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Whirli’s Sustainable Playdate Guide for Parents

Hello, Whirli Parents 👋 Are you looking for a way to make your child’s playdates not just fun, but also eco-friendly? You’re in the right place! At Whirli, we believe that playtime is the perfect opportunity to blend enjoyment with environmental consciousness. Let’s walk through some tips for hosting a sustainable playdate that’s sure to be a hit with both kids and parents alike.

Embrace Toy Sharing

Kickstart the playdate with a toy swap. Encourage each child to bring a gently used toy and swap it with their friends. It’s a great way to give toys a new lease of life and keep the kids excited about new play experiences. Plus, it aligns perfectly with Whirli’s ethos of reducing waste by reusing and sharing toys.

Eco-Friendly Snacks and Treats

Playdates and snacks go hand in hand, but this doesn’t have to mean a table full of plastic-wrapped goodies. Opt for homemade snacks or buy in bulk to reduce packaging waste. Fresh fruits, veggie sticks, and homemade cookies are not only healthier but also more eco-friendly. Don’t forget to serve them with reusable plates and cups!

Get Crafty with Recyclable Materials

Craft time can be both creative and sustainable. Set up a craft station using recyclable materials like cardboard tubes, scrap paper, and fabric remnants. It’s a fun way for kids to unleash their creativity while learning about the importance of recycling. You can even theme the crafts around nature or sustainability to spark eco-aware conversations.

Outdoor Adventures

If the weather permits, take the playdate outside. Activities like nature scavenger hunts or planting seedlings in the garden are fantastic ways to teach kids about the environment. It also gives them a much-needed break from screen time and a chance to appreciate the beauty of the natural world.

Educate Through Play

Incorporate games and activities that subtly teach sustainability. For instance, a game of sorting recyclables can be a fun way to learn about waste management. Use this playdate as an opportunity to instill eco-friendly habits in a playful, engaging manner.

Sustainable Party Favors

Instead of the usual plastic toys or goody bags, consider giving out sustainable party favors. Seed packets, DIY craft kits, or small potted plants make for memorable and environmentally friendly gifts.

Digital Invitations

Ditch paper invites for digital ones. There are many creative and fun ways to design digital invitations that add a personal touch without the waste. Plus, it’s easier to manage RSVPs this way!

Fun, Educational, and Green

Hosting a sustainable playdate is about more than just entertainment; it’s an opportunity to teach our children and ourselves about taking care of our planet in the most enjoyable way. With these tips, your next playdate can be a fun, educational, and green event that both kids and parents will love. Happy playing! 🌱🎈🌍

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Toy Rotation Simplified with Whirli: Fostering Development and Reducing Clutter

Incorporating toy rotation into your child’s play routine is a powerful way to foster development and keep your home clutter-free. Whirli’s innovative toy swapping model seamlessly complements this concept, offering an on-demand, hassle-free way for parents to keep their children engaged and learning.

The Benefits of Toy Rotation

1. Consistent Engagement and Learning

Toy rotation keeps playtime fresh and challenging. Regularly introducing new toys helps maintain your child’s interest and caters to their evolving developmental needs. It encourages exploration and learning, as different toys develop various skills, from motor abilities to cognitive processing.

2. Minimised Clutter and Overwhelm

A key benefit of toy rotation is the reduction of clutter. By limiting the number of toys available at any given time, you not only tidy up your space but also create a more focused and enjoyable play environment for your child, free from the overwhelm of too many choices.

3. Cost-Effective and Sustainable

This approach is both economical and environmentally friendly. Instead of constantly buying new toys, you can rotate through a select collection, reducing waste and unnecessary spending.

How Whirli Enhances Toy Rotation

On-Demand Toy Swapping

Whirli’s service aligns perfectly with the principles of toy rotation. It allows parents to swap toys on demand, ensuring that the toys available to their child are always age-appropriate and interesting. This system takes away the need to store a large number of toys, helping to keep your home organised and clutter-free.

Tailored to Developmental Stages

As children grow, their interests and developmental needs change rapidly. Whirli’s diverse range of toys means you can easily select items that match your child’s current stage, ensuring they are constantly learning and developing new skills. This adaptability is crucial for their growth and keeps playtime both educational and fun.

A Sustainable Choice

Choosing Whirli is not just convenient; it’s a commitment to sustainability. By participating in a shared toy economy, you reduce waste and contribute to a more sustainable future. This choice sets an example for your children about the importance of resourcefulness and environmental responsibility.

Toy rotation is a beneficial strategy for your child’s development and your home’s organization. Whirli’s toy swapping model enhances this practice, making it easier for parents to provide their children with the right toys at the right time, while also promoting sustainability. It’s a win-win for both families and the environment.

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Changes to our subscription plans and delivery fees from 4th August 2020

Our mission

Our core mission at Whirli is to support busy parents. For me, this has always meant providing a high level of service that is convenient, flexible, affordable, and also driven by ethical values. These principles run through Whirli today, from how our sharing economy works, to our selection of toys, and even to how we provide customer service and treat all our staff.

More recently, we stood firmly by these values and principles, and served the thousands of families in our community throughout the COVID-19 lockdown from March to July. We heavily subsidised our home collection service at the fraction of cost price, so families could continue to use our service without having to leave their homes. Our staff also navigated the crisis admirably and continued to put our community of parents first, helping all our subscribers through an extremely challenging and difficult time.

It goes without saying that COVID-19 has ravaged many businesses. While we count ourselves as relatively fortunate, we were not unscathed. Whirli is largely a founder-owned small independent business (not backed by corporates or venture capital). As with all small independent businesses across the country, we have had to adapt to huge changes as well as absorb unexpected costs. Whilst this has been possible in the short term, we now need to look ahead and strengthen our community and business so we can thrive in the long term.

Looking ahead

We’re making small changes to our subscription plans and delivery fees to address the long term impact of COVID-19 and ensure our business can be sustainable. These changes have a small impact on individual subscribers. There are no immediate charges levied or changes to the prices for our subscription plans, but standard delivery and return fees are increasing by 50p each (£1 monthly for Delivery Booster).

These small changes will help us materially improve the experience for all subscribers in our community. It will allow us to continue investing and improving our customer experience – better toy availability, a broader range of products, further improvements to the web experience, more varied delivery options, and many more things to come. All while staying true to our mission for all our subscribers and all our staff.

Value for money

We scrutinised our changes and remain confident that Whirli still represents the best value for money, by far, when it comes to children’s toys.

Our data shows that :

Over 6 months, the average subscriber plays with 400-600 Tokens of toys (worth £400-600 RRP), representing 3-5X more than they have paid to Whirli (including all delivery and return fees).

Despite the changes announced today, all our subscribers will still continue to enjoy this unbeatable value where Whirli is always better value for money than shopping for toys, no matter how frequently you swap with us.

Here are the changes to our subscription plans and delivery fees in full detail:

Token allowance changes

There have been no changes to the price that subscribers pay for the plan. However, the maximum Token allowance for each plan has reduced slightly to the following:

Each plan continues to deliver tremendous value for money, allowing subscribers to play with toys equivalent to at least 8 times the monthly plan cost at any time. There is no need for subscribers to return any toys immediately, these changes only take effect in your next swap. There are also no changes to Swifter Swaps, so customers can continue to enjoy receiving their latest orders before returning toys and be in a period of ‘overdraft’ with toys exceeding their plan’s token allowance.

We are also now able to craft bespoke plans beyond 240 Tokens. If you need more than 240 Tokens, please do get in touch and we will be able to cater for you.

‘Keep a toy’ changes

In buying a toy to keep, we consider the amount of time you’ve borrowed the toy to ensure you never pay more than retail price.

A toy never swapped

In line with the changes to our subscription plans, you can now keep a toy forever, at no extra cost, if you have had the toy for 8 months (vs 9 months previously).

Buy a toy

When buying a toy from your toy box, we will now calculate the residual value based on 243 days (8 months) rather than 274 days (9 months).

This therefore makes it cheaper to buy a toy to keep, and is a pricing improvement for all subscribers.

Pay monthly ‘Intro period’

For new customers only

For new pay monthly subscribers only, we are increasing our introductory period from 2 months to 3 months in line with many other subscription companies. This means that you will only unlock your full Token allowance after 3 months of being with Whirli.

In token terms here’s how it plays out:

No changes for existing customers in their introductory period

This introductory period change only affects new pay monthly subscribers. All existing subscribers who are still in their 2 month introductory period are unaffected and will get all their plan’s tokens available upon completing their 2 month introductory period.

Delivery fee changes

We’ve made some changes in line with price increases received from our delivery partners.

All changes are highlighted in yellow. Our Standard Delivery and Standard Return fees have increased by 50p each, and Home Collection has increased by £1.50 (this continues to be a subsidised service priced well below market rate).

Delivery Booster has correspondingly increased by £1 per month. There have been no immediate charges, the new pricing for Delivery Booster only takes place on the next renewal of your subscription plan.

Changes to our Subscription and Gifting Terms and Conditions

We’ve made changes to the formal terms and conditions for subscriptions and gifting. These were to correspond to the changes listed above, as well and capturing new features that we’ve built since we launched Whirli in 2018.

Have any questions?

As ever, please contact us if you have any questions about any of these changes or if you need any help getting the best value possible out of your Whirli subscription. We’re always here to help.

Thank you for all the positive encouragements and continued support.

Best wishes,
Nigel Phan
Founder and Managing Director

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COVID-19: Whirli is operating at normal service levels

This is an update to my previous post at the start of the COVID lockdown which said that Whirli was operating on reduced service levels. Read here.

It is bittersweet to celebrate our country getting over the peak of the health crisis and further easing of restrictions on the 4th of July. The past few months have had a heavy toll on the nation, with tragic losses of life and devastating economic impact, and the next few months (or years) still look extremely uncertain.

Yet, I wanted to take this moment to thank all our subscribers, our partners, and our staff. Service levels have now returned to normal – that means orders are dispatched within a day, returns are processed within a day, Live Chat is back, and other customer service enquires are dealt with within a day.

Please note, we will still be conservative on estimated delivery dates as we recognise that couriers might still be experiencing occasional delays in certain areas. We thus expect subscribers to typically receive their parcels ahead of the estimated delivery date provided on checkout.

Thank you

Firstly, a massive ‘thank you’ to all our subscribers for your patience over the last few months. As a business we faced huge challenges. Our suppliers were operating with reduced capacity, some had closed temporarily, and unfortunately some also closed permanently. The delivery companies operated with unprecedented levels of demand, despite seeing higher levels of staff sickness. And we too, experienced higher than normal staff absences combined with higher rates of orders and customer enquiries.

As a result, we were unable to operate to our usually high standard at all times and we did not always get everything right but having such a wonderful subscriber base and community has made all the difference for us.

Thank you for sending in notes of gratitude, for the encouragements, and the occasional chocolate and sweet delights. Thank you for being so understanding and patient with us, as orders took longer than usual to reach you or we took longer to respond to your service enquiries.

Proud moments

That said, the last few weeks have given us a lot to be proud of as an organisation and community:

  • Due to increased demand for our service, we delivered and processed over 50% more orders and returns than we usually do – helping all our subscribers access and share toys to entertain and educate their children.
  • We achieved this without compromising our staff’s well-being; ensuring full sick pay, safe distance working in the warehouse, and adequate supplies of protective clothing and disinfectant. We also hired where we could to help those who are looking for jobs in this climate.
  • We worked closely with suppliers to reduce any impact of supply disruption, and were also mindful and supportive to their own business and personal challenges.
  • We on-boarded new educational brands like Learning Resources and BrainBox.
  • We worked with our courier partners to ensure their staff’s safety and minimise delivery delays.
  • We kept our home collection fees low, far below market rate, so that subscribers could take advantage of this option whilst they stayed safe at home.
  • We also introduced label-less home collections (no need for printing!) to make returns even more convenient.

A small but mighty business

We may be a small business but we have overcome some huge challenges. Underneath these broad accomplishments are many stories of individual achievements with colleagues going above and beyond. It’s been extremely inspiring to observe and I’d like to emphasise 2 points to my colleagues and our subscribers:

  1. Our values only matter when we adhere to them at moments of maximum risk – it is times like these, when we stand by our principles and ways of working in the face of unprecedented challenges, that really demonstrate who we are as an organisation and what we stand for.
  2. It’s important to start like how we mean to go on – we are a small and young company with only 24 staff in total, with not much by way of vast resources or a network that larger companies can draw from and rely upon. I hope that Whirli continues to grow to a significant venture, and I hope that we never see an event like this again in our lifetimes – but if we do, we must not forget what we managed to achieve together, when we were small and had so little.

Continuing to strengthen our business

As we move forward there is a lot to be excited about. In a few weeks, we’ll be relaunching our website – this will provide a significantly improved experience, with faster page load speeds, better navigation, and better native experience on mobile phones. Shortly after, we’ll be working on new features to help customers reserve out of stock toys, and also re-engage with new suppliers to add new toys to our range. We will continue our investments in improving the service offering and the Whirli experience for all our subscribers.

We also cannot be complacent. Our service and operations need to evolve and adapt alongside the changing consumer behaviour and economic outlook, thereby ensuring we can continue to serve subscribers in a sustainable manner. We will soon announce a few small changes to help make our business stronger, more efficient and more sustainable. This includes tackling an increase in subscribers who have a token ‘overdraft’, and our heavily subsidised delivery and collection costs. These are small changes for individual subscribers, but make a big difference overall to our sharing economy community and every subscriber’s experience. I hope that you will all be there to continue supporting us to the full, as we have been here in the last few months to support you.

As usual, we are always available to speak with you regarding any questions, concerns, or help you might need. Get in touch with my team here, and as usual if you want to speak to me directly you can always ask my team to pass you on to me.

Best wishes,
Nigel Phan
Founder and Managing Director

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COVID-19: Whirli is operating as usual

These are extremely difficult and unprecedented times. First and foremost, our thoughts are with all families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope all of you and your loved ones stay healthy and well throughout the challenging months ahead.

At Whirli, we have been weighing up how best to balance our responsibilities to our staff and their families, to our subscribers and their families, and also to the general public’s health and well-being. We recognise the mental and financial strain extended periods of home isolation and school closures will put on parents, and Whirli’s potential role in helping alleviate these concerns.

We’ve taken the decision to keep ourselves operational and to continue providing our services for families, albeit with strong precautions in place.

Warehouse operating with occasional reduced capacity

All office-based staff will work remotely for the foreseeable future. Only myself and a bare bones crew of essential staff will operate our warehouse and fulfilment operations. In this critical period, I am personally supervising our in-person operations to ensure we are not putting our staff, customers, or the public at risk.

We are guaranteeing full pay to any staff who need to self-isolate due to symptoms of illnesses, however minor or whether it is directly related to COVID-19. This is to ensure all our staff make the right decision to help prevent the spread of illness, and to support them through a challenging economic outlook.

Consequently, when the infection peaks in the UK, we are likely to have reduced capacity in our operations and in our courier networks. This might mean that your orders and returns take slightly longer than usual, or that we’re slightly slower than usual to respond to you. I kindly ask for your patience and to reassure you that we are doing everything we can to maintain our high service levels.

Toy sterilisation

When COVID-19 first surfaced months ago, we immediately took steps to assess the risks and prepare ourselves. As you know, all toys have always undergone a stringent cleaning and sterilising process at Whirli before we send it on to another family to enjoy. This process varies depending on the type of toy, but always includes sterilisation either through high temperatures (e.g., plush toys in the wash) or sterilising fluids and wipes. For example, we use commercial Milton sterilising fluid which kills 99.9% of germs including the Coronavirus and is safe to use on children’s toys (Milton is regularly used in hospitals and maternity wards).

We are ensuring our warehouse is kept a clean zone, with no sick staff present and regular cleaning is undertaken. We are also enforcing regular hand washing, use of masks and gloves to reduce any contamination risk.

Imported goods

We assessed the risks of imported goods carrying the virus and general transmission probabilities through goods in the post. Broadly, whilst it appears that transmission is possible through contaminated surfaces, the early indication is that the virus does not survive on surfaces for very long periods. The primary source of infections have appeared to be through direct exposure to an infected person, and not through goods received from online shopping or from other countries.

Nonetheless, we have taken additional precautions to enhance our processes and all toys, whether they have just been unboxed from the manufacturer or have been returned by another customer, are thoroughly sterilised before they are sent out again.

To-door deliveries and home collection services

Price freeze

We will continue to offer our door delivery service, postal service and a courier collection service from your home at the normal rates. We will honour these prices as we have never believed in profiting from them. As a reminder, here is what we will continue to offer:

Transparently, we do not apply a mark-up to our pay-as-you-go rates. We are charged the same rate by Royal Mail and Parcelforce.

We also offer a Delivery Booster package and home collection service to our customers at below market rate, upon which we incur a loss.

Home collection

We will continue to price our collection service at below market rate. For any customers wishing to self-isolate we encourage you to use this great service carried out by DPD.

Lastly, for any customers who are worried about general goods being delivered to your home, please get in touch. We will be more than happy to share tips on sterilising and cleaning different types of products and surfaces.

New in-home toys

In light of the recent recommendations to stay at home, we have switched our attention to purchasing more in-home toys and games that will keep families occupied. This includes buying more:

  • Indoor toys and Pretend Play
  • Family / Board games
  • STEM / Educational toys

As always, please send through your recommendations and we will do our best to get hold of them for you.

Our community

In these worrying times it may also be comforting to reach out to our community on Instagram and Facebook and share what you have been doing at home. We will also keep you updated by email, Insta and Facebook and send through play ideas, educational tips and cleaning techniques to keep you busy and safe.

As usual, we are always available to speak with you regarding any questions, concerns, or help you might need. Get in touch with my team here, and if you want to speak to me directly you can always ask my team to pass you on to me.

Best Wishes,
Nigel Phan
Founder & Managing Director

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How’s the January toy explosion going?

Were your kids gifted lots of toys at Christmas? How’s the house looking now? Messy? We hear you. It’s one of the reasons we created Whirli.

We spoke to lots of parents and one theme really stood out. Their children get gifted a LOT of toys at Christmas. Big ones, ones with lots of pieces, some they’re likely never to play with. Or play with just once. They’re gifted out of love and are greatly received, so you don’t want to tell friends and family not to bother. But, come January, it’s clear that some simply weren’t value for money. They take up space in your house, yet they’re not played with.

What’s the issue?

So when we created Whirli, we knew we needed to offer a gifting solution. A way in which friends and family can participate in toy swapping. We started by listing common stories:

  • kids like unwrapping! They don’t always appreciate a voucher.
  • sometimes kids receive duplicate or inappropriate gifts
  • parents can’t always predict what their kids will like or discard
  • parents wish they could spread these gifts across the year

Whirli Gifting Features

We then started feature building! The must-haves were to offer:

  • physical toys that can be gifted alongside a voucher
  • gifts that can be turned into Whirli credit and fund a subscription
  • gifts that can be swapped
  • a gift list that can be shared with friends and family

So when you think of your Whirli subscription, think how it can benefit your lifestyle across the year. How you can include friends and family, how you can cut down on waste and get the best value for money.

Next year when we ask “How’s January going?” hopefully your response will be “much better thanks!”

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Gifts that fund your Whirli subscription

Spot the difference

One gift is bought from the high street.

The other is a Whirli gift, which can be turned into £11 Whirli credit.

Why buy brand new, when you can ask friends and family to buy your children a gift through Whirli, and fund your subscription?

Whirli Gift Lists

This week we launched Gift Lists. Lists created by you and shared with friends and family. You don’t even need be a Whirli subscriber to create a gift list, you just need an account.

Friends and family can buy a toy from your list, and when your child receives the toy, it comes with a code. You can then redeem that code on the Whirli website and turn it into Whirli credit.

For example:

A £10 toy = £10 Whirli credit = one month on Toy Sack

10 x £10 toys = £100 Whirli credit = Toy Sack yearly plan.

Why buy brand new when you can get better value through Whirli?

How do I add toys to my gift list?

Log in to your account (you simply need a Whirli account, you do not need to be a subscriber)

Click on the yellow heart, next to a toy.

If on a mobile device, you’ll be offered the choice to ‘Add to Another List’ at the bottom of the screen.

You can then select which list you would like to include or exclude this toy from.

How do I view my Gift List?

To view your gift list, select ‘Favourites’ from the menu at the top of the website. You will see 2 lists, ‘Favourite Toys’ and ‘Gift List’.

How do I share my gift list?

At the top of your gift list you will see a share button which will allow you to send to your friends and family using your preferred messaging app.

What happens if a friend buys a toy from my list?

The list will update for everyone, so you don’t receive duplicate gifts.

Can my child keep the toy?

Yes. Every toy bought through your gift list comes with a code. If you redeem the code on the Whirli website, it is turned into credit and will become part of your Whirli subscription.

If you don’t redeem the code, the toy is effectively yours to keep, forever.

How do I turn my gifted toy into Whirli credit?

Each gift order comes with a code. If you redeem that code, the toy will be turned into Whirli credit and added to your account. To redeem your code, just visit our website https://whirli.com/gift and tap on ‘Redeem Gift’.

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Toy Story 4: Movie review and everything you need to know before heading to the cinemas

Thinking about whether to catch Toy Story 4 at the cinemas? You absolutely should! Toy Story 4 was just released in cinemas on Friday 21st June 2019, and my partner and I made plans to catch it on a Saturday night screening the following day. We thoroughly enjoyed it!

We chose a late screening for 10pm at our local cinema as it was easier to get tickets. For a late screening of a family oriented film, I thought we might even have the theatre to ourselves! I really enjoy movie trailers, so we took our seats early as usual. By the time the movie actually got going at half past, the theatre was half full – pretty decent for our local cinema mind you – and impressively most of the audience were groups or couples of young adults with no children.

Such is the power of the Toy Story franchise that first gripped myself and many others over two decades ago. Such is the power of Disney Pixar’s reputation where family friendly films are not just for the children!

Check out our favourite toys from the movie here or see all our Toy Story 4 toys. These toys are perfect for getting kids fired up for a day at the cinema, or to stir their imagination and recreate the scenes once they come home.

What do I need to know before going to see Toy Story 4?

Not much to be honest. The original Toy Story was released in 1995, and the previous instalment Toy Story 3 released in 2010. Franchises that span multiple decades always risk alienating new audiences or not paying enough homage to the fans.

In Toy Story 4, Disney Pixar managed to balance this really well. Familiar faces return with the core posse of toys in their supporting minor roles (Hamm and Rex were two of my favourites and I always crack up at their lines). It is worth remembering that in Toy Story 3, Woody and the entire group of toys have been unloved by Andy. As Andy moves for college, he gives his toys to a little young girl, Bonnie, to play with.

We’re introduced to new characters including:

  • Forky – a spork that comes to life when he is created to be a toy using strings for arms, sticks for feet, and googly eyes (voiced by Tony Hale)
  • Gabby Gabby – a doll our group encounters on their adventures (voiced by Christina Hendricks)
  • Ducky and Bunny – inseparable plush toys that bring family friendly dark comedy (voiced by comedic duo Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele)
  • Duke Caboom – a motorbike stuntman action figure (voiced by reddit’s favourite person right now, Keanu Reeves)

Lastly, Bo Peep plays a central role in this film after not appearing at all in Toy Story 3. Bo Peep belonged to Andy’s sister, and previously it was mentioned that she was given away to other children to play with.

What should I expect for Toy Story 4?

I had high expectations going in. Toy Story 4 is scoring an astounding 98% critic approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 95% audience score. For it’s first weekend, the film grossed over $238 million world wide – and somehow this was still short of analyst’s expectations.

There’s always a risk going into a cinema with such high expectations. I couldn’t put it better than the critic consensus from Rotten Tomatoes so I’ll just leave it here:

“Heartwarming, funny, and beautifully animated, Toy Story 4 manages the unlikely feat of extending – and perhaps concluding – a practically perfect animated saga.” — Rotten Tomatoes, Toy Story 4

What did I think of the movie? My review of Toy Story 4

I loved it. It has everything you want – humour, strong characters, teary moments, and even the occasional suspense and thrill (that caused my partner to startle once or twice).

Toy Story 4 extends the core premise of the franchise as well as explore new and modern themes. Much like Inside Out (one of my all time Pixar favourites), the themes explored in this movie appeal at different depths to all ages. For children, the complexity of Toy Story 4’s character arcs will also teach about emotions and empathy.

Bo Beep is a stand-out character for me and it is great to see her take a leading role in the film. Likewise with newcomer Gabby Gabby whose arc develops and concludes majestically in the film. It’s fantastic to see two leading female figures in this Toy Story film, as the franchise that can otherwise be dominated by leading males Woody and Buzz.

Forky provides a light-hearted, more silly and slightly slapstick character younger children will adore. Yet his existential crisis about being ‘trash’, not a ‘toy’, and how he develops from the infancy of his sentience to his persona at the end, is complex and mature.

Toy Story 4 is a wonderful film. It’s overarching plot is a relatively simple frame against which many different character arcs blossom and conclude. The movie is well paced and entertaining. It’s hard to find any fault with it!

Are there post credits scenes?

I’m a big fan of Marvel films and always stay back for the post credit scenes. With Toy Story 4, there are a few mid-credits scenes and a final post credit scenes. None of them reveal any important plot points or hint at what future movies (if any) might look like.

The mid-credits scenes are pretty hilarious and certainly worth the few minute wait. Besides, I much prefer to hang about and not rush out in a human stampede. The end credits scene gives a light chuckle, but I wouldn’t wait unless you’re a huge Pixar fan.

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Toy Story 4: Our five favourite toys from the new movie

Just under a month more to go until Toy Story 4 hits UK cinemas on 21st June 2019. It’ll mark nearly 25 years on since the original Toy Story movie released in 1995!

I absolutely adore the Toy Story franchise. In fact, one of my favourite toys when I was younger was a Buzz Lightyear Action Figure. Complete with a full range of motion, wings that pop out, a laser pointer, and his catchphrase “To infinity… and beyond!”, this toy really captivated my imagination and went everywhere with me.

As the franchise grew over the next decades, so did my appreciation for it’s core premise. Disney Pixar have consistently delivered high quality entertainment, perfectly balancing humour (for both kids and parents), emotional moments, and meaningful messages. Toy Story’s core premise focuses on a lovable set of toys who find themselves, or rather feel themselves, getting unloved and neglected by the kid who owns them, Andy. It’s no surprise that these stories have in part inspired what we do at Whirli.

Quick Preview of Toy Story 4

The fourth installment of this franchise continues where we left off in Toy Story 3 with the toys having been given from Andy to Bonnie. Some years later, Bonnie creates a new toy in arts and crafts, named Forky. Forky suffers from a constant existential crisis about being a toy, and the rest of the toys rally together to help Forky and save him when he gets separated from Bonnie on a road trip.

With this premise, Disney Pixar have set the stage up for tonnes of nostalgia mixed in with a very modern twist, and fun new characters. This movie is sure to delight fans of the previous films and create new following amongst younger children today. Great day out for the whole family!

If you haven’t already, check out the official trailer for Toy Story 4:

Disney Pixar – Toy Story 4 Final Trailer

Whirli’s Picks: Best Toys from Toy Story 4 movie

We were so thrilled when we received our first batch of Toy Story 4 toys a few weeks ago. Mattel have done an outstanding job with the range – as usual their dolls and action figures are top notch, and their bigger play sets would delight any kid.

Here are our top 5 toys from the Toy Story 4 movie:

1. Ultimate Walking Buzz Lightyear (35 Tokens)

Photo of Toy Story Ultimate Walking Buzz Lightyear Toy
Photo of Toy Story Ultimate Walking Buzz Lightyear Toy

Oh the memories! This Buzz Lightyear action figure is everything I remembered it to be, and then some. On top of the standard fare Buzz motions, pop out wings, and laser – Ultimate Walking Buzz Lightyear can also activate to walk forwards, backwards, and swivel (and there is a secretive Easter egg to make Buzz moonwalk!).

2. Carnival Spiral Speedway (40 Tokens)

Photo of Toy Story Carnival Spiral Speedway Toy
Photo of Toy Story Carnival Spiral Speedway Toy

This toy was so popular that we went out of stock less than 24 hours after uploading it onto our website. So we got some more! Taking inspiration from the carnival scene, kids will really enjoy setting cars racing down the spiral track. We can see why this was so popular!

3. Fisher Price Little People 7-Figure Pack (20 Tokens)

Photo of Toy Story Fisher Price Little People 7-Figure Pack Toy
Photo of Toy Story Fisher Price Little People 7-Figure Pack Toy

If your kids like to recreate scenes using a variety of figures then this is the perfect pack for you. Kids can let their imaginations run wild and play with 7 of the key characters from Toy Story 4. Mattel has co-branded this set under their Fisher Price Little People range as the figures are perfectly sized for toddlers, and age appropriate from 1 year+. That gets a big thumbs up from us at Whirli.

4. True Talkers Rex Figure (18 Tokens)

Photo of Toy Story True Talkers Rex Figure
Photo of Toy Story True Talkers Rex Figure

If the standard iconic and realistic figures aren’t enough to hold attentions, then try the True Talkers range of figures. Fully posable with many articulations, the True Talkers range adds many realistic voice phrases from each character. Rex is one of my favourite characters, as I just love his comedic relief moments in the films!

5. Alienizer Voice Changer (16 Tokens)

Photo of Toy Story Alienizer Voice Changer Toy
Photo of Toy Story Alienizer Voice Changer Toy

Not going to lie… we had A LOT of fun with this at the office. The Aliens are probably the most adorable and cute characters in the franchise, with such an iconic scene in the original movie (“the claawww….!”). Get one and have hours of fun at home, or get a couple and try to have a business meeting in alien voice. Trust us on that one.

The Whirli Approach to Sustainable Play: A Deep Dive

Welcome to the world of Whirli, where playtime isn’t just about fun and games—it’s about shaping a sustainable future. In today’s blog, we’re taking a deep dive into our approach to sustainable play. It’s a story of how we’re turning the joy of childhood into a force for positive change, one toy at a time.

Our Mission: Sustainable Fun for Every Child

At Whirli, we believe that the choices we make for our children today can have a profound impact on the world they inherit tomorrow. Our mission is to offer an alternative to the traditional ‘buy-use-dispose’ cycle that dominates toy consumption. By choosing Whirli, families are not only getting access to a world of fun but also contributing to a more sustainable planet.

The Circular Toy Economy

Central to our approach is the circular toy economy. This means that instead of toys being discarded after a short period of use, they are continuously circulated among families. When your child outgrows a toy, or simply wants to try something new, it can be swapped for another, keeping the cycle going. This not only reduces waste but also conserves resources and minimises our collective carbon footprint.

Quality Over Quantity

We handpick toys that are not just entertaining but also durable and well-made. Quality is key in sustainable play. By selecting toys that last longer, we reduce the need for constant replacements, thereby reducing waste. It’s about investing in toys that can stand the test of time and play.

Building a Community of Conscious Consumers

Whirli is more than a service; it’s a community. By joining Whirli, families become part of a movement towards more responsible consumption. It’s a space where we can share ideas, learn from each other, and collectively make choices that are better for the environment.

Join Us on This Journey

The Whirli approach to sustainable play is about creating a world where the joy of childhood and the health of our planet go hand in hand. It’s a journey we are proud to be on, and we invite you and your family to join us. Together, we can make playtime a time for positive change. Let’s create a future where every child can play, learn, and grow in a world that’s greener and brighter for all. 🌍🧸💚

Circular Play: Nurturing Minds at Every Stage with Whirli

Have you ever thought about how the toys your child plays with can shape their learning and development? That’s where the magic of circular play comes in, and it’s something we’re passionate about at Whirli. It’s not just about having a continuous stream of toys, but about providing the right toys at the right time for your child’s ever-evolving needs. Let’s dive into the educational and developmental wonders of circular play.

Tailored Learning with Every Swap

As parents, we all know that children grow and change incredibly fast. What captivates them one month might be old news the next. Circular play is the perfect answer to this rapid development. By regularly swapping toys, we can ensure that our little ones always have access to toys that match their current age and stage of development. This means they’re consistently challenged, engaged, and learning at their pace.

Keeping Curiosity Alive

One of the best gifts we can give our children is the joy of learning, and nothing keeps curiosity alive like the thrill of new play experiences. With circular play, the arrival of a new toy is an opportunity for discovery and exploration. It keeps their minds active and engaged, as they encounter fresh concepts, stories, and puzzles. This constant exposure to new ideas helps foster a love for learning that goes far beyond playtime.

Development Through Variety

Different toys offer different learning opportunities. A puzzle can enhance problem-solving skills, while building blocks can improve spatial awareness and fine motor skills. By rotating toys, we provide our children with a rich variety of developmental experiences. The diversity in play helps them develop a well-rounded skill set, from cognitive and motor skills to emotional and social intelligence.

Sustainable Learning

Circular play is also a lesson in sustainability. It teaches children that enjoyment doesn’t always come from owning new things. By participating in a shared economy of toys, they learn the value of resources and become more environmentally conscious. This early understanding of sustainability is crucial for their development as responsible individuals.

Adapting to Change

In a world that’s always changing, adaptability is key. Circular play naturally teaches children to adapt. They learn to look forward to change and embrace it. This adaptability is a skill that will serve them well throughout their lives, making them more resilient and open to new experiences.

Growing with Whirli

At Whirli, we believe that play is an essential part of learning and development. Circular play offers a dynamic and sustainable way to keep up with your child’s growth, fueling their curiosity and development at every stage. It’s more than just play; it’s a journey of continuous learning, discovery, and growth. Let’s embrace this journey together, ensuring our children have the tools they need to thrive in every new adventure life brings. 🌟🧸📚

Explore The World of Whirli Today!

4 Whirli Ways to Make 2024 Your Most Sustainable Year Yet!

Ready to make 2024 a year to remember for all the right reasons? We’re talking about stepping up our game in sustainable living, and we’ve got some super cool (and easy) ways to do just that, all with a little help from your friends at Whirli. Let’s dive in!

Swap, Don’t Shop: The Whirli Way of Life 🔄

We’re big believers in the power of swapping – it’s at the heart of what we do here at Whirli. But it’s more than just a way to keep your kiddos entertained with a never-ending supply of toys. It’s a movement! By choosing to swap instead of buy, you’re making a statement. You’re saying no to the cycle of endless consumption and yes to a world where things get a second, third, or even fourth life. It’s about reducing waste, sure, but it’s also about creating a community that values sustainability as much as fun and play. So every time you swap a toy, give yourself a little pat on the back – you’re making a difference!

Conscious Consumerism: More Than Just a Purchase 🌱

When you do need to buy something new, make it count. It’s all about being a conscious consumer. We handpick our toys with two things in mind: fun and the planet. But this extends beyond toys. Whether it’s clothes, food, or everyday items, look for brands and products that align with your values. Support businesses that are transparent about their sustainability efforts and are doing their bit to reduce their environmental footprint. Every purchase is a vote for the kind of world you want to live in, so let’s make those votes count for something good.

Join the Green Community Movement 🌍

Sustainability is not a solo journey; it’s a community effort. And the Whirli community is filled with like-minded people who are all about making sustainable choices. Join local eco-friendly initiatives, share your experiences, and spread the word. Let’s create a ripple effect of positive change. And remember, every small action, every shared tip, and every eco-friendly choice adds up to make a big difference.

Green Celebrations: Party with a Purpose 🎉

Who says sustainability can’t be fun? Next time you throw a party, think green. Use our toys to create eco-friendly party games, opt for reusable or biodegradable partyware, and avoid single-use plastics. Show your friends and family how sustainability can be integrated into every aspect of life, including celebrations. It’s a fantastic way to spread awareness and inspire others to join the sustainable living bandwagon.

As we step into 2024, let’s embrace it as a year of meaningful change and personal growth. This is more than just a New Year’s resolution; it’s a commitment to a sustainable future, both for ourselves and for our planet. At Whirli, we’re here to support and encourage you on this journey. Through smarter choices like swapping over shopping, educating our children through thoughtful play, and fostering a community spirit, we can all contribute to a healthier world. 

Let’s make 2024 a year where our resolutions are not just promises we make to ourselves, but actions that positively impact the world around us. Here’s to 2024 where every small step we take collectively leads to a significant leap towards sustainability. 🌱🌍

Whirli’s Top 10 Toys for a Sustainable Christmas!

As the festive season draws near, Whirli warmly invites you to a world where thoughtful gifting meets sustainability. Our carefully curated top 10 toys for this Christmas are more than mere playthings; they symbolise the joy of giving and our commitment to choice. These hand picked selections reflect our ethos of sustainable gifting, ensuring each toy delivers enduring happiness to your children.

This year, our range includes the latest must-haves and timeless classics, thoughtfully chosen to captivate and inspire your little ones. Discover our top selections:

Educational Box (0-6 months): Revolutionising early development, Tooky Toy Educational Boxes, complemented by exclusive Twinkl play guides, grow with your child up to 3 years. Borrow, play, and swap as your child progresses – a smart, sustainable approach to developmental play.
Explore Here

Tonie Box: An ingenious device to nurture imagination and speech development, perfect for reducing screen time. Our Toy Library boasts a vast collection of Tonies, including festive favourites for an enchanting Christmas.
Discover the Magic

Micro Mini Micro Eco Scooter – Green: Encourage active play with these eco-friendly scooters made from reclaimed ocean fishing nets. Durable, high-quality, and ideal for swapping, they’re a perfect match for eco-conscious families.
See the Scooter

Bitzee Interactive Digital Pet: A palm-sized virtual companion that’s topping the must-have lists. It’s perfect for nurturing empathy, and with Whirli, you have the flexibility to swap if your child’s interests change.
Meet Bitzee

Fisher-Price Zebra Walker: A Whirli classic that’s ideal for a brief yet crucial stage in your child’s development. Popular, affordable, and perfect for swapping once its job is done.
Get Walking

Smart Games Safari Park Jr: Engage toddlers with this 2-in-1 puzzle and play set, fostering imagination while introducing concepts of shape, direction, and positioning.
Explore Safari Park Jr

Green Toys Recycling Truck: Teach your eco-conscious young ones about recycling with this non-toxic toy made from recycled plastics. It’s a fun, practical way to introduce environmental responsibility.
Recycle with Fun

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie Pizzafire Van: A dose of nostalgia blended with modern play, this toy is a family favourite, bringing action-packed fun to the festive season.
Join the Turtles

Baby’s First Birthday Band: From Halilit comes a high-quality, safe musical instrument set, perfect for introducing the joys of music to your little one.
Make Music

Barbie Career Dolls: Inspire imaginative play and career exploration with this diverse collection of Barbie dolls, ideal for fostering creativity and ambition.
Inspire with Barbie

Celebrating a Season of Endless Play:
At Whirli, we champion the power of play to inspire, educate, and evolve. Our top toy selections extend beyond the ordinary, sparking creativity and learning while adapting to your child’s growth. Through our unique swap system, we ensure that each toy enjoys a prolonged life, contributing to a more sustainable future.

This Christmas, let Whirli guide your gifting with toys that continue to surprise and delight, long after the festive lights dim. Explore our top selections and our extensive range of over 1000 toys from leading brands, and embark on a journey of joy and discovery with Whirli. With our innovative swap system, this Christmas marks the beginning of an enduring adventure in play.

Discover Endless Joy and Exploration

The Art of Sustainable Gifting.

As we navigate through our daily lives, we’re witnessing a subtle transformation—the rise of mindful, sustainable gifting. This isn’t a trend but a shift in how we celebrate life’s special events. It’s about choosing with care and celebrating with intention.

Sustainable Gifting at Whirli

Sustainable Gifting: An Answer to Excess

Today, the true meaning of giving can get lost in shopping and spending. Sustainable gifting changes this by focusing on gifts that last and respect our earth’s limits. We choose gifts that last longer and mean more, helping us move away from just buying and throwing away. This kind of gifting fits with a kinder way of living, showing that our choices matter for the planet.

Dual Rewards: Joy for Kids, Relief for Nature

Toys are a great example of where sustainable gifting can make a big difference. Regular toys might only be used for a short time before they’re thrown away. But through innovative approaches like toy library subscriptions and swap initiatives, we get a beautiful result. Kids get the thrill of new toys without getting bored, and the environment gets a break from constant waste. This approach isn’t just good for the planet; it teaches kids about sharing and caring for our world.

Sustainable Gifts for Christmas

Whirli: A Pioneer in Purposeful Play

Whirli goes beyond usual toy subscriptions, leading the way in mindful gifting. Our borrow-and-return method means toys last longer, spread happiness among more families, and reduce waste.

Extending the Sustainable Mindset

The idea of mindful gifting goes past toys, touching every kind of celebration—from presents for the holidays to the way we wrap gifts. It’s all about giving in a way that the people we care about will love and that also treats our planet gently.

Embracing the Sustainable Gifting Movement

  • Conscious Research: Look into companies and how serious they are about being sustainable before you buy.
  • Enduring Selections: Pick gifts that are made to last.
  • Championing Eco-friendly Brands: When you choose a company like Whirli, you support a better, greener future.

The Future of Gifting

Choosing sustainable gifts is more than just a decision; it’s about caring for our shared future. It’s about giving joy to people we love while protecting the beauty and life of our planet. Looking forward to holidays and celebrations, let’s commit to this thoughtful way of giving gifts, creating a tradition of love, care, and hope.

Discover the wonders of sustainable gifting with our diverse range of eco-friendly toys and baby products. Explore our toys and baby rentals to find the perfect gift that keeps on giving, both to your loved ones and to the world they inherit. Or dive deeper into our philosophy and see how Whirli works here, joining us on a journey towards a more sustainable, joyful future.

Growing up with Whirli: the best toys for 0-3 years

Our guest contributor Alice shares what it’s like to grow up with Whirli, and the best toys for 0-3 years.

My name is Alice and I am the co-founder of MySunshine, a private and secure photo-sharing app for families. I have a son called Leo who has recently turned three years old. We have been using Whirli for over two years and have captured countless memories of Leo enjoying different toys during that time.

Here are some of our highlights growing up with Whirli, plus our favourite toys for 0-3 years.

Growing up with Whirli in the MySunshine app
Growing up with Whirli in the MySunshine App

How we use Whirli

According to my Whirli account, Leo has played with 56 different toys for 0-3 years, which would have cost me £993 if I had bought them at retail price!

I have personally found Whirli invaluable. I usually do a toy swap roughly every two months, but during the COVID-19 lockdowns it was monthly, due to spending more time at home. I try to organise a swap just before his birthday and before Christmas, so I can wrap them up for him to open on the day. 

Whirli toys for 0-3 years

Our favourite Whirli toys for 0-3 years

As Leo grows, he continues to have access to an endless number of toys to play with and swap through Whirli. Below are some of Leo’s favourite toys for 0-3 years, which he has played with as he has grown up with Whirli.

Baby (0-12 months)

Fisher Price Zebra Walker (26 tokens)

I wanted to get Leo a walker to help him develop his walking. However, I knew once he had started walking he would no longer use the walker. This is what made me start searching for a toy library, and I came across Whirli. So Leo’s very first Whirli toy was the Fisher Price Zebra Walker. I remember watching Leo take his first steps with this walker – it was one of the most iconic and joyful moments to watch!

One of the best parts of Whirli is that the toys come ready to play with, i.e. batteries included. There is no stressful search trying to find the right batteries whilst Leo is eager to play with the toy. So Leo was able to start using the walker immediately and interacting with all of its sounds and lights. 

Fisher Price Smart Stages Puppy  (16 tokens)

One of Leo’s earliest toys from Whirli was the Fisher Price Smart Stages Puppy. He was fascinated watching the way the teddy moved and lit up different colours. He soon understood the concept of having to push the buttons to get the teddy to move or sing. 

Toddler (1-2 years)

Melissa & Doug Jungle Activity Table (40 tokens) 

I liked the look of this Activity Table since I knew all of the different activities would help Leo with his hand-eye coordination, as well as keep him entertained. It was the right height for Leo to sit at and put his legs underneath it comfortably. He would crawl around to the other side to try the activities on the other side. It is nice that there is a jungle theme and all of the activities are intertwined with this theme. This is one of those toys that I wouldn’t have purchased because it would have taken up too much space. However, being able to borrow the table and send it back once he had enough of it was perfect. 

Little Tikes Tap A Tune Drum (13 tokens)

This was one of the noisier toys we borrowed! Leo loved being able to tap out a tune on this drum. It has a loud, booming noise which he enjoyed making. We used to do parades around the house with him leading the way with his drum! 

VTech Toot-Toot Drivers Garage Playset (47 tokens)

Leo has a growing selection of cars to play with so I thought this garage would be a great addition to it. We have a few of the VTech vehicles which interact with this garage. We line this up with his village driving mat so he takes the cars for a drive around the village and then parks them in the garage. He finds the lift element of this garage and the sliding ramp to get down the most enjoyable parts. This is a toy I wouldn’t have personally purchased due to its size, therefore it is great to know we can send it back once he has lost interest in it. 

Toddler (2-3 years)

Magformers My First Magformers 30 Piece Set (34 tokens)

I think I enjoyed playing with these Magformers as much as Leo did! There was something very therapeutic about making different shapes with them. They were a great toy to have for travelling since they were easy to pack and have in the car. Leo was fascinated by the way they stuck together. It was a great resource to help him start recognising different colours. 

Green Toys Tractor (19 tokens)

Leo has a fascination with tractors! Therefore when I saw this tractor added to Whirli I knew it would be a hit with Leo. I wrapped it up as part of his birthday presents and it was the present he played with the most that day out of all the new toys he had. The trailer was big enough to fit some of his Paw Patrol figures in. So he spent a long time taking them for rides around the house.

Little Tikes Gas ‘n Go Mower (20 tokens)

I think out of all the toys Leo has had with Whirli, the mower was probably his favourite. We kept this as an indoor toy and he ran all around the house with it. He loved to hear the sound it made as it went along. It is quite noisy, so be prepared if you decide to borrow this one too! 

Child (3-5 years) 

Melissa & Doug Fill & Roll Grocery Basket Play Set (27 tokens)

Leo is always fascinated when we go grocery shopping, so I knew this shopping set would be a hit with him. He loved this set so much I ended up purchasing it from Whirli since it was, and still is, something he plays with daily. He loves to run around the house putting various items in his basket. If any of my kitchen utensils are missing, then I usually find them in this basket! 

Learning Resources Gears Gears Gears Deluxe Building 100 Pcs Set (30 tokens)

The gears building set was another toy the adults enjoyed as much as Leo did. It was really fun watching Leo figure out how the toy worked and trying different combinations. He loves building towers and it was no different with these gears. It was another great toy to help introduce Leo to recognising colours. 

Melissa & Doug Construction Construction Worker Costume (29 tokens)

Our latest Whirli delivery arrived last week. Leo recognises the Whirli logo on the tape and knows what is coming! There is excitement and anticipation of what toys are inside. Our latest delivery included a dress-up costume for a builder which was an instant success.

If you’d like to try some of Alice and Leo’s favourite toys for 0-3 years, head to the Whirli library.

MySunshine helps you tell your child’s story by building a timeline of their milestones and memories. Securely store and share your special moments with loved ones, with the ability to choose who to share with or remove access at any time. No more need for multiple WhatsApp groups or posting on social media! Download the app for free.

Introducing Save Our Playgroups

Is there a playgroup in your local area that could do with some extra love? Whirli’s Save Our Playgroups programme is here to help.

Having a baby is a good way to turn your life upside down. It’s a totally eye-opening experience that’s full of happiness, as well as struggles. But what happens if you have a baby when the rest of the world is upside down?

We’ve been listening to your experiences of parenting in the pandemic, and we know that it’s been hard. So we’ve been thinking about what we can do to make the transition back to ‘normal’ life as smooth as possible. From our conversations, there were two things in particular that stood out: 

  1. We all want to find joy where we can, and play is a great place to start.
  2. We’re all desperate for some human connection! 

So we’ve come up with a plan to support local communities coming together through play. Here’s what our new programme, Save Our Playgroups, is all about.

Why playgroups?

When we surveyed our Whirli community, we found that 60% of parents attend a playgroup. 

Since attending a playgroup benefits both kids and adults, it’s not hard to see why they’re so popular.

Playgroups offer babies and young children more variety in their playtime and the chance to interact with other children their own age. This helps to develop a range of skills, including:

  • Crawling, sitting and rolling (physical development)
  • Face-to-face interaction and non-verbal skills (language and literacy development)
  • Recognising sounds, their name and tone of voice (sensory development)
  • Recognising objects and people (emotional and social development)
  • Recognising and identifying objects (cognitive development)

Equally important is the social interaction on offer for parents and carers. The first few years of your child’s life can be full of joy and excitement, but they aren’t without their challenges.

Spending a lot of time at home caring for a newborn or young baby can be isolating, so playgroups offer parents a chance to get out of the house and have some much needed adult conversation (and, as one of our Instagram followers pointed out, snacks).

The benefits of attending a playgroup

How have playgroups been affected by the pandemic?

However, like many local communities, playgroups have been hit hard by the pandemic. 91% of the parents we polled said that their local playgroups had been affected by Covid. In lockdown, playgroups were forced to close their doors, and many didn’t recover from this. For those that did survive, outbreaks of the virus have seen lots of playgroups trapped in a constant cycle of stopping and starting, affecting their ability to stay afloat.

When we spoke to playgroup organisers, they reported that they are struggling to find spaces to host sessions post-lockdown, due to increased demand and the necessity of facilitating covid restrictions, like social distancing and ventilation. While the priority is, of course, keeping everyone safe, these restrictions do affect how attendees experience the sessions. 

Spaces are limited and parents are required to book in advance, making it much harder and more stressful to go to a playgroup. Furthermore, social distancing defeats one of the main purposes of playgroups, which is to allow kids to mingle. All of this means that playgroups are having trouble retaining old members, and attracting new ones.

How were new and young parents affected by lockdown?

When we asked our community about their experiences of having children during the pandemic, there were some mixed responses.

While lockdown wasn’t easy on anyone, and certainly not new parents, some people pointed out that this period had given them more time with their new families, and made it easier to get little ones into a routine.

However, the majority faced huge difficulties having and bringing up a child during the pandemic. While their new arrivals brought them so much joy, it was sad not to be able to share this joy with friends and family. Many experienced loneliness and isolation; feelings that can be a normal part of parenthood at the best of times, which were exacerbated by the pandemic.

How were new parents affected by lockdown?

How are parents coping post-lockdown?

Even now restrictions are lifting, parents are struggling to adjust back to ‘normal’ life and are still dealing with the aftermath of lockdown. Many people we spoke to said that they felt a huge sense of loss and grief over all the milestones and experiences they missed out on due to the pandemic, since they’ll never get those precious early years back. 

Re-socialising following this disruption to our lives is also proving challenging; 29% of people we spoke to don’t currently attend a playgroup, but would like to.

One of the main barriers they face is simply finding a suitable playgroup in their area. As we have seen, lots of playgroups have been forced to close down, but for those that remain open, spaces are limited. This means that private playgroups (that aren’t government funded or volunteer-run) have put prices up in line with rising demand.

Secondly, lockdown isolation has had long-term effects on parents’ and children’s confidence. They feel self-conscious about “parenting in public” and worry about how their child will behave around others. Add to that lingering cautiousness over Covid safety and fitting it into their baby’s routine, and the experience of going to a playgroup can become stressful.

Thirdly, it’s simply too late for lots of mothers who spent their maternity leave in lockdown, and are now back at work.

How are parents coping post-lockdown?

What is Save Our Playgroups?

After speaking to playgroup organisers and parents, we realised that there was something we could do to help playgroups get back on their feet and encourage parents to attend them: give them toys!

In fact, toys were one of the main draws for attending playgroups when we conducted our research.

So we’ve launched a sponsorship programme called Save Our Playgroups, which will offer free, six-month Whirli subscriptions to playgroups across the country. Playgroups can cut costs and attract members, while parents and their little ones can enjoy a wider variety of toys than they have at home.

Save our playgroups

Through Save Our Playgroups, we hope to bring local communities together again and make sure that these pillars of our society keep going strong. And to achieve our mission, we need your help!

If there’s a playgroup in your local area that deserves some extra support, you can nominate them for a free, six-month Whirli subscription here

We have a limited number of sponsorships available to begin with, but we also hope to encourage more support for playgroups by making some noise about them. So if you feel the same, share this blog post with your friends, family and followers to spread the word, and help #SaveOurPlaygroups.

10 indoor play ideas using a Whirli box

The weather outside may be frightful, but the humble cardboard box can be delightful. Guest blogger Tami Murray, an Expressive Arts Teacher and mum from Stevenage, shares 10 indoor play ideas using a cardboard box.

When we’re stuck inside, it can be a challenge to keep kids entertained. Once boredom kicks in, even the TV can lose its appeal. Finding fresh, off-the-cuff indoor play ideas requires us to think outside the box – or in this case, inside the box! 

So here are 10 indoor play ideas that show how a simple cardboard box can become everybody’s favourite toy. Of course, your Whirli boxes will be perfect for these activities. We’ve made sure that all of these indoor play ideas will leave your Whirli box in perfect condition for returns (no cutting or tearing!), so that nothing goes to waste.

Indoor play ideas using a cardboard box

10 easy indoor play ideas

1. It’s a classic…car!

Babies know it, kids know it, cats know it: sitting in a box is fun. Being pushed around in a box while the adult makes “brumm brumm beep beep neeeaaooowwng” sounds is also super fun (maybe not for the cat).

A slightly older child may want a fancier vehicle, in which case put a battery-powered radio or Bluetooth speaker in there for an in-car sound system. A paper plate makes a perfectly suitable steering wheel. Throw in a comfy pillow and adorn child with a pair of shades to complete the look!

2. Puppet theatre

Puppets help to stimulate creativity and imagination. The use of puppets also supports development of language, listening and communication skills. You don’t need fancy Pinocchio-style marionettes or elaborate hand-puppets; any soft toys or dolls will do. 

For babies and smaller children, you will be the performer. Don’t worry though, you won’t need to devise any sort of Punch and Judy epic; just moving the toys is enough. I like to have a bit of happy up-beat music playing in the background. 

‘Peekaboo’ with the toys can incite smiles and laughter. For older children, it can be a great boost to self-esteem for them to perform while the adult/s are the audience. Playing with puppets can also support emotional development, self-expression and social skills. 

Make a puppet show using a cardboard box

3. Den

There are many ways to use boxes to create a den. Dens can be a place for imaginative play, for sensory exploration, or as a safe space to go and be quiet. 

By about three months old, babies begin to understand that their hands are part of them and that they can control those hands. You’ll notice more reaching and grasping actions as they develop hand-eye coordination skills. Try laying a large box on its side, then hanging things like black and white ribbons, shiny or light up baby-safe balls and/or chiffon scarves from the top interior of the box. Aim to keep it simple with just a few things so as not to overstimulate or overwhelm the baby.

Lay with baby – heads inside the box – to gaze upward at the hanging items. Just relax, be quiet and be in the moment. Baby may move their eyes and head to look at the hanging objects, or reach upwards to try touching and/or grasping. You can mirror their movements, perhaps echo any sounds they make, and generally just enjoy being with one another in the den. 

Remember, babies may only have a fleeting attention span; so don’t feel discouraged if they’re only interested for a brief time or are easily distracted when you try these indoor play ideas with them.

Turn a cardboard box into a sensory den

4. Let’s play café!

By age two, children’s capacity for imaginative play begins to grow. Role play is very important for children to support learning and understanding of social skills. 

As we’re learning from these indoor play ideas, a box can become many things with a touch of imagination! Grab a sheet to lay over the box and you’ve got yourself a table at a café. Children may enjoy using props such as cups and plates, but miming can be fun because then there are no limits. 

For example, if your child has an understanding of how cafes work and a relatively good grasp on language, you could pretend to be their customer who orders various food and drink items. You may start by ordering a cup of tea, then go a bit left-field and order a giant ice-cream. Take it further by pretending that they’ve got your order wrong. 

Turn a Whirli box into a cafe

5. Drum

Use your hands, use drum sticks, use wooden spoons…whatever you use to tap your beat, drumming is a fun way to interact and experience rhythm. You may choose to tap along to some music; in which case, it’s good to choose something with a clear beat. For older children, you could try copying one another.

6. Tunnel

No need to spend money on a pop-up play tunnel or other indoor play ideas that take up lots of space. Simply open up both ends of a large box and you’ve got an instant tunnel. You could try linking boxes together, adding obstacles, pretending you’re going on an adventure, or pretend to get stuck and the child has to help get you out (just be careful not to actually get stuck and ruin your Whirli box!).

7. Treasure chest

What’s in the box? is a super fun and simple game for children of all ages. All you need is a box and a bunch of random stuff. It could be a themed treasure chest; for example: everything in the box could be yellow, shiny or noisy. 

A current favourite for my 11-month-old teething son is a box full of chewy toys. You may choose to allow your child to freely explore the contents of the box at their own pace. Enjoy interacting with the child and follow their lead. Alternatively, you could take out one item at a time. This works well as a turn-taking game. It can also be a helpful way of working on language skills: for babies and toddlers, try filling the box with items of fruit, toy animals or everyday objects. Name each item as it’s taken from the box; for example: ‘spoon’, ‘green apple’, ‘cat’. Allow plenty of time for exploring each item. 

Turn a cardboard box into a treasure chest

8. Goal

Time to work on those gross motor skills, get a bit of exercise and nurture confidence. This game is easily adapted for varying ages and abilities. It also works in different spaces and situations. 

Throw, roll, bounce, kick, or place objects into the box. If you have multiple boxes, you could try sorting different colours, sizes or shapes into the boxes. 

A super simple and super entertaining indoor play idea – not to mention embarrassing when I realise my aiming ability is lacking!

9. Canvas

You don’t need an expensive easel or fancy artist’s pad to create an artistic masterpiece. Generally speaking, the walls, floors and the cat are NOT acceptable canvases for our children’s decorative designs. A cardboard box, on the other hand, can work very well indeed. 

For one thing, when little ones get a bit overzealous with the paint, it won’t seep through card in quite the same way as those soggy bits of paper. You could decorate a 3D box or lay it out flat on the ground/table. I like to lay a box out on the ground, paint our feet and walk across it. Try various materials too, like paint, pens and crayons.

Just because a box has been decorated, doesn’t mean it can’t be reused for returning those Whirli toys. I’m sure postal workers, delivery drivers and warehouse operatives will enjoy our little ones’ artwork on their rounds! And if your Whirli box gets reused for another family’s order, it will put a smile on even more faces.

10. Giant stacking blocks

Many skills can be honed and developed from simple stacking and tumbling games. Using cardboard boxes, of any shape and size can be a safe and fun way to play these games on a big scale. 

I love watching the anticipation in my son’s face as he nears the tower to knock it down. I can’t help but giggle because he squints his eyes just before pushing the boxes. I can imagine he’s thinking ‘will it fall over? Will it fall on me? What will mummy do?’ 

This activity develops interaction and communication, taking turns, anticipation, gross motor skills, and numerical skills. Try counting as you or your child stacks the boxes: countdown 3, 2, 1 before knocking down the tower, or say ‘ready, steady, go!’ (or just ‘ready, steady…’ then the child can say ‘go!’ ).

Hang on to your boxes for simple indoor play ideas

These indoor play ideas are just a few examples of how a box can be the best toy for all ages and stages. None of these activities involve destroying your boxes, so you’ll still be able to swap your Whirli toys without having to scour the loft for spares.

So next time you get that delivery, don’t fling the box into a cupboard; instead, try out some of these indoor play ideas, get creative, have fun and give it a Whirli!