Friday, 9 October 2015

Travel Sleep Tips

Travelling with young children and taking them away from their usual environment and routine can be a bit of a challenge to say the least and can often result result in sleepless nights both while away and difficulty to adjust once back. We recently went to Walt Disney World Florida which was an amazing family experience but establishing a sleep routine that worked for our 2 year old twins was a little tricky at times. I'm glad to say we eventually got them into a reasonable sleep pattern which meant we were able to wake up refreshed and ready for another day of fun and adventures most days. I have to also add that I was really impressed with how Ben, our 5 year old son coped, he adjusted to his new surroundings almost immediately and slept really well, loving sleeping in the hotel bed.

One thing that I would say is definitely required when travelling with young children is patience, and heaps of it. Young kids will usually need a day or two to adjust to a new place. You will often find your child gets overtired and overstimulated by the wonderful new place which they have been taken to. For them, there are so many exciting things to see and do, not to mention explore and take in, you will often find that they will push themselves to stay awake and get overtired. An overtired child is a grumpy, tantrum throwing child so lots of patience is required if this stage is reached. Take a deep breath and know that they have not just transformed into a devil child, they are merely tired and will return to your sweet, lovable son or daughter once they have had enough.

My Travel Sleep Tips

To help other parents travelling with young children I have decided to share a few things that work for us to make the experience of travelling with young children a whole lot easier.

Recreate Bedtime Routine: If at home you always bath your child, read a book and have a snuggle at bedtime then stick as close as possible to that routine when you are away. Your child will like the familiarity of going through the motions of a normal bedtime routine and something as simple as having a favourite story read to them really can make a huge difference.  

Black out blinds: Most hotels have black out blinds but if you are staying elsewhere which doesn't have them you can pick up a travel black out blind which attaches easily to windows usually with suckers. These really help to create a sleep inducing environment for your little one. 

Night Light: Similarly, if your child is used to having a night light on, pack one. You may also find it useful yourself for navigating around the room once they are finally asleep without waking them.  Failing that pack a small torch so you don't need to switch on the lights once they are asleep. 

Blanket or Favourite Toy: If your child has a favourite blanket or cuddly toy that they sleep with, pack it. You will be glad you did so. If you have something like Ewan the Dream Sheep which plays white noise, even better. However be warned the white noise may send the grown ups to sleep just as quickly as the kids, if not before. 

Travel Cots: Before you go be sure to check whether the accommodation you are staying in can provide a cot or bed with rail (if required) for your child. If not consider getting or borrowing a travel cot to bring with you.

Avoid sugary treats before bed time: You may be on holidays but avoid an unnecessary sugar overload by keeping sugary sweets and snacks to earlier in the day. Believe me you will pay if you choose to avoid this tip - I speak from experience. 

Avoid over stimulation: While it is always tempting to pop on the hotel TV or let your child have some tablet time to keep them entertained while in the room try and limit it before bedtime. Reading a book is a better option or put on some calming music to help create a more sleep friendly atmosphere. 

Try and stick to the local time zone: If abroad help your child to settle into a good sleeping pattern by sticking to the local time zone where possible. If they are really struggling a short power nap can help to keep them going but do not to let them nap too long as they will not sleep later. 

Up at normal time: It might be tempting to let your child have a long lie-in in the morning but it will make it harder on them to adjust to their new surroundings if you do. 

Finally once you return home try and get back to your usual sleep routines as quickly as possible as it makes it easier on the whole family to get back to normal. 

I do hope these tips will help others. Happy Travelling and making memories. 

This post is written as part of a Premier Inn campaign which is in collaboration with The Children’s Sleep Charity. All views and opinions are my own and unbiased. 

Monday, 28 September 2015

Qixels Turbo Dryer Review

We love the Qixels Turbo Dryer set which we recently received for review. Qixels are pixel cubes which fuse together with nothing more than a blast of water to let you make some very awesome creations. They have been a massive hit with Ben who has been making some very cool spaceships, dinosaurs, scorpions and little pixel people.


What is in the box

The pack includes the Turbo Dryer, five hundred Qixel cubes of various colours, four design templates to choose from and a range of accessories including two stands, two display bases, two plug in accessories and a bag tag and thread along with a storage tray for the Qixel cubes and water spray bottle. 

How to get Qixel-ing

The first thing we did was sort all the cubes by colour into the storage tray - it is worth noting that you will find two green cubes which are for using with the plug in accessories. To get started creating you simply choose a template design, pop it on the tray and then one by one place the Qixel cubes on the template matching them to the colour in the design. Once done, pop it on the Turbo Dryer, spray the design 25 times with water and press to spin for 30 seconds and then leave your design to dry for 20 minutes. Once dry you can turn it over and spray the back, leaving it for a few hours or overnight if possible to make the creation extra strong which is what we did each time and we have yet to have one break. It really is that easy as it says on the box you "Simply Make, spray, play - no heat, no glue".

Our Verdict

The Qixels Turbo Dryer set makes a fantastic craft activity for children which results in an awesome creation that they will love playing with or be proud to put on display. We especially liked the fact that you get a bag tag and Ben loved the shooter accessory which he plugged in to the rocket, it definitely added to the play factor of the end product.

The set we got is aimed at boys aged 4+ with a spaceship, dinosaur, viking and scorpion templates but I am sure girls would love this kind of activity too. I do think the 'boy-ness' of the designs are great though as it makes the set more appealing to boys, who if Ben is anything to go by, often don't have as much concentration as girls their age when it comes to 'make and do' tasks. I found the fact that Ben was focusing on making a rocket or a scorpion for instance really helped them to keep him engaged and contrating on what he was doing as he was eager to see the task through to the end and create his cool design. 

The big bonus for parents is that there truly is no mess with Qixels as all you use to fuse the cubes together is a water spray. Of course you also have the added bonus of improving fine motor skills which the picking, placing and pressing the cubes into place requires. I can definitely recommend Qixels, it's a fantastic one for keeping kids entertained indoors and they will love doing it not to mention the end products they create.

 Qixels Turbo Dryer can be purchased online from Character-Online and can be found in all the usual toy retailers such as Amazon, Argos and Smyths Toys.

* Disclaimer: I received this Qixels Turbo Dryer set for free in exchange for a review. All views and opinions are my own and unbiased.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Zombie Blast Review

We definitely had a blast reviewing Zombie Blast - a fun indoor target shooting game all the family will enjoy playing. When this creepy looking guy arrived for review I instantly knew Ben, aged 6, who enjoys playing Monsters and Zombies in the playground with his friends would love him, but I wasn't sure how my 2 year old twins would react. It turns out they find the Zombie hilarious especially when he starts groaning and walking and love playing Zombie Blast just as much as their big brother.

Aim of the Game

The idea behind Zombie Blast, an indoor target shooting game, is that you shoot the groaning Zombie down using a harmless infra-red beam before your time of approx 30 seconds is up. It works from up a distance of to 2.5m away so you can keep challenging yourself by starting near and making it harder by moving further away (I still can't do it from 2.5m). There are three stages to defeat the Zombie. First you have to shoot him three times to blast off one arm, then shoot him another three times to see his second arm detach, and finally after another three shots are landed on the target on his forehead he falls over. However if you don't do it in the 30 seconds the Zombie starts taunting you with his evil laugh which in itself is quite funny. It's brilliant fun to play.

Our Verdict

We have been having a lot of fun playing Zombie Blast. There definitely is a sense of satisfaction when you knock the moaning Zombie to the ground, especially when you have managed to do so from a decent distance. The good thing about the game is everyone, young and old can play as you can tailor shooting distance to suit the player. It can be played on your own or in groups and you can add an extra level of competitiveness by trying to beat your personal best when it comes to the shooting distance or time taken. 

An added bonus to the game is that as it is a target shooting game it really does require the player to concentrate and focus and helps improve hand-eye coordination and visual attention which is vital for skills such as reading. So there you go more reasons to give it a thumbs up!

Zombie Blast is aimed at children 3+ and is available in store from the usual toy retailers and direct from Character online and Amazon with an RRP £24.99. 

*Disclaimer: I received Zombie Blast free for review. All views and opinions are my own and unbiased.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Wild Pets Spiders Review

Say hello to our new pet..

Scary little guy isn't he? Ben, along with his spider loving brother Zachary, have been enjoying terrorising their poor little sister who runs screaming anytime she sees the new addition to our family, a Wild Pets Spider. A few unsuspecting visitors have also fallen fowl to the creepy crawly as he comes scuttling along the floor moving just like a real spider (it's giving me goose bumps just writing about it - I hate spiders just as much as Zoey).

These spiders are very cleverly designed with touch sensors which lets you control the behaviour of the spider. They have three modes including creep mode, explore mode and most frightening of all attack mode where they literally chase down any target in sight. To add some extra terror their eyes light up depending on the mode they are in, changing from green to blue to red when they mean serious business and are in attack mode.

What we thought

Wild Pets Spiders are in Ben's words "awesome". Both he and his little brother Zachary love playing with our new pet as do his friends who all want one too. The touch sensors are responsive and Ben, who has just turned 6, figured out pretty quickly how they work, loving to put his spidey into attack mode at every available opportunity although I have to say the creep mode is the one I find most scary. Definitely a toy to put on any bug loving kid (or adults) wishlist! You can find Wild Pets Spiders at various retailers including Amazon and they are aimed at children 5+.

* Disclaimer: I received this Wild Pets Spider for free in exchange for a review. All views and opinions are my own and unbiased. 

Monday, 24 August 2015

Bongos at Animal Kingdom - 236/365

Today we went on Safari at Animal Kingdom, saw Finding Nemo - The Musical and the Festival of The Lion King which were both amazing and even managed to do some Bongo drum playing.