Saturday, October 31, 2009

Take the worry out of study

The pressure is piling on, but parents can help students prepare for the stressful exam period.
 With only three weeks until year 12 students finish high school, they are no doubt consumed at this time of year with final exams.
For parents and other family members, it’s important you support your senior student when it comes to study time, so here are some simple ideas to give your child their best chance of success.
Turn off the TV. This should be a household rule for study time, as even if it is on, with the volume down low, it will still be a distraction and will especially draw young children away from what they should be doing.
The radio, on the other hand, can sometimes be useful for students aiming to create a relaxing environment to study, so this will depend on your child.
Restrictions may need to be placed on the family phone and mobiles, to avoid further distractions, and set a strict time limit on how long phone calls should last with school friends.
Make sure your teen has a designated study area with a desk and comfortable chair, cool air, and ample lighting.
Sometimes students work better at the kitchen table where they can call on parents to help at any time, but remember this means that the dining room should be free of distractions such as television or noisy conversations with other family members.
Whether they are at a desk or kitchen table, students need plenty of room to spread out their materials, and also make sure they have ample supplies such as pencils, pens, paper, books such as a dictionary or encyclopedia, and other items relevant to their studies.
It is also worthwhile to use a pinboard to post important school items, calendars, permission slips or reminders.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tatts not OK

It’s time toy companies let little girls be girls

As a former member of the Barbie Fan Club (circa 1985) I have been saddened and somewhat disgusted by Mattel and their perverse ideas of what is an appropriate toy for a little girl.
I learned recently that Mattel, in a move to apparently “update” Barbie, has put on the shelves the Totally Stylin’ Tattoos Doll.
It was released in April in the US to quite a lot of controversy, and reached our shores in July.

Mattel’s website states: “Your daughter will love getting creative with these super-stylish tattoos! Using the tattoo stamper, she can design and decorate her doll’s awesome outfits - and even apply temporary tattoos to herself. How hip and trendy!”
Since when have tattoos become hip and trendy for three-year-old girls?
Barbie founder Ruth Handler would be turning in her grave if she could see what has happened to this iconic doll who used to inspire little girls to think about what they wanted to be when they grew up.
Where is Barbie the Vet, Barbie the School Teacher, Barbie the Doctor and Barbie the Astronaut?
Instead, we find a truckload of princess Barbies mixed in with Barbie the Tart heading for a night on the town in her mini-skirt with either a mobile phone or cocktail glass in her hand.
When I first spotted Barbie the Tart and Barbie the Alcoholic on the shelves in Target, I was tempted to write to Mattel to tell them my thoughts, and now that Tramp Stamp Barbie has joined the ‘hood, it’s the last straw.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fuss no more

Is your child labelled a ‘fussy eater’? Then this book might be just what you’re looking for.

Some days she eats, some days she doesn’t.
This is the story of my three-year-old who will happily scoff handfuls of broccoli one night, but refuse to touch her breakfast the next morning.
Parents – hands up if your child is a fussy eater.
Well, you are not alone. According to a recent report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, only a very small proportion of children eat the recommended daily serve of fruit and vegetables (that’s three per cent of 4-8 years old, and only two per cent of 9-13 year old children).
And the most common cause of this lack of nutrition is fussy eating habits.
To help parents like me who lack inspiration in the kitchen (despite watching every episode of MasterChef), there is a new book that offers a fresh approach to family meals.

The lowdown on cereal

A survey of more than 200 breakfast cereals found that all cereals marketed for children, except for one, have too much sugar and/or too little fibre.
Ten out of 20 children’s cereals contained 40 per cent sugar.
Only three of the top 10 selling cereals are recommended by the government watchdog: Weet-Bix, Sultana Bran and VitaBrits.
Children’s cereals on the whole tend to be nutritionally inadequate and many healthy adult cereals would be far better for the whole family.
Porridge is a great breakfast as it is low in sodium, high in fibre, and has a low GI.
A cup of cooked rolled oats provides about 3-4g of fibre and the only sugar and salt is what you add on, so try using fruit and yogurt to sweeten your porridge which will add more nutrients.
A lesson for parents: if you never buy unhealthy cereals, your children will never consume them. Don’t allow your kids to become addicted to a bowl of sugar in the morning.
Feeding Fussy Kids has a fabulous recipe called Three-Bubble Crunch. It’s crunchy and yummy, and looks just like a shop-bought cereal, but it has none of the added salt or sugar.

NB. I have now road tested the Three-Bubble Crunch... check out my other blog here for the review! 

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

October is International Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month

Thursday, October 15, is International Pregnancy and Infant Loss remembrance Day.

Did you know that one in every four pregnancies ends in a loss? It's a startling statistic and one that brings tears to my eyes, because I have also lost a much-loved baby.

The Bonnie Babes Foundation is Australia's leading charity in the area of pregnancy loss helping over 17,000 families every year. The Bonnie Babes Foundation runs 24 hour, 7 day per week grief counselling services. The Foundation raises vital funds for medical research to decrease the sad statistic of one in every four pregnancies ending in a loss. With over 1000 volunteers and branches in every state of Australia the charity established in 1994 has had an enormous impact in the community in the area of pregnancy loss.
To mark International Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness the Bonnie Babes Foundation has just released its new book "Small Miracles". The book has been published by one of Australia's top publishers Hachette Australia who publish everything from Enid Blyton to Stephen King and many well known titles in between. The book is now available in Target, Kmart, Myer, Big W, Dymocks, Angus & Robertson, Borders, Collins, 180 independent book sellers and specialty stores.

The book is written by the Founder of the Bonnie Babes Foundation, Rachel Stanfield-Porter who lost her own two babies and now has two healthy sons. The book is a compilation of inspiring Australian stories of hope, survival and coping after the loss of a baby from miscarriage, stillbirth and prematurity. It is a book about celebrities and high profile personalities including footballer Robert Harvey, Dr Cindy Pan, radio personality Dee Dee, actor Rebecca Gibney, actor Tony Bonner and many others who talk about their losses in a very candid way.
This is the first time a book like this has been released into mainstream bookstores and department stores. The book sold so well in the few weeks its been on book shelves that the publisher has gone into a rush reprint.

The Bonnie Babes Foundation is a much needed charity as last year 71,303 babies passed away in Australia. The charity has qualified Counsellors available across the country who help families all year round and especially during this month of remembrance.
The charity has established remembrance areas in cemeteries across Australia where families can visit a special monument and in their own peaceful time remember their baby.

So please show your support by buying the book and remember those lost bubs and their grieving families.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Nappy happy

Which nappy is right for you and right for your baby?
I have heralded the benefits of cloth nappies in previous columns, but I had a request from a reader to write a general guide to today’s nappy options.
While it goes against my moral fibre to even mention disposable nappies, it’s hard to ignore the fact that around 91 per cent of Australian parents use them on their babies.
So, with this in mind, here’s a rundown on nappy options and some tips to help you choose wisely.
The main things to consider are cost, convenience, environmental impact, care and maintenance, and the health of your baby, so you will need to work out an order of importance when making your decision.