5 Good Reasons You Should Send Your Child to Nursery

It isn’t uncommon for parents to feel guilty about leaving their children at a nursery school while they go off to work. Giving up on a career after childbirth is not always an option for multiple reasons and the good news is that you actually have no reason to feel guilty either. As it turns out, studies show that children benefit significantly from attending day nurseries. In fact, a lot of experts recommend that all children should attend some form of pre-school during their early years for faster development and for ensuring that they are prepared for real school. On that note, let’s now take a closer look at the top five reasons why we should all consider sending our children to nursery.

Preparation for School

Nurseries help young kids get used to the feel of being with a number of other children for a long period of time without the presence of their parents. The earlier you get rid of their separation anxiety, the better they will be able to cope in school and make positive social connections.

Children Need to Play

We all have busy lives and in most families nowadays, children spend most of their free time watching TV or staring at some other form of screen. While visual media can also help children to learn new things, play time is very important as well. Staff in a quality nursery makes sure that the children get enough play time, instead of just sitting around all day. It helps with muscle development, cognitive development, and social skill development.

Potty Training

Potty training is no easy task for parents, but good nurseries mostly take care of that for you. Children who go to nurseries often develop such basic skills faster than others in their age group.

Making Friends

Learning to make friends is a socio-structural part of life at school. It largely determines what kind of a social experience the child will have later in school, and perhaps throughout his/her life. A nursery is so important in this respect because, after just a few months, your child will already know how to make friends and will find it quite easy to make friends after he/she starts school.

Ahead of the Class

A child who has not had any pre-school training will find himself/herself overwhelmed by everything that school brings with it. Even if you leave the previously discussed aspects of social interaction aside, the educational aspect alone may overwhelm an unprepared young mind. On the other hand, children who have a had a year or more of training from experienced nursery school teachers and staff regarding every challenge the new school might present, will naturally find things much easier, giving them an instant advantage over the others. In light of these benefits, and a few others, it is recommended that parents enroll their children in a local independent nursey for at least a few months before school begins.

Now that you know how beneficial pre-school can be for children, you can rest assured that the hours your little one stays away from you are probably some of the most educationally enriching hours of the day for him/her.

Review: Ticket to Ride Europe

For my first foray into the Board Game Club, we’ve been playing Ticket to Ride Europe. This is a sequel to Ticket to Ride, which I hadn’t heard of either. Part of the reason I took up the offer to join the board game club was my board gaming sort of exists in a 1980’s milieu of Monopoly, Cluedo and Risk. And, if I’m going to be brutally honest, a few MB kids games like Frustration and Ludo. I’ve not moved on and as we’re trying to cut down on the amount of telly we watch, it seemed like a great idea.

Ticket to Ride impresses from the off- it’s a very sturdy (and heavy) box, and the board itself is enormous, taking up a large chunk of the table.

Setting up the game involves giving each player 45(!!!) train carriages, some stations and cards. There are a few nice touches with regard to the pieces; the carriages are made from a “nice” plastic, and I didn’t have to pop them out of a sheet or anything (a bugbear of the more recent kids games I’ve played). There is also a little bag with a couple of spares for each of the players in case any get lost. These are nice little touches which add to the impression of quality.

For those of you, like me, who haven’t played any of the Ticket to Ride series before, you play the game something like this:

Players choose tickets that show 2 cities that they need to connect with train routes. On their turn, players can take one of three actions:

  1. Collect train cards, either from the draw pile or from a set of five cards laid face up beside the board. Players do this to collect sets of cards of the same colour.
  2. Claim a route by discarding a set of cards which match the colour & length of the route. A grey route can be claimed by a set of any colour. This is how players build their routes to complete tickets. Players also score points for doing this and the longer the route is, the more points you score for that route.
  3. Draw tickets; you have to keep at least one of the tickets drawn each turn. Ticket scoring is done at the end of the game.
  4. Build a station on any city. Players have 3 stations to use during the game if they wish. Building stations costs tickets but the trade off can be beneficial as stations allow you to use a single route of an opponent as if it were your own for the purposes of completing tickets. However if you don’t use your stations then they are worth 4 points each at the end of the game.

 

It sounds a lot more complicated than it is- I think the biggest problem I had during our time playing it was lining up my 40 odd carriages in an aesthetically pleasing manner. For me, the biggest issue with any new board game is fathoming the rules out and with Ticket to Ride Europe it wasn’t too difficult to get stuck in playing.

Apparently Ticket To Ride has been around in various forms since 2004. Ticket to Ride Europe has been out since 2009, and refines some of the rules (ferries and tunnels have been introduced along with stations). It plays like a mature game that knows what it’s doing and it’s a great introduction to the Esdevium Blogger Board Game Club for us. The games we’re playing have and will be provided for free, based on a survey I did to give an indication of what we might like. So far so good!

Ticket to Ride Europe has an RRP of £37.99 but can typically be picked up for about a tenner less.

Disney Store’s Spider-Man costume in action!

Spider-Man (the hyphen is important you know!) is one of the most important super heroes for kids. He’s wholesome and little more than a kids himself. And he also has the coolest costume, which is why when Disney Store offered our 5 year old Ned the new Spider-Man costume and the Nerf shooter to go with it, he literally hit the ceiling with excitement. He spends a lot of time running around pretending to be super heroes as it is. Spider-Man is one of those heroes that has a strong moral code and would never really hurt someone, which is a lesson we always remind Ned about!

The new Spider-Man costume is a little darker than the older ones, and the mask is an improvement too. It is defintely more Spider-Man than dressing up Spider-Man and Ned absolutely loved it as you can see from the video below:

The Nerf shooter is wrist operated, and thankfully he hasn’t quite got the hang of the aim just yet, otherwise I’d be in trouble! I particularly like the little web bits under the armpits, which are a great detail that’s true to the actual costume. Ned loves it, and I do too. It’s just a shame that they don’t do it in my size!

The costume has an RRP of £30.99, the Nerf Shooter £24.99. Being Spider-Man itself is priceless! If your little one wants to be Spider-Man you can head on over to the Disney Store and have a look at their Spider-Man page.

Top Dad Gifts for Every Budget

It’s a time-old saying that Dads are hard to buy for, but I generally disagree. There are normal socks, novelty socks, house socks– the list is endless. But, apparently we need to be a little more creative with our prezzie ideas. That’s easier said than done and, frankly, we don’t always have time for it. Luckily for you, I’ve come up with some ideas here for every occasion and budget. Whether someone wants to make it rain for a special birthday or keep it simple on Father’s Day, we’ve got every eventuality covered.

High Flyer

If your friends and family happen to be feeling particularly flush, there are a couple of obvious gifts that few dads would turn down.

Noise-cancelling headphones: The idea of being able to switch on your headphones and blissfully tune out all of the distractions in life (read: kids) is a pretty magical one. There are a number of great options on the market, with brands like Bose leading the pack in their mastery of technology and general style.

A fancy watch: Ah, the classic timepiece. It’s a man’s equivalent of wearing a diamond necklace. Although you might think that a Rolex or Bvlgari are completely out of your financial league, just remember there are still great deals to be found using online marketplaces, such as Chrono24. Whether it’s a classic mechanical number or a trendy smartwatch, that exaggerated flick of the wrist as you check the time has never felt so good.

Mid-Range Market

Impressive, but not breaking the bank. These options are the perfect addition to any man’s lifestyle.

A nice grooming kit: We’ve all got to stay trim somehow (on the head, of course – don’t ask about the stomach!). Some guys swear by a wet shave, whilst others opt for the electric razor. There are all the usual brands out there, but for ultimate gift status something like a Parker set would do nicely.

Manly multi-tools: You can never have enough tools in your tool box or gadgets on the shelf, right? Well, combine the two and you’ve really hit the jackpot. A classic Leatherman of any kind is always a winner.

On a Budget

We’re all trying to watch our pennies, so these options are for those who go for sentiment over statement.

Audiobook or subscription: Know a book or TV program that always gets your Dad chuckling? Get him it on audiobook so he can listen to it on-the-go or while doing some housework. Alternatively, a subscription to Spotify or Netflix will keep him busy for a while!

Quality time: It sounds clichéd, but every Dad just wants to spend more time with his family. Of course, if you really feel like you need to go the extra mile then something homemade is almost always welcome.

Review: Nozstock 2017

2017 saw the 19th annual Nozstock Festival. Set in the Herefordshire countryside, Nozstock is a boutique festival for around 5,000 people who seem pretty universally happy by the whole prospective of a weekend of sunshine (and showers) and some great music.

Friday night saw Seasick Steve take to the stage, and Sunday evening saw the festival finish with the Happy Mondays. In between we caught some great acts like Professor Elemental, Hayseed Dixie, the wonderful Le Galaxie and Goldie Looking Chain.

Friday was a bit Biblical in the weather sense; thunderstorms that seemed like someone had severely pissed Thor off. Fortunately the ground staff are super organised and seemed to have 3 billion tons of sawdust, which got thickly coated on all the areas that accumulated mud, making the site much easier to navigate without a pair of wellies on.

Saturday morning started brilliantly with Drum and Bounce, a drum and bass dance work out, which was notable for teaching me how to skank and triple skank. Prior to this, I had thought that a skank was some bloke who was a bit of a ne’er do well, so I learnt something too, even if all the kids laughed at my timing.

We let the eldest go off with some friends kids (who were a couple years older than he was) because this is exactly the sort of festival that is great for kids. The only thing that wasn’t child friendly was some of the rather colourful language from the musicians up on stage but to be honest the day that Shaun Rider manages to keep the swears in check will be the day they bury him six feet deep.

As well as a lot of jolly young people, there is a feeling of safety surrounding Nozstock. The site is small enough and while full, not crammed to the seams, that it maintains an intimate air that isn’t intimidating to kids.

 

We’re at #nozstock

A post shared by Alex Walsh (@daddacool) on


I think a personal favourite of mine was Professor Elemental- we’d seen the other big star of chap-hop, Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer, a couple of years ago and it was good to see the man who wrote Fighting Trousers.

Next year’s Nozstock is the 20th Anniversary, and is bound to be something unbelievably special. As it stands, Nozstock is a hidden gem (well, it is in the hidden valley), a venue that attracts great, if not necessarily world famous for the most part artists. Headliners like Seasick Steve and the Happy Mondays might sell tickets but artists like The Meow Meows and Little Big Stuff find themselves added to the Spotify playlist for the drive home.

Intempo Large Tube- perfecting the BBQ ambience

Sitting out in the garden on a warm summer evening with the BBQ fired is is a great end to the day, and one that can only be improved upon with some fat choons blasting out of a portable BT speaker. In this instance, in deference to our next door neighbours who have gone on holiday and left the builder laying a patio, with the cement mixer churning until 10 or 11pm on the hottest week of the year, we stuck the Bob the Builder album on loop, Bluetoothing to the Intempo Large Tube from Spotify on a mobile phone. The battery on the Large Tube lasted long enough to drive us mad, so hopefully it did the same to the inconsiderate builder next door. View Full Post

Why it is Important for Dads to Invest in Their Own Mental Well-Being

It was been found that men who are struggling with their mental health are not only less likely to seek professional support than women, but are also less likely to talk to friends and family about the problems they are facing. In fact, there is sadly a stigma in today’s society in regard to men being open about their emotions, and investing time in their mental well-being.

As a Dad, it is often a challenge to balance the responsibilities at work and at home. It can sometimes feel as though there aren’t enough hours in the day, and it is hard to deal with the guilt that comes from letting certain areas of your life dominate your focus. Consequently, it is even harder to imagine prioritizing yourself. Although this is difficult, it is also really important. In order to be the best husband, father, and employee you are capable of being, it is vital that you first take care of yourself. Here are some tips that any Dad can use to invest in his mental well-being.

Get more sleep

Adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. A lack of shut-eye can damage your health, reduce your job performance, and can even result in mood swings. For any dad these side-effects are a serious problem. Whilst it may be tempting to cram as much as possible into your day, it will be better in the long run if you go to bed. Depending on the sleeping habits of your kids, this may be more difficult for some parents than others, however this could always act as incentive to persevere in your attempts to get your kids to bed!

Massage therapy

If you have a hectic schedule, you may think that you don’t have time to indulge in a massage. However, this is actually a really great way to switch off. Instead of desperately trying to find rare moments of relaxation throughout the week, why not condense your time out into one intense experience. A Heaven and Earth massage works immediately to relieve your tension. It will provide an outlet from the demands of modern life, and even give you a boost of energy.

Exercise classes

Stereotypically, exercise classes are targeted at women, with most men encouraged to use the gym. Although the gym is an excellent way to keep fit and release endorphins, unlike the classes, it does not possess as much of a social element. Why not break down the stereotype and look for classes that interest you. It is a great way to meet new people or catch up with old friends who might also be interested. Not only this, but most gyms have crèches or children’s classes so that parents don’t have to worry about childcare.  This is a time effective solution as you can combine exercising with socialising.

Find someone to talk to

Sometimes a change in lifestyle is not enough to improve your outlook. In some situations it may help to reach out to a professional for advice and support. You could also try talking to other Dads, or lookout for online communities of people facing the same kind of demands as you.

Skates vs. Scooters – Which is the coolest?

Let’s be honest, anybody who can manage to skate or ride a scooter has already achieved a level of cool that many can only aspire to. However, with both activities becoming increasingly popular, it feels like the right time to assess which is the coolest – skates or scooters?

We’ll look through a number of key factors to help us to decide:

Stunts/tricks – Probably the coolest thing that you can do either on skates or a scooter is stunts. For both skaters and scooter riders, there is a wide range of stunts to master if you are going to be deemed as cool. YouTube is full of excellent stunts ranging from nearly impossible to absolutely dangerous, and it is fair to say that both activities have equally awesome stunts to showcase. To become like the best, invest in an Aussie Grit Scooter from skates.co.uk, and become more like two-times world champion, Jordan Clark who won on a Grit Scooter. Grit are making a grand statement and are perfect for serious extreme riders; made with modern technology, this brand has developed some of the most advanced scooters around, such as the Grit Extremist and Grit Elite models.

Popularity – A quick search on YouTube will show you that the skate-based ‘Best of Freestyle’ has racked up 1.7m views and scooter-based ‘World’s best and most epic scooter tricks’ has amassed 4.9m views. You can’t go purely off these figures, but from the first search using the obvious keywords, these are the two that come up for tricks and stunts. We’re going to say that Team Scooter won the popularity category as the figures are in favour of scooters.

Ease – When we talk about ease, we mean how easy is it to get equipment and have a go yourself. There is wide range of skates and scooters, and Grit Scooters offers both excellent quality and the ability to pull off advanced stunts. A pair of aggressive skates comes out at about the same cost. Regarding how easy it is to have a go yourself, the basic skills of riding a scooter are easier to pick up than using skates, particularly if you struggle with balance. So, for this category, we are saying you need to tackle more difficult skills when skating. Therefore, if you are not confident in your ability, maybe stick with the scooter at first.

Competitions – Just like the best bands play at the best festivals, activities like skating and scooter riding are best showcased to an audience. A quick check of the different competitions that take place for each reveals some insight into how cool they should be deemed. NASS Festival currently features some of the best inline skaters in the world on the annual schedule while scooters are not yet invited to the big party. They do, however, have several scooter festivals such as Scootfest to keep their fans happy, where large cash prizes are up for grabs.

Overall it looks like scooters are coming out top based on our criteria but this could be down to the relatively recent emergence of freestyle scootering. Perhaps we will see a big shift in this in the very near future, either way, they are both very cool in their own right.

Daily Helpers: Handy Apps for Dads Who Want to Be in the Know

There are a lot of things a dad has to worry about: making sure the kids are doing good in school, taking care of all of his responsibilities at work and making mom happy are all just part of the job when you’re a father. Sometimes, it may seem as if you can’t get everything that needs doing done.

The good news is that there are some Android apps that can help dads keep track of everything they need to and still have a little fun. Here are some of the useful apps that any dad can download to help make life a little easier.

Family Locator

This app is great for dads, especially those with big families. Family Locator lets you keep track of the whereabouts of every family member, no matter where they are.

Not only can this give you peace of mind when your oldest child seems to be cutting it a little close to their curfew, but it also lets you know where everyone is in case there’s a reason you all need to meet up — that weekly family dinner perhaps.

The app helps you create “circles” that you can add anyone you like to, so you can also use it for friends and colleagues. It offers real-time data, so there’s no more guessing when someone will arrive at a destination and you can even set it to give you a heads up if someone is running late.

To get started, just have everyone download the app and soon you’ll know where everyone is.

Weather Live Free

Knowing what the weather has in store for you every day and every week is a concern that most people have. How can you plan anything if you don’t know what the weather’s going to be like?

This weather by Apalon Apps gives you everything you need to know about the conditions outside. It will tell you the temperature and the “feels like” temperature as well as the humidity levels. You can also check the wind speed and directions and find out when the sunrise and sunset are every day.

The app also features and up-to-the-minute weather radar so you can keep track of everything that’s going on around you.

Web MD

It’s always nice to know what to do when your child is sick or injured, and this medical app is one of the best out there for giving timely advice.

The app features a symptom checker so you can input all of the things working with your child to help narrow down the illness: the flu is very different from food poisoning, so having an app that can quickly let you know the difference can be comforting. You can also use voice search to find what you’re looking for quickly and the app has a built-in map to get you to the nearest medical facilities if they are needed.

If you’re a dad, try some of these apps to help you out!

A GUIDE TO GOOD SLEEP AS A PARENT

If you’ve ever raised a child (or two, or three), then you know how precious sleep can be (and how seldom the chances to grab some come along). It’s one of the biggest struggles about being a parent. Well, you know, if you don’t take into account the immense pressure of teaching your kids right from wrong, correct moral judgement, how not to be prejudiced and the great benefits of hard work and delayed gratification later on in life. Aside from that, getting sufficient sleep and the right quality of sleep is pretty difficult. But life is all about trial and error, and when the situation arises you adapt and learn a few things along the way.

Get some shut eye when your kids do

This might seem like pretty obvious advice, but I get the feeling it’s sometimes overlooked. If you put the kid down for a nap, have a nap at the same time. You might be tempted to squeeze in an hour of something from Netflix, but try refrain and catch a kip instead. Don’t worry about not waking up when they do; as a parent, you’re acutely tuned in to the screams of your children and have almost a preternatural sense of the state of their consciousness when the wailing begins. By doing this you’ll be getting some broken sleep, but at least you’re getting something.

Don’t skimp on the mattress

This is an important one. You’re not going to be getting an adequate amount of shut-eye and that means the sleep you are getting should be of the highest quality. Therefore, you should get your hands on a mattress that’s firm, supports your body and regulates heat so you stay cool during the night and don’t toss and turn. Rather than going to IKEA, you can actually just order a mattress online through a company like Eve. At the end of the day, you’ll feel more refreshed, less grumpy and much less likely to get into an argument with your significant other over whose turn it is to make the salad at dinner.

The old “one night on, one night off”

This one is foolproof and guarantees you get a good night’s sleep at least half the time. It’s also great for building a partnership with your SO. You take the first night’s shift staying up with the kid(s) and waking up when they do, soothing them and getting back to sleep while your partner gets to sleep. The next night you both switch. Think of it like a shift rotation, and generally just a very necessary survival tactic.