Museum of Science and Industry – 10/6/2016

Planning this post in my head was difficult and I questioned whether or not to write it, because MOSI wasn’t particularly suited to us at this point.

There wasn’t anything particularly bad about it, but it was more focused for adults and older children, rather than inquisitive toddlers. And that is not a bad thing, it just doesn’t fit in with us at this time!!!

So, quickly going through the downsides, they include poor signage, the museum being in 4 separate buildings and the exhibits not being particularly hands-on. Also, parking is a problem as street parking outside is only for 2 hours and probably won’t be long enough (which is a good thing as there is plenty to see!)

Now that I have got that out of my system, I can talk about the positives from a toddlers perspective. There is a brilliant exhibit next to the restaurant which is hands-on and practical and lots of fun for young and old alike. It is full of little puzzles, interactive science experiments and various other bits and pieces like that.

While the little ones will enjoy playing, it is possible to explain the science as well behind it all which is what going to the museum is all about. Our favourite was the experiment dropping the ball into the different surfaces and predicting how high they would bounce. (It is quite dark in there, so pictures are not easy to take!)

In terms of the other good aspects of MOSI, the cafe serves excellent pizza and the gift shop is to die for – I could have spent all day in there!! While it was not particularly for toddlers, we did spend 3 hours in there so it certainly wasn’t a wasted trip!

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For toddlers, MOSI isn’t in the same league as the National Media Museum or the Railway Museum – and it isn’t supposed to be. The focus is on industry, which isn’t as exciting for toddlers as opposed to science and things going “bang” or “pop”!!!

However, there is a place in the world for MOSI, especially if your child is learning about local (to Manchester) history or the Industrial Revolution. We are not in that place yet, but when we are, we know that we’ll be able to get a lot of knowledge out of our visit there.


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About Me!!

Having done this semi-seriously for about 6 months, I thought that it would be a good idea to explain a little about me and my situation!

I am a very part-time blogger and very full-time dad and professional who lives near Leeds and this is my creative escape route, where I can look back at the days out and adventures that me and my little girl have and smile.

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I am a single parent going through a separation at the moment and I know that being a single parent can be difficult, and it can be difficult to have the confidence to go out and about (regardless of if you are a mum or a dad).

This is another reason why I set up the blog, so anyone reading it can feel a little bit more confident in going out and about, knowing that I can do it.  This is the reason why I try to include information about pushchair access and baby changing facilities, as those things used to freak me out a little when I went out and about on my own. By the way, I wasn’t someone who was born to be a dad, and I always have self-doubt!

If I had to recommend three places/things to do with a toddler in the region, firstly, it is extremely difficult as there are so many things hidden about which you never see, especially if you don’t have children. However, if I had to choose, they would be:

Boomchikkaboom (formerly Baby Rave North) This as probably one of the first places we went together and seeing a small business do really well. Their upbeat classes are something completely different to the traditional parent/child groups and are perfect for parents who still want to feel young!!

Rainbow Factory This has seemingly been our second home for the last 6 months. Something completely different and they can’t do anything wrong in our eyes The staff are absolutely amazing and make the place magical! Seeing Heidi’s confidence shine through here is so good to see, and the staff are perfect at nurturing it.

Rhythm Time This was the first structured class we went to and never looked back. The classes were brilliant and the social nature of the classes mean that we have made really, really good friends from the class. Even after not doing the class for a few months, Heidi still asks for the Rhythm Time music on in the car and has started asking to go back to the classes!

As we are semi-regulars to these, or have been in the past, I know that while their activities are top notch, they are really brilliant people as well and have really helped Heidi develop and become the person who she is today.

As mentioned above, I work full-time as an accountant, which means that my quality time with Heidi is generally limited to weekends and days off, and so I try to make the most of them! Also, because of this, my posting onto the blog is a little infrequent at times – I am certainly not one of these pseudo-full time bloggers!! However, I like to try and reply to messages as quickly as possible.

If you want to contact me or follow me on social media, the various links are below:

Email: info@leedsdad.com

Twitter: @leedsdad

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/leedsdad

I will promise not to flood your newsfeeds with hundreds of posts a day!!

Finally, I am PR Friendly and so if you have something that you think that we would like to attend/try/know about, please feel free to get in touch using the above details. Hopefully your company/brand/experience would benefit from my honest and open writing style.

I love to read your feedback and comments and all feedback is gratefully received!

All the best

Matthew (aka Leedsdad)

Ten Things about being a Single Parent

So after reading about Seeing Rainbow’s blog post about being a single parent (which you can read here) I thought that I would do my own – maybe from a dad’s perspective. This is where writing the blog acts as therapy!

1. It is the best job in the world – I think that is the quite self explanatory and goes without saying really, regardless if you a single parent or not. However, it still needs saying 😊

2. It is the most tiring job in the world – Again, every parent comes across this. However, when you work full time and come home from work and have to do everything on an evening without the support of anyone, that is the time when it is tough.

3. Where is the manual? – Again, one for all parents I think!!

4. Toilet problems – As a single dad of a (hopefully) toilet trained 3 year old, I have the decision about which toilets to use for her!! Generally we use the men’s and hope/pray that it is quiet in there for everyone’s benefit, but ideally, we try to use the separate disabled toilet block. This way we don’t run the risk of having embarrassing toddler comments and there is enough room for me to go as well – normal cubicles are not big enough for 2 (and associated bags!)

When we were still in nappies, nappy changing facilities were sparse in men’s changing rooms, however, we only had one time where we had particular problems.

5. Nothing is ever perfect – It is a perfect storm of doing the best for your own child AND doing your best for someone else’s child. Generally the two are different even though the child is the same…

6. Stress levels rise beyond belief – Linked to the one above. However, with the stresses of looking after a child come the stresses of the fallout from a failed relationship and all that brings to the table

7. It’s like being a big kid – Going out and about and seeing the world through the eyes of a child is a wonderful thing. Make the most of it. It is special.

Being in control and being able to choose what to do and where to go is also very empowering!!

8. People want to help – Generally it is shop assistants and the more elderly members of society who want to help when out and about. If you get the offer for help, it will save you the little bit of energy you might need later on!!

Also, don’t be shy about saying you’re a single parent. Because we go to the same places/people and it came up in conversation, these places/people are more open to helping and even asking “How are you getting on?” – that little question means a heck of a lot and so if you know of a single parent, ask them. It will mean the world.

9. I am not daddy day care – I know it is a bit old fashioned but still…!!! The number of people who still say it and I really feel like saying back to them:

“Yes I am looking after my child. It is called being a parent. I also work full time and have her every moment that is available. I am not doing this because mum wants some time to herself, I am doing this because it is what a parent is all about”

Rant over…

10. I have my best friend – The bond between a child and parent is special. The bond between a child and a single parent is even more so, because you are close knit team:
You laugh at silly things.
You go through the down times together because there is no-one else to turn to.
You are stronger for it
You get your best friend in the world

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Teddy Bears Picnic

While I have written about the Scarborough Spa Orchestra in a generic way previously in this post I realise that I haven’t done a proper write up. However, as we had a long weekend on the North Yorks Coast last weekend, we took in the first Teddy Bears Concert of the summer season.

Throughout writing this, I am thinking “Why does no-one else do this type of event?”

The event is relatively simple: A professional orchestra plays a series of songs for an hour and a half with a bit of interaction and education for the children and everyone goes away happy. It is not massively complex, but it works and it is perhaps the highlight of the summer for me.

Firstly, it is a proper concert, witnessed by the number of adults without children enjoying the music – therefore the quality is obviously there (note, I am in no way a music aficionado). However, some of the songs are “child friendly” – for example, tunes from the Wizard of Oz were played.

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Preparations taking place

However, unlike other concerts, the children are encouraged to get up, sit as close to the stage as they want, dance, clap and enjoy the music in any way they want. There are generally a couple of marching songs which gets the children active, as well as instruments being shared out in the second half of the show.

The glamorous (and I am putting this because my disguise is blown and she knows who I am!) Kathy is the compère and she is excellent at describing the instruments of the orchestra for the children, as well as playing conductor, in trying to get the children to play slow/fast as well as stop. It is really something to see, as well as the “calming down” song towards the end where magically the children are all settled for a relaxing piece of formal music.

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The Playlist

It doesn’t sound too complex (I am sure it is hard work behind the scenes), but “Why does no-one else do this type of event?”

It falls right for us to get to the first show of the season (every Monday in July and August at 11am) and it has become a bit of a tradition, which is really nice. It appears as though Yorkshire Coast Radio have the similar tradition as we have bumped into DJ Dex for the last couple of years!!

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Heidi with DJ Dex!

Sometimes with the music, your child might just “get it”. At the concert last week, Little Clockwork Fairy was played, and Heidi got “it”. She interpreted the music into a story and was very upset when the music (and fairy!) stopped. We then had to look in Scarborough for a wind up fairy!!! Hearing Heidi talk about that made me realise that going to these concerts really does help her develop, although you may not see it straight away.

In terms of practicalities, it is a long concert and so if the little ones are flagging a bit, don’t force them to stay (£3.50 a ticket means it is excellent value for money) and food seems to help them concentrate, so bring a picnic (and teddy!) to keep them going, although there is a cafe there as well. They try to hold the concert in the Sun Court, which is outside and as the name suggests, a bit of a sun trap, so if the forecast looks good, pack the suncream and lots of fluids. However, if it is raining, they will take the concert indoors, so you don’t need to worry about it being cancelled. You can pay on the door as well, but for the Christmas concert, that is really busy so I would suggest ordering online for those.

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Fully prepared with sunglasses and Elmo!

In terms of baby changing facilities, there aren’t that many available, but there are loads of toilets dotted about, so if there is a queue, the helpful (and yes, they are helpful!) staff will point you in the right direction. Given the Spa’s location, parking is an issue. If you’re spending the rest of the day on the front, you might as well bite the bullet and pay for the day long parking just outside the Spa. However, previously we have parked on the cliff top (free!) and walked down, which is lovely if tiring and then get the cliff lift up afterwards.

As I mentioned earlier, there are multiple concerts in the summer season, but they are all different songs so no two concerts will be the same. Also, whether your child is 3 months, 3 years or 13 years, they will get lots out of it, just in different ways (and yes, there are lots of small babies there!) which underlines how good this concert is and I ask myself again, “Why does no-one else do this type of event?”. I just need to find some more days off for us to go again this summer!

 


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Yorkshire Tots

Gullivers World – 30/6/2016

As part of daddy/daughter week together, I wanted to go somewhere different, somewhere child friendly but also big and so I chose Gullivers World over the other side of the hills, in Warrington.

I chose this as it is a theme park just for children, particularly focused on the younger children, and as such, it would be something completely different to what we have in Yorkshire as Lightwater Valley and Flamingo Land are more adult oriented and Sundown is somewhere we have been to already (and really enjoyed!)

After negotiating the M62/M60 for the second time in a week (see Play Factor-e post here) we arrived. One good thing is that the price is height dependent for the child. If they are under 90 cm, they won’t be able to go on many rides, but they will be free. Heidi is around 1m and while she cost the same as me (£17) she could go on virtually all the rides, even though I had to go on some with her (what a hardship!)

The park itself is really flat and pushchair friendly and so if you’re in half a mind to take it, do so as there is a lot of walking for little legs! The reason why I mentioned the height/cost is that if you have a 91cm child who hasn’t the best stamina, you might want to consider the value for money.

The park has loads of rides (too many to count!) included within the cost of admission. As we went during the week in term time, it was nice and quiet and so there were no queues, although school trips tend to come on Thursdays and Fridays (nice!)

Given the number of rides, you don’t feel as though you have to pressure the little ones to go on anything in particular as there is enough choice. Our favourites were the Indiana Jones-type ride (because we got squirted!) the haunted house (this was good as it was busy and you can scare others with a flying toddler!) as well as the numerous car rides.

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Heidi and Gilly!

If I am being honest, by personal favourite was the dodgems, if only because Heidi is now at an age where she is allowed on and can drive them. They don’t go too fast so you don’t need to worry about the potentials of whiplash!!

A couple of other popular attractions included the face painting (£4 a go) but pretty good face painting, even though the park looked as though it had been invaded by tigers! Also, the goodbye show was absolutely excellent, innocent fun and it is well worth the stay until the end as it is upbeat and gets the kids dancing.

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Tiger driving a car!

One thing we should have done was check out the show timetable because we bumped into the clowns leaving their show and so it would have been good to see them in action.

In terms of facilities, the baby change facility in the dinosaur section looked pretty good expecially with the dinosaur decor (although no toilet within) and there were numerous toilets around the park. There are plenty of food stalls and picnic tables in case you want to bring your own food/drink, which we did. There are a few shops dotted around, but by the time we got to the main shop at the entrance/exit we were too tired to shop!

Just a word of warning, the venue is 99% outdoors and so if you have rubbish weather, your day will be rubbish unfortunately!

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If the weather is rubbish, you’ll have to do time in the play jail!

However, our day was like Goldilocks’ porridge and we stayed from 11am to 4.15pm with barely a stop in between. Thanks to my Fitbit, I clocked over 10,000 steps walking 5 miles so please bear this in mind when planning footwear! However, this was because we were having such a good time and wanted to go on so many things and if we can get back again in September before the bad weather kicks in, we will do!