Raising-children-2

The Motherhood Lie: Why No One Tells You It’s Messy & Hard

Welcome to motherhood, the real-life version.

November 12, 2015

Childless Choice: Society No Longer Facilitates Having Kids

The other day I was having a conversation with a friend of mine about our mutual decision not to have kids. We both acknowledged that we lack the necessary selflessness and feel that we can be more productive members of society without them. This doesn’t make us selfish people; we simply want to leave a legacy in other ways. Also, since the next great global problem after climate change is population explosion, I look at it as similar to reducing our carbon footprint.

RELATED: Working Mums Are More Productive Than You

This doesn’t stop me from feeling just a tad guilty. Occasionally I feel a twang of semi-regret when I reflect on my decision. However, something occurred to me during this particular conversation that changed my perspective on the issue. While citing all the reasons we wanted to remain childless; career, health, hobbies, travel plans, blah blah blah, I thought to myself: “How the hell does anyone even have kids nowadays anyway?”

That was when it hit me. Here’s the thing; Western society heaps a huge amount of expectations on Generation Y. Finish high school, do (possibly multiple) degrees, work your way up the employment ladder, have interests outside of work, be in a fabulous relationship while still finding time for friends, and continue to do so for the next 20 years. A few decades ago, children would have been at the forefront of this list, especially for women. Nowadays, it is no longer compulsory for it to feature. Other aspects are allowed to take precedence. It’s often preferable for them to do so.

Look; my point is that society, because of the lofty heights it expects us to hit, no longer truly facilitates the bearing and raising of children.This might sound like an extreme claim, but hear me out.

The perfect 21st century woman is supposed to have a killer career, amazing partner, a couple of kids and be able to sustain all aspects of her life while remaining truly happy. Sounds too good to be true? That’s because it is. I know a few women who have achieved all of these things and they are the most stressed out, highly strung, insecure people I know. Why? The pressure to maintain this ideal existence is simply too much.

Something’s gotta give, and usually it does. From my observation, it’s rarely the children-aspect. A mother’s primal bond will overcome all other desires. However, when the career-aspect slips, the shame and guilt of it puts even more pressure on women to rectify it.

In a funny sort of way it was easier pre-1950s. There was always one parent at home as a failsafe for child-rearing. Yes, women lacked the wonderful array of choices we have today, but there was nothing wrong with your sense of worth being bound up in your children. That, for most women, was fulfilling; a well run house and beautifully mannered children was the equivalent of being a CEO.

The last thing I’m saying is that we should go back to that girls-in-the-kitchen mentality. Eventually, women by and large weren’t happy with this. That’s why they fought it, and continue to fight. However, I think that if women admit that maintaining a perfect career/kid balance is an unnecessary amount of pressure, and don’t guilt themselves senseless if they fail to achieve it, we would all be a lot happier as a species.

If you want to go for that high-powered career but also have three or four kids, go forth and be fruitful. If you have the drive, you’ll do it. But if you want to make the choice between the two, then take a deep breath and decide. Times have changed. Values have changed. There’s nothing wrong with wanting both, but there’s also nothing wrong with wanting one or the other.

Image via Careeraddict.com

September 9, 2015

How To Choose A Baby Name Without A Fight

So you need to choose a baby name and the importance of this decision is weighing heavily on your mind – your child will be stuck with the name you choose for life! To make things more even more difficult, you and your partner may have different ideas about what makes a perfect name. Don’t know where to start? Some of these strategies will help.

RELATED: Celebrity Baby Names

Choose the surname first

Is it going to be your surname or your partner’s, or a combination of the two? Many of us will agree for the children to have the male partner’s name, even if we’ve kept our own surname after getting married. It’s how it’s been done traditionally and it’s an easy way to keep things simple. Besides, ladies, if you let your child have his surname, it gives you the upper hand when it comes to choosing the first name. Things have to be fair, right?

Discuss types of names

Do you prefer a popular name or an unusual one? How do you feel about a common name but with a different spelling? If the two of you come from different backgrounds, are there any names that are used or sound nice in both cultures? Will your child have a middle name? Agree on the general direction before getting down to the business of picking the actual name.

Make a list of names you like

Shortlist names you like. Use names of people you know or browse a book of baby names and don’t rush it. Every time you hear a name you like, add it to your list. Then once each of you has a few names in mind, examine each other’s lists and cross out any names that you absolutely hate. Hopefully, you will have a few options left. If not – it’s back to the drawing board, make another list.

Still finding it hard to choose a baby name? Leave the final decision until after you meet the baby. It can be much easier to decide once you have a face to put to the name.

Image by FeeLoona via pixabay.com

July 18, 2015

What Mothers Need to Know About First Aid

First aid, even at the most basic level, is a skill everyone should be required to learn. It shouldn’t matter whether you’re in the workplace or not – first aid is something that can be applied anywhere at any time, as a mother or father of your child, a friend, a sibling, a stranger or a work colleague.

There is nothing worse than feeling helpless and stressed in a situation, that otherwise could’ve been avoided. What do you do when someone needs first aid and your skills are the difference between helping to ease the pain or outcome waiting for an ambulance, to the possibility of it all going terribly wrong?

First aid and the knowledge and skills you learn provide you with lifesaving tools that are simply irreplaceable. It also gives you the confidence and calmness to attend to an emergency situation, provide help and keep someone you love safe and comfortable. Thinking about getting your first aid qualifications? Here’s everything you need to know.

1. Senior First Aid is now Provide First Aid

Previously, the workplace approved first aid course was called Senior First Aid. These days however, with some slight changes in place the first aid approval is now issued to the Registered Training Organisations (RTO) and titled Provide First Aid (HLTAID003). Provide First Aid, also referred to as level 2 covers all aspects of training in ‘Provide Basic Emergency Life Support’, as well as specialised training for the treatment of additional emergency incidents.

2. Senior First Aid is the standard requirement in most workplaces

Employers have a legal duty to keep their staff and work environment safe. Whilst the standard requirements for senior first aid vary between workplaces and states, all businesses should be first aid compliant to establish a safe duty of care. In Western Australia, the standard office workplace should have at least one staff member qualified to perform level 2 first aid to meet the WA Worksafe requirement as outlined in the Code of Practice.

The Compliance Code for First Aid in the workplace offers employers two options on how to comply. Option one, the prescribed approach; includes the number of first aid officers and their required duties and training, and how many first aid kits should be made available. This approach is suggested for workplaces with 10 or more staff members, or for high risk jobs with less than 10 employees. Low risk workplaces should have one senior first aid officer for 10-50 workers and two for 51 – 100.

The second option to comply with the Act is the risk assessment approach. This involves assessing the workplace and the hazards involved, and making the appropriate decision as to what first aid requirements are needed. The minimal acceptable level of training for workplace first aid is the senior first aid certificate (also referred to as level 2 first aid qualification or provide first aid).

3. Basic First Aid will teach you 3 essential criteria

Learning basic first aid techniques is the best way to help you cope with an emergency – whether it be in the workplace, or the comfort of your own home. It can help to keep a person breathing until an ambulance arrives, keep them comfortable by reducing pain and minimises the consequences of the injury worsening.

Basic first aid (provide cardio resuscitation) teaches you to:

  • Respond to an emergency situation by recognising the condition, assessing the casualty and seeking assistance from emergency response services
  • Perform CPR procedures in accordance with Australian Resuscitation Council (ARC) guidelines, display respectful behaviour to the casualty and operate an automated external defibrillator (AED) should it be required
  • Communicate the details of the incident and what was done to help to workplace supervisor and emergency response team

4. Senior First Aid will teach you 4 essential criteria

The differences between basic first aid and senior first aid, is basic first aid is about providing CPR in an emergency situation. Senior first aid will teach you this, as well as prepare you for other possible life threatening situations like poisonous bites, airway management, seizures and bleeding.

Senior first aid (provide first aid) teaches you to:

  • Recognise and respond to an emergency situation
  • Apply appropriate first aid procedures including CPR and AED, shock management, airway management (asthma, chocking, severe allergic reactions and hyperventilation), cardiac emergencies, bleeding and wound care, bites and stings, seizures and convulsions, burns, extreme heat and cold, toxic substances, muscle injuries and abdominal injuries
  • Communicate the details of the incident and what was done to help to workplace supervisor and emergency response team
  • Evaluate the incident and own performance

5. Basic First Aid is a one-day course, Senior First Aid can be two

In order to be qualified in basic first aid, you’ll be required to complete a one day course. This will primarily cover life-threatening emergencies that can occur in the workplace, home or public and prepare you for a risk assessment and to perform CPR.

To complete a senior first aid course, this can be done as a one day or extended over two – depending on where you go. On successful competition, you will be issued with a nationally recognised Statement of Attainment that will show you’re qualified to perform the four sections mentioned above.

It’s important though, regardless of which first aid qualifications you get, that you refresh your qualifications as needed. Basic first aid should be refreshed every 12 months, whilst senior first aid (provide first aid) is every 3 years. This will ensure you’re up-to-date with any course changes, and remain confident and qualified to perform the tasks at hand.

By Jayde Ferguson, who writes for Training Course Experts – offering highly qualified senior first aid and refresher courses by an experienced team in Perth. You can catch her on Google+.

 

July 15, 2015

Toys Children Would Never Guess Are Educational

From LEGO to building blocks, puzzles and playsets being a kid is pretty damn enjoyable. But, it’s not all just fun and games through. Encouraging play through toys that are educational will leave positive fingerprints on a person’s brains well into their adolescent years – not to mention the endless amounts of entertainment it can provide for your little one.

In the first year, your baby will thrive the most absorbing absolutely everything in the world around him. The right toys are an essential part of this process and help to provide your little one with the tools to develop different skills, enabling them to discover as much as possible early on.

It’s not uncommon for educational toys to be mistaken for setting your baby up for school skills such as maths and reading. But before a child can even learn how to do these things, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done beforehand. This ‘work’ is called play. Children need to develop their own ways to express themselves and toys that are designed to educate help to bring the best of your child out. But which toys are actually educational for your children? We check out some of the top ones.

My Busy Town Wooden Development Toy

Bright, colourful and fun this development toy is perfect for little ones ages between 7 months to 3 years. It essentially combines a few toys together with 5 different sides of fun that teaches your child alphabet recognition, coordination and counting. The toy is ideal for introducing colours and shapes and helps to encourage problem solving and interaction.

To begin with, show your toddler each side of the cube to introduce the different activities. Let your child explore the rest of the cube on his own – he’ll be busily entertained and educated all in one.

Fire Station Playset

From curiosity to discovery complete with a healthy dose of imagination, the Fire Station Playset is perfect for education. Recommended for children between the ages of 12 months to 5 years old, the toys combines motor skills with the spark of inquisitiveness, encouraging your child to observe and respond.

Because the playset promotes imagination, it offers a magical experience for your little one (and you as the parent too watching). The Fire Station Playset takes thoughtfulness and practice into careful consideration and can help teach your child the importance of playing in group situations too.

Parum Pum Pum Drum

Any form of creativity skills encouraged from a young age can work wonders for educating your child. Music and art both play an important role in developing appreciation, imagination and intellectual skills. As they get older, these skills tend to be transferred and utilised into new situations involving perceptual awareness, personal, physical and social development. Check out this article for all the benefits of music for kids!

This musical drum toy is more than just a drum…it’s a whole musical set! Complete with egg shakers, a tambourine and other percussion instruments it helps young ones from 18 to 24 months utilise the magic of making music, as well as its cause and effect. Whilst it can be slightly frustrating from a parent point of view listening to your child shaking and banging different things to make a noise, it’s a fantastic development toy that encourages little ones to explore music and sounds, thus developing their music and motor skills significantly.

Le Toy Van Doctors Set

As a young child, going to the doctors can be extremely daunting and cause a lot of anxiety for both you and your little one. Doctor play sets are a great way to prep your toddler for future visits and use skills like imaginative play and role playing to educate your child in a fun and safe way.

Recommended for children aged between 18 months to 6 years old, the educational benefits of this Doctor’s set stem from creative thinking and motor skills. All parts of the toy promote a non-dangerous and innovative way to learn.

Little Tikes EasyScore Basketball Set

Just as much as music and the arts stimulate creativity, sports related toys help to keep your child active and educated. The Little Tikes EasyScore Basketball Set is a huge hit with kids… especially if they thrive on being energetic which let’s face it, most kids do! Suited for anyone aged 2 years and up, the sports set encourages healthy physical, emotional and social development.

Learning skills like confidence, balance, coordination, focus and motor skills, your child will also develop skills to assist in team working environments. In this day of age too, where so many things are influenced by the digital world – sports sets like this one promotes the importance of staying active and getting outdoors.

Design and Drill Activity Centre

Armed with grid holes, colours, tools and bolts the Design and Drill Activity Centre is perfect for children aged 3 years and above. Encouraging the use of coordination to build upon, creativity, fine motor skills and imagination, this toys set is super educational.

Because there’s so many possibilities for creative play with this toy, children fail to “get bored of it”. Complete with 20 activity card challenges for your child to use, the activity centre teaches a variety of skills that can be implemented down the track.

By Jayde Ferguson, who writes for Bubba Love, a leading provider of educational toys for babies and toddlers to help stimulate your young ones development.

May 19, 2015

5 Signs You’re Ready To Have Children

There comes a time in life when many people feel ready to settle down and start a family. While the idea might seem wonderfully romantic and magical, it takes a lot of commitment, love and energy to raise children – so are you really prepared to take this next big step? Here are five sure signs you are.

1. You check out the kids’ section in every shop

If you’re constantly drawn to the kids’ section in shops and spend your days cooing over cute little onesies and baby grows on sites like www.lamaloli.com, it might be time to have a child of your own. Imagining how cute your son or daughter would look in certain outfits is definitely a sign that you’re more than just a little broody, so perhaps it’s wise to have ‘the talk’ with your partner.

2. You have a spare room that would look great as a nursery

Is that spare room of yours just crying out to be a nursery? Do you keep opening the door and imagining a little baby in his cot gurgling and kicking his legs around? If so, starting a family could be the only way to cure that empty feeling you’re experiencing. Kids help to make a house a home and you might as well put that extra space to good use after all.

3. You’ve bought a family home

If you’ve recently bought a family home, you probably have big plans to have kids in the not-so-distant future. This kind of preparation is a sure fire sign that you’re ready to make a serious commitment not only to your partner but in building up a happy family environment. How many rooms you opted for could also indicate how large you want your family to be, but one step at a time now, hey?

4. You’re financially secure

Okay, so you don’t have to be a millionaire to have kids, but it’s worth getting your finances in place before you bring little ones in the world. Having a stable career and a bit of money in the bank will not only give you peace of mind it will make preparing for the new arrival a whole lot easier. What’s more, maternity pay might be less than you’re currently earning, so it’s important to budget for this… and then there’s nursery and childcare fees a few months and years down the line.

5. You can’t control your emotions when a baby is around

If you clap your hands with joy whenever you see baby or can’t put your friend’s newborn down without bursting into a fit of tears, your body might be telling you it’s time to reproduce. Feeling broody is a natural part of being a woman but men can also feel strong urges to become a parent too by suddenly feeling more interested in family life.

Bringing new life into the world is a magical experience and if you’re experiencing the above signs it might be time to take the next big step.

April 27, 2015

How To Combat Toddler Fears

It’s no secret that as a mother of a toddler, you’ll have to find superwoman-like mind strength and Mother Teresa-like patience.

RELATED: Rude Toddlers: How To Teach Kids Tact

Small people are a trying bunch; ridiculously cute, but ever-growing and evolving, they can shock and surprise you with new habits, such as toddler fears, just when you think you’ve got them all worked out. A case in point is my three-year-old daughter, who’s suddenly developed an almighty fear of the “big bath.”

You see, my husband and I bathed her and her two-year-old sister together in a small baby bath within our big bath up until only recently, because it was easier to contain two slippery little tykes. But now that they’ve well and truly outgrown it, we’ve upgraded to the adult-size bath and OMG, the tears and the tantrums?! I swear our neighbours must think we’re child abusers. The horror!

toddlers, raising toddlers, parenting advice

It’s the flush-down-the-drain dread that’s got my little one losing her tiny mind. What’s more, no amount of soothing or coaxing seems to help and she’s stubbornly refusing to sit down in the bath each night, all the while screaming like a banshee as if we’re torturing her.

Meanwhile, her two-year-old sister is equally baffled by her odd behaviour and then she works herself up into a frenzy in kind, after witnessing her sibling’s nightly bath-induced meltdowns. It’s like dealing with terrorists, I tell you! And all this is very upsetting at times and far from bloody ideal.

Child health experts say toddler fears are very common, in part due to their ever-evolving imaginations. As they grow, they start to realise they can get hurt and bad things can happen.

toddlers, raising toddlers, parenting advice

Experts say never admonish or belittle your child over his or her immoveable fears. Instead, we parents must dig deep and give our toddlers an ample dose of sympathy. We’re also advised to tell our little ones that it’s OK to have fears and praise any progress he or she makes, no matter how little.

That’s all good and well, but my advice is you may need a glass of wine (or two) afterwards, too. It’s hard to see your child upset and beyond reason, but like all toddler phases – this soon shall pass. At least that’s what my friends tell me!

Common toddler fears

  • The bath
  • Animals
  • Loud noises
  • Doctor visits
  • Santa and other costumed performers
  • Strangers
  • The ocean
  • The dark

What do you think? What are your toddler’s fears?

Images via todaysparent.com, drgreene.com and magicmum.com

March 11, 2015

Blogger Killed Her Son For The Attention

A woman has been convicted of killing her 5-year-old son with copious amounts of salt after blogging and using social media to publish her ‘findings’ on the dangers of sodium to children.

Lacey Spears was said to have revelled in the attention of her son, Garnett-Paul’s illness and her actions were described by the Assistant District Attorney, Patricia Murphy, as “nothing short of torture”.

“The motive is bizarre, the motive is scary, but it exists.”

Doctors testified at the trial that there was no known medical explanation for the high sodium levels found in the boy’s bloodstream that led to death.

mummy blogger, Lacey Spears, murder

Despite Spears’s defence stating there was no direct evidence of a crime, two feeding bags were found at the family home that were excessively tainted with salt. One had approximately equal to 69 teaspoons.

Spears was convicted of second-degree murder.

Images via AP and facebook

March 3, 2015

Helping Your Child Through Homework Struggles

If you have children at school, the daily homework struggles are probably something you’re familiar with. The kids come back from school already tired and they would rather do something fun than more studying. They argue, make up excuses and would do anything in their power to avoid the dreaded homework. If you’re wondering if there’s anything you can do to end the homework struggles, here are some strategies that will help.

RELATED: Tutoring Tips To Save You A Fortune

Create a routine

When children know that homework comes every school day at a predictable time, there’s less room for questioning if they should do it today or not. I find it best not to get into homework straight after school. The kids appreciate some time for outdoor play and a snack. It energises them and then they’re ready to do their work.

Make it fun

There’s no need for your children to see homework as something hard. Show them how to have fun with their assignments. For example, when my kids have to write sentences or stories with the words from their spelling lists, I encourage them to make their writing interesting or funny. Even if they resist at first, after I give them a few suggestions, they get into it and turn it into a game.

Let your child take responsibility

From the start of school I’ve made it clear to my children that their homework is their own responsibility. They have a choice to do it or not, but then they will also have to take responsibility for the consequences, for example, “You will have to explain to your teacher why you haven’t done your homework”. So far we’ve been lucky that my children have loved their teachers and just the thought of disappointing them often provides enough motivation.

Address any issues with the school

If you genuinely believe that there’s too much homework, then advocate for your child and let the school know. When enough parents express concern about the amount of homework their kids are getting, the school will take notice.

As with any other parenting issues, ending homework struggles is about being consistent. Create a habit, send a consistent message that your children are in control of their own homework and you’ll notice how the homework routine starts flowing with less effort.

Image by Patrice_Audet via pixabay.com

February 23, 2015

Starting Kindergarten: Survival Tips For Parents

If your child is starting kindergarten, you’re probably experiencing an array of emotions right now. Proud that you’ve come so far on your parenting journey. Struggling to let your little one go. Overjoyed that you’ll have all this time to yourself. Sad that you’ll have all this time to yourself…

In addition to your own emotional roller coaster, your child may start behaving strangely. Tears in the morning, tantrums in the afternoon and you begin wondering if you’ve accidentally made a mistake and sent your two-year-old to school. Take heart, this behaviour is completely normal and will pass as your child adjusts. In the meantime, here are some things you can do to make the transition to kindergarten as smooth as possible both for you and for your child.

RELATED: 7 Tips For A Smoother School Run

Allow your child to express her emotions

Your little one is spending her days in a new environment, with a teacher she doesn’t know well yet. Numerous things happen during her time at school that may upset her, excite her or make her uncomfortable, but she doesn’t know how to deal with it all yet. By the end of the day she’s full of new impressions and disappointments. Then she sees you and to her that means safety. She can now relax, be herself and let her emotions flow. Don’t see her behaviour as naughty or annoying. Instead, accept that this is your child’s expression of trust and be her safety island.

Be a role model

This is a big change for yourself, too, so it’s normal to feel anxious. Do what you need to do to take care of your own emotions – have a good cry once your child has been dropped off, talk to a friend, do something nice for yourself and try to have a happy, relaxed attitude about school. Your child will pick up on your feelings, so model what you want to see in her.

Introduce an earlier bedtime

Your child is adjusting to change and she’s also required to work a lot harder than before, so she will be tired. Set up an earlier bed time routine to allow for extra rest. You will probably benefit from an earlier bedtime, too. Nothing helps better with emotions running wild than a good night’s sleep.

Minimise after-school activities

I can tell you from personal experience that there’s nothing quite as frustrating as trying to drag a reluctant 5-year-old to a gymnastics class after school and there’s absolutely no reason why you should have to go through it every week. If your child is feeling more tired and irritable than usual, put swimming and dance lessons on hold for the first term or two. You can always re-enroll in a few months, when your new student is happy and confident at school.

Hopefully, everything will be effortless for you and you won’t need any of my tips for starting kindergarten. But just in case you’re having a hard time, I want you to know that you’re not alone. And that your child (and you) will adjust.

Image by joduma via pixabay.com

February 9, 2015

5 Ways To Get Dads Involved In Parenting

Dads of the twenty first century are now expected to parent children, more than any other time in history. This includes step-dads, separated or divorced dads. While fathers have taken on disciplinary roles in the past, day to day parenting has traditionally been the responsibility of mothers.

The main issue with this massive shift in societal roles and expectations is lack of experience, knowledge and guidance. This is because many fathers of previous generations neglected critical aspects of parenting. For many, they just didn’t know how.

RELATED: The Ultimate Parenting Tip… Consistency

As a result today’s dads who want to be more involved in parenting, may lack the knowledge, skills or confidence. They won’t admit it, but many haven’t had sufficient exposure to effective role models. They are learning parenting skills from sources like the internet, other dads and their child’s mother.

This is why encouraging fathers to parent children is so vital. Not only in satisfaction raising them but to educate fathers of the future. Mothers need to play a pivotal role in achieving this. Particularly if they are going to make an impact on generations of parents who surpass them. The question is how?

Relinquish control

Mothers have an innate way of hovering over their offspring regardless of their age. This is an enormous responsibility, especially in the infancy stage and one which can and should be shared. Offering responsibilities to fathers will lighten the load and encourage involvement.

While most fathers would be happy for this to occur, it’s mothers who have stunted progress. The key here is for mothers to relinquish control. (Easier said than done!) It doesn’t matter if things aren’t done the same or if parenting styles aren’t exact. As long as both parents remain consistent children learn to adapt. This is a valuable life lesson which enables kids to adapt to different situations as they get older. Much like they do when they have multiple teachers at school.

Building confidence

It’s very easy to pick someone else’s parenting efforts to pieces, especially in the heat of the moment when kids play up. Ridiculing parenting efforts will only encourage fathers to doubt themselves and withdraw. The aim is to encourage, provide support, grow and learn together. This builds confidence in both parents.

When positive parenting efforts or changes occur, use praise and provide more opportunities for fathers to use their new skills. Remember, the only way to improve and gain confidence is to practice.

Communicate

Talk about your parenting experiences and issues often. I can’t stress this enough. This will provide an opportunity to become a united front. Kids need to know what their behavioural expectations are from both parents. If given the opportunity, they will divide and conquer to get their way. This applies from toddler to adult so you may as well start as soon as possible.

If they manage to divide you it will cause enormous strain on your family. As parents, set consistent boundaries together and most importantly enforce them. Communicating is the only way you can make this work, regardless of whether you are parenting together or apart. Separated parents have a much higher chance of being manipulated by kids to get their way. Communicate with your child’s father / step-father and make it a priority.

Remember not to attack but voice concerns if you have them. To avoid attacking start sentences with “I” instead of “you”, followed by the behaviour. Address the behaviour, not the individual. For example; “I feel uncomfortable when you…”. Instead of “You make me uncomfortable when you…”. Parenting can be a touchy subject, so be mindful of how you say what’s on your mind.

Alone time

It’s really important that fathers get alone time to bond with their kids. Separated parents often argue about this. Unless a child is in immediate danger, fathers should have private access to their kids. It’s all about what’s best for them, not how you feel personally about your ex. The children love you both, so keep negative parenting opinions to yourself.

If you are a partnered parent avoid pushing alone time opportunities upon fathers who need time out. Be fair and possibly create a schedule so both parents have parenting time alone. Also encourage fathers to take the kids away from home. Initially a park outing might be enough. Use gradual exposure to build confidence.

Fathers who have little exposure to their children alone in public are often quite timid about the idea. It’s generally a confidence thing. Plus the thought of anything going wrong and needing to report back to the mother is terrifying. Don’t laugh, because this is a viable rationale, especially for step-dads.

Give fathers time to learn

Finally, provide time for growth. Some fathers are intimidated by the responsibility, the actual size of babies or small children and above all making mistakes. Encourage them, provide opportunity and guidance, praise their efforts and above all be patient.

If you think it would be helpful find a local parenting group. Some are offered especially for fathers and some can be done together. They can be very helpful in educating both mothers and fathers adapt to their twenty first century parenting roles. Take a look at your local council website for options.

Image via dailymail.co.uk

January 29, 2015

Teaching Children Good Manners

Often parenting is about staying out of nature’s way and making sure that we don’t stifle the abilities our child was born with, but this is not the case with manners. Our children don’t get born saying “please” and “thank you” and they definitely don’t get born with the understanding that drawing on Aunty Jane’s wall is not a great idea. It’s up to us to make sure that our little ones know what is appropriate and respectful behaviour. So how do we go about it?

RELATED: Teaching Your Kids To Be On Time

Model what you want to see from your kids

When your children see you use your manners consistently, they will understand that this is how things should be. Even if you do nothing else, the chances are that one day you’ll hear your children say “thank you” to the driver when you’re getting off the bus or “sorry” after they step on your foot and it will come out automatically, as if they’ve been using their manners for years.

It’s especially important to be polite when you’re interacting with your children, even though it can be hard including “please” when you’re saying for the tenth time, “Please pack away your toys and go to bed”. In fact, I often forget to say “please” after about the second time. Skipping your manners can be an effective way to get children’s attention, but it also teaches them that certain situations ask for lack of manners. This is not exactly the message you want to send, so it’s better to find an alternative way to make sure your children are listening – sing out your request, for example.

Teach respect and empathy

The underlying meaning of manners is that they are a way to show respect and care for other people, and this is more important than the words and rules we teach.  We can make sure we’re raising respectful and empathetic kids by nurturing these qualities within our families, talking openly about our feelings and helping our children understand emotions in themselves and others.

Teach and correct without attachment

Give your children the words and rules they need to use in the situations they’re likely to encounter, but don’t expect them to remember everything immediately. It will take time and practice before manners become automatic. There’s no need to make manners a pre-requisite of giving children what they want, treat them with respect and patience, and eventually, they’ll get it.

When we put pressure on our children to perform on the spot, we often achieve the opposite effect- the children become fearful that they’ll get it wrong and they withdraw into their shells. When we do it, it’s usually for our own benefit anyway. We’re more concerned what other people will think of us when our kids don’t display good manners than what’s in our children’s best interest. If, on the other hand, you repeat the same rules every time it’s needed with no expectation and as if it’s the most natural thing in the world, sooner or later even a shy child will feel that it’s safe to try.

Image by tebielyc via pixabay.com

January 21, 2015

How To Defuse Toddler Tantrums

Toddler tantrums are a sight to behold – it might even be funny, if it was happening to someone else. Example: My two-and-a-half-year-old just threw a monumental temper tantrum because I committed the motherly crime of cutting her Vegemite sandwich into squares instead of triangles. Please don’t call DoCS!?

Trying to parent a toddler in the midst of the “terrible twos” can be exhausting, baffling, upsetting and downright frustrating time. I thought I knew my little one very well until she started morphing into The Incredible Hulk without warning. So, what causes these ticking time bombs?

Child experts say hunger, fatigue, overstimulation and boredom are common reasons why your little person has headed to Meltdown Town. What’s more, toddlers often can’t yet properly articulate what they want through words, hence their anger and frustration. And, if your feisty toddler’s anything like mine, she’s suddenly turned Little Miss Independent, now refusing to allow me to do simple tasks such as dress/undress her. Gah!?

My husband and I have also grappled with yet another cause of toddler tantrums – setting either too few or too many limits – getting the balance right is tricky. So, how do you defuse these explosive situations without calling in the UN?! Experts say to try these strategies – experiment with what works best with your child’s personality:

Cool as a cucumber

Try to stay calm first and foremost. This is easier said than done, I know! And, just like you would with a wild animal, you’re meant to speak softly to a banshee child.

Art of distraction

This is my fave method of calming a crazy toddler – “Look, quick! Is that a bird outside?” or the like always works a treat. Create fun diversions, where possible.

Tickle funny bones

Humour is a great way to soften an angry toddler – um, apparently! I’m still working on this one myself, though it has worked at times. The trick, experts say, is to use silly humour such as voices, sing-songs and jokes to calm your Hulk.

Keep littlies busy

The idiom “idle hands are the devil’s handiwork” is true with a toddler, methinks. Give them fun and active tasks with which to occupy them and there’s less chance for tantrums. I think…

How do you best cope with and combat toddler tantrums? 

Image via pixabay.com

July 31, 2014

How to Say No To Your Kids Without Feeling Guilty

You’ve had an incredibly long day, you’re tired and cranky and now you and your toddler are having a mini face-off at the supermarket checkout. “Mummy, I want it!? Muuummmmmy!” your little person wails at the top of her lungs, as if possessed by some demon, all the while madly gesturing at a giant chocolate bar, which is oh-so-handily placed at her eye-level in the trolley. Elderly shoppers purse their lips and “tut-tut” at you while your little, angry banshee continues her toddler tantrum unabated. You dig deep, trying your best not to give in to your toddler’s unruly demands, so as to silence her, but your resistance is wearing thin. How do you best handle these toddler tantrums of epic proportion? And how do you say no without feeling guilty?

Leading Brisbane psychologist Judith Reynolds says it’s vital to set boundaries with your toddlers and then stick to your guns. “As the child develops cognitively (along with physical development) a sense of ‘self’ emerges at around 18 months and the child begins to assert that ‘self’,” Ms Reynolds says. “At this point, the interactions between mother and child become more complex.

“For a start, the child at this age is mobile, but it has no ‘cognitive brakes’! In other words, it doesn’t understand that in a social context we all have limitations on how far we can express our wants and needs before they begin to infringe on other’s wants and needs. Mum says ‘no’! In fact, mum has to say ‘no’ often, sometimes just to keep the child safe.

“Two year olds can be quite compelling in their efforts to get what they want, when they want it. Learning to delay gratification is a cognitive stage that doesn’t kick in, in any meaningful way until about three years or so.

“It’s easier in the heat of the moment to give in, but giving in, in response to the child upping the ante, is the beginning of the end for mum! The child reigns and mum becomes more and more frazzled as she tries to placate a child with not enough cognitive power to know what’s good for it!”

That’s all good and well, but how do we mums then deal with an attack of crippling mother guilt? Especially when you feel you’ve failed at being the “perfect” nurturing mother? “Just because a child is upset it doesn’t necessarily mean the mum is culpable,” Ms Reynolds says. “It’s mum’s job to determine what’s in the child’s best interests – she has the fully developed brain after all! Feeling guilty is overrated when there has been no malicious intent to harm another and it often undermines ‘good enough’ parenting.

“Don’t waste time feeling guilty! Just because your child doesn’t like the limitations you’ve set that doesn’t mean your parenting is suss. Every parent loses it at some point – what’s important is that you care enough to question your own parenting and clean up the mess you made if you lose it. That is, to say sorry and model bringing yourself back to a more balanced state of mind.”

So, next time we’re faced with a giant toddler tantrum, let’s try to remember it’s a consequence of we responsible mothers setting appropriate boundaries for our children – and reward ourselves with the forbidden chocolate bar instead!

By Nicole Carrington-Sima

June 19, 2014

Why Don’t My Kids Listen To Me?

Are you getting the impression your kids ears are painted on? Do you keep repeating yourself and then end up exploding? There are plenty of parents out there that are asking the age old question… Why don’t my kids to listen to me?

Firstly, you need to be aware that humans are biologically programmed to listen out for quiet noises. It’s a survival mechanism that has kept us alive for generations. We also find loud, unpleasant noise uncomfortable and try to block it out when we can’t get rid of it. So, if you’ve found yourself screaming or nagging at the kids; sorry to say, but they’re probably blocking you out. By treating them like smaller humans who respond to yelling or nagging the same as adults, you will get much better results. Luckily, we have some great tips to save your lungs and your nerves.

  • First up, stop yelling or nagging. You will find that as you lower your voice or cease repeating yourself, the kids will have a greater chance of listening to you. If you need to speak to your kids about anything, be sure you have their attention and limit any distractions.
  • Secondly, organise time for family meetings or specific times to communicate. This time should be technology free for all members of the family. If you can’t eat a meal together, set aside some time during the week or month to provide a forum for effective communication. Remember to give everyone a chance to speak, be heard, acknowledged and respected. It will give you all an opportunity to express issues, thoughts and expectations, while helping the household function more effectively. If your child is too young to be involved in a family meeting, organise an appropriate time to communicate with them in much the same way.
  • If you have an issue with a particular child’s behaviour, sit them down and discuss it with them. If you yell, rant and rave; they will zone out.
  • If you find yourself nagging to have chores done, set up a roster during a family meeting. Ask for volunteers for particular chores rather than allocating them yourself. As long as everyone is contributing, it doesn’t matter what jobs they do. Make sure you establish consequences if chores are neglected and always follow through.

Finally, if your kids aren’t listening to you; getting your child’s attention is key and you won’t need to compete with other distractions. Providing a forum for effective communication is a practical way of discussing issues, voicing expectations and resolve grievances. Children can participate from an early age and you will be laying down a foundation of open communication and mutual respect within your family. 

By Kim Chartres

June 18, 2014

Relieve Your Child’s Fever Fast

A parent can often feel helpless when a child is suffering from a fever, and seeing the pain they’re in only makes the entire ordeal more difficult to overcome. It is best to stay calm, and offer your kids lots cuddles to make them feel secure. Make sure to monitor the fever over the next few hours and take your child’s temperature at regular intervals. Here are just a few tips on how to relieve your child’s fever.

Thermometer

Whether you’re using an electric or glass thermometer, make sure to use them in the correct way. Electric thermometer’s usually work faster and are more precise. They don’t require you to keep the thermometer under a child’s arm for a long period of time (usually five minutes) to gain an accurate result. If you are using a glass thermometer, remember to shake it down each time you use it.

Cooling bath

If ever your child’s temperature seems to be sky-rocketing, run a cool bath since this helps to temporarily bring down the fever. Remove the child if they start feeling cold or have goosebumps, this could mean the temperature is rising again. Sponge bath’s are also effective if you don’t have the time to draw a regular bath, or even simply a cold rag on the forehead will do the trick.

Fluids

Offer your child plenty of drinks and cold foods to help bring the fever down. If you can feel them burning up, yoghurt is recommended to cool the body from the inside out. Although if your child is also suffering from a sore throat, water and fruit juices are ideal to keep the throat from getting dry and causing your child any additional pain.

Stay indoors

You can imagine that suffering from a fever isn’t the best time to play outside or even go to school. Keep your child indoors so you can easily monitor their progress throughout the day and night. If the room is feeling stuffy, use a fan or open a window to bring in fresh air without making them even more sick.

A child’s normal body temperature can vary between 36.6°C and 37.6°C, so try to monitor their temperature every half an hour to see any big changes. Chills are also important to look out for since this could mean that the fever is increasing, so always keep a thermometer and a change of clothes at hand. If your child’s fever is increasing over a couple of days, be sure to visit your local doctor.

Image via A Nation of Moms

By Felicia Sapountzis

June 14, 2014

The Ultimate Parenting Tip: Consistency

Do you have toddlers or kids that have taken over of the household? Do they manage to get what they want by screaming, yelling, tantrums or other negative behaviour? If you want a simple solution to your problem child….this article is for you!

Don’t beat yourself up about what’s happened in the past, because you have the power and opportunity to change things. It doesn’t matter how hopeless you feel the situation has become either. Rather than giving your child the impression they might get what they want by screaming, nagging or tantrums; you need to let them know that they won’t. No matter how bad the behaviour gets, don’t give in. Being consistent with you child is the only way your child will learn, when you say no, you mean it.

So, how do you do it? Obviously, things will take some time to rectify, so don’t start this change in the middle of the shopping centre! The best place to start is in your own home, with smaller things. For example; smaller children often play up at bedtime. Being consistent with their bed time routine is essential. What they want is your attention. Don’t give it to them. Engaging your child each time they call out or are out of bed only reinforces the behaviour.

Once they have been put to bed, unless they need your attention, rather than simply want it; ignore them. Even if they scream, cry, hurl things across the room; whatever. Sit against the bedroom door if you have to so they can’t get out or hurt themselves. Be prepared for a full blown episode on the first and possible second or third occasion. An hour or two to start is not unusual. Within a week, they will get the idea that there is no point in getting up and down and when they go to bed, they will stay there. This is the foundation of consistency for your child.

Whatever the situation is, consistency should be your number one objective. If you go to the supermarket, don’t give in on that one or two occasions at the checkout, unless you are prepared to do it each time you visit. If you tell you child you are leaving the park, don’t give into their demands when they want to stay, unless you are prepared to deal with their negative behaviour each time you leave.

Being consistent will also provide valuable boundaries which every child craves, plus teach them essential life skills. As they get older you won’t have children who run your home, abuse you or use other methods of manipulation to get their way. Remember, your child will get older and giving into small demands when they are young will turn into more extravagant demands in years to come! 

By Kim Chartres

June 12, 2014

How To Cope With New-Parent Sleep Deprivation

Life as a new parent isn’t all adorable newborn cuddles, cooing and heart melts – you may also develop chronic sleep deprivation. Forget the epic births, painful post-birth aftermath or breastfeeding battles; for me, chronic sleep deprivation has been the most debilitating aspect of becoming a new parent for the second time.

Our first baby slept like an angel from 7pm-7am from about eight weeks. Armed with supreme hubris, when our baby turned nine months, my husband and I got cracking on baby no.2, as per our GP’s advice, given we were both in our late 30s. How hard could it be having two toddlers under 2? We’d blitzed this baby business with the first, so we could do it with the second, right? Wrong!

We were fortunate enough to fall pregnant with our second daughter straight away, and our hearts swelled to twice the size when she came into the world screaming like a banshee, just as her gorgeous sister had done. But there was one crucial difference between our two girls – the second little blighter was a problem sleeper, waking constantly through the night, no matter what we tried. And believe me, we tried everything – breastfeeding, rocking, singing and more.

This was a rude shock to say the least and all our pride and confidence was crushed, only to be quickly replaced by upset, bewilderment and angst. Would we ever learn up cope with the 5-6 nocturnal wake-up calls? It didn’t help that she was a big baby (almost 10 pounds) and a voracious breastfeeder. Now that our challenging, little sleeper is 13 months, and finally sleeping beautifully through the night, here are some handy survival tips which may hopefully help you, if faced with a devil child, sorry, difficult sleeper:

Nap when they do

I hated this well-worn advice, but you don’t really have a choice when seriously sleep-deprived – the minute your babies go down, so too should you. Take turns with your husband, or enlist the help of family members if need be, to help care for your other kids.

Get a night nurse

If money is no object (lucky you!) get a night nurse or mobile midwife to come help you survive those long, long days and nights. One of the best baby shower gifts I’ve ever heard of is a bunch of friends pitching in for the cost of a night nurse for a few months as a gift to a very fortunate mum-to-be.

Leave the chores

I know it’s often impossibly hard to ignore, but leave the dirty dishes and the mountain of laundry in favour of sleep, as often as you can. And delegate, delegate, delegate – ideally, this is when your mum or mother-in-law will show their true mettle and step up to help you.

Take turns on night duty

Another survival tactic is to take turns one night on, one night off, with your significant other. While one of you gets up with the baby for cuddles/night feeds (you may have to pump milk ahead of time for your partner), the other parent can be getting some much-needed rest.

Take a break

Make a habit of getting out into the fresh air and sunshine, as often as you can, to cope with the stress, anxiety and upset of sleep deprivation. Do something that makes you feel good to boost your self-esteem and energy levels –  exercise, get a beauty treatment, or spend time with a supportive friend.

Chronic sleep deprivation seriously affects your mood and coping mechanisms – there’s also a proven direct link between infant sleep problems and baby blues and postnatal depression. Get help ASAP with your local GP, visit beyondblue.org.au or phone Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.

By Nicole Carrington-Sima 

June 10, 2014

10 Tips For Flying With Babies And Toddlers

Your family holiday is approaching, but instead of feeling happy and excited you’re filled with dread. How are you going to survive the flight to get there? Yes, you can do it and here are some tips to make your plane trip as easy and enjoyable as possible.

  1. Choose your flight schedules to suit your child’s normal routine. If you have a good sleeper, aim to fly when your baby is likely to be asleep for most of the trip. On the other hand, if you have a child who has a hard time falling asleep at strange places, travelling when she’s awake may work better for you.
  2. Prebook your seats. Request a bassinet for your baby as soon as you book the flight. Even if she doesn’t sleep in it, you’ll get more legroom and a place to put your food tray where little fingers can’t reach it.
  3. Decide if you’re using a stroller or a baby carrier to get around airports. Some airports provide strollers. At others, you may be allowed to bring your stroller to the gate of the aircraft. Check this in advance so that you know what to expect. A baby carrier is a great alternative to a stroller – it will give you more flexibility and a free pair of hands.
  4. Arrange meals. If meals are included in your fare you’ll also get a baby meal, but you must preorder it. Some airlines offer special toddler meals, others don’t. Additionally, pack a few of your children’s favourite snacks in case they don’t like the food served on board and to have something extra to keep them occupied.
  5. Pack toys and clothes. Remember to bring favourite comfort items and some toys but not too many. There will be plenty of new objects to explore on the plane. Unlike toys, spare clothes are something you’ll need lots of and don’t forget to bring some for yourself. Expect that your child will play with food, spill drinks and wipe her fingers all over you. Besides, have you noticed that nappy blowouts tend to happen only if you’ve run out of clean clothes and nappies?
  6. Get organised before take-off. Before you store your bag take out bottles, nappies, toys or anything else you may need and put it within easy reach.
  7. Feed at take-off and landing. Have a bottle or dummy ready, or offer a breastfeed to ease ear discomfort.
  8. Get friendly with other families. This should be easy because families are usually seated in the same area on the plane. You can lend each other a helping hand plus there is nothing better to entertain a young child than another child.
  9. Go for walks. Going up and down the aisle offers a great distraction for restless little people.
  10. Keep the end goal in mind. Your flight is not likely to go down in history as the best 6, 8 or 12 hours of your life, but it will come to an end. And then it will be all worth it.

Happy flying!

parenting, raising children, flying with babies, travel tips, travel advice, travelling

By Tatiana Apostolova

June 2, 2014

To Be Or Not To Be… A Stay-At-Home Mum?

To some, being a stay-at-home-mum is the sole purpose of their life, their dream job and the reason they were put on this earth, but to others it’s their worst nightmare and a job they would happily trade in for an office, regular meal breaks and adult conversation.

Of course for some families, having a stay-at-home-mum isn’t an option.  With rising food costs, electricity bills and taxes on everything these days, a lot of families simply can’t afford to live on a sole income.  If you’re lucky enough to have the choice, here are some pros and cons of being a stay-at-home-mum. 

Pros:

  • There is little chance of you missing out on those important milestones such as first words, first steps and that first time your child eats solids and covers the entire room and themselves with pureed pumpkin.
  • You get to spend ample quality time with your children.  Being a working mum is extremely tiring and the days fly by all too quickly.  After preparing dinner, homework for older children, bath time, preparing lunch boxes, bedtime and a full day’s work, it doesn’t leave much spare time to do fun things with the children.
  • You have total control over what you child does and eats each day.  Most daycare centres engage and educate children, enriching their delicate lives, but others have been known to neglect children.  Being a stay at home mum means that you know what your child is doing all day, the food they’ve eaten and how many nappy changes they’ve really had.
  • Stay-at-home-mums have the potential to pick up a part time job which can be worked around the children.  Becoming a freelance writer, a typist, or even running your own small business are jobs that can sometimes be done successfully when the children are napping or having some down time.

Cons:

  • Many women are eager to return to work to ensure they don’t lose vital skills.  Most jobs require training of some sort on a regular basis so being out of the workforce for years could leave your CV looking dilapidated and your ability to return to the workforce much more difficult.
  • Conversing in baby talk and playing charades all day can be tedious to some woman, instead preferring to return to work in order to get the brain ticking over again.  Being in a stimulating environment with grown-ups and engaging in adult conversation can be much more appealing.
  • Being a stay-at-home-mum means that you’re relying entirely on your partner or family for financial support.  Holidays, new clothes or that new car that you desperately want could be way down your list of priorities.  Having less income can also be the cause of some relationship problems.
  • Some women who choose to stay at home with their children can feel trapped in their own home.  It’s all too easy to get stuck in a rut at home day after day.  There is no break for a stay-at-home-mum.  Being on call 24/7 can get extremely demanding and depressing for some women.

Women who make the decision to return to work, whether full time or part time should never be labelled as bad mothers who can’t stand being around their children and similarly, being a stay at home mum doesn’t mean that they are less intelligent or have less chance of getting a job.  Everyone’s circumstances are different, we all do what we have to do to get by and if you’re lucky enough to have that choice of being a stay-at-home-mum, lucky you.

By Karyn Miller

May 31, 2014

Exercise Tips For Children With Asthma

Creating appropriate exercise and sports routines for children suffering from asthma can be difficult, especially with the temperature dropping which could only prove to be more strenuous on their lungs. Rather than lounging around the house playing video games or surfing the net, encourage your kids to participate in some outdoor activities which won’t leave them wheezing in exhaustion.

Warm up exercises

Motivating your child to do some gradual warm up exercises is a great way to prepare their lungs for a more intense workout. Some simple techniques are often the best to start off with, which include jumping jacks, star-jumps and stretching out their arms and legs. After 5-10 minutes they will feel at ease and ready for some fun activities to follow.

Avoid heated pools

While swimming is a recommended activity for children who suffer from asthma, taking them to a heated pool is not the best mix. The chlorinated water and stuffy air combined with the heat makes it difficult for children to breathe, and could contribute to an asthma attack. It is best to take children with asthma to an outdoor pool, to avoid the onset of any attacks or difficulties breathing.

Team sports

Low intensity team sports are another helpful way to get kids out of the house and into some fresh air without any risks. Gymnastics is a fun sport which focuses on stretching and elongating the body, without feeling physically exerted afterwards. Bike riding and ballet are also asthma friendly hobbies which offer a risk-free workout.

Carry your inhaler

Keeping a close tabs on your inhaler will the decrease the chance of a full blown asthma attack. It’s best to always keep a spare in your child’s backpack, and inform teachers and coaches of your child’s medical condition if something does go wrong. 

Image via MNN

By Felicia Sapountzis

May 28, 2014

How To Wean Your Baby Off The Pacifier

There is no right or wrong way to phase out the pacifier from your baby’s life. It has acted as a source of comfort for months or even years, but only you can decide when it’s time to cut the cord. Here are some tips which could make the transition a little easier to deal with – for parents and baby.

Cold turkey

They’ll cry, beg and complain for hours on end, but some parents suggest that this method is the best way to go. Instead, spend an extra amount of time bonding with your child and even distracting them with various games and activities you could play together. The more they become fixated on the pacifier, the worse the withdrawal will become.

Bedtime

If your child has become dependant on the pacifier for both day and night, a good way to transition is to only use it for bedtime. By the time your child is 2-3 years of age, talk to them in a clear and concise manner, and help them understand that it can only be used at nighttime. Make it part of their bedtime routine, and they will slowly transition and will avoid asking for it when they don’t really need it.

Give it away

If your child is old enough, explain to them the concept of giving it away for other babies that might need it more. A fun little way my niece gave up her beloved pacifier, was by leaving it under the Christmas tree in exchange for her presents that year. There were certainly a few times she asked for it again, but only because she needed comfort and used it when she was upset. Giving the pacifier up to the ‘Tooth Fairy’ or ‘Santa Claus’ will help children to deal with the idea that they are no longer a baby, but rather growing up and entering a new stage in their life. It is also a far less traumatic way of phasing out the pacifier, instead of going cold turkey which can be frightening for a young child.

Read books

There are a variety of children’s books where the storyline is all about growing up and moving on from the pacifier. These books are easy for children to understand, and demonstrate the type of behaviour which is expected of a big girl, or a big boy as they grow older. Some effective books include:

The Binky Ba-ba Fairy by Heather Knickerbocker-Silva

Little Bunny’s Pacifier Plan by Maribeth Boelts

I Want My Pacifier by Tony Ross

Do you have any tips on how to phase out the pacifier?

Image via 5 Real Moms

By Felicia Sapountzis

May 22, 2014

Stick That In Your Google – and De-stress

You can read too much when you’re pregnant; you can read too much as a mum. But we like to do our homework. We like to be prepared. ‘Just in case’ is a refrain that beats in the head of every imminent parent and the words don’t switch off once our precious little one is here. If anything, they get louder.

There is so much more to worry about. So many decisions to make. Vaccinations: Do you? Don’t you? Nappies: Cloth or disposable? Breast or bottle? How’s your milk production? Not enough? Why not? Stress levels up? (No, you mutter to yourself and the breastfeeding clinic, I’m fine. No stress at all. Just FINE.) And late at night, perhaps around the time of the midnight feed when your whirling thoughts won’t let you return to sleep (or perhaps you can’t sleep, always listening out for a cry) you log on.

You research; you read. You find out. After all, you want to be prepared … Then you really can’t sleep. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing sure, but too much? Worse, much worse. Or at least, it’s as bad.

In the age of ‘Google-it’ you can find an answer to every question – but you can also find information overload. Worrying about your child’s development? The Internet offers dozens of progress charts to measure your little one against – and none of them are consistent. Google letting us down? What’s the world coming to? It’s enough to depress anyone.

The simple truth is that there is no manual for motherhood and while the Internet can offer you piles of opinions, reams of conjecture and millions of pages of general information that have everything, or little, or absolutely nothing to do with what you want and need, this kind of Googl-it is can lead to more stress and confusion for many imminent and new mums.

At a recent gynaecologists’ appointment, a friend looked pale and sick from sitting up all night reading about how ‘older mums’ (translation = over 30) are more at risk of complications for themselves and their baby. Her doctor, a wise man not much younger than herself, advised her to ‘de-Google’.

“That’s my job,” he said. “If there’s a problem, I’ll tell you. If I tell you nothing, there is nothing. Stick that in your Google.”

Here are a few tips from a group of doctors:

  1. Anything worrying you? Ask your doctor. No inquiry too minute, and doctors are paid not to laugh.
  2. Avoid self-diagnosing online: Advice given without proper, professional examinations is likely to be useless, or at worst, dangerous. There’s a reason doctors need to see symptoms to pronounce a diagnosis or offer a considered medical opinion.
  3. Find two or three websites or blogs that you find helpful and supportive, signup, subscribe, whatever – and filter all the others out (those you select may change as you move through the various phases of parenthood; from pregnancy to birth, that all-important first year, toddlerhood and right through to starting school and the teenage years). Your email inbox, at least, will thank you.
  4. The same with books – one or two for each ‘phase’ of your parenthood is more than enough. What To Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff is very thorough, and new editions also cover baby’s first year – so you’re all set.

After all, as you’ll quickly discover (if you haven’t already) no blog can prepare you for the rollercoaster ride you’re already on. All you can do is buckle up, shut your eyes tight, screeeaaam – and enjoy.

By Gillian Clive

May 5, 2014

Staying Fabulous While Raising Kids

You don’t have to be a Hollywood starlet to stay fabulous while raising kids. While hot celebrity mums like Jessica Alba and Gwyneth Paltrow might have an entire staff of people and at their disposal, they still follow some pretty basic tricks that you can use as well. Here’s how you can remain gorgeous and feminine while  raising kids at the same time.

Take time to pamper

Busy mum Gwyneth Paltrow knows the importance of taking time to pamper yourself, even if you’re juggling work and family. In a recent Goop newsletter, she spills about her favourite DIY spa treatments, which include an oatmeal and honey body scrub and a simple Epsom salt bath. Even if you can’t steal a full 45 minutes away from parenting to take a bath, try taking a quick 10 minute break to apply your favourite body butter or file and buff your nails. It will boost your confidence and reduce your stress level at the same time.

Stay organised

We know it’s seemingly impossible to stay on top of everything when you’re managing children, a partner and a job. But the more organised you are, the less stress you’ll experience, and stress is the fastest way to take your look from fabulous to frumpy. “[It’s] about putting your kid on a schedule instead of letting them run you,” Jessica Alba told Well+Good NYC. “When you put the kids to bed at seven, you get to be a woman with your husband, or go have dinner, or whatever.”

Don’t obsess over the little things

Gwyneth and Jessica might always look flawless, but for every “perfect” celebrity mum, there are one or two who aren’t afraid to admit that motherhood can be a little difficult sometimes. Pop star mums Mariah Carey and Britney Spears have both admitted to feeling a little frazzled while trying to balance bringing up kids and managing their careers. Instead of freaking out about minor mishaps, learn to roll with the punches. Inner peace is definitely the first step to feeling fabulous.

How do you stay fabulous as a mum? Tell us in the comments!

August 27, 2013

10 Healthy Lunch Box Ideas

We know what it’s like – you go to the trouble of packing an interesting lunch with a variety of foods, only to find it comes back home at the end of the day half eaten, rotten and squashed in the bottom of the school bag. With the countless other issues piled on your shoulders, the next day it seems easier to revert to the basics.

But it’s important to push on through – the food you send to school can contribute to at least a third of your child’s daily food intake. So packing a balanced lunchbox is important to make sure they’re getting all the nutrients they need to grow up big and strong. On the plus side, healthy kids eat to hunger and won’t voluntarily starve themselves. So if you offer a healthy lunch box and avoid adding all the pre-packaged goodies they pester you for – they’ll eat it if they’re hungry. Good job mum!

When it comes to making your child’s lunch there are two rules Healthy Kids Association suggest you follow:

  1. When putting the lunch box together, choose a food from each of the five food groups: grains and cereals, protein, fruit, vegetables and dairy.
  2. Don’t demonise food – if you want to give your child one of their favourite ‘extra’ foods  (such as a small packet of chips or a sweet biscuit) that’s fine, but we recommend doing so only once a week and keep the portion small. As a guide, stick to serves  less than 600kj.

A note on drinks: we hope that all children drink water everyday. In addition, it’s OK to occasionally offer them fruit juice, as long as it’s 99% fruit juice and no more than 200mls. In the menu plan below, we offer it once a week. As for milk, studies show children are not getting enough calcium. Kids need calcium to encourage strong bone growth (especially teenagers!) and tooth enamel. Plain reduced fat milk for children over the age of two is ideal, but if your child won’t drink it, offering flavoured milk ensures they’re getting the calcium they need. If you’re worried about it staying cold and fresh, freeze it the night before.

Need some more  lunch box ideas? The following menu will keep you going for the next two weeks:

  Main Lunch Snack Fruit Drink (in addition to water)  Extra Snack
Mon Chicken, hummus and tomato sandwich Reduced fat cheese stick Apple Chocolate flavoured reduced fat milk Air popped popcorn
Tues Ham, reduced fat cream cheese and salad wrap Sultana snack pack Fruit salad Water Dry breakfast cereal
Wed Pesto pasta salad with chicken and capsicum Reduced fat yoghurt Orange 99% fruit juice (200ml or less) Vegetable sticks with dip
Thurs Egg, celery and reduced fat mayonnaise sandwich Homemade pita chips with hummus Frozen grapes Reduced fat plain milk Tinned fruit in juice
Fri Tuna, corn, lettuce and reduced fat mayonnaise wrap Reduced fat cheese with crackers Fruit kebab Water Muesli bar (weekly extra)
Mon Ham and sweet corn frittata Reduced fat custard Banana Water Rice crackers or cakes with dip
Tues Chicken salad with chick peas, baby spinach and pumpkin Vegetable sticks with dip Fruit salad Strawberry flavoured reduced fat milk Reduced fat yoghurt
Wed Tuna and sweet potato patties Reduced fat cheese stick Frozen melon balls Water Fruit spice English muffin
Thurs Turkey, tomato, spinach and reduced fat cheese sandwich Avocado, carrot and lettuce rice paper rolls Apple Reduced fat plain milk Reduced fat custard
Fri Sweet chilli chicken and lettuce wrap Muesli and reduced fat yoghurt Kiwi fruit and strawberries 99% fruit juice (200ml or less) Small packet potato chips (weekly extra)

It’s “FRUIT & VEG MONTH”! Download our parent pack and enter our competitions – there are great prizes to be won, including 50% off a fruit and veg box for everyone who downloads a pack. Get started eating more fruit and veg now – visit Healthy Kids. Want more nutritional ideas? Follow Healthy Kids Association on Facebook.

August 22, 2013
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