Currently viewing the tag: "Kids"


I cannot believe we are halfway through the school holidays here in sunny Queensland.  School holidays seemed so long where you were a little kid, weeks and weeks of no school! As a parent, grandparent or carer – school holidays means trying to think of things to do, and sometimes (a lot of the time?) dealing with ‘bored’ kids.

To help out a little, here are a couple of winners I have discovered over the years with my gang.

  1. Visit the Libraries in Brisbane. Don’t worry if you aren’t a member, it’s super easy to join!  Check out the library in person or online for holiday activities, our local library has craft, lego, author (last holidays it was Roald Dahl) celebrations.  Best of all it’s free!  Most libraries nowadays also lend DVDs, comics, and magazines as well, something for everyone!
  2. Check out your local National Parks, botanic gardens, bush reserves.  Nothing burns off excess energy and curbs cabin fever like a good run around, and some bushwalking.  Pack a backpack, water and first aid kit and you are good to go.  It’s also worthwhile checking online first, as a lot of parks have special programs just for kids. Try  Find a National Park in Queensland for information/ ideas.
  3. Have a bake-off.  Split up into teams and have a baking competition, keep it fun though as things can get pretty competitive once the kids start to get into it!  Here are some recipe sites to try… Food to Love, Delicious
  4. Hold a crafter-noon with some friends, take turns with other parents and have a few of the kids friends over for a craft session. Lego/ brick making also works well.  This one works best outside/ on the verandah, and use recyclable material if you can, super cheap and easy to clean up.  Take a look here and My Poppet for ideas!
  5. Have a movie afternoon, make popcorn and snacks. Steer away from new releases and break out a classic like Back to the Future, Goonies, The Labyrinth.  Kids and grownups will love it!

Hopefully that will give you a little inspiration!  Feel free to post any great ideas that work for your gang too!

Enjoy xx

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Moving quickly into the grown up world…

It’s interesting how life can move along so quickly sometimes that we feel like everything is rushing by.

You can find yourself wondering…when did that happen?

I feel like this sense of life rushing by is magnified since I became a parent over a decade ago. Even writing the word ‘decade’ makes me wonder, where did the time go?

The logical part of my brain knows that it’s been 13 years, and that there has been a whole lot of living crammed into those years.

Yet still I wonder where did the years go?

This morning I watched my eldest daughter getting ready, with minimal help, keen for a chat with me about all the ‘stuff’ she has going on.  Her little sister on the other hand demanded help with her shoes, clothes and then forgot her school bag because she was too focussed on remembering her show and tell. Without me asking, my eldest poppet calmly helped her little sister, chatting to her as she helped her with her shoes, reminded her to pack her lunch and asked if she was excited about Kindy. I was admiring how my little baby was fast becoming a young woman, one with compassion and the empathy and desire to help others. She seemed to sense that I could use some help this morning, and helped me out in such a thoughtful well, I couldn’t help but admire her.

On a recent road trip with the kids, it dawned on me that they are no longer babies. All four have moved on from Babyville, entering the unknown land of young adulthood.

I am always a little slow to accept these shifts or changes in my life when it comes to the kids. I tend to focus on where we are right now, and I truly loved having a houseful of tiny people raging around playing, laughing and generally having a blast. Then, in a blur we gave away our last high chair, said farewell our cots said hello to big school and learning to read and write.

Over the years, whenever I watched the kids I would  notice they have a lot in common with me and with their Dad.  When they were little I would recognise a physical trait or expression (how cute, the little poppet has the toes as her Dad).

Now I recognise emotions, reactions and personality traits. How the kids deal with stress, the unknown and change.  The good and the not so good.

I am proud to see that my sons have inherited their fathers love of animals and kindness towards others, not so proud that they also seem to have inherited a love of computer games.  All of my kids are avid readers (super proud of passing that one on), they are also crazy-energetic bordering on hyperactive and prone to starting giant projects and leaving the mess everywhere (not so proud moment).

For me, one upside of seeing yourself reflected in your kids is an opportunity to make some changes in how you respond to things. For me, I am trying to learn how to slow down, relax and do one project at a time.

How about you?  Do you recognise yourself or your partner in your kids?

Enjoy xx

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I watched a brilliant episode of Q&A recently where the topic of social media and screen time surfaced. Over the years, since we began riding the wave of social media, I have often taken the time to reflect on my own use of technology and how I use social media. Which is useful in deciding boundaries for the kids and our family as a whole.

It’s a tricky ocean of ideas, platforms and devices to navigate.

I love the idea of connection, and the positive role technology can play in our lives.

The advent of Skype was a godsend when we lived overseas. Our parents could see and talk to the kids each weekend, helping to bridge the huge distance between France and Australia.

The flip side is that I see social media being used a tool for bullying, aggression and downright nasty behaviour. Typing derogatory words and sending threats, abuse and generally being a jerk is a lot easier in the comfort of your home rather than face-to-face with someone. We have even given this behaviour a cutesy name, ‘trolling’. Which conjures up an image of a fairy tale, rather than what it really is, antisocial behaviour and cowardice (check out this article in The Guardian). I can only think of a handful of people I know who behave like that face-to-face, and whilst some are praised for their bravery/ honesty, most are described as bullish and nasty.

I wonder is this quick easy access to information, and the ability to rapidly seek out and find the answer anywhere anytime going to decrease our problem solving abilities?

Are we having a detrimental impact on our ability to recall facts, describe situations and come up with ideas to solve problems? (Have a look at this article from Susan Greenfield)

The proliferation of experts telling us via byte size articles with catchy titles how to parent, eat, live, exercise, sleep is overwhelming, even suffocating. Some of my favourite websites seem to want to provoke us into arguing with each with click-bait type headlines and reigniting the same battles (junk food in our tuckshops, critiquing parenting styles, etc).

Does this all serve to distract us from learning, working through issues and focussing on the important stuff?

I try to take a balanced and informed view. As a self-professed geek, I love a good scientific article, so I read a lot to try to get different opinions and perspectives. I also observe my kids, and try to reflect on our behaviour when life is going well, and when it goes pear-shaped.

This is where I have landed.

Setting limits on screen time, social media and technology is not a ‘set and forget’. As the world changes, and my children grow and learn, so should our approach. Different families have different dynamics. Kids are individuals; I have noticed some of mine are better at controlling their use of technology than others (have a look at this article about kids and technology).

I believe one of the best things we can do as a community, as parents, partners and professionals is to discuss how we use technology in an open and non-judgemental way. Then keep talking and questioning and challenging what is going on around us.

Do you talk about technology in your house? Have you set any limits?

Enjoy xx

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Super cute money box from Down that little lane

Super cute money box from Down that little lane

It’s Saturday, which in our house means pocket money day.

I have always had mixed feelings about pocket money.

On one hand, I like that it teaches the kids to be responsible with money and to learn the true value of things.

On the other hand, I feel like it is a slippery slope to bribing the kids to do the jobs at home that they should probably be doing for free.

So with all of that in mind, here are a couple of tips and tricks I thought would be worth sharing…

  • How much? My older three kids are close in age, so I pay each one the same amount – $5 per week. My littlest poppet gets $3 per week.
  • Performance bonuses? We do occasionally pay a bit extra for special things. For the past two years it has been Naplan. Love it or hate it, it can be a big deal when you are 8 years old! So we did a deal with each of the kids that if they tried their best, the reward would be $20 payable when results come out.   Regardless of scores, rankings, the $20 would be paid for a positive attitude and for trying.
  • Job jars – when we are having a household spring clean, I put 4 jars/ glasses on the bench (one per child) and then have a list of jobs we need to do. Each job is worth 20c – 50c. My most industrious kids can earn $5-$10 in a morning, whilst the slightly lazier ones usually end up with $1-$2.
  • What do the kids spend it on? This is up to the kids themselves. If they want to blow it on lollies, they can (within reason!). If they want to save it up, I’ll help them out. If they want to buy $5 worth of sticky men to splat on the wall, they can. One overarching rule applies though, if we are out at a market, the shops, anywhere they are able to buy something, the only money they can spend is their own. This can occasionally lead to tears, when one of the kids has blown their money on lollies, and then sees something cool they would love to buy, but have no cash left. Those moments are the toughest to handle as a Mum or Dad, more so when we are in public and there is the real threat of a tantrum. The key is to hold your ground though, as it is a valuable life lesson.

Do you pay pocket money in your house?

Enjoy xx


How cute is that little piggy bank in the pic!!  You can find it here…

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The Signature of All Things, unexpectedly good!

The Signature of All Things, unexpectedly good!

The past few weeks have been frantically busy as we packed and moved across the country to sunny Queensland.

Now that the dust has settled (well almost), I have found time to read again.

I picked an unexpectedly good book at the airport (I can never resist a good airport novel) on my way to Melbourne and thought I would share my thoughts on it with you as I left my lovely book club ladies in sunny Perth. Boo to that!

Back to the book… The Signature of All Things caught my eye for two reasons, the first being that it is written by Elizabeth Gilbert (remember Eat, Pray, Love?, same lady!). I am happy to admit I loved Eat, Pray, Love. I have re-read it four or five times now, and still enjoy it. The second reason was that it told the tale of a woman. That’s right, a heroine. A little rare at times!

I got caught up in the story straight away, and without giving away the plot to you, I can tell you that it was an interesting, frustrating and a fascinating tale of adventure all rolled into one.  Maybe it was because I was on a plane and in a hotel for long stretches of time, but I found myself getting totally immersed into the world of Alma Whittaker and her tale of adventure, tragedy and love.  Well worth the read, especially if you are a lucky enough soul to be part of a book club.  Loads of interesting fodder to chat about (oh and heads up, there’s a few raunchy bits, so maybe not one for your great-grandmother, unless she is very cool and open-minded!).

The other book I have been trawling through is Jamie Durie’s Outdoor Kids. We are now lucky enough to have a huge sprawling yard in sunny Queensland, and it is filled to the brim with tropical plants, succulents, and places to explore.  That’s the upside, the downside is years of neglect I suspect. I have been trying to thing of ways to spruce it up without breaking the bank and making sure that it is a still a great place for the kids to play and explore.

Enter Jamie and his practical wisdom. We have started documenting our progress so will keep you posted!

So, there you are, two very different books (though with a common thread of botany) I would highly recommend.

What are you reading at the moment?

Enjoy xx

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Our neighbourhood this morning…(photos from from the kids)

Our neighbourhood this morning…(photos from from the kids)

Hello and happy Sunday!

We kicked our day off with walking Charlie the Wonderdog and a family breakfast.

The kids decided to take photos along the way (including the Mini-Fashionista who is starting her own blog these holidays – there is a LOT of planning going on right now!), which meant it was more of a Sunday meander rather than a walk.

Not even a stroll, just a slow amble (including Charlie the Wonderdog, who enjoyed having the time to sniff and explore).

At first I started to felt annoyed, like we should be moving faster, getting there quickly, and was focussed on where we were heading.

Then I noticed that the kids were lost in a world of bugs, flowers, lanterns, and generally exploring.  The photo montage above is our neighbourhood, through their eyes. Brilliant stuff! I hadn’t even noticed just how pretty, flowery, and green the streets nearby really are. Along the way the kids talked about where the ‘barky dogs’ lived, where the spooky house was, and stopped regularly to check out a bug, tree, or flower.

It reminded me of our Sunday walks when the kids were all toddlers. The 5 minute walk to the local coffee shop in Sydney would take about half an hour, sometimes more, depending on how many ants, snails, and flowers were along the way.

Do you take Sunday strolls? Do your kids and fur kids take their time?

Enjoy xx

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Enid Blyton - when I started to believe in fairies...

Enid Blyton – when I started to believe in fairies…

Do you believe in fairies?

My little tribe is of the firm belief that fairies, dragons and unicorns are all areal.

Utterly, totally convinced.

We have a fairy garden in the back yard for the fairies to live in or just take a break on their way to very important business.

Little L and Captain Jack believe that every living creature has feelings, trees, snails, bugs…

We talk about magical creatures as though they are every bit a real as a cat or a dog.  The kids reason, just because you haven’t seen these mystical critters does not mean they don’t exist. It just means that they are very good at hiding. And why not? Since humans can be pretty nasty sometimes to living creatures.

This wholehearted belief in magic and fairies casts a lovely glow of wonder over our home. Treasures are created and left for our little friends in the garden. ‘Signs’ are seen every day, tiny footprints, little flashes of light, shimmering reflections…

I have been asked why we indulge these beliefs, why don’t we teach the kids what is REAL?

It’s simple really.

Because my little tribe believe it to be both real and true.

So why should I question or dismiss what the kids believe in?

In their creative little minds, their beliefs are both real and true.

For me that is as good a reason as any to believe in fairies.

Do you believe in fairies at your place?

Enjoy xx

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 After a recent parent teacher interview I was left wondering…am I doing enough for the parent/ teacher relationship?

I thought I was coasting just fine, brief but positive feedback.  Apparently my little tribe are well-mannered, and on track with all that literacy and numeracy jazz. That’s a thumbs up right?

Apparently not says a good friend of mine. She tells me, that in her opinion and experience (as a teacher), it’s as the proverb tells us ‘the squeaky wheel gets the oil’.  In other words, if a parent is more vocal (demands, complains, etc), then their child gets more attention.  I was gob-smacked!  I am allegedly known as a ‘low maintenance parent’. The kind that goes with the flow, does their bit for the rosters (reading, etc)fills out permission slips on time, remembers the library books and most importantly never complains. Ever.

Which is a good thing. Isn’t it?

Apparently not.  What I should be doing is speaking up, raising objections if I think my child is being ‘left out’ or isn’t getting enough attention.  I have to admit, I did a bit of soul-searching after hearing this little gem.  Perhaps I was too agreeable, maybe I could advocate more for my child.  Then I thought some more about it and decided I was happy with my approach.  Lovely husband was happy too.  So if we are happy, my little tribe is happy, and the kids teachers are happy, then is there really a problem?

What do you think?  Is a proactive approach the best approach?  Or do we treat our parent teacher relationships as a partnership?

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