Finding the right Mothers’ Group for you

Mother’s groups are popular in Australian society because they are a great place to develop strong friendships and share your experiences in life and in family with other mums in your area. But how can a bunch of other mothers help you, and where to look for this community?

Benefits

  • Mother’s group is typically a supportive community that is truly helpful for mothers since they can ask questions about their child’s development from other parents. This is a good source for finding first-hand information and support.
  • Groups are usually open to all mothers, whether they are still expectant or have children in high school, but are commonly attended by those with newborns through to preschool age.
  • This parenting source can give you that feeling that you’re not alone and is a great way to relieve many anxieties.
  • Can help you regain stamina, sanity and strength.
  • In this communityyou will find support, advice, friendship and overall just have a good time.

Where to look for a Mother’s group?

  • Midwifery & birthing departments at your clinic/hospital. Your midwife may be able to Playgroupsuggest a support network that will suit the needs of you and your baby.
  • Parenting magazines and local events calendars.
  • Childcare centers.
  • Churches and other religious or community organisations.
  • Referrals / Word-of-mouth from your friends and collegues.

What to expect in a Mother’s group?

  • It can be a bit like a classroom wherein you are the student and the teacher at the same time. There may be the opportunity to learn from a trained professional, or it may just be round-circle discussions between the mothers. Every child is at a different developmental stage and each family has their own story to tell.
  • You will most likely be offered unsolicited parenting advice, but there’s almost always an opportunity to enjoy engaging conversations.
  • Depending on the ages of the children in the group, there may be craft and educational activities to engage them as well.
  • These networks will meet at a variety of locations, with differing frequency and duration. It may be very informal weekly date at the park with BYO coffee, or a 2-hour session at a dedicated facility that costs few dollars to attend but provides the tea/coffee/food and activities.
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Could a Team Sport Benefit Your Preschooler?

As the parent of a preschooler you want to make sure that you set your child up for success in their school years and beyond. You want them to be bright and happy with amazing artistic and sporting abilities. The truth is that at this age they just want to have fun with the world, so everything they do in their day is being learnt at an intuitive level; they are building their foundations for success.

Builds a strong foundation for social skills

As much as your child might be quite the adult-converser around the dinner table or be the one that hogs the biggest slide in the playground, there are many times when we ask ourselves howshutterstock_70372900

they mingle with other children when you’re not around. Team sports require children to experience more of their society. There will be coaches, referees/umpires, and other children that they may not usually mix with from another school/class or age. They will experience a more diverse range of social situations to draw upon as they mature. Over time, you may find that they make friends easier and communicate more efficiently.

They learn to take wins and losses

Naturally children want to win every time. That’s why even when you lay down the rules and refuse to let them eat more cookies, they might still try to sneak a couple behind your back. Learning the emotions of winning and losing is a very complex process, one that even some adults don’t have full control over sometimes. Understanding and accepting that there will be times when you can try with all your effort and still not win takes time and patience; we all know it hurts. It is definitely ones of those situations that will repetitively happen and you need to look at it from a preschooler’s level to work it out together.

Boosts confidence

Team sports are usually a great self-esteem booster since they teach children to learn their own strengths and capabilities. They learn to believe in themselves, they learn to be leaders and to take charge. Knowing that you are part of something that is greater than you, even for a child, means a lot and this is usually exhibited in the commitment they have for their team.

Even if they decide that football, soccer, basketball, hockey, or whatever team sport is not for baby swimmingthem, perhaps an individual pursuit might be of more interest. Sports like tennis, golf, darts, or swimming, will still teach them all these character traits that create a confident and talented child. You never know, you might find a new hobby as well.

The mess versus creativity of imaginative play.

Creative imaginative play for little onesOn more than one occasion (this week) I’ve walked into a room to find an epic mess of blankets, pillows and stuffed toys. But once I’ve taken that first very deep breath I can see that the cushions are walls of a castle, the TV remote is a phone and the dog has become a horse (with a saddle and all). This is what young kids do to fuel their imaginations. As messy as it is, imaginative play is a very important step in a child’s development that will likely shape the person they are to become.

It helps nurture language skills

Ideally, children do a lot of talking and visualising when creating their own stories and they may draw on real-life experiences for some inspiration. This provides a great opportunity for them to boost their linguistic skills when learning the names of the different materials they are using and those that they are trying to recreate. It may also help them to explain their emotions and their actual understanding of certain situations that their parents have had trouble dealing with.

It improves social skills

We all loved imaginative play as children because it was our chance to be anything we could possibly dream of. That new kid on the slide is really a dragon-rider, not a shy new kid that I didn’t know. We would ride dragons (slides and see-saws) all afternoon in my imaginary world. The ability of create imaginative storylines helps boost a child’s social skills. It is like a state of euphoria where the child believes that nothing can go wrong so they are not afraid of anything. Perhaps from this, they will forge lifelong bonds and friendships.

It enhances problem solving skills

On more than one occasion I’ve walked into the dining room to find a cubby house under the table, strewn with blankets across it and the chairs. However, there’s always that one blanket keeps falling out of place. Rest assured the kids kept supporting it with all kinds of things until it stayed in place. I love that they don’t quit on that plan and they will always find solutions to these massive construction problems.

Enhances creativity

Within their imagination, everything is possible. You can become anything or anyone. This opens up so many channels to explore their creativity and you never know what they will come up with next. They may be a unicorn dancing on the moon, or a police officer chasing down the bad guy, or an architect creating a curved skyscraper out of paper. Every moment they are nurturing their creativity.

You will be amazed by how intricate and complex these little minds are. Spend some quality time together and get into their imagination. Who doesn’t love swimming with mermaids and dolphins under the ice? Try it!

Don’t Forget to Pack Your Patience

Family adventure in Australian park with kids

We’ve all been on that one outing in which everyone has lost the plot. It might have been on the train home from the city, or at grandma’s birthday party, or whilst packing the car for a camping trip. Patience is the key to any successful adventure, especially when it involves family.

Keep priorities in perspective

Many people fail to prioritise exactly why they are going to the trouble of preparing for a certain event. Second to that, they may fail to adequately prepare for it. Are you taking the kids to a museum so that they can quietly walk around, or is there an interactive display that will actually educate them? Are you going for you or for them? Either option is fine, as long as everyone is clear on the expectations.

Keep calm and breathe

We are all aware that nowhere has the creature comforts of home. There really is no point in getting into a high stress situation and forgetting to be patient over something that would be minor if you were at home. Sometimes it’s easy for things to escalate and get heated when you’re out of your comfort zone, especially for kids. They feed off the emotions of their parents.

Take a holiday

Most of us work hard to achieve the goals that we set out in our lives. While having goals is important to many, we should not forget that we need our bodies to deliver. Taking a holiday or travelling with family members is a great way of ensuring that you reset your mind and body and take a break from your otherwise hectic schedule.

Don’t ruin the family outing!

Recently I had the very unfortunate experience of totally ruining a beautiful picnic with my kids simple because my mind was absent on other matters. They wanted to go exploring and I was trying to focus on an impending deadline. It left me cranky and intolerant of everything they said and did. By the time we got back in the car and I saw their sad little faces in the rearview mirror, I realised what I had done and it wasn’t fair on anyone, least of all them. Family time should be about family and treasuring each other.

For family friendly outing ideas visit www.whatson4littleones.com.au

What’s in the price of a ticket to a live performance?

Now that you’re all grown up with kids of your own, you are probably starting to understand Performances for little oneswhy your mum and dad couldn’t continually take you to every stage show that came out, or every Disney On Ice, or every Elmo Tour, or every Wiggle show. The costs are considerable for some of these productions, especially when you have more than one child and sometimes it can be hard to justify spending $70+ for one show for you 4yr old. Yet, being an adult means that you can better understand where your hard earned cash is probably going….

  • Children’s events usually have hundreds of children attend. Therefore, organisers need to spend big bucks to find a venue which has appropriate emergency exists, engaging lighting sequences, clear sound system, cast preparation areas, sufficient parking, allowances for multiple prams, the list goes on.
  • Event organisers have to ensure adequate security is on site. It is important that the attendees feel that they are protected throughout the event experience. Additional to these guys are the rest of the staff requires for the event to function. There will be merchandise sellers, ticket collectors, food and beverage staff, plus then all the people involved in the show directly like sound/lightening guys, producers, dressers and most importantly the actual cast.
  • Have you ever seen the grounds of a fair after the event is over? Plastic bottles, plastic cups, dagwood dog sticks, littering the place everywhere. Most likely, the grounds must be returned to the proprietors in the way that it was first rented. This will require cleaning crews with appropriate equipment for expedient and thorough services.
  • Event organisers also need to take care of any permits and public liability insurance. People would love to go to a place or event if they know that they are ensured since they have the rights to claim for compensation if anything happens to them.

It is really down to your family’s requirements and preferences. Perhaps just one or two big events per year will keep everyone smiling, or maybe it is an every school holidays thing. However often you take the kids out, make sure that you’re really present with them and enjoying the whole experience from their perspective. That in itself is priceless.

Visit www.whatson4littleones.com.au and www.whatson4schoolkids.com.au for the latest children’s entertainment shows and giveaways.

Load up the car, it’s travelling time!

Who doesn’t love travelling with kids? It’s so exciting throwing them in the back of the car and strapping them in for 8 hours of rolling hills, thousands of cows, millions of power poles and a very long game of eye-spy. Sorry myhappy kids in car, family travel enthusiasm sort of waned at the end there didn’t it. These are the common first thoughts when you discuss travelling with the kids, but if you’ve done it more than once then you’ve probably got a decent idea what to expect.

I’ve got a friend who’s eldest child loves to travel; car, train, plane, anything, he loves it all and always has. Yet his younger twins were the total opposite. Even a short trip from Sydney to Canberra were torture. They constantly wriggled and annoyed each other and it was draining on everyone in the car. The family flew to Fiji and the twins tagged-team as to which one hated it more. My friend and her husband vowed to never take those two younger ones on a plane ever again. Then the weirdest thing happened, the twins turned four and were suddenly awesome travellers. In the space of a couple of months the family drove from Sydney to Brisbane and back twice without a single altercation from the back seat.

What had changed in that time? Mum & Dad learnt how to prepare for travelling with a hoard!

Here are my friends’ top tips for travelling with kids for longer than 2 hours,

  • Individual lunchboxes filled with what each kid likes (tedious to prepare but worth it)
  • At least one activity book per child with a small selection of crayons
  • A comforting toy from home to ease potential anxiety
  • 1-2 small interactive toys per child. Like a barbie/figurine (minus annoying shoes) or 2 matchbox cars or a rubix cube
  • For longer trips and ipad/tablet or headrest dvd players

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  • One good sixe backpack for all their “stuff” to fit in. Therefore, they are responsible for keeping it all together and somewhat organised back there.

You know your kids better than anyone so it is important to listen to your own intuition when sorting out the travel arrangements. There’s no need to take a whole toy box along because kids are going to want to explore their new surroundings. You’ll also want to engage on the journey like our parents did with us. You can play good ‘ol eye-spy, or the game where you make a sentence out of the number plate of the car in front of you. Long road trips can be a marvellous opportunity to explore the creativity of your little ones.

Now pack up the car and go explore. But first, share with us your top tips for traveling with kids.

Gift ideas that aren’t toys

WO4 Christmas Non Toy Gift IdeasMy kids are truly blessed with lots of Grandparents, Aunties, Uncles and close family friends. They also have Birthday’s close to Christmas. Often toys are played with for a few weeks and then forgotten. Well apart from the beloved Elsa (She will be around for a while I think).

With the lead up to Christmas, I have started receiving Christmas list requests from my family. With our playroom overflowing with toys I thought to myself “Can we really fit more toys in here?” It really doesn’t seem like it. Yes, of course the kids will receive some of their wish list items from Santa, but they really do not need much more.

This year we have put a few non toy gift ideas, “experience presents” on the kids’ wish list, instead of just tangible gifts. Here are a few items that I think the whole family will enjoy.

Season Passes

– Zoo
– Museum
– Water Park
– Local Pool
– Aquarium
– Theme Park/Amusement Park

One-Time Passes

Movies
– Bowling
– Swimming
– Theatre Performance
– Go see a sporting event
Disney On Ice
– Circus
– Ice Skating
– Roller Skating
– Mini Golf
– Concert
Experiences for Kids

– Bus ride to the city
– Train Ride
– Ice Cream Vouchers
– Special dinner out
– A Trip to the Fire Station
– A visit to a games arcade
– Go to sushi train for lunch
– Cooking lessons at the Grandparent’s house

Older Kids or Grown-Ups

– Hot Air Balloon Ride
– Helicopter Ride
– Trip to the Spa (Manicure/Pedicure, Massage, Facial, etc.)
– Rock Climbing
– Trip to Arcade
– High Tea experience
– Zookeeper for the Day Pass at a Local Zoo
– Gold Class Movie Tickets


Classes
Classes are great at increasing confidence, team skills, fine and gross motor skills and it can enhance kids creative abilities. Why not let the kids experienced something new? Others may prefer to encourage and foster an already existing passion.

Some popular classes include;

– Swimming lessons
– Baby Class eg: Baby Sensory classes
– Sports (Soccer, Football, Tennis, Netball, Rugby, Teeball, Golf)
– Gymnastics
– Dance
– Karate
– Musical Instrument
– Art or Craft Class
– Kids cooking classes
– Horseback riding lessons
Games and Puzzles
Games and puzzles are great activities for when kids have to be indoors. It’s a good practice to have individual quiet times during the day, and having a puzzle to sit and work on by themselves helps brain development and problem solving skills. Games teach a lot too! Some of our favourite games include: Snakes and Ladders, Connect 4 and Scrabble Soup. They help to cement math and problem solving skills. Memory Games are also great for younger children.

Books
We get a lot of books from the library, but there are some that I just can’t find there, or it takes us longer to read through. We have read through the entire Fancy Nancy Collection, Roald Dahl collection and are now working our way through the Faraway Tree Series of books. It is great to pass on the books when the kids have outgrown them so more kids can enjoy the stories and there will be less clutter in your home.

Recipe and Ingredients.
Kids love cooking with their parents. Baking and cooking is a great way to spend time together and learn life skills. Print out a recipe, purchase all the ingredients and set a date for cooking together.

Crafting Date.
My daughter loves doing art and crafts. I do too! I really do enjoy the creative aspect. Crafting dates would be special one on one time with no iPhones or distractions. Plan some special crafts and pre-purchase the craft items so that you are ready to create. Online sites such as pinterest have some great craft ideas, or get out a book from your local library for inspiration.
Family Experiences

– A night(s) away at a local hotel (with a pool)
– A hotel with an indoor waterpark
– Farm Stay Experience
– Camping
– Road trip
– Give them travel/camping gear needed for the experience you’ll be gifting so that they have a physical item to unwrap

I am looking forward to enjoying these new experiences with the kids in the New Year. Not only will the kids have fun, these are the kinds of experiences that will create memories that last a lifetime.

Jimmy Giggle Interview on becoming a dad

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We recently caught up with Jimmy Rees (aka Jimmy Giggle from Giggle & Hoot) and spoke to him on his first thoughts on finding out he’s going to be a dad.

Congratulations to you and Mrs Giggle on the news of a Giggle junior, it’s all very exciting and we know you will make a fantastic dad.

WO4: Do you think Giggle Junior will follow in the footsteps of dad and become a Essendon fan?
JR: For sure, I will be showering him/her with red and black for many birthdays to come.

WO4: Have you got any names picked out yet?
JR: We had a few but we are not to sure on them anymore. If it was left to me it would be decided at the last minute, luckily I have an organised wife! The thinking continues.

WO4: As we are big advocates of the importance of having your little one experience activities from birth, we’d love to know what you have in mind for Giggle Junior’s first classes?
JR: Mum took me to all sorts of different activities when I was a bub so we are keen to continue that. I went to music, swimming and gym to name a few.

WO4: Do you think Hoot and Hootabelle will make great babysitters?
JR: As long as they don’t try and feed the little one worm flavoured milkshakes, EWWWW!

WO4: Have you been learning how to change nappies yet?
JR: Haven’t been to nappy bootcamp yet. I have a 5 month old nephew though so I will have to get some practice in before April.

WO4: Will Giggle Junior make a guest appearance on the show?
JR: That’s a question for the producers, perhaps a segment called, Jimmy Giggle’s nappy bootcamp. haha!!

WO4: Do they make hoot PJ’s that small?
JR: I think they start at size 1, perhaps I could pull a few strings and get some custom made for the lovely costume department at ABC.

WO4: Does Mrs Giggle have any pregnancy cravings as yet? If so what are they?
JR: She has been craving anything with milk, hot chocolates, cereal, or just glasses of milk which she wasn’t to fond of pre pregnancy. She also went through a phase of fried rice early on.

WO4: Are you going to find out if Giggle Junior is a boy or girl?
JR: At this stage we want to find out, yes.

WO4: We can’t wait to see you and your friends on tour around Australia and what’s in store for Giggle & Hoot for 2015.
JR: The tour is an excellent forum for us to get that audience reaction we miss in the studio so we love performing in all the different states. Giggle and Hoot looks like it will continue in the fashion it has done since its birth, continuing to add more bits and pieces to the show expanding where it can and of course MORE SONGS! Hoot Hoot!

WO4: As we are Australia’s number one destination to find out anything and everything for What’s On around Australia for your little one, school kids and kids parties we’d love to help you and Mrs Giggle fully informed of classes, activities, events, mums groups and much more.
JR: Awesome!!

A day out at the Myer Giftorium

It’s pretty fair to say I love Christmas. So when I was invited along to the Myer Christmas Giftorium I couldn’t have been happier. I loved Christmas growing up as a child and now a mum of three little ones it brings a whole new meaning to this festive time of the year. The official launch celebrations of Giftorium will take place on Saturday 8th November with activities in every Myer store.  These are some of the special treats we had on offer on the launch day.

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Delicious snowflake cupcakes
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These were the yummiest biscuits I’ve ever tasted! and there was home-made lemonade to fill the bottles.
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Elijah 5 weeks slept through the whole morning!

This year Myer has a unique concept with the launch of the Myer Christmas Giftorium in all of its 67 Myer stores nationwide. The idea was developed to bring back fun and theatre to Christmas shopping as well a one-stop place for gift shopping.

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Traditional decorations
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The House & Garden range

There certainly was variety of gift ideas on the day including…

Something for Dapper Dad

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Trendy Young Things

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Miracle Mum

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And even something for the pets!

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Two of my favourites for the kids were the Bonds Christmas range which would be perfect for end of year parties.

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Then there is also the Mr Men and Little Miss personalization range. For the first time in Australia Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane stores will offer the chance to customize a framed poster in two sizes with their name and Mr Men/Little Miss character of their choice.

Mr Men and Little Miss range

SodaStream machines will be popular this year and will be holding demonstrations and tastings in select Myer stores. We are giving away three SodaStream machines at the moment. Enter here.

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This is Archie the 2014 Christmas Bear, RRP19.95  It’s lovely quality and has a weighted bottom and removable jumper.

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Well known vista print will be opening their first /bricks and morter’ retail space in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth Stores. You will be able to select from an array of products including Christmas cards, iphone covers, mouse pads, caps and more with photos and phrases of your choice. You can check out the designs here.

But gifts are not the only thing on offer this year, there’s plenty to see and do as well. There will be in store activities including Santaland, the Christmas Window displays and work with The Salvation Army.

Santaland Store locations
Santaland is in 53 Myer stores nationally.
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NSW & ACT
Sydney (Santaland Express Store), Albury, Belconnen, Blacktown, Eastgardens, Castle Hill, Charlestown, Chatswood, Dubbo, Erina, Macquarie, Miranda, Orange, Parramatta, Penrith, Roselands, Shell Harbour, Warringah, Wagga, Wollongong. Click here for details for the ACT.  Click here for  details for NSW.

TAS
Hobart, Launceston. Click here for details.

QLD
Brisbane & Pacific Fair (Santaland Express Stores), Brookside, Carindale, Indooroopilly, Loganholme, Maroochydore, Mount Gravatt, North Lakes, Toowoomba. Click here for details.

VIC
Melbourne (Santaland Express Store), Ballarat, Bendigo, Chadstone, Doncaster, Eastland, Fountain Gate, Frankston, Geelong, Highpoint, Knox City, Northland, Southland. Click here for details.

SA
Adelaide (Santaland Express Store), Marion, Tea Tree Plaza. Click here for details.

WA
Perth (Santaland Express Store), Carousel, Garden City, Karrinyup, Joondalup. Click here for details.

Don’t forget to book your visit with Santa online at Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Pacific Fair, Adelaide and Hobart stores (starting Nov 8th). It’s really easy and you can secure your exclusive 15 minute session with Santa. Photo packages start from $26.50. Click here for more details here.

Of course there will be a gift wrapping service and also a Christmas gift registry, perfect for families who have loved ones spread across Australia who would like to buy the kids a gift (no doubling up either!).

What’s On…

Melbourne: On the 8th of November Jennifer Hawkins will unveil the world famous Myer Animated Christmas windows in Melbourne, followed by a performance from the voice winner Harrison Craig at the arrival of Santa. More details here.

Vision Australia’s Carol’s by candlelight, presented by Myer on Wednesday 24th December.

Sydney: Guy Sebastian will perform at Myer City Centre to help launch the Myer Giftorium. Click here for more details.

On Sunday the 14th of December Guy Sebastian will present the Myer Carols in the City.

Brisbane: The Myer Brisbane Parade & Pantomime will be between Friday 12 and Sunday 21 December Performers to be announced.

Perth: Performers to be announced.

Adelaide: Performers to be announced.

Hobart: The Myer Christmas Pageant will be held on Saturday 15th November.

For more details visit www.myer.com.au