The Curse of the Repatriated Mum

Parenting & Family Matters Columnist, Tania McCartney. There’s some serious stuff going down in the mind of this mother right now. That and an extraordinary, scrabbling, mind-bending balancing act that seems to be testing every ounce of my creative problem-solving ability. Put it this way: when the kids have trotted off to school, sometimes I just stand in the middle of my house and spin. Like, on the spot – wondering where on earth I’ll stop so I can launch into some task or other.

Will it be folding socks? Will it be cleaning poop out of the rabbit cage? Will it be breakfast, blogging or bouncing on the trampoline? Will it be digging in the freezer for some frozen-in-time artefact I can mould into dinner, or will it be hauling up the chutzpah to start on my next book? [Read more…]

Ten Ways We Misunderstand Our Children

Exclusive Book Extract from The Indigo Children: Ten Years Later by Lee Carroll and Jan Tober.

Ten Ways We Misunderstand Our Children*
by Jan Hunt, M.Sc

1. We expect children to be able to do things before they’re ready. We ask an infant to keep quiet. We ask a two-year-old to sit still. We ask a four-year-old to clean his room. In all of these situations, we’re being unrealistic. We’re setting ourselves up for disappointment and setting up the child for repeated failures to please us. Yet many parents ask their young children to do things that even an older child would find difficult. In short, we ask children to stop acting their age. [Read more…]

Keeping Yourself Sane and Your Kids Busy in the Easter School Holidays

As busy parents, we always have different ideas about school holidays from our kids. For grown-ups, holidays are about relaxing and taking time out and getting a much needed break. For the kids it’s a time for excitement, mischief and adventure. So how can we relax while the nagging is constantly drilling through our brains: “Mum, I’m sooooo bored…”?

According to Simone Chen, founder of “If the parents start to think about the holiday and plan for it from now, the chance is that both the parents and the kids will have a great time
together,” she said.

“There are so many activities and programs around that are specially designed for kids during the April holiday, and a lot of them are either free of charge or low-cost.” [Read more…]

Aussie Kids Pop Vitamins For Nutrition

Are Australian children relying on dietary supplements to complete their nutritional intake? That’s just one of the questions raised by a new report out today which reveals insights into the state of the nation’s lunchboxes as well as parental concerns around healthy food options and peer pressure.

Are children relying on dietary supplements?
The John West Healthy Lunchbox Report is based on feedback from 1,000 mums1 across the country and reveals a significant trend. Over a quarter (26%) of Australian children are taking pills or supplements to complete their nutritional intake.

Of those children almost half (49%) take omega-3 dietary supplements. This is concerning some nutritionists such as Shane Bilsborough: “The fact that kids are taking dietary supplements proves that nutrition is important to mums and it’s great that they are being proactive in ensuring their children are getting all their nutrients. It’s also encouraging to see that parents are taking steps to ensure their children are getting enough omega-3 – it’s great for kids concentration and brain function – but supplements are not the only solution.”

“A healthy balanced diet should provide kids with all the vitamins and nutrients they need. Unlike supplements whole foods also satisfy hunger and provide kids with vital energy. Supplements may also
mask underlying dietary deficiencies that unless addressed can travel through to adulthood,” he said.

Professor Andrew Sinclair, omega-3 specialist at Deakin University comments, “The benefits of eating whole foods such as fish to obtain omega-3 fatty acids can significantly outweigh the benefits of consuming a supplement. Whole foods, such as fish, provide high quality protein, vitamins and minerals your body needs for good health, not just the one nutrient. Omega-3 supplements can also be quite costly compared with foods sources such as canned fish.” [Read more…]

Launch of Governent funded website for parents raising kids with autism spectrum

The Federal Government and the Raising Children Network will today launch the national website for parents of young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) –

Bill Shorten MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services, will launch the website, part of the Federal Government’s Helping Children with Autism package, at an event at Parliament House Canberra today.

Intended to assist and support Australian families and professionals by providing quality assured parenting information and resources, and improving connections between families, professionals, and services, the
site will deliver a raft of Australian specific information that parents can access, as their information needs require. [Read more…]

No Sweat Parenting with Renee Mill

Sydney based clinical psychologist and mother of four, Renée Mill teaches parents to give themselves and their children a break with practical advice and by challenging common misconceptions about parenting. Recently I spoke to Renée about these misconceptions and how parents can give themselves a break without feeling guilty.

Renée Mill has written a book for parents who are tired. No Sweat Parenting is for parents who are tired of living up to unrealistic expectations; tired of second-guessing their own authority; tired of making excuses as to why they can’t play games; tired of pretending that their responsibilities and wants don’t exist; and tired of buying stuff. [Read more…]

Top MySpace Cyber Bullying Safety Tips

MySpace Australia has launched new cyber bullying safety tips and announced a partnership with Girlfriend Magazine and Boost Mobile to promote a new online ‘Code of Conduct: ‘Untag, Block, Delete’’ to combat cyber bullying.

The Internet Safety Technical Task Force’s Research’s Advisory Board, based in the US, recently produced an extensive report which highlighted that more parental intervention and guidance is needed, as cyber bullying usually happens between persons already known to each other and that technology alone is unlikely to solve the problem of bullying.

The phenomenon of bullying is not unique to the online world, it has existed for decades in the physical world, however on MySpace there are a series of steps users, and their parents can take against bullying.

Top MySpace Cyber Bullying Safety Tips [Read more…]

We Are What Our Parents Ate, New Research Shows

Human cells have the ability to “remember” and replicate the effects on the body of a poor diet, providing a further clue as to why obesity and some diseases can run in families over generations.

Researchers at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute have shown that very specific molecular events occur after the consumption of food high in glucose, causing chemical changes to our genetic controls. These changes continue beyond the meal itself, and have the ability to alter natural metabolic responses to diet. [Read more…]

Food Manufacturers Commit to Limit Advertising to Kids

Major Australian based food and beverage manufacturers have, for the first time, publicly made available company action plans which spell out in black and white how and when they will market a range of their products.

Australian Food and Grocery Council CEO Kate Carnell said that the commitment is inline with the Council’s recently announced Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative.

“Companies participating in this initiative have publicly committed to advertise to children under 12, only when it will further the goal of promoting healthy dietary choices and healthy lifestyles. Participants have also undertaken to not advertise food and beverage products to children under 12 in any media unless those products represent healthy dietary choices, consistent with established scientific or Australian government standards,” Ms Carnell said.

“Signatories to the scheme will now only advertise products in the context of promoting good dietary habits and physical activity.”

Ms Carnell has said that to date eight major multinational food and beverage companies have signed up to the scheme including: Nestle Australia Limited, Cereal Partners Worldwide, Kraft Food Australia/New Zealand, Cadbury Plc, George Weston Limited, Unilever Australia Limited, Coca Cola South Pacific, and PepsiCo Australia.

“The aim in developing the Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative is to provide a framework for food and beverage companies to promote healthy dietary choices and lifestyles to Australian children,” she said.

“There is genuine community concern about specific marketing directed at children and our hope in initiating this scheme is to legitimately be able to point to our actions and say; yes industry is hearing the community’s concerns and this is what we are doing about it.”

Women Can Make Up to 21 New Friends Through Having Children

The Friendship Report, commissioned by leading Child Trust Fund provider in the UK, The Children’s Mutual, reveals that if mums attended every parental group, from ante-natal class to primary school, they would make an average 21 new friends along the way. Taking a child to primary school was the most likely route to friendship, with mums making on average five new friends at the school gates.  A third of mums (31 per cent) say that meeting people through primary school produces the best friends, who are also the most supportive and helpful. With research suggesting that a network of good friends helps you live longer in older age, it’s good news all round for mums.

Psychological research shows that one of the most important characteristics of friends is that they are similar to one another: we like people who are like us.  As our priorities change, so does our criteria for what makes a good friend and one of the most dramatic changes that occurs in many people’s lives is becoming a parent. These changing interests lead to a not necessarily conscious desire to form friendships with people who are similar to the ‘new you’ – parents with children of similar age.

If the mum’s pre-children friends are not parents, then it is possible that they will share very little in common with their new post-children friends. People frequently keep different friends separate and even present subtly different identities to the different friendship groups as much as they can; many parents enjoy going out from time to time with old friends and NOT talking about the children.

Other key findings from The Friendship Report:

  • The majority of mums (70 per cent) say that the friendships they make through children tend to be more supportive and more likely to offer help and advice than their other friendships.
  • A third (31 per cent) cherish the friends they’ve made as a result of being a mum above all others, saying friends made through children become stronger friendships than any others they make in their lifetime.
  • Most mums (72 per cent) say friends made through children are easier to socialise with because both sets of parents can bring their children along.
  • Making friends through children has lead to other activities for many mums, including going shopping together (54 per cent); shared babysitting (36 per cent); and exercising (30 percent).
  • Partners don’t take make nearly as many friends because of their children – if they were to attend all the possible parental groups with the mum, they would only make six new friends – about a third the number made by mums.