Monthly Archives: February 2010

Hi-Tech Play School

If you visit my blog regularly, follow my tweets or read my facebook updates you’ll know I’m a Play School fan.  A big one.  Partly because after more than 40 years on Australian television screens it remains the #1 program in the hearts of Aussie mum and kids – and partly because I secretly wonder if I’ve missed my calling in life by not being a presenter.

Yesterday the show opened with regular presenter Matt updating his blog on his laptop before sending a quick text to his co-presenter Karen, grabbing his digital camera and heading to the park!  Of course, the computer, phone and camera were all box constructions lovingly handmade out of recyclables.  I shared what I was seeing on fb and twitter.

and received lots of comments and positive tweets:

My readers were largely supportive of Play School’s hi-tech segment, but elsewhere online reactions ranged from bewilderment to outrage!  I for one fully support Play School’s inclusion of current technology in appropriate ways for the purpose of teaching our children about effective communication. It wasn’t an episode about playing computer games.  It was an episode about ways of sharing information, and helping our kids to understand the similarities and differences between online, offline, written, spoken and non verbal types of communication.  Like it or not, mobile devices are going to play an enormous role in our children’s lives, and our kids will need to be effective communicators in the digital world.

Here’s my daughter on her own box-construction laptop at 18mths of age:

And here’s her progression of laptop use from age 2-3:

Laptops, iphones, and other devices are a completely normal part of our world at home, and so they are completely normal for our kids.  Our three year old daughter already understands more about laptop usage than I did at thirteen (hang on, were laptops even around then…?).  I’ve posted about this before here.  As she grows it will be important for her to learn not only about the practical side of using technology, but also about the nuances between different communication platforms.  What we post on a blog is different from the information we would put in a txt and slightly different again from an update on facebook playbook (hehehe…. that was clever PS writers).  I applaud Play School for incorporating this understanding into their Communication theme this week.

What about you?

Seriously Sleep Deprived (Parenting Aus)

A couple of weeks ago the results of a ten year Australian study were released, refuting once and for all the notion of Mummy Brain.  But I say the phrase will stick around, because most of us know that our forgetful and even irrational behaviour following the birth of a baby has nothing to do with brain changes and everything to do with sleep deprivation. Duh.

Saying you have “mummy-brain” is coded language for I-can’t-sleep-I-can’t-concentrate-I’m-struggling-don’t-judge-me.  That’s quite a mouthful, huh?  Mummy-brain is much easier to say, and is well understood by other mothers.  We cut each other slack when we hear that phrase, for good reason…

Jump over to Parenting Australia for the rest of the article.  Do you think the term “mummy brain” will stick around?

(PS – pic is of me just home from hospital following my son’s birth in 2008, seriously sleep deprived!)

My Little Postman

There once was a boy who loved to post.

He could post anything, anywhere.

He posted things in the bin

and the toilet

and the dishwasher

and the laundry basket

and the sink.

He posted through the verandah slats

and out of windows.

The boy’s mother made him a postbox so that he could post sensibly,

but the boy was not interested in sensible.

He was interested in interesting.

It’s interesting to post necklaces in toilets.

It’s interesting to post toys in the bin.

It’s interesting to see Mummy’s reaction.

*  *  *

Anyone else been through this interesting phase and have any suggestions to share?  It’s driving me crazy!

Backyard Baking

Backyard baking is so much fun.  Props required?  A bowl and maybe a large spoon.  Your child might need a little encouragement to get started, but after that they will run with the activity for quite some time.  If you have cooked with your child they will probably take to this activity more readily.  Here are some open ended questions you can use to help the activity along if necessary:

  • What are you baking today?
  • What ingredient will you need next?
  • How much of that ingredient will you need?
  • What will you do with your mixture?
  • How do you know when it’s ready?
  • What does it taste like?!

Make sure you establish some ground rules, especially if there is anything in the garden unsafe for your child to pick (be wary of plants with milky white sap).  My daughter decided to make “Weed Soup” for her recipe.  She picked leaves and flowers from weeds, and also added macadamia nuts, bark and a range of other different leaves.  She sang “Stir up the cooking oh deedle-deedle-dum…” (a Playschool cooking song) while she worked and served the soup up in plastic cups when it was ready!

For an extension on this activity you could encourage your child to write down their “recipe” when they’re finished.  A simple recording of their recipe only involves writing a title at the top for them, and allowing them to draw their ingredients.  For slightly older children you can label their ingredients under each picture.  If your kids love this activity why not make a recipe book and glue in each different recipe?!

Teeny-Agers (Parenting Aus)

I’m having a bit of a rant over at Parenting Australia this week regarding fashion for young girls.  I didn’t mean to get up on my soap box, but I feel so strongly about some of the clothes that we are “supposed” to be dressing our kids in and the messages we are giving them.

When did we decide to skip childhood and fast track our babes from tots to teens? This week’s junk mail catalogues are sitting beside me as I type.  Maybe at 31 I’m getting old (??), but this is what I see.  I see pages of little girls dressed in sequins, studs and chains.  I see short shorts and short skirts.  I see leggings under some of those short garments so we can pretend they’re not as short as they really are.  I see knee high boots with leopard print leggings.  And I see slogans that range from arrogant to inappropriate.  Three year olds need clothes for cubbies, not for clubbing!

I’d love your thoughts on this topic, either here or over on the original post.  I’ve already had a lovely journalist from New Idea on the phone this morning interviewing me on the subject so it’s obviously a hot topic right now…

Marriage First

I often hear parents say that “the kids come first” and while this sentiment is lovely in a way, I’m not sure that the philosophy is actually right.  Of course there are many times as mums when we have to put aside our own desires to attend to our kids.  There’s a lot of sacrificial love involved in becoming a parent!  But I don’t think the kids should always come first.  I think the marriage should.

My husband and I are not hugely into Valentine’s Day, though we did give each other a little something.  On this day though, I am reminded of the importance of celebrating our relationship.  Not as co-parents, but as a married couple.  We were together long before the kids came along, and we plan on being together long after they have flown the nest.  It’s so important to acknowledge the significance of that relationship, especially in the very consuming early years of parenting.

It’s also good to do it in front of the kids.  They need to know that Mummy and Daddy love each other – a lot.  They need see that we prioritise time together.  They regularly need to hear, “No, I’m sorry.  This is Mum and Dad’s time right now.  We’ll be with you in ten minutes.”  Prioritising the marriage benefits everyone.  Mum and Dad grow together (instead of apart, as sadly often happens) and the kids get to see what a real, loving relationship looks like.  They see that it takes time, effort and commitment.  They also get to see Mum and Dad hanging out together and being friends.

I know that all sounds a bit idealistic, but in a day and age when few marriages make it – don’t you want to give yours the best chance?  I want happily ever after, and I’m willing to work to make it happen.

Do you struggle to put your relationship with your spouse/partner first now that kids are in the picture?  How do you prioritise your marriage, especially in front of the kids…?

Window Washers

While my blogging friends in the northern hemisphere are shivering through blizzards, here down under it’s mid-summer!  Keeping kids cool and busy is sometimes a challenge.  Inspired by a window washer on Playschool the other week, Little Miss 3 asked if she could do some window washing too – which I thought was a great idea!  We have a glass sliding door which worked perfectly because the kids could wash the outside, rather than inside. I put a little dishwashing liquid into a play bucket, filled it up, gave each child a chux cloth and let them go for it.

No, they didn’t do a brilliant job cleaning the glass.   But here’s what they did do:

  • think of their own idea for an activity
  • work together to complete a project
  • replicate actions they had seen the window washer do
  • laugh and have fun together as siblings
  • cool down!
  • play happily – without a toy in sight
  • stand back and admire their handiwork

They really enjoyed doing this together, and I was reminded (again) of the importance of child-led play.  I was also reminded that “toys” aren’t a prerequisite for play.  I had everything on hand for this activity.  I just needed a willingness to answer my daughter’s window washing request with, “Sure!  Why not?”

Friendships Off and On

I’ve been thinking a lot about friends lately.  It’s been a rough start to 2010 for my family, but every time I’ve thought I’m at my limit, a friend has pulled me through.  I have a great community of women around me, both online and off.

Online I have some close friends who I am yet to meet in real life!  We have never shared a cuppa, or shopped together, and our kids have never had a playdate – but we are friends none the less.  Sometimes we talk about blogging, sometimes about mothering, and sometimes about life.  My online friends can tell me they care in 140 characters or less!  (Thanks twitter…)  Despite distance there is an honesty in our conversations, and sometimes my online friends challenge me in ways a face-to-face friend wouldn’t dare to.  I value my online friends immensely.

But lately I’ve been reminded of the importance of having friends with skin on.  (This phrase has stuck with me since reading it in one of Erica’s posts at GWAS last year.)  Only a friend with skin on can give me a hug.  Only a face-to-face friend can recognise when the truth in my eyes is speaking louder than my words.  And when I need practical help, like a meal, or babysitting, or someone to drag me out of the house for long overdue kid-free time… I need a friend with skin on.  I would be lost without those ladies.

Some friends blur the lines.  I have dear friends who now live states, or countries away.  And on a rare occasion, an online acquaintance becomes a flesh and blood friend.  I am blessed to have true friends both off and on.

I read a fantastic post about friendships over at InCourage this week and I don’t think I can sum it up any better than Dawn Camp already has: 

As a blogger, I seek a comfortable balance between my online and face-to-face friendships. I have doubts that my girlfriends and I will ever discuss search engine optimization, social networking, what to wear to blog conferences, or a host of other issues and geekery that I adore discussing with you online.  On the other hand, they’ll be there for a girls’ night out when my week has been lousy and my pageviews are low, whether or not they understand what that means.  I treasure you both.

So to my treasured friends, online and off – thank you.

(PS – pic is of me with my beautiful sister, my friend.  xx)

Overdue Times Two (Parenting Aus)

It’s funny.  I’ve had two kids but I have no idea what it’s like to go into labour!  Not naturally anyway.  With both pregnancies I had to be induced at 41 weeks.  You can read the story of my two overdue arrivals at Parenting Australia this week.  Here’s a teaser…

Most of us spend a considerable amount of time during pregnancy thinking about labour. First we dream about it, then we think more seriously about it, then we panic about it, then we realise there’s no going back so we’d best come to terms with it!  I imagined my waters breaking. Or I imagined waking my husband in the middle of the night saying, “This is it Honey…” I imagined timing contractions and working out when would be best to head to the hospital.  Instead, we calmly packed my bag into the car and drove without a sense of urgency. I waddled into the maternity ward, stopping and smiling for a photo on the way. We checked in at reception and then sat in a waiting room for a couple of hours before being settled into a bed. Prostaglandin gel was applied and my husband was sent home to get some sleep. I lay there, wide awake, alone, wondering if labour would start. Not at all what I imagined.

Jump over to Parenting Australia for the rest of my story.  Anyone else out there had a similar overdue experience??