Craft Ideas With Chalk Pens from Chalkola (And 20% Off Voucher!)

Craft Ideas With Chalk Pens from ChalkolaLooking for an idea for a crafty activity? How about something with chalk? Not pieces of chalk, although they are cool, how about chalk pens from Chalkola?

Not heard of chalk pens? Well chalk pens like Chalkola Markers are based on using water based chalk, this means it uses chalk, but acts similar to a normal marker pen. According to the packaging they can used on “non porous surfaces”, such as glass, whiteboards, mirrors, plastics, chalkboards, ceramics – I guess they could be used on any flat surface as long as you test it somewhere subtle first.

Using the chalk pens themselves are a great craft activity that offer an obvious difference to anything pen and paper based, and as such hold an instant interest for keen little ones that may have a short attention span.

So what can you do with these things? Here are some activity ideas we’ve tried with Chalk Pens.

Craft Ideas With Chalk Pens from ChalkolaDraw on glasses and bowls.

This was a great 20 minute activity on our kitchen table, where we let the little one loose on a drinks glass. The end result is just to the side here, and prompted a cry from the little one of “This is art!“.  The picture of santa above was also a result of the kitchen table session… (Santa has since been released for good behavior)

Reward ChartsCraft Ideas With Chalk Pens from Chalkola

We’ve brought a cheap mirror from the local recycling centre, hung it in the hallway, and drew a rainbow on it.

The idea is that, when the little one makes good choices, she moves up the rainbow. For bad choices, she moves down. Based on an idea from preschool, this seems an effective way to help encourage good behaviour, as little one is keen to get to the sunshine.

Notes For The Family

Need to leave a message for someone? Write it on the mirror!

Want to tell someone you love them? Write it on the bathroom mirror!

Christmas Decorations

Now this was cool. We spent some time drawing Christmassy stuff on our patio doors.

As a result, I now have a snowman looking at me from our window – and also looking out at our garden.

Here’s the snowman being… “built”.

A Note About Mess…

Don’t worry if you make a mistake or are ready to get rid of the chalk creation, all if takes is a wet wipe or two to clean the Chalkola Markers off. (Remember to test each new surface before letting the creative juices flow, we’ve only tested them on glass so far. If used on porous surfaces, it may be difficult to remove).

Futher information about Chalkola Markers can be found at

Chalkola Markers are a fun crafty accessory, that both little ones and grown ups can enjoy using.  If you’re interested in them, you can pick up  pack of normal 6mm pens from Amazon on this link, or the “Earthly Colours” pack on this link. Make sure you use the voucher code 20OFFSTR and get 20% off! 


Dads Sofa has been compensated for the above review, which while nice – had no impact on the above comments. My opinions are mine! All mine! Affiliate links are found above. 

Saving Money Over Christmas

Welcome to Christmas 2016. Well, we’re almost there anyway. Either way it feels like Christmas is in full swing with people filling the streets and Christmas markets, all spending money on the perfect Christmas presents, or on other Christmas things. (Mulled Wine anyone?) Christmas is an expensive time, and unless you’re a politician, banker, or former UKIP leader*, I wouldn’t be surprised if you are also trying to find ways to save money.

I thought I would share some ways we’ve thought of saving money at Christmas.

  1. Recycle Centre Shops. Do you have a recycling centre near by? It might be worth checking if they have a shop attached to it, where they sell off items that people have dropped in for really cheap. Like 20p for a dvd cheap. Some of the items there may be questionable in quality or stock, but if you treat them as places that might have something decent, you may find a treasure – and find a cheap Christmas present! (In fact it was on one visit that I was inspired to write this)
  2. Reuse old cards. Have you cards on hand from last year, or know anyone who might have? Get arty and repurpose some old cards!
  3. Check out Freecycle… there might be someone there giving away a Christmas jumper? If so jump on it like you’ve got the plague, and you’re trying to infect someone.
  4. Are you on O2? Check out the priority app for cheap / free stuff!
  5. Limit gifts! Got a partner? Decide on a limit of how much money you’re going to spend on each other, at worse you might find this challenges your imagination a little bit!
  6. Plan for next year. Is your Christmas tree on its way out? Take advantage of the sales, just be warned if you buy something broken – I doubt you’d get away with taking it back 11 months afterwards. (But don’t quote me on this)

Are there any you would add? 

*Other massively way paid jobs are available.

3 Easy Ways To Save Money

Learning how and where to save money at any time in your life is useful, but it becomes particularly essential when you have children. You have someone in your life that is 100% dependent on you, relying on you to make the right financial decisions, and when our little one was born, we started to consider how we spent our money. Here are just three easy ways that you can make your wage stretch that little bit further.

Be creative with days out

3 Easy Ways To Save MoneyA lot of parents opt for theme parks, cinemas and day trips to different towns when they think of treating their kids. Those are all great ideas, but they won’t work on a regular basis if you’re trying to save money. It isn’t just the initial payment, but the need to add food, drink and even souvenirs on top of it.

Days out don’t have to cost the earth – think of more creative ways that you can spend time together. Go for long walks and explore a new area of where you live each time, go down to the local park or gardens with some games and pack a homemade picnic, or if you live on the coast, take a freezer with ice pops you’ve made yourself to the beach.

Save money on clothing

There are a lot of ways that the whole family can save money when it comes to clothing. If you’re looking for kids clothes, my top tip is to get sales-savvy and buy out of season; if you know that your children will need new summer clothes next year, wait until sales periods at the end of this summer and go online for the best deals, so that in a years’ time your kids have all the clothes they need but for much cheaper.

If you need new suits for the office, sites like Jacamo have many styles, patterns and colours of suits that you can purchase as part of a multi-buy deal, where you can get the full three-piece for less. Or, look at their polo shirts and sportswear where you can get the same item in multiple colours for less money, meaning you cut costs but don’t compromise on the quality.

credit-cardBuy in bulk

It’s often the case when you shop around online and in bulk-buying stores like Costco, that you can save a lot of money off the retail price of an item by buying it in multiples. For example, everyday items like toilet paper and shampoo, or canned/dry foods like tuna and pasta can often be bought in higher quantities for much lower prices.

You might have to extend your cupboard space a little, but it will be worth it for all the money you will shave off your weekly food bills. Another trick is to take advantage of new member offers too, such as free delivery for online shopping or a discount for your first order.

You can click here for more money-saving tips, but if you have any, post them in the comments section below…

 I received compensation in exchange for the above

Free and Cheap Things For Parents (And Parents to be)

When we were getting ready for our little one to be born, it didn’t take me long to realise how much of a bruising my wallet was taking. Not that I care, or really cared, but it did make me look a bit harder for anything free or cheap that was going for new parents or parents to be.

Inspired by an advert I saw appear on this page, I decided to make a list of deals we came across back then, and found since.

Bear in mind that companies don’t really give away anything for free, and they’re probably doing it to hook you into using their products for a few years… but theres no harm in testing things out.

I’ve split this list into categories, to try and impose some order here.

Is there anything you think I should add? Please let me know either by tweet, email, or comment below.


Asda Baby and Toddler Club

“..a great place for mums and dads to find expert advice as their baby develops from a newborn to a toddler. By signing up you’ll receive our e-newsletter containing exclusive offers, competitions, and the latest product recommendations and updates from our dedicated Baby Team.”

Bounty packs

You get your first pack at your 8 week Midwife visit, when they give you your maternity notes booklet. Inside that pack there will be a voucher to get the next pack.

Find out about the Bounty Packs.

Emma’s Diary.

Less of a diary, more a series of gift packs that come your way at various stages of pregnancy / new parenthood. The last one is yours after you’ve registered the birth certificate. You also get loads of free argos vouchers, a voucher.

Emma’s Diary Website. 

Boots Parenting Club

According to their website:

Boots Parenting Club is exclusively for Boots Advantage Card members. From the moment you find out you’re pregnant until the day your child turns three, you’re eligible to be a member and receive all the wonderful benefits. Whether you are having your first baby or have a whole brood, we’re here for you. The benefits start from the moment you join, so what are you waiting for?

From the looks of their website, this looks to be a greater amount of advantage card points, with the occasional special offer. Nothing massive, but may help the costs of a new baby.

Boots Parenting Club.

Ella’s Kitchen

Ella’s Kitchen is THE company for food pouches, that our little one seemed to love! You can sign up at the Ella’s Kitchen to get free weaning hints, and money off vouchers!


Quite simply, it looks like you can get loads of stuff for free from Hipp Organic, such as a baby calendar, Hipp Organic samples, money off coupons, and Free prints from Snapfish.

Hipp Baby Club


Lots and lots of advice, and a rumoured free polar bear. (hopefully a stuffed toy)

The Aptaclub.

Mamas & Papas

Join the “club” to hear about new products first, “little treats throughout your baby’s journey”, gift cards, and more…

Join The Club

Amazon Family.

I have to admit it. I quite like Amazon. In fact, I think Amazon have me quite suckered in as a customer, particularly because of the Amazon Prime Prime deliveries. The videos are just an extra, I’m slowly getting used to. Another thing about Amazon, is that they have Amazon Family.

According to their website:

Amazon Family is aimed at making it easier for parents, families and caregivers to find everything they need on By giving us some information about your family, we can ensure you have access to the right products, offers and information at the right time. Amazon Family members get 20% off nappy subscriptions with Subscribe & Save, as well as other benefits such as offers, discounts and a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime.

Subscribe and Save. Yeap that means you can order nappies to be delivered to you from Amazon.

There seems to be a fair few offers from Amazon Family, I’d suggest to check out the website, and have a look around for anything that may be suitable.

Cow and Gate Baby Club.

Go to their website. Get a free cow toy. Sorted.

I do have any personal experience with this one. Possibly worth using an email address you dont check often, but it seems this website can get you lots of free nappies! Which I guess its what a new parent needs.


Sign up for a free sample of Huggies Pull ups and Dry Nites.


A couple of ideas of ways to ask for free / cheap things from actual people – not companies as such.

Talk (1).

Alot of us are involved in or with some sort of organisations in some shape or form. Be it toddler groups, parent groups, churches, council organisations, government groups, probation, charity groups etc. Are you around the corner from a Citizens Advice Bureau?  Talk to them… they may be able to point you in the right direction. Please bear in mind that “official help” is there for those that need it the most.

Talk (2).

That person sat next to you at work. They may have something festering in the attic? Talk about what you’re looking for, and what you’re thinking about getting. Be that cheesy new parent to be, talk about your kid / kids to come. People can be oddly generous when it comes to young kids, and babies.


Are there local freecycle websites / online groups in your area, which you could make requests on?

Government Benefits / Grants

There are a number of benefits and grants that may help:

Sure Start Maternity Grant

Are you eligible for some free money from the government? The Sure Start Maternity Grant is a one-off payment of £500 to help towards the costs of having a child. This is for people expecting their first child, and on certain benefits.

Read the website for more information.

Child Tax Credit.

You could get Child Tax Credit for each child you’re responsible for if they’re either under 16, or under 20 and “in approved education or training”. (I guess this means doing A Levels or something similar).

Read the website for more information.

Healthy Start

With Healthy Start, you get free vouchers every week to spend on milk, plain fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables, and infant formula milk. You can also get free vitamins.

Find out more about Healthy Start.

Married Couples Allowance.

This is something quite new from the government. According to the blurb from Google:

“If your income is £10,600 or less in the 2015 to 2016 tax year, you may be able to reduce your husband, wife or civil partner’s tax by up to £212. The new Marriage Allowance will let you transfer some of your Personal Allowance to your partner. This is the amount of income people can get before paying tax.”

Simply put, this may reduce your wife’s / husbands tax bill by at least a little bit. Read the website for more information.  Not for parents as such, but if you’re married / in a civil partnership then it may be worth a look.

Is there anything you think I should add? Please let me know either by tweet, email, or comment below.

The Dad Network


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Free (ish) Amazon Voucher?

I dont ever share deals or anything here, maybe its something I should do more often? But anyway, here’s one I wanted to share with you, mostly because if you sign up to it, its good for both us.

Top Cashback is a website that lets you get cashback on any online shopping you do. The amount of money you get does vary, but at the end of the day, some money back is better then no money back – right?

The reason why I’m mentioning this?

You sign up to Top Cashback, and start getting money back into your account, when you get £10 cash back, you will also get a free £5 Amazon voucher. (And I’ll get some money chucked my way as well)

Whats the worst that could happen?

Sign up to Top Cashback here.