SCREEN TIME

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In a world driven by technology, the new first world dilemma seems to be how much screen time (ie. TV, ipads, video games etc) is appropriate for kids. I struggle with this as of course I understand the fun and relaxation that comes from using these devices (I’m a closet Candy Crush addict myself!). 

We came up with what we think is a workable rule in our house. During the week, the kids are allowed to watch TV in the morning until 7am, as long as they are already dressed for school. We then put on the news for half an hour to see what is happening in the world.

There is no television or screen time in the afternoons. This time is for homework without distraction and good old-fashioned play time (swimming, playing with the dog, backyard basketball etc). Mind you, most weekday afternoons are crammed with kid’s extra curricular activities so there isn’t a lot of free time outside of homework. 

We record the evening news and watch that after the kids go to bed, so dinnertime and bedtime are distraction free. Before we implemented this rule, I was always nagging the kids to do things to be met with a zombified silence or a mumbled ‘Okay, after this show finishes, it hasn’t got long!’

Friday afternoons, weekends and holidays are time for relaxation and the kids are free to sloth about watching TV or playing video games (although we do encourage them to do some physical fun activities as well).

I know some people argue that by limiting their access to screen time during the week makes them more addicted on the weekends, but I feel that at least the weekdays are productive.

What works in your home?

 

 

 

(Photo courtesy of Ambro, freedigitalphotos.net)

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BIONIC EARS

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I need to state for the record that I love sleep! Before children I used to sleep like a log. I grew up sharing a room with my twin sister and she could come in, turn on the light and get changed – all without me even stirring. Then when I got married, my husband would get up on the weekend, go for a jetski and return to wake me mid morning.

It came as a shock to me that the moment I gave birth I developed super sonic hearing. Suddenly the start of a small whimper in the middle of the night would wake me up, more alert than if an alarm had been beeping next to my ear. Since then as my children have grown, I can hear the moment that there are little footsteps in the carpeted hallway. It must be a mothering instinct to listen out whilst ‘sleeping’ to make sure your children are okay. Obviously the fathering instinct is completely different! I know fathers who have had their children climb into bed across them without them being aware! 

My bionic ears have also served me well when I’m not asleep. The kids can scream and laugh at the top of their voices and I don’t pay too much attention, but the moment I hear whispered talking and giggling my ears prick up to hear what mischief is being planned. It is always far more concerning when kids are quiet than playing loudly!

I’m assuming as our teenagers get older, this sensitive hearing will also come in useful for keeping track of what time they get home after a night out! I worry that I will have more sleepless nights from this than when they woke regularly for feeds as babies.

I wonder whether this altered sense of ‘sleep alertness’ will be something I will have for the rest of my life or whether when the kids leave home I can return to sleeping like a log once again!

 

(Photo courtesy of artemeisphoto, freedigitalphotos.net)

FIRST DAY

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This is one of my favourite days of the year. The first day back at school is the only day when my kids are dressed and completely ready to go to school by 7am. I’m not sure if it’s nerves or excitement that spurs them on, but I wish I could bottle whatever it is and feed it to them daily! /p>

A normal school day morning consists of my husband and I waking the kids (sometimes several times), giving them breakfast, making lunches and then as the time for the bus gets closer a frantic nagging begins. What starts out as gentle reminders to pack their bags, brush their teeth and make their beds turns into louder demands to get ready, followed by threats of what the consequences are for missing the bus. This is usually the time when I am handed a permission slip to sign (that was meant to be returned a week ago for an excursion the next day) or told that they are missing their hat or other item of compulsory uniform.

With frazzled nerves I bid them farewell as they run towards the bus stop with fingers crossed they haven’t left their dash too late. 

I take a deep breath and survey the debris they have removed from their bags and wait with baited breath, hoping that they don’t saunter back down the driveway begging for a lift to school as they have missed the bus.

So today I am relaxed and relieved to know that my kids are capable of getting ready for school on time. If only I had confidence that they could do this every morning!

 

 

(Photo courtesy of nuttakit, freedigitalphotos.net)

BUSH WALK

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I’ve been absent for the last week as we have been boating in some of the most incredible waterways, nestled within pristine bush national parks that are a sight to behold – unless you’re a child! Then it is just that area that isn’t water.

One day we decided to go on a bushwalk to a stunning lookout and asked if the kids would like to join us. To our dismay, they said that it was boring and they weren’t interested. So we then came up with a new idea – we were going on a ‘scavenger hunt’. We came up with a list of items they needed to collect on the walk: a yellow flower; a heart shaped rock; a stick shaped like a slingshot; spot a wallaby (like a little kangaroo for those non-Australians) and a gumnut. 

Suddenly their interest levels peaked and they had a glorious time wandering through the bush looking out for the items on the list. We spotted a wallaby within a few minutes of walking and the rest of the items were easily found, with a bit of leniency given to how ‘heart shaped’ the heart shaped rock was. The reward when we got to the top was a fun-sized chocolate for the kids and the stunning vista of the lookout for the adults.

Sometimes the simplest things are achieved by thinking outside the square. By creating such a simple competition, the kids ended up enjoying themselves (as did the adults) and it gave us all some time to appreciate the natural beauty surrounding us, whilst giving us a bit of exercise.

GONE FISHING

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I have been busy the last few days holidaying on our boat with family and friends so I haven’t had a chance to write a post.

The other night I noticed a school of fish so I rigged up a hand reel with my favourite bait (bread rolled into a ball so I don’t get stinky hands – I’m hard core like that!) I cast the line into the water and instantly started catching fish. I called out for my daughter’s friend to join me and handed her the line with a fish already hooked on the end. As I walked away she excitedly squealed that there was a fish on the line. I feigned surprise and helped her reel it in. She starting calling out to everyone that she had caught a fish for the first time ever and her joy was infectious.

I re-baited the line for her and lowered it to the ‘right level’ for her (again hooking a fish before handing over the line). Once again she squealed when she felt the fish on the line. This charade continued with everyone enjoying her naivety and her unbridled joy at her fishing conquests.

I have been doing this for years with my own kids so they know that if they instantly have a fish on line that I have caught it. I know from previous experience that kids lose interest really quickly if they don’t catch anything so by ‘assisting’ they are more engaged. Thankfully no one wanted to burst this girl’s bubble and I’m so glad that my kids didn’t ruin the experience for her by explaining that she wasn’t actually ‘catching’ the fish. As far as she was concerned she was a master angler and she will have a sweet memory forever of the first time she caught a fish.

 

(Picture courtesy of Africa, freedigitalphotos.net)

 

MOON AND STARS

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When our eldest daughter was only 18 months old we would take her outside at night to show her the moon and stars. She was quite literally star struck and would spend as much time as we would allow looking up into the night sky. Each night as she would get ready for bed she would ask with her limited vocabulary ‘see moon and stars’ and we would take her outside for a while as we were just as mesmerised by her awe as she was by the stars.

Fast forward fifteen years and she still finds the night sky beautiful. The other night, whilst staying on our boat, we thought she had gone to bed only to find she had in fact climbed on to the roof of our boat and was lying there looking at the constellations.

Looking at the sky littered with tiny twinkling stars really puts our lives in perspective. When you think earth is just another speck in the universe, our country just a small portion of earth and our location like a freckle on our country, our issues are really so insignificant in the scheme of the whole universe. It is humbling to think a teenager can recognise this, considering for the most part they normally think the world revolves around them!

So tonight if you get the chance, go outside, wish on the first star you see and take time to revel in the beauty of our universe, because if an infant child can appreciate that beauty then surely we shouldn’t take it for granted.

 

(Picture courtesy of fotographic1980, freedigitalphotos.net)

 

 

RUSSIAN ROULETTE

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I have recently heard of several ‘surprise’ pregnancies – one baby that has been born into a family with teenage kids who thought their days of babies and nappies were well and truly over, and one with a couple who had long ago agreed they wouldn’t be having children.

 

I am speaking from experience when I say that if you have decided that you don’t intend on ever having children in the future, that if you don’t do something permanent about it, then you are playing Russian roulette.

 

We had three delightful daughters and had decided our family was complete when we surprised with the conception of our gorgeous son. Luckily for us, there wasn’t too much of an age gap with our youngest and being a boy cemented the feeling that he was just meant to be. To this day I honestly don’t know how he was conceived as even though we were actively trying not to fall pregnant we ended up with our ‘surprise’ bundle of joy. During the labour with my son, I gripped my husband’s arm and stared him in the eyes before saying ‘Don’t you ever get me pregnant again!’ Soon thereafter he was booked in the ‘snip’ so that we didn’t have the possibility of another ‘surprise’ child.

 

The lady in the childless couple went to the doctor to see if he could help her get over a gastro bug. After the doctor felt her stomach to see if there were any unusual growths, he confirmed in fact there was – a baby. After an ultrasound she found out she was 24 weeks pregnant. It is quite a shock to come to terms with having a surprise pregnancy, but an even greater one if you had never intended on having children in the first place.

 

The baby born into the family with teens is being smothered with love and the family is adjusting to their new addition.

 

One thing is for sure, whether you plan them or not, once a ‘surprise’ baby is born, you can’t imagine life without them!

 

 

(photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalphotos.net)