Back to school with educational shows on ShowMax

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With much excitement, Paige and Ethan started their new preschool this week. It has been a long holiday for us, especially with moving and all the festive celebrations. So I was all smiles as the kids happily followed their teachers to their classrooms and playground, safe in the knowledge that they would have a blast whilst I had my mornings back to work. Now that the school term has started, we are getting into learning mode and it’s so interesting to watch how quickly they pick up new words and skills. They are getting too big!

As we are back to school, I have chosen my top picks of the many educational TV shows available on ShowMax. ShowMax is an online subscription service that allows you to watch load of movies, series and kids shows from any device as long as you have an internet connection. You can stream or download them, so you can watch them anytime. This comes in handy if your kids have to wait with you for siblings to finish school or extra mural activities.

My top picks from ShowMax:

Monster Maths Squad on ShowMax

Monster Math Squad

Max, Lily and Goo make up the Monster Math Squad who uses their collective math skills to overcome any obstacle they face. The scream screen always surprises Goo when a monster is in need and asks the squad for their help to solve a problem. Language: English.

Why your teacher will love it:

The monster friends are relatable to children as they don’t pretend to be the biggest, bravest or brainiest. They like to work together as a team to solve the problems, and aren’t afraid to ask for help.

Why your kids will love it:

Monsters (but not the scary kind) teach concepts such as numbers, weight and measurements through fun animation and scenes. They will love the bright monster world and helping Max, Lily and Goo solve the problems with the help of a maths monitor. The catchy theme tune will also have mom singing along.

Pirates: Adventures in Art

Pirates: Adventures in Art

Imagine a world of grey. No colour, no art and everything the same. That’s what Queen Conformia wants unless Princess Cleo, Pirate Leonardo and shipmates Fresco and Skelly can stop it. Join the mates, create something great, and sail along with the pirates. Language: English.

Why your teacher will love it:

Aimed at preschool kids, this show explores art through the ages and how the main characters can use their creativity to solve problems during their adventures.

Why your kids will love it:

Colourful characters, singing and a talking gecko will keep them entertained whilst learning about portraits, collage and cubism. Let’s not forget that they are pirates!

Hopla

Hopla on ShowMax

Hip, Hop, Flip and Flop are four rabbits which play along with their friends, learning about colours, shapes and numbers. Set on a white background, these four animated furry friends hop around and take instruction from the narrator. Language: Afrikaans

 Why your teacher will love it:

Kids are taught basic principles of colours, shapes and numbers through the use of flash cards, dance routines and visual references. The plain background allows for the kids to focus on the central characters without distractions. Episodes are 12 minutes each.

Why your kids will love it:

Younger children will love the hopping bunnies, the friendly narrator and the voices of the children who learn along with Hip, Hop, Flip and Flop.

Super Why

Super Why on ShowMax

These super fairytale friends of Storybrook Village have a book club with a difference. Whenever there is a question or a problem, Whyatt calls together his friends to their secret clubhouse, to use their literacy powers to jump into a book to find the answers. Alpha Pig has “Alphabet Power,” Wonder Red has “Word Power,” Princess Presto has “Spelling Power,” Super Why has the “Power to Read,” and Super You has the “Power to Help!”. Language: English.

Why your teacher will love it:

Each story focuses on a popular children’s book, and the Super Readers need to follow along with the storyline to solve the problems. Literacy concepts such as spelling, pronunciation and sentence structure are taught in a fun and inclusive way.

Why your kids will love it:

The kids will love to shout out the answers to our fairytale heroes as they solve the clues with the help of their super powers. With the “Power to Help”, children are encouraged to participate and feel the satisfaction of solving the many problems along the way.

You can stream or download these educational shows on ShowMax for just R99 per month. Sign up for your free 14 day trial now.

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Water safety and making a splash this summer

Water safety with Huggies® Little Swimmers® What a wonderful summer we have had so far. There has been lots of sunshine (though we could do with more rainy days) and fun to be had outdoors in the garden, pool and at the beach. Over the season the kids have been slathered in sunscreen, squeezed into sunsuits and topped with hats. Then off to the beach we go for as long as it takes to tire out the kids (and mom) and we are ready to come home for snack and toilet time. At least Ethan still wears Huggies® Little Swimmers® so we don’t have to worry about accidents whilst we are out. The swimming nappies are made from a unique material that does not swell when wet, are a snug fit and has fun Disney graphics, including Finding Nemo and Finding Dory.

Paige and Ethan are still learning to swim, so we have to keep an eye on them anytime we are around water. Even if your children are strong swimmers, you still need to remain vigilant. You just have to read the many sad stories of drowning at home and outdoors over the summer holiday, to be reminded of this.  Huggies® Little Swimmers® shared with us some water safety tips by Sarah’s Swim Academy, based in Craighall Park.

Water safety tips:

  • Be Attentive: never turn your back on a child while they are in or anywhere near water.
  • Arms Reach: always keep a hand on babies and toddlers while in the pool and the bath even strong swimmers under 5 should always be within arm’s reach of an adult.
  • No dunking: never dunk a child under 3 years of age. Younger children can swallow large amounts of water and this could lead to drowning or secondary drowning. This experience might actually increase your child’s fear of swimming.
  • Teach safety basics: teach your child the pool safety basics when s/he’s a toddler. This includes the following rules:
    • Climb in the pool backwards, never climb in forwards or jump in
    • Do not run near the pool and;
    • Never enter the pool or go near water without an adult present
  • Take swimming lessons: if you’re not a swimmer yourself, it’s a good idea to take lessons and learn how to swim to aid your child in the water if necessary. All children should learn how to swim as this can save their lives. Swimming lessons teach children to back float which enables them to call for help if they fall into the pool. Lessons also teach children to reach for a pole or noodle offered to them if ever struggling in the water.
  • Learn CPR: attend a first aid course and know the difference between the types of drowning:

Different types of drowning:

Know the difference between drowning, dry drowning and secondary drowning and what symptoms to look out for.

Dry drowning is a result of breathing in water, which causes your child’s vocal chords to spasm and close after s/he has already left the pool. It closes off his/her airways, making it difficult to breathe. Symptoms of dry drowning usually happen right after the incident in the water.

Secondary drowning occurs where your child’s airways open up, allowing water into his/her lungs where the water builds up. Secondary drowning symptoms generally start later, within 1-24 hours of the incident. Symptoms to look for are:

  • Persistent coughing
  • Rapid shallow breathing, nostril flaring or where you can see the child is working harder to breathe
  • Sleepiness
  • Forgetfulness or change in behaviour
  • Vomiting

Stay safe this summer and enjoy many fun times with the family.

This is not a sponsored post. Information provided by Huggies® Little Swimmers® – Love splash time together. Image my own.

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How 1000 days can change a child

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1000 days. This is the length of time from the start of pregnancy to a child’s second birthday. That sounds like (and often feels) like a long time when you are taking care of your family and baby, as they grow to a cute and curious toddler.  Looking back at the 1st 1000 days of both my children, it went so quickly and shaped them into the little people they are today. Ethan is 3 years this month and Paige turns 5 in January.

The quality of care and nutrition you and your child receives during these 1000 days has an important impact on the rest of their lives. I knew that eating right and feeding my child was important, but I didn’t appreciate the full impact it can have on their later development. We are providing our children with the essential building blocks for brain development, healthy growth and a strong immune system. If a child does not receive proper nutrition during these 1000 days, it can cause irreversible damage to their brain development and bodies.

Benefits of nutrition and healthcare:

1st 1000 days and the Cipla FoundationIf you have ever been without a meal for a day, you will know how hard it is to concentrate and what little energy your body has. Hungry children are more likely to have a worse school performance, than learners who have proper meals in the day. This will impact their future work prospects and ability to support their families. Healthier children and adults also place less of a burden on a country’s healthcare system.

Children who get the right nutrition in the 1st 1000 days are:

  • 10x more likely to overcome life threatening childhood diseases
  • More likely to have healthier families of their own
  • More likely to go on to earn 21% more in wages as adults
  • More likely to complete 5 more grades in school

You can start to see from the statistics, the long term impacts and benefits healthy nutrition and healthcare play in those crucial two years.

Ajuga and making a difference:

Accessibility to healthcare is a key issue for pregnant moms and children in South Africa, especially in rural areas. Cipla Foundation recognises these challenges and established the Ajuga initiative which provides fire-resistant structures to local communities. Knowing that these 1st 1000 days are crucial, Cipla ensure that all children at their early childhood development centres receive pre-school education, nutrition and healthcare for at least two years. These children are given a chance to grow up as healthy and caring people, who will become good parents and community members.

1st 1000 days and the Cipla FoundationThese children and caring individuals like Mama Martha at an Ajuga centre in Gugulethu, also need your help. You can show your support for their good work by donating to the Cipla Foundation. From as little as R75, you can contribute to a child’s access to crucial childhood development services. Or educate a child for a whole year for R1080. Be Santa this Christmas, and donate here.

* Research supplied by Cipla Foundation. Find out more here.

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Finding a window shade and Magic Mesh

Magic Mesh review The Mommy CityBelieve me when I say we have tried a bunch of different window shades for the backseats of the car. Keeping the kids happy and safe is top priority. That, and doing whatever I can to keep them quiet or sleeping in the car. We first tried the suction shades with the cute characters on them. You know, the shades that scream baby on board and make your car an undeniable mommy wagon. The problem with these shades is that they don’t fit the whole window and there is inevitably light shining though to wake baby. So you try position two shades in the window, each at different angles and shove down in the frame to stop them popping off. That works for a bit, until your child figures out how to pull them off the window. Paige also soon figured out how to tear off the last window film I bought. Then there are the stretchy mesh shades that eventually wear and flap around, and you need to get the exact fit for your model of car. By far, the best window shade we have used is Magic Mesh.

Personal choice plays a big part in deciding what shade would best suit your car and lifestyle. There are pros and cons for all types of window shades, and they all work to a degree. Magic Mesh, however, has ticked more of our boxes than any other shade and we can recommend it. We have been using them for around 6 months now, and it still looks like new. Here’s what you need to know:

Pros of Magic Mesh

  • It doesn’t obstruct the driver’s view. I have found certain shades distracting whilst driving, but this mesh is easy to look through and you don’t even notice it when looking at it from the driver’s seat.
  • They come in fun designs which the kids will enjoy from the inside, but won’t be seen from the outside. Dad will probably appreciate this feature most as he may not want your child’s favourite Disney characters on his car. The window looks like it has a tint on it and it’s a little harder to look in from the outside. It’s also easy for your kids to see through the mesh so it won’t block their view either.
  • It fits the entire window so your child can’t pull it off. It’s thin and allows the window to open and close.
  • Safe to use on smash and grab. I was a little hesitant at first, and I haven’t tried removing the mesh to try find out, but apparently it has no effect on existing tints and films.
  • Provides 100% coverage and UV protection.

Cons of Magic Mesh

  • I can’t say I enjoyed applying the mesh, and the second window came out better than the first. There is a video to guide you through, however it is still a little fiddly. I found it easier when I traced out the window shape using a sheet of newspaper first, adding an inch all around. I then used this pattern to cut out the mesh before applying to the window. The time spent applying the mesh is fortunately a once off, and you never have to touch it again.
  • Can’t be moved between cars. Once applied, it cannot be removed and reused. We waited until we bought our new car before applying.
  • They are pricier than other shades. It’s worth it though. You can buy them from Kids Emporium stores or online.

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Making school lunchboxes fun and menus for mom

Packing school lunches is one of a my least favourite chores in the morning. Scratch that. Unpacking and washing lunchboxes after school and finding food uneaten, is an annoying chore. At least I’m almost guaranteed that their yoghurt pots will be empty. Preparing a variety of healthy foods and snacks each day, which your children will eat, can be a task. I’ve got another 16 years of school lunchboxes to pack so I best get used to it and have some fun with it as well.

Making school lunchboxes fun and menus for mom

If you are looking for food inspiration, download this lunchbox menu planner and shopping list. I’m sure you will find fun, healthy food and snack ideas for your kids. To keep lunchtime from becoming boring, mix up your routine and use different character and coloured containers. Choose healthy options and limit treats to once a week. Ask the teacher as to what children can and cannot bring to school. Here are some more tips to keep lunchboxes healthy and fun.

Show them love

  • Write post-it notes with little messages or reminders to kids. Use fun shapes, colours, character speech bubbles etc
  • Use food colouring pens to write on sandwiches
  • Stock up on character reusable straws, forks, spoons
  • Mini character napkins
  • Stickers for when they finish their food

Fun tips

  • Wrap sandwiches in sheets from a favourite comic, foil, coloured cling wrap, tie with ribbons, use left over ends of funky gift wrapping paper
  • Pastry cutters transform sandwiches into a treat – use a knife tip to make dots, eyes, mouths etc
  • Use a natural food dye pen to write on sandwiches
  • Put fruit cubes/cheese chunks in an ice cream cone

Practical tips

  • A chore making a fiddly sandwich filling or dip? Make enough and you’ve a healthy baked potato filling or toast topper for a lunch for you or a late supper – two jobs done and everybody eats well
  • Keep a drawer in the kitchen for lunchbox ‘creation’ from dye pens, stickers, funny pots, bottles and containers, cutters etc
  • Get used to freezing. Invest in good zip-bags
  • Kids love leftovers and can be made healthy by adding veggies to noodles or rice etc

Healthy snacks for kids

This is not a sponsored post. Content supplied by Danone. Making school lunchboxes fun and menus for mom Making school lunchboxes fun and menus for mom

What kids will (and won’t) be watching on ShowMax

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ShowMax kid friendly featuresWhat is the most you have spent to keep your kid’s happy and entertained? I’m guessing it’s a significant amount of money and you thought it was worth every cent?  Whether it is the latest toy, entrance fee to an attraction or the three scoop ice-cream cone your toddler insisted on getting but never finished, the costs all add up during a month. So when I can get a pick of kids series and movies with ShowMax to keep them entertained for only R3,30* a day, I think it’s a bargain. It’s even cheaper than those awful R5 coin machines we try avoid at the shops. We pay our R99 p/m subscription with eBucks so we don’t even notice the expense. There are other payment options including card payments, PayPal and prepaid vouchers (nice Christmas stocking filler). For data, Telkom’s Entertainment Bolt-on is good value – you get 100GB for R99.

ShowMax is even more kid friendly since launching their profiles feature. One of the main concerns for kids viewing TV and the internet is the potential access to adult content. Now you can set up different profiles for each member of your household with optional pin security. Parents can set parental controls depending on the age of the children: teens, older kids or younger kids. This means that children will only be able to access content that is suitable for their age group and the pin security ensures that they won’t be able to change these settings.

ShowMax kid friendly features

To keep the peace in the house, ShowMax allows for simultaneous viewing for two different profiles on separate devices. Mom can watch The Good Wife on the iPad whilst the kids can watch their shows on the TV. If you are already a subscriber, be sure to update your app to benefit from these new features.

ShowMax kid friendly features

So what are my kids watching right now? Popples is Paige’s new favourite, and there are always new shows being added. Fireman Sam, Thomas & Friends and Dinosaur Train are also hit series in our house. My kids usually watch the same show over and over, but if you are looking for variety, the Box Set collections groups similar series together by theme.

Watch all the shows and try out the kid friendly features for free. Sign up for a 7 day free trial and decide whether you think it really is value for money.


* Calculated over a 30 day month at a R99 p/m subscription

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Spring bedroom makeover and the Volpes collection

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Volpes Spring Collection picks by The Mommy CityI prefer Spring and Autumn best in Cape Town. This has a lot to do with liking jeans and T-shirt weather best, and it’s a lot less windy. I get to pack away the bulky winter jerseys, my fluffy gown and the thick bedroom duvet. This year I didn’t do a big Spring clean because, well, it’s a whole lot of work and we have been working on the house throughout the year. I did, however, give my bedroom a mini makeover with a new duvet set and scatter cushions from Volpes. I also painted my side tables with Annie Sloan chalk paint to match. The painting only took two episodes of The Good Wife and it really has made a difference to the look of the room. For on top of my side table, I bought a beautiful trinket box with lid to store my cables and chargers.

My mini makeover has made a big difference in the feel of the room and my winter duvet can now stay in the cupboard for next season. If you are looking to do some Spring sorting of your own, I have some pointers and a few items on my wish list.

Bring Spring into your home:

  • Change your duvet inner for a lighter option. Consider whether 100% cotton, feather, micro-fibre or a multi-season inner is best suited to your needs. Volpes has a new range of Tencel duvet inners and pillows made from a botanic fibre extracted from the pulp of sustainable grown eucalyptus trees that offers exceptional moisture management.
  • Pack away your winter blankets and opt for a light throw. I still like a blanket on my bed to cuddle up with whilst reading, and it adds colour and texture to my bed.
  • Give your room a mini makeover with a new duvet cover. This small change will have a big impact on the mood of a room. My favourite Volpes duvet sets from their Spring range include the Edison Duck Egg Blue (top left), Swallows (top right) and Chevron in Mint (below left). Their Spring collection was inspired by ‘air’ and have used light fabrics and textures, pastel colours and feather inspired prints. Design style is such a personal choice and as you may have noticed, I’m a fan of blues and neutrals. There is however styles suited for all tastes and budgets, and I’m pretty sure you will find a duvet set in the Volpes collection you will want to fall asleep under.
  • Buy black-out curtains for the kid’s room. As summer approaches, sticking to bedtime routines is harder with the sun up earlier in the morning and later in the evening.
  • Clear the clutter by sorting through your items and tossing or recycling what you no longer need. I love the wire baskets from Volpes as they come in a variety of sizes and ideal for neatly storing magazines, toys and laundry.
  • Bring the scents of Spring in the home with a reed diffuser. They not only look pretty, they give your home it’s own personal scent.

Volpes Spring Collection picks by The Mommy City

Images supplied by Volpes.