A global field guide to design, (life)style and secret finds
est. 2007
  1. 30 Parenting Resources We Can’t Live Without

    The best parenting and kids apps, websites, toys, dolls, books, movies and more... for tiny tots through to tweens.

    Parenting: it’s challenging, rewarding, and sometimes? Just plain bewildering. But somewhere along the way, we’ve all picked up little gems of information and pure nuggets of genius that have somehow made a difference to our lives.

    We’ve gathered our favourite Australian bloggers and asked them to share their best parenting resources with us – from tots to tweens. Introducing:

    Lexi Kentmann, the blogger behind PottyMouthMama and mum to a 10-year-old boy (‘The Doctor’) and a seven-year-old girl (‘Tiny’).

    Jen Bishop, the publisher of Interiors Addict, and new mum to 12-week-old Sebastian.

    Clare Hillier, the blogger behind Checks and Spots and mum to 10-year-old Alfie and three-year-old Mabel.

    Steph Bond, the publisher of Bondville, an Australian design blog for kids, and mum to two girls, aged five and seven (‘almost eight’).

    And there’s us! (Lisa, mum to 11-year-old Roxy; and Rebecca, mum to four-year-old Harry).

    We hope you find a good gem or two that your children will love, and some tips that will help make your life run a little smoother. Let’s go!

    1. Quirky Kid Shoppe

    Don’t let the title put you off. Whether you have a ‘quirky kid’ or not (don’t all kids have their own quirks?), this is a brilliant shop with a curated line-up of therapeutic resources for kids’ social, emotional and behavioural issues. – Rebecca Lowrey Boyd from We Are Scout

    2. Tiny Tots in Brisbane

    Living in both Brisbane and Sydney with little ones, I was so impressed with the quality and development that my girls received from community playgroups. In Brisbane, the Lang Park PCYC runs an exceptional Tiny Tots program for little ones including music and soft-play. – Steph Bond from Bondville

    3. Charley Harper Memory Game

    Featuring the delightful illustrations of Charley Harper, this is a beautiful take on an old favourite. It’s also a fun way to practice focus, concentration and memory with your rug rats! – Clare Hillier from Checks and Spots

    4. The Children’s Bookshop in Beecroft

    This is one of the best bookshops in Sydney, and I can say that comfortably because I frequent many. The name really says it all, but the staff are second to none in: knowing the latest and greatest reads, and being able to recommend books to suit your child’s interests and reading levels.

    This has been incredible given both my children have voracious reading appetites, for which I have no guilt for indulging. It’s a great place to spend a Saturday morning – and later head to Chicken and Fishhead for a coffee/milkshake to flick through your new purchases. – Lexi Kentmann from Pottymouth Mama

    5. URStrong

    Friendships can be a tricky thing to navigate sometimes. GirlPower & GoodGuys workshops empower tweens with the skills, language, and self-confidence to be better friends and develop healthier friendships. For girls and boys in grades 1 to 6 – Lisa Tilse from We Are Scout

    6. Save the Date to Vaccinate App

    As well as obviously being a great reminder about important vaccinations, Save the Date to Vaccinate, released by NSW Ministry of Health, also has some lovely lullabies on it which help get my baby off to sleep if we are out and about and he is cranky! – Jen Bishop from Interiors Addict

    7. Discovery Kids

    We are completely smitten with Discovery Kids. The TV shows are beautifully-produced and full of inspiring information about animals and the world. Finding Stuff Out with host Harrison is particularly good and covers all areas of science and the environment. It’s bang-on target market for our five and seven-year-old. – Steph

    8. Anorak magazine

    My four-year-old isn’t quite ready for Anorak magazine, but it’s the kind of kids’ mag I wish I had the brains (and balls) to launch back in my kids’ magazine editing heyday. This design-led magazine features puzzles, stories and loads of fun activities. – Rebecca

    9. Travel

    Having family living overseas, we have made annual trips to the US and Canada since the girls were born. Yes, the plane trip is challenging, but both of my girls are growing up truly understanding that the world is larger than the small bubble we live in, and to appreciate and wonder at the differences and similarities of the lives our own family lives. I hope this instills a life-long love of travel. – Steph

    10. Parenting Ideas by Michael Grose and Steve Biddulph

    These are my home boys. If I hit a tricky bit in my parenting adventure, I usually turn to reading Michael Grose or Steve Biddulph books. Real, really good, and relevant, they both share practical ideas and solutions to everyday parenting woes. I couldn’t recommend them highly enough – they’ve really helped my navigate my way through tricky periods, and be on the front foot to know what to expect next. – Lexi

    11. Kids in Mind

    Kids-in-mind.com is my go-to resource whenever we are considering going to the movies, or renting a DVD. It’s not a movie review site in the traditional subjective sense, but rather a very detailed and objective guide which enables parents to make the decision if a movie will be suitable for their individual child(ren).

    Together with a brief story outline, there is a list of discussion topics together with the key message for each film. Movies have individual ratings for sex and nudity, violence and gore, and profanity – and every example is listed, however innocuous they may seem to some. The value in this website is that you can base your decision of the suitability of a movie for your family on your own standards, ethics and morals, rather than relying on someone elses’.  – Lisa

    12. Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame App

    If your pre-schooler loves playing with apps on your iPad, Breathe, Think, Do is a brilliant resource that’s part of Sesame Street’s Little Children, Big Challenges initiative. This is a great app for building emotional intelligence, and teaches your child breathing techniques for self-control, how to solve problems, and how to persist with tasks. All the good stuff! – Rebecca

    13. 501 Things for The Quick Draw Kid

    Our son, Alfie, draws morning, noon and night. This book is one of his faves as it breaks down the basics of drawing and cartooning with 501 quick sketches. – Clare

    14. Play Session at North Sydney Institute of TAFE

    In Sydney, the North Sydney Institute of TAFE Crows Nest campus operates an incredible play session with childcare workers-in-training that gave my girls access to all sorts of crafts and activities as well as a fabulous playground. This play session, along with Tiny Tots in Brisbane, were both extremely inexpensive and gave my girls amazing experiences. – Steph

    The best parenting and kids apps, websites, toys, dolls, books, magazines, games, movies and more... for tiny tots through to tweens.

    15. Dot magazine

    A relatively new launch by the makers of Anorak, this is a creative mag for pre-schoolers. Each issue of Dot has a special theme and features beautifully-illustrated stories, games and activities. A nice alternative to commercial mainstream magazines filled with licensed characters. – Rebecca

    16. Cooking

    Both of my girls have had a keen interest in cooking and have baked with me in the kitchen standing on stools since they were tots. Having child-sized aprons, their own mini whisks and using measuring spoons and mixing bowls makes them feel like they are cooking independently. – Steph

    17. Lammily Doll

    Lammily is a ‘body positive’ fashion doll that is taking on Barbie! She has been created using standard body proportions, of an average 19-year-old woman’s body. – Clare

    18. Music

    We’re not professional musicians, but we have always had a corner of our home filled with a pile of instruments (drums, maracas, tambourines, sticks, mouth organs, recorders, keyboard, ukuleles, and more) that the kids can pick up and play at any time. My husband plays his guitar a lot, and we are always singing, and sometimes I even bust out my trumpet. It’s great for impromptu performances when friends come over too. – Steph

    19. ‘When I’m Feeling’ book series by Trace Moroney

    The When I’m Feeling series of books by Trace Moroney is championed by child psychologists and helps pre-schoolers better understand and manage their feelings, as well as building self-esteem. – Rebecca

    20. Child-friendly Cafes

    They are more common these days, but a good child-friendly cafe can be good for mind, body and soul. Getting out and about with the smalls is really important to me, so we have a few favourites. It’s a great opportunity to practise manners, to socialise in public, to try different food and cultivate an interest in food (and hopefully cooking).

    Some of my favourites include: Chicken and Fishhead (Beecroft), The Greens (North Sydney), our local Chinese restaurant – where it doesn’t matter if you’re messy, because it just is! and Via Napoli (Lane Cove) – the 1-metre long pizzas are fun, the Italian staff are warm and welcoming, and the buzz is always fun. – Lexi

    21. A Mighty Girl

    As a mum to a little boy, I thought this website wouldn’t be relevant for us. But when I was looking for sex ed books for pre-schoolers, a friend steered me in the direction of A Mighty Girl. It’s a fantastic resource for the best books, toys and music for kids of both genders. – Rebecca

    22. Feed Baby App

    Another great baby tracker app for parents of newborns to remind you which breast you fed off last (surprisingly easy to forget when you’re sleep deprived) – Jen

    23. Miniland Baby Dolls

    If you’re looking for the best first baby doll for both boys and girls, these educational dolls are amazing. They’re anatomically correct and have well-defined facial features representative of different races. They can be bathed and are a great starting point for talking about bodies, gender, private parts and difference. Available at Oliver’s Twisty Tales and ZanuiRebecca

    24. Common Sense Media website

    We use this excellent website to help us navigate and determine age-appropriate movies. We hope the excitement of going to the cinema and the tradition of making homemade popcorn and snuggling up on the couch with family and friends will stay with them. – Steph

    25. Sex education books for pre-schoolers

    When my four-year-old started asking questions like, ‘How do eggs turn into babies?’, I wanted to give him the correct age-appropriate answers. No avoidance, distraction or silly stork stories for us! My research into the best sex-education books for pre-schoolers led me to Amazing You, which addresses the difference between boys’ and girls’ bodies and reproduction, without going into the mechanics of sex.

    But when he starts asking more direct questions about sex, I’ve got What Makes a Baby on standby. It’s an utterly modern book about sex and reproduction for all kinds of families, regardless of how many people were involved, their orientation, gender and other identity, or family composition. New reproductive technologies addressed, as well as adoption and surrogates. – Rebecca

    26. Classic Musicals

    We love watching movies with our girls and have prioritised the musical classics – the original Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory and Annie, The Sound Of Music, Mary Poppins, The Muppets Movie, to name a few. – Steph

    27. Bellaboo Skincare

    Roxy and I have discovered this great brand of Australian skincare for tween and teen girls. The ingredients are safe, high quality natural and sustainable, and Bellaboo promotes a positive self-image. – Lisa

    28. Cookbooks

    I’ve found that having a selection of fun cookbooks aimed at kids inspires discussion around cooking, even if they are full of sweet treats; they love the very girly, very pink Cupcake Book For Girls (Icewater Press), Fairies Cookbook (Gibbs Smith) and Cupcake Greeting Cards (Kingsford Editions), but by far the favourite is Frankie magazine’s Afternoon Tea book (not just for kids!). Not a day goes by that the girls aren’t flipping through the pages at the kitchen counter. – Steph

    29. Girl Stuff by Kaz Cooke

    We love Girl Stuff. It’s funny, but at the same it’s frank and honest, making it an empowering resource to equip girls to make the right decisions in their teen years. – Lisa

    30. Australian Geographic shop

    Australian Geographic is a one-stop shop for imaginative and instructive gifts that stimulate curious minds of all ages. From astronomy to geography, nature and geology, science, weather, gadgets and games – educational and non-gender-specific gifts tick all the boxes.  – Lisa

    Tell us: do you have a favourite parenting resource that you couldn’t live without? Share your top tips in the comments below and we’ll build a mega go-to list!

    • Amanda

      Hello. was thinking you should add the broad place to your part two. Jacqui is AMAZING and teaches kids to mediate as well as adults. She also has a book coming out soon to help Mothers.

    • http://checksandspots.com/ Clare from Checks and Spots

      I loved reading through everyone’s fave go-to resources – thanks for inviting me to be part of such a fun post! x

    • Katrina (milk_thistle on IG)

      My local art gallery (Maitland Regional Art Gallery), holds Free Art Sundays for kids. Different art/craft activities each Sunday for kids of all ages, usually with a theme or type of activity relating to a current exhibition. I’ve been to a couple now with my 3.5 year old, and it’s been great. Also enticing is the great cafe at the art gallery for a coffee and cupcake after!

    • Leo Rocker

      Oh, That you so much for featuring the QK Shoppe. All other recommendations are so nice as well. It is great to learn we are noticed – curating and photographing those books are hard work !! 🙂