Sheffield in a Day – 21/8/16

Whilst being a Leeds Dad born and bred, I have ventured out a bit and work in Sheffield at the Children’s Hospital. As a result, it is a city that I know better than most. However, driving up and down the M1 on a weekday means that I rarely want to visit on a weekend. However, something strange is happening over the next few weeks in the city…there is a herd of elephants!

The Children’s Hospital Charity have arranged for a trail of elephants throughout the city and while I am clearly slightly biased, they are absolutely wonderful and are a welcome addition to the city. Obviously the novelty will fall away and they are only in the city for a few weeks but things like this bring people into the city and get people involved in arts and general culture. As a result please donate to them if you enjoy the elephants!

We tried to capture (unfortunate turn of phrase!) as many as possible while taking in a few of the other attractions in the city centre so we parted near the Crucible Theatre and made our way through the city. One thing I would suggest is plan your route, either which ones you want to see, or which attractions you want to go in and subsequently take in the elephants en route. There is an app available so planning the visit should be a doddle!!

We opted for the latter so after seeing the snooker themed one (sensibly indoors) we went to the Winter Gardens. We have never been here but it is a mini Tropical World, without the animals but given that it is free, it is well worth half an hour. However, there are loads of mini elephants hidden around the plants, which is a really cool touch!

After this, we wondered over to the Millennium Gallery for a couple more elephants, but also to take in a bit more culture. Again, it is free and there is the more wonderful interactive exhibit, which looked a bit like a tree, which Heidi absolutely loved. Again, we wandered through the exhibits spending another half an hour or so exploring before going to the Peace Gardens…

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However, they weren’t peaceful as there was Sheffield by the Seaside, which was the other main reason to go to Sheffield. While the beach was pretty small, there was a few stalls and attractions (crazy golf, helter-skelter, face painting etc) as well as a kids DJ playing games which was a bit cringe worthy but also good fun in equal measures!

Also, there are water fountains in the Peace Gardens which means that a change of clothes is a must, as we found out ourselves… however, it does appear as though the water fountains are magical as well….

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So after spending a good couple of hours there, we started heading back to the car via some more elephants, including the one signed by the Artic Monkeys, which was pretty cool.
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If you’re wanting to spend more time in She
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ffield, it might be an idea to head in the car to slightly out of the city centre to the Botanical Gardens, which is a bit like the Winter Gardens, but bigger. Here too, are a couple of elephants, but also a hidden Bear!!! This is a lovely park in general and would be ideal for a picnic in summer.

Finally, there is the Western Park Museum. As it is opposite the Children’s Hospital, parking can be difficult, but it is a lovely museum with one little greengrocers stall which kept Heidi entertained for ages!!! There is Western Park next door, but it is seemingly used as a pedestrian commuting route, rather than a traditional “park”

As I am a bit of an outsider, I am sure that there are plenty of other attractions within Sheffield that I don’t know about about. If you would like to share your tips, please leave a comment below!

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5 Minute Fun

We were invited to take part in “5 Minute Fun” via “Loved by Parents” and generally give it a go and see what we thought of it. This article was not paid for or anything like that, more an opportunity to write about what should have been 5 minutes of fun, but was rather 2 hours of fun!

So, what is “5 Minute Fun”? Well, 5 Minute Fun is  made up of free and exciting educational activities and ideas for you and your little one to try out together. Generally they are quick and easy (sometimes!) activities which require little planning and little, if any financial outlay. They are meant to tie into the Early Years Curriculum and help develop the child whilst having fun.

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We had 12 activities to choose from and without spoiling the other activities for you, I chose

Ask your little one to imagine they’re a little chick hatching. Can they crouch down low, tap-tap-tap, then stretch up high and wide as they hatch?

Given Heidi’s flair for the dramatic (see the Pyjama Drama post here) I thought that this would be a nice and simple activity after a long, busy day at work. How wrong I was…!

So, after controlling the excited 3 year old for a second, I played teacher and tried to explain what I wanted her to do (which probably took 4 minutes out of the 5!) However, she was not playing ball and pretty much refused, although we didn’t have any paddying! In a moment of inspiration, I thought that I would demonstrate the activity myself and using a hula-hoop (not the crisp!) as an egg, I acted out the activity and I thought that I did ok!

Clearly, I needed work as I was encouraged to do it again, on my own, but Heidi was seemingly getting more interested in the concept. However, the cogs in her brain were working in a way that only a 3 year old could… I asked her if she wanted to do it, and she said that she wanted to do it together, which was fine – twin chicks exist after all!

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So I got into my egg and Heidi started to lay next to me, but then she stopped, and started getting undressed in the middle of the living room, and the conversation went something like:

Me: What are you doing Heidi?

Heidi: Getting undressed Daddy

Me: Why?

Heidi: Because chicks don’t wear clothes

And just like that, I had a naked toddler pretending to be a chick!

We did the activity absolutely brilliantly, but then the seal was well and truly broken and the activity was done again, and again, and again. However, we took it on a step…

…the chick started to fly, and needed to be fed worms, and a nest building…however, the feathers didn’t seem to be growing too quickly!! Thank goodness we are well past the toilet training phase!

All in all, it lasted a couple of hours, and was certainly entertaining for all concerned. The activities are suited to be played anywhere, but if your child has hidden exhibitionist tendencies, it might be wise to play somewhere a bit private! It was definitely an activity that stimulated Heidi’s mind and creativity, and I am sure more normal children would have outcomes that you could video and take pictures of – clearly I wasn’t able to do that!!

To learn more about “5 Minute Fun” check out their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/5MinuteFun/ or their website at http://5minutefun.com

 


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Thackray Medical Museum – 6/8/2016

With both the Teddy Bear Hospital and Peso from Octonauts making an appearance at the Thackray Medical Museum, I thought that it would be the perfect opportunity to take Heidi for her first visit there.

Heidi is obsessed with all things medical and while I thought that it might be a bit scary to see all the medical instruments, balancing it up with some child specific fun would be ideal. She already knows that she wants to be either a doctor and a radiographer so if anyone has a spare x-ray machine laying around, it would make a perfect Christmas present!

Thinking that the one-off events would be popular we headed off upstairs to put our name down for the hospital, and this was a wise move! While the allocated time is 30 minutes for each session, we were one of the last ones to leave, after 20 minutes. Here, you can get your little one dressed up and perform all sorts of medical tests and procedures on your teddy bear (don’t forget to bring one!)

As you can see, Elmo was in his bed and had a blood transfusion, x-ray (absolutely brilliant!) as well as medicine, injection and a bandage. While there are helpers, it is a parent led session so you do have to roll up your sleeves and help with the diagnosis and treatment! We play doctors all the time, and it was good to get a few different ideas, as well as play dress-up! This was only £2 and was well worth the money!

We then ventured to the meet and greet with Peso which was a bit of a fleeting visit for us as while there was a craft activity to try, neither of us are particularly skilled in it, and there was a projector showing a loop of Octonauts which was of much greater interest! Meet and Greet is at certain times, so it might be an idea to ask at reception so you can plan your time.

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So onto the museum itself… The first thing to actually say is that it isn’t a child specific museum and so some bit might be a bit scary or not overly appropriate for toddlers. However, you can quickly bypass those areas without problem.

The top floor isn’t “hands on” and this caused Heidi some confusion – try telling a 3 year old that they can’t go onto an operating table! However, it only takes a couple of bits to spark the imagination. For us, it was the x-rays (obviously!) the dentist/false teeth as well as the child birth section.

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However, downstairs is much more child friendly, where there are lots of little games/puzzles, hands on exhibits as well as the story of food going through the body. I mention this because there was a piece of rope the length of the intestine and it was somewhat difficult to explain the concept to a toddler!!!

Also downstairs is some more dress-up clothes as well as a lovely little exhibit showing what happens to the spine when you move while sat down. If we did this again, we would do downstairs first before a bit of tiredness set it (we were there for almost 2 hours)

In terms of facilities, while the museum is on a couple of floors, there are lifts so it is pushchair friendly. There is also a cafe, although we didn’t visit the toilets so can’t comment. The entry fee covers entry for the entire year so you don’t feel as though you have to cram everything in. As car parking is only £2, it makes for every cheap return visits!

The next Teddy Bear Hospital/Octonauts is on Thursday 25th August so try and make your way down there!!


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The Daddy Tag Challenge

I was contacted by @Frenchiemummy on Twitter about this and thought that it might be a good little idea, and supplement the “About Me” post that is pinned to the front page.

The rules to the game are here (linked to save a huge long post) so without further delay, here it is:

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  • Are you a Stay at Home Daddy or a Working Daddy? Very much a Working Dad – all in all, work takes about 45-50 hours a week. However, it is Monday to Friday which means weekends are very much protected time. I am very lucky to have Heidi all weekend and also an evening or 2 during the week, but it is hard work
  • Would you have it any other way? Yes. I would love to be a SAHD or a home working dad. However, my current job is remarkably stable compared to others and it helps us do the nice things in life.
  • Do you co-change dirty nappies? Even the very smelly ones? Being a single dad, there isn’t much choice. However, even when things were different, I wanted to do everything and give everything a go. However, we are past the nappy changing phase.
  • A little fairy gives you the possibility of breastfeeding? Are you going for it or do you run away? This little fairy gives me boobs?! I want this fairy in my life forever!!! Seriously, yes, I would give it a go, but wouldn’t lose any sleep over it if it didn’t work out, or it wasn’t comfortable. 
  • What is the one must-have item for a daddy? The ability to go into a room full of mums and not be intimidated. There was a playgroup on a Tuesday and I had the day off and so me and Heidi went, and out of 40 kids, I was the only male. It was a “moment” for me as it was the first time I felt in such a minority but the important thing was that it didn’t stop us having a good time (oh and the queue for the toilets was short!) I think I wrote about it here and is a post that I am particular proud of.
  • How many kids do you plan on having? Very much one and done
  • Lads’ nights? How often do you have them? Never. Weekends are for me and Heidi and I’m not going to pass away the opportunity to do bedtime or miss an evening with her for a few drinks
  • Your children’s favourite achievement? Making friends. While it sounds a bit soft, as she doesn’t go to nursery, it is always a bit of a worry. However, she is unbelievably social and has made 3 really good friends and on the back of that, I have made really good friends too – the perfect wingman!!
  • What is your best memory with your kid(s)? It was probably at the Rainbow Factory in Leeds which is a story/education/theatre childrens venue (read about it here) and Heidi and another girl acted out Little Red Riding Hood with the aid of the members of staff. Heidi was 2 and obviously needed help, but she was completely at ease being on a little stage, acting out the story in front of a couple of parents.
  • Name one thing you miss since being a daddy? The time to be able to exercise/play football as generally it is work and Heidi...
  • Weight gain, before pregnancy, during, after and now? And we mean YOU DADDY, not the mummy! I probably put on half a stone after birth. The difficult thing is trying to keep it at that!
  • Dream holiday with your kids? Florida, Disney. (enough said really!)
  • Dream holiday without your kids or even without the other half? (You’re allowed to dream) Maybe the other side of the Florida coast – there is a beautiful area between St Petersburg and Clearwater on the West Coast of Florida, which is so relaxing. Either that or a city hopping/sports watching holiday
  • How has your life changed since having kids? Beyond recognition… Currently going through divorce proceedings and generally everything has changed. Some for the better, some for the worse, but what has happened in the past has happened and you can only move forwards
  • Finish the sentence “It makes my heart melt when…” When Heidi is out and about with me and she will say to someone “That’s my daddy” so proudly. It also makes me slightly embarrassed!
  • Favourite beers brands and football team? I don’t drink (see the question re weight gain!) Used to follow Leeds United, but this is certainly one thing that has fallen away simply due to lack of time, as well as the fact we do kiddie football training on a Saturday afternoon
  • Huggies or Pampers? Pah! I’m a Yorkshire Accountant – it was Tescos when we were going through that stage…
  • Have you always wanted kids? Yes. It wasn’t a burning desire because I knew I needed to do my accounting qualification, and all the other time consuming parts of my life first, and then things would be set. It did happen at the perfect time and wouldn’t change it
  • Best part of being a dad? It is probably going out and about and being a kid once again. We have gone to so many more places than I ever knew existed and had so many new experiences. Yes, it is hard work, but it is worth it and I know that I have only one shot at it and so I am going to take every opportunity with both hands

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the Frenchie Mummy Blog

Pyjama Drama

As the welcome song goes, “it’s lots of fun” and “it’s for everyone”, which is true, but it did take me a while to warm up to it, but I’m glad that we stuck it out!

If you don’t know, Pyjama Drama is a preschool drama (obviously!) class where the class act through a different story each week – however, I have yet to see anyone wear pyjamas! The class starts off with various warm up songs and then the make-believe happens, and it is sometimes hit and miss, but when it is clicks, it is really good to watch!

To get the most out of Pyjama Drama, your child needs to have the confidence to leave your side and join in, even a little bit. I’m pretty sure every class will have its introverts and its extroverts and the more outgoing (who tend to be older) will act as a magnet for the others to join in. However, it can be that some just sit and watch, and while they will be learning by watching, the ones who are more active are going to get the most out of it.

At the beginning, I said that I wasn’t sure about Pyjama Drama and that is because I didn’t quite “get it”. As I didn’t go every week (because of having to work to pay the bills etc!), it did look like organised chaos and I didn’t really see how it was benefiting Heidi.

But then it all clicked into place…

While she was confident before, her confidence has grown even further (perhaps too much?!) and her imagination has increased exponentially as a result of having structured classes to develop it. This is because while the leader has a plan for the make-believe story, the children can shape it to however they feel. If one of them wants to be a cat, then the story shifts to involve a cat etc and somehow the story reaches its end point with a few diversions along the way!

When at home, she carries on the Pyjama Drama ethos of being imaginative and creative and playing old fashioned make believe. Sometimes she will spend an hour being a dog, other times she will play doctors and thanks to Pokemon-Go, she has pretended to play the make-believe game, even going as far as to pretending to carry a phone in her hand and flicking, while getting someone else to be a Pokemon!!

Heidi started the classes when she turned 2 and has been doing them for a year now and as long as we can balance nursery/childcare provision, we will be taking her for as long as we can. This, along with going to places like the Rainbow Factory (read one of the many links here), really give Heidi the confidence, creativity and imagination that I sorely lack, and hopefully mean that when it comes to starting school, she is confident and able to do all the things that she wants to do at school.

There are loads of Pyjama Dramas around the UK and so go to http://www.pyjamadrama.com and see if there is one near you!


 

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