taught him when he was a baby… the main one he uses is pointing at his mouth when he wants food, and signing for his milk after his bath.

He’ll point to what he wants, he directs you where he wants to go eg towards his coat if he wants to go out! He babbles a lot… so I think when he starts talking properly, he won’t shut up!

Personality

He’s had a tough couple of months, first with a sickness bug then with a lingering cough, but when he’s on form… this boy is wild!

He doesn’t sit still, always on the move. Switching stuff off. Throwing stuff! When o take them both to softplay, he’s fearless… off he goes!

He’s musical, loves music and dancing and repeats songs he hears etc. It’s only now he’s starting to sit down for storytime.

Routine: eating, sleeping etc

This week he’s actually slept through for 2 nights in a row, for over 12 hours… quite a shock as for MONTHS now he’s been waking at least once or twice a night for milk/attention/play…. habits we need to get out of if he doesn’t start sleeping through consistently soon!

He has a daily nap about noon which usually lasts between an hour or two. We still do our bedtime routine and he goes to sleep (with a bottle of milk, my bad) by 7pm.

He still likes his food especially pasta and fruit.

Vital stats

No idea on height and weight but he’s in 12-18 month clothes and still in size 4 nappies. He’s had 2 haircuts (he has lots of blonde hair!) and I think he has 10 teeth.

Favourites

playthings… phones, he loves playing with our smartphones, toy phones, our landline.. so much so that a month ago he accidentally dialled 999 and the police turned up at our doorstep to make sure everything was ok :0

Book… like I said he’s not a huge fan of storytime but Santa bought him Julia donaldson’s ‘monkey puzzle’ which he’s loving at the moment. He makes monkey and elephant noises when he sees them 🙂

Random habit… he’s done this weird thing for ages now, he likes putting his socks under his chin and holding on to them with his chin… very strange!

Can’t wait to see what the next few months brings 🙂

W’s first girlfriend, and first parent’s evening

W had only been in school a week or so when he started talking about ‘M’. He said he was going to invite her over to watch Zootrpolis, and then the next day he said she’d kissed him!

A few days later on our class Facebook group, her dad outed them… she’d told her dad they were girlfriend and boyfriend and that they were going to get married on Barry Island!

I was really not expecting to be dealing with child romance at such a young age! It’s very cute. She lives nearby so they quite often walk home together….. melts my heart!

Young love
W has settled really well into school, never had an issue dropping him off… he’s straight in there. He doesn’t tell us much about what goes on there and I tend to learn more about what he’s been up to via the other parents!

So it was great to go to our first parent’s evening this week! His wonderful teacher showed us his workbook, which they use for assessments. I was so proud to see his work following letters etc.

His Welsh language, drawing and writing skills are all coming along nicely. So we just need to keep practicing more at home. She also told us he was a little shy at times e.g. Needs to be more confident asking to go to the loo.

We told her that his confidence had grown loads since starting school… he likes going to the loo by himself now and can wipe his own bum! And he’s getting much better at dressing/undressing himself.

Teacher said he loves outdoor play, and exploring…. he’s definitely going through an exploring phase. He loves carrying his backpack around, filling it with all sorts just like CBeebies’ Andy!

He’s grown up so much in this past half term. We’re very proud of him. Luckily he still loves cwtching in and sitting on my lap and long may that last – they grow too fast!

Baby S’s 15 month update: what to expect at the 15 month health visitor check 

I’m not a particularly nervous person but I always worry a bit about health visitor checks! For baby S’s 15 month check I was worried he’d show up as underweight and a bit behind on development milestones as he always seems a bit behind what his older brother was doing!

15 month health visitor check
I didn’t need to worry, he passed with flying colours. This may vary by region but here’s the checklist we talked through in his check-up:

  • Eating – what’s his appetite like, what does he eat, does he feed himself… S generally loves food and loves feeding himself trying to use a fork and spoon!
  • Drinking water – does he use a sippy cup, yes and actually prefers normal plastic cups ie without the lid
  • Sleeping – he goes to bed lovely about 6.30-7pm but usually wakes once a night – 10/11 or 2/3. Sometimes we give him a dream feed, sometimes he still wakes later on. We give him milk to go back to sleep, you gotta do what you gotta do! She thought he might be hungry but I think he eats as much as he can in the day… I think it’s just a bad habit now!
  • Walking – he’s taken a few steps but he much prefers bum-shuffling. She saw him walking while holding on to the sofa so she was happy with that. She told me that bum-shufflers end up having more supple limbs which I never knew!
  • Climbing stairs – yes he can! And a few points he’s gone to climb the stairs when he’s ready for bed, clever boy!
  • Words – by this age they want them to be saying 2-6 words and S says mamma, Dadda, nanna and his brother’s name. She heard him babbling lots and she said babbling is good as it means they’re trying to talk!
  • Clapping – he’s been clapping since he was 8 months 
  • Building stacks – can they stack things? She saw him building duplo blocks and was happy with that 
  • Pointing – can he point at things he wants? Yes! Usually the things he’s not allowed!
  • Hidden things – if you hide something, does he realise it’s hidden? Yes – remote controls!! And he’s great at hiding things himself… last week I lost my car keys… they were in the mop bucket!
  • Pincer grip – can they pick up little things? Yes – raisins is a good example!
  • Scribbling -can he hold a pen and scribble, yes and my work notepad is testament to that!
  • Dentist – S has 12 teeth, she reminded me to get him registered with a dentist
  • Potty training – he’s showing no signs of being ready for this, but most don’t until they’re about 2 so I’m not even sure why they ask this?!
  • Vitamins – the only thing she didn’t mention is vitamins, some other mums have mentioned that we should be giving them vitamin supplements?
  • Weight and height – so the thing I was most nervous about didn’t even happen! As S was getting grisly for his nap, she told me to put him down for his nap if I wanted to… and said not to worry about his measurements. She could see that he was happy, lively and alert so I guess she was happy!

So all in all a good visit. He’s had a tough few weeks of teething but seems ok again at the moment. Still loves music and his big brother!

Talking of his brother it’s always nice to compare their updates – funny they both had 12 teeth by 15 months, funny I was calling W a toddler but S isn’t quite toddling yet so still our l’il baby! 

REVIEW: Cocobubble – dinosaur bath-time fun for kids!

I’ve blogged before about how much the boys love their bath-time as part of their evening routine.

So it’s always great for them to have new things to play with in the bath… so I was delighted to get sent some fab things to try from local, Cardiff-based company Cocobubble.

For W we were sent a ‘Dinosaur adventure pack’ (RRP £14.50) which is a pack of dinosaur soaps and a dinosaur finger puppet that can help to build a nest of ‘sand’ (lemon-scented play paint/soap) in a coconut shell for the ‘dinosaur egg’ (bath bomb!) Continue reading “REVIEW: Cocobubble – dinosaur bath-time fun for kids!”

W starts school! 

Yesterday was a huge day, W started school. School nursery to be precise, they start early in Wales at age 3.

The run-up

We bought his school jumper and polo shirts a few weeks ago, he’s so small that even school trousers aged 2-3 are too big on him so I checked on the Facebook group for the class parents if joggers are ok to wear… they are… phew!

Didn’t manage to get his haircut in time so looks slightly overgrown.

The day before his start day I had to nip up to the school to get the paperwork I was given to fill in months ago. I had visions of him being turned away on day 1 for not having filled it in!!

I booked this week off as it was such a big event. So W and I spent Monday together, bought him new shoes, had a wagamamas then went swimming… lovely day!

Tuesday and a Wednesday afternoons he was back at Cylch meithrin (Welsh pre-school playgroup), they’ll be doing his wraparound care, was good to get him back into a bit of a routine….

Then it was time for….

The big morning Continue reading “W starts school! “

Baby S turns 1!

I feel so guilty that I’m nearly 3 weeks writing this up, but in my defence we have moved house which has consumed my life for the last month!

So, S turned 1!

I still can’t believe it in a way, he’s still so small and baby-like! When I look back over the year it feels like we’ve had a year of two halves.

The first year

The first 4-5 months were hard. After a pretty easy labour, we had weeks of breastfeeding struggles and actually a few months of bottle feeding struggles. In hindsight, he may have had silent reflux or something but we muddled through the long days of endless screaming and eventually came out of it the other side!

At 8 weeks old he was admitted to hospital with what turned out to be a cold. At that point I feared that he was going to be a sick sicky baby. And of course I felt some blame because he wasn’t on breast milk. But actually since that blip we’ve been blessed (touch wood!) with good health… very few niggles or sniffles.

So after those first hard few months, he turned into this happy, laid-back baby. He loves music, he loves eating and he loves his big brother. Continue reading “Baby S turns 1!”

One week left of my last ever maternity leave!

A week today I will have just done my first day back in work. In a brand new job *gulp*

As most working mothers do I suspect, I have mixed feelings about it.

I’m really looking forward to starting the new job. It’s a brand new role, in a relatively new team. So hopefully fewer distractions and office politics to worry about. No predecessors to live up to. No trying to back up to speed and suss out all the things that have changed in a year – people, politics, processes. Continue reading “One week left of my last ever maternity leave!”

Baby S’s 11 month update

After seemingly a few months of few changes, this month S has been busy!

He came out of leap 7 early in the month armed with new skills:

  • he can clap
  • he’s trying to crawl, and stand up
  • he can shuffle backwards depending on the floor material
  • passing things
  • sorting things
  • he can turn around 360 degrees sitting down

Poor thing – it’s been nearly a month and he still hasn’t mastered crawling or pulling himself up – he’s desperate to do both so I’m sure it won’t be long!

Continue reading “Baby S’s 11 month update”