Shopping for Kids Toys – With Kids

kids ride

Shopping for kids toys has got to be one of more fun jobs that comes with raising children, albeit an expensive one.

The Down Under family has just returned from an after daycare / after work, impromptu  shopping trip. The occasion? The Annual Big W toy sale. You can read about previous shopping trips with kids here – Shopping with Kids.

note this isn’t an ad, just a rundown of our afternoon.

As we discovered this time last year when our toddler was about to turn 1, Big W has an annual toy sale during which not only are a lot of their toys on special (duh), but they offer extended lay-by services until Christmas. Unfortunately last year we had already bought his presents for his birthday, but were able to get our Christmas shopping started.

This year we knew it was coming, in fact it started at midnight last night. While we were planning on leaving it until the weekend, reports from friends told us “all the good toys are selling out”, so this afternoon we ventured out.

As I mentioned before this was an after daycare trip, which meant our toddler was already tired, was that a risk we were willing to take? absolutely! Did he play up while we were there? it could have been worse.

shopping with kids

Above photo was taken during a pit-stop, here I am trying to get a laugh out by sitting in the tiny car next to him, as you can see he is not impressed.

The thing about these toy sales is you generally know what you want to buy before you go in – we had a catalogue circled ready to go. If you have been following for awhile you already know my thoughts on Kids Toys. The other thing about these toy sales is the toys aren’t just confined to the toy section of the shop, they are everywhere. What does this mean?

Firstly is it takes a lot longer then you would expect to find what you are looking for. You want cars? better check the book section, looking for Lego? check the home-wares, Dinosaurs? clothing. I could go on but you get the idea.

Secondly is that you have no idea if something has sold out, or if you just haven’t found it yet. Sure you could ask someone, but then they have to go check. Got a few things you can’t find? you are going to be asking a lot. If someone from Big W happens to be reading this, next year make a map. Seriously it wouldn’t be hard, and would make shoppers lives a lot easier, in fact give me early access to get exactly what I want without the crowds and I’ll even make one for you.

Now I won’t go into detail around how many times we walked around the store, or how long we waited in line for lay-by. But if you happened to be there, our child was the one riding around on the trike getting in everyone’s way.

I’m also not going to spoil the surprise of what we bought. If you keep following his 2nd birthday is only weeks away so you will see then what he gets, Christmas is also closer then you think so you will see those too.

If your after a clue, checkout my post – Vocabulary of an Almost 2 year old, it lists a few of his favorite words which match some of his favorite things.

After a couple of hours shopping, an early dinner out as well. Sometimes its the simple things that put a smile on your child’s face.

kids ride

 

Go To Tricks For Entertaining Kids

kids entertained

Kids will use up all of your energy as a parent, not just physically but mentally as well. No matter how much attention you give them it is never enough. At least until they are teenagers, then they don’t want any (or so I’m told, tell you what, if this blog is still going in another 10 years or so I’ll let you know).

You can spend all day with your child playing game after game, but as soon as you try to put your feet up, they will come running.

The exception to this is nap time (for toddlers anyway). I won’t go into too much detail here as it’s a well known urban legend amoung parents that if you say the word nap too many times your child will refuse to sleep that day. Try it out if you dare.

down under dad

So how can you keep your day entertaining for you and your children? Try out the following

Common Ways to

keep your Children Entertained

  • Play some games – Simple peekaboo games, like hiding around the corner from each other will always get a laugh from a toddler, as they grow up you can change this to a hide and seek style game.
  • Play with their toys – If you are trying to get them to play with their own toys, why not play with them, show them how fun they can be. Chances are you have spent some decent money of the toys so you may as well make the most of them. Try rolling cars along with them, or building their wooden train set. They are more likely to go back to the toys later if they have enjoyed the time spent playing with them.
  • Go Outside – If your kids are anything like mine then they love being outside, sure they don’t understand that in winter they need to wear extra clothes, or in summer they need sunscreen, but they love being outdoors. Have a backyard? Great! maintain it and acquire some outdoor play equipment. Don’t have that luxury? find a nearby park.
  • Get Active with them – Not only will this clear your head but it helps to build healthy habits. Sure this is easier as they get older, but if your child is young enough to be in a pram, then take them for a walk/run. Go kick a ball around a park. Go for a bike ride. The good thing about them being active is that it will tire them out, and all parents know a tired child sleeps better then one full of energy.

kids entertained

So what happens when normal just doesn’t cut it anymore. Parents are often guilty as believing they know best. More specifically, parents whose kids are older always think they know better then those with younger kids, they call it experience.

In my almost 2 years of experience being a parent I have learnt a few tricks. Now I know this parenting gig ain’t always easy, so I’m more then happy to share them. Some might be surprising, others more obvious.

So here it is. . .

Down Under Dad’s

Trick-book for entertaining Toddlers

Disclaimer, these tricks were current at the time of writing. It doesn’t take a genius to tell you they won’t last forever. By the time you read this they might already be outdated. I also can’t be held liable if they don’t work for you. Every child is different.

  • The Wiggles – This one might be a bit outdated, but for the first 12 months of so of our child’s life he was obsessed. Whether it was books, movies, songs, or even merchandise, he would always have a smile on his face. You can imagine the look on his face when he saw them live in concert.
  • Watermelon – Yes I know its a food. If he is playing up or not eating much, Watermelon is the key! He loves it, and by just saying the name, he will instantly stop what he is doing and go to the kitchen.
  • Outside – Our son would spend all day outside if we let him. While not necessarily a bad thing, it can be tough when the weather doesn’t cooperate. However 9 times out of 10 if he is getting stir crazy inside, taking him outside will solve the problem (at least temporarily).
  • Disney Movies – At the moment its 2 in particular. ‘Moana’ and ‘Cars 3’ – both available on Netflix (thank god). The first one is played at least once daily in our house, and yes I can recite the words to most of the songs. The second was an obvious one for us. Our child is obsessed with Cars as objects, so it didn’t take much to put 2 and 2 together and show him the movies.
  • Trucks! – so this last one is related to the previous (cars and trucks both have wheels?). Its also one of those ones that almost makes you feel a little guilty as a parent. You can see the road from the front room of our house, which the occasional truck drives along. Our son loves watching these trucks, doesn’t matter what he is in the middle of, if he thinks he has heard a truck out the front then he will go to try and watch it.

 

As a reader you are probably having 1 of 2 different reactions to the above

  1. There is no way that would work with my kids – I say “fair enough”, I’ve made this list based upon my 2 year old so if your kids are of a different age they might not be effective. I also say “Have you tried?”, if you are currently raising toddlers then I encourage you to try something off my list, any change in routine can be for the better.
  2. Wow you couldn’t be anymore true – I say “thanks, but i’m only showing you what works”. A big part of parenting is trial and error, sometimes you have to try multiple options before you find one that works, and even then it won’t work forever.

 

Ultimately its up to you as a parent to find the best way to keep your kids entertained, but if you can do it successfully, the eventual outcome will look something like the below

tired child

 

What works for you? How do you keep your children entertained? Got a hot tip to add to my list? I’d love to hear it. If I get enough Ill publish a reader submitted edition.

Kids Toys

How many toys is too many? Should you have a variety? When do you decide your child is too old for that? Do you have to abide by the age guides on the box? Why does every toy have a choking hazard? So many questions that I won’t even try to have the right answer for but here’s my thoughts.

How many toys is too many? Ask your kids and they will say you can never have enough. Ask a parent and they will tell you they already have too many. Finding a way to keep them tidy plays a massive role in this. The Down Under household is lucky enough to have a designated toy room, or rather a neat pile in the corner. If you can’t control them, then you have too many. If you can control them, then variety is a blessing

Should you have a variety? absolutely, I cannot stress this enough. If your children are anything like mine then they have a short attention span and need change to keep them occupied. A variety isn’t having a toy car in every color – although my toddler begs to differ. This is also for your sanity, any toy that makes a noise gets old very quickly when it is played for hours on repeat.

When do you decide if your child is too old for that? Simple, when they stop playing with it. Or rather when they beg you to buy the bigger truck because it has more flashing lights and makes more noise then the older one. This is going to be different with every child and every parent. Run with what works, and my advice is to put said toy in the cupboard before tossing it as a toddlers mind can change quickly. Bonus tip – if your planning on having another kid keep said toy in the closet until they come along, not only is it sentimental but will save you money!

Do you have to abide by ages on the box? if your 3 year old is still playing with toys designed for infants i’d say its time to move on. But if your toddler likes the look of the train set designed for a 4 year old, why not give them a shot at it. Supervise them to avoid choking hazards (more on that later), but you might find they really enjoy them, and it will also help your sanity! Think of the ages more as loose guidelines rather then rules.

Why does every toy have a choking hazard? because those loose little pieces are the best part of the toy and there is no way the manufacturer could make the toy successful without them. Honestly I can’t answer this one, I am thankful that my toddler isn’t one for putting toys in his mouth though, gotta take the little wins where you can. Also look at the answer to the previous question, they are there for a reason.