Daddy and Munchkin Blog
nursery - worth the cost
Nursery – Worth the cost?

Whilst pregnant with Munchkin, Natalie and me made the decision to tour the local nurseries and decided nursery care is for us. We both wanted to continue working but wanted to give Munchkin the best start in life. Nursery can cost a pretty penny, but is it worth that cost?

Even before Munchkin was born

We discussed, toured the local nursery options and decided nursery was for us months before Munchkin was born. We want to give him the best start and the best balance of different inputs to his education and development.

We knew we would have to return to work after maximizing and stretching out our funding benefit by using shared parental leave. See our post on that here. With Mummy, being a teacher and having the summer off, she could hand her leave to me to start in September and keep the government payments up to 12 months of age. One year old still felt young to take to nursery, but he settled in fast and immediately loved each day.

A tiny poppet when he started nursery

Balance

We decided nursery, albeit expensive, nursery gave Munchkin the best balance. Both my and Natalie’s parents each wanted a day with Munchkin so he would have 2.75 days at nursery a week. This would give four different inputs, with nursery, us as parents and both sets of Grandparents which I believe gave him the best benefit with different.

Cost and Support

Parents with low income, or claiming certain benefits can get help with childcare from 2 years old. For working parents, the government knocks tax off the cost deducting 20%. That said, our 2.75 days would vary month to month, depending on the number of weeks and holidays. However, this would range from £350 to £550 (£280 to £440 using tax free childcare) making some months tight at times.

From 3 years old, working parents get up to 30 hours free childcare in term time. It was a long time coming but we finally made it.


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The Benefit

Each day he is at nursery he comes back full of energy with new stories to tell, ideas and games to play. They nurture and develop his love to learn letters and numbers, read and sing, give him time to pursue his own enjoyments whilst giving him new opportunities and teaching new skills. He comes back and talk about the friends he’s made and who he plays with each day.

Nursery document his development and update us at the end of the day, and with development reviews on Tapestry, so we feel very much in the loop. They hold events to meet parents too, so local parents can say more than just the ‘Hey, how are you’ in the mornings.

I am thankful to them for the amazing little man Munchkin has become. It’s expensive but I think when you take in the benefits to their development, its worth every penny.

What are your thoughts on Nursery childcare?

Thanks for reading,

Daddy and Munchkin

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Mutable Review – The ultimate multi-activity table.

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From the moment we started trying for a Munchkin, I had created a list of products I wanted for him or her when they were old enough. At the top of that list, a Mutable by Stokke (previously Mukako) (Visit Stokke.com). Its been a favourite product for years now, and it hasn’t disappointed, so here is our Mutable review.

Since being brought out by Stokke, the product line seems to have decreased. So while this review doesn’t match all the products sold by Stokke they are still stocked elsewhere. I will include links where possible for other UK stockists where appropriate.

Mutable Review
The Mutable

What is a Mutable?

The Mutable is an Italian designed multi activity table for kids up to the age of 8 as it grows with them. The table is made of a beautiful wooden design, with a modern shape and a splash of colour. It has screw on legs, with additional pieces to enable it to grow in height as your child grows. This gives the chairs two heights and the table four heights to grow with your child.

There is an insert in the top which houses the ‘multi activity’ components. These are wooden or cardboard discs which change the table from a simple table, to a lego or duplo table, a chalk board or white board, a round puzzle board or a city or world landscape. There is also further options such as multi level lego towers, playdough moulds and adaptable scenarios.

For older children, there are app enabled toys and games, such as numbers and letters and ‘around the world’ and ‘ring o stories’ . So what can be a snack table, is an art space, a pay space and also a learning space.

Daddy and Munchkin’s Mutable review.

As I said in my introduction, the Mutable does not disappoint. From the morning it was delivered and constructed, which was a simple process with hand screw legs. Munchkin was eager to play with his cars on the town landscape, scribble with giant chalk on the white board and take his wooden train or cuddly toys for a ride up high.

Daddy loves it as its self contained. Every activity is stored within the table. There’s an attached pen/chalk pot which is useful for easy storage and access to (you guessed it) pens and chalk, and a storage bag for tidying up, which is filled by simply removing the centre and pushing the toys through the hole. We used this from when Munchkin was just one to teach about tidying up, and it worked a charm.

Overall I cannot fault it, and can’t wait to buy extra toys and games and use it as a learning tool for numbers/letters and humanities in the future. The only drawback is the price, but when you consider the amount of time it can be used with its variety of uses, its was an easy equation for us and its been worth every penny since.

What Else is Available?

We originally opted for the moderately supplied Essential Plus bundle. In 2022 this includes two chairs, 7 inserts, extra puzzles, storage bag and pen holder, but there are many more options to add. It currently retails at Stokke for £434.90 but can be found cheaper elsewhere in the UK such as pram world who stock it for £345.90.

In terms of accessories and toys, there are extension sets to allow space for 6 children and silicone covers to protect the table.

In the toy department, there are 3-dimensional playhouses, wooden playhouses, and lego towers, play dough moulds and educational games. I already have my eye on a playhouse, playdough mould, and more games for Munchkin.


Interested in a tablet for your little one? Check out my Fire HD Kids tablet review ➡️


One year on…

It is still the best product we have invested in. It is a favourite place for a painting and drawing or scribbling on the chalk board. Munchkin has started to use the Mutable for imaginative play taking his dinosaurs to the town landscape and therefore we have expanded our Mutable collection.

We now have the two, two sided games, one teaches about fruit and vegetables and the other is a space themed game. These both come with multiple levels, allowing the game to change as your child grows, for example changing from counting to doing sums and multiplication.

The second is a superhero house. A multi-level wooden playhouse that sits it is own disc holder on top of the Mutable. It has multiple rooms, from fictional superhero to real life such as police and firemen. We spend many an hour playing with this now. Unfortunately this product is not sold by Stokke since their take over however even if they still sell the furniture and the heroes but can be found elsewhere on third party sellers like Pramworld.

Mutable Review – Those all important stars

Quality

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Price

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Useability

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Instructions

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Daddy reviewed, Munchkin approved.

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Count with Peppa

Whilst this product was kindly gifted. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way.

From the second I said, ‘look, a package for you’ Munchkins eyes lit up. When he saw it was Peppa, the excitement was unreal, he could not wait for me to wrestle and free it from the packaging.

Peppa pig count with peppa
One happy poppet

Peppa Pig Count with Peppa is a number and colour recognition toy all styled in the design and with the voice of every parents favourite pig.

It uses 10 coloured number discs, with different colours and the numbers from 1 – 10. On the other side is the corresponding number of items i.e. 5 planes. Peppa can recognise which discs are inserted and therefore know if the correct disc is posted.

‘Where’s the number 5?’

There are multiple games, from find the number, to find the coin which has a certain number of an item. It also plays three songs, from the series, which Munchkin was instantly joining in with. This will further solidify Munchkins colour and counting skills and improve his ability to follow instructions.

We admit we had a little issue pushing the coins through at first. But two days later it seems to have improved for us both.

Available at Argos. £20

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Daddy reviewed, munchkin approved.

Daddy and Munchkin

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Get Toddlers Involved

Raising good little humans can start very young. From as little as 1 year old, Munchkin wanted to help around the house and by letting him help, we feel we are raising a well rounded human and giving him the skills to succeed from an early age. Its very simple to include them in little tasks to get toddlers involved and build their life skills.

Grub’s up

Giving Munchkin access to snack choices and letting him select from breakfast options supports developing his independence with free choice, which aligns with our Montessori style of parenting. Similarly, by letting him help with dinner preparation, whether that be cutting up some vegetables with a child safe knife, or letting him mix on the hob, we feel we are building those skills he will need in the future and his interest in what he’s eating and where it comes from.

Shop shop away

Another simple way to get toddler involved is at the shops, or when the delivery arrives. Let them select a snack, or what vegetable to have with a meal to include them, then get them to help put it all away too. This is good for language too as Munchkin will ask when he doesn’t know what something is, learning along the way.

Wash, splosh and scrub.

Adults generally hate doing the washing and unloading the dishwasher, but toddlers seem to love it. Let them sort through the clean washing, and pass it to be hung out to dry, or give them the ultimate trust of unloading the dishwasher, passing cultery and plates to you to put away. Similarly, toddlers love to get involved in a little cleaning, as much as they do a poor job, but it helps them feel part of the family team.

Out and about

For me, teaching life skills out and about, is just about telling them everything to understand the world. From what a wind turbine is, to how a shop operates, to why we need petrol for the car, I just tell him everything, all the time.

The most important of these being crossing the road. I would tell Munchkin to stop, and look left and right even when he was just a little 6 month old on the way to rhyme time and I’ve never stopped since in the hope it’ll be drilled in for when he one day ventures out alone (eek!).

Cash talk

With less physical cash out there, due to easy contactless payments and of course, Covid-19, its useful to talk about money when its spent as otherwise he doesn’t really see it. We do this by showing him money when we do come across it, and explaining what it means when we beep our cards. When Munchkin is old enough we will also set up his own pocket money bank account such as a Starling kids account (available from age 6) or prepaid card so he can learn to spend or save his own pocket money.

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Daddy and Munchkin

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