Our top Netflix shows for under 5s 

By ‘our’ I mean shows my kids will ask for and that I condone. There are some shows I try get them to watch that they are not interested in and then shows they beg for that I don’t agree with. 

  1. Doc McStuffins. Who doesn’t love Doc McStuffins, with her stay at home dad, working mom and supporting characters who have their own personalities. In case you haven’t seen it before, it’s an animated show about a little girl who fixes her toys in each episode one of the toys needs her assistance. I love that there is a princess who wants to save the knight and a big lamb who just wants to be a girly princess. Each episode has a good lesson to learn about interacting with others or understanding your feelings. 
  2. The Wiggles. We may have just immigrated to Australia but my kids already think Sydney is their home. With four lead characters, three males and one female, a dinosaur, octopus and pirate who all sing and dance it’s musically orientated with a story line which runs through the episode. It’s a great show for little kids, my one year old stands and dances on the lounge floor throughout. There are lessons in each episode too, hand washing, teeth brushing etc. My three year old has just decided he doesn’t mind it.
  3. Superwhy is all about a reading. It features a little boy superhero who, together with some friends, fixes classic stories to deliver child friendly / happy endings. It is animated and good for pre-schoolers. 
  4.  Magic School Bus is old school animation. In each episode Miss Frizzle shrinks the school bus so that the kids can go on an interactive learning experience, in one episode they go into a classmates body to see why he has the flu. It’s a lovely show focused on learning. 
  5. Leap Frog: Let’s go to school is very simple in terms of animation and it’s lead characters – two twin frogs – but it’s tops when it comes to teaching and education. It focuses on educating the kids with numbers, letters aznd also helping address issues they may have eg fear of going to school, sharing. The only downside is that this is 30 minutes which is quite long.
  6. Sophia The First. For those who have never watched Sophia, a little girl from the village becomes a princess when her mom marries the King. In each episode she learns a new lesson based on common virtues eg helping others and being humble. She’s kind, polite and helpful, all in all a good character. 
  7. Sid the Science Kid is a Jim Henson animated show (digital puppetry). While Sid must be in school his inquisitiveness appeals to my 3 year old – like my son, Sid has lots of questions, what things are, how they work, where things are, why things do what they do… You know the questions you get asked a million times a day. 

Other shows my kids love which are okay conceptually and which are non-frightening for under 4s are:

– Octonauts

– Jake and the neverland pirates 

– Puffin Rock

– Sarah and Duck

– Masha and Bear (dubbed from Russian I think) 

– Dinosaur train 

– Curious George

– Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom 

– Paw Patrol

– Blaze and the Monster Machines 
Most shows nowadays have educational consultants on board to make sure there is good content so anything in the above list should add some value to your child’s life, aside from just letting you get the washing folded or dishwasher packed. And… To be honest, you can’t discount that these shows help develop their imagination and vocabulary. 

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Sandbucket Play Centre and Cafe, North Narrabeen

Three separate play areas for kids of different ages and a cafe that serves food and coffee. Sounds good to me. 

I took both kids out on a blustery (very Winnie-the-Pooh-esq) to an indoor play Centre on the Northern Beaches, I’ve wanting to explore the area a bit more so I was glad when I stumbled on Sandbucket Play Centre and Cafe on Facebook (link to FB page here).

The playcenter is housed in the Pittwater Sports Centre, the address of which is 1525 Pittwater Road, North Narrabeen NSW 2101 (going North it is on the left hand side on the road). 

  

The entrance to the Play Centre is through the Cafe. You will also need to pay the entrance fee at the Cafe. As at June 2016, the entrance fees are: 

– $9.50 for kids 3 and over 

– $6.50 for kids under 3 

– $5 for under 12 months 

– Adults are free. 

Upon payment you’ll get arm bands for the kids so you can get in and out of the Centre should you need to eat or go to the loo. 

The Cafe serves Danes coffee which was really good and has a variety of meals and snacks (healthy and otherwise). Some people seem to come in just to eat at the Cafe and there were a few kids in school uniforms eating. You can pick up a frequent coffee card which gets clipped each time you buy a coffee. Make sure to pick up a copy of Child Magazine at the counter if you can.  

  

The menu seems pretty extensive but we didn’t get a chance to sample anything other than the chocolate donut 🙂 

  

There are three separate play areas the smallest area is the one for kids under 2. 

  

The only problem we had with this area on the day we went is that some bigger kids were jumping in the ball pit to the disregard of smaller kids.

The medium size play area must be dedicated to ages 2 – 4 (working from the signs on the other two play areas). It is a climbing frame with a slide, tunnels, obstacles to walk through and climb over. 

  
The biggest play structure is marked ‘4 years plus’ and it is big! It has a ball pit, four big slides, flying foxes, steps and obstacles to climb up and through. 

  
The Play Centre doesn’t have its open bathroom, you have to go into the gymnastics hall to use the bathrooms and from what I could see there was no baby changing area (but I could be wrong). 

The Play Centre is generally  open from 8:30am – 5:30pm Monday to Thursday, 8am – 4pm on Saturday and 9:30 – 4pm on Sunday’s. However there is a disclaimer to the weekend operating hours: it may close earlier you have to phone and check if they are open and hours differ during school holidays. The phone number is 0299137421. 
There are a number of rules to be observed (there may be more that I didn’t see so be on the look-out) including:

  • No outdoor food to be brought in
  • No food other than adult drinks to be taken into the play area
  • Coffee / tea / drinks to have a lid on in the play area
  • Kids must play in socks
  • No heeled shoes
  • No nappies to be changed in the play area
  • Adults not to be on the slides
  • No walking on the slides 

Moving Bodies Soft Play, Mt Kuring-gai

The bigger centre is known as Moving Bodies Centre but this review is solely about the soft play area which is open weekdays and suited to 0 – 11 year olds. There are two separate areas with a common eating area / mom’s lounge and bathrooms.

There is some confusion as to whether this play centre is in Hornsby or Mt Kuring-gai but following our exit from the highway the sign said Mt Kuring-gai Industrial Area so I’m going to go with that 🙂

The address on their website is Unit 2, Marina Close, Mt Kuring-gai, other references to the address that i’ve seen is corner Hamley Road and Marina Close. What you want to do though is just put Hamley Road in your GPS and when you get to the end of the road it will be on your left.

The centre is made up of 2 units and you will pay at the first unit and the be directed to the next door unit to enter the soft play area. The cost for play is $2 for 6 – 11 month olds, $4 for 1 – 2 year olds and $8 for 2 – 11 year olds.

 

0-2 year old play area

This was the area we spent most time in today and it was really lovely – big, safe (sprung floor), clean and virtually empty.

There were plenty of soft structures for my daughter to play on: things to play on, slide down, climb up, ride on, crawl through and sit on. The pictures speak for themselves.

 

3 – 11 year old play structure

The play structure is 3 storeys tall and filled with all the things you would expect, a ball pit, tunnels and slides.

 

One of the best things is that you can watch your children play, on monitors provided in the eating area – very smart if you are trying to keep track of two kids.

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Eating area complete with screens to watch the kids playing

The problem with the centre is that there is no cafe or restaurant so you have to take your own snacks. You have to make sure that they are nut free and that your kids eat them in the eating area only. The one other things I wasn’t a fan of is the bathrooms but they’re okay just not perfect. Will have to have a better inspection of them when I take our newly potty trained 3 year old (help us all 🙂 ).

The people that work here are great: friendly and actually seem to like kids which is a plus!

 

We will definitely be back and next time we are I will update you all. I will also pop past Marina Close Cafe to get my coffee fix and will report back.

Kidz Connection, Oxford Falls 

What a great discovery! Plenty of parking, small but with big enough variety and space for younger kids to be entertained and it’s still got a decent cafe. What is not to love!
Kids Connection is at 2 Dreadnought Road, Cnr Wakehurst Parkway, Oxford Falls, 2100. ( If you’re coming from east along Mona Vale road do not take the route which takes you south down Wakehurst – the roads aren’t proper roads and it’s a nightmare unless you’re in a big 4X4 rather take the long route down Forest Way, along Frenchs Forest Road and back up north along Wakehurst)(just saying 🙂 ). 

  
Kids Connection is within the grounds of the C3 church and seems to be attached to the church building somehow but is very separate. From the parking, you enter through a court yard and into the cafe with the play area being outside of the cafe but covered. 

There are three main play areas:

1. One giant play structure.

  
2. A space for cosi coupes and other little trike type things. 

  
3. An area which has a wooden play set with slide, tunnels and a bridge, an enclosed spring free trampoline and an old school wooden see-saw. 

  
There is also a small enclosed area inside which seems to be for little babies – it has a few toys and some cushions to sit on. 

  
The only negative to the play area is that the outside is enticing to toddlers – especially the cosi coupe area but there are no restrictions on what age group kids can play there so you run the risk of your little ones getting overrun if you don’t keep them at arm’s reach. 

I think the structure and what’s available to play on makes me feel as though this is best for kids 18 months plus but my 1 year old girl still got stuck in a had a good time. 

We went this week during schools holidays and as such there was a ‘Holiday Special’ where it’s 2 kids for the price of 1 (I don’t know if this is only 2 kids from the same family or not) so we only paid $7. How cheap is that!! That’s almost half what you pay for a three year old at most places. 

The Cafe serves Campos coffee and a good selection of food. Comfory chairs and couches to make you feel like you’re at an actual coffee shop. And for a big croissant with ham and cheese, a babychino and a Carmel macadamia slice I paid $10 in total and, and because it was our first visit I got my coffee free.

I will definitely definitely go back, maybe even next week. 

18 frustrations only parents understand 

  1. Dropping the last clean dummy / pacifier on the garage floor or street.
  2. Running out of formula when you’ve put half the powder into the perfect amount of water which has been brought to the perfect temperature. 
  3. Having THAT Disney song stuck in your head all day.
  4. Being stuck indoors for a week due to rain or sick kids. 
  5. Not being able to find a parking when you’re already late and you’ve got children screaming in the car demanding the activity you’re late for. 
  6.  A dirty nappy just before you get the second child strapped into the car. One in, one out and one dirty nappy. 
  7. Broken tv or dvd when you’ve promised 15 minutes of tv and you need to get the washing out the washing machine. 
  8. Getting to the trike park and realizing you’ve left the helmet or scooter in the garage at home. 
  9. A bottle of expressed milk exploding in a handbag or car seat. 
  10. Lying down for a nap (after you’ve been up all night) and your baby wakes up 1 hour and 50 minutes before she should. 
  11. All the washing being unfolded or cupboards unpacked after you’ve just folded or packed … The second time. 
  12. Sharing a lovely bath with your child only to be vomitted on or pooped on, out of nowhere. 
  13. The crumbs, all over your house. 
  14. Having your pants pulled down or bra exposed in public while your hands are full .
  15. Trying to get grandparents on board with your parenting rules.
  16. When your phone, iPad or computer is washed, flushed or thrown. 
  17. Having food or drink or both spilt all over you on a plane… At the beginning of the flight. 
  18. Trying to go to the toilet ALONE. 
  19. When they make you want to laugh or smile when they’re meant to be sleeping or you’re in the middle of disciplining them. 

Sealife Sydney Aquarium – Darling Harbour

Sealife Sydney Aquarium is located in Darling Harbour (a short stroll from the Starbucks – thank goodness), in the same area as Madam Tussauds and WildLife. The official address is 1 – 5 Wheat Road, Sydney, 2000. I would consider public transport to the Aquarium as parking can be on the expensive side unless you find a good deal on the Wilsons Parking Garage in Darling Harbour (Website link here). 

We’ve been twice in the last year and it is definitely a worthwhile visit if you can get the tickets on Groupon (I’m still in two minds as to whether I would pay full price  when there are so many other great things in that price bracket). 

Tickets are generally $40 but you can get them online from Sealife Website. The website says you can get them as cheap as $28 but I haven’t been successful in getting that cheap outside of Groupon. We got tickets on two separate occasions from Groupon for $26 due to a Groupon sale (winning I tell you!)

My favourite parts of the Aquarium are when you walk through through the underwater tunnels and you watch the animals swim over you. I just love it. When my littlest was just 5 months we took her and lay her pram back so she could just watch the fish above her – she was utterly mesmerized (hoping for a marine biologist in the making, kidding, not really 🙂 ). 

My second Favourite part (because this is clearly all about me living vicariously through my kids) is the Dugongs. I love love Dugongs. I don’t think I have any pics because I get too excited trying to explain them to the kids. 

   
   
Aside from the tunnels there are plenty to see:

  • Displays of sea horses, jelly fish, shrimps, penguins, turtles and plenty more. 
  • Little exhibits designed for children (my 3.5 year old was much more interested at this age than he was at 2.5)
  • Nemos and Dorys aplenty (as a parent – you get how cool this is)
  • Glass bridge with fish underneath
  • An area where you can colour in a picture of a fish, scan it in and it appears on the wall with all the other computed fish
  • A touchable display – you can actually let your little ones touch a starfish. 

There is a whole lot to see and I find that the kids are ready to go just after half way through (45 minutes in) so be prepared for some moaning if you stop to look at everything.

The whole Aquarium is pram friendly and it’s definitely manageable by one parent with two kids in tow.  

It’s a great way to spend a rainy day with your little ones. Just be careful of the shop on the way out – there are many many bright and colorful objects your child may try take home. 

the very cool Australian National Maritime Museum

The Australian National Maritime Museum is well worth a visit on an overcast day! Situated at 2 Murray Street, Darling Harbour, Sydney NSW 2000 its across the water from SeaLife etc and just beyond the Harbourside Shopping Centre. 

We parked at the Harbourside Car Park operated by Wilson (100 Murray Street, Pyrmont) and then walked through Harbourside shopping Centre. If the weather is good bypass the shopping Centre and walk along the wharf. Museum visitors can park all day for $14 BUT  you must must remember to get your parking ticket stamped at the museum reception.

You’re going to want to wear flat, non-slip shoes.

It seems the ANMM is only closed on Christmas Day and open  9:30 am – 5pm every day (in January its open until 6pm). Everything is wheelchair and pram friendly, except for the vessels themselves, you can’t take a pram on the vessels (or big backpacks – there are lockers for all your big backpack requirements).

Tickets for all exhibits and the vessels cost are called BIG tickets and cost $30 for adults, $18 for children (ages 4 – 18) and concessions. You can get a family ticket for $75 which is for 2 adults and up to 3 children. You can often get specials on Groupon so I would definitely look there before buying tickets.

The only limiting factor is that children have to be over 90 centimeters to go on the vessels so if either or any of your children is shorter than this someone will have to stay off the boat. I had to sit with our daughter while my husband went on the vessels with our son, I did get to go on the destroyer though which was awesome.

There is SO much to see and take it that it is all a bit overwhelming. We only got through 3 of the vessels, at top speed and the exhibits. In hindsight I think 3 is too young to enjoy the full experience but there were portions of the museum (Pirate Exhibition!! Need I say more but if I do need to check out my blog on the Horrible Histories Pirate Exhibition) and the vessels that he just loved. 

There are guided tours on each of the vessels or you can walk through them yourself or with a tour guide. So, the vessels we got to go on were:

  1. The patrol boat – the HMAS Advance which is an Attack Class Patrol Boat (I have no clue what that means). Volunteers give you personal tours of the boat.
  2. The submarine – the HMAS Onslow
  3. The destroyer – the HMAS Vampire. Last boarding is at 4:10pm and the tours start at 10am and thereafter are every hour and also 10:30 am, 1:30pm, 2:30pm and 3:30pm.

There is also a lighthouse which is open between 11am to 1:50pm and  3pm to 3:50pm.

I also spotted a tall ship which looks awesome but my son was having none of it by the time he realised it was nap time. The replica of the Endeavour is usually on the wharves but is out visiting other states until April 2016.

I’m definitely going to take my dad to check this out when he next visits Sydney although I reckon it’ll take him all day and he’ll still not see it all.

Ahoy me hearties – Horrible Histories of pirates

Running until 27 April 2016 at the Australian National Maritime Museum Horrible Histories is a great exhibit for kids. Although a sign up says 6 years + our 3 year old loved it.

Its down at the bottom end of the Museum – follow the green dots pirate wannabees and remember to pick up your pirate picture as you pass by the ticket counter. The pirate picture has missing elements which you need to stamp onto the picture as you go through the exhibit.

The exhibit starts with some info on pirates which info your kids will probably run past to get to the first activity – killing rats. I have no idea how the rats from the overhead projector splat because I too was having too much fun.

There are activity stations all over the exhibit, our 3 year old loved the following:

  • making his own flag
  • turning his and his sister’s portrait into a pirate
  • firing cannon balls
  • stamping his pirate picture
  • fixing the pirate ship
  • digging for buried treasure
  • staring into the eyes of some skulls to find out more information about pirates
  • making dad pose as a pirate

See all the pictures below.

You can buy tickets just for the exhibit (Adults $20, Children $12 and Children under 4 are free) or you can buy BIG tickets that are the museum tickets that allow you to see all of the museum and vessels (Adults $30, Children $18).

Be warned there are pirate items on sale – knowing in advance helps you prevent an unnecessary purchase (wish we’d known this).

For parking information and more information on the Museum itself – check out my blog post on the Australian National Maritime Museum.

In anticipation of attending the exhibit, you can download your own pirate hat and eye patch from the ANMM blog which you can find at https://anmm.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/pirate-hat-and-patch.pdf.

Lollipops Play Centre, Castle Hill

Situated at Unit 8/10 Hudson Avenue, Castle Hill, 2154, Lollipops is open 7 days a week:
–  9:30am to 6pm Monday to Thursday
–  9:30 to 7pm on Friday
–  9am to 6pm on weekends

Already a winner I say 🙂

The costs vary depending on age and whether its a school day or not. We went on a random Friday and paid just over $20 ($4 for me, $11.90 for my 3 year old and $8.90 for my 1 year old). The three age categories are 2 – 11 years and you pay $15.90 on a non-school day, 12 – 23 months and you pay $11.90 on a non-school day and babies under 1 year of age are free. As an adult you pay $4.50 on a non-school day.

The adult ticket price includes a drink voucher which you can use to get a tea, coffee or soft drink. I’m a decaf loser so I had to chip in 50c for my decaf but thats okay, the coffee isn’t bad and the pear and raspberry bread was good too.

We got to Lillipops at 9:40 so just after it opened and we weren’t even the first people there, we were beaten by three other moms with kiddies about 2 years old or thereabouts. It was nice and quiet at this time and there was plenty of parking. Given that my kids had been awake since the crack of dawn, both were ready to leave after 2 hours of full out playing. By the time we were leaving the car park had filled up substantially but inside it was still pleasant and there wasn’t the feeling of being overcrowded or numbed by deafening noise.

It calls itself ‘The Hills District’s Premier Family and Party Destination’ and I would be surprised if this is true (going to have to do some more research and exploring around the Hills District I reckon).

It’s big but not overwhelming, my son’s favorites were definitely the air powered canon type things that you can shoot soft balls out of. I heard him yelling “I’m like Jake and the Neverland pirates with my cannon” at one point.

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The air powered “cannon ball shooters”

A note on these “cannon balls” the release of air makes a woosh noise so just be aware and warn your little one so that they are not taken by surprise – my 1 year old nearly jumped out of her skin at this.

But there are so many other things to enjoy: spinning tea cups, slides (even a super slide for over 6 year olds and a light up slide for babies), climbing frames, jumping castle, enclosed area for driving and a big ball pit.

 

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Admiration of the ball pit

 

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Rotating Tea Cups Safety Notice (which over protective mother doesn’t love a safety notice!?)
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Great jumping castle
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One of the large play pens – be careful, it rains balls
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The pipes sucks the balls up to the roof, how much fun!!

 

My daughter’s favourite was definitely the light up baby slide, I have never seen her so happy to be on a slide.

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Light Up Slide is back left in the “babies’ area”

 

 

What I really like about this place is that it focuses on the kids’ safety. When you walk in you’re given a sticker with a barcode to stick to your child’s clothing and a card that has corresponding stickers – these two are then compared when you leave. Additionally on the safety front, the play areas have little signs setting out the requirements for playing on that particular piece of equipment. This is bloody marvelous as it means that bigger kids aren’t going to knock over littler babies or run around in areas earmarked for littlies. I really do love this as it makes me feel a little less panicky about my 1 year old.

Two other benefits of this place is that there are little toilets for your under 5s and the whole area (including access to the facility) is all flat so there are no obstacles to taking your pram in.

Party packages are on offer with 5 designated party rooms.

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There are a couple of rules to take note of:

  1. Socks must be worn at all times – even by adults.
  2. You aren’t allowed bringing food into the place, unless it’s baby food. They make exceptional babychinos and for only $1! Bargain!
  3. You are only allowed taking photographs of your own child.
  4. Children under 2 have to have an adult slide with them and clothing must cover bottoms and thighs (I can only assume this means dont put your child in a dress??)

 

I’m really glad we ventured out to the Hills District to check this out and weren’t put off by the exterior – we will definitely be back again!

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Wannabees, Frenchs Forest 

Wannabes Family Play Town is in an Office Park in Frenchs Forest at:C1/1-3 Rodborough Rd Frenchs Forest NSW 2086.

Its an indoor play centre which revolves around pretend and dress up where children run around their own little town. Complete with a hair salon, grocery shop, bank, restaurant, gym, fire station and more it should cater for every child’s ‘when-i’m-big’ ambition. My son’s favourite was the construction site while mine was the TV studio where my son could pretend to be all sorts on things in front of a green screen while he could watch himself on tv – it was just too cute.

There is also a track for the kids to ride around on and a restaurant for you to grab a coffee and some food.

Babies under 1 are free and thereafter tickets are between $13.50 and $16.50. There are discounts for entry on Wednesday & Thursday after 1:00 PM when all children $12.00.

I have put in a picture below of the daily schedule when we were there last but this may have changed so check out their website at http://wannabees.com.au.