Tips and tricks

hip 'branding'...

On the odd occasion, when out and about, my little ones find it absolutely hilarious to 'escape', and basically 'do a runner'. Its all very well when you are in the park, or there are a few adults, or you are somewhere relatively safe, but when they really do run off, and you just can't see them, its all so horribly frightening.

Whether its at the beach, a busy airport, or even just shopping amongst the hoards of christmas shoppers, those little escapees can work their magic, and even if its just a few moments, your heart feels like its stopped and you begin to really panic. We all know that little ones can get distracted so easily, and they like to explore!

Here's where Tat your Tots comes into play. A mum of 3 'escapees' came up with a great and fun way to making sure her kids were easily identified. The temporary tattoos placed onto the child's hand, and has all relevant details such as parents phone number, so the parents can be easily located should the child wander off. There are also ones with medical conditions, or 'I am allergic to nuts' etc, which are perfect for when your child is at a birthday party or similar.

Tat your Tots is a great way of ensuring piece of mind when travelling or out and about with your little 'hips'. You must check out the website as there are many other options to suit all needs.

hip hire companies & more overpacking!

Packing...its one of my all time most hated things. It doesn't matter that it means I am off on holiday, and its even worse when I am packing to go home. I just don't like it. The problem is, I pack too much, especially as I end up packing for the whole family.

But really, why pack all those extras bits and bobs when there are so many brilliant businesses that can provide for you when you arrive at your destination. We're not just talking about prams, car seats and porta cots, but some companies even set everything up in your accommodation (including nappies, baby food, shampoo etc), enabling you to relax and enjoy your holiday. I have listed a few of my favourites, but please let me know if you know of some more, and I can certainly add them to the list.

Also, whilst you are on holiday, and may need some extra assistance...why not consider a babysitter so you can enjoy a night out with just adult company?

Finally, when you stay with the grandparents and there is a shortage of toys, why not consider a toy library? Many offer a very affordable grandparent membership enabling them to borrow toys a few times a year. Well worth it. Of course, the local library is also a great place to borrow some books to amuse the little ones too.

NZ: - for a night out without the 'hips'

Bali:  (wonderful business providing products that you would find at home...heinz, huggies, johnson & johnson etc)





South Africa:

The list could go on and on, and it will. If you know of any other good businesses, please don't hesitate to let me know...

"don't be boring, go exploring"

Picture this. A guidebook written for kids by kids. What a novel idea. I have just had the good fortune to stumble across these fabulous guidebooks called Unlocked Guides. Okay, so they are not actually written by kids, but over 200 kids have actually had some input into what goes into the Unlocked Guides, hence making them very attractive for kids to sit down and have a good old read, and then set off for a fabulous explore.

With a tagline "don't be boring, go exploring" (also chosen by kids), the Unlocked Guides have not only got facts, maps and photos, but also jokes, fun illustrations, and gold stars so the children can rate the attractions themselves. Aimed at children aged 7 - 11, however many adults have also got much enjoyment out of them too, and also younger children accompanied by an adult.

The Unlocked Guides were launched in mid 2010 with the London guide, followed closely by Edinburgh, Bristol and Bath, and the Lake District, and with many more guides in the pipeline, these books are seriously ones to watch, oh, and purchase for you and your kids.

hip potty training tips.....

So, the My Carry Potty review is done and dusted, however, the 'my carry potty' giveaway is still in full swing...only a few more days left so don't forget to enter. Recently there have been a few rumblings in the dark about actual toilet training tips. Fair enough, all this talk about potty's - lets get down to the real business, and talk about the real stuff...toilet training.

So with the help of the creators of My Carry Potty, and some of my own personal research and experiences, I have put together a list of toilet training tips, ranging from the obvious to the most bizarre...whatever works I say. It would be great if you have a read of the following, and any personal tips or success stories you have, please feel free to comment on the blog, facebook, twitter, or email, and I can add your tips.

Don't forget, the My Carry Potty giveaway is still open until Friday 17th December, and is very easy to enter, so do go ahead...

So here we go, The Little Hip Traveller potty training tips........

Are you ready?

Are they interested in watching you going to the loo?

Show bladder control - has dry nappies during the day for long periods?

Has some understanding of simple words and follows instructions?

Can take pants off and back on when necessary?

Tells you when done a wee or poo?


Think about potty v's toilet;  Do you want to start on a potty and then graduate to the toilet, or do you want to start straight on a toilet? For boys, do you want to teach them standing or sitting? 

Think about pants v's potty; Some people believe that pull ups don't really work, and the children don't really feel the wetness when they wee. One mum suggested when going out, wearing pants and then pull ups on top. That way, they can feel when they are wet (hence learn) but don't create too much mess. Or perhaps use pull ups for the car only. Even take the child out to choose their first underpants or choose a potty or even decorate the potty. Whatever works for you...

Think about all the equipment that you require; A suitable stool / bathroom step to stand on to reach the toilet, lots of pull ups, pants, a mop and bucket, disinfectant, some books for distraction, a week or two without any major plans, and lots of rewards and patience! 


Pick a day/week, commit to it. Wipe all activities off the calendar, and stay at home. Take away the nappies, and let them toddle around the house and garden. Expect a few accidents. This is obviously a lot easier when the weather is warmer, and some wait till the summer to crack toilet training. Or at least make sure their clothes are easy to pull down in a hurry.

Have a few potty's around the house, so they get comfortable with them, or make sure the toilet is accessible. Practice sitting on them. Practice flushing the toilet. Practice washing and drying hands.

If you do need to leave the house, go on short outings (or take a My Carry Potty with you).

Don't keep asking if they need to go to the toilet. A good tip is to set the kitchen timer for every 20 - 30 mins, and then when the buzzer goes, they'll automatically hear it, and eventually it will remind them that they should go to the loo. It gives the child independence, and also stops you from feeling like you are a nag! But, saying that, it is a good idea to suggest going to the toilet before leaving the house, or before a nap etc.

Remember there will be accidents. Don't get cross. Be positive. Lots of praise.

Teach the child to redress after any accidents. Putting the soiled underpants in the laundry etc.

Have a potty for teddy to use too. Make it as fun as possible.

Be attentive. Watch for signs. Don't watch the clock.

Lots of praise and encouragement. Some find reward charts, stickers, or small prizes work really well.

Make sure they drink lots of water and foods with lots of fibre, fruit and veg.

If they are sitting on the loo / potty for longer than 5 / 10 mins, its unlikely they need to go. Don't force them there.

Let the tap run for a bit. Who can resist a running water when you need to go...?

Have a My Carry Potty in the car - perfect when you are somewhere remote, travelling or the child is desperate for the toilet. Brilliant for being out and about.

Don't panic about poo's - they may still need some time and perhaps a nappy for those. Perhaps concentrate on the wee wee's first. Its pretty scary stuff.

Just remember not to push the child - it can take weeks, or months to perfect it. Stop. Wait a few weeks and then try again.

Remember that accidents and setbacks will happen. Even if you are successful, its easy for them to forget all about it whilst they are playing, and whoops, there's an accident. Remember to always take a spare change of clothes with you.

Most importantly, and I can only really stress this, don't panic or rush. Its not a competition!

Any other tips, please please share...and good luck, and don't forget to enter the My Carry Potty giveaway (for details see below). We'll all get there in the end.

Flying with the 'hips'? Hip carry on luggage packing tips...

The holidays have almost arrived. Are you jetting off somewhere with the 'hips'? Wondering what to pack for carry on? Here are a few hip tips on getting yourselves settled on the plane?

Make sure you get on the plane when they invite you too. Often families are allowed on first. You leave your pram / stroller with the staff, and then they unload it for you again when you reach transit or your destination. Because they are just loaded where the wheelchairs are kept (somewhere up high), you do not have to deflate the wheels...or anything crazy like that.

Get the 'hips' on the plane, comfortable, and grab as many pillows and blankets as possible. Apologise in advance to all those around you.

We packed a couple of bags full of the following items:

  • Fave toys (just a couple of familiar items)
  • Sticker books, drawing books, little paperback books, puzzle books etc.
  • We had a fab Usbourne book about planes - much to Left Hip's delight.
  • A couple of little cars, dinosaurs, just cheap bits that Left Hip had never seen before. We brought them out at various stages throughout the flight to try to prevent boredom.
  • Biggest godsend - portable DVD player. Left Hip insisted on not liking the earphones provided on the plane, so thankfully we had the DVD player which he could play quietly and it kept him happy. The A380 aircraft even have a plug socket under each seat so you don't have to worry about batteries dying etc.
  • Spare clothes, PJ's (so to try to get some sleep happening...sleeping bag for little hip), toothbrush etc.
  • All kept in a fabulous miniture wheelie bag (Left Hip had pictures of planes on the front...big smiles all round). Not that he wheeled his wheelie bag. That ended up being hubby's job (and I won't say I told you so....)
My bag (well, my bag taken up with kids stuff..I think I had a book and that was it):

  • Snacks and spare baby food
  • Water and milk (customs are fairly lenient on liquids with baby bags..but I have heard of some people having to taste liquids infront of staff). I believe you are allowed as much liquid as you believe necessary for a baby / child on the flight. You may have to get rid of water though before you board. Airlines will prepare milk for you, but beware, if you need it warmed (and its v cold), you may have to wait a while. I even got Right Hip to convert to real milk at 11 months so I wouldn't have to take formula with me. Saying that, I did take a couple of those ready made ones in cartons so I could just use in emergencies.
  • Clothes, spare
  • Nappies galore
  • Wipes, nappy bags, wipes, wipes, wipes....
  • A travel blanket (thin but warm)
  • Panadol and other other drugs you might deem necessary
Ummm, prob about it but felt like a lot more. 

As the plane takes off its really important that the kids drink something to get their ears adjusted. Having said that 'Right Hip' sucked away on her dummy, and later on was asleep during take off, and she didn't have any issues. Again though, the A380 aircraft is so large, you hardly feel the take off or landing anyway.

Then after the bassinet has been installed, and Right Hip tries to climb / fall out several times, and then you have to continually take her out whenever there is turbulance so then you start to hate blasted bassinet (but are totally greatful for extra leg room in bulkhead seats), sit back and try and survive the next 24 hours (G&T and several good books and a film anyone??? Yeah right!) Mmmm, how about walk up and down the plane for the millionth time....

a hip house swap

Its been a chilly summer's day in Melbourne, but not nearly as freezing as much of Europe at present....airports all around the UK and Europe are closed due to too much snow! And, as its only a few days away from christmas, all this talk of snow makes me feel rather homesick. To me, christmas's are meant to be wintery affairs. The family would be tucked up inside, there would be turkey, roast potatoes and brussel sprouts.... galore. Then we'd head out for a crisp walk before all falling asleep in front of a roaring fire and the christmas day afternoon film. Ah, the memories...

All this talk of snow made me think of a lovely little chick flick I saw a few years ago, where Cameron Diaz did a house swap with Kate Winslet, and ended up being snowed in, in the most gorgeous little country cottage, and yes, she did find romance with Jude Law...but thats not what I was thinking about, of course. It was just the thought of the remote quirky little cottage, that led me to think about one day showing my little hip family the kind of christmas that I was accustomed to as a child.

Now, I've never really thought about it before, but doing a house swap, like the main characters in the film, sounds rather appealing and what a perfect way of enjoying a holiday home away from home. There are many benefits of home swapping; saving money, perhaps swapping cars, living like a local, a safe secure home rather than a hotel room, and perhaps more access to family amenities like highchairs, cots, car seats, swings and a few toys here and there. There a obviously a few companies around, but one that caught my eyes is family holiday home swap. If this sort of family holiday looks of interest to you, I recommend you check out their link above. I will be!

Loving these 2 little hips sites.....

On the look out for hip boutique accommodation, but scared of having to head to the big style commercial tourist traps just because you're travelling with the 'hips'?

.....Well, worry no more. There are plenty of stylish boutique family friendly accommodation out there, and you certainly can't go past the following websites.

Mr & Mrs Smith specialise in boutique and luxury accommodation and now have a child friendly section. There are over over 170 tried and tested recommendations worldwide to suit your little hip family. Hip destinations range from Laos and Cambodia right through to Ibiza and Denmark. Love the variety, and love the fact that they've hand picked places that aren't big and brash, but suitable for the more off the beaten track traveller. Loving the budget boutique option too!

Another website specialising in hip hideaways is i-escape. This is a portfolio of beautiful accommodation ranging from hotels, self catering options and houses. With over 650 family friendly places to choose from in the most stunning parts of the world, there is no need to sacrifice luxury just because you have the 'hips' in tow.

I am delighted to have found both of these fabulous websites, and only wish I had known about them before having trawled the net to find our next holiday destination. Love it....

Get comfy in the air with the hip Skycouch...

Flying long haul with little ones...everyone fidgeting, moaning about being uncomfortable, not being able to sleep, not having enough room. All this will soon be a thing of the past. Those clever clogs at Air New Zealand have come up with the SkyCouch

The Skycouch is essentially a flexible 3 seat configuration which converts into a fully flat bed, or should you wish, a combination where the two 'hips' can lie down, or stretch out and use as a play area, and the parent can sit up beside them. Should you be travelling child free, a couple can use it as a bed...ah, bliss! Even those big bulky armrests disappear into the back of the seat. Love it.

The Skycouch will be available in economy (yes, economy!), from April 2011 on the new 777-300 aircraft from London to LA, and then on all aircraft in 2012. Good one Air New Zealand. Thanks for thinking of our little hip travellers.

Mummy, I need the toilet.....

Kids aren't really designed to go on long car journeys. Why is it that approximately 5 minutes after you've left home, a little voice will pipe up from the back seat with "Mum, I need a wee wee".

Finding a toilet in record time is often a challenge in itself, particularly if you are toilet training. We all know how fussy these little hips can be about specific toilets. I distinctly remember as a child, on our car journeys from the UK to Switzerland, I often had to go and find a tree, as there were no public toilets nearby. Well, fear no more. Thanks to the National Public Toilet Map, you can plan your stops, or at least find out at the touch of a button where the nearest public toilet is. You can also plan your journey in advance and print out a map of exactly where the nearest loos are, or even better, for iphone users, you can download the free 'find a loo' App. Perfect...How very convenient.

Of course, the fabulous 'My Carry Potty' is an essential asset to your car. Just in case you don't quite make the nearest public loo, the 'My Carry Potty' can be used, closed up, and then popped back in the car, and then emptied at the nearest public loo. That water tight leak proof seal really does work...I know! For the 'My Carry Potty' review, click on this link.

The dreaded jetlag, and how to avoid it...

Travelling, we love it. The sun, sea, sand, relaxing, family fun, travelling, flying...the jet lag? 
Arhh! The jet lag. No one likes jet lag. 

So, to assist matters, we have compiled a few hip tips on how not to end up with your child asleep in their tuna sandwich just like my little right hip below (or at least try to get them to bed before this happens, poor poppet!)

Jet lag is basically natures way of saying "ha ha, you had a great holiday, now you are going to suffer". Unfair isn't it, and it is inevitably going to happen. But there are a few things that you can do to ease the pain ever so slightly.

We have to remember that our little ones bounce back so much faster than we do, so even though for them its a tad confusing, they will get over the worst of the jetlag around three days after arrival.

On the plane

Try and start the flight relaxed and not too tired - I know, easier said that done considering you'll probably have done most of the packing, but try and have a good nights sleep beforehand.

Allow plenty of time at the airport - no need to rush if you just want a calm smooth journey.

Try and book a night flight, take the hips PJ's and encourage all members of the family to have some sleep. Use earplugs / eyemasks if you think that may help?

Drink lots of water, and don't eat eat everything that you are offered.

Walk around the plane - stay active (don't worry, you will be anyway if you have young kids!)

 Wear loose comfortable clothing.

Some people swear by changing their watch to the new local time as soon as they get on the plane. Its certainly worth a try.

In transit 

Many airports have brilliant parents rooms, and/or a lounge where you pay a small fee, and you can have a good shower, drinks, rest, or run around. I have found a shower in between two flights makes me feel so much more refreshed, and ready to tackle the ongoing journey. 

Ask at the information centre at the airport if there is a kids area. Many airports have a play area where you can encourage the hips to have a good run around. Both KL and Singapore airports have exceptional kids areas with great facilities. Well worth it.

If you have a few hours you may want to really stretch out and have a swim in the airport pool or visit the  butterfly gardens. Both of these are available in Singapore airport. 


Perhaps plan a stopover for a few nights, especially on the way back home. This will nip most of the jetlag in the bud and therefore normal life can resume much more quickly when back home. Its also a great way for the little hip travellers to learn about new cultures, foods, people etc etc.

Bear in mind that just because you have landed, you may have a few hours car journey ahead before arriving at your destination. The best advice is plan and be prepared, and don't get frustrated if the kids fall asleep as soon as they get in the car. My left hip barely slept from London to Melbourne, but fell asleep about an hour before arriving, and then continued sleeping as we pulled him off the plane, through the airport, into the car, and then we just popped him into his bed, and he woke up the next morning nice and refreshed (and rather surprised!)

Try not to organise too much within the first few days of arriving. You'll want to either go to bed very early, or sleep in, and you really don't want to have to be somewhere at a certain time. You need to allow time to recover.

Have a rest when the kids sleep. It'll take the edge off your tiredness.

Distract your selves from being exhausted. Take a walk and stretch your legs - use the sunshine (hopefully) to invigorate you and keep you awake. It'll certainly help your body adjust, and its far better than falling asleep infront of the TV. 

Just remember, it will take some time, so don't get stressed. You will be normal again one day!

Anyone else got any tips, we'd love to hear them....

Know enough about family safety on the beach...?

I have to admit, when I first arrived in Australia, I had no idea about beaches, rips, swimming between the flags etc. I mean why would I...British beaches weren't exactly on the top of the list for places to visit. Don't get me wrong, many of them are stunning, but perhaps its something to do with the rather unpredictable weather. My idea of beach safety was watching a few hunky spunks running up and down Home and Away's Summer Bay!

Now, I live in Oz, have two little 'hips' and live within a few minutes of the stunning Australian beach, it is imperative that we all know about beach safety. Plus, its super important that we pass on our knowledge to those who are new to beach life, or are just visiting.

The Surf Life Saving website is a brilliant source of information for both locals and visitors alike. Make sure you brush up on your beach safety tips, as you never know when you might be able to assist.

that little hip 'camping' packing list...

Do you really need to pack the kitchen sink when heading off on a holiday with kids? Not at all, but you know, when you are off camping, it feels like you should pack that sink just in case....after all, you'll need some sort of running water, or at least a boiling saucepan. Look, its not "Survivor" so you don't need to panic, so don't be afraid to load up your car, but remember, you can make do without some luxuries too....its actually rather fun not to have to blow dry your hair from time to time etc.

Well, here's a list that should help you decide what you should take on a camping trip with kids. (Kitchen sink is certainly not included):

To sleep:
Tent , groundsheet, pegs, poles, mallet (yes, all rather important).
Sleeping bags and liners
Sleeping mats (blow up ones are good) and pump if necessary
Pillows, blankets, duvets to keep kids comfortable as possible
If room and you think necessary, a portacot (which can also double up as a playpen during the day)
Torch/lamp and batteries
Check out the following outdoor stores for some excellent ideas: KathmanduAnacondaMillets,
SnowgumSnow and Rock.

To eat:
Camping stove and gas bottle (unless you are going open fire?)
Waterproof matches
Can and bottle opener
A few pots and pans
A few cooking utensils - BBQ tongs, cooking knife etc.
Esky (or for those Kiwis...a chilli bin!)
Paper towels, foil, containers for storage, rubbish bags
Plates, mugs, bowls and cutlery
Tables and chairs or something to sit on / blanket
A thermos flask
Dishwashing liquid and tea towels
Food and drink

To wear:
Warm and cold weather clothes. It does get cold at night...pack a fleece.
Flip flops (thongs/s) and Wellies (gumboots)..We love these Bergstein Gumboots from Little Elk. We love Little Elk!
Beach towels, and swim wear.

Extras for you and the 'hips':
Swiss Army knife
Washing line
First Aid Kit
Bucket and spade
Board games, books
Camping shower or we love the super fold up Flexi Bath and we have a review coming up very soon.
Toilet Roll
Insect repellent
Wet wipes
Potty (especially for night time) - we love My Carry Potty. We have a review AND fab giveaway coming up very this space.
Sun Screen and hats
All those extra bits and bobs required for travelling with young children if necessary (nappies, stroller, wipes etc)

So, thats all I would pack....(perhaps a bit less, as I love to try to travel light and I know that my hubby and 'hips' will keep on adding to the list!). What about you? Any suggestions or must have extras?

A hip mums camping tips with her little 'hips'

So, we are once more heading back to the fabulous world of camping. Yes, this is the camping season (even though the weather here doesn't seem to think it is), however camping is often notorious for either a spot of rain, or a ridiculous heatwave, so its good to be prepared for all.

Today we are meeting a friend of mine, Lisa, who recently went camping with her hubby, plus 3 year old and 7 month old. How brave I hear you say...I totally agree, so felt it only necessary that we quiz Lisa on how she coped camping with two very little people. 

Here we go - over to you Lisa and family..

So tell us a bit about your family?

We are Lisa 39, Jem 41, Nell 3, Caity 7 months. We live in Woodend, country Victoria, and are recent converts to the country lifestyle, keen gardeners and outdoorsy types.

And where have you been of late with your little 'hips'?

Rose's Gap Folk Music Camp, The Grampians National Park. This is a special camp for music lovers with lots of workshops and performances run over a long weekend during the school holidays in September. Plenty of kids and young people, beginners and more experienced musicians. The emphasis is mostly on celtic-style folk and traditional music. This year there was a special feature on Indonesian and Javanese music. I did singing workshops and one for beginner ukelele (along with about 130 other people - it was the most popular workshop!), and hubby did beginners guitar. There was toddler music and singing every morning from 9 - 9.30 and a kids zone in the main hall with lots of activities. The whole experience was very left of centre, welcoming, warm and open-hearted.

How did you get there?

We jumped in the car and drove from Woodend. 

Where did you stay?

A camping site in a recreation ground. There were toilets and washing facilities, a communal hall with a fire and kitchen and a camp canteen offering lunch and dinner.

Your biggest challenge?

Keeping tabs on Nell who was intent on getting to meet every person there! Luckily the atmosphere was very child-friendly and whenever she wandered too far or too intently into other people's space, someone always brought her back!

Any big recommendations?

If you love music, this is great fun for everyone! Even if only some people want to do the music stuff, there is so much to do in The Grampians. Jem went off for a long bike ride one day, and we all went for a bushwalk to Beehive Falls another day. 

So what are your main tips about travelling with kids?

You don't need half of what you end up taking. But do take snacks and make sure that little one's blood sugar levels don't drop. Nell ended up grazing throughout the day rather than having set meals. Always be flexible and try to remember that you are supposed to be relaxing and having fun!

We all slept in a giant tent, probably much too big, but I envisaged being shut up in rain/cold and wanted extra space. Nell slept next to us on a mat on the floor. She had a sleeping bag, but we realised after a couple of struggles in the night that she wasn't used to it and just wanted to be under blankets like she is at home. Thank goodness for packing extra fleecy blankets! Caity was more of a worry. She's too big for her bassinet now, but not really big enough to sleep on a mat like us. In the end I had an old change table foam pad that I wrapped securely in yet another fleecy blanket (you can see how indispensable they were!) and then she had a gro-bag and blanket over the top of that. It kept her off the ground and secure in her own space. In all honesty, the tent was big enough for her portacot and next time I would take that, but hey  - we managed!

As for quality of sleep... the first night was bad for everyone after being all discombobulated by the long journey and new environment. The second night Caity slept through like an angel but Nell had a huge tantrum in the middle of the night. On the last night we all had a good night's sleep - but it was very windy and that kept the grown-ups awake and worried about the tent falling down!!

As usual, the simple things with the kids made all the difference. Making sure that they ate regularly and had access to food that they would like. The camp provided meals, but they were a bit spicey and not always child-proof. So on the last day we went into Halls Gap and had fish & chips which meant we knew Nell had eaten a good amount. Sure enough she went to sleep without a problem and didn't wake up hungry in the night. 

What would you not have left home without?

The pram. It was ideal for putting Caity in for a sleep, and carting tons of stuff from the tent to the activities. Plus we could take it almost all the way to the falls on our bushwalk! Also, lots of cheap fleece blankets. They were great for wrapping up cold, tired and cranky toddler and baby at various points in the day. 

And finally, anything else you want to add? 

We'll be back next year, and most certainly go camping again!

Many thanks Lisa for a fabulous camping review, and some really great tips.

Coming up - what to pack on your camping trip...


Related Posts with Thumbnails