Is Disney’s Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Harrods Worth The Money?

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This conversation has happened at least four times in the last year….

Me: “I could just buy everything in the Disney Store. There’s something so magical about going in there.”

Other mum: “Me too! And have you seen there’s a boutique in Harrods where they turn little girls into Disney Princesses?”

Me: “YES! The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. It looks AMAZING. But have you seen how much it costs?”

Other mum: “Yes…. do you think it’s worth the money?”

This, dear readers, is a question I have pondered lots recently. Is it sheer INSANITY to pay between £100 and £1000 for an hour of fun or is it impossible to put a price on ACTUAL MAGIC?

In case you haven’t heard of it (where have you been etc) the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique transforms little people into a Disney princess (or a knight if you prefer) with a hairstyle, nail polish, face paint and a brand new princess outfit. The transformation is done by a Fairy Godmother In Training and you leave with a regal sash and a large photo of your little one, sitting on a large throne (plus other stuff like princess make up, shoes and toys if you choose a more expensive package).

I took my four year old along to try out the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in order to find out if it’s worth the money (the things I do for you guys….) and here’s what happened.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Harrods

When you arrive at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique reception on the fourth floor of Harrods,  the staff greet you with the warmth and humour you would expect from a Disney experience – one lady knelt down to the four-year-old’s level and called her a princess, which got big smiles from all of us. She was given a lanyard with her name on it and an electronic tag which we were told would buzz when they were ready for us. “It’s magic!” said the lady and the four-year-old totally believed her. Five minutes (and a lot of “When will it buzz?” questions) later, it buzzed and we headed back.

There, we met our Fairy Godmother In Training, Heather. She was just BRILLIANT, kneeling down to chat to the four-year-old, calling her Princess and asking her if she was ready for her magical transformation. She led us through some doors and we were faced with a magical mirror. The four-year-old had to say a magic word to make the Fairy Godmother appear in the mirror and then again to make the doors open into the Boutique. All the time, the Fairy Godmother In Training was fantastic at chatting to the four-year-old, and making her really believe that actual magic was taking place and that she was making it all happen with her magic words!

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You Know You’re The Parent Of A Modern Child When…

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Life whizzes along quite merrily, without us really noticing big changes, and then WHAM we have kids and suddenly we are forced to remember what life was like for us, compared to what life is like for them. We were sat on the train the other day with our four-year-old and she said, “When we get home, can I watch Team UmiZoomi please?” (she is very good with her pleases and thank yous, you know *mum point in the bag*). Anyway, this prompted a conversation about how lucky she is that she can watch pretty much any TV she likes, at any time. In a slightly giddy, reminiscent way, Mr P and I tried to explain to her that when we were little, there were only four TV channels and unless we recorded something we couldn’t watch it (record on a creaking VHS tape that is – ooh which reminds me, our first ever video recorder had a remote control that connected to the VHS player by a long lead. It was THE FUTURE.)

The four-year-old looked puzzled and giggled, as if Mummy and Daddy were teasing her with crazy unfathomable tales. “What did you watch when you were little?” she asked. I tried to explain the concept of Rainbow to her. She looked confused. Later that day, she asked to watch Rainbow. I found it on YouTube and do you know what? It just felt a bit empty, a bit wooden and a bit creepy. MEMORY RUINED.

So anyway – despite my rambling, the point of this post is this: Aren’t there so many things that are different now, compared to when we were kids? You know you’re the parent of a modern child when…

  • Aged 18 months, they can unlock your iPhone, pass code and all.
  • They try to press your computer screen to select something, rather than knowing how a mouse works.
  • They know more French words at four than you did at fourteen.
  • You’re out shopping and they say “Can we stop for a coffee, please Mum?”
  • You hand the phone over for them to speak to the grandparents and they can’t work out why they can’t actually see Grandad on the screen. (When we were kids, ‘video calls’ were the stuff of sci-fi comics.)
  • They say “Thanks for watching!” after playing with their Play Doh. Clearly been watching too many YouTube videos.
  • When considering primary schools, you look into how many computers the school has for the kids to use. My Primary School only had one TV (on caster wheels, in the TV room) and I’m pretty sure even the headmaster used a typewriter.
  • You hear yourself saying “If you don’t at least try the broccoli, you can’t use the iPad tomorrow.”
  • They have a ‘reading nook’ somewhere in the house. In our day, we were happy with a chair.
  • When they’re bored on a bus, they ask “Can I play a game on your phone?” – we didn’t even HAVE mobile phones 30 years ago, never mind ones that played GAMES! *mind blown*

Have I missed any? What other signs are there that you’re parenting a modern child?

Image: DTTSP

Choosing A Primary School: Things To Think About And Ask

Top tips for choosing a primary school

With a four year old daughter, we’re at that stage where we need to look around primary schools and decide which ones to put on our application form before January. *runs around wondering how we got to this stage already*

A couple of weeks ago, we went to our first school open day and that morning, it occurred to me that I didn’t have a clue what to look for, or consider while we were there. I haven’t been in a primary school since I was 12, how do I know what’s good and what’s bad?

So I did what all sensible parents do – I asked Facebook. And my Facebook friends came up with a brilliant wealth of tips and advice. They were so great, in fact, that I thought it would be rude not to share it all with you. So here we go, folks, things to consider/look for/do when you’re looking around a primary school  (Psst! I’ve linked through to some people who gave advice if they have a blog so that you can follow them, with all of their mighty widom)…

  • “Consider: Are the children happy, is it busy with children in different groups doing different things? I also like looking at displays are they engaging? Gut feeling is really important. Do you like the feel of it? (I just think, especially at primary schools, that displays show the pride attached to work, the topics chosen and types of activities that different ages do.” – Emma from Emma and 3.
  • “It’s quite telling who the school gets to show you round; deputy head, head. Look at the other parents. Look at the kids. Like Emma says, are they happy? Engaged? Playground facilities, facilities for subjects you think little one might have an aptitude for. Lastly, I know year one seems a long way off and will make you reach for the tissues even more but, we’ve been hit with a mountain of homework, what’s the school policy on that?” – Emily
  • Agree with Emma - displays tell you loads about the kind of work that goes on and what the school chooses to celebrate and value. My kids’ school had loads of stuff about when a theatre company came in, about managing emotions, about creativity, amazing art work all over the school, washing lines across the classrooms displaying work. Another schools had very traditional displays. I thought my two would be happier in the more creative environment.” – Penny, A Residence 
  • “What are their strengths? Does it match with your child’s? Eg. My son loves numbers but the first school we viewed was all about creative arts and have to work on the maths programme. How do they communicate with parents? Do the teachers kids attend the school? Ofsted reports – but you don’t have to read it beforehand. How do they deal with bullying? Is it safe? Fencing, access, internet access etc…” – Margaret
  • “I agree about the displays but make sure the range of work is at all levels and from all different kids (not just the best ones!) . You may well get shown round by year 6 so ask them what they think of the school. Does the head teacher know their name? Ask what support is given to parents for homework as they learn very differently to how we did and it is hard to help them when you don’t have a clue! Do they have behaviour/bullying issues and how are they dealt with?” – Sarah
  • I think you can tell a lot by how much extra curricular stuff a school offers. Music, singing, football (girls as well as boys), art, bongos (yes, really!). The more they have, the more it shows teachers are into what they are doing and it seems to make the school a more vibrant place. Hard to tell just from what’s on walls etc but I’d ask them how involved the parents are encouraged to be – do they come in and help with cookery/reading etc. Find out what the school does to help kids with bullying or anti social behaviour and what the processes are. And ask them about their PTA (these days usually called Friends Association): what kind of events do they do, what the funds are used for. In my experience this should give you a good idea of how welcoming and happy a school is, that doesn’t always translate to results but it helps a lot!” – Ally
  • “Ask around other parents if you know any. Word of mouth is very valuable. If the kids are all silently sitting in rows I’d be worried! And read their Ofsted reports online. One thing that impresses me about my kids’ school is that the headteacher knows the name of every single child, even the new ones. And she has nearly 400 of them” – Nicol
  • “Ask the pupils questions. Ask the staff question. Do not be afraid to ask WHATEVER you want about life at school, the facilities, behaviour, homework, literacy, lunches, the school hamster. Ask it all. If there are computers are they well used. This is a GOOD sign they care about ICT. Are there lots of examples of pupils work on the boards around school? Remember that the Ofsted report will focus on literacy and numeracy (which are of course very important) but also remember about other things pupils need to learn about. What else do they do? What is the expected amount of time for reading at home? Do the teachers look knackered…. Like on-the-brink knackered? This may tell you that staff are not at their best maybe because they’re expected to do too much? This can be detrimental to the kids’ progress. You want teachers to be looked after!” – Charlotte
  • Ask them how over subscribed they are. Consider what the entry number of kids is. How far, as crow flies, is your home to school. All this counts as to if you have a hope of getting in.” – Gemma, Hello It’s Gemma
  • “My main things to consider are: How happy are the kids? How nice an environment does it seem? What’s the foundation teacher like? (this is key as it’ll be her first experience of school) Is it somewhere you will feel happy dropping her every day? Is there any after school care option?” – Katy, Katy Hill’s Blog
  • Look for boy/girl ratio (50/50 is ideal); I also look for a good mix of cultures, so kids are exposed to a wide mix (that’s personal), see how the children respond to the head, does she know their names, is there good space for outside play, good music and arts facilities and I’m quite hot on languages and their use if IT in classrooms.” – Zaz, Mama and More
  • Ask about club costs – my son goes to a sports club in the school hall at a cost of £46 per half term! Other schools don’t charge so much. Ask about the free school meals – now all key stage one children are entitled to free school meals – my son’s school is really flexible on this and he can decide on the day – as long as he says at registration that he’s on school meals it’s fine, can swap as much as you like, other schools you have to sign up for a term!” – Emma, Emma in Bromley
  • How inspiring is the head? What are his/her future aims for the school? How much playground space is there? What is their discipline procedure? How much time is spent on English and maths? Journey is important – remember you’ll be doing the school run twice a day for six/seven years. And go with your instinct.” – Busola

Do you have any more tips you’d add?

Image: DTTSP

Stuff I Think About Parenting

It’s funny – some people call this a parenting blog, but I don’t actually talk about parenting a lot. Like, actual parenting. I talk about being a parent but not about actual parenting. There are enough websites and books out there, that do that, if you ask me.

But my lovely friend Charlotte tweeted me a link to a video she’d made today, and I watched it. Apart from thinking ‘Awesome lippy’ and ‘Love the autumnal chic’, I loved watching her chat about her thoughts on a few parenting issues. Then she tagged me, meaning I had to make my own video answering the same questions as she did.

So the questions are….

1. Your kid is refusing to eat dinner, do you stand your ground and demand they eat what you made or make something else?

2. Your kid has a melt-down at the store; nothing is working to calm them. Do you leave & come back another time or grit your teeth and finish shopping?

3. Your kid gets too many toys for their birthday. Do you make some returns or save them for a rainy day?

5. You have an appointment and no babysitter. Do you bring them with you or reschedule?

6. You have 20 minutes until unexpected company arrives. Do you rush to clean up your messy house, or just figure- “hey, it’s OK. I’ve got kids!”

7. You’re running late & only have time to do your hair or make up. Which do you choose?

8. You’re at the park and another child pushes yours. Do you intervene and correct them or go find the child’s parent?

So want to know what I think about all that? Watch my video…

 

I’ve tagged Emma from Brummy Mummy of 2 and the lovely Kiran from Mummy Says… but what do you think about these parenting issues?

Gorgeous Wooden Toys… From Asda! (Who Knew?)

I have a funny old relationship with wooden toys. Four years ago when I had a newborn, I thought they were pretentious and so utterly middle class that I’d try to avoid at all costs. Now (ahem) I’ve totally changed my tune. Perhaps it’s a symptom of having spent the last four years wading through a sea of primary-coloured plastic, but if I can choose a beautiful wooden toy over a plastic version, I’ll opt for it every time.

One problem? They can be more expensive than their plasticky friends. Yep, you gotta pay to have a home that isn’t drowning in plastic tat, folks.

Or so I thought. I’m genuinely surprised and delighted that George at Home have launched a range of wooden kids’ toys. Just in time for Christmas – hurrah!

They have a seriously impressive range from a shop (£35) and a pirate ship (£25) to a kitchen (£40) and a farm set (£20).

 

george-at-asda-wooden-toys

We were asked to road test one of the toys and we went for the wooden dolls house (£35). The four year old doesn’t have a proper dolls house, so we thought it would be a good opportunity to treat her to one.

She was SO EXCITED when she saw it. Like, properly. “Can I play with it NOW PLEASE?” she asked. It was breakfast time so we let her have ten minutes of playing and then totally used it as a bribe. “If you do lots of listening and helping at pre-school today, you can play with it tonight” (Mum.Of.The.Year.)

She immediately started carefully placing the dolls house furniture (£15) in the house and pretended that the dolls were getting up, having breakfast and going off to work. So cute!

 

Wooden dolls house from Asda Continue reading