Tuesday, January 3, 2017


What a refreshing subject to discuss at the beginning of a new year, as New Zealanders hope for a summer soon and at the close of a stretching year and high-paced Christmas season.

Dr Libby Weaver in her latest book "Dr Libby's Women's Wellness Wisdom", gives facts and figures about Water which grabs your attention. Some we know some we don't.

This is all helpful but HOW do you make drinking water a habit in your family and for your children? ? ?

Here are some doable ideas which we have practiced at our house ~
1. Don't Nag or Preach 
This applies to all issues in life as well as drinking water. Don't make drinking water a big deal, rather treat it as normal, a relaxed and ordinary part of the day.
2. Get Rid of the Sweet Drinks in the Fridge/Cupboard 
Many mums say that by not having fizzy drinks or juice in the house, in time their children stop expecting to drink them at home. If it is not there then water becomes the drink option.
3. Start and End the Day with a Drink of Water 
Going to sleep is the start of a 6-12 hour period of not drinking or  eating. So set everyone up well to sleep by being hydrated. On wake up, a drink of water will again hydrate the waking system.
4. Drink Water at each Meal 
A glass of water at Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner is easy to remember. For adults to remain hydrated, drink at least a glass of water between each beer or glass of wine.
5. Exercise to Develop Thirst 
Each day children should get lots of physical exercise which will create a natural thirst. Children need to identify for themselves what being thirsty feels like, rather than being told when to drink by a parent. Learning the sense of when one is thirsty is an aspect of children developing self care and independence.
6. Your Attitude to Water 
Do you personally drink water? Is your daily water intake and your attitude to water worth copying? It is important you happily enjoy drinking water, not present it as a duty or goal to be achieved. Something done willingly because the person truly wants to do it, is influential. This applies to everything in life, not just to creating good habits in drinking water.
7. Accessibility 
Make sure your children can get water for themselves. Don't have it all bottled up for them ready for pickup. Part of this whole endeavour is letting them practice taking care of themselves. Children from 2 years of age desperately want to do things independently for themselves, so let them get a drink of water when they want one.
8. Add into a Jug or Glass of Water 
Any of the following can be added into a glass or jug of water making it more attractive to look into and more appealing to the mind and taste. 
Slices of Root Ginger
Slices of Lemon or Orange
Lemon Rind
Stems of Fresh Mint or Spearmint
Slices of Kiwifruit
Slices of Peach
Slices of Plum
Slices of Nectarine
Blueberries ....
9. Freeze and Add into Water 
Use an ice block tray to freeze any of the following then add the beautiful icy blocks into your water drink.
Diced Strawberries
Diced Plum
Diced Nectarine
Diced Apricot
Diced Kiwifruit
Diced Orange or Lemon
Mint leaves ....
10. Freeze Orange or Lemon Segments 
Cut an orange or lemon into eighths length wise. Freeze them and then add them into a jug of water. 
11. Interesting Shaped Ice Blocks 
Make water ice blocks in interesting shaped ice block moulds to add into a drink of water.
12. Have a Special Water Cup
13. Have a Crazy Straw to Drink Water Through

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ make drinking water a together experience with happy memories.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


We bought this poster in Spain. It grabbed our attention because there were 7 children all sitting on a bench - and we had 7 children at home in New Zealand. The gender order was not quite the same as ours, but the poster captured something of an ideal, where children were drinking together, they were sitting still and not chaotically running all over the place.
Such child orderliness is not attractive to everyone, but the truth is, there ARE times in life when a child needs to 'sit still'.
  ~ the daily loading a child into their car seat
  ~ a child sitting in their high chair
  ~ a child eating a meal
  ~ a child sitting on the toilet
  ~ a child sitting in the supermarket trolley
  ~ a child travelling on a plane, bus, train...
  ~ a child sitting in the dental nurse's chair
  ~ an ill child being examined by a doctor or medical person 
  ~ a child sitting on the floor at a library story time
  ~ a child sitting still at school or in church....
* The consequences of a child not sitting still on the toilet, eating a meal or in the high chair, can be catastrophically messy!!!
* The consequences of a child not sitting still while being put into the car seat, can be an exhausting physical workout!!
* The consequences of a child not sitting still on a plane, bus, train, or in the supermarket trolley, can be extremely dangerous!!
* The consequences of a child not sitting still in the dental nurse chair or for a doctor to examine them, can be very stressful for both the medics and parents.
* The consequences of a child not sitting still at library story time, at school or church, can be a huge distraction and an annoyance to others.
Most parents of young children have experienced public embarrassment in one situation or another, because their child couldn't or wouldn't sit still.
How do you help a child learn to sit still?
1. Children learn quickly if what they are learning is repeated often and in close succession.
2. The best time frame for preschoolers is to have a daily learning time. I started when our children could sit up.
3. The ideal time is soon after a meal, when they have a clean nappy or have been to the toilet, so they are comfortable.
4. Day 1 - Start by sitting the child on your knee and hold them in a loving way - firmly but not tight. With a relaxed warm voice begin by saying the words, 'sit still' or 'quiet and still'. You find the phrase that works for you and only say it a couple of times.
5. Read a short story to the child, only for 1 - 2 minutes on Day 1. If your child tries to get away, wriggles, gets agitated - keep calm and repeat your phrase. 
Hold them firmly but not tight. I find it helps if I have a relaxed  face and soft smile - that directs my body emotion.
If they become hyped up, softly and slowly stroke them on their arm, leg, head to help them to relax, while you hold them firmly. 
If it becomes a tussle, leave it for today and start again tomorrow as Day 1.
The point of this time is that your attention and their focus is to be on the story, so you need to be relaxed, confident, warm and calm. The child senses your emotions and will learn to follow them over the next few days. 
Remember you are the parent, so lead the way.
6. Day 2, do the same as Day 1 with a new story and increase the time to 2 minutes. Day 3, again increase the time to 3 minutes....
In one week you could be up to 7 minutes which is a terrific amount of time and development in your child learning to sit still.
7. If during the proceedings they go to sleep, just keep reading until your time is up.
8. Once you are up to 10 minutes in the day, it is important that sitting still story time be a regular daily practice. Either continue to increase the time each day by a minute or maintain it at 10 minutes. 
We found once we got to about 10 minutes at a sitting, the effect of the new learnt skill was automatically being applied by the child to other situations at other times in the day.
The plan is simple and children can learn to do this from a young age. The earlier you start the better.
If you are starting with a 3 or 4 year old, I suggest you still begin with them sitting on your knee. If however they don't like this, get them to sit next to you on the couch. Putting your arm around them helps them to be connected with you and focus on the story. The whole experience becomes something that is looked forward to. 
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ start practicing sitting still with your child. You have nothing to loose!!

Thursday, March 31, 2016


No matter what age a woman becomes a mum, no matter what her occupation or involvement was before this point, motherhood is the  start of a new process of learning.  
If I have to drive somewhere I have never been before, I Google the address, choose the route, check the time the trip will take and then plan when I need to leave home to arrive on time. This was very much the case when we had 7 little children who all needed to come along with me.
Each time we have travelled overseas I have spent time researching each town or city to find what is worth seeing, entry costs, where to get tickets, accommodation, how to get there...
I do this so that once there, things are organised, we know what to expect and have a plan.
When children go somewhere new, they have no idea what to expect because they have never been there. 
 ~ going to the library for the first time
 ~ the first visit to the dental nurse
 ~ the first time going to the doctor or the hospital
 ~ first time going to the park, the supermarket or play group
 ~ first day at school   .......
The younger the child, the more immature they are in their capacity to think and understand, so they tend to rely on cues and feeling they pick up as we arrive. Mum's apprehension, rowdy behaviour of others, a warm inclusive and relaxed atmosphere, distance and barriers, formality with awkwardness, uneasiness and tension. These scanty messages all say something to even the tiniest of children. They are then added into behaviour patterns they already know. This is how they begin their time in the new experience. 
Older children work similarly, but also watch out for clues to see what other children are doing, then with nothing else to work with, tend to copy what is happening around them. 
This initial experience may go well for some children and mums. It can also not go well, causing the child to be withdrawn, overly boisterous, uncontrolled or attempting to take control. In short, the situation doesn't go as you had hoped.
When There is Preparation Time : 
1. Talk with the child about where you are going, what they will see there, why you are going there if appropriate. Point out the place as you drive past explaining that this is the library/where we will go to visit the Dental nurse...
2. Tell them how you feel about the place - a positive feel. This gives confidence to the child and gives them an open attitude to the place if they know mum really trusts this health professional, loves looking for books at the library, hears the storyteller is terrific.... Make them feel comfortable and eager to go there.
3. This point is so helpful for children once they are 3years and older - tell them what will happen and what to expect at the place. Talk about it as a story so they are keen to go, not like a list of instructions they must follow.
 ~ Library - there will be shelves of books, other people will be there reading and laptopping so we need to respect them and pass by quietly, we are heading to the story time area, where there will be many other children with adults all sitting on the floor, we will join them and find a place to sit, as the story teller reads we will listen, when everyone sings and jumps about we can join in too, we can look at books and borrow some afterwards.....
 ~ Dental nurse - we will go to the school we drive past/Tom our neighbour goes to.., we are going to the dental clinic and will need to wait on a seat till she is ready to see us, she will take us into  a special room and you will sit in a big comfy chair that you can lie back in, she will let you choose a snappy pair of sunglasses to put on, she will have a look at your cute little teeth in your mouth - like I do when we clean them together, she may need to put on a light to see how beautiful they are - that's why you wear the sunglasses, so you will help her see them by opening up your mouth wide, we can practice tonight when we clean your teeth.....
When There is NO Time to Prepare - THIS is the day - you are going NOW :
1. Even if you have prepared by talking with your child beforehand, you still need to chat again on the day on the way as they won't know that THIS is the moment unless you clearly say so.
2. As you dress, have breakfast, walk to the car and prepare to leave - begin the conversation.
3. Tell them where you are going and why if appropriate. Don't apologise as children don't understanding mums apologising when they are rushing, it only makes them loose confidence and feel less prepared for what's to come. Keep calm and up-beat yourself - even if it's an emergency.
4. Tell them how you feel about the place you are going - a positive feel. Check point 2 in When There is Preparation Time.
5. Tell your child what will happen once you get there. This is SO important for children 3years and older. See point 3 in When There is Time to Prepare.
Children will arrive calm and more at ease. They will now have some idea of what to expect as you have prepared them. 
It only seems fair that I do my best to prepare my kids for new experiences - that is part of my job as their mum.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ help your child to understand somewhere they are going soon by starting to prepare them.

Thursday, February 25, 2016


"There is nothing lonelier than sitting half-naked on a couch at 4am, trying to feed a newborn baby. A month ago I was saying goodbye to colleagues, accepting flowers and revelling in the anticipation of late-pregnancy. Now here I was, milk-stained pyjamas around my waist, trying for the tenth time to get my baby's tiny mouth to close around my nipple in a way that didn't cause agonising pain. You might know the lingo: all the midwives sat it's about getting a good "latch", or positioning the baby in such a way that it can suck efficiently and you're both comfortable.
I had read all the breastfeeding guidelines. I had watched instructional videos. I had sat up late into the night, bleary-eyed, reading page after page of advice. Breastfeeding is possible for anyone, the articles said. It's the most natural way to feed your baby. Breast is best.
I cuddled my baby close, as the advice suggested. The pain was instant. I likened to being cut, but maybe a friend put it better; it's like someone is trying to sandpaper your nipples off. "Ahhh," I cursed under my breath, as my husband walked in to the room, "Are you okay?" He asked.
"No," I said, through tears. "No, I'm really not."
WHEN BREASTFEEDING SUCKS : Michelle Duff, Canvas Magazine. Weekend Herald. New Zealand Herald. February 20, 2016
You can read the full article here - http://m.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=11591202

When this article from last weekend's Canvas Magazine appeared on the Hearald's Facebook page, comments of all opinions were posted, and I joined in. 
It saddened me that both the article and Facebook comments didn't address the vividly described problem. Instead Michelle Duff fell into the pessimistic practice of when you are struggling with something, quote a string of equally dismal-experienced people, and come up with, nothing. But maybe that was the point! The bitter side of journalism.
Michelle Duff certainly did a lot of research, and she unknowingly  twice mentioned the missing piece of information that could have given sympathetic and constructive help to the hundreds of to-be mums who read her article. But she didn't know what she was looking for herself. 
1. Be Informed and Psychologically Set Yourself Up.
If you want to breastfeed your baby, reading advice books, blogs, online articles and "guidelines", watching "instructional videos", going to antenatal classes, listening and talking to professionals through your pregnancy, can help. But I would add spending time with someone who is currently and successfully breastfeeding or has done so in the past, having lots of chats so you talk through all sorts of questions and then feel comfortable to come back to them later when you are breastfeeding. This will inform and psychologically set you up to breastfeed.
2. Physically Set Yourself Up.
Sadly, this was the 'missing piece of information' from Michelle Duff's article. 
Michelle rightly said, "Newborns eat a lot. Sometimes it's every 90 minutes, sometimes it's three times an hour." This is why to prepare to breastfeed is like preparing to run a marathon. You MUST prepare thoroughly or you won't last the distance and certainly won't enjoy the race. Just as preparation to run a marathon starts before the race, so preparation to successfully breastfeed starts before birth, during your pregnancy.
This was the method commonly used when I breastfed in the 1980's, 1990's and 2000's. 
1. Breastfeeding preparation starts when you reach 6 months in your pregnancy.
2. Each day after your daily shower use an oral-friendly moisturiser such as Weleda Nursing Oil, Lanolin or what I used - Wheatgerm oil. Apply a little to both hands and start with your thumbs at the top of your breast and hands on either side of the breast. Smoothly rotate your hands around under the breast up the other side. You don't need any pressure, the fingers softly massage the breasts. Massage say 3 or 4 times. Then repeat with the other breast. Continue this practice right up until the birth. I even continued through the early weeks after birth to help prevent getting blocked milk glands. Takes about 1 minute.
3. In the last 6 - 4 weeks before due date, after the morning massage routine, add in a short time rolling the nipples - with thumb and pointer finger the top and bottom of the nipple (in a 12 and 6 o'clock position), stretch it a little out from the breast and gently roll it 3 times. Move the thumb and pointer finger to a 3 and 9 o'clock position and stretch and gently roll again. Repeat with the other breast. You won't need  to continue this once your baby is born. Takes less than 1 minute.
These 2 simple steps prepare the breasts, gets them into condition. They are now ready to cope with the natural pressure that a newborn who wants to feed, puts on a mother's breast. Why on earth would you not prepare for that? It's like starting a full marathon in brand new shoes with no prior training. Clearly brainless, if you ask me!!!!
From a search online, I have found our community groups who should be helping make known this simple but vitally essential information, ignore it and say nothing. This includes NZ Plunket and the Ministry of Health. A possible explanation as to why so many mums today are struggling and in trouble with breastfeeding.
The only website that gave proper breast preparation help is http://www.wikihow.com/Prepare-the-Breast-for-Breast-Feeding

Friday, December 4, 2015

"PRESCHOOLERS AND MUMS : My 2 Concerns in Summing Up"

“In other areas of child development, society welcomes a framework of optimal parenting practices. For example, we accept that five servings of fruit and vegetables a day is optimal and preferable to four servings, which in turn is preferable to three servings and so on. …

And yet when it comes to parenting practices such as parent/non-parental care, which infringe upon our adult professional freedoms, society seems to actively retreat from constructing any framework that may be construed as a hierarchy of optimum to less optimum practices. No matter how uncomfortable, New Zealand needs a framework to make fully informed decisions about its children’s wellbeing.”  WHO CARES : Dr Aric Sigman p.26
The request is a good one. Wouldn’t it be convenient and helpful if we had such a scale that we could measure ourselves or our lifestyle practice against! We could then ‘tick the box’, confidently thinking we have provided our child with all that is needed for them to mature into a resilient adult, successfully handling the stresses they will encounter in their future life.
My first CONCERN ~
But even if an acceptable authority published such a framework, would adhering to it assure that our children would be resilient to stress, when the time came?
I am not disagreeing with what Dr Sigman says. It is essential that he clearly makes the point that a mother’s availability, love and nurture of her preschoolers contributes enormously to building a stable and resilient adult.
My concern is that a misunderstanding can occur here, and it is best explained by looking at Dr Sigman’s illustration, that everyday, children need 5 servings of fruit and vegetables. This of course is correct because it contributes to children growing strong and healthy bodies and minds. However, these same children can also be struck down by a deadly disease or condition and the health of their body would then be in jeopardy regardless of eating fruit and vegetables.
Similarly with stress and anxiety. There are situations that can enter the lives of children which can cause them to become depressed, have panic attacks and worse. 
But we are wise to take Dr Sigman’s advice, just as we are wise to follow the advise of the Ministry of Health, and give our children  5 servings of fruit and vegetables every day. Following this wisdom builds a solid foundation and is the best contribution we can make to our children's future - however, it does not guarantee that our child will go through life without serious health issues or difficulty in handling stress. 
"In the human brain, the quality of a mother's care in early childhood is a factor thought to influence the size of the hippocampus (Buss et al, 2007). Attachment insecurity has now been significantly related to reduced brain size and brain cell density within the hippocampus of young adults (Quirin et al, 2010) ...
Maternal care or a deficiency of it, plays a key role: maternal care can produce semi-permanent changes in gene activation in brain regions vital in responding to stress, thereby providing a potential mechanism for the early childhood programming of stress-induced disease in adults (Tara, Craft and DeVries, 2009) ...
Therefore, a key aspect in the early care environment for young children is the ability of adults to be available to respond appropriately to stress reactions triggered (inevitably) by normal day-to-day events." WHO CARES : Dr Aric Sigman p.18, 19, 20.
The "quality of a mother's care" is under examination in the above sentences. If her care is deficient the child ends up not developing brain skills which govern their future response to stress. The responsibility is returned to the mother to be available and "respond appropriately" to normal everyday happenings which can cause stress to the child.
My second CONCERN ~
To many mums these words can be alarming. They believe they are being told that they must prevent the baby from experiencing any situation which may cause stress. So the baby must be picked up and not left to cry, the child must be pacified and given-in-to so they remain satisfied and don't become anxious.
But Dr Sigman is not saying or intending this interpretation at all. In fact this pattern of dealing with children will only develop children who are self-centred and lack self control. (If your children currently are living in this way and you would like help to change this situation, look at my website - A Way to Parent and make contact with me.)
Dr Sigman says parents are to "respond appropriately".
How do parents do this in stressful, difficult everyday situations?
 * By being rational with self control
 * By staying calm
 * By being prepared with a thought out plan of what to do ready for when it happens
 * By cultivating a happy and positive mindset towards her child
 * By looking after yourself with regular rest and exercise, eating and drinking healthily and continuing to develop yourself.
(Again look at my website if you would like help by discussing any of these ideas)
A stressed mum will invest stress into her child.
A mum's attitude and behaviour play the biggest role in creating a home environment which ensures child wellbeing is an important priority.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ "Female mammals raised with nurturing mothers have been shown to exhibit more nurturing and less anxious maternal behaviour in their turn. Transfer of maternal behaviour from one generation to another is thought to be an example of an epigenetic change, in which environmental influences [quality of a grandmother's mothering] cause chemical changes to DNA that leads to changes in the expression patterns of genes which influence the way the next generation mother cares for her child (Esel, 2010)". p. 27.
Be encouraged as you mother your preschooler this week.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

"PRESCHOOLERS AND MUMS : Affection and Attachment Builds Later Life Resilience"

"The degree of warmth and affection, particularly between mother and child, can curb a child's stress reactions and generally make a child more resilient to stressful and difficult situations later on." WHO CARES : Dr Aric Sigman. p.12.
Most couples realise how important it is to spend sufficient time together to build a close 'healthy' relationship. The requirement for a young child is the same - to build a 'healthy' child there needs to be lots of affection and attachment time between mum and child, especially in the preschool years.
Oxytocin is known to be the bonding hormone which is released in a mother's brain as she begins to breastfeed her baby. This hormone causes a mother to be affectionate, protect and care for her baby. It is important that this close mother-baby bond be sustained through a baby's early years, as the amount of affection affects the baby's brain chemistry, influencing their future capacity to deal well with stress. 
"A recent study entitled 'Mother's affection at 8 months predicts emotional distress in adulthood', found high levels of affection between mothers and infants were associated with fewer symptoms of distress 30 years later, compared to offspring of mothers who showed low or normal levels of affection. The findings of this study strongly support the view that early life experiences influences adult health and emphasise the importance of a strong nurturing relationship with the biological mother(Maselko et al, 2010)." p.12.
However, if very young children spend most days in daycare separated from their mother, they are not experiencing this essential bond, required by a child for their wellbeing.
Affection and attachment time can not be scheduled into certain hours when a mum is available. A baby or child needs their mum spontaneously 
- to smile or comfort them when they fall and hurt themselves
- to cuddle on the couch or tumble on the floor
- to know it is Mum who made the sandwich and handed it to them
- to know Mum is in the next room, not too far away, and is accessible.
"REAL QUALITY TIME IS USUALLY UNPLANNED, undefined and can occur at all times of the working day, as well as the highly inconvenient middle of the night. IT'S A FEELING, NOT AN APPOINTMENT. Quality time is not a substitute for the sheer amount of time children need every day from their parents." p.13.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ check yourself - is the time you spend with your preschoolers based on what suits YOU or what your child needs?