Simple Ways To Spend More Time With The Kids

Spending quality time with the kids doesn’t need to cost a fortune. You don’t need to take them on some lavish outing, especially if you can’t afford it – that just causes stress for all of you.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Get Dads Involved In Parenting

Instead, there are some really simple and inexpensive ways to spend time with the kids that you can both enjoy. The primary thing to remember is that they want your undivided attention, and that’s about all they want.

Going for a walk

When was the last time you went for a stroll with the kids just to walk and talk to them? It’s so simple but quite often parents have a way of complicating things. The walk doesn’t have to be to a specific destination, make it a bit of an adventure and let them lead the way.

A key thing to note is to leave the technology at home or use it only in an emergency. There’s no point taking the kids for a walk if you’re on the phone the entire time or distracted with other things.

Going for a drive

Last week my son asked if we could go for a drive to nowhere in particular. I have to admit, at first I wasn’t too keen as I had other plans that day. Yet wanting to spend some extra alone time with him, I agreed, and we both ended up having an amazing outing.

We got into the car, just the two of us, and together we decided which direction to drive. Even younger kids will have an idea of where they would like to go. For us this provided an excellent opportunity to have a great conversation. That’s not always an easy task with teens and despite only spending a few hours together, we both continue to feel that connection.

Get involved with their school work

Parents of younger kids will often help with reading and writing tasks. Yet as they get older parents will leave school work predominately to their kids. Many parents have no idea what they are learning at school, particularly in high school. We nag to get the work done but really that’s often where parental input stops.

Ideally, kids want their parents to be involved in their schooling and that includes high school aged kids. Particularly if you’ve got a child who’s not doing homework, being aware of what tasks they have can help them significantly. Plus it provides a perfect opportunity to spend time together.

You can then organize outings which revolve around their schooling. This not only boosts their interest, but it will motivate them to be more productive. You’ll end up spending less time nagging about schoolwork, which equates to more quality time together.

Keep it simple

As basic as it sounds parents need to remind themselves to keep parenting simple. Don’t put additional pressure on yourself to provide a magnificent day out when a few stress free hours together on a regular basis is all they need. It’s all about listening to your kids, sharing their world, their woes and providing your undivided attention. It really is that simple!

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September 13, 2015

The Best Tricks To Keep Your Kids Entertained These Holidays

School holidays are almost upon us, which means there are thousands of busy parent’s looking for ways to keep their kids entertained!

The good news is Spring has finally sprung, so there’s plenty of activities outdoors that will keep the whole family entertained for hours on end.

RELATED: Fun Things To Do With The Kids These School Holidays

Build a fort

Pull your linen cupboard out of storage and let your kids imaginations run wild as they create their own special fortresses out of sheets, pillows and blankets! This is a great hands on activity that kids (and goofy dads) love!

Arts and crafts

Finger painting for little kids or cutting and pasting for older kids, your options are endless. Hit your local crafts or two dollar store and stock up on coloured paper, glitter, glue, pipe cleaners, patty pans, colouring pencils, paints and everything else colourful and crafty your kids will love! You’ll be surprised by how long kids are stimulated by these school like activities that let them delve into their creative side.

Scavenger hunts

What kid doesn’t love a good old fashioned treasure hunt where X marks the spot? Hide some clues and treats around the house and garden and sit back while your kids search like crazy for the prize at the end of the game. You can make this extra fun by including costumes and educational concepts like puzzle solving.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Score Some Alone Time These School Holidays

Movie time

Hit the cinemas with jumbo popcorn or find some great cartoons on Netflix, or on DVD. A funny movie and some snacks will keep them quiet for at least a couple of hours and give them something to talk about long after the final credits have rolled.


Pyjama parties with takeout for dinner, sugary treats, board games, makeovers…you name it! Boys and girls alike will love spending a night with their closest friends and staying up past their bedtimes.

Hold a mini Olympics

An at home mini Olympics is a great way to keep your kids active and outdoors, and will be a fun filled adventure suitable for them and all of their friends (maybe even you, if you’re feeling energetic). Sack races, egg races or hide and seek, you name it! A little healthy competition in the name of fun is always an exciting way to get your kids involved in something other than the latest video games.

Get baking

One thing is for sure: kids love cake, cookies, slices, cupcakes and anything in-between. This is a learning opportunity for children as they learn how to take basic ingredients like flour and eggs and turn it into something delicious. It also gives them something to brag about, with a sense of accomplishment. There are literally hundreds of things you can do with your kids these school holidays – you’re limited only by your imagination.

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September 10, 2015

Create Beautiful Lasting Memories At Disney On Ice

What’s your earliest childhood memory? For me, it’s a wonderful one with my late dad, marvelling at a starfish at Hawaii, at age three. For my best friend of 20 years, it’s a much-treasured memory of seeing an early version of Disney On Ice, also at age three.

RELATED: Fall Down The Rabbit Hole At Luxury Brisbane Hotspot

To a child, few things are as exciting as the magic and wonderment of the ultimate princess experience, Disney On Ice presents Dare To Dream, touring the nation now.

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And so my two littlies, aged three and two, were beside themselves with joy when we headed to see the show in Brisbane. They’d dressed up in their finest – Frozen-themed dresses, jumpers and shoes – and indeed the scene before the show would have made the late Walt Disney well proud: hordes of Disney princesses as far as the eye could see, even some adult-sized ones also resplendent in costume.

Celebrating 75 years of Disney Princess stories, Dare to dream showcases two of Disney’s modern-day princess stories: Tangled and The Princess and the Frog together with two of its most-beloved fairytales; Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Cinderella. It’s an action-packed skating spectacle bound to warm your heart, just as it did mine.

My daughters whooped, danced, laughed and smiled non-stop throughout the show – this will warm the cockles of the hearts of even the most tired, jaded parents, just as it did ours. And parents will enjoy the experience too – the beauty, sparkle and skill demonstrated in the ice-skating show are a true joy to behold. How on earth do you run and dance in ice skates? Even the show’s warm-up act displayed Olympian-like prowess on the ice!

This is a great school holidays experience for the whole family. I’m confident my little lasses will savour and remember this experience for many years to come. Check it!

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Book tickets for the upcoming Melbourne and Sydney shows now via Ticketek.

July 1, 2015

5 Ways To Score Some Alone Time These School Holidays

I’ve always greeted school holidays with mixed feelings. Yay to not rushing to school in the mornings! No more school lunches! And if I can convince my kids to get their own breakfast, I might even be able to sleep in one day. But then… where did my alone time go?

RELATED: Fun Things To Do With The Kids These School Holidays

While parenting during the school holidays is more relaxed, it’s still hard work and we, mums, still need our alone time to recharge. Here are some ways you can recover your alone time, even if you’ve missed out on those precious school holiday care spots.

1. Swap child care

Kids love playing with their friends and it often makes your job easier, too, if they have a friend around – they don’t need you to entertain them. Arrange to swap a couple of hours or a whole day of day care. You child’s friend’s mum needs alone time as much as you do and will be only too happy with these arrangements.

2. Swap your skills

Another way to get some child care without paying for it is offering your skills in return. Maybe show your teenage neighbour some makeup tricks or offer to cook dinner for your friend in exchange for babysitting.

3. Hit the gym

The gym crèche is an inexpensive way to have someone look after you kids for an hour or so, and don’t assume it’s only for the littlies. Talk to the creche staff about the ages of the kids they’re getting. Most likely your kids will find lots of school-aged friends to hang out with while you’re working out.

4. Visit grandparents

You know your kids will watch TV and eat sweats the whole time they’re there, but you can pretend that you don’t know. Just sneak out for a few hours and let Grandma handle it.

5. Sign them up for classes

There’re all kind of kids’ classes you can find during school holidays for varying budgets, from art to sports, to science. Choose the ones that your kids are most interested in and more importantly, the ones that don’t require the parent to be present. Let the kids have their school holidays fun while you’re enjoying your alone time.

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April 6, 2015

Fun Things To Do With The Kids These School Holidays

Unlike us grownups who relish in doing nothing, downtime is a kid’s worst nightmare. So with the school holidays about to kick off, you might well be scratching your head and wondering how on earth you’re going to keep the littlies entertained these holidays without spending an arm and a leg.

RELATED: Quirky Easter Gifts That Aren’t Chocolate

Well, ladies, fear not, because we’ve compiled a list of ten fun, cost effective, or free ways to keep the kids occupied this Easter and all of which are activities you might get a thrill out of yourself.


Heading to the movies is something the whole family can enjoy! Usually around school holiday time there are several kid friendly movies that are released that both boys and girls will enjoy. Heck, you might even be amused yourself! If you’re concerned about the cost however, have a look online for any deals or specials – there’s usually school holiday promotions running across various cinemas or via discount websites such as Groupon.

Arts and Crafts

For a few dollars you can pick yourself up an arts and crafts pack or buy your own DIY pieces. You could create a collage, decorate a photo album or photo frame, or even make paper lanterns – there are loads of ways to get creative! If you’re stuck for ideas, the world wide web will be your best friend.


Effective, free and fun! Kids love to get outdoors and play, particularly if it involves monkey bars and slippery slides. So instead of letting them climb all over the furniture indoors, head to your local park. There will be no mess left to clean up, you’ll get some much needed vitamin D and you can pack a picnic and make a day of it, also.


Trampolining has become incredibly popular in recent years, with trampoline centres opening up in nearly every town. The centres are kid friendly with supervised jumping areas, dodge-ball games and foam pits and are relatively cheap at about $15 per person per hour.

Train ride

Remember the thrill you got from riding the train as a kid? It was like Christmas. These holidays venture out of town for the day via the train.

Make play dough

Kids enjoy making play dough just as much as they love playing with it. It’s relatively easy to make, cost effective and the little ones will appreciate playing with something that they helped to create.

Bike riding

Bike riding is great exercise and can also be lots of fun. There are plenty of scenic bike tracks around, so find one that’s local and plan your journey. Be prepared to make a few stops along the way however, so be sure to pack some snacks and water.


Getting creative in the kitchen can be fun for both the adults and the littlies. Maybe you want to try out a new clean or vegan chocolate slice recipe, or whip up something a little more traditional like cupcakes or choc chip cookies. Regardless of whether it’s healthy or indulgent, if it’s sweet and fun to make, the kids are guaranteed to have a good time. Besides, who doesn’t enjoy licking the bowl!

Find free events

There are plenty of free events organised by councils throughout the school holidays, so be sure to find out what’s going on in your area. It might be an Easter parade, a street show, or a chocolate hunt (yep, the City of Sydney have organised an Easter egg hunt in the city), so head to your city’s website or pick up your free local magazine.

Camp out in the backyard

As long as the weather allows for it, organise a camp-out with the kids in your backyard. To do so, pitch a tent, or set up a sleeping area on the balcony or trampoline. You can watch the stars, roast marshmallows over the barbecue and tell stories. It’s an imaginative and cheaper alternative to the real deal, but just as fun, nonetheless.

April 1, 2015

A Parent’s Guide To Enjoying School Holidays

Christmas is over, but the school holidays still have weeks to go and they can be stressful. What to do with the kids, so that they don’t get bored? What to do with myself, so that I don’t lose it? And wouldn’t it be nice if, for once, I could enjoy school holidays, too? You can enjoy school holidays and here are some tips on how to do it.

RELATED: How To Prevent School Holidays Hell

Maintain your routine

You don’t need to be as strict with your routine as during school time, but kids still need some predictability in their day. For me, the biggest part of the routine is bed time. If they don’t go to sleep early enough, they don’t get enough sleep. They are cranky on the next day, and I don’t get my time to myself at night.

Plan ahead

While there’s no need to plan in advance for every single day of the holidays, it helps to know what you’re doing on the next day so that you can get straight into it. Spending time in the morning trying to figure out what to do usually limits your options – by the time you’ve decided, it can be too late for some of the possibilities.

Not every day needs to be a full-on day

If you have entertainment planned all day every day, the kids will get tired and so will you. I like to alternate family outings and organised activities with quiet days when we stay at home more, read, do some craft and go to the local park or the library. By the way, libraries can be a great help when it comes to quiet days. My school children have signed up for our local library’s reading challenge and now they’re busy reading in an attempt to win a prize.

Take breaks

Family time is great, but you also need time to yourself, so if your partner is around, take turns looking after the children. You can also enlist grandparents’ help or swap child care with another parent. The kids will love playing with their friends and you will get your much needed free time.

It’s a good idea is to build time for breaks into your days. My 2-year-old has a nap in the afternoon and I usually use this time to sneak in some relaxing minutes for myself. Before my youngest one came along, I used to announce 5-minutes breaks every so often. I’d read a book or turn my attention onto something that interested me for just 5 minutes and the kids were ok with that, because they knew I’d be back with them soon and I’d be a much more agreeable person then.

Don’t let school holidays go by as just another thing on your parenting to-do list! They are an opportunity to connect and create precious memories with your children, and you deserve to enjoy them, too.

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January 12, 2015

Top Five Christmas Stress-Busters

Has Christmas stress got you reaching for the eggnog and/or Veuve Clicquot and Christmas cake you stashed away early for your party guests? Or, instead of gift-shopping, are you fantasising about punching Santa Claus in the face?

Related: How To Prevent School Holiday Hell

Never fear, help is at hand to combat that crazy Christmas stress thanks to Escape Haven Wellness Retreats and founder, Janine Hall. Here, Janine (pictured) shares her top wellness tips to destress and decrease your waistline over the silly season.

Janine is a wellness expert who’s been helping women unwind at her Bali, Byron Bay, Portugal and Morocco retreats since 2010.

Having founded the retreats in an aim to bring peace and well-being to the lives of increasingly stressed out women, Janine 40, recognises how hard it is to find time to yourself to unwind during the festive season.

However, she says these quick and easy stress-busters, see below, will help save your sanity in the busy holiday period. What’s more, stress is one of the biggest contributors of women’s weight gain, as well as other symptoms including loss of sex drive, nausea, headaches and frequent colds.

“When we experience stress, cortisol – also known as the stress hormone – is released which leads to high levels of fat being deposited in the abdominal area. An area of fat many women struggle to lose,” Janine says. “Many women will also emotionally eat when they are stressed, and not pay attention to the foods they are ingesting.

“Women will often put their family and careers ahead of their own well-being, and this is has a long-term negative affect on both their health, particularly their weight.”

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Top Five Christmas Stress-Busters:

  1. Think happy and be happy. Your thoughts are extremely powerful and can have a major impact on the way you act and look at life. Next time you are feeling overwhelmed, take a minute to take a few deep breaths from your stomach and think about what makes you happy and calm. You’ll begin to see an instant mood raiser.
  2. Take time out to feel and think. For a few minutes each day, take the time to switch off your mind. Going on a walk and getting some fresh air can help give you a fresh perspective on the day. Taking the time to experience nature and immerse yourself with your surroundings will help give you a sense of calm and inner peace, giving you the strength to combat any problems you may encounter.
  3. Aromatherapy is your best friend. Scent is one of our most powerful senses, and can have a profound impact on how we feel in our day-to-day lives. Using calming oils can easily promote a tranquil and soothing mood. Try using different scents to evoke different moods such as energising, calming, and relaxing – the possibilities are endless!
  4. Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. Sleep is key to maintaining health and well-being. Without a proper night’s sleep, you will find yourself irritable and easily stressed out. Giving yourself the time to sleep provides you with good energy levels and will also help you to feel better and make calmer decisions.
  5. Don’t take things so seriously. Remember to take the time to enjoy yourself; laughter is so important to our overall well-being. Joking around will help boost your mood and fight off small worries.

For more information on Escape Haven, visit

December 8, 2014

How To Prevent School Holiday Hell

Are you dreading the impending start to the school holidays? Do you find it hard to relax yourself, when caring for exuberant littlies? You’re not alone – many, many women find family holidays stressful. In fact, family demands could see you crave another holiday as soon as you return to work!

Never fear, help is at hand thanks to wellness expert Janine Hall (pictured), the gorgeous and successful entrepreneur/founder of Escape Haven – a group of popular women’s surf, yoga and luxury spa retreats in Bali, Byron Bay, Portugal and Morocco. “There is this idea that holidays are supposed to be happy and stress-free, however that’s not often the case. There is a lot of planning and organising that goes into a holiday,” Janine says.

“Coupled with the distraction of work emails we shouldn’t be reading and families demanding our undivided attention, these factors can dramatically impact the enjoyment of a holiday.

“Every year women pour into our wellness retreats with physical indicators of stress and anxiety. However that doesn’t mean the solution is to skip a holiday entirely.”

Here, Janine, 40, gives SHESAID readers her top five tips to avoid holiday stress:

  1. Make time for “me time”: Set time aside for you: this means switching off emails and having time away from the kids. No matter whether it be taking a leisurely bubble bath, meditating or writing your thoughts and feelings in a journal, setting time aside for you is integral for keeping stress at bay.
  2. Get the kids to cook dinner: Put your feet up and get the kids to cook you dinner. It’s also a great kids’ activity which teaches them how to cook with healthy ingredients and safety in the kitchen.
  3. Take a digital vacation: Between our iPhones, computers and TVs, we’re constantly online checking emails and the news. Do a digital detox – turn your phone off and get outdoors!
  4. Book a wellness retreat: Take a break from family and work pressures by booking a solo wellness retreat and giving yourself the holiday you deserve.
  5. Go on, girlfriend, get crafty: Get creative – whether it be crafting a photo album, sewing a new skirt or repotting plants in your garden. Getting your creative juices flowing will help relieve some of the stress you’ve been feeling from work and family pressures.
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September 15, 2014

Keeping Kids Entertained At Home On The Holidays

There’s the Easter Show, the movies, theme parks, shopping and trips away. But, just in case you aren’t a millionaire these school holidays, here are some options that will keep the kids busy (for a while at least) at home.

Share a favourite game or story with your children from your own childhood. Toy libraries often have old-school games like Operation, Mouse Trap or Trouble, or share a story/picture book like Where The Wild Things Are, Hairy Maclary from Donalson’s Dairy or There Was An Old Woman Who Swallowed A Fly. Classics!

Arrange a movie day – choose a couple of favourite films, get some popcorn and put your feet up with the kids.

Get cooking. Pick a recipe with the kids, go shopping for ingredients and cook something together that you can enjoy eating afterwards. This could be anything from a simple sponge cake to a classic lasagna or an entire tapas plattter – depending their age and interest levels.

Play dress up with your old clothes. Sort through your clothes together and recycle the ones that you never wear and the stuff your little one’s grown out of.

Get the kids to put on a play or a magic show. They could even use the dress up clothes and props from around the house. If you have a camera, you can even film it, for great memories.

Build a den with the kids. All you need is some boxes or sofa cushions, a few blankets and a bit of imagination. And, if the weather is okay, you could even risk doing this outside.

Create a scrapbook together using photos from your family album, or torn from magazines.

April 22, 2014