As I’ve already discovered just two weeks in, the balance is very tricky to get right. Too much time at home, and we are climbing the walls; bickering, bored and wanting to do nothing but watch TV, or more particularly, impose a new form of torture to Mum in demanding You Tube Clips of The Gummy Bear song and The Crazy Frog on repeat.
Yet in a bid to escape that frog, epic days out come with a price too; militant packing, rushing to leave the house, stresses over weather, traffic jams that defy belief, megabucks and over tired, emotional kids (and Mum).
It’s fair to say that an invitation to review a selection of toys from What2Buy4Kids came at a pretty perfect time. Something to occupy the kids in a more wholesome way than the gummy bear song on our many days at home this holiday. We need to get back to basics; we need to go old school.
Big Jigs Snakes and Ladders, £8.99
We have sooo many board games gathering dust in our house – so many of them are just extremely complicated and far too many rules to hold the attention of a five and two year old. The girls do however love playing on a snake and ladder painted section of the local park, so when I saw this classic it had to go in the basket.
The quality of the game was unexpectedly solid. A thick heavy wooden base which will last a lifetime – simple coloured pieces and a dice in a drawstring bag and a set of rules that even a two year old could understand. (We may need some practice on ‘rolling’ a dice).
Playing was a mixed success. The mouse got distracted pretty quickly and started kicking the pieces over, whilst Tigs accused me of cheating by being in the lead, so rolled the dice until she got a number she liked. Clearly they need some practice in the board game department this summer!
Big Jig Traditional Wooden Dominoes, £7.99
One of the girls’ grandparents has a set of dominoes which has always drawn their attention when we visit. This is another excellent quality wooden toy (always so much more aesthetically pleasing than more plastic tat) and it’s a real family down time favourite. One of those games that you can’t help stop and join in with.
In an age where kids can so easily be sucked into a digital black hole, it’s a beautiful thing to watch them so absorbed into such a simple, classic game.
Make a sparkling Dream Catcher, £7.99
I’ve always been drawn to dream catchers and hovered over them when we see them for sale – such a beautiful concept to catch the bad dreams and let the good ones go through.
Tigs is really into arts and crafts, so these ‘Make your own…’ kits are the perfect toy for her. They make a brilliant gift for a craft loving child and we love working our way through these types of toys after the Christmas / Birthday influx.
This kit definitely was too hard for Tigs to do alone, but she did some gluing, threading, holding and looping – enough to make her feel it was a team effort. The Mouse came and got involved by throwing the beads all over the floor, so perhaps one to do during naptime of a younger sibling!
Anyway, the end effect was perfect; so not only did she get a creative craft activity, but she also now has an extra special dream catcher of her own.
Rachel Ellen Colouring Books; Under The Sea & Princess, £1.99 each
Colouring books; one minute you seem to have hundreds, the next you cannot find one single page that hasn’t been scribbled all over. Yes, new colouring books were a definite pick off the website. They stock loads of Rachel Ellen products and I really love the colourful and friendly designs of her characters.
The colouring books are possibly smaller than some other colouring books we’re used to, however the quality of the paper and images is far superior. With one image per page, there is no yukky bleed through from the previous ‘work of art’ and the characters and illustrations are gorgeous.
These will serve us well on holiday, in the long car journeys we cannot avoid and even on a rainy wednesday at home.
Soak’n’Sling Rockets, £2.50
One of the things I love about this toy is it’s low cost to maximum fun ratio. If the dream catcher toy was secretly for me, then I have no doubt I ordered this with my husband in mind. Often found in the garden, if he’s not tinkering with his tree ferns, then he is kicking a ball around or bouncing it off the wall. What is it with boys and playing with balls? 😉
These little water bomb rocket catchers would be the perfect way to lure the kids outside on a super hot day and have the type of summer fun that is only possible when heatwaves and water fights join forces… We just need that sun now…!
The Great Garden Games Company Wooden Rounders Set , £18.99
The most expensive item in my basket, I had a very clear vision in my mind where this toy would take us. Our weekends with friends, the picnics in the park, dusk on the beach when everyone else has left for the day… those moments when you just wish you had a bat and ball to make the most of the last bit of sunshine of the day.
There is no doubt in my mind that this is a toy that will see us through many many years of summer use. Unlike other bat and ball sets I’ve seen come and go, this is excellent quality, strong solid wood. It comes with a drawstring bag, four rounders bases, a tennis ball (not too heavy for the kids), a good solid bat and even a quickfire rules of rounders sheet.
Myself and the kids haven’t whipped up a game of rounders in the garden, just the three of us yet…but this toy is going to be permanently stored in the boot of our car so it’s to hand at the perfect moment, whenever that moment comes, but I have no doubt this will be the crowd pleaser toy of the summer (unlike THAT crazy frog).
Disclosure: We were sent the toys for the purpose of this review. All opinions are our own.