Thursday 27 August 2015

Organising Your Week

Here at DH HQ we understand what trying to juggle work, the home, small children and everything else that goes on in life looks like and it isn't always pretty! Firstly, how on earth are we supposed to remember it all when our sticky notes are removed and rearranged by little hands because "they weren't pretty where they were" and secondly when did our tots and tweens develop better social lives than we have?  
What is very clear is that if us parents want to stay on top of it all we need to get organised. 

Pick a Day for Weekly Organisation 

 Many choose Sunday night to plan for the following week however Friday night works better for us at Dotty Hippo HQ as it gives us a chance to organise / pick up anything needed over the weekend before Monday. Whatever day you choose stick to it and make it a weekly habit.  
This time is for updating calendars and charts, making sure everything is in place for the following week, making to do lists or shopping lists for items that need picking up and of course reminding yourself of upcoming appointments and events. 

A chart like this fabulous Fiesta Crafts one is perfect for keeping evevryone on track and seeing who is doing what, where and when!

Create a Command Station 

If you've spent any time on Pinterest the chances are you've seen fabulous pictures of command centres. A command station is a set place where items for school or nursery lives, where papers, seasonal items and more all reside so that you may grab them when you need them. It means that even if you are in a rush you'll know where new name stickers, the sun cream or gloves, the permission slips for a school trip and everything else is. 

 Pull it all together by using a weekly chart or similar where you can record the activities for the next week as well as anything you need to remember. It is so much easier to have a visual reminder of things and of course if they are right there for everyone to see there's a fighting chance someone will remember even if you forget to do / supply something! 

A command centre needn't be boring when you have fabulous fun wall organisers such as these from 3 Sprouts to choose from!

Don't Overbook Yourself 

 The best way to stay on top of your week is not to have too much going on. Of course all families are busy, especially when little ones get old enough for play dates, activities out of the home and such like however it is important to have time in your week to just relax and be together as a family. 

What are your best tips for organising your week? Do comment and let us know. There's no such thing as too much organisation when you have a busy household with small children in it! 

Tuesday 18 August 2015

Do You Use Your Local Library?

There has been a lot in the news over recent years about library cuts and restructuring which is a terrible shame.  People (including families) are being asked to support their local libraries simply by using them as footfall gives a good indication of how popular these places are (and encourages the powers that be to keep them funded!). There are huge benefits to families to using the library too. 

Free Books 

Whichever way you look at it you really can't beat having access to hundreds of free books to read, whether these are first numbers and touch books for very little book fans or grown up books for parents to enjoy during those quiet times when little ones are sleeping! Many enjoy being able to constantly swap finished books for new ones and not have to squeeze any more bookcases into their home. 

Family Friendly 

Once upon a time libraries were to be kept strictly quiet, no squeaky shoes, no talking and absolutely no children chatting and laughing. The libraries of today are very different with dedicated children areas, appropriately sized furniture, toys, colouring in stations and lots more to encourage young books fans and make their time at the library both enjoyable and memorable. 

Special Events 

Libraries now run a wealth of free events for their community including many which are very family focused. from Code Club (for children 9yrs+) to themed story times and even craft sessions for younger children. The annual Summer Reading Challenge for children aged 4yrs and over is incredibly popular and you may learn more about it here. 

It is often possible to sign up to receive notifications of these events by email or find the information in your local branch where they are well advertised. 

Request Books 

Sometimes you visit the library looking for something specific, perhaps the next book in a series or something you or your children have seen or heard and want to try. The library have a fabulous system through which all of the local libraries are connected and staff are able to search for and request books to be sent to your branch for you. What is even better there is no charge for this for children. 

Encouraging Reading and Building Literacy Skills 

As well as reading for pure pleasure visiting the library and taking advantage of all that they offer is a great way to help your children to develop their literacy skills. With a great number of books for all abilities and interests as well as well-trained and knowledgeable librarians and volunteers on hand to help there is no reason why even the most reluctant reader shouldn't find something he or she could enjoy. 

There really isn't anything quite like opening a bag full of new books, snuggling down on the mat or in your favourite comfy chair and sharing stories with yourfamily, or reading to yourself.  

Do you have a cosy chair or dedicated reading area?

Do you visit your local library? Have you attended any of their special events? Do leave a comment and tell us what your favourite part of visiting your local library is. 

Wednesday 12 August 2015

Birthday Party Top Tips

If the idea of organising and running a birthday party for your little ones makes your blood run cold you certainly aren't the only one. Getting it right is important and because of this parties have become a source of pressure and stress instead of fun. Have a look at our list of tips, tricks and ideas to help you get it right, keep it simple, cost effective and most of all enjoyable (without any need for pulling your hair out!). 

Keep it Simple 
Little ones don't need a huge extravaganza with professional photographers, bright lights and the works. They need friends, colours, music, food and fun. Resist the urge to go big and bold as at the end of the day your children won't benefit any more from this type of party and your nerves and bank account certainly won't. 

Pick a Theme 
For extra fun choose a theme that will suit the party goers and use that to theme games, decorations, party bags and more. It doesn't have to be another superhero or Frozen theme either. The Hungry Caterpillar would make a wonderfully colourful theme for example. Have a look on Pinterest for party theme inspiration. 

Have a Schedule 
Have a plan and stick to it. If the party is for example two an a half hours long include segments for people arriving / free play, entertainment / games, eating and more play / activities.  

Top tip: Organise anything that involves running and jumping before food and quieter, less active activities for afterwards as otherwise there will always be one child who has eaten too much, gets too excited and then is sick! 

Top "quiet time" activities could be anything from art and crafts, beading, Lego building etc to watching a Scooby Doo or Frozen DVD! 

Again, keep it simple. Sandwiches, chopped up cheese, fruit, sausages and cake (either a big birthday cake or buns) is more than enough. Also remember to have enough juice and milk in for thirsty party goers. Paper plates and cups are ideal for cleaning up however if they will all be sitting at a table or having a floor picnic then normal plates and beakers should be just fine. 

Top tip: Remember to ask the parents of anyone invited whether they have any intolerances or allergies in advance.  

Rope in Helpers 
Do you have older children, friends or people that owe you money? Rope them in to help keep everything on schedule, to run the games and to generally be on hand for keeping everything going smoothly. 

Party Bags 
Again there is no need to pay out ridiculous amounts of money for party bags. Instead consider how many items you will actually need, the ages of the attendees and whether you have a theme. Pencil toppers, crayons or chalks, a slice of cake or a wrapped cupcake, bubbles and similar small but very fun items work perfectly. 

Check out our range of fun pencil toppers!

At the end of the day the party is all about your little one enjoying themselves so if you've got that organised then nothing else matters. 

Friday 7 August 2015

Creative and Crafty Fun Inspiration

Art and craft is a favourite activity for the majority of children regardless of the weather. Indoors or out there is always somethig to make, to fix, to build and of course to get messy with.

Here we share some of our favourite creative or crafty projects for you to add to your collection. Don't forget to comment with yours so we may do the same!

Get Outside

Collect up seasonal treats such as pretty leaves, twigs and more to great a nature bowl, a collage or similar. Whether you want to take advantage of pinecones, conkers and colourful autumn leaves or fresh green grasses and wildflowers seen in spring and summer is up to you.

Fun with Magnets

For less messy play or for an activity you want your little ones to enjoy time and time again why not look at some of these fabulous Fiesta Crafts Magnetic Mosaics?

There are a number of different designs to try and all are perfect for whipping out when the rain arrives and you hear the dreaded words "I'm bored!".

Paper Craft

Paper Craft covers a wide range of fun activities. You can print out 3D shapes and models for older children, run origami challenges, make a collage.... the possibilities are endless! Try using chalks or a white pen on black paper for something different.


Colourful beads provide hours of colourful crafty fun making jewellery, snakes and more. What's more this type of activity also helps little ones to practice and develop their motor skills so is a winner all round.


This is an activity that children love. Collect together pieces of coloured paper, pictures, odds and ends, photographs and more and let the children fill their scrapbooks with memories of special days out, pages about their family or their friends, their favourite colour, animal, letter..... the possibilities are endless. Scrapbooking is not only great fun and offers a brilliant creative outlet, it also helps build some fabulous keepsakes for you to all look back on when they are older.

What have your favourite creative or crafty projects been? Which ones do your children ask to do again and again?