Hibiscusmatters 4 June 2014 | 11
Home school a big learning curve Being a stay at home mother to preschoolers can be a challenge, but imagine continuing that level of commitment throughout their school years. This is the choice of Hatfields Beach mother Katherine Armon, who home schools her daughters Charlotte, aged eight, and Rosie (4). Katherine says she decided to home school her daughters partly because her own experience of school was not positive. “I was a creative child, a bit outside the box, into arts and English and writing,” Katherine says. “The school system wanted to make me the same as everyone else. Charlotte is like me in many ways, and I couldn’t bear the thought of her not having an outlet for her creativity.” The single mum also admits that she would find it hard to see them off to school each day but says that having her children with her all the time has its moments. “I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a downside,” she says. “There are days when you have the flu and would rather rest, and you sacrifice the gym and coffee with friends, but the pluses outweigh the minuses by a million.” She fits work as a Marriage Celebrant around her roles as parent and teacher, a juggling act made easier by the fact that her parents live next door. Katherine has learned a lot from home schooling her children because she must teach subjects that she struggled with at school alongside ones she loves, such as English. To ensure she was up to the task, Katherine did NCEA maths by correspondence, and got straight
As, despite having failed the subject at school. “Because I’m an adult, and ready to learn, it all made sense,” she says. “The penny dropped that I struggled with maths as a child because I simply wasn’t interested in it, or engaged by the way it was taught.” She says the issue of socialisation comes up a lot when people talk about home schooling but that from her point of view there is nothing normal about having 40 kids all the same age together in a classroom. “The children belong to community sport, dance and drama groups and we know a lot of people. Social skills come from mixing with people of all ages and we definitely do that.” Home schooling is supported by groups based on the web, including Rodney Home Educators, and there are also Facebook-based groups. It is up to parents which curriculum they follow – Katherine selected a maths curriculum from Australia, which she says suits Charlotte. She says she will be guided by the children as to which college exams may be required. “I take it one year at a time, and as long as they are progressing well, I will keep going. Whatever career they are headed for, I will make sure they study appropriate subjects at the level they need to achieve that.” Katherine says a key to successful learning is to find a subject that your child loves and fit the teaching around that. A fine example is Charlotte’s entry in this year’s Trash to Fashion competition – she made a garment based on the Statue of Liberty for the Train Trip
Katherine Armon with daughters Charlotte, right, and Rosie. Charlotte models her Trash to Fashion entry, Liberty Belle, and Rosie wears the Sushi Hat – all made from recycled items such as an umbrella, computer cable and plastic bags.
Across America category, and a Sushi Head hat for the Aesthetically Asian category. “The process involved studying geography, history, English, art, crafts and maths and she’s loved it so much that I’ve had to practically take the sewing needle out of her hand at bedtime.”
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CLOTHING – MATERNITY WEAR – TOYS – BABY GEAR Green Baby sells branded, top quality, new and gently used baby gear at a fraction of the retail price. For sellers, Green Baby gives you the opportunity to turn your no longer needed baby items into cash.
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babies & childcare
Nappy lady comes to Orewa Kate Meads’ journey towards sustainability, and ultimately becoming known NZ-wide as ‘The Nappy Lady’, started with a conversation with a friend about cloth nappies. Prior to this, Kate says she was “the worst consumer ever”. However once her friend introduced her to modern versions of the cloth nappy, her days of putting out a giant wheelie bin of dirty disposable nappies every week were over. The change gradually made her question the throwaway society as a whole – a turnaround she says has been massive for her family, which now has worm farms, compost bins, herb and vegetable gardens and an orchard. These days Kate promotes the use of cloth nappies throughout the country – a job that earned her the ‘Nappy Lady’ title – and which brings her to Orewa this month to hold her first local workshop. She says cloth nappies are back in fashion, not only because of increasing environmental awareness, but also because things have evolved when it comes to fabrics, design and washing methods. Rather than the “old pink striped nappies hanging around the baby’s knees”, modern cloth nappies comfortable and easy to use, with Velcro and domes replacing nappy pins. Fabrics which are light, comfortable and perform well include cotton, microfibre, bamboo viscose and hemp as well as a fleece-type fabric called
Minky. Cleaning the nappies is no more difficult than throwing a load into the washing machine. For a while, Kate sold nappies herself but she sold her business last year in favour of working with Councils throughout NZ to promote cloth nappies. These days she offers independent advice at workshops, which are part of Auckland Council’s waste minimisation programme. Kate says whichever cloth nappy parents choose, saving money is a given – she estimates that most families spend around $4000 per child on disposables, compared with around $750 (including washing costs) for cloth. “Parents may think it has to be all or nothing, but I used disposables for my son when out and about, or at night and cloth during the day. Different combinations work for different families.” At the workshops Kate also talks about environmental awareness. “There are many other disposable items for babies, from wipes to changing mats, and we talk about that in the workshops. Having a child made me aware of what kind of world I would be leaving him with – it’s a transition that is ongoing, but I’m proud that I’m making a difference in my little corner of the world.” The workshop is on June 11 at Orewa Community Centre, Orewa Square, Orewa, 7pm–9pm. Bookings are essential and cost $25. Book at www. thenappylady.co.nz
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Hibiscusmatters 4 June 2014 | 13
babies & childcare
Hibiscus Coast Plunket is on the lookout for volunteers for its committee – a role that president Rebecca Snow says has a lot to offer. Rebecca, who has two pre-schoolers and is self-employed, working “what feels like 1000 hours a week”, shows that it is still possible for busy people to give back to the community. She says joining Plunket helped her get to know others in the area and that a strong committee will help take Plunket forward. “The committee are dedicated, fun, passionate, ‘action’ people that make things happen,” she says. “We are a mix of ages and nationalities and come from all walks of life. I am so proud of our achievements in the last year and excited to see how the group will grow as we look for volunteers to assist with social media, events, and a secretary to keep us on track.” She says if enough people join, she hopes that a sub-group can be formed of people who’d like to be involved but can’t attend monthly meetings. “They may have a skill set we could call on when needed, or just be happy to take tickets at a movie night or help out for an hour on a sausage sizzle,” she says. “We’d love to hear from anyone who may be interested and we can make the role work for them and their lifestyle.” All four current committee members
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are mothers, but Rebecca hopes fathers will also put up their hands. “I’d love to see a Dad on the committee as I’ve seen how empowering this can be.” Plunket is also in the process of building relationships with local businesses and already has a successful relationship with The Plaza. Hibiscus Coast Plunket’s treasurer and longest serving member, Nancy O’Shea, joined the committee after reading a story in Hibiscus Matters in 2008 when Plunket was in dire need of volunteers. Although her two sons are adults, Nancy is happy to give her time to the local Plunket because of an attachment to the organisation that began 30 years ago when her children were small and she was an active member of Plunket in Blockhouse Bay. Over the years, the retired secondary school teacher says she has taken on most roles at Plunket. Committee members have always come and gone as their children grow, and Nancy says people are also becoming less willing to give their time as volunteers. “But when they decide to get involved, they find that they get out what they put in. It’s about a willingness to say – ‘I’m doing this for the community’,” she says. Info: phone Rebecca, 021 554 958.
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babies & childcare
The truth about babies’ tears By Jacqueline Engelbrect of Journey Homeopathy As a first time mum armed with lots of very informative books and loads of external instruction, there is nothing more daunting than the sound of your first born’s shrill cry. Nothing can really prepare you for the task of deciphering exactly what you need to do next. My wonderful obstetrician told me, “it’s like starting a new job, one that you haven’t been trained in and one that you haven’t had much experience with, so sit tight and enjoy the ride”. I’m certainly no expert but there are a few basic reasons to consider when you have an unsettled baby. Within a short time and probably before arriving home with your newborn, you will have worked out the ‘basic needs’ cries – these include, “I’m hungry”, “I’m wet” and the big one we often miss, “I’m overtired”. For overtired babies there are some wonderful resources available to help you settle and soothe your baby. General information and tips around sleep can be found on The Sleepstore website. For a more personal and tailored approach sleep consultants are available by email, telephonically and in person to hold your hand through this stressful period. Make sure that any advice or techniques you are given fit in with your personal parenting
philosophy. There are sometimes more serious reasons for crying. If your baby cries continuously or if you have any concerns, the wisest thing to do is see your GP as your baby may have colic or reflux. Colic is defined as a pattern of excessive crying over a period of weeks that is loud, piercing, constant, occurring at intervals, between which the infant acts normally. Gastroesophageal reflux is the backward movement of food and acid from the stomach into the oesophagus. It interferes with feeding and nutrition. Once a diagnosis has been made, you can decide which line of treatment to follow. I have had wonderful success with tissue salts such as magnesium phosphoricum for cramping associated with reflux. I recommend that all new mums have a bottle of homeopathic Chamomilla (30C) in their reach for a range of infant ailments from teething to colic. Other treatments that can help include baby osteopathy, homeopathy and acupressure. Your GP may also prescribe other medications to control the acid reflux. Remember that you are not alone in trying to translate the language of your baby, so reach out to friends and family over a cuppa because this will one day move into another age of unexplained teenage slang that becomes even more challenging than those first cries.
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Hibiscusmatters 4 June 2014 | 15
babies & childcare
Recycling baby gear pays off Prams, clothing, toys, bassinet and bedding – the items babies need are not cheap, which is why good quality second hand items are in demand. With this in mind, Helen Sun, owner of Green Baby in Browns Bay, set up a Silverdale branch late last year. Green Baby is packed with new and nearly new baby gear and clothing, as well as maternity wear. The store in Silverdale St is currently owned by Helen Zhang, who says 90 percent of the items are brought in by parents, and sold on their behalf. She says parents who bring items in to sell appreciate that by doing so they not only recycle and make a few dollars,
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but also provide affordable items to others in the community. Helen maintains strict quality control, so that everything she sells is clean and in excellent condition.
Business based on breast is best Leah Rutley’s enthusiasm for making breast feeding easier led her from midwifery to starting a business providing breast pumps and other products for nursing mums. Leah, who lives with her husband Stuart and two children in Whangaparaoa, says time spent as a midwife providing post-natal care made her aware that cost put good quality breast pumps out of the reach of many women. The pumps are a vital piece of equipment for women who may have trouble breastfeeding, have their baby in neo-natal intensive care, or be returning to work.
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Leah made it her mission to find a durable, affordable and high quality breast pump – a process that took her and Stuart a year of investigation, followed by trials with mothers. Once Leah found the Unimom range in the United States three years ago, she committed fully to it, forming a company, Express the Best, in order to become the sole NZ distributor. Express the Best provides the pumps free to hospitals, which lend them to parents. The pumps are also available through pharmacies, including Manly Care Chemist, but the majority of sales are via www.expressthebest.co.nz.
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16 | Hibiscusmatters 4 June 2014
babies & childcare
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Joys of pregancy
It is best to take supplements such as folic acid before starting pregnancy. Folic acid is important to prevent neural tube defects (eg spina bifida) and more is needed during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy while the brain and spinal cord is developing. Iodine supplements are necessary for thyroid hormone to help prevent brain damage, miscarriage and premature labour; and should be taken throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding. It is important to stop smoking as nicotine and carbon monoxide reduce oxygen availability for the developing foetus, resulting in low birth weight babies, prematurity and reduced lung and brain development. Smoking doubles the risk of stillbirth and triples the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Alcohol can affect brain development and cause other abnormalities in babies but this is worse if alcohol intake is heavy throughout pregnancy, so stopping drinking alcohol when you know you are pregnant is wise. Have the champagne to celebrate when your baby arrives! Pregnancy can be a joyful time of preparing for a new baby yet it can also be difficult for those who experience severe nausea and vomiting. It helps to eat small amounts frequently and get plenty of rest. Wearing acupressure bands or having acupuncture can be effective. If vomiting is severe see your doctor or midwife as they will prescribe medication to help that is safe for your baby. The nausea usually wanes by 12 weeks and between 14 and 28 weeks is a good time to do your shopping and home decorating as you will have plenty of energy. After 28 weeks slow down and have plenty of rest in preparation for labour – and the disturbed nights that follow the birth of your baby. Attending antenatal classes helps both parents to prepare for the change to their lives. Breastfeeding will give a new baby an excellent start in life as they receive antibodies from mother’s milk to protect against viral illnesses. Although many women consider breastfeeding to be natural, it does not always come easily to everyone. I can remember sitting and weeping at six weeks, wondering where the fun was, with cracked nipples and a baby who fed every three hours and did not sleep through the night until she was seven (luckily I did not know that then). I was so glad that I had persevered because, when we took her overseas to meet her grandparents, travelling was so easy – breastfeeding was so much easier than bottle feeding would have been. Plunket, your midwife and breastfeeding consultants can advise and support those who struggle, so hang in there if you can.
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Hibiscus Matters babies and childcare feature, Local Newspaper