Recent Updates Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Monkey 12:37 pm on September 24, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    The perfect place to entertain toddlers in London… 

    What if I told you that there was a place in Central London, that was perfect for entertaining toddlers while keeping your sanity because:

    For toddlers:

    • a fun table-based playset that keeps their attention
    • a bunch of kid-friendly areas where the toddlers can play at being drivers
    • a bigger environment where toddlers can practice being drivers
    • a street scene where toddlers can have fun learning how to cross the street and pressing buttons

    and for adults:

    • toddlers that are happily entertained
    • toddler-friendly toilets that are clean and easy to use
    • FREE WI-FI. Did I mention that earlier? FREE WI-FI.
    • a nearby cafe for a quick injection of caffeine
    • Only £15 entry fee – and then you can return as many times as you like for a year
    • free entry for under-5s
    • it’s possible to exit the place without going through the gift shop…
    • no repetitive soundtrack of tween-friendly tunes

    and better yet, it’s in the heart of Covent Garden so adults and toddlers alike can recuperate afterwards with a hideously expensive burger if they feel the urge to spend money SOMEWHERE?

    This perfect slice of nirvana for wrangling toddlers is the London Transport Museum. Run, don’t walk to this place the next time you feel the need to wrangle your toddler in a new space!

  • Monkey 12:45 pm on September 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    Training toilet etiquette in the urban environment… 

    So the other day, I was standing on an Underground platform in the suburbs (ie not underground, thankfully) when I observed a couple with a small kid, about the same age as Our Kid.

    Unfortunately, it became very apparent that Their Kid needed to use the toilet rapidly – but of course, there are no toilets on Underground platforms. So the parents basically took Their Kid’s trousers off, where he proceeded to quickly urinate on the platform (by a wall), before they put his trousers back on.

    The question is, if it was your kid who needed to urinate, and you had two options:

    a) Let him pee on the ground, and thus at least “encourage” his toilet training
    b) Force him to pee in his trousers, and possibly set back his toilet training

    What would you do?

  • Monkey 12:09 pm on September 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    How to raise a kid right, from the longest study ever conducted… 

    It seems that in 1938, Harvard started a study looking at 200+ men, and followed their lives from then on to see who flourished, who didn’t, and the reasons behind why they might or might not have done so.

    And they’re still studying them, now.

    There’s a long article summarising the study, which is based around a (presumably much longer) book, but it does seem that regardless of background, it’s all about:

    • having a loving home
    • having a sense of humour
    • keeping active
    • finding love

    Now, it would seem unlikely that we can help our toddler to find love at this early stage – unless it’s a love for dinosaurs and cars in which case he’s set – but it probably behooves us all as parents to make sure the other things are taken care of!

  • Monkey 12:35 pm on July 31, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    When being a Dad ruins being a geek… 

    As a former film journalist, I still follow what’s going on in mainstream cinema, even if I don’t get to go anywhere near as often as I’d like to.

    And thus yesterday, the trailer for Interstellar, Christopher Nolan’s eagerly anticipated look at how humanity might end up on an alien planet, debuted:

    Interstellar – Official Trailer 3 from Israr on Vimeo.

    Most of the Internet is full of understandable adulation over the depictions of space travel to another planet.

    Unfortunately, for me, the main emotional takeaway for me watching the trailer is musing on how awful it must be to have to abandon your family, and quite possibly never see them again. Which is possibly not quite what Nolan or the trailer marketeers had in mind…

  • Monkey 4:16 pm on March 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , cinema, cineworld, movies,   

    Taking a toddler to the cinema, and getting a refund… 

    As a film fan, I’ve been internally wondering when the best time would be to take our three-year-old toddler to the cinema. Take him too early, and it may traumatise him for life. Take him too late, and he may not pick up the cinema film habit. And with an average film ticket costing £10 or more, you don’t really want to waste your time if it’s not going to work out.

    But our local Cineworld offers Movies For Juniors, where adults and children can see a film for £1. This weekend, they were showing the Disney Oscar-winning film Frozen that HyperHam had wanted to see. So with some minor trepdiation and a “Be prepared for anything!” attitude, we booked our tickets online.

    It all seemed to go so well to begin with. Monkey marched up the stairs like he owned the place – although, to be fair, he tends to do that with any set of stairs he sees – and then ran across the communal hallway like a boy who likes running. He sat down in the seats while we told him the big television was going to start soon. One minor hiccup involving fidgety feet and a huge mega-gulp drinks bucket notwithstanding, it was going smoothly so far.

    Then the adverts started, which he diligently sat through. And the trailers, which he also diligently sat through, while occasionally asking for his favourite TV programme. Today’s digital on-demand generation – spoilt, I tells ya…

    Then the short before the main feature started. And that’s when his itchy feet couldn’t take any more, and demanded to run up and down the stairs across the cinema. And try as we might, we couldn’t persuade him to sit quietly. So we ended up leaving the auditorium for the cool spring sunshine outside, where he happily spent another thirty minutes running up and down stairs.

    It subsequently turns out that Cineworld offer a policy whereby if you have to leave the movie before it even starts, have a word with the manager on duty, and he/she may well refund your ticket price or give you vouchers to use for another day. Which seems remarkably nice of them – so a top money-saving tip there!

  • Monkey 2:02 pm on February 2, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: android, app, appleitunes, bilingual, cantonese, game, googleplay, itunes, languages, review   

    Review: Pacca’s Carousel (language app) 

    Pacca's CarouselLike many a parent, I sometimes look for little language games so that my son can at least get a little grounding in another language aside from the lingua franca spoken in the household. Unlike other parents, I’m looking for games that can help teach my son Cantonese – which are surprisingly hard to find, since most language apps stick to European languages or choose Mandarin as a representation of the Chinese language.

    So I was glad to be introduced to Pacca’s Carousel – a handy app (on Apple and Android) for toddlers that introduces some basic words in new languages including Cantonese and Arabic (as well as the usual standard French and Spanish).

    It does this by allowing the user/child to pick from a bright range of colours, random objects and numbers to populate a carousel with. As the child touches the icon for each colour or object, the word for it in your chosen language is spoken aloud by a child, which helps to fix the pronounciation of the word to the object or colour.

    Naturally, there are also some hidden surprises for certain objects, and there’s a range of bright and breezy soundtracks to accompany the choices your child makes. There’s even a night-time mode in case it becomes part of a kid’s bedtime routine.

    It’s quite a handy little app, and I’m sure this will help any child acquire some basic words in a new language. Alex has been playing around with it and seems to quite enjoy it for what it is.

    AnamilTech kindly allowed me to review the full app (priced at £1.49 on Google Play or Apple iTunes) but a free limited version of it is also available on Google Play or Apple iTunes to help you decide if it’d work for your child(ren).

  • Monkey 10:10 pm on November 4, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: a&e, bag, emergency, er, hospital, kit   

    The woman formerly known as HyperHam has her own blog, and has just written a guide to what should be in your A&E / ER emergency kit for when you suddenly have to take your child to the hospital. It’s sad to think about it, but in the immortal words of Adele Rousseau from Aliens vs Predator, better to have one and never need it, rather than need it and not have it.

  • Monkey 1:32 pm on September 16, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    Reasons not to give your toddler access to an iPad 

    I’m sure there are plenty of serious and scientifc studies and reasons as to why you shouldn’t give your child use of an iPad. But here’s another slightly more selfish reason.

    On a day (like yesterday was) where it’s rainy and wet outside, which means you can’t play outside, an iPad has access to all sorts of new games and apps.

    However, for our son, he uses it for one primary thing. Not for him the traditional carefully-planned structure of a TV station broadcast schedule. Nope, he wants his content when he wants it, and he also wants full control of it. If there’s a favourite bit, he’ll want to watch it again and again. (Sometimes, he’ll go up to the main TV and try to travel backwards in time by using a non-existent scrollbar on the TV set)

    And so it came to pass, today, that he watched the same episode of Swashbuckle at least five times today. Primarily to join in the hearty song and cheers that start the show off – and indeed join in the dance movement and playground snarls. And then rewind to play it again. And again. And again.

    I have the bloody blasted song in. my. head.




    and I think I’m beginning to like it. Help.

  • Monkey 9:34 pm on September 12, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: letterstoalex, money, thinkmoney   

    The value of money 

    Think Money has challenged bloggers to write a letter to their children imparting wisdom about money. I’m not sure how well my “wisdom” will work, but I will at least give it a go …


    As you can tell by the stacks of books everywhere in the house, I’ve loved to read from an early age. I can remember once begging my parents – your grandparents – for a pound note (they were green bits of paper, not gold coins as they are now!) so I could get this Disney hardbound book at the sweet shop. When they finally relented, and I held that pound note in my hands – I was the richest person in the world. I probably have that book somewhere in Wales, along with most of the other books that can’t fit in our flat right now.

    I didn’t get pocket money as a boy. Your grandmother (A Po) and grandfather (A Gun) were very hardworking, and understood the true value of money – it wasn’t just the thing that paid the bills, it was what took them out of poverty in Hong Kong and into prosperity in Wales. It was precious.

    But I was lucky, and occasionally they would indulge my love of books and let me do things like run to the sweet shop like I was a king. And when you want money for books, I don’t think I could ever say no to you. But just as my parents knew that money was precious, so do I. I want you to understand that money isn’t the only thing in this life, but it sure is important, and that it should be respected. Your wants in this life aren’t nearly as important as your needs, and only when your needs are satisfied can you spend what you have left over on your wants.

    You are my son, and I will always, always put you first, but I would be failing as a father if I didn’t teach you the importance of saving your money, and of spending wisely. Work hard, love the best things in life (which as we know from the song are free!), and satisfy your needs before thinking about your wants.



    This is an entry for Think Money’s Financial Advice Competition. Think Money is an online service that helps young spenders, or people who need a bit more guidance, to make sure their bills are paid and that their individual saving goals are being met.

  • Monkey 4:28 pm on September 4, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , preschool   

    There’s nothing like having your wife post a pic of your two-and-a-half year-old son getting ready for his first afternoon at the pre-school nursery to make you realise time is ticking on, and that he’s now literally playing with the big(ish) boys. Even if he can’t speak clearly yet… He was learning to walk last year!

compose new post
next post/next comment
previous post/previous comment
show/hide comments
go to top
go to login
show/hide help
shift + esc