Toddler Activities: Upgraded Operation Game

Ever played the game Operation when you were a kid? Here is an anatomically accurate version!

Operation

Our model here is Electra. She hails from the Scienceworks Museum shop and is genuinely anatomically correct. Electra has "cancerous tissue" (literally ripped up pieces of tissue paper) on various organs. Miss A is busy removing them with a pair of tweezers.

Great for a rainy day, learning anatomy (for the parents too as you have to know your stuff to answer the "what's that??" questions), fine motor skills, and hand-eye coordination!

Would like to say I came up with this activity. I didn't. Credit to my husband.

My Family’s Favourite Smoothie

We drink a lot of smoothies in our house and our favourite recipe is a very green one we call "Dino Buzz"!

Smoothie2

It basically gets its name from Miss A's favourite Boost Juice smoothie Banana Buzz which consists of banana, ice, vanilla yoghurt, honey, and milk. After finding out what the ingredients were, we started recreating it at home.

To make it more nutritious, we began adding spinach and calling it "Dino Buzz". All things green are called dino-something in our house to justify the green colour (inspiration from the Peppa Pig smoothie episode where George gets a "dinosaur smoothie")! I find the banana plus vanilla yoghurt makes the smoothie sweet enough so the honey can be left out.Smoothie1

Ingredients 

1 serve 

  • 1 frozen banana (add ice if using fresh)
  • 1 big handful fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup vanilla yoghurt (we use Jalna as it is pot set and full fat)
  • 1/2 cup milk

Blend until smooth!

We make so many smoothies that we invested in a NutriBullet. It blends everything super smooth and the cup is massive and can make 2 serves. Worth the money! (We got ours from Costco….who also sells 2 kg tubs of Jalna yoghurt for only $7)

Miss A doesn't mind spinach in her smoothies but if your kid is adverse to the green you can be sneaky and serve it in a coloured plastic cup with a lid like the reusable Boost Juice kids' cup (with a colored straw or reusable metal straw) where you can't actually see the colour of the smoothie. You really can't taste the spinach so you can just say it's a banana smoothie. You could also try making it more appealing by freezing it as a popsicle.

This is going a bit off topic but if you need to be extra sneaky with blending spinach into a smoothie, I have done a "black forest smoothie" with Milo, frozen blueberries (okay I know it's meant to be cherries but it kind of ends up with the same taste), spinach and milk. Definitely can't see the spinach there. Just a warning if your kid is still in nappies though- lots of blueberries and spinach equals black poop!

And on that note…enjoy hah!

Toddler Outings: Play Central, Port Melbourne

At 37-53 Crockford Street in Port Melbourne is a really nice play centre called Play Central. Entry is $15 for above 4s, $10 for 1-3, free for under 1s, and $2.50 for adults. There is also a membership option. 

PC3This is the main play area above. There is a ball pit, trampoline and air cannons on the ground level. Thankfully Miss A is now 3.5 and was pretty independent exploring this structure on her own. There were also dodgem cars which I forgot to take a photo of because Miss A was not tall enough to go on them yet. You have to be at least 100 cm tall to be a passenger, and even taller to be a driver.

PC4There is also a very tall volcano tube slide which you get up either by rockclimbing holds or a knotted rope. 

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Miss A was a pro on the rockclimbing side but just couldn't quite reach the top for the rope (though she got really close) since that required a fair amount of upper body strength. Grippy socks would help!

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There is also a toddler section with a small double slide and an automated roundabout ride. Being here made me realise my 3.5-year-old is a lot closer to being a preschooler than a toddler! Toddler sections are now too "baby" for her!

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On the other side of the play centre is actually a section for imaginative play and role playing e.g. animal hospital and supermarket…We didn't explore this area though as Miss A was too busy going bananas on the slides and trampolines etc. I can imagine that if we did stay an entire day she would eventually get round to it. I also think she would've enjoyed that section when she was younger and not so game to run around on the play equipment on her own. There are also books and baby toys there.

PC5Unlike the usual nuggets-and-chips-and-bad-coffee fare in other play centres, Play Central has a full cafe (with tables and chairs all around) which actually serves proper food and plenty of healthy options for the kids. The only downside is the wait as they do get a bit busy. 

They use St Ali coffee beans here (it's South Melbourne after all) and it is wonderful.

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Here below we have the burger and potato wedges for the hubs, a roasted vegetable focaccia for me (it was yum) and a ham and cheese sandwich for Miss A. Doesn't look like we're at a play centre, does it?

PC7Overall, paying for entry + food (you can't bring your own) can get a little pricey, especially if you have more than one kid above 4 years of age, BUT the place is big and clean with lots of play equipment, and good coffee for the adults…so I think it's worth it every now and then. It's one of those places where you can actually kind of sit back and catch up with other adults (provided your kid doesn't keep yelling for you) over something nice to eat and drink.

This is my new favourite play centre for sure!

Ear Muffs for Babies

If like me you're constantly babywearing your little ones for naps, consider getting baby ear muffs so you don't have to always creep around like a mouse!
Ear muffs

We use Em's 4 Bubs ear muffs which you can get online. The band on these ear muffs comes in a range of colours and fashionable patterns. We got this pair before having our first daughter Miss A so we went for gender neutral boring white.

The ear muffs were designed for hearing protection so are great for concerts, church services, fireworks, motorsport events etc. When Miss A was 7 weeks old we attended a crazy loud Vietnamese wedding and she wore these and slept through the entire thing!

If you are desperate to get them RIGHT NOW, there are also a few physical stores that sell them (as listed on their website). We bought the kids' version of the ear muffs Em's 4 Kids at the Melbourne University Audiology Clinic two years ago.

I live in the city and there is always plenty of noise around to wake sleeping kids when I'm out and about- honking cars, construction work, screeching trams, emergency vehicle sirens, loud music etc. When Miss E was younger she used to sleep better through these noises but now will jump up awake if something is loud enough. It's been great having the ear muffs to help her sleep longer on the go. Even at home, they are fantastic for allowing me to get chores done around the house and also to block out all the noise Miss A makes.

Just to clarify- this is not a plugged post at all. I just like sharing about products that have genuinely changed my life in hope it can help another struggling parent out there! Got to share them survival tips in this tough world called parenthood! These ear muffs have really helped me get on with my life so I highly recommend them!

Winter Activities @ Docklands

I love living in Melbourne city because there are always so many family-friendly events and places to take the kids to! Case in point: There are always lots of good things to do in Docklands during winter!

Fireworks

In July and August, Docklands puts on a 10-minute firework display every Friday at 7.30pm. There is some entertainment on before and after as well, like salsa classes! It's a bit of a ritual for us to see the fireworks and get ice cream on the pier afterwards. This is a yearly event.

Fireworks

Snow Play

On the ground floor of Harbour Town Shopping Centre (which now has roofing installed by the way) is a "snow play dome" which also runs until the end of August (Fri from 4pm, Sat and Sun from 11am). You queue up and go in for a play in batches. When time is up, the staff member blows a whistle and you have to exit, though you are free to join the queue again to have another go. They provide buckets, spades and rakes etc to play with.

Snow play dome

Just be careful not to get hit in the face by snowballs being thrown by rowdy kids- that really happened to Miss A's friend which was not pleasant!

Snow play dome 2

Bouncy/Jumping Castles

On the first floor of Harbour Town just above the snow play dome are bouncy castles (open at noon). There are three of them inside a vacant lot. The great thing about it being on the first floor is not that many people seem to be aware of it!

Bouncy castles

We were right there waiting when the doors opened so Miss A and her friend had a good few minutes of being all on their own. Eventually some other kids trickled in but it never really got too crazy. 

Jumping

Permanent Structures

While you're in the area, there are also lots of other play areas in Harbour Town like this one below:

Playground

Not to mention, there are tons of weird statues and structures all around Docklands which kids love climbing and playing on. Ron Barassi park which has an awesome outdoor playground is also next to Harbour Town. We spent almost 4 hours playing in the Docklands area one morning and couldn't even finish doing it all before Miss A totally crashed and needed a nap.

Good times being a toddler in the city!

The Little Yellow Mummy

Mummy and Miss A

Once upon a time there was a little yellow Mummy who lived in an apartment in the city. She had one husband, two kids, and a little noisy dog.

One day the little yellow Mummy found some clothes on the ground.  She asked her family, "Who will help me wash this laundry?"

"Not I," said the husband who has never even turned on the washing machine in his life.

"Not I," said the kids whose jobs were to make as much mess as physically possible.

"Not I," said the old senile dog who will intentionally pee on the carpet if you don't give him enough love.

"Then I will," said the little yellow Mummy. So the little yellow Mummy did the laundry all by herself.

When all the laundry was washed, dried and folded, the little yellow Mummy asked her family who will help me clean the house?

"Not I," said the husband who had to go to work.

"Not I," said the kids who were too busy playing.

"Not I," said the dog who was too busy sleeping.

"Then I will," said the little yellow Mummy. So the little yellow Mummy cleaned the house all by herself.

When the entire house was cleaned, the little yellow Mummy asked her family "Who will help me make dinner?"

"Not I," said the husband who had to go work up a sweat at the gym because he can.

"Not I," said the kids who will likely reject said dinner later even though you've just slaved for an hour over the stove making said dinner as delicious and secretly nutritious as possible.

"Not I," said the dog whose only interest in life is eating said dinner that the kids will likely not eat.

"Then I will," said the little yellow Mummy. So the little yellow Mummy made dinner all by herself.

When dinner was ready, the little yellow Mummy asked her family, "Who will help me eat the dinner?"

"I will," said the hungry husband.

"I hate dinner," said the fussy kids.

"ME! ME!" said the barking dog 100 times in succession at the highest pitch ever.

"No!" said the little yellow Mummy. "I will." And the little yellow Mummy locked herself in the bathroom and ate her dinner all by herself.

* Adapted from The Little Red Hen Story from Enchanted Learning

(Changed red to yellow for obvious reasons. Don't be offended by my self-racism hah!)

***

Hand over heart, this is honestly how I feel sometimes! Yes I'm blessed to have kids. Yes I'm blessed with an amazing husband. BUT it doesn't mean I have to love them all the time! Sometimes you just have moments in parenthood where you just want to say screw all this being positive and grateful schmuck. At the end of the day, I am human and I do get tired, irritated, depressed, and resentful too. I do want to hide away and eat a bucket of ice cream. I do want to shout and cry myself. I do want to sit back and watch the world implode if I don't lift a finger for a day.

No matter how amazing and perfect some mothers look on social media, we all have bad moments. I know I have plenty of them. This thing called parenthood- it's hard. It's relentless. And sometimes no, it doesn't actually feel worth it. I know what helps me get by is knowing I'm not alone in this. So I hope this helps you. You don't have to be perfect all the time. It's okay if you question your decision to have kids. You are allowed to feel like giving up. Sometimes just surrending to those emotions, eating chocolate, and asking your partner/friend/neighbour/TV/iPad to watch the kids for at least 10 minutes while you lie down and pretend you don't have kids…is all you need to muster up just that little bit of strength to keep going another day.

Breastfeeding Comic Relief

Growing up, Baby Blues was my favourite comic. It featured in our local newspaper and I would always look for it and read it first. Then as a mother, I rediscovered it online and saw all the jokes in a whole new light. I never realised how much breastfeeding featured in it! The parenting jokes are also pretty spot-on.

Baby Blues

For all you breastfeeding and overworked stay-at-home mums out there- it is hilarious to browse through the comic strips on their website when you are feeling blue and just need a pick-me-up! Just a warning that there are some anti-formula jokes in a couple though so don't read them if you're particularly sensitive about that.

Click HERE for all the breastfeeding-related comic strips on the Baby Blues website!