DUPLO Flo's Cafe Cars 3 Blog

How to Cope With Endless Sick Days

Disclosure: Some of the DUPLO products mentioned in this post were sent to Hannah, free of charge.  

How Quickly Things Change

Just a few weeks ago it seemed like summer would never end. The warm weather and blue skies meant hours upon hour of outdoor fun. Then the cold came, and with it the sickness.

Seemingly overnight the whole of Sydney caught a cold. Trains, workplaces and preschools simultaneously filled with a cacophony of coughs and sneezes.

We were not immune. The sickness found its way into our home and it must have decided it liked it, because it hung around. In particular, it decided that Hannah’s face was a particularly pleasant place to settle in. For close enough to a week she was housebound and miserable.


Entertaining a Sick Toddler

Hannah is most definitely an outdoors kid. She loves the playground, her scooter, the beach… she even loves the wind! So to be cooped up indoors for an extended period is a difficult thing. Still, it had to be done. The conditions outside were less than ideal for recovery.

Keeping a child like Hannah entertained indoors is a challenge. When she was feeling under the weather it wasn’t so difficult, we just snuggled up under a doona and worked our way through her extensive collection of picture books. But when she had enough energy to play… we had to get creative!

Tea parties in the tent were a blast, and playdough played its part. Musical instruments helped to pass a few minutes, but the real life saver was DULPO. Of all her toys, DULPO is the one that Hannah plays with the most.

I get it, because I was much the same as a child. DUPLO (and its older, even more awesome brother LEGO) is the perfect toy. Even in this day and age of battery-operated everything, good old-fashioned building blocks just can’t be beat. They offer so much possibility, they spark creativity and imagination in ways that other toys just cannot match. Even now as a grown man, I still feel a sense of wonderment when I sit down in front of a big box of DUPLO and begin to build.




Build All the Things!

Hannah’s big box of DUPLO provided hours of glorious entertainment. It took our minds away from the sickness and the fact that we were stuck indoors. Together Hannah and I sat and built. We played games and imagined scenarios (Hannah’s favourite was to make everyone eat pizza… mine was to make cows ride the giant slide and land in the back of a dump truck…).

We started to build a house and over the days it became more and more elaborate. Hannah demanded that it be mobile, so delicately we lifted it up and placed wheels underneath. Hannah took great delight in watching me tow the huge contraption behind a DUPLO tractor!

Eventually, we achieved the impossible. We used every single block from Hannah’s DUPLO block on our contraption. It was majestic! A testament to the combined imaginations of father and daughter (not to mention the awesomeness of those wonderful plastic blocks!).

But Hannah was still sick. She was still banned from the great outdoors (and baffling her doctors and parents with the cold that wouldn’t quit).



Flo’s Café – The Cars 3 DUPLO Set

Fortunately, I had an ace up my sleeve. Our Good friends at DUPLO had sent Hannah the Flo’s Café Set from the Cars 3 movie. I had put it aside, as I wanted to save it for the right moment. With Hannah in danger of reaching Jack Torrance levels of stir crazy, I figured it was the perfect time to crack it out.


I wasn’t wrong.


This new DUPLO set was unlike anything that Hannah had played with. Her eyes immediately lit up at the sight of the box and her excitement was palpable as we opened the packaging.

To be honest, I was thrilled too. Opening LEGO packets sparks an unrivalled sense of nostalgia for a childhood that I remember so fondly. The thought that I am, right there in that moment, creating those kinds of memories and feelings with my own daughter is something I deeply cherish.

We built the Flo’s Café DUPLO set in no time at all. For the first time since we began playing DUPLO, Hannah was able to follow the instructions (with my help) and locate the correct pieces. Together we built the cars, then the truck, then the café. Then it was play time!

The new set provided hours of entertainment. Hannah’s imagination exploded as we pretended to use the petrol pump to fill up the cars. Lightning McQueen and Cruz Ramirez zoomed around the upstairs landing, accompanied by the joy-filled giggles of a toddler who had forgotten all about her high temperature and runny nose.

The cars took turns to drive through Flo’s Café and fill up at the bowser. They zoomed up the ramp and into the back of Mack’s trailer. It was pure joy for daughter and dad, a shared moment of bonding over play that is so precious.


DUPLO Flo's Cafe Cars 3


Hannah is the kind of child who sometimes likes to mix her imaginative play with a good dose of realism, so she grew particularly fond of using the bowser to refill the cars. She even made a “blub blub blub” sound that increased in pitch as the refuelling progressed.

Then it was time to refuel the truck. I had parked Lightning McQueen in the trailer of Mack, and I was ready to go on a long drive around the room. Hannah, however, insisted that we needed fuel. I don’t know how, but she seemed to know that trucks require large amounts of fuel. While I waited (impatiently), Hannah diligently sat and pumped petrol into the truck… for a solid five minutes.

Finally we were refuelled and ready to go. Or so I thought…

It turned out the truck needed a thorough oil change before it was ready for its journey. Once again I waited (and waited and waited) while Hannah diligently poured a substantial amount of imaginary oil into the vehicle.

Once Hannah was satisfied that Mack was roadworthy, we were off! Our adventures wore long and full of fun. The new set of DUPLO was just what Hannah needed to take her mind off feeling sick and being housebound. We had a ball together, it was brilliant!


DUPLO Flo's Cafe Cars 3


Thankfully, Hannah is now back to her usual cheery self. We have been able to leave the house and find some fun in the great outdoors. Hannah’s new favourite DUPLO pieces have integrated with her other DUPLO and it is still played with daily.

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toy, doctor's surgery , waiting room Blog

The Things We Swore They Would Never Do –…

A wise man once told me that opinions are like anuses – everyone has one. This is especially true of parenting. After all, it’s a task that most of us undertake at some point in our lives.


Sifting through the sea of contradicting opinions is one of the ultimate challenges for any new parent. People are only too willing to drop their two-cents, whether solicited or not. This undoubtedly adds to the complexity of parenting, but these are not the opinions of which you should be most wary. The opinions that I believe can cause you the most problems are your own, pre-child ones.

They are the throw-away lines that you used so freely before you actually had any understanding of the complexity of the job. They are the opinions that escape your mouth as “I’d never let my child…”, often uttered as you witness a single snapshot of another family’s life.

I have done it, many times. Too many to count. I think it’s natural to have an idealistic view of how you expect family life to be before you begin, but it is important to understand that the reality rarely meets your expectations.

The Toys in the Doctor’s Surgery Waiting Room

I had always looked on toys in the doctor’s surgery with disgust. I would never let my child play with them I used to say quietly to myself as I watched children play with the same toys that have sat in the same corner of the surgery waiting room for the past ten years. Just imagine how filthy they are! Imagine how many sick and grubby little fingers have been touching them already. To be honest, the thought of going anywhere near them made me feel a little ill.


Yesterday, we took Hannah to the doctor. She was suffering from what turned out to be conjunctivitis – highly contagious conjunctivitis.

We entered the room and sat down. I sat on the chair and Hannah sat patiently in my lap. She looked around the room and took in the various elements. Her eyes stopped for a while on the television, something that is still very much a novelty for Hannah as we have avoided giving her any screen time at home (yes, I did say I would never let my baby watch the television. So far I have stuck to that one).

After a while, Hannah became bored of the American chat show on the screen and she began scanning the room again. She looked at posters and pamphlets, until eventually her eyes came to rest on the lime-green plastic object in the corner of the room – the toy bucket.


The battle begins…

I still have no idea how Hannah knew what it was, but she definitely knew. Almost immediately she grew restless. Her little legs kicked out and she twisted her body in the usual “let me down” manner. She had a goal in mind – a target that she suddenly had to reach.

Elderly eyes swivelled in the waiting room. A show was about to begin and they would be damned if they were going to miss the fun in their otherwise dull excursion. It was obvious that a battle of willpower was under way – my determination to keep Hannah from the box of disease, and Hannah’s determination to play.


Resigned to defeat

Hannah, of course, had the upper hand. An enthusiastic wail from her and I had to let go. No-one likes to be the parent in the middle of a waiting room commotion, and I’m no exception. To my advantage, Hannah didn’t know that she had this power. She’s never been in the situation where she has had to unleash it, as episodes of public crankiness are few and far between. But I could feel the wail building inside her. I knew I had lost. In that moment I had made the choice – I had become the parent who disgusted me so much in my pre-children days. I had become the parent who let his child play with the toys in the doctor’s surgery waiting room.

I placed her on the floor. I’m sure I gave a head-to-toe shudder as her tiny feet began to carry her towards the dreaded bucket of doom (or fun, depending on by whose viewpoint you look at it).


Saved by an angel

Just then, a voice like an angel from heaven called out “Hannah?”

It was the doctor. It was our turn to see her.

Before Hannah could reach the bucket, I scooped her up into my arms. “Time to see the doctor,” I told her.

It took a moment for it to sink in, but not too long. Hannah’s focus was already onto the next issue – the strange lady in the white coat who seemed entirely too interested in poking and prodding her. But that adventure is a story for another day.


Until next time…

One thing is for sure, Hannah has an excellent memory. I have no doubt that the next time we set foot in that doctor’s surgery waiting room, Hannah’s entire being will become devoted to reaching the bucket. At that moment, I will have little choice but to give in and let her play with the toys. Hopefully, when that time comes, Hannah will not be carrying anything highly contagious. More importantly, hopefully neither will have the last kid to touch them…

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High Temperatures and Runny Noses

Finally, it happened.

After over seven months of baby bliss (okay, this is an exaggeration, but stay with me) Emma and I were woken by a soft whimpering coming from Hannah’s bedroom at five in the morning. I know what you are thinking – isn’t crying at ungodly hours a rite of passage of new parents? Well, for us it was highly unusual. Hannah has been a capable night-time sleeper since birth. Other than a few restless nights early on, she has followed baby night-time sleeping patterns to the letter. So, when we heard those soft little sorrowful sounds, we knew straight away something was up.


Read more “High Temperatures and Runny Noses”

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