TIPS

www.help4everyparent.com

Tips to Make Life Easier and Safer

Are you always in a rush?  Are never enough hours in the day?  It is a common complaint of parents.  Life is crammed full of work for every parent.  From the moment they are born to the time they are grown up and leave home, kids make work for us.  Not just work, but problems.  But thatís not all.  There is a good side to parenting.  Kids bring joy and for millions of parents around the world, kids are the most precious thing they have.

All too soon the children will be spending most of their time away from home at school and with their peers.  Our time with young children is precious.  No day can ever be repeated.  Make time to have fun together.  Keep routine times such as bath time, eating, bedtime, free of stress.  Talk together about books, games, animals, news, people.  Make time to relax with your children and enjoy their achievements and their company.

Parenthood is complex, demanding, frustrating, painful, full of fear, heartbreaking.  But it is so rewarding, so joyous, soÖso wonderful. Keep sight of the joy.

Fourteen ways to add more hours to your day

1.      Get up earlier Ė Early in the morning is an ideal time to garden or get to the computer.  It can be a great time to work on something special for yourself.  Later the family demands attention.  Later, life gets hectic.  Early, one is relaxed, refreshed and there are fewer distractions.

2.      Watch less TV - People waste hours a week on TV programs that do nothing for the soul.  Be selective.  Choose to watch programs that fit your personality and lifestyle.  Turn the TV off or walk away when your program is finished.

3.      Use commercial breaks - If you watch commercial TV to make or do something else.  Commercials give you time to make a simple toy,  tidy the room, clean your teeth, put the garbage out or do many small jobs. 

4.      Use the car as an office - Driving time can result in a brainwave bonanza.  Use driving time to plan your day, come up with ideas, compose letters, lists, stories etc

5.      Let your imagination run wild - While doing those boring household routines such as washing or cleaning.  A good beginning is to say Ďwhat ifÖí Take action on the ideas when the boring tasks are over. 

6.      Donít have a dishwasher?- Stack the dishes in the sink, add the detergent and run hot water over them.  Leave to soak while you make the beds or hang out the washing.  By then the dishes will have almost cleaned themselves.

7.      Try the 10 minute cleaning routine.  Take one task or area of the house and see what a difference you can make in 10 minutes.  Youíll be amazed.

8.      Try the 2 minute clean-up for kids Ė Tell the kids to tidy the floor in their rooms in 2 minutes.  Set a timer.  They canít complain over 2 minutes and a lot can be achieved in that time.  Even offer a reward for a clean floor.

9.      Organise your work-stations .  Put baskets for dirty clothes in each personís room.  Use the baskets on washing day to sort the clothes straight from the line to the bedrooms again.

10.  Organise undressing.- Fold your clothes as you take them off, and put them away.  This will keep the bathroom and bedrooms tidy and save a lot of time on washing day. 

11.  Organise the kitchen ĖSave steps while cooking.  Have everything you need close at hand.  Minimise the chore of unpacking the groceries - get each person to unpack one bag. 

12.  Shop less - Do one or two big shops a week instead of shopping every day.  Driving, parking, shopping and going home again take hours every week.  One shop is also cheaper.

13.   Have a place for everything and put things into their places after use.  This will reduce time spent in searching for missing items.

14.  Use baskets for quick storage and clean-ups e.g., have baskets for the kids to put their toys in at the end of each day.  Have a basket for all the shoes.  Use baskets to sort the familyís clothes when they come off the line.

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First Aid

Summer is approaching in Australian and our children will spend much more of their play time outside.  At the child care centres I attend children are once again being made aware of sunscreen and why we need to wear it.  After telling stories about spring, I talked to the children about bees and bee stings.  Few children get stung by bees but at the moment flowering trees are crowded with bees.  Young children especially, need to know that bees are dangerous. Many insects sting or bite and can cause pain or allergic reactions.  Children with bare feet are at risk of stepping on insects, glass, sharp objects, prickles or other nasty surprises.  Every week approximately 1,300 children will be treated in a hospital emergency department in my state.  Are you prepared to deal with injuries at home or away?

Here are some helpful ideas for you

  • If a child is stung by a bee, flick the sting away with your fingernail.  Put an ice pack or cold cloth on the sting.

  • Have first aid kits handy at home and in the car  

  • Make a list of how to treat emergencies such as bites, falls, cuts, poisons

  • Update emergency numbers and include family members who can help 

  • Update immunizations 

  • If there are allergies in your family or group, know what to do 

  • Take first aid classes 

  • Practice first aid with your child in games

  • Keep a cold pack in the fridge.

Show your child pictures of dangerous creatures such as bees, wasps, spiders and snakes so they will recognize them. 

What your child can do in an emergency

  • Get help for the victim

  • Talk to the victim, keeping him/her calm

  • Dial the emergency number if no adult is there

  • Know how to treat injuries such as stings, bruises or bleeding nose until adult help comes

 All children have an important role to play in helping their friends as often only children are present.  They can get help by phone if an accident happens.  They can tell adults exactly what happened.

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Keeping food safe

Food is essential for life but unsafe food can cause death. Five million people in Australia suffer from some food related illness each year. We all need to practise safe food handling and make sure that food taken to school from home is stored well. Food left out of the fridge for more than 2 hours may be dangerous to eat. This means that sandwiches for school should be made the night before and frozen. There are strict regulations imposed on all canteens now and on the staff who work there regarding storage, preparation and handling of food. Here is a website you can look at for information that will help you with food issues at home also. www.food authority.nsw.gov.au/ Here are some tips:

  • use insulated lunch boxes

  • include a frozen drink to keep food cool

  • use fillings that donít require refrigerating

  • send firm fruit in lunches

  • teach children that if the food has got warm, they should not eat it

Of course we need to pack high energy foods in school lunches. Protein, not sugar, is the best way to provide energy. The best foods for protein are meat, eggs, cheese, milk and yoghurt. These can be frozen satisfactorily and packed in the lunch so that they are ready to eat at lunch time.

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Time and multi-tasking

Women are generally very good at multi tasking. During shopping, washing, cooking, cleaning and other routine activities, we are busy thinking of what has to be done next and how to fit everything in our day. We also manage to do several jobs at the same time. While unpacking the groceries we will be tidying the cupboard, cooking the dinner and helping children with homework. Boys and men on the other hand, seem to put their full concentration on one major activity whether it is work or pleasure. A male partner sits to watch the football until the end before attending to someone elseís request. He is likely to say, ĎIíve got to finish this first,í before he comes to help you.  A woman is constantly leaving her work to attend to the children. She puts aside some pleasurable activity to help her partner search for the missing hammer or to be a mechanicís assistant. I wonder if this is a nature or a nurture thing? Can we do anything to train our sons to multi-task more frequently?

There are many time stealers in our lives and we need to prioritise our tasks in order to make time stretch more. We need to help our children to do this too and being a good role model will help. Our days are crammed with must do things but we need to make room for pleasure too.

Here are some suggestions:

  • find out what your time stealers are and restrict time spent on these (are they emails other computer things, TV, phone calls?)

  • make short lists that will help you achieve a number of things each day

  • have agendas for meetings

  • take control of your time don't let time control you

  • learn to say no

  • help the kids to organize their desks and rooms so they can work faster and easier

  • see all the family gets a good nightís sleep

  • delegate tasks

  • make a list for the children and ask them to do the tasks in order

  • set short time limits for jobs and reward yourself when the job is done by doing something from your pleasure list.

  • show the children shortcuts to achieve tasks and build in rewards for them.

Catch that time thief. Youíll be so glad you did.

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Efficiency

Every business, every government these days, strives for the workforce to be more and more efficient. The business of parenting is no doubt in the top bracket of important and essential businesses. How efficient are we as parents? Do we strive to achieve more productivity? Do we use our time better as the years go by? What makes for efficiency in parenting?

As an efficient parent we need to

  • organise the home environment

  • allocate time for essential tasks during the day

  •  teach our children life skills and impart cultural values to them

  • carry out tasks in order of priority

  • decide who will help in the family and how and when others will help

  • make enough time for sleep, exercise and social pleasures

  • plan ahead

  • delegate jobs

  • develop multi tasking skills

  • learn to say no

  • learn not to procrastinate.

It sounds a tall order. Young parent struggle just to feed, wash, clothe and love the baby. And those parents with multiple birthsÖ I can only sigh and admire them. Young parents are usually tired most of the time. I remember spilling coffee down my clothes when I fell asleep while drinking it with visitors one night. As a grandmother I still havenít achieved a clean, tidy house and garden. I used to long for one. My priorities have changed but Iím still working on becoming more efficient. I think efficiency is a life time study.

Here is a link to a great site for tips on organising your life. You can even sign up for a free newsletter every week.

http://www.getorganizednow.com/free-ezine.html

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Fire plans

Winter is a high risk time for house fires. Open fires, stove fires and heaters cause the most problems but electric blankets that have not been checked since the previous winter are also risky and of course fires in the kitchen are always a possibility. When a house burns down it is a devastating experience for the occupants and if people are injured or die it is really tragic. However careful people are, a fire can occur, so everyone should be prepared.

We should

  • check the smoke detector regularly

  • keep fire blanket in a handy place

  • have extinguishers serviced

  • have a fire plan

  • talk to children about the plan

  • practise the plan

  • ensure children can carry out all instructions.

Did you know that children sleep so soundly that they do not hear a fire alarm? But they will respond to a parentís voice telling them to get up and go outside because of fire. It is possible to get a recording of your voice that will activate when the alarm goes off.

People who live in upstairs flats, or houses with different levels, have a particularly challenging environment. Every home is unique and we must all work out our own evacuation plans but here are some ideas:

  • designate particular doors for escape

  • choose an outdoor area for assembly that everyone knows and can reach quickly

  • talk about what must be saved in the event of a fire and have those items stored where you can grab them easily

  • give each person in the household a special responsibility

  • ensure that all members of the home know what to do if they canít carry out that responsibility

  • stress that lives are the first priority if a fire occurs

  • teach children of pre-school age their name, address and telephone number

  • make sure children know how to use the emergency telephone number and what to say in an emergency. 

 For house fire or bush fire one cannot be over prepared.

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Safety in the garden

With the advent of warm weather kids will be delighted to spend more time in the garden. To make this time safe for them and les worrying for you, itís worthwhile teaching them some basic safety rules.

ēTools. Teach kids that leaving hoes, rakes and shovels lying in the dirt is dangerous. They or anyone else can run or trip over it and get a nasty puncture wound to feet or legs. Tools last longer if put away where they wonít rust.

ēNature. Any spiders or other bugs in your area need to be identified and recognized by kids. These can be scorpions, funnel webs, red backs or snakes. Bees and wasps are also classed as dangerous. Show them where these bugs are most likely to be found, e.g. red-back spiders like the undersides of black plastic pots and rocks.

ēPlants. Stinging nettles and thistles can cause pain if not recognized and dealt with appropriately. Some shrubs are thorny; other plants such as tomatoes can cause an itchy rash. Some children might be allergic to some plants.

ēSoil. Soil contains many bacteria that are good for plants and bad for humans if they get into the bloodstream. Teach kids to treat their scratches promptly and properly. Keep their tetanus shots up to date.

ēPotting mix. If kids are using potting mix, make sure they know to keep it damp and wear gardening gloves.

Once kids can recognize danger and deal with it, you and they will be more confident of letting them have fun in the garden.

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Storm danger

Summer time is fast approaching in Australia and that means storm time. There have been incredible storms in Queensland during the past week with hundreds of lighting strikes. Teach your kids something about the dangers of lightning. There is no safe place outside in a thunderstorm. During November a boy and his mother were hurrying home across a soccer field when the mother was struck by lightning. She was injured and luckily her son was not. Lightning strikes the tallest object in its path, so standing on a flat field, invites danger. However, sheltering under trees is also dangerous as the trees may be struck and you along with it. The best course of action when thunder is about, is to get inside as fast as possible. If no building is available, a car is a fairly safe place unless you are touching metal while in there. Never stay on the beach in a thunderstorm.

  • Indoors stay away from the kitchen sink

  • donít take a shower or mess around in water

  • donít use the phone or the computer or other electrical objects

  • call for help if someone is struck by lightning

  • move the victim to a safer place if possible and begin CPR if necessary.

Here are some slogans to help kids remember rules :

  • When lightning roars, go indoors

  • Use your brain and stop the game

  • Donít be a fool, leave the pool

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Using time wisely

Lack of time is probably a universal problem but particularly this is so for working mothers. The most important factor in time management seems to be prioritising oneís work and removing distractions. To do this one needs to know exactly how much time is spent on tasks now.

Time your day

Break the day up into time zones such as

  • before breakfast

  • after breakfast but before your paid job begins

  • lunch time

  • going home

  • before dinner

  • your evening.

Into each time zone write the tasks that you do each day and the time taken. How much time is really spent on each thing? You may be surprised. For example how long do you spend in bed thinking about the day instead of getting up and starting it? How long do you spend in the shower? If these are important times for thinking and planning, there will be no need to change them but it is so easy to lie for half an hour cosily tucked up on a winterís morning when you only meant to be there for five minutes. Consider what kind of person you are, i.e are you a morning person or a night owl? If your partner is a night owl and you are a morning lark this makes for an extra problems as you juggle things so that you can spend satisfying time together.

List your priorities Are they fun time at home with the family? Outings together? Gardening? A tidy house? Social activities with friends? Study? Preparing appetising meals? Volunteering at school or in the community? Sport or physical fitness?

List common distractions Here are some common ones:

  • TV programs that you watch through habit

  • meetings you donít find interesting

  • jobs others in the household can do just as well as you

  • daily trips to the shops.

Cut out those extra shops you enter just because the display in the windows entices you, only go in once in a while. Do something else that is relaxing rather than watching habit TV. Be strong and give up meetings that are not benefitting you and the family. Delegate jobs to other members of the family, make a list each day of achievable things and tick them off so you can see what you have achieved. Remember to have enough sleep as tired people are inefficient.

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Accidents

In October a six month old baby in a pram at a Melbourne railway station had a miraculous escape from death. The incident was captured on the security footage and released to the media as a warning to everyone. The pram was at the back of the platform well behind the marked safety lines but the brake was not engaged. Babyís mother let go of the handles for a moment while she hitched up her slacks. The pram immediately rolled quickly forward. Mother tripped as she lunged at it and the pram tipped over onto the track just as the train arrived. The pram was carried forward 30 metres before the horrified driver was able to stop the train. When the pram was put upright, the baby was still strapped in and only received a couple of grazes. If the baby harness had not been buckled up that baby would have been thrown out and killed. The lessons are use brakes always and use the harness always.

Restraints for kids in cars are mandatory but in an accident the restraint itself can cause injury if it is not the right one for the child. Children between four and seven years of age are too small for adult seat belts and many children up to ten years are still too small. The belt must sit correctly on the hips or it can cause paraplegic injuries. Have a qualified person check that your restraint is properly fitted and is the correct one for the height and weight of the child. There is a simple test you can do yourself too. Get the child to sit up straight, with back against the back of the car seat. If the childís knees are not at the edge of the seat so that the knees bend naturally and the leg is at the right angles, without the child moving forward from the seat, he/she is not tall enough for an adult restraint. Check your child today. Accidents are often caused by someone else.

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Emergencies

Holiday time is unfortunately often accident time especially on the roads and on waterways. Some of the reasons are:

  • There are more people travelling

  • time is limited

  • people are tired

  • children take part in unfamiliar activities

  • spur of the moment decisions are taken

  • the weather is unexpected.

An emergency is a crisis situation and demands an immediate response. Emergencies may concern a car accident, a fire, a near drowning, a fall, a flood, difficulty breathing, a sudden acute illness.

How can you prepare your family for an emergency?

  • Prepare for your holiday in advance

  • be well rested before leaving

  • have games to occupy the kids so they wonít distract the driver

  • be patient and donít take risks

  • have a first aid kit in the car

  • have important telephone numbers handy

  • teach the kids water safety

  • supervise children

Prepare for emergencies at home by

  • updating the first aid kit

  • list emergency numbers near the phone in big enough numbers to see at a glance

  • decide what you will take with you if you have to evacuate the house or leave home at very short notice

  • learn CPR for kids and adults

  • listen to health warnings and update immunisations

  • know your local area and the services available especially the location of health services

  • remember the pets

  • practise procedures with all the family

How can you help others in an emergency?

  • know your neighbours and talk to them regularly especially if they are elderly. Find out the names and phone numbers of their support people

  • talk to them about emergency plans

  • ask them how you can help them in day to day living

  • find out  if they have medication regularly and if so, where the vital medications are kept.

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Peaceful places and peaceful times

The Christmas and New Year period is a busy and often exhausting time.  We make preparations for holidays, shop for gifts and get in extra supplies of food to tide us over the public holidays. If family is coming to stay we have to re-arrange the house to fit in the extra people. Even finding room in the fridge can be taxing. Parents, especially those with excited children under their feet, need some quiet time to recharge their batteries.  They need a space in which to relax away from the hurly burly of the family too. Mothers with pre-schoolers often find that the bathroom is their only refuge and even when in there, the children are knocking at the door and asking or telling her things. Try to set up a corner somewhere in the house that the others recognise as your space where you can sit doing nothing or read or follow a hobby. Hang a picture there or put a special ornament on a shelf to make it feel special. A tiny corner in the garden makes a good peaceful spot too.

Here are some ideas to help you get those minutes you need to recharge yourself:

  • feed the kids early so you can have a relaxed mealtime with your partner

  • establish an early bedtime for the kids

  • very early in the morning go for a walk, leaving your partner in charge

  • send the kids for a drive with your partner while you have a luxurious bath

  • serve the dinner and go into the garden for five minutes alone while the family is eating. You can even take your meal with you to eat in peace

  • visit the library once a week even if your children are toddlers. Sit them down with a pile of books and try to ignore them for 15 minutes

  • take the kids to a park and sit and listen to the birds while the kids play

  • sit in the car alone wearing ear plugs while the kids play in the yard

  • as soon as the kids go to sleep at night, go outside or just open the window and look out at the stars or enjoy the rain.

Adults need quiet time just as much as the kids do. Ask friends what they do to relax and try out different ideas and see what works for you.

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Preventing burns

Winter is coming and burns happen so easily. Donít let your child be a victim as burns treatment is very, very painful.

Inside

  • Install fireguards around fires and heaters. Put a guardrail on the front of the stove and keep handles turned away so little hands canít pull hot pans down,

  • put a guard around the tabletop barbecue too

  • always check the temperature of the bath before the children get in. Children can be scalded by water that wonít harm adults. Donít run hot water into the bath while a child is in there

  • never put hot drinks on a table that a baby or toddler can reach

  • remember cigarettes, pipes, lighters, candles and matches can all burn

  • when ironing put either your baby or yourself in the playpen or do the ironing when the child is asleep

  • all power sockets should have guards as little holes attract babies to poke things in.

Outside dangers

Barbecues, camp fires, exhaust pipes on motorbikes, power tools, lawnmowers, metal play equipment such as slides, even seat belt buckles can get very hot. Supervision, as well as explanation to your child is necessary.

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First aid pre-schoolers can learn.

Kids learn quickly through doing things. When your child has a scratch, a scrape, a bump that will lead to a bruise, allow them to do most of the treatment themselves. They can

  • fetch the bandaids or tweezers

  • bathe a cut in clean water

  • apply the cold pack to a bruise

  • apply pressure to stop bleeding

  • run or phone for help

  • explain to an adult what has happened

  • fetch something to keep the victim warm.

Encourage your child to help you when you are the one who is hurt. While medicines must be kept under strict safety conditions, children should know where the first aid things are and what each item is used for.

You should also

  • talk about the treatment as you give it
  • recall simple injuries with your child and encourage him/her to remember what the treatment was
  • encourage games using the childís toys
  • teach your child how to get help if you or another responsible adult isnít there. Children are often injured when there are no adults close by.

In this age of technology even babies under a year old are aware of mobile phones and want to try them. By the time your child is three, they will almost certainly be used to speaking on the phone to family members so it will be no problem for your pre-schooler to learn how to dial the emergency number. In Australia it is 000. Children have sometimes saved lives by dialling the emergency number. Help will be delayed if your child canít give correct information about their name and address when asked.

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Tips for healthy kids

A healthy lifestyle is more than adequate food and keeping active. A calm, loving atmosphere where we talk to and play with our children is important too. We need to encourage our kids to form friends and to care for the natural environment, to be aware of the feelings of others and help them to find simple ways to help each other.

For physical good health you can

Provide nutritious food, undercook rather than overcook vegetables. Provide fresh raw vegetables as snacks. Limit juices and flavoured drinks Ė water is the ideal drink.

In the physical environment you can

Keep the floors, furniture, clothes and pets clean and remove clutter and rubbish. Start a worm farm. Create an environment where it is easy to walk, run, jump, skip, etc. Keep dangerous objects away.

For mental health you can

Share thoughts with your children. Read to them. Talk to them every day so you know what they think and feel. Show love through touch , through words and through helping one another. Be part of the wider community together.

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When time is short

Time is something most people are short of, especially when it comes to the non essentials. But what are the non essentials? They will be different for each of us.

Big time gobblers are

  • housework( cooking, cleaning, washing, tidying etc.)

  • paid work

  • caring for the kids

  • driving kids places and picking them up

  • shopping

  • worrying

  • home entertainment such as TV or computer.

Some of the above might be very important to you and some will be of low importance. Everyone has different priorities just as we have different approaches to home and parenting. From time to time it is good to look at how we use our time especially if we are frequently feeling rushed. Good organisers have more time. Here are some helpful tips.

  • List the essential tasks you  should do each day

  • list one or two non essential tasks also

  • tick off the tasks as you do them, or at the end of the day

  • plan your menus for the week

  • write your shopping list as you do the menu

  • do other town jobs on shopping day instead of a few each day

  • do the main shop without the kids in tow

  • keep email and computer tasks up to date daily

  • organise your desk so things are not lost in the clutter

  • fold clothes as you take them from the line and put away immediately

  • plan your route so you donít get lost when going on an outing

  • read instructions well before attempting new tasks

  • set time limits to spend on tasks whether it be on talking on the phone, gardening, helping the kids etc.

  • take time to relax and enjoy life and donít feel guilty when you take a break.

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Ten tips for travelling with kids

Itís hard to believe that at the end of the month, there will be school holidays again. Where I live, it will be spring time and many families will set off for the beach. Some holidays take much more organisation. At one of my childcare centres recently, a four year old told me that she is soon going to London, Paris and to places in Germany also. An overseas trip like that takes months of planning not only so the parents know where theyíre going and what theyíll be doing but so the children will feel comfortable and benefit from the experience. A holiday in a country where the culture is quite different will need more planning. Children will need to know about, food, toileting, sleeping arrangements, shops, transport, language, manners, how to keep healthy and safe etc.

Most of us though, holiday in our own country, but here are some tips to help us get the most out of the time away.

  • Food: Take special dietary needs with you. Pack small snacks each day so your children wonít have to wait when hunger strikes. Savoury snacks are better than overloading children with sweets.
  • Packing: Take the minimum and pack changes of clothes in handy spaces.
  • Games: small items such as colouring books and textas, scissors, stickers, magazines to cut up, sticky tape, magnets, puppets, books, a favourite comfort toy.
  • Rest: make sure there is unplanned play time so kids can just run around, donít cram too many activities into a day. Pillows from home for the car or for unfamiliar beds will ensure good sleep.
  • Distance: Whenever possible, restrict distance travelled in one day to two hours. Always take a break every two hours. Look for play areas or parks where you can relax.
  • Music: music, songs and taped stories are all excellent during car travel.
  • Walking: Everyone needs to stretch their legs after travelling. Walking outside rather than in a shopping centre is best for relaxation. Make sure you all have the right kind of footware for the chosen environment. Sore feet from too much walking results in cross kids.
  • Shopping: Holidays are expensive, but small reminders of places of interest are worth budgeting for.
  • What to see/do: pick places the whole family will be able to enjoy. Give the kids two or three choices e.g. we can go to the zoo or the aquarium; see a film or go to the museum.
  • Discipline: if kids are cross and quarrelling, they are probably over tired. Take an easy day. Do quiet, calming activities such as reading a book. If kidís behaviour is a safety hazard while driving, pull over until they have calmed down.

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Dealing with Trauma

Many kids have experienced trauma in their lives recently because of floods, cyclone or bush fire in Australia and earthquake in New Zealand. Other children will have been through trauma because of accident or the death of a member of the family or a friend. At first kids may seem to cope well but the affect can be delayed and the results can be long lasting.  The reactions are varied and may include:

  • separation anxiety

  • sleeplessness

  • nightmares

  • increased anger and aggression

  • physical symptoms such as stomach aches and headaches

  • loss of confidence

  • repetitive behaviour or games that dramatise the trauma.

Children are resilient and the vast majority will recover with normal support. Here are some suggestions:

  • Talking to children about what has happened is vital.

  • Listen to what your child is saying so you can address their fears.

  • Make sure that children donít feel responsible for the disaster.

  • If the danger may recur as has happened with some places that experienced  flooding and with the aftershocks of earthquake, tell the child about the steps that you will take to keep the family safe.

  • If the threat is bushfire, make sure your children know the plan and their place in that plan.

  • Watching TV footage over and over again will keep the trauma foremost in their minds. Instead establish a

    • routine as soon as possible and have familiar people and objects around the family.

    • Recognise the sadness that everyone feels and comfort each other but explain that although things will be different, they will get better.

    • Give children lots of calming attention and cuddles .

    • Speak in terms that suit the stage of development of the children.

    • Despite your fears, try not to be over protective of children who have been through trauma.

Keep kids physically safe afterwards and remember that despite tragedies, laughter and fun are possible and are important healers for everyone.

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Organizing ourselves for winter

Organizing is a great skill and no better time to begin organizing our homes than in autumn.  The change of season means we need different clothes, food and activities.

Clothes. Put away the summer clothes, sorting them as you go and making a pile for the op shop of the ones the kids wonít fit into next summer. Put aside some woollies that can go to the animal shelters to help animals in the cold months ahead.

Food.  Clear out your food storage places making sure that the packets that were so popular in summer, such as jellies and ice cream cones, are used up. Stock up with soups, noodles, and other ingredients for making tasty hot snacks.

Activities. Daylight saving over, so you need to re-organize your day. Think up a plan to get the same amount of time although youíll have an hour less of daylight.  Think out goals for the term. Make small steps for each goal. Have fun and be flexible.

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Spring safety

Spring is really here now with trees bursting into leaf and warmer weather most days. Bushfires have started too. Warm weather and especially holidays mean we have to remind children about safety and take extra safety precautions ourselves. Here are some things to remember.

  • Teach the children water safety.

  • Teach the children about fire safety and responsibility with fire.

  • When you visit rivers, creeks, pools, beaches always have adults watching the children constantly.

  • If you canít swim, make sure you know some safety measures and keep away from rocks where there is danger of falling or getting swept into the water.

  • At pre-school and at schools, children must wear hats when outdoors. Keep up that habit during the holidays. Be a good role model and wear your hat.

  • Make sure babies are protected from the sun as you wheel them in prams and strollers. It is important that their eyes are protected as well as their skin.

  • In bush and homes near bush, snakes will now be active warn children about snakes and tell them what to do. Check that your first aid kit is up to date at home and in the car.  

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Tips for Christmas holidays

We are sure to eat more during the festive season. Here are some tips to keep fit and healthy

  • Limit the number of sweets in the house. If you donít have sweets there, you and the kids canít eat them.
  • Do plenty of exercise for the whole family such as swimming and walking. Exercise in the cooler parts of each day
  • Eat salads in hot weather
  • Eat natural yoghurt instead of sugary yoghurt
  • Remember that fruit drinks are high in sugar and water is a better option
  • Stay out of the water after eating, until your food is digested
  • Keep regular sleep times

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Back to School

As I write this, school has been back for three weeks after the long summer holidays. Most children will be well settled into their classes many with new teachers. Those who started school for the first time will be enjoying the experiences. On the first day of school I noted on the TV, the eager little faces of children starting school for the first time. Both boys and girls looked and sounded very confident. It is amazing how quickly five year olds learn routines, make friends and adjust to this new, exciting phase of life.

Sometimes, however, children donít settle quickly and may be unhappy. If this is the case, approach the teacher as together you should be able to work out the problem.

Schools these days are certainly places where children have fun while they learn. At the end of last year I visited a local primary school where several new and wonderful class rooms had just been completed. A student stepped forward to explain equipment that took my breath away. Other children were working independently at computers or conducting science experiments or were absorbed in projects. The teachers in these rooms have every aid they could need and students will never be bored. I taught at that school forty years ago when pupils sat for hours at their desks in rows that never varied. I had done my best to make lessons interesting but how thrilling it is to see the changes and developments in education today.

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Starting your child at child care

More people than ever before will be looking for pre-school places for their four year olds this year, because the government wants every four year old to benefit from early childhood education. Some towns will only have one centre but lucky towns will have several so parents can make a choice. Here are some tips on how to choose the best centre for your child, bearing in mind that parents will have different priorities.

Checkout

  • Safety features such as gates that close securely and equipment that is well maintained.

        Staff supervision - is it constant both indoors and outside?

        Children seem happy and have a variety of stimulating, creative activities.

        Equipment and toys are clean and hygiene routines are in place.

        Staff  members are qualified and interact pleasantly with the children

        The program is on display for parents to see.

        Staff is friendly and encourages parents to hear about their childís day

        The philosophy of the centre fits with your own. ( Is the program play based? Are children encouraged to be independent? Are all children welcome there irrespective of race, religion, ability or disability?)

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It is easy to get stressed

It is easy to get stressed when you are a parent, a carer or en educator, as life is full of things you must do every day. Whether you are working with children at home or somewhere else, there are times when you will feel sad, disappointed, sick, tired, bored, frustrated or overwhelmed, but still have to cope with the dayís events. Stress makes people act differently. Some people shout or strike out at someone or something. Some cry, complain of a pain, overeat, or withdraw from people. If we ignore the symptoms of stress, some simple thing can push us over the edge and cause us to do something inappropriate. I thought of this last night when the national news had a segment on concern about people who discipline their children by smacking them. Often it isnít the child who needed to be smacked, but the parent or carer who needed some time out from children. This may not be possible, especially if you are working in a centre that has set times for staff to take breaks. You may have to take extra time for yourself when you get home. I'm not suggesting that carers ever smack children in their charge, but they may shout or show impatience that they feel sorry about after.

We can we do simple things to relieve stress if we recognise we are getting tense. No one thing works for everyone or helps diffuse stress every time. Here are some suggestions to try when you get stressed with life.

  • turn away from the situation and take several deep breaths. If a particular child is stressing you, turn to another child or supervise another activity
  • shut yourself in the toilet for five minutes
  • count to 10 or twenty
  • go outside and look at the garden, the sky, trees, the smoke coming out of the chimney, or anything pleasant
  • pat the dog or rub a piece of soft fabric on your face
  • tell yourself a story about a happy event in your childhood, or make up a story about what youíd like to do if you had magic powers  for a day
  • leave the house work and go out for an hour and browse in the shops or treat yourself to a lunch in a cafť
  • make a list of things that would make you feel relaxed and choose one  that is possible and do it.

If stress is happening often, seek help from a friend or someone who will listen to you without judging, or go to your doctor.

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Fire season

Two weeks ago unseasonably hot weather for spring, saw the outbreak of bush fires which were fanned by gale force winds. Fortunately there was no loss of life and only one house was destroyed but even one is too many. One firetruck was also badly damaged putting at risk the firefighters. The authorities had been issuing warnings for this summer especially in NSW where there hasnít been a major fire for some years and grass levels have built up through the bush. Arson unfortunately, is always a possibility and we must all be vigilant and report suspicious behaviour.

This week too, there have been house fires in three states that tragically caused loss of life. When children die in a fire it saddens a whole community and makes everyone think again about their own fire safety plans. How up to date is your fire plan?

The most important part of your plan must be whether to stay and defend your home if a bushfire threatens or whether to leave. This decision must be made months before the threat because staying too late is often fatal. The fire may be so intense that no firetruck can get close and escape roads may be blocked. The key words of a plan are

1.    PREPARE

2.    ACT

3.    SURVIVE

If you live in  NSW look at http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/file_system/attachments/Attachment_BushFireSurvivalPlan.pdf

There are government plans for each state but wherever you live whether in a town or a city you need a fire plan and your family needs to know what to do.

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Children playing with fire

The bush fire season started with a rush when strong winds and hot weather began on 28th October in NSW. The worst fires were begun accidentally when the Defence Department personnel were involved in a training exercise using live shells. The cause of other fires has not been determined but electric wires sparking in the wind are almost certain to have been a major cause too. Two hundred homes were lost and many more were damaged, Without the untiring work of firefighters, pilots engaged in water bombing, and other volunteers, more communities would have been devastated. Everyone was saddened by the death of one pilot during his water bombing mission.

Bush fires often are often started by aronists and children are sometimes involved. Since the outbreak of bush fires several children have been caught starting fires. One group was of eight-year-olds who started a fire in leaves. Children are full of curiosity and lighting a fire may be part of their desire to experiment, or about reality play situations. Before age 10 children donít understand the full implications of what fire can do. Fire is often part of celebrations with candles or fireworks or as part of camping or of barbecues. Although responsible adults explain why children are not allowed to light fires, many kids do and accidents then happen. What can we do to discourage children from playing with fire?

  • be more vigilant
  • keep matches, lighters and candles in more secure places
  • talk more about the harm of smoke and flames
  • watch for signs of antisocial behaviour as this is often a sign that a child or youth may be bored and doing things for a thrill
  • ask primary aged kids why they think some kids light fires
  • talk about what might happen to people who start bushfires
  • ask them what they would do if they saw a kid start a fire
  • make sure your child knows who to alert, how to do that, what safety measures to take, what to do if clothing is alight etc.
  • help kids raise money for fire victims including animals
  • read and discuss articles or books about fires and the harm done when fire is out of control.

Arsonists like most criminals, nearly always have some trauma in their early lives so good parenting and role models is vital.

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Sleep Problems

Good sleep is vital for us all and good sleep habits developed in early childhood will be a lifelong boon. Depending on age, children need from 8 to 16 hours sleep in a full day.

  • babies from birth to two years need 13 to 16 hours of sleep everyday
  •  three to nine year-olds need 10 to 12 hours, and
  • 10 to 18 year-olds need eight to 10 hours of sleep each day.

There are several different sleep problems that young children have include bed wetting, sleep walking, inability to get to sleep, waking several times during the night and finding it hard to get back to sleep once woken. Teeth grinding and gasping or snorting during sleep is also common.

Causes vary, but some common ones are

  • lack of a routine
  • the sleep environment
  • poor diet
  • pre-bed activities
  • stress

When a child doesnít sleep well it can affect the whole family and also lead to behavioural problems. It may be a factor in the difficult behaviour of children with ADHD.

Helping your child develop good sleep patterns

  1. Establish a pre-bed routine with healthy food at night time avoiding sugary or fatty food. Include tooth cleaning, toileting then quiet activities without digital games or TV.
  2. Make sure the bed is comfortable and attractive and let your child take appropriately cuddly toys into bed as companions.
  3. Look at the room environment. Any lighting should be soft and dim. Bright lights will interrupt sleep, but some light may be necessary if your child is worried about shadows or being alone.
  4. See your child has outdoor daily exercise as this helps with sleep.
  5. Keep the noise level low. Noise from another room or outside environment impacts on sleep e.g. noisy music or TV or traffic
  6. Stressful events in the family or at school or day care can result in nightmares or disturbed sleep.

If your child has sleep problems and you canít solve them alone, talk to your doctor as professional help may be necessary. Never give your child sleeping pills or medication to help with sleep without a doctorís prescription and advice.  

The Raising Children network Ė an Australian website has useful articles about research done on sleep problems. Below is the link to one about positive bedtime routines.

http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/positive_bedtime_routine.html/context/612

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TIPS          Make life easier

First aid

Water safety tips
Keeping food safe
Safe toys
Efficiency
Fire safety
Safety in the garden
Storm Safety
Using time wisely
Accidents
Emergencies
Peaceful places
Preventing burns
Tips for Healthy Kids
When time is short
Ten tips for travelling with kids
Dealing with Trauma

Organizing ourselves for winter

Spring safety
Tips for Christmas holidays
Back to school
Starting your child at Child Care
It is easy to get stressed
Fire season
Children playing with fire
Sleep problems