Hospital Bag Checklist for Dads

hospital bag checklist for dads

All you have to do is open Google and search to find countless lists of what a Mum-to-be should pack in her bag for hospital, but what about Dads? I wanted to make sure we were ready to go so I started searching for a hospital bag checklist for dads. The information I was chasing wasn’t as readily available as I had hoped so I decided to put together my own list. After all this is a Dad Blog, so it should have advice useful for Dads!

Why Do you need a Hospital Bag checklist for Dads?

Those who have been following would know that the Down Under Family currently only has one toddler, however that is all about to change see – When 3 become 4 . While I like to think I learnt a lot the first time around, there are others out there with a lot more experience.

With that in mind I decided to reach out to the Dads on Twitter for some advice

While there were a mixed bag of responses, there was also a few common items which I agree with. So without dragging it on, here it is:

Down Under Dad’s – Hospital Bag Checklist for Dads

  • Snacks – this is an obvious one, chances are you are going to be in the delivery room for an extended period of time, and you can’t exactly order room service (although that could be a good business idea?)
  • A Pillow – Not only do you want to do everything you can to make your partner comfortable, but you need to look after yourself too. A simple pillow can make a big difference to your level of comfort.
  • Chargers – Whether its a charger for your camera or your phone that will double as one you want to make sure you have it handy. The last thing you need is a flat battery because you have been playing games for most of the day.
  • Comfy Clothes – While you may feel the need to dress fancy so you look nice in your first photos with your newborn, so one is going to be looking at you. So wear something comfortable, and make sure you pack a change of clothes too.
  • The Push Present – they say it takes 2 to make a baby but lets face it, giving birth is a 1 sided job. Women go through a lot to bring a baby into the world so they deserve to be rewarded.

The list could go on, but here are some honorable mentions:

 

So there you have it, while there is plenty of lists for Mum’s available online, there is finally a hospital bag checklist for dad’s.

hospital bag checklist for dads

 

 

Weekly Wrap Up – Sunday 29th July 2018

Weekly Wrap Up

Ready for the week to start all over again? me neither.

My work roster gives me a 4 day week and a 6 day week, unfortunately this week was the latter of the two. That means less time spent with the family, less adventures, and less time writing for my readers, it doesn’t mean it was a quiet week though.

We should always spend some downtime reflecting on our day to day happenings, that’s what this is about,

Down Under Dad presents – The Week that Was.

The End of our Quick Escape

After a busy couple of weeks I finally got around to finishing my account of our short getaway, you can check out Our Quick Escape – Part 3

In case you haven’t been following, part of the reason for our little holiday was our family is about to become bigger, you can check out the details here When 3 become 4. . . . The other part was to celebrate our little guy turning 2 and Mr and Mrs Down Under Dad surviving 2 Years of Parenthood.

The main focus of day 3 of our getaway was our visit to the Hunter Valley Zoo. While we didn’t spend a full day there, it was well worth it to see Ollie’s reactions to finally seeing animals that he had only ever seen in books, in real life!

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Down Under Dad is Famous

Well, not in the traditional sense of the word, but hey, you gotta take the small wins when you can get them.

I was invited by Chris of Dad of Divas to be featured on his segment Dad’s in the limelight. A series of interviews with various Dads around the world answering questions to give you a deeper understanding of them.

You can follow the link to check out the full interview Featured – Dads in the Limelight

featured dad

How many Parties is Too many Parties?

You already know that our little guy recently turned 2 and the celebrations were out of control (well, as out of control as you would expect for a 2 year old).

What you might not know is that he has group of friends all with birthdays within 2 months of each other.

What does this mean? every year around this time the Down Under Family spends at least 1 day of most weekends attending a child’s birthday party.

You can check out our adventures at 2 of them here 2nd Birthday Bonanza

toddler playground megamania

If you can’t tell already they were pretty wild too.

And it Wouldn’t be a Dad Blog Without?

Dad Jokes of course!

If in need of a good laugh you should check out 25/7/18 – Dad Joke of the Day

and there you have it, the week that was!

Stay tuned for the week ahead!

or if you have been away for awhile and want to see what we have been up to, check out Weekly Wrap Up – Sunday 22nd July 2018

2nd Birthday Bonanza

toddler playground megamania

With a title like that you’re thinking one of 2 things, either:

  • I am one of those (insane?) parents who not only celebrates the birthday of their children but the entire month, or
  • We somehow had another child born within a couple of weeks of our first – now that would make for a good story.

note, you could be forgiven for choosing option 1 as we did go away for 3 days leading up to the little guy’s 2nd birthday, you can read about it here Our Quick Escape – Part 1

Or I could be wrong and its something completely different, either way I’ll offer up a third option;

More 2nd Birthday Parties to Attend!

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before but my wife has a group of Mum friends that she is really close with. They all met during antenatal classes before babies came along and stayed good friends, the Dads became friends too, albeit not as close as their other halves.

Anyway that means they have a group of friends all with kids around the same age. That’s means the kids all know each other and are growing up together (to a point). This also means that their birthdays are around the same time of the year.

Last year that meant every weekend for almost 2 months there was a 1st birthday party to attend – if we’re honest it was the most social any of the group had been in 12 months.

This year the calendar isn’t quite as fully booked, but there has still been some fun to be had, you can check out the celebrations for Oliver’s 2nd birthday here 2 Years of Parenthood

Want to see how we celebrated his friends birthdays?

Party Number 1

Well 2 if you count ours as number 1.

So our Party was held at a Pub, Party number 2 was held at a local Play Centre called ‘Megamania’ – Think Multi-Story indoor playground.

As far as a venue for a kids party goes, this would have to be right up there. Its secure so your kids can’t escape – not that they would want to, they provide party food, drink, and cake – because you can’t have a party without cake, and the fun is physical enough that your toddler will be worn out enough by the end to have a sleep – at least you hope so anyway.

toddler playground megamania

The playground itself is imposing enough for an adult (would be close to 3 stories tall), let alone a toddler.

No, don’t worry, the playground doesn’t have some inbuilt spy cameras, to give Ollie enough confidence to play by himself, Down Under Dad had to play with him for the first few times.

You can see below just how high the playground is

toddler playground megamania

After being forcefully removed by his Dad as cake was being served, the little guy ended up going back inside all by himself – #proudparentingmoment right there.

If you look closely you can see him up the top

toddler playground megamaniaIf you look over the right of the photo you can also see the large red slide. While this was the cause of much joy and laughter, it wasn’t without some bumps.

At some point Ollie decided to go down on the slide by himself. Long story short he ended up with a small friction burn on his chin. Like a true toddler though he continued playing like it was nothing, he did however drag Dad back up to the slide each time after that though.

Overall the Party was a success, although it didn’t quite wear him out as much as we would have thought.

Party Number 2

or is it 3??

The next party was something completely different again. The venue? a local park, if you have been following you would know that this is a dream come true for the little guy, check out Weekend Adventures .

Luckily at the moment we are going through a surprisingly warm time for the middle of winter. Not only is it warm but the sun is out and there is little wind. Perfect for a day at the park.

One of the bonuses of this park was it was also only a short drive away, no major planning needed and anything we forgot was a short trip back home.

note, not that we did, I did see that as a bonus though in case we needed it.

A feature of the park was a large network of paths connecting BBQ areas and playgrounds. This proved to be the perfect chance to try out one of Ollie’s birthday presents.

toddler bike

Before you say anything, yes he does have a helmet, but it was left at home – only a short drive away. Not that we did go get it, #parentingfail ,  to be fair he didn’t actually spend a lot of time on the bike.

He did however choose to eat freshly cut fruit over crackers and dip, already choosing the healthy option, that has to be a #parentingwin right there.

toddler playground park

Did we mention at earlier that this party was held at a park? part of the reason not a lot of time was spent on the bike was that he was distracted by the play equipment.

Here you can see him climbing up the netting, the first couple of times he got stuck at the top but once we showed him where to hold on, he did it all by himself, over and over and over.

Unfortunately our time at this party was cut short as Down Under Dad had to work in the afternoon, however a great time was still had.

 

Our Quick Escape – Part 3

quick escape hunter valley

Our third and final day of our 3 Day Hunter Valley Escape wasn’t as jam packed as the previous 2, however that didn’t stop us making the most of our time in the Hunter Valley.

While it was only a 3 day break, our little holiday was the perfect way to spend some quality time as a family of 3 before things get a whole lot busier When 3 become 4. . . It also happened to line up with the 2nd birthday of our little guy so it was a great way to celebrate it as a family.

If you can’t tell by the title this is actually the third and final part of our adventure. I encourage you to check out our experiences on Day 1 Our Quick Escape – Part 1 , as well as our adventures with Snow (in this part of the country?) on Day 2 Our Quick Escape – Part 2.

All caught up now? Here we go. . .

Day 3

After being so excited the day before that we got up at 2am (can you feel the enthusiasm?) , Day 3 started a little slower. We knew we had until 11am to be out of the hotel (thank you late checkout), but we also didn’t want to start our day too late.

After our little guy felt the need to open the door to the balcony and proclaim to everyone “ooo its cold” over and over it wasn’t long before we were out of bed. After packing our bags, double checking under the beds, triple checking the cupboards, and quadruple checking the bathroom (I know it was only 2 days but when you have a toddler you will find things in the most surprising of places), we decided we needed breakfast.

We had avoided breakfast at the hotel buffet so far as the price was a little steep for us, but being the last day we also thought it would be convenient. Walking past the buffet and seeing the lineup snake its way throughout the lobby of the hotel cemented our decision to find food elsewhere.

taste of the country

If you read Our Quick Escape – Part 1 you will know that on the first day we found a great little cafe that did All Day Breakfast – not that it was late, just we already knew they did good breakfasts.

Breakfast was fairly uneventful, the real run began when we got to the Zoo

Hunter Valley Zoo

The Zoo had been one of our main reasons for coming to the Hunter Valley. Our little guy had always been fascinated by different animals in books and on the TV, so we thought he would be impressed to see them up close.

A short drive away, a handy voucher giving us discounted entry, and we were ready to go.

After we paid our entry fee and purchased our bag of ‘animal food’, we headed in. We immediately heard over the PA system that there was going to be a ‘Lion Talk’ starting in 10 minutes. Anyone with a toddler knows their attention spans can be short, and standing in a crowd listening to someone talk through a speaker is not going to bode well.

It also meant that the walk-in area where you can feed to kangaroos had next to no one in it so it made for the perfect first stop.

Hunter Valley Zoo

Kangaroo Joey

While I understand why they do it, its safe to say just about everyone who comes to the Zoo buys some animal food as the kangaroos were pretty well fed. Upon realising this the little guy decided that the ducks on the other side of the fence were more deserving of his attention, as well as his food.

feed kangaroo

After getting bored of feeding the kangaroos, ducks, and the odd Llama, we decided to keep moving. Next stop were the Monkeys. Kangaroos, ducks, and even Llamas were something Ollie had seen outside before, so the Monkeys were the first animals he had only ever seen in a book. You could tell he was impressed, until we moved on the only words out of his mouth were “Eee Eee Eee” – in case you couldn’t tell that’s the sound a Monkey makes.

monkeys

As we continued through the first half of the Zoo, the animals were more suited to older kids. What do I mean by that? A toddler isn’t exactly interested in birds, or any animal that’s smaller then they are, especially when they aren’t moving much.

We then moved towards the larger animal enclosures, walking past a number of Crocodiles. Again no matter how much enthusiasm Mum and Dad showed towards them, Ollie wasn’t interested unless they were moving.

Beyond the Crocodiles were the Lions – thankfully by the time we got there the crowd had already dispersed. Unfortunately that also meant the Lions were using this time to rest and weren’t being overly active.

note, I’m not 100% sure if the Lions were actually more active during the talk, however with never seeing a Lion in the wild, I’m not sure how active they are.

As we checked out the other large enclosures we noticed an Emu had come over to the fence and a couple of people were feeding it. I used this opportunity to get rid of the last of our animal food that we had been carrying around and allow Ollie to see it up close. That was were it wrong. . .

Now just to clarify nothing bad as such happened here and no one was ever in danger

With child in one arm and food in the other I reached out to the emu – with the food, not the child (I shouldn’t feel the need to clarify that), and the Emu promptly snatched the food out of my hand. While some of us thought this was funny, the look on the little guy’s face was one of shock and horror.

Let’s just say we moved away from the Emu pretty quickly. Fortunately the scare from the Emu was quickly forgotten about when the Lions decided to use that time to be more active.

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To paint a picture for you there are two Lion enclosures with a high wall between them, they each hold a different type of Lion, a male and female of each.

When the first one decided to open its lungs and Roar, the other 3 did the same. What followed was a ten minute symphony of loud roars that would have woken anyone up.

The rest of the visit was rather uneventful compared to the Emu’s and Lions.

Time to head Home

While no one was ready to hop back in the car, all good things must come to an end.

As I mentioned in Our Quick Escape – Part 1 we were lucky that our Destination in the Hunter Valley was only a short drive from our home of Newcastle . While it was only a short drive, 3 big days had obviously warn the little guy out as he was fast asleep as soon as we pulled out of the driveway from the Zoo.

quick escape hunter valley

That marked the End of Our Hunter Valley Escape. However the busy week didn’t finish there, Day 3 of our Holiday was also the day Ollie turned 2, you can read more about it in 2 Years of Parenthood .

 

 

 

Weekly Wrap Up – Sunday 22nd July 2018

weekly wrap up

The weekend is Over, you have done what preparation you could for the week ahead and now its time to sit down and get that final bit of relaxation time in before heading to bed to start the week.

This is the perfect time to catch up on the week that was, especially if your like me and have been slacking off, too busy, or just focused on other things, that’s fine, I understand, this post is made for you, a summary of the last week, or so.

Disclaimer, this is actually a two week summary as I missed last weeks. Sorry to mislead you but Weekly Fortnight Wrap Up just didn’t have the same ring to it.

Our Quick Escape

I told you I have been busy, our little family went away for 3 days to the beautiful Hunter Valley.

The first day was really a half day by the time we arrived. A filling lunch at a nice little cafe, a play in the park, and exploring the hotel rounded out the day, check it out here – Our Quick Escape – Part 1

quick escape hunter valley

The second day was fully packed from the time it started (around 2am). There was plenty of good food, we found some snow (in this part of the country??), and enjoyed some hot coffee. Some more fun back at the hotel and the day was over. Find out more Our Quick Escape – Part 2

I also told you I have been slacking off, so much that I still haven’t finished Part 3 – Coming Soon.

The Little Guy Turns 2

I’ve been blogging now for a few months and I just realised I never actually mention our little guys name. Oliver has finally turned 2 and Mr and Mrs Down Under are celebrating, not just his birthday but making it through 2 Years of Parenthood .

There was a wild party at the local pub to celebrate (as wild as it gets for a 2 year old), and plenty of new toys to keep Ollie occupied for at least a couple of days.

car

Twitter Mention

So it turns out that something Mrs Down Under stumbled upon on Youtube – Super Simple Songs is pretty well known. They should really teach you this stuff before you become a parent.

All I did was tweet something that my child did and tagged the artist and it went viral, well as viral as someone with 170 followers on Twitter can go.

baby shark

If you want to stay up to date and hear even more bad dad jokes (only the best ones make the blog), then give me a follow @DownUnderDadbg

Bucket List Contribution

A few weeks ago I came across a post from Wendy at Travel Drink Dine , asking for submissions for an Australian Bucket List. What better way to highlight the great city Down Under Dad comes from then by contributing a section for my hometown of Newcastle. You can find the full list here by following the link Reblog – The Ultimate Australian Bucket List – Travel Drink Dine

Random Facts about Newcastle

The contribution to the bucket list was only short and was more touristy then anything, sure it might interest you if you were travelling around Australia, it didn’t really give you much information.

After reading The Cole Campfire’s Top 10 Random Facts about Oregon I decided to make a similar list.

If you want to know more about where Down Under Dad comes from, check out Top 10 Random Facts about Newcastle . While it doesn’t neccesarily sum up the best things about Newcastle, it certainly has some interesting facts that not even the people who live here might know.

Nobbys Beach Newcastle

Dad Joke

Have you been paying attention? I told you only the Best Dad Jokes make it to my Blog. 2 Dad Jokes made it to the hall of fame that is the Down Under Dad Blog this week.

You can read the one about the Surgeon and his Patient here 14/7/18 – Dad Joke of the Day

Or if the Pope is more your style check out 21/7/18 – Dad Joke of the Day

dad joke

As I said at the start this wasn’t so much a weekly wrap up but a fortnightly wrap up as I’ve been a combination of Slack and Busy. This week should see a change in that.

Hope you’ve had a Great Week! Enjoy the week ahead. If your still awake and feel like some more light reading, you can check out the previous Weekly Wrap Up here – Weekly Wrap Up – Sunday 8th July 2018.

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2 Years of Parenthood

birthday party

When you were young, 2 years seemed like a long time, now as adults 2 years can go by pretty quickly.

This Dad is proud to say the Down Under Family has made it through 2 years of parenthood, that’s right our little guy has just turned 2 years old.

There has been plenty of good memories made from the last 2 years, there was also plenty of tough days. As always though the good ones will always outnumber the bad.

“The next time you think you are struggling with parenthood, just remember the duck that let all 5 of her ducklings go away before going looking for them”

But that’s not what this post is about, this is about our little guy turning 2.

kangaroo

His Birthday

As part of his birthday celebrations we went on a short break into the Hunter Valley which you can read about here – Our Quick Escape – Part 1

The last day of that break matched up with his actual birthday and we started the day off by going to the Zoo! You can read a lot more detail about that in the final part of that series.

Oliver got to see many of the animals he had only ever seen in books or on TV up close and even got to feed some kangaroos. While he did get freaked out by Dad feeding an Emu, he was amazed when the lions decided to roar at each other for a good 5 minutes non stop.

To summarise though at the age of 2 no matter how many times we told him it was his birthday, it didn’t really click until later on in the day.

When we got home we wasted no time in giving him his birthday presents from us. If you read Vocabulary of a almost 2 Year Old you probably have a fair idea of what we were getting him.

car

That’s right, his presents were themed from his 2 favorite things, Cars (not just any cars, has to be the licensed stuff), and Dinosaurs.

Awhile ago I wrote a piece on Kids Toys – Kids Toys . In this you can read my thoughts on how strict parents should be with the age guidelines on toys. Given the size of one of his dinosaurs, lets just say we still don’t follow these strictly.

His Party

I never wrote about the party we held for his 1st birthday as this blog wasn’t around. To get you up to speed, it was in our backyard (our small backyard), we did all the food ourselves (with a little help from our family), and Mrs Down Under made a multi-layer cake herself (with many practice runs). While it ran smoothly and the weather was great, it was also a lot of work, something we didn’t really want to do this year.

Fortunately we had found a great venue to have it. A local pub that has recently undergone renovations has built an indoors playground next to a large beer garden area. We booked the tables closest to the only entry point to the playground so the kids could play as they pleased and the adults could relax – as much as possible at a kids party.

birthday party

After a couple hours of playing, snacking, and a couple of drinks it was time for cake

“A Party without Cake is just a Meeting”

A simple ice cream cake with his favorite car on top was certainly a hit. So much that when the car was taken off a few of the toddlers wanted to ‘share’ the car. I say ‘share’ because we know how good toddlers can be at sharing.

Most of the attendees at the party were actually friends that the little guy made before he was even born. My wife’s mum’s group became friends before any of their kids were born and are still good friends 2 years down the track. What does this mean? it means that 12 months ago there was a party every weekend for close to 2 months. It also means that this is the first 2nd birthday party of many in the coming weeks. Stay Tuned!

Our Quick Escape – Part 2

quick escape hunter valley

While Day 1 was only really a half day, it was still a long one and had taken it out of all of us. Day 2 started a little earlier then we would have hoped, but that’s the life of a parent.

A quick escape into the Hunter Valley was the perfect way to not only celebrate our little guy turning 2 (and us surviving 2 years of parenthood), but it was also the last chance before our little family becomes bigger – When 3 become 4. . .

If this is your first stop and you have just read that this is ‘Part 2’ then you probably should check out Our Quick Escape – Part 1 first. Don’t worry ill wait for you. . . OK your back? Let’s move on. . .

Day 2 – Early Rise

Yesterday was a long day that ended up with the family in bed by 8pm, the next day started however with the family awake at 2am. Whether it was Toddler Sleep Regressions , a sick child, sleeping in a foreign environment, or simply our toddler deciding that Mum and Dad were not getting a good night sleep. We aren’t sure why the little guy decided to wake up and not go back to sleep for 2 and half hours. Fortunately once he did fall back to sleep he didn’t wake up until around 9am.

So what started as an early rise, ended up being a late one with us not leaving the hotel until close to 10am.

Breakfast

On holidays its important to not only enjoy the time with each other and the places you go, but also the food you eat. Keeping this in mind we found another cafe advertising that not only were they open for breakfast, but they had Coffee – Habit or Necessity – Definitely a Necessity at this point.

The place we found was “Oscar’s Hunter Valley”.

Note, I must be honest with you, it wasn’t so much that we ‘found’ the place, we had been given some vouchers for various places around the Hunter Valley by our family, 25% off of the total bill was reason enough to go searching.

Hunter Valley Breakfast

Was the food as good as it looks? Absolutely!

Was the experience as smooth as the Coffee? Not exactly

As I mentioned earlier, the little guy didn’t sleep the best the night before. As any parent would tell you, a tired toddler who at this stage we actually think is teething (when does it end?), doesn’t mix well with waiting for breakfast. Not that we had to wait that long, again the service was pretty good.  However as soon as our food came out, our toddler decided that something else needed to come out too and Dad and Son went searching for a more appropriate place to clean up.

Snow? In this part of the Country?

One of the reasons we decided to visit the Hunter Valley for our Quick Escape was that the Hunter Valley Gardens were running their annual “Snowtime in the Hunter” event.

What? Snow? I thought Australia was warm and sunny, not cold and snowy. Well that’s true most of the time however like the rest of the world we still have a winter. Although in our part of the country, snow is almost unheard of. Normally if we wanted to enjoy it, it would mean a 7 hour drive. While it isn’t the same, its still a good bit of fun for kids.

snowtime in the hunter While it wasn’t much, the little guy had a bit of fun playing in the snow. There was also a ice skating rink setup, however given the extra cost involved and our toddler’s mixed emotional state, we gave that a miss.

We did however try out the toboggan slide, and while the time to line up was longer then the experience itself it was still fun, at least for Dad, there was no way the little guy was having another go.

As day wore on, more and more people arrived, given the relatively small area that had ‘snow’ we didn’t hang around there too much longer.

snowtime in the hunter

We did manage to build this little snowman though – you can tell we don’t see snow often.

Ride and Slide

Outside of the ‘snow’ area had a few rides and food places setup. Our little guy was fascinated watching some of the rides as they activated, unfortunately for him but fortunately for our wallets, at the age of 2 he is still too small to ride them.

Thankfully they did have an area setup for kids in this situation – an inflatable fun zone! Of course our child being the child he is wasn’t content with simply climbing and sliding on the areas he could do himself. He needed Dad to help him climb up the biggest and slide down with him – over and over again.

slide

When we eventually were able to drag our toddler away from the inflatable fun, we did so by taking him on the merry-go-round. This was a ride the entire family could go on. While it was short lived, we did manage to get a few smiles from the little guy.

A couple of hours in the sun meant it was time for a cold drink, and? you guessed it, fresh coffee. Coffee for Dad, Hot Chocolate for Mum, and a Baby-cino for the little guy.

While enjoying our drinks we also noticed a stall selling various balloons. Now you probably know by now that our toddler is obsessed with dinosaurs. He also knows a few different animals like cows and dogs.

Afternoon Exploring

One place we had driven past a few times but not stopped at was the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company. A small cafe with a chocolate shop attached where they make there own fudge onsite. If you like your sweet stuff then it is definitely a place to visit. While Mum was having a look around it was time for another energy boost.

coffee

As we still had some daylight hours left we decided to pop into shop that advertised a huge selection of beers from around the world, along with a range of local wines, and tastings on them everyday.

This stop was purely for Dad as none of this interests a 2 year old, and as you know Down Under Mum is pregnant. This allowed me to sample a couple of Hunter Red Wines. At least that way we could say we tasted some wines while staying in the heart of the Hunter Valley Wine Region.

Nighttime Adventures

When we returned to the hotel we noticed a sign saying every night at 6pm (just after dark) the dancing fountain light show was on. Given this was our last night and we were free we thought we should check it out.

 

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While relatively short lived, it did hold the attention of our toddler until we decided the cold was too much.

It was then time for dinner, which after the previous nights attempt we were a little nervous about. It did go off without a hitch though! Turns out we must have got there just at the right time as our food came out relatively quick, and when we went back to order some dessert, there was a wait time of over an hour – so we skipped dessert and ordered it from room service instead.

As it was still early at this stage and we had now eaten we decided the little guy could have another go at driving the arcade games since he enjoyed it so much the night before. I think we underestimated how much he enjoyed them because we were there for awhile – again not actually playing them, just pretending (although he didn’t know that).

Eventually it was time for bed, and while he wasn’t overly impressed at leaving them, he was too tired to fight it.

Day 2 was a full day, but it wasn’t the end of our escape into the Hunter Valley. Stay tuned for Part 3.

Our Quick Escape – Part 1

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Our Quick Escape – Part 1

quick escape hunter valley

With baby number 1 turning 2 this week and baby number 2 fast approaching When 3 become 4. . . A few days off in a row was the perfect excuse for our little family to enjoy a break before our lives get a whole lot busier. It just so happens that our little guy also turns 2 this week so what better way to celebrate then a family holiday.

Day 1

As all parents would know, it doesn’t matter how well thought out your plans are, more often then not those plans will never go exactly how you want them to. Today Mrs Down Under had a checkup to make sure everything was going alright with Baby number 2, again as most parents – and anyone who has experienced a waiting room knows that there is no way to tell exactly how long you will be there.

Without going into too much detail we didn’t end up leaving our place until lunchtime.

Luckily our destination was the small town of Pokoblin in the heart of the Hunter Valley. For those reading abroad this is just a short 45 minute drive from our hometown of Newcastle.

Long Overdue Lunch Break

After driving past our hotel as lunch was more important then checking in, we arrived at the village attached to the Hunter Valley Botanic Gardens. A short stroll around and we found exactly what our stomachs were looking for.

taste of the country

The place was only small but the fireplace in the corner was definitely welcoming given its still the middle of winter.

One thing about this place that really stood out was the service. By this stage our little guy was approaching the danger zone AKA past his usual nap time. This was made easier by the waitress who didn’t make him sit in the high chair (a phase he is going through) but rather got him a cushion so he could sit on the normal chairs, then gave him some coloring in to do. When she found out it was his birthday this week she also gave him a car!

note, the car was a matchbox car that had been left behind by a previous customer.

Given that this is a parenting blog and any parent readers know just what toddlers can be like, I feel it important to mention that none of the over and above actions of the waitress actually improved his mood – but it was still a nice touch.

country breakfast

As you can see the food was just as good as the service. Pancakes for Mum and Son, and Corn Fritters with a home made sweet chili jam for Dad.

Afternoon Exercise

After lunch it was time to visit the park that Mum and Dad (but thankfully not son) had spied on the way in. Regular readers would know by now that our little guy loves using the play equipment in parks Weekend Adventures so this was a required stop in our eyes.

park fun

While it does look like he has the run of the grounds to himself, what you can’t see off camera is half a dozen other children sharing the park. Keyword there being sharing, something we are still trying to teach our little guy.

After we got bored, or sick of sharing – you can decide which. It was time to check in to the hotel. While the hotel did have one of those big fancy driveways where you stop right out the front (its the little things in life), it was full when we arrived, so we simply parked and walked with our suitcase. To an adult a suitcase with a pullout handle and 2 wheels does make life easier when travelling. To a toddler who feels the need to drag it by himself, it does not. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture for that one as it didn’t last long. Instead Dad had a toddler in one arm and the suitcase in the other.

The Hotel

When we eventually walked in we had 2 options, left or right. Right allowed us to deposit our bags while we checked in on the left and have them brought to the room for us. Hotels should consider this service for children as well, allow parents to deposit them while they sort out the paperwork and take everything out of the mini bar so the kids don’t accidentally open the $10 bottle of water.

One thing the hotel did give us – or rather the little guy was a stuffed animal frog with their insignia printed on the foot. While this might not seem like much to you and me, to a 2 year old it was amazing.

I do need to describe our room to you though.

  • 2 double beds – we had the illusion that at least one of us might get a good nights sleep each night which would have been great given the recent Toddler Sleep Regressions but more on that later.
  • Bath Tub – this is a big deal for us, as our bathroom at home lacks this feature. While we have perfected the art of showering a toddler, nothing beats a bath in his eyes.
  • No Microwave – something we should have considered, but more on that later.
  • A View – when we booked the room it was described as having a view over either the golf course the hotel was situated on, or the pool area. What they didn’t mention was the pool area wasn’t due for completion until 2019

balcony room

 

Our little guy got so excited about the presence of a bath tub that he decided then and there that he needed a bath, immediately.

Given the fact the only time our toddler had rested today was in the car (which is no replacement for a proper nap in my opinion), an early dinner was in order. On the way we thought we should check out the ‘games’ room we had seen on way in.

Pro-tip for parents – unless you know exactly what is in said ‘games’ room, don’t go anywhere near it, don’t even mention it.

arcade game

The games room was full of arcade games, AKA money drains if your kids understand them and want to play them. Or if your kid simply wants to sit in the car and pretend he is driving like ours, good luck getting them to leave.

It was at that time we reaching breaking point in the danger zone, While Mum and Dad tried to order a meal and then enjoy it. The little dude was not having a bar of it. Without sugar coating it, it wasn’t the most pleasant experience.

As soon as dinner was done it was straight back to the room for bed. Given the last 45 minutes or so we had no grand ideas about how this was going to go down especially given we were in a foreign environment. What made this more difficult was the delay in warming up a bottle. No microwave made this difficult, as did the fact the plug in the sink didn’t actually stop the water from draining away.

note if anyone has an easier way to warm up a bottle then running it under hot water from the tap when you don’t have a microwave I’d love to hear it for next time.

But Surprise Surprise, A warm bottle, a dark room, cuddles with Dad, and 15 minutes of your favorite movie, was all it took to get him to fall asleep.

That was Day 1 of a 3 Day adventure – you can find Part 2 below,

Our Quick Escape pt 2

 

 

A Week with a Sick Toddler

toddler wooden trainset

So as your probably aware by now, it is the middle of winter in our part of the world. That means our usual warm and dry days have been replaced by cold and wet ones. Instead of the sun rising early and setting late, most people are leaving for work in the cold and getting home after dark. What else does it mean? it means we are in the middle of the so called ‘flu’ season.

Now if you have been following you would know that Down Under Dad was recently struck down by the dreaded Dad Flu – see Hit for 6 and Out! Some Antibiotics and a few days off work later and I recovered. Unfortunately all those stories you hear of sickness running through entire families are true and now our little guy is sick.

Sick Toddler

After a bit of a rough night on Monday, Mrs Down Under took the day off on Tuesday to look after the poor guy and ended up taking him to the Doctors. That saying about bad things coming in three’s is true. He has, an Ear Infection, a mild case of Croup, and a bit of conjunctivitis to round it out.

OK so it hasn’t quite been a week yet, but ruling out an overnight recovery, it probably will be.

How do you know when your Child is actually Sick?

Every so often as a parent you know you are going to have a rough day or night here and there. Maybe its a sleepless night, maybe your child is being a lot more needy then usual, Maybe you just really want to have a quiet day on the lounge and all your children want to do is go outside. What constitutes a rough day will vary from parent to parent. Sometimes your child is teething, sometimes they are sick, sometimes there will be no explanation whatsoever for there behavior.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how our little guy wasn’t sleeping like he used to, you can read that here Toddler Sleep Regressions , As a parent how do you know if your toddler is simply going through a regression (although there is nothing simple about a toddler being awake all night), or if its something more.

Nobody knows our kids better then their own parents. To determine if your child is sick you can ask two sets of questions. Firstly, You know their behavior better then anybody. What’s normal (for them), and What is out of the ordinary. Secondly, You also know their habits as well. How much they normally eat, How often do they go to the toilet. The first set of questions are ones you can ask yourself and it will let you know if something is up. The second set are what a doctor will ask you if you go visit them. Generally speaking if your child is eating/drinking and doing number 1 and 2, if they don’t have a temperature they probably are OK (again i’m not a doctor, just not a helicopter parent either).

 

What to do when your Sick?

I’m not going to tell you when to go to the Doctor, in no way am I a trained medical professional, and if you ask my wife, she will tell you there is plenty of times when I personally should have gone to the doctor and didn’t.

This is more about how to pass the time that you should be ‘resting’ – who can really get a toddler.

If you are looking for some easy ways to keep your toddler entertained, check out my earlier post Go To Tricks For Entertaining Kids , while some of them might be obvious, sometimes its the simple things that work the best.

Back to this week, being sick means no daycare and limited time outside (especially in winter) so how did we keep ourselves busy?

toddler wooden trainset

A Brand New Toy!

No I’m not encouraging you to go out and buy your kids new toys every time they are feeling under the weather, unless you can afford to, then go for it!

I actually bought this wooden set from Aldi as a Christmas present for the little guy last year. Given how many toys he had at the time and the potential for ‘choking hazards’ it has never been opened. What better time to open it!

If you want to read more about my thoughts on kids toys check out this post Kids Toys it sums up my thoughts on ‘age requirements’ and how many toys is too many.

Anyway staying on Track (ha ha track, get it #dadjoke), it was a hit! sure the millions of little pieces (yes I counted them) didn’t look like much in his eyes to begin with, once he realised the tracks joined together (with a bit of help from Dad) and the trains rolled along them he was hooked.

Pro Tip: when buying something like this in the future, always consider how you will store it, I can guarantee not all the pieces will fit back in the box they came from, and a cardboard box will only last so long in the hands of a toddler.

So What Now?

Well Down Under Dad has the next few days off his day job so hopefully as a family we can get through this. Next weekend the little guy turns 2 and no one wants to be sick on their birthday. We are also planning a 3 day getaway as a family to celebrate his birthday as it will be that last time there will only be 3 of us – see When 3 become 4. . .

If you have any hot tips for beating child sickness definitely share them, or any advice for avoiding them altogether without creating a baby in a bubble share them below.

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Weekend Adventures

toddler beach

Its the Weekend! As good of a reason as any to celebrate. Its also my weekend off work, which means its definitely a reason to celebrate.

For those not local we have gone through close to 2 weeks of cold, wet, and windy weather. Your probably thinking to yourself that its Winter, What do I expect from the weather.

The weather isn’t generally something that bothers me. It does however ruin your plans to go outside with your 2 year old who would spend all day outside if you let him. 1 or 2 wet days, that’s manageable, 1 or 2 weeks, and your toddler starts to get cabin fever (no, not the 2002 horror movie about flesh eating bacteria, honestly who would write about that), the kind that drives you a little insane as the limited activities inside the house get repetitive after awhile.

Getting back on track, The weather is Dry, Sunny, and not windy. What does that mean? well its finally a chance to go adventuring outside.

The Hair Cut

This one had been planned for a few weeks, and to be honest was going to be happening rain, hail, or shine. A Haircut for the little guy!!

Now this isn’t exactly a momentous occasion, he has had them before. However with his 2nd birthday rapidly approaching we thought it best to get him trimmed before hand so in the photos it actually looks like we look after him.

note, that wasn’t a dig at parents who choose not to get their child’s haircut. It was stating a fact, his hair tends to grow pretty wild and needs to be kept in check.

Now I don’t know any toddler that actually enjoys getting their haircut, we have found a place that specialises in child haircuts though. They will keep cutting even if your child is screaming. Sure the child will be sitting on your lap and if will be your to hold them still but they will get the hair cut done.

Based on that description you can probably guess how it went.

toddler hair cut

Yes they even let you sit in a car or a plane while you get your hair cut. If that isn’t going to make you happy not a lot is. Note, the above picture was taken after the hair cut, when he was more then happy to have a play. 

Hair cut complete it was time for our next activity. . .

The Park

As I mentioned earlier the weather was about as good as you can get in the middle of winter in this part of the country. The opening of a brand new park a short drive away was the perfect destination to get over the trauma of a hair cut, soak up some vitamin D, and let out some energy. Apparently everyone else had the same idea.

A little bit of shyness around a big crowd was quickly cured by some reassuring looks from mum and dad and a slide down the smallest of 3 slippery dips and the little guy was in his element.

adventures with dad

Of course after we decided to explore some more of the play equipment, the slide designed for toddlers was not enough for our little daredevil who had to climb the netting to go down the next size up slide, over and over. Once Dad got bored of this we decided to check out the biggest of 3 slides, which requires a fair bit more climbing for a toddler. After a couple of practice runs on Dad’s lap, he was going down by himself and loving it

toddler slide park

What had originally planned to be a quick stop, turned into almost 2 hours of playtime! What does this equate to? one tired little child.

A Quiet Afternoon

The rest of the afternoon was a bit more relaxed, consisting of lunch, a nap, some cooking, and some outdoor art. A concrete driveway and some chalk is all we needed for some more fun outside, and while it didn’t last that long, it was still nice to be outside.

Sometimes the simplest things can be fun for a toddler.

The day was finished off with a visit from a friend and an early dinner. Unfortunately an early dinner doesn’t always mean an early bedtime for our toddler – see Toddler Sleep Regressions

More Fun in the Sun

Today the little guy was lucky to have his Grandma and Pop and one of his aunties come to see him. Again the weather was perfect so we decided to head out for the afternoon.

One of the best parts about where we live is the proximity to the ocean. Newcastle is known for its beaches for a reason. Not only are they beautiful, but the surrounds are perfect for spending a sunny afternoon.

toddler beach

While waiting for our lunch to be ready we spent our time chasing the birds and watching the waves on the beach.

We also raced. What is racing you ask? racing is our latest trick where we count 1, 2, and he says “Go!” and runs forward. Once you get started you often don’t even need to count, he will just say Go and run.

Once lunch was over we walked back towards our car past another park!

toddler park

While the equipment at this spot wasn’t nearly as exciting as yesterday’s, it still provided entertainment for awhile.

After spending a few hours running around in the sun, it was time to head home. A short walk to the car, and a short drive home. The little guy was asleep within 2 minutes of us starting the car.

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end, which means back to work tomorrow, but what a fun weekend we have had. One thing about outdoor adventures is that they certainly are a great way to entertain toddlers – Go To Tricks For Entertaining Kids

How did you spend your weekend? What adventures did you go on?

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