One of the joys of having preschool children is that you needn't be confined to your home - there are plenty of places that you can take young children that allow you the freedom to be out, and that extend their understanding of the world around them. When you think of places to go out with your children, some of the obvious places are the local park, playgroups and soft play - these are obviously child-oriented.
But consider also other places that might not otherwise spring to mind. Take them on a bus or a train - you don't need to head anywhere special, just take them for a ride. Take them to shopping centres not simply to shop, but to explore the spaces. Sit and talk with your little ones about what you can see. Go to your local library and swimming pool, visit any local museums or galleries.
Although you may not consider many of these spaces to be 'child friendly', preschool children will find plenty to keep them stimulated in even, what might appear to you to be, the most ordinary environments. Remember that the world offers so many new experiences for babies and toddlers and just being out and about will stimulate them far more than you might imagine. They are constantly taking in new sights, smells and sounds, and everything that they experience is building up their knowledge and understanding of the world. Babies and young toddlers will go wherever you take them and every day presents new adventures for them.
We're only just past the summer solstice, marking the middle of the year, but there's no better time to starting your Christmas shopping than right now! Retailers in the high street and online are suffering poor sales - we don't have money to spend and we're not buying. Shops are currently launching into their summer sales, many starting earlier than usual. Now is the perfect time to bag yourself some bargains rather than waiting for Christmas.
Particularly good value at the moment are children's audio and video offerings. Family DVD's and CD's are cheaper at the moment than they will be at Christmas. Amazon and Play are selling many Disney DVD's for between £5 and £8 at the moment. Come Christmas time, they will probably run the same Buy One Get One that they have for the past couple of years, but suddenly all their titles will be retailing at a much higher price - you'll feel like you're getting a bargain but in truth you'll probably end up paying more than you will for the same titles right now.
Many toy retailers are also offering discounted goods at the moment. Grab yourself some bargains, pick up stocking fillers and stock pile gifts for friends' birthday parties now! Every parent takes advantage of discounted toys to give at parties, shop efficiently and you can save yourself a small fortune!
As Christmas approaches, your mind is probably turning to which gifts to buy the children, and by now you're fully aware that there are some great toys out there, but also some terrible ones too! There's nothing worse than having a toy break before you even reach Boxing Day, or finding that a game that looked like it would be brilliant turns out to be useless and the kids just aren't interested!
Luckily we have help at hand. Over the last few years the Internet has been fundamental in shifting shopping patterns from the high street to the home. Even if you haven't braved that revolution, we have also seen a new and welcome trend in online shopping. Many online stores allow buyers to review products that they buy, and nowadays you can quickly find great gift ideas with positive reviews, products that others have lavished on their children and you can now buy in the reasonably safe knowledge that you're buying a good gift!
Some stores allow buyers to review products in their own site directly, others plug in to independent review sites that specialise in collecting reviews rather than selling, arguably making the reviews more trustworthy. Do retain a healthy scepticism for sites that seem only to have one or two really positive reviews for every product as they could have been left by the manufacturer or seller, make sure that there are a good number of reviews that concur.
Reviews will often cover the quality of items, as well as giving a good indication of how suitable the product is to children of different ages. If you are wondering how good a product is and whether to buy it for your children, seek out reviews online and use the experience of others help make up your own mind! If you are later either pleased or disappointed with your purchase, then take the time to leave your own review in order to help future shoppers.
As we approach Christmas, the supermarkets and high street retailers are all vying to win you over with discounted toys and games to lavish on your children at Christmas. There are some great bargains to be had at this time of year! Online retailers also have some great offers and you can often find the best prices using online price comparison sites such as Google Products or Book Butler for books.
If you have a 'smart' phone, such as iPhone, Android or one of the new Windows Phones, with rich internet access, you can get the best of both worlds by looking for ideas in supermarkets or high street shops but then using price comparison sites to see if you can get a better price online. If you can, you could even order it there and then, if you can't then you can buy the one off the shelf! Don't forget that you must add on postage and packaging costs to many online stores, although most large online retailers offer free delivery in order to remain competitive.
If you can save just a pound off the price of each gift you buy this Christmas, that could mount up to a pretty good saving overall, although you'll probably find you can save much more by shopping smart!
Think ahead beyond Christmas as well - stock up on some bargains for birthdays that you know might be coming up over the next few months. Provided you have a place to store them, you can buy presents and keep them on hand well into the New Year!
According to research carried out by the British Heart Foundation, 90% of parents are being misled by food manufacturers who imply that children's foods are much healthier than they really are. Approximately 1,500 parents were questioned, all who had children under 15 years of age, and most of them felt they were being misled when it came to the health claims made on the food packets.
Wholegrain: 76% of parents thought this meant a product was healthy, yet Nestle Honey Shreddies (which state wholegrain on the packet) contain more sugar than a ring dounut!
Vitamins: 'Source of Calcium, iron and vitamins' - 63% of parents thought this meant the product is healthy. But, Kellogg's Coco Pops use this statement on their packet and yet the cereal contains more sugar than chocolate cake!
It's important to state however, these phrases are not untrue; they are just misleading! It seems parents are being hoodwinked into thinking these products are good and healthy to eat, but this is not the case. They are often full of saturated fats, sugars and salt that are way beyond what we'd serve at breakfast if presented with actual spoonfuls of sugar, fat and salt in front of us!
A clear food labelling system has been talked about, but who knows when and if this will ever be introduced. It would certainly help when choosing which products to buy!