Wicklow Bowl Kids Zone

Days out in Dublin and Wicklow – Wicklow Bowl Kids Zone

This weekend Austin cried more in two days than he has in his nine months of life, combined. His teeth hurt. My ears hurt.

In a desperate bid to distract him, Dave suggested a trip to the Wicklow Bowl Kids Zone. Then he sprawled on the couch with the computer and turned on the football, telling me to have fun with the baby. Nice.

But it turned out to be a lovely two hours and Daddy missed a big treat (blows raspberries triumphantly).

The Kids Zone is upstairs  from the bowling alley and the first thing I noticed was the indoor pool with boats for the kids to sail around and bump off each other. I’d never seen anything like that so I was blown away. There is a small surcharge of 2 euro which I think is totally worth it – though I may change my mind when Austin is old enough to have a go.

Indoor sailing pool for Kids
You might wanna pack a change of clothes for this one!

The place was huge and there was a separate area for babies under two, one for toddlers between two and four and a huge area for kids between five and twelve years old. Each section was gated with a high latch which meant that an adult had to open it. Many other places we have visited had older kids hopping over into the baby area and I’m always a little nervous that they might step on Austin as they run around so I found this section much more relaxing as I didn’t have to yank him out of the way as much.

Wicklow Bowl Kids Zone
The obligatory and fascinating ball pit.

Huge Jigsaw pieces were strewn about and could be attached to the wall so the older babies loved it. There was a little crawl course too but Austin went directly for the toy horses.

Wicklow Bowl Kids Zone
Hmmmm… looks like I could chew on those ears…

He also loved his own private ball pit where he could happily slobber on every single one of them. (Don’t worry, I wiped them all on my jeans which is a natural anti-bacterial agent.)

Ball Pit at Wicklow Bowl Kids Zone
Nom, Nom, Nom

Best of all, Austin handed me a ball! He never handed me anything before and it really got me. I was so overcome by this spit-covered little gift that, even though I had the phone pointed at him, I forgot to take a picture. So I took a photo of the ball to send to Dave and then I noticed him in the backgound…

Austin stands up for the first time
He pulled himself up while I was texting!

He pulled himself up, all by himself! And I have it on camera! And I’m really not certain if this is a great thing or if I should be feeling bad that I was on my phone while he was doing it! Mom-Guilt is weird like that.

Once he found he could do it, it was all he wanted to do.

Downward Dog - baby yoga style.
Downward Dog – baby yoga style.

But eventually we went back to the toy horses and we had a great game of “try to catch me before I chew this guys ears”.

Just let me!
Just let me!

We were there for over an hour, which is much longer than I would usually spend in a padded environment, but when we left there was still more fun to be had downstairs.

The bowling area had a few small rides for kids and, as we didn’t have to pay an entry fee because adults and under 1’s are free, I decided two spend a few euro letting Austin bob up and down hysterically for a few minutes.

In a Helicopter...
In a Helicopter…
And on a fire engine...
And on a fire engine…

Austin had a whale of a time and did I mention it was free entry for adults? (Is it just me who gets annoyed at having to pay entry for kids entertainment?)

The highlight of my day was when I got home and found that Dave had hoovered and mopped the floors while we were out. I would put up with sore ears every weekend if it ended up like this one!

If you’re in the area I highly recommend Wicklow Bowl Kids Zone and you can find more information on their website here.

If you’d like to share any other fun things to do in Dublin and Wicklow I am always grateful for recommendations so please feel free to comment!

Mess-Free Baby Weaning

I weaned Austin onto solid food when he was 5 and a half months old. He wasn’t yet sitting up without support so feeding him could be a messy job – here’s a video of his first taste of avocado, which we will call Exhibit A.

 

At the start, we fed him in his bouncy chair or just in our arms. That led to stains that had to be soaked out in every wash. Have I ever mentioned that I hate cleaning?

I do – but I also hate to see the house looking dirty so I find mess-free alternatives for almost everything. Here are some of the things I did to cut cleaning time while Austin learned to eat:

Start with a Bumbo-style seat

I found these little seats brilliant when he couldn’t support himself. He could splash and blow his food on it and all I had to do was wipe it down or tip it into the sink if there were a load of crumbs.

The public health nurse advised that I should have placed it on the floor for safety but I kept mine on the table because I found trying to feed him at ground level impossible with the dog.

However, if you are using a Bumbo style seat at a height you really do need to keep an eye on them as the baby grows because they can be moved if the baby’s feet push off the surface it’s sitting on.

Fooooooood!!!!!

 

Cover the baby completely during meals

I found all bibs were laughably small when weaning Austin. His clothes were constantly covered in food and everything had to be soaked or thrown out.

To reduce laundry, I tied a muslin loosely around his neck and pulled the sides back over his shoulders. You can use pegs to hold it in place of you need. Once I rolled his sleeves up, only the cloth needed washing.

When he got older I bought the IKEA jacket bib which I found brilliant for food and messy creative play.

Start with shallow spoons

If you have a spoon with a little trough in it you might find that half the food drops off at each bite. Use a shallow spoon and take your time with it. Baby is only learning so incy-wincy bits are all that’s needed at the start. This results in much less droppage to clean up. Score!

Ban cushioned highchairs from your home

We got a loan of a cushioned Mothercare highchair from my brother when Austin was big enough  but I found it really difficult to clean. Maybe I’m a little germaphobic (even though I hate cleaning!) but I pulled it apart every night for a week. I bleached the straps and pulled off the cushion to scrub away the dirt that accumulated in the crevices. Then I dried it and put it back together again. The whole process seemed to take forever so I could only really do it once a day after his dinner.

On day three I called Dave and told him I was going to IKEA. There would be no talk of budget or waiting for one to come up on Adverts.ie.

This conversation is over.

Go for a hardwood or moulded plastic highchair

go ahead, drop all your lunch!!

Here’s a  short review of the IKEA Blames Highchair we bought for Austin.

Pros

  1. I can wipe it clean in less than a minute after breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  2. It’s a lovely red colour that brightens up my pale-ass neutral kitchen (It comes in Black too).
  3. It’s small enough to fit where a normal chair would against my kitchen table.
  4. The legs holes are big enough to fit a two year old if you remove the tray and pull it against your table so it will last a while.
  5. It’s kinda funky and hipster in design.
  6. It only cost 55 euro so it wasn’t crazy money. (It also helps if Nana buys it as a present!)

Cons

  1. It’s a hard wooden chair so you have to buy a cushion to pop between it and the baby’s back.
  2. If you try to put a cushion under the baby’s bum, they tend to slip and cause the baby to tilt forward.
  3. You cannot fold it away like most of the cushioned chairs so you will need to remove a chair from your table.

I see the last Con as a Pro really because I am lazy and could not be bothered putting a highchair away after every meal.

Austin is nine months at the time of writing this and only learning finger foods and self-feeding at this point. I’ll update with any more mess reducing tips as he gets older…

I hope you find this advice useful and if you have any mess-reducing tips you’d like to share, this lazy mama would love to hear them!!!

Jeepers Creepers! 

Austin has been crawling for a few weeks now. At first, this was amazing. I was so excited and proud of him. I set up little crawl-courses for him in the living room and tempted him further distances with toys.

But now he crawls constantly. 

All. The. Time. 

 

Get me to the nearest hazard!
 
When I put him down, he will immediately make a beeline, at lightening speed, toward the most dangerous, unhygienic thing in the room. Most especially, the edge of the bed.

On Friday, my second day at work after maternity, I was having a really tough afternoon. Someone did something really lovely for me and I got to see Austin an extra hour. But even that could not deter me from the depressing thought that I only had two days with him before I’d have to leave him again (sob!).  So I, very maturely, got rat-ass drunk on a bottle and a half of really good wine. Yum!

Saturday morning, Dave took Austin into bed with us and let him watch a film while we snoozed.

When I’m hungover I don’t move – not at all. I lie still and wallow. But in my semi-conscious state I felt the baby crawl across my legs toward the edge of the bed.

I shot up, spring-like, with a proper yell. I grabbed the little creeper and pulled him into me to save him from falling. Super-Mom.

Until I heard Dave laughing so hard the bed shook. Then I felt fur. It was the dog. 

Austin was sitting in daddy’s lap looking at me with his bunny hanging out of his mouth. Gizmo was half wiggling to get away and half pleased about getting any attention at all. Super-Eejit. 

 

What on earth are you doing?
 
The morale of the story is, you cannot drink with a crawler. They will either fall off the edge of the bed or you will make a complete ass of yourself. 

Anyone who wants to leave a similarly embarrassing story in the comments will receive the good karma of making me feel less stooopid! 

On How it All Goes Too Fast

Everybody told me. I was fore-warned every day of my pregnancy. Maybe that was the problem –  I already knew those baby days would be over in a flash.

Day three and terrified to cut off the hospital tag!
Day three and terrified to cut off the hospital tag

Two minutes ago he was born, to the sound of my Monday morning iPhone alarm bells and a room full of laughter, a digital age baby. His first strangled, short cry was the most amazing sound I had ever heard in my whole life.

Day Two he got the hiccups, like he’d had every day for three months against my ribs and I videoed him for his Daddy – our first Bauer “in joke”.

 

Today, he frowned at me and said “Dadadada” when I took his toy off him at lunch. He may as well have called out,

“Give that back to me, woman!” His intent was that clear. And that’s when I noticed that he could talk to me. He could process what was happening and express his displeasure about it, coherently.

How did that happen? How is the time passing and constantly catching me off-guard? Where the hell did those seven months go?

I know I didn’t miss it. I was right here, smiling and teary for almost every second. I recorded half those seconds for Dave while he was working, texting like spam every time Austin did something remotely different.

How was I not more prepared, when everyone had warned me about it?

He’s not a tiny newborn anymore. He is a small baby now and I am shocked and, I’ll admit it, scared. In another minute he’ll be at school and then college and I’ll wonder where it all went.

  

Majoring in digging

Everybody tells me that’s the way of it and part of me wishes I could throw things at them and make it all stop. Then I’d have all my days with him just like this – pick-up-able and sleeping through and full of half laughs and half cries and hard-won giggles.

But the moral is – it does go so fast. And no matter how many times you are told it you will never, ever be prepared for the change of clothes size or the first pack-up of baby toys or, I suppose, college.

It will always be too fast.

All you can do is video the hiccup and take as many photo’s as your iPhone allows. Print them. Go to the park. Lie in bed and play peekaboo in the sheets. Play as many baby games as you can find on Pinterest. Don’t hide the tears when you pack away their too-small clothes and you go right ahead and spam people with their insignificant, wonderful updates.
So, for all the mom’s of Day Two babies – Don’t be afraid.  Fast is amazing too and there are so many more awesome moments to come.

uh-oh, yer one is getting alll emotional again…