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SUPPORTING PARENTS THROUGH THE EARLY YEARS
FEBRUARY 2015 – MARCH 2015
get rid of guilt – why are so many parents racked with self-recrimination?
who’s afraid? – understanding childhood anxiety
just add water – teaching Kiwi kids to swim
– cycle skills for the whole family
my dark journey – grappling with Postnatal Depression
terrible toddler tantrums – managing massive, momentous meltdowns
The magazine of Parents Centres New Zealand Inc
Parenting tips • Childbirth • Family finances • Breastfeeding • Lifestyle • Family health
beating the Aaron and Jacinta Gascoigne were desperate to have a second child – a brother or sister for their son Jack. But, after five harrowing years of failed pregnancies, they were ready to give up. Prior to Aaron and Jacinta’s final IVF attempt, Aaron decided that it wouldn’t be right if he didn’t go into it as fit and prepared as he could possibly be. “As everyone knows, it takes two to conceive,” says Aaron. “So I think that the man should take equal responsibility and be proactive about his own health.” He spent months reading medical journals and researching male fertility around the globe. Aaron gathered as much information as possible about what’s required to support optimal sperm health as well as learning about a range of other factors that have an adverse effect on male fertility. Armed with this knowledge and the support of some of the greatest international fertility medical professionals, Aaron created Vitamenz – a unique blend of vitamins and anti-oxidants specifically designed to support optimal sperm health. The results exceeded everyone’s expectations, not only those of Aaron and Jacinta, but to their friends, family and the medical community as well. So, after many heartbreaking pregnancy losses and three failed rounds of IVF, Aaron took his special concoction of Vitamenz for 100 days, before their final round of IVF. The embryo quality they produced was far higher than they had achieved in the past. Finally after all those gruelling years, Ava Gascoigne was born in May 2011. Aaron offers this advice to other men who find that they are having trouble conceiving: “Get off your backsides and take some responsibility – there are two of you in the relationship and it shouldn’t always be assumed that infertility is the woman’s fault. Basically, it is school biology 101 – to get pregnant you need one healthy egg and one healthy sperm to make one healthy baby!” Aaron believes that male infertility is worse these days. “Although there are multiple factors at play,” he says, “I think the decision to delay pregnancy has had a big impact. The older you get, the more the quality of your sperm decreases. Men will often delay fatherhood until they have established a career, bought the house, travelled. Men often just don’t realise their sperm deteriorates as they age.”
Aaron says the best thing about starting this business is all the emails and phone calls he gets from couples who have found taking Vitamenz has helped them to conceive. One dad wrote: “We got married at the beginning of 2011 and were actively trying then. We did a bit of research and couldn't believe how hard it was to actually get pregnant. We both assumed it would be something wrong with my wife, but after a couple of tests, I found I had very low sperm motility. We were told we had about a 3% chance of conceiving naturally and that IVF was our best option. We did a cycle straight away and had about 10 embryos but only one survived that still did not result in a pregnancy. We went for another cycle, had about 10 embryos and only one survived again. This one thankfully resulted in our young boy. “We had envisaged trying for another child through IVF. When Vitamenz came out a friend mentioned it so I thought I might as well get the swimmers in to shape before we tried IVF again, and started taking Vitamenz. We were trying for another baby naturally, and even though we knew it was unlikely we also thought it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than paying for IVF again, as we didn't qualify for public funding. To our surprise and delight, after two and a half months on Vitamenz, my wife became pregnant and now we have been graced with a beautiful little girl.” �
Photo Credit: Jo Frances Photography
Elia Gunawan Djunaidi, 15 months
Get rid of guilt
Beating the odds..................................................................... 1
Robin Grille.................................................................................... 8–13
Letters to the Editor............................................................. 4–5
Terrible toddler tantrums
Product page............................................................................ 6–7
Eleanor Cater................................................................................ 18–21
A fun family meal
Just add water
Nadia Lim...................................................................................... 14–15
Kristine Aitchison......................................................................... 26–29
Protecting precious infant skin from the sun....... 16
Who’s afraid of the…
Getting ready for the big day.......................................... 22
Kerstin Kramar............................................................................. 34–38
Eating right in pregnancy................................................. 24–25
My dark journey
Five decades on
Sonya Watson.............................................................................. 46–49
David Swain.................................................................................. 30–31
A partner’s view on Postnatal Depression
What mothers need to know.......................................... 32
Parents Centre Pages........................................................... 39–45
I'm a Dad and I'm Scared
Shoo sandfly............................................................................. 56
Interview with John Kirwan...................................................... 52
Trauma relief naturally
Everyone’s a critic
Judy Coldicott................................................................................ 58–59
Stephanie Matuku....................................................................... 54–55
Reduce your credit card costs
A gift of time Chris Ottley................................................................................... 62–64
My precious girl Laura Mackay............................................................................... 66–68
On your bike Marilyn Northcotte..................................................................... 70–73
kiwiparent – supporting kiwi parents through the early years
Kate van Praagh.......................................................................... 60–61
Stressed out............................................................................... 69 Find a Centre........................................................................... 74 Directory page......................................................................... 75 Shopping Cart......................................................................... 76–79 Giveaways.................................................................................. 80
SUPPORTING PARENTS THROUGH THE EARLY YEARS
FEBRUARY 2015 – MARCH 2015
When our son (now in his thirties) was around four years of age he woke night after night crying out in fear that there was a tiger in the house and it was coming to eat us. He would be inconsolable and settling him down for a restful sleep after his nightmare was not easy.
Get rid of guilt What is it with parent-guilt? Parents everywhere agonise in secret: "Where did I go wrong? Will my child be damaged because of what I did, or because of what I failed to do?" There is so much more information out there about what babies and children need that we have doubled the fodder for self-recrimination. But the most fulfilling relationship with your child is possible when it is regularly renewed through the telling, and hearing, of emotional truths.
Terrible toddler tantrums It can be really helpful – and empowering – for parents to step back and understand that a temper tantrum is normal and not naughty or punishable behaviour. Small children need our understanding to get through temper tantrums, not our punishments.
Who’s afraid of the…? Everyone, from the youngest child to the oldest adult, experiences anxieties and fears at one time or another. However, with kids, such feelings are not only normal, they are also necessary. Dealing with anxieties can prepare our young ones to handle the unsettling experiences and challenging situations of life, that means it will help them increase their resilience – even more so if handled well
Kiwiparent – Since 1954 the magazine of Parents Centres New Zealand Inc Editor
Leigh Bredenkamp Ph (04) 472 1193 Fax (04) 938 6242 Mobile (0274) 572 821 leighb@e–borne.co.nz PO Box 28 115, Kelburn, 6150
Editorial Enquiries Ph (04) 233 2022 or (04) 472 1193 info@e–borne.co.nz
Taslim Parsons Ph (04) 233 2022 x8804 Mo 021 1860 323 firstname.lastname@example.org
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Viv Gurrey, Chief Executive Officer, Parents Centres New Zealand Inc Phone (04) 233 2022 Opinions expressed in the magazine do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher. Advertising in this magazine does not imply endorsement by Parents Centres. Generally material in this publication may be reproduced provided it is used for non–commercial purposes and the source is acknowledged. However, written permission must be sought from the editor. Kiwiparent is proud to support the WHO/UNICEF International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes adopted by the World Health Assembly in 1981.
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During daylight hours his anxiety faded and he was his usual cheery self and we were left racking our brains to try to discover the source of his fear find a way to restore sanity to our nights. One of his favourite picture books was The Tiger Who Came to Tea written and illustrated by Judith Kerr and we wondered if this had sparked the nightmares. Perhaps the images of a smiling and benevolent tiger wandering around a suburban house had given rise to a darker fear. I tried distracting him from this story, but he would seek it out time and again as he loved it so much. So, we resorted to education… we went to the library to look up facts about tigers (no Google back then). We learned that tigers lived in far off countries, not New Zealand, that they were jungle dwellers and that they lived predominantly off small mammals – NOT humans. We went on a zoo visit and studied the tiger carefully, noting the strong bars and well-fenced enclosure. I recall taking him to talk with the zoo keeper who assured us that no tiger had ever escaped from a zoo in New Zealand and there was no chance of a tiger finding its way into our house at night. Master four would smile and nod and agree that it was not possible and assure us that he wasn’t in the slightest afraid. But the same scenario would repeat itself at two in the morning. Night after night. We tried to comfort a terrified, screaming child who was in no mood to listen to logic. He knew there was a tiger loose in the house and he was convinced his family was in danger. We consulted our family doctor, who reassured us that he would grow out of his fears in time and that we just needed to be patient. He prescribed a sedative to try to help him sleep through. Then, one day at the supermarket, he spotted a tin of a well-known brand of pet food that had a picture of a stripy cat on the lable. Master Four pointed out that it looked just like the tiger that came to the house at night and perhaps the tiger was looking for his food. If logic wasn’t going to work, I reasoned, perhaps we should try a different approach. So, I suggested we buy a few cans for the tiger and he was enthusiastic about the idea. That night we put a can of the cat food by the side of his bed, along with the can opener. I told him that, when the tiger came, he should simply offer him the tin of ‘tiger’ food and that should prevent any problems. We had more tins in the kitchen so, if one should not suffice, there were plenty more. And that, I am delighted to report, was the end of the tiger nightmare saga. His fears were too real to be dismissed with reason, but approaching the problem from a four-year-old perspective worked a treat. For weeks he slept with the can of cat food and the opener next to his side of the bed and felt empowered that he had a solution to keep his family safe if the unthinkable happened and the benevolent tiger from his story book came to his home in the middle of the night. Childhood anxieties are very real and not always easy to understand with an adult brain. We learned from our experience that sometimes approaching a problem from the child’s perspective can make all the difference! Leigh Bredenkamp
letters to the editor
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Congratulations to the top letter winner Kylie Johnston who receives summer care gift pack from Bio-Oil.
Birthday cake success I just had to share that I saw your article in Kiwiparent (‘Have your cake and eat it’, issue 262) and naturally thought I had to give this a go for my daughter's third birthday party. I love how easy it is!!! Thanks for such amazing guidelines, whilst still allowing me to put my own twist on it. She was sooo excited.
Kylie Johnston, Auckland
Supporting Christchurch families Four years after the earthquakes A report was released at the end of 2014 which seeks to understand what services, support and information Christchurch families and wha¯nau need to build resilience and aid in their psychosocial recovery from the earthquakes. The report was prepared by the Families Commission, which has been renamed Social Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (SUPERU). It also focuses on identifying the most effective channels, access points and referral pathways required to reach families who, prior to the earthquakes, had little experience accessing social services. Research shows many aspects of family wellbeing – health and safety, family relationships, economic security, social connections – have been disrupted as a result of the earthquakes and is impeding the ability of some families to fully recover.
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Their need for support varies. Some families with complex needs are so fatigued that they need intensive support. Others don't know where to start looking for help or have given up after looking unsuccessfully. Findings indicate that families need a coordinated services approach that pro-actively offers support to the whole family. The research found that communitybased support services give families a sense of ownership and control. They are seen as the "next best thing" to family support. Families talked of the importance of needing to trust the source of advice in order to want to engage with service providers. Being treated with respect and having a relationship of trust was particularly important to wha¯nau. Having the right kinds of people delivering the services was essential. Staff should be responsive, understanding, empathetic, nonjudgemental and treat others like a person not a number. www.familiescommission.org.nz
o ur ow Y Circle r G Join us
Buddy day Michelle Burton and Viv Gurrey from Parents Centres (second and third from the left) pictured with staff from the Ministry of Social Development at the Buddy Day breakfast in November 2014. Buddies are dressed, decorated, and given a name and story by children from schools and childcare centres. The kids decide what a child needs to be happy and healthy, and have a sense of belonging.
Hundreds of Buddies and their Carers went out and about across the country – Buddy Carers shared photos and stories of their experiences letting everyone know what they had been up to throughout the day. Chief Executive Office of Parents Centres, Viv Gurrey says: “This is a great way to focus on the needs of children a keep the conversation going about how we all work together towards the common goal of protecting all of our children and raising them in a safe secure nurturing environment.”
fts e n e b of h t l a e rs a w h othe
Connect with parents at your stage, discuss with others, find local babysitting and coffee groups! .
“So here’s what I recommend to all of you new parents or soon-to-be parents, or someday far away in the verrry distant future parents: … have zero expectations. You might have a baby that sleeps, you might not. You might have a baby that tricks you into thinking they are a sleeper and then messes with your mind by suddenly stopping the sleeping, like Olive did. But regardless, when someone asks you how your baby is sleeping, smile and say “Like a baby”. An extract from the blog: http://sweetmadeleine.ca
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Unlike · Reply · 1 · 20hrs Nadia: Hehehe I LOVE this article. Unlike · Reply · 1 · 16hrs
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We posted a link on our facebook page to an article written by blogger Sweet Madeleine entitled ‘Here are some lies people tell you about infant sleep’. It clearly resonated with many readers with a personal and empowering message supporting a nurturing approach to sleep.
Ritapearl: Love love love this article! And I plan on sharing it with those who have hounded me about why I refused to read the "expert" books! There is another truth no baby comes with a manual... so why do we insist on reading books based on a few’s experience... there is no one size fits all! Well written by this mama and the humor in it had me in near fits! Thanks for sharing
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MEBO products are available in pharmacy and health stores. www.accesshealthcare.co.nz or call EBOS Healthcare on 0800 104 401
Get rid of
Imagine yourself as a fly on the wall of a confessional booth in a small hamlet of devout churchgoers. In just a few Sundays, you discover, to your bemusement, that almost every parishioner is racked with guilt about this or that indiscretion – but they each think they are the only blemished souls, while they view all other townsfolk as upright citizens. If only they would forego their virtuous appearances and share their truths with each other, they would feel so relieved to see they are not alone!
sometimes, without necessarily realising it or intending it, cause their children pain.
So it is with parent-guilt. Parents everywhere agonise in secret: “Where did I go wrong? Will my child be damaged because of what I did, or because of what I failed to do?” To make matters worse, these days there is so much more information out there about what babies and children need; we have doubled the fodder for self-recrimination. Gone are the ancestral days when a casual attitude to children's feelings left our forebears largely untroubled by what happens to a child.
So, what can we do when we make the painful discovery that something we have done has caused our child to hurt? And how can we deal with the guilt?
Guilt weighs all the more heavily now that so many of us have plumbed the depths of what felt “toxic” about our own childhoods – thanks to therapy, personal growth workshops, piles of self-help books and, of course, Oprah. We are the first generation to be swearing not to do it like our parents did. And then there is that fleeting moment when you catch yourself wondering what your child will tell his or her therapist about you one day! And so, we worry in private about how we rate as parents, how our actions will affect our kids. So painful is this festering guilt, we tend to keep it buried; a conversation we have with ourselves in the quiet of the night. Rarely do we show one another how out-of-control and vulnerable we sometimes feel. The result: most of us tend to live in an illusory world where parents all around us look as if they are coping so much better than we are, and we are alone with our quirks, pitfalls, ill-temperedness and embarrassing lapses in attentiveness. Much as I long for guilt-relief, I cannot stomach glib remarks often used to give parent-guilt the brush-off. “Don't worry about kids, they are resilient“, goes the mantra – and if we could only believe it, our worries would go away. The hard fact is that every parent will
One way or another, each one of us is wounded, and our own role models were imperfect. We cannot quarantine our children from our own humanly limited abilities to care and respond. Sooner or later, in every parenting relationship there is call for remorse, making amends and apology. Though it makes us uncomfortable, our babies and children have every right to protest when we let them down. We make claims about children's ‘resilience’ – but do we ourselves have the ego-resilience to hear them out, when they point squarely at our parental lapses?
What is this thing called guilt? Guilt and remorse are very different; in fact they are opposites. Remorse is about the other person: it is about allowing their feelings, listening with empathy, and it is about the desire and effort to repair any hurt we may have caused.
True remorse in action builds love Guilt, on the other hand, is self-focused – and is about beating ourselves up. By definition, guilt is the fear of retribution. Guilt gnaws at your guts while it tells you “Look what you've done, what kind of a parent are you? You should have known better!” As guilt becomes hard to bear, it cloaks itself in denial, with rationalisations like “Oh, I'm sure he'll be all right“, “Those are just crocodile tears” – ad infinitum. True remorse in action builds love; it heals, it is the very thing that allows us to move on and let go. Guilt, on the other hand, is a blind alley that keeps us stuck, and alienates our children from us. Though it is a natural and universal human reaction, it is one of the most corrosive of all emotional states – and does nothing to help relationships grow. The good news is that the key to letting go of guilt may be simply a question of perspective. If you sometimes agonise with parent-guilt, I'd like to suggest a few fresh ways of looking at yourself and your relationships that might bring you some release.
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Should learners feel guilty? We generally don't mind acknowledging that we have more to learn when it comes to our hobbies or our professions. Why should parenting be any different? Pay attention to the things you tell yourself about your parenting. The guilty self-talk can sound quite alarming – it includes statements such as: “I have damaged my child! I am a bad mother! I am a failure as a father! My child will grow up dysfunctional!“ Do you talk to yourself that harshly when you make mistakes as you learn in other areas of your life? Sure, some of the mistakes we make as parents can have a big impact on our kids, and we should not take our responsibility lightly. But does that warrant attacking ourselves? Most parents feel they should be able to handle parenting better than they do, and then become disappointed in themselves when parenting feels harder than they expected. If this is true for you, ask yourself how you came to expect so much from yourself.
All parents are learners! Sometimes it helps to see ourselves in a larger context. How expert should we be as parents? Most people assume that humans have always raised their children the same way, in happy and loving families. The fact is that the further back you look in history, the harsher and more neglectful parenting was – and this is true for a majority of the world's cultures. I know of no better antidote to the ‘guilts’, than finding out that parenting is an ever-evolving work in progress. A quick glance at the evolution of parenting through the ages does wonders to liquidate our sense of guilt, and replace it with humility and excitement for learning and growing as parents. During the Victorian era, European parents scarcely involved themselves in the messy business of childrearing. The wealthy employed nannies for this onerous task, while the rest sent their children to work, often as
10 kiwiparent – supporting kiwi parents through the early years
young as four. Child labour laws were not enacted until the middle of the 20th century. The Middle Ages through to the Renaissance saw a majority of parents off-loading their babies to paid wet nurses, and evicting their children to live as apprentices or oblates to the Church. Most parents shunned close bonds with their children. Both at home and at school, children were regularly and savagely beaten. Across all major ancient civilizations, from Athens to Rome, from Egypt to China, from the Inca to the Aztecs, childhood was a nightmare. Few children escaped the kinds of treatment we now classify as abuse, child sacrifice was rife, and millions of children were abandoned. As modernity gathered pace, the evolution of parenting accelerated. Corporal punishment, for instance, is fast disappearing. In grandma's day it was the wooden spoon, but today, it is illegal in 34 countries for a parent to smack or in any way hit a child. A further 23 nations are preparing to introduce this law, and the list is growing rapidly towards worldwide prohibition. The commitment to treating children respectfully is a surprisingly recent innovation. International awareness about child abuse first came into being when a concerned American pediatrician coined the term “battered child syndrome” in 1962. Prior to this, violence against children did not warrant public scrutiny. The art of breastfeeding was almost wiped out by artificial formulas during the 1960s and 1970s. With the help of dedicated counsellors and lactation experts, breastfeeding is painstakingly clawing its way back, though a generation of role models was almost lost. Most of our generation were protected, fed, clothed and educated by devoted and loving carers – but few of us can say our emotional needs, as babies and toddlers, were deeply and consistently met. As the next rung on the social-evolutionary ladder, we seem to be the first generation (or two) to concern ourselves with children's emotional health. Ask your parents how it felt for them to be a child – and if your grandparents are still around, ask them the same question. You'll probably
find that many would have fed their babies under strict schedules, and routinely left them to “cry it out“. Most of them would have used corporal punishment liberally, been caned at school and experienced much harsher conditions than what we allow today. For most of us, this is our psychological heritage. Given this legacy, can you still expect yourself to be an expert at meeting your child's emotional needs? We are collectively beginners, trying to heal ourselves while creating a new model for empathic parenting. Considering this historical backdrop, is it easier for you to acknowledge and forgive your mistakes? For sure, we all have blind spots and as parents we occasionally stumble. Some of us are good at empathy but have trouble asserting strong boundaries. Some can be very assertive as parents but at times lack sensitivity. Some of us seem to relate better to toddlers than to babies, or vice versa. Nevertheless, because of the new emphasis on healthy emotional development, an opportunity exists to create a new society through our honest efforts to grow as parents.
Still feel guilty? Who said listening to our children would be easy? Empathy can be a hard-won skill. Psychologists and counsellors spend hundreds of hours learning how to listen to people's feelings so that they feel heard. Despite all that training and even after years of experience, not one of us can claim that we don't need to keep improving our ability to empathise. Good listening requires a conscious effort to be humble, open, and to set judgment and expectations aside – we can keep learning this forever. So why are we surprised when we have an empathy lapse with our children? It's fine to be remorseful, but why do we beat ourselves up? If even professional listeners need to keep learning and practicing their art, is it not OK that parents have much to learn about listening too?
Who said we were meant to cope by ourselves? The supportive village that all parents need is largely missing from our culture. Parenting is done in private, and many parents have never touched a baby until they have their own. The more anthropologists and social scientists understand about human parents, the more they conclude that we were designed to raise children in small co-operative groups, and not in nuclear families. Parenting is meant to take place where help is always at hand, in a collective setting where even the children
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begin rehearsing child-rearing skills from a young age. By the time an adolescent reaches adulthood in such a society, he or she is already thoroughly familiarised with how to care for children of all ages. When we in the West find ourselves struggling, not knowing what to do with our child, we risk blaming ourselves unless we ask ourselves these two questions: “Do I have all the support I deserve?” and “Did my elders show me how to interact with babies, toddlers and children?” Here is one of the most important ideas that all parents should understand: parenting is not meant to be as hard as it feels for many people. The main reason we struggle, why our patience runs short, is that our nuclear-family situation is entirely unnatural, unreasonable and unsustainable. The fact that it is normal does not absolve it from being unhealthy. No parent is meant to be at home alone with one or more children; it is nature's design to always have a fresh pair of hands nearby that we can turn to long before tiredness becomes exhaustion. So, the next time you find yourself reacting impatiently towards your child – and then recoiling in guilt – tell yourself this is a sign that you do not have enough support as a parent. Reaching out to other like-minded parents can be so rewarding, while saving you and your child a lot of anguish. If your extended family is not available, you might like to join one of the parenting groups in your area, or form your own. Consider this an essential, not a luxury.
Compassion instead of guilt There is one last reason why sometimes we don't respond to our children in the most appropriate way. Next time your child's behaviour presses your buttons until you respond in a regrettable way, take a few
moments to look inward. Try to recall how you were treated when you behaved in similar ways to your child, when you were about the same age. Remember how that felt from the inside, in the body of a child. In most cases, when we give our children less than the patience and sensitivity they deserve, this springs from a deep emotional wound dating back to our own childhood. In the course of my work, many parents have shared with me some deep regret about how, at one time or another, they have disappointed their children. A journey into their own childhood memories is always revealing; shedding new light on their own reactions, and replacing guilt with compassion for themselves. Two benefits reward the self-inquiring parent: one is the relief from guilt that re-connecting with inner child feelings can bring. The other is how this opens our hearts even more towards our children. When we do something that wounds those we most cherish, this is a signal that something in ourselves wants healing. It is not a time to beat ourselves up. Certainly, if your child is upset they need our help, and perhaps our apology – and we should give these freely. But we also need to attend to our own need for healing, self-compassion, understanding and growth. A group of psychological researchers in New York were once working with mothers for whom the sound of their babies crying was so grating that they found it very hard to comfort them. Since having a baby was so unpleasant to them, these mothers showed signs of Postnatal Depression. When asked to describe their own childhoods, many shared stories of abandonment, maternal remoteness, detachment and even abuse. Many of these mothers broke down and cried bitterly as they told their tale. What the researchers discovered next was uplifting. Once the mothers had grieved openly in the presence of a caring individual, they found themselves spontaneously reaching out to their babies and lovingly comforting them in their arms. The babies' cries had lost the power to trigger their mothers' longheld pain. Parenting does not improve simply because we avail ourselves of better quality information and advice. What most transforms our relationship with our children is the inner work: our willingness to learn, heal and grow.
The benefit of releasing guilt A healthy, emotionally secure child will spontaneously protest when they feel hurt by you, or disappointed in you – and they don't trouble themselves to speak too elegantly! For toddlers it's usually something along these lines: “You're a bad Mummy! You're a silly Daddy!” Or perhaps something a little more colorful when it's a teenager airing discontent. I do not favour any parent accepting verbal attacks from their children. However, unless we listen empathically and validate children's feelings, healing and renewal cannot take place. And here's why our release from parent-guilt is vital for the flow of love between us and
our children. It's only when we are not in the throes of guilt, shame or inadequacy that we seem to have the spaciousness to respect our children's right to protest. An intact self-esteem is what makes us strong enough to really hear our children when they say: “Dad, you let me down! Dad, you hurt me! Mum, you didn't listen!” A fair hearing is a gift, because only once feelings are heard and validated can love come back, and thus we move on. Children do not harbour grudges like adults can. Their resentment vanishes the moment they feel heard – and next thing you know you are being told you're the best parent in the world. But guilt or shame can lead us to stifle our children's attempts at relationship-repair. When they claim their grievances, we turn away, we deny or downplay their feelings and this makes them feel unimportant. Our guilt makes us super-sensitive, and hard to talk to. When parent-guilt is replaced by emotional honesty, it is as if the sun rises again for the family. Relationships become far more pleasurable and laughter returns to the household. Your child does not want you to grovel, to beg forgiveness, to put yourself down or diminish yourself in any way. All he or she wants is acknowledgment, a truthful recognition of what you did or did not do and how this made them feel, and to see that you're interested in learning and growing. That's not so hard; it just involves an open heart, humility and emotional vulnerability. The rewards are well worth it. If you can do this, you will be amazed at how forgiving your children can be.
So, what makes us “good parents“? As a father I have made so many mistakes, been so impatient, irritable and inappropriately pushy at times, that if my self-esteem was based on being a “good dad“, I would be in trouble! So, what else should our self-esteem as parents be about?
It is not about how often we get it right for our children, it is not about not making mistakes. Good parenting is about a willingness to acknowledge our errors and our lapses in empathy openly, and to be humble enough to apologise when necessary. It is about maintaining an ongoing commitment to learning, healing and growing. I urge all parents to redefine what a “good parent” is: it is not so much about how often we get it right for our children, it is not about not making mistakes.
Good parenting is about a willingness to acknowledge our errors and our lapses in empathy openly, and to be humble enough to apologise when necessary. Also, it is about maintaining an ongoing commitment to learning, healing and growing. If we enjoy our children for who they are and avoid taking ourselves too seriously, this goal is well within our grasp. An integral part of parenting – one that few of us were told about in advance – is that sooner or later we wound and disappoint our kids. We love them immeasurably, but we hurt them at times. The reasons for this are legion, and it is a painful fact to acknowledge. Usually, we seem to have our parenting “blind spots” in precisely the areas in which we were wounded as children – the very places where we need healing and support ourselves. These all-too human limitations do not define our relationship with our children. A loving relationship is not one in which hurt never happens. The most fulfilling relationship with your child is possible when it is regularly renewed through the telling, and hearing, of emotional truths. �
Robin Grille Robin is a Sydney-based psychologist and author of Parenting for a Peaceful World. He has a private practice in individual psychotherapy and relationship counselling. For further information and articles, visit Robin's website ouremotional-health.com and blog hearttoheartparenting.org.
Robin Grille New Zealand tour In April 2015 Robin Grill will be travelling around the North Island to visit a number of Parents Centres. For more information check out: www.Kiwiparent.co.nz, visit Palmerston North Parents Centre on Facebook, or call and leave a message on 06 3584289.
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Tacos make a fun, family meal that kids (and adults) love. Place all the components in bowls in the middle of the table and let the kids assemble their own tacos to get them involved.
Fish tacos with mango, coriander, tomato salsa and Mexican salad SALSA
1x 425g can mangoes, drained
600g white fish fillets
3 tomatoes ½ red onion
1 ½ teaspoons Cajun spice mix
– It’s recommended we have fish at least 1–2 times a week; this recipe, using crumbed fish, is a great way to introduce kids to fish.
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup roughly chopped coriander leaves
2 tablespoons butter
– Quinoa is a gluten-free grain that is high in protein, vitamins and minerals. Using a little bit scattered throughout a salad is a great way to introduce people (including the little ones!) to it.
– Use gluten-free corn tortillas and gluten-free breadcrumbs to turn this into a gluten-free meal.
– Avocados are in season now and super nutritious. They’re packed full of healthy mono-unsaturated fats, vitamins and minerals, including folate. – The My Food Bag test kitchen
¼ cup white flour
1 tablespoon olive oil 12 taco shells
½ cup red quinoa
½ cup of sour cream
Pinch of salt 1 cup boiling water 1 iceberg lettuce 1 avocado, stone removed ½ red onion 1 – 2 tablespoon chopped coriander
Method PREHEAT oven to 180°C. Bring kettle to the boil.
To make salsa; cut mango flesh into small cubes; dice tomatoes; finely chop red onion and combine all in a small bowl. Mix with lemon juice and coriander. Rinse quinoa well. Place in a small pot with salt and boiling water. Stir, cover and reduce heat to lowest setting and cook for 12 minutes. Remove from heat and leave covered for 3–5 minutes. Drain any remaining liquid.
While quinoa cooks, roughly chop lettuce, and thinly slice avocado and red onion.
Pat fish dry with paper towels and cut into large fingers. Combine flour, spice mix and salt in a dish and coat fish well. Heat oil and butter in a fry-pan on medium heat. Fry the fish in two batches for 1–2 minutes each side, or until just cooked through. Set aside.
While fish cooks, heat taco shells in oven for 5–6 minutes. Combine salad ingredients.
TO SERVE, put everything in the centre of table. Let everyone build their own tacos; place a couple of pieces of fish into each shell and top with salsa and sour cream. Serve with salad on the side.
READY IN: 25–28 MIN
PREP TIME: 20 MIN
COOK TIME: 18 MIN
SERVES 4–5 Per Serve
ENERGY 2647kJ (624kcal)
Gluten-free 0ption 2
Dairy-free (omit sour cream and butter)
� Kiwiparent readers who sign up for My Foodbag will get a free seasonal fruitbag valued at $14.99 on the first order (new members only). Just use the promo code: KIWIPARENT_919 Available from 30 January to 30 March 2015.
Oops... We sincerely apologise that there was a misprint in the last issue of Kiwiparent. The ‘Coconut and Passionfruit pavlova with fresh fruit salad’ recipe on page 12 ingredients list should have read ‘1 ½ cups caster sugar’, not ‘1 cups caster sugar’. Please accept our apologies.
infantfrom skin the sun Our skin fulfils many vital functions, including physical and immunological protection from harmful environmental elements. But infant skin is not fully matured at birth, which leaves it vulnerable to environmental factors like the harsh rays of the sun in summer. Baby’s skin has a lower concentration of melanin compared with adult skin – melanin functions as an ultraviolet (UV) filter that reduces the penetration of UV light through the skin.
Neonatal skin takes one to two years to mature during which time special care is recommended and the use of evidence-based skin care practices and products is important.
Remember: Sunburn is to be avoided and the mainstay of sun protection at all ages should be avoiding spending time in sun during the middle hours of the day.
A lower melanin concentration combined with a thinner stratum corneum (outer layer of skin) in babies makes them even more vulnerable to the harmful effects of UV light. So sun protection is vital for young children, especially during the summer months.
Sunscreens should be broad spectrum with a high SPF >30.
Sun protection is particularly important for infants; they should not be exposed to direct sunlight, especially between 10am and 4pm from September to April.
Skin care in neonates and infants should focus on supporting barrier function, primarily through hydration.
Staying in the shade, as well as wearing protective clothing, wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses are all important as first-line protection against sun, and should be combined with an SPF30+ broad-spectrum sunscreen considered safe for babies when additional sun protection is required.
Gentle skin cleansing and emollient use are two simple strategies to keep baby’s skin healthy.
Once mobile, young children should follow the same sun prevention advice as for the general population, and sunburn should always be avoided.
16 kiwiparent – supporting kiwi parents through the early years
Babies and children should wear protective clothing, wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses when they are outdoors.
Water alone is not capable of dissolving oil-based substances. Emollients are effective moisturisers for neonatal and infant skin. Sun protection is as important in babies and children as it is in adults. �
sun protection for kids. No towel-drying necessary. The first sunscreen designed to be applied directly to wet or dry skin. Kids never sit still long enough to dry off, which makes applying sunscreen difficult since ordinary sunscreen drips and whitens under wet conditions. Only Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen with helioplex® is specially formulated to work with kids’ wet skin. Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids
use as directed
Full strength protection: New Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen cuts through water, creating a broad-spectrum protective barrier with every application, even when kids are right out of the water.
® Trade Mark Neutrogena Corp. NZ 196/12 *Based on US data
USE AS DIRECTED. works on wet and dry skin
broad spectrum UVA/UVB
no dripping or whitening
gentle, hypoallergenic formula
tantrums Angry defiance, flailing fists, mind-altering shrieks, massive momentous meltdowns. There is nothing quite like it.
It’s easy to say ‘terrible’ because that’s the way they can make a parent feel. Exhausted, at a loss, out of control and, if out in public, often embarrassed. Embarrassed that their little darling will act like such a brat because they don’t get the lollipop at the checkout (supermarkets, do you really have to?) or won’t share their toy with the perfectly behaved little Petunia at playgroup. But are they really terrible or simply a part of normal child development? Can they be ‘managed’ or are we at the complete and utter mercy of little demanding balls of energy, ready to explode if they don’t get their own way?
18 kiwiparent – supporting kiwi parents through the early years
Temper tantrums are common among one to six year olds, but most particularly in the eighteen month to three-year-old age range when children often have difficulty communicating their needs. Mostly they come about from tiredness, hunger or frustration and unfortunately when parents are busy, preoccupied or stressed. While many see them as naughtiness or brattish behaviour there is another (empowering) way to view them; they are an outlet for frustration, a cry for help and a way for a child to make themselves heard. Here’s the thing, small children have real feelings too. Whether your child’s cup is red or blue may not matter to you as their caregiver, but it can be of huge importance
Take a step back It can be really helpful (and empowering) for parents to step back and understand that a temper tantrum is normal and not naughty or punishable behaviour. Small children need our understanding to get through temper tantrums, not our punishments. So are we at the mercy then of these little bundles of tantrum fury? Not at all. While there will always be the unexpected meltdown over something that a parent cannot foresee there will also be many opportunities for anticipating and avoiding tantrums. • Try not to rush your toddler, give them plenty of time to get ready and to be independent. • Let them know when change is coming (e.g. we will be leaving in 10 or 5 minutes). • Time outings carefully, when your child is well rested, fed and happy (a supermarket trip with a tired, hungry toddler is a recipe for disaster). • Give a small number of choices (e.g. the blue or the red cup? Which of these 3 tops would you like to wear today?). • Do something relaxing together, like reading a book or going for a walk.
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Magda Gerber, the widely respected child advocate and early childhood educator, said this: “A tantrum is an outlet, an overflow valve when a child’s emotions seem to burst at the seams. A tantrum is a release of energy for all the changes going on in a young child’s mind and body.” If a child tries to communicate their needs (they would like to have the red cup) and feels they are not being listened to (they are handed the blue one) their feelings may well overflow. Small children have big, big feelings, impulses which can be much bigger than they are. They are learning to understand their feelings and do not, yet, have control over them.
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If your child is having a lot of tantrums and generally exhibiting undesirable behaviour then this could be a sign that their needs are not being met. For example, a morning shopping at the mall and meeting friends for a coffee might be meeting your needs but it probably isn’t meeting your toddler’s needs to play, run and explore. In addition a toddler can be overstimulated by a loud and colourful environment and all of that pent-up energy may simply make them explode in frustration. There goes your enjoyable coffee with friends and along with it might be feelings of resentment that you are unable to do anything much for yourself and that the child is ‘naughty’. Wouldn’t it be better – for both of you - to first take your child to a park or playground and let them have a good run about and explore (meeting their needs) and then meet your friends for a coffee afterwards? Meeting your small child’s needs is key to a happy life and timing activities to suit your toddler is important for managing and actually avoiding tantrums. Of course there could be other reasons that a child may be having a lot of tantrums, including that tantrums are working for them (i.e. the tantrum always gets them what they want) or possibly another underlying condition causing them much frustration which may need further medical exploration.
“A child who feels ‘listened to’ will overcome tantrums much earlier than a child who is punished for simply having the feelings that they do.”
When your little one does have a meltdown there are some things you can do to see that they, and you, come out the other end of it ok. It will always be helpful to have on hand some favourite snacks which can help a child who is riding a wave of hunger or tiredness. However once a tantrum starts – that overflow valve bursts - there can be no stopping it. Some of these tips may help: • Firstly, make sure the child is in a safe place. If the child is in danger of hurting themselves, others or property they may need to be held. • Don’t try to reason with them, threaten punishment or discipline them. • Try to stay strong and calm (yes, easier said than done if you are out in public!) • Read the situation and try to tune in to what is wrong. It can be really helpful to put it into words: e.g. “You really don’t want to take your shoes off, but I can’t let you on the playground if you don’t”. • Be firm. Do not give into any demands which might have started the tantrum. This is not going to be an acceptable or successful way to communicate; you are setting boundaries. • Be available to comfort the child after the tantrum and give them words to describe their feelings – “You got really angry/upset/frustrated because …” Giving them words helps them to understand what just happened.
20 kiwiparent – supporting kiwi parents through the early years
Discuss the incident sometime after the event, use it as an opportunity to connect. Help your child to understand their massive feelings, give them the words they will need to help them to communicate. Again, always respect their feelings as real. In Lisa Sunbury’s book, Toddler Bites, she says this: “I know it may sound odd, but it may actually help you to try to step back a little, and to look at behaviour through your “professional eyes”, instead of through your “Mom eyes”! Your goal is to help him learn alternative ways to communicate.” It seems a much more empowering place to be when trying to cope with challenging toddler behaviour. A child who feels ‘listened to’ will overcome tantrums much earlier than a child who is punished for simply
having the feelings that they do. And if caregivers continue to give boundaries and exhibit patience and a consistency in their reaction to tantrums, they’ll get fewer and further apart as the child grows. The parental guidance bit is really important. The thing that started the tantrum in the first place, for example the object, the toy, that the child so desperately wants, is just one aspect; what the child needs is actually something very different – for someone to listen and to provide a parental boundaries and guidance that can help them to cope and to understand the overwhelming feelings that caused their overflow valve to burst �
Eleanor Cater Eleanor is a freelance writer and Brand Manager at Parents Centres New Zealand. She survived, and enjoyed, the toddler years with her three girls (two of whom are now teenagers) and thinks that respectful relationships built during this time are extremely beneficial in the years to come.
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getting ready for the big day The great day is looming – your preschooler will soon start their first day at school. In New Zealand, most children start school shortly after they turn five, but all children must be enrolled at school by their sixth birthday. School visits are an important way to help you and your child to meet the staff and talk about ways to make sure things go smoothly. Discuss how many visits your child should have – how often and for how long – so your child will have a good transition to the people, routines and environment that will soon be part of their daily life.
Your child might join their new class for half a day a week for a while before they begin school. Suggest taking your child to activities such as sports days if you want them to have even more contact with the school before they start. School visits mean the classroom teacher and many of the children will be quite familiar by the time your child starts school full-time. Before you start school visits, talk with your child about what going to school will mean. Tell them about the wonderful new things they will do and learn. Listen to their fears and talk with them about how you can address their concerns. Explaining practical things – like going to the toilet, break time and quiet time – will work. Be positive! If you show your child that you believe they can manage well it will help them believe in themselves. Try not to let them know about any anxieties you may have as they may pick up on this and also begin to worry. Explain basic school rules, such as putting your hand up to ask a question or asking to go to the toilet. Make sure they have all the required items, such as a good schoolbag, lunchbox and sunhat. Before you buy stationery items, check with the school as sometimes things are supplied through the school. Think of anything that could be tricky, such as being able to open that shiny new lunchbox – and practise at home! Make a checklist (using words or pictures) of things they need to take to school in their bag and things they need to remember to bring home every day All children take a while to adjust to the school day and the formal activities and structure of the classroom so don’t be surprised that your child may be a bit unsettled and more tired than usual. They may be quite grumpy after school and need to go to bed earlier for the first few months. They could be famished after school and need a big snack, which may mean they’ll only want something small or nothing at all when it comes to dinner. This is normal. The school will need to know: specific information about your child's needs details of any medicines your child takes the names of parents, caregivers, wha-nau and other significant people involved with your child and who to contact in an emergency information about your child's ethnicity and the language you speak at home. �
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eating right Oh so important during pregnancy and breastfeeding
A little bit of this, a little bit of that Find variety and balance in your diet. Those additional nutritional needs when you’re pregnant can be met by eating good, fresh food – here’s what we mean:
First take folate Take folic acid tablets during early pregnancy and if you can even before you conceive – it cares for your baby’s brain and spinal cord development. Eat that spinach like Popeye!
Say goodbye to happy hour Alcohol in any amount can be a problem for your developing baby. Alcohol can affect your baby’s brain, face and heart at anytime during your pregnancy.
Grill, boil, steam Avoid frying food. Don’t overcook the nutrients out of veggies, but do make sure that chook is cooked properly.
Drink! Sounds obvious, but water and trim milk are best. Careful of fizzy drinks, sugary fruit juices, too much coffee or tea and say a big no-no to alcohol.
Eating for … one (sorry) No need to “eat for two”, but don’t scrimp with portions either. Eat moderate portions, use the palm of your hand as a guide. Expect to gain 6–8kg during pregnancy – especially in the second and third trimester.
You will need:
Starches – wholemeal bread, pasta, potatoes, kumara, taro, rice. Fats – butter, cheese, milk (all in moderation), cooking oils, salad oils
Milk (trim), butter, cheeese, lean red meat, fish and other kaimoana, chicken (all freshly prepared), all types of beans, nuts, lentils
Lean red meat, fish and other kaimoana, chicken, eggs (all freshly prepared) wholegrain bread, legumes, dried nuts, parsley, spinach, silverbeet. Vitamin C also helps iron absorption, so try to eat foods rich in Vitamin C alongside the above
Green leafy vegetables (puha, cabbage, lettuce), raw or lightly cooked
Vitamin B (especially B12)
Meat, milk, fish, eggs, Vitamin B12-fortified foods (some soy milks, textured vegetable protein)
Fresh fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruit, kiwifruit, capiscums, kumara and potatoes
Oily fish (sardines and tuna)
Milk (trim), cheese, yoghurt, canned fish with bones dried fruit, wholegrain bread, cereals, nuts. Calcium metabolism is also helped by Vitamin D
Zinc and Magnesium
Cereals, wholegrain breads, nuts and fish
24 kiwiparent – supporting kiwi parents through the early years
Say (NO to soft) cheese Avoid processed cold foods like pate and soft cheeses, and be careful with unknown or suspect food sources, like deli foods that may have been sitting for extended periods of time.
Iron-ladies Vegan or vegetarian diets may need supplements or to eat more iron-rich foods. Pick up plenty of legumes, nuts, wholegrain breads and cereals from the supermarket – and eat them!
Expecting twins? Then your nutritional needs are greater and you’ll more easily become deficient in folic acid and iron – so stock up and see what your LMC advises.
Helping with morning sickness This can affect you in the first 12–14 weeks, so try eating very small portions every two to three hours or try a range of foods – some might agree with you more than others, try stewed or tinned peaches, plain crackers, flat lemonade…
Visit The New Zealand Pregnancy Book online at www.nzpregnancybook.co.nz The website includes a searchable preview of the book, fantastic photos and feedback from the NZPB community, links to friends and Facebook and much more!
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Keeping your kids safe around water this summer
Living in New Zealand we’re surrounded by water. On a hot summers days there’s nothing better than a refreshingly cool dip at the local pool, building sandcastles or digging holes at the beach, or getting out on the boat to go fishing or waterskiing on the lake. Being at the beach or swimming pool is a fun and exciting place for kids, but it can also be a stressful and nervous time for parents – especially if your little one can’t swim. Helene Aitchison, the owner and instructor at Turtle Swim School, has two young children under five who have been swimming since they were six months old. She says that just because her kids are confident in the water it doesn’t make her any less cautious. “Kids are naturally curious. They don’t always understand the dangers of water. I’m probably a little more nervous as my kids are really confident in the water – probably a little too confident.” In fact, on a recent family trip to Fiji she said her “heart was racing the entire time.” “We were on Plantation Island, so surrounded by water. We had to keep an eye on the kids at all times and couldn’t exactly relax. But any parent knows having kids changes the way you holiday. We still had a great time and it’s all just part of being a parent.”
26 kiwiparent – supporting kiwi parents through the early years
So, how do we keep our little water babies safe Helene says it’s important to encourage your children to learn to swim, but it’s also important to teach them about the dangers and unpredictability of water. She says you should always keep your children at arm’s length when they are in or around water, and suggests if you have more than one child take another adult with you to help you keep watch. At rivers and lakes check the depth and current before entering, and with younger children it is better to be safe than sorry, so if you have a life jacket or can borrow one put it on your child. If you have a swimming pool at home, make sure your pool is fenced and the gate is closed. At the public
Helene Aitchison with her swimming students
pools ensure your children obey the rules, and don’t just leave it up to the life guards to supervise your children.
Swimming is a great way to bond with your kids
At the beach make sure your children are aware of the potential dangers. Things like rips (a spot where the waves aren’t breaking in the surf) can have strong undercurrents that can pull you out to sea before you even realise what’s happening.
Swimming is a fun and exciting activity for both parents and children alike. It is a great way to bond with your children. Helene says she will often go to the local pools with her kids and “on the days that we don’t go, my children are always asking when they next get to go swimming”.
“If you’re at the beach go down to the water with your children and make sure they swim in between the flags. Educate them, so that if they get into trouble they know the best thing to do is to raise their hand and signal for help. Swimmers who aren’t that confident or younger children should always stay within arm’s reach of an adult.”
“I get such a buzz from their excitement. Watching them progress and become more confident in the water, gives me a real sense of pride. I am a passionate swimmer myself and will make any excuse to get in the water. I enter the Ocean Swim Series every summer, and my husband is a surfer. I guess we’re a family of water babies.”
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How can you help encourage your kids to swim? Helene says that “swimming lessons can be a great start for your children’s learn to swim journey,” but it doesn’t have to stop with the lessons. You can encourage your child in the bath, at the local pools or at the beach. If your child is afraid of the water, start by dribbling a few drops of water over their heads and build up to pouring over a cup full. With this activity it’s good to use cues that signal to your child that you will be pouring water over their heads now, such as “Ready, go and their name” and soon you will start to see them close their eyes and hold their breath. There are lots of fun activities that you can do at home to help build up your child’s confidence around water. Helene’s top tips are: Pouring a cup of water over your beginners head to teach them how to hold their breath Get them to blow bubbles in a glass of milk so they can see the big bubbles as they are forming Teach kicking by practicing on the bed or the floor Have them stand and show you how they can do big arm circles Hold on to the dining table and do big arms circles, and then practice their turn and breathe Practice their breaststroke kick by lying on the floor and bringing their legs up to their bottom, then open their legs wide as they push their feet away from them in a repetitive motion.
Just because you don’t have a pool in your backyard or can’t go to swimming lessons every day, doesn’t mean that your child shouldn’t learn to swim. Some parts of New Zealand even have public pools that are free to children under 16 years of age, so there’s really no excuse not to get down to your local pools and have a play.
What if my child doesn’t like swimming? All parents know what it’s like when their child doesn’t want to do something. When little Miss Independent or Mr Mischief put their foot down, scream and yell and throw themselves on the floor in a public place. If you have paid for an activity, such as swimming lessons, you as the parent are often left feeling like you have wasted your time and money. Helene faced her own challenges when trying to teach her two children to swim. “My 3 year old son, Taj, just wanted to run from pool to pool, jump in and play. I had heard that it is difficult to teach your own children to swim, but had felt confident with my 13 years’ experience that I would be able to do it. Every time we went to the pools I would have to tell my children that they had to listen to me and do some swimming before they got the chance to play.” “My son has had swimming lessons at the swim school I used to work at until he was about 2 and a half years old, and we never had a problem. So I thought that by doing a week long intensive swimming program at the local swimming school would help to cement his arm strokes that I had
been working on with him. It started and ended in tears. I tried to get him back into the pool with very little help from the instructor. I was trying to bribe him and nothing seemed to be working.” She says, in this situation there are many different things you can try to help encourage a reluctant child into the water. Make sure that the teacher is spending ample time with your child even if they are not in the water. They can do this by talking to them and playing with toys on the side of the pool. The instructor should be spending an equal amount of time with each child in the class. Start off with the child sitting on the side of the pool and get them to paddle their feet. Get your child to bring their favourite toy from the bath at home to the swimming lessons to play with. If your child is apprehensive about their swimming instructor, it could possibly be because the instructor is male and your child is female or vice versa. This could just mean a little bit of adjustment. Ensure you take your children to the local pools for a play. Get family members to come to the swimming lessons, and give your child lots of praise. It is suggested to go to at least two lessons a week, or at least visit the local pools while they are learning. Start at home in the bath trickling water over their heads and gradually move onto using a cup. If all else fails it may help just to turn up early to the swimming lessons and sit on the side with your child, and spend some time just watching. Remember take it slowly; there’s no need to rush your child to get in the water. �
FREE swimpants for baby’s first swim lesson Clean water and happy smiles are among the things parents of the 50,000 babies born last year will be wishing for as their little ones experience the magic of their first summer. The message from Plunket to parents is simple: stay close and actively supervise your children, keeping them within reach at all times when they are in and around water. To support Plunket’s message, HUGGIES Little Swimmers® swimpants are leading a new water-safe and safe-water initiative to help keep pool water clean and also give parents a new incentive to get into the water with their littlies, hold them close and keep them safe. HUGGIES Little Swimmers® swimpants are offering a FREE first-pair of swimpants for children under 18 months enrolling in baby and toddler swim lessons at participating swim schools in term 1, 2015.
Kristine Aitchison Kristine has seven years' swimming experience, and has enjoyed the benefits of one-to-one private swimming tuition with Helene at Turtle Swim School. Throughout the summer both Helene and Kristine compete together in the New Zealand ocean swim series. Here they are pictured at the finish of the State Ocean Swim King of the Bays.
For more details and the list of participating swim schools, please visit:
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Five decades on
Latching On: 50 years of breastfeeding support – La Leche League in New Zealand 1964–2014, written by historian Louise Shaw Reviewed by David Swain This is a nicely produced, well-illustrated and profusely but discreetly referenced book on very important topics – no, not just breastfeeding and mothering, although they are indeed very important topics, but also the story of an “imported” voluntary organisation that became very much our own alongside our Parents Centre, Playcentre and Plunket Society. Its 290 pages comprise 14 chapters, a select bibliography, an index, endnotes and a timeline. The chapter topics are diverse and don't easily fall into an obvious sequence or structure or narrative theme but they comprehensively document the nature and history of La Leche League in New Zealand – and it’s a very interesting Kiwi story. The book rightly refers – albeit gently – to the tensions and choices around the degree to which La Leche League in New Zealand took a radical (or a conservative) stance on broader issues relevant to breastfeeding, and LLLNZ might usefully have been compared with Parents Centres which generally grasped these nettles and achieved major institutional and professional changes (e.g. fathers' presence at childbirth, parents staying with small children in hospital). The author is spot on when – mentioning Jane Ritchie's observations of La Leache League in the USA (pages 19–20) – she writes that “cultural differences [between the USA and New Zealand] had to be negotiated with the parent organisation” and as a result LLLNZ became “a unique adaptation” of its parent body. However rather than presenting her extensive material about LLLNZ with an underlying narrative story such as this, the author describes her approach as structuring the book “around various themes” (page 20) – which comes across to me as somewhat fragmented, hopping from one topic to another.
30 kiwiparent – supporting kiwi parents through the early years
La Leche League is rightly acknowledged as making a significant contribution to New Zealand's more recent breastfeeding pattern being better than other societies such as the USA and UK (page 16) but I would have welcomed more mention of such factors as women's employment, changes in hospital policies and practices, maybe even changing attitudes by breastfeeding women's male partners in New Zealand's overall breastfeeding statistics. In the same way, improvements in mortality and morbidity in the 19th century have often been attributed to the heroic efforts of health professionals, whereas cotton underwear and sewage schemes were at least as important! The author has clearly researched LLLNZ as deeply and comprehensively as the limitations of a voluntary organisation with a changing active membership and limited archives permit, and the book thus seems to bring together in one place pretty much what we can know from a combination of key informants (the sixteen interviews with “inspirational” women), primary sources (e.g. minutes, memoranda and the like) and secondary sources (books, chapters, scholarly articles, theses and dissertations and newspaper and magazine articles). Some readers will read through the book from beginning to end but I imagine that others will dip into the chapters that particularly interest them – maybe Chapter 12, “Maternalism meets feminism” or Chapter 14 “New horizons” for example, but more recent new parents may value learning about their mothers' and even grandmothers' world in Chapter 1, Chapter 3, “Small beginnings: the origins of LLL in New Zealand” or Chapter 8, “Spreading the word”.
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The book ends with the question: "for how much longer was ... [LLLNZ] viable in its present form and what, if anything, needed to change" (page 254). Other community organisations have faced this issue and have either changed or declined and disappeared (Marriage Guidance, now Relationships Services, is a case in point). Thus the book ends on a crucial question and finding answers to it will be immensely facilitated by this excellent history and case study. �
David Swain David was a family sociologist at Waikato University for more than forty years (his PhD was on the transition to parenthood), and active in Parents Centre (and LLLNZ) from the late 1960s – and he is presently Patron of Hamilton Parents Centre. He was for several years one of the editors of the Parents Centre Bulletin that became Kiwiparent. He and Maggie have been married for 47 years and have two adult children with five grandchildren between them. David has published a variety of books, book chapters and articles on family topics and now he is retired is writing and publishing family histories!
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What mothers need to know… before they’re mothers
Words of wisdom from real mothers at a La Leche League meeting Newborns don’t look like magazine babies. There are no right answers. People say things, but they aren’t always trying to be judgemental when they say them. A dirty house builds extra immunities. Sometimes motherhood stinks. Should is a poison word that argues against reality. It’s important to see other babies so you know what’s really normal. Sometimes the books are just wrong. Listen to yourself. Listen to your baby. Respect him and his intuition. He will tell you what he needs. Find someone who will listen to you. You will never achieve an ideal state of motherhood. Wait long enough and it will change, and the questions and answers will be different. Pick your battles. A dog is an excellent floor cleaner. Respond to questions with “Why do you ask?” Blankets have all kinds of uses – a surface for public nappy changes, an extra wrap in a car seat, catching spit- up. Hold off buying things until you know whether you’re ever going to use them. Don’t get caught up in the consumerism of new parenthood. The ideal adult to baby ratio is about three to one the first week. But if all you have is one mother and one baby, you’ll manage. When people offer help, say yes. Join a playgroup. It’s not for the child, it’s for the mother. After a week or so, get out of the house. The crying doesn’t bother other people as much as you think it does, and even the grocery store can seem like a wonderful adventure. Step outside when you can, throw your shoulders back, take a deep breath, and look up for at least a few seconds. Don’t be surprised at how totally bizarre you feel the first week. It’s normal to feel really weird. You can only do what you can do. Let go of your expectations and let what is be. Just because it’s fun doesn’t mean it’s not important. Material supplied by La Leche League
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who's afraid of the... Anxieties and fears are not only normal, they are even necessary Everyone, from the youngest child to the oldest adult, experiences anxieties and fears at one time or another. Feeling anxious never feels very good. However, with kids, such feelings are not only normal, they are also necessary. Dealing with anxieties can prepare our young ones to handle the unsettling experiences and challenging situations of life, that means it will help them increase their resilience – even more so if handled well. Anxiety is defined as apprehension without apparent cause. It usually occurs when there is no immediate threat to a person's safety or wellbeing, but the threat feels real. Anxiety makes someone want to escape the situation, and as fast as possible for that matter. The heart beats quickly, the body might begin to perspire, and butterflies in the stomach soon follow. However, a little bit of anxiety can actually help people stay alert and focused. Having fears or anxieties about certain things can also be helpful because it makes kids behave in a safe way. These days we know that people are born with only two fears – the fear of falling and of loud noises. These two fears are incorporated in the human DNA and have become a mechanism for survival which is passed to new generations. The single aim of these inborn fears is to keep humans alive and motivated in order to avoid potential dangers. Any other fears we experience have been acquired throughout life and are often caused by certain events and situations that have marked our mind and emotions in a way that make us feel scared.
These days we know that people are born with only two fears – the fear of falling and of loud noises.
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In saying that, although some fears are not inborn, certain anxieties in childhood are very common. The nature of anxieties and fears change as kids grow and develop. The most usual ones to expect are: Babies especially between the age of 5–10 months experience stranger anxiety. You will notice this by them clinging to those they are close to when confronted by people they do not recognise or have not spent a lot of time with. Toddlers around 10 to 18 months old experience separation anxiety. This is noticeable as they becoming emotionally distressed when one or both parents leave. Children ages four through six have anxiety about things that are not based in reality, such as fears of monsters and ghosts which is often evident in them expression a fear of the dark. Kids ages seven through twelve often have fears that reflect real circumstances that may happen to them, such as bodily injury, natural disaster or losing someone they love through death either by accident or illness. As kids grow, one fear may disappear or replace another. For example, a child who could not sleep with the light off at age five may enjoy a ghost story at a sleepover party years later. And some fears may extend only to something particular. In other words, a child may want to pet a lion at the zoo but would not dream of going near the neighbour's dog. What kind of anxiety children experience varies significantly from one child to the other, some may have all of them and others just one, some anxieties may persist for quite some time while others are very short-lived. It is hard to tell what this developmental trajectory will be like for a particular child. It depends on many factors including the child’s temperament, the challenges they are faced with and at what point in their life, and also how those close to them respond to them being anxious. Now if you think about it in a very logical fashion, our children’s temperament is inborn and the challenges they will face in life are often the two factors that we have little control over – although YES we would absolutely love to have influence on these factors in order to make life easier for our children and for us (especially when it comes to temperament). When it comes to parenting, we best not worry too much about what our children hear us say but worry more about what they watch us do.
36 kiwiparent – supporting kiwi parents through the early years
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How do we respond to their fears? So we are left with having only control over how we respond to their fears – however, our response will teach them much about how they can best adjust when they face challenges. As usual when it comes to parenting, we best not worry too much about what our children hear us say but worry more about what they watch us do! So your response to their anxiety will be the most significant role model. There are definitely some strategies that are more effective to deal with specific anxieties; each of those would warrant a topic in itself. However, there are a few general things that are important for dealing with any anxiety your child experiences. It is important to lay the right groundwork: Having a positive relationship with your child. Children often feel overwhelmed when they are anxious. In these situations it is important that they feel they can rely on you for support. For them to do that they need to feel that they can trust you to help them and that you will also not overreact by getting overly anxious yourself. Validating their feelings no matter how irrational they seem to be. It is important that children learn from early on that their feelings matter to you. For this you can encourage them to show their feelings (e.g., being angry at you for not giving them another piece of chocolate by asking them open questions that help them to tell you more about what they are feeling. And you can teach them to name their feelings by stating your observations (e.g., “I can see/hear that you are feeling angry”). It does not mean you have to give in just because they feel cross! We need to be mindful that to our children, feelings are often really new experiences that they are trying to handle. And to them, us saying “it’s not that bad”, “just calm down” or “just get over yourself” is usually not that helpful – to them, us saying those things, really means “you obviously have no clue how big this is for me” or as they will later tell you “you are not listening!”. Finally, after the feelings have been named you can make some suggestions of how to cope with them to make them feel better (e.g., “let’s put a nightlight in your room because ghosts do not like light”). Or if they are old enough you could ask them about what they think might help. It’s amazing what ideas children have sometimes about what will make them feel better. Those can be a great resource to tap into – and they are usually the more effective ones than those that we think might be best.
Wait, watch and support It is so counterintuitive to our notion of being a great parent – letting our children experience anxiety, letting them struggle through this, instead of preventing them from experiencing anxiety in the first instance and then rescuing them. However, if we want to prepare them for real life, experiencing anxiety and dealing with it constructively with our support will help them so much more. The challenge to us is to wait, watch, and then support them while sitting alongside them in this uncomfortable state – if we do that they will come out a lot more resilient for it. They will have learnt skills which they can use if we are not around, which is the real life scenario for when they are older. I always have to think about a young butterfly hatching out of its cocoon as an analogy. When I have watched that transition, I have always felt like jumping in and just tearing that cocoon a little so the butterfly has to struggle less and can come out quicker – that’s what my feeling brain tells me to do. However, my logical thinking brain will tell me that if I did that, with the best of intention of course, that butterfly will end up disabled, unable to fly and to survive and never show its beautiful wings. It’s all part of the process that it has to go through for the greater good. However, there is nothing wrong with making sure that it can do this in a sheltered place – that is where we can come in safely to support. �
Kerstin Kramar Kerstin is the Director and Consulting Clinical Psychologist at Mind and Heart Psychology. She has been working in private practice and the public health sector in New Zealand and overseas. She is passionate about supporting young parents’ wellbeing and when they encounter stress-related issues, relationship and adjustment difficulties, and parenting issues. Kerstin works in private practice in the Wellington region while enjoying every other moment with her two busy children and the third on the way.
Parents Centre Supporting parents through the early years because great parents grow great children. Parents Centres are passionate about the importance of quality parenting and how this affects children’s futures. Each stage of child development is so very different so we offer programmes for all stages – from your pregnancy and those memorable first newborn months right through to the developing years and onto school age. We know what it takes to be an effective parent. While it can be hugely rewarding it can also be very challenging and we focus on giving parents the knowledge and tools they require to raise capable, confident and contributing children – and giving them the best start in life. We are well known for our expertly facilitated Childbirth Education classes, using qualified educators, but that’s not all we do! Our renowned parent education programmes focus on children up to 6 years of age and include:
In this section One-off sessions with Brainwave Trust Q&A with Wendy Perera, Central Auckland Parents Centre Spotlight on Conscious Parenting Programmes Centre News
Our 50 Centres also run numerous other specialised courses, primarily driven by local needs, including Brainwave Trust seminars, profiled over the page. To locate a Centre near you and to find out more about programmes running in your area visit: www.parentscentre.org.nz
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Brainwave Trust facilitator Sarah Best
Developing healthy brains – with Brainwave Trust Brainwave Trust seminars, hosted by Parents Centres across the country, have been receiving rave reviews nationwide. Eleanor Cater checks out one of these seminars, facilitated by Brainwave Trust facilitator Sarah Best in Wellington, to find out why. “We are a lucky generation in the sense that today we have an amazing opportunity to get things right for our children – and we are the first generation to do so with real science to back it up.” It’s hard not to get inspired when listening to such an impassioned speaker as Sarah Best. Her interest has been sparked by the latest and greatest research on brain development, which has come a long way in the past decades.
40 kiwiparent – supporting kiwi parents through the early years
We now know that the first three years lay down much of the foundations of our mental, emotional, social and physical health for life. Incredibly, many of the foundational brain connections we will ever have are made in those first few years. Science continues to expand and the research continues to indicate how important those early years are. Many experts, from those in education to paediatricians to psychologists are telling us that a child’s early experiences of nurture – from conception to around the age of three – are crucial to their future. Many predictors of development points to the importance of sound and secure relationships and responsiveness. “Attachment is no longer a theory; it has been supported by studies in a variety of other disciplines, including neuroscience. If children know that they are safe and loved and their needs are met and responded to they are more likely to go on to reach their full potential.”
“The brain is taking on information from all of our senses. While we are born with a genetic template it is our early experiences that help us to reach our potential. It is the level of love, care, understanding and responsiveness which will contribute to who we become.” Babies’ brainstems are highly developed at birth and are set on survival mode, so that when they are born the brain tells them to breathe, suck and communicate by crying. “Have you ever wondered why, when a newborn baby cries for food, he or she sounds as if they might die? That is their survival mode; the brain is saying something like ‘alert alert – food is needed, I must have food to survive’ and as far as their early understanding of the world is concerned, they need it immediately! Adults have a voice of reason and a well-developed frontal cortex which enables them to rationalise and accept that they can be hungry for a while, and that food is available.” So at birth there are enough connections to survive and in the early years a spaghetti junction of connections develop. “No wonder small children can get confused! Adults’ connections are thinned out, effectively halved, perhaps making them less ingenious and creative but more logical and ordered.” Brain connections also happen well before birth, evidenced by the fact that newborns can breathe, move, and instinctively know their mother’s voice. “We are an interdependent species. When babies are not responded to – are left to cry or have an otherwise unresponsive caregiver who performs simply the basic tasks of care – the baby can experience toxic stress where cortisol is released, potentially damaging neurons or forming fewer brain connections.” “The human brain is designed to be moulded by the environment it encounters. When we interact with our babies we are stimulating their brain, effectively switching it on. First and foremost babies need to feel safe so they can get on with the business of growing their brains. Repetition is important, including touch, rocking and cuddling – and responsiveness is key! Babies do not cry for no reason – they have a need, parents should not ever be discouraged from responding to their baby.” So what’s important as a parent to focus on? Brainwave Trust encourage the following for parents to aim for most of the time: - Joy and delight – show your baby you enjoy being with them, and feel the benefits of that joy in yourself - Responsiveness and soothing – listen to your baby’s cries and respond – he or she is communicating with you the only way they know how to - Tune in with your child – there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and what works with one baby may well not work with another. Sarah adds, “Today’s fast paced life and prevalence towards parent-led parenting does not always meet baby’s needs. It perhaps meets parents’ needs but it might not be what is best for baby. Parents need to
be tuned in with their baby and working together in partnership. Some ways to do this are explained well in Pennie Brownlee’s ‘Dance with me in the Heart’.” “When, for example, a baby is left distressed to cry they get stressed, and can get very good at getting stressed through repetition. Babies cannot learn when stressed. Responsiveness helps them to recover from stress. When responded to the brain can be shown how to calm down. The more we initiate this soothing process for the baby, repetition over time helps the brain know what to do so that eventually the baby grows into a person who knows how to calm themselves down.” “Interestingly studies also show that responsiveness produces more secure, confident and independent children.” Other such Brainwave Early Years sessions were held further up the North Island during the following week, facilitated by Norma Hayward and Debra Rewiri. Parents Centre agrees that secure attachments, understanding and responsiveness mean the best outcomes for growing great futures for our children. Science strongly and continually backs this up – so parents be wary of ‘baby trainers’ and those advocating strict feeding and sleeping routines, we advise learning to read and respond to your baby! Check out the quality resources available online: www.circleofsecurity.org www.brainwave.org.nz www.parentscentre.org.nz www.akobooks.co.nz To book your Brainwave Early Years seminar or workshop please call (09) 528 3981 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
“Attachment is no longer a theory; it has been proven by science. If children know that they are safe and loved and their needs are met and responded to they will go on to reach their full potential.” Sarah Best, Brainwave Trust
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Go for it! You won’t look back! Q&A with Wendy Perera, parenting facilitator and volunteer at Central Auckland Parents Centre, who says her great joy is to “welcome parents to the roller coaster world of parenting – full of extreme highs, twists, turns, ups and downs!”
What volunteer roles have you held? I took on a variety of roles – including childbirth education co-ordinator, hosted antenatal courses, Moving and Munching courses and other parent education programmes. I have attended conferences in Wellington and Christchurch too – I love the challenge of learning something new and giving back!
What made you want to become a parenting facilitator? I completed some Parents Centre facilitation training with Joan Hay a number of years ago and absolutely loved it! These skills, paired with my background as an early childhood teacher, made it such a good career move. I was approached by Central Auckland Parents Centre to run their infant development session for Baby and You. It just grew and grew and grew from there – to running their Moving and Munching, Tinies to Tots, helping to develop a younger Crawling and Crunching programme and literacy and numeracy session for children aged two to five years old.
When did you first join Parents Centre? My Parents Centre journey stated almost a decade ago – now I sound old! We were living in London and I left the task of signing up to antenatal classes with a close friend who had a due date 2 days after mine – good planning. We began the Central Auckland Parents Centre journey together in April 2005 and I haven’t left!
How did you end up being on the committee? When my daughter was 5 months old I had the urge to engage in activities and conversations outside the home. I really needed "something else", including more adult time I think! I was after a better balance in my life.
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It’s led to more paid work and travelling and running courses for other Parents Centres across the country, including Taieri, Invercargill, Balclutha, Gore and Napier Parents Centres. I’ve also been to Queenstown working for PORSE. I just let them know when I’m going to be there and they will arrange a whole day session with a number of programmes for their members.
Are you interested in working for other Centres? Yes! I love sharing the knowledge I have and supporting new parents. I love what I call the ‘wow moments’ – you talk to parents about something and they say, “wow, I didn’t know about that!” or, “wow, that is why that happens!” I love talking to parents about what they can do with their babies and how they can guide their development and what to look out for.
What benefits have you gained from facilitating and volunteering? My focus is my family, they are number one. This type of work and the paid contracts I have I can fit around my life, it is such an interesting role and so flexible.
What made you want to be a part of the volunteer committee again at a later date? I’m always happy to support a Centre that supported me and provided a fantastic service, so this year I have rejoined Central Auckland Parents Centre as their Moving and Munching co-ordinator. This works really well as I present the moving session and know the dietician who does the ‘munching’ part of the course. It’s easy to co-ordinate and helpful I think to have a speaker on the committee, giving a different perspective. Because the Centre has supported me in all my contracts it is really nice to give back and support them as well. I’ve also made really great friendships at Parents Centre, and have been to two national conferences. When you go
away with people and spend time with them you really get to know them and you get a greater understanding of the organisation and get inspired by other passionate people.
What would you say to someone who was considering joining in their Parents Centre committee or taking part in some facilitation training? Go for it you won't look back! For starters the adult contact is wonderful, you can give as much or as little as you like and you get that wonderful feeling of ‘giving back’. It keeps the brain engaged and you will find that you are involved with many professional people all giving of their time and skills. It helps to grow your skill base and your networks too, as well as develop your career.
Each edition of Kiwiparent profiles one of Parents Centre’s renowned parent education programmes.
This month: Spotlight on
‘Conscious Parenting Programmes’ How we approach parenting may very well determine how our children ‘turn out’. We all consider at times how we would like our children to be as adults. It takes a bit of thinking and action on our part. As parents we must give some conscious thought to how we react in certain scenarios, how our behaviour impacts on our little ones, and how we can effectively communicate with our children in a way which doesn’t result in negative behaviour. Parents Centre runs two Conscious Parenting Programmes – Parenting With Purpose and Magic Moments. These parent education programmes are designed to give Kiwi parents techniques and insights on how to parent in a conscious way.
Parenting With Purpose A 12-hour programme designed to give parents an understanding of some of the following: Understanding the causes of stress in adults and children and identifying useful strategies for reducing these Strategies to engage children’s participation The differences between positive discipline and punishment Encouraging self esteem
Magic Moments A three-week programme focusing on: Communication with children Engaging and co-operation with children Disciplinary techniques Routine and structure Understanding children’s expressions of feelings “Parenting with Purpose has been invaluable as it makes us think about how and why we parent. There are many new things to learn and new ways to approach different situations.” – Christchurch parent. “Group discussions and sharing is such a valuable part of this course.” – Auckland parent. Might you want to become a facilitator of Parents Centre’s Conscious Parenting Programmes? Visit our website to find out more about facilitation training and opportunities through Parents Centre.
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PARENTS CENTRE’S NEWS
And the winners are….. Parents Centre Awards for 2014 The Parents Centre Awards recognise excellence, leadership, innovation and individuals and Centres who really goes that extra mile for their members. Volunteer of the Year
Chrystal Steiner, Putaruru Parents Centre
Childbirth Educator of the Year
Jenny Warren, Palmerston North
Chief Executive’s Award for Excellence
Jess Howard, Palmerston North Parents Centre
Chief Executive’s Award for Innovation
Palmerston North Parents Centre
Bigger and Better Award
Franklin Parents Centre
Best Ambassadors Award
Kylie Johnston, Auckland
Sarah Gibbs, Pahiatua Cath Giles, Greymouth Debbie Kell, Canterbury Nicola Mapletoft, Auckland
Thank you to all of our volunteers who recognise that quality parenting is crucial and strive to provide nothing short of excellent services in their communities. Parents Centre volunteers, the National Support Team and our Board came together in late November Wellington. A huge thanks to everyone who attended especially our volunteers who joined us – we enjoyed much fun, interaction and personal development all while helping to move our organisation one step closer to supporting and enabling our Centres and growing our family of parent members! Viv Gurrey Chief Executive Officer
Our Parents Centres New Zealand November national roadshow through the North Island was an outstanding success, with participants in Auckland, Taupo and Wellington hearing from a wide variety of speakers on baby skincare, brain development and pre and post natal depression. An incredible learning and sharing opportunity for all.
We are extending the roadshow to the South Island in February – Christchurch on the 26th and Dunedin on the 27th, with more to come later in the year – watch this space!
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n Whakatane Parents Centre’s 2014 Parent and Child Expo was a great success, with over 600 people through the doors and more than 30 stall holders. Committee member Amy Wildash said, “It was a morning buzzing with families and children. The Parents Centre stall was kept busy with new members and enquiries for antenatal classes. It was a fabulous community event showcasing all the wonderful multifaceted joys of being a parent in the Eastern Bay. We would like to especially thank our major sponsors: Eastern Bay Podiatry, the Aquatic Centre, Bizzy Buddyz and Little Sprouts Montessori as well as Bay of Plenty Radio and the Community Organisations Grants Scheme and Lotteries Grants for their financial support. In addition many local businesses have supported us by providing special rates for Parents Centre work, and prizes for our raffles.”
PARENTS CENTRE’S NEWS n Marlborough Parents Centre recently hosted a dinner with Norm Hewitt. The night was about raising funds for their new premises which the Centre hopes will bring the Marlborough community together to embrace families and encourage positive experiences for the next generation. The auction, run with the help of Norm Hewitt and Michael Rea, raised $3,500 for the Centre. Marlborough businesses were very supportive and through new partnerships that committee says that they feel as if a great start has been made for an exciting new chapter for Marlborough Parents Centre.
Marlborough Parents Centre Committee with Norm Hewitt
n The Gore Kids Hub project, in partnership with Gore's Toy Library, Playcentre and Gore Parents Centre is ‘gaining speed’. Committee member Bernadette Hunt said, “We're in discussions with Barnardos, Plunket and a local playgroup who might all join us too and we have our resource and building consents submitted. Our first fundraiser raised $5,000 and our first grant submission has been accepted – we have $200,000 in the bank! Exciting times. We're in the local newspaper weekly, and it has been all over the radio locally – the community is buzzing about it!” Check out more about the Gore Kids Hub on facebook – www.facebook.com/GoreKidsHub
n Nelson District Parents Centre was proud to recently bring Nathan Mikaere Wallis from the Brainwave Trust, who regularly appears with Radio New Zealand National to talk about “What 3–7 year olds need to learn”. The event was a huge success with the entire allocation of 300 tickets sold out well in advance. Committee member Adam Henley said, “While Nathan focused on the 3–7 year old age range, he could not pass up the opportunity to talk about under-3s and stress the importance of those early years in terms of brain development and social skills. There was loads of positive feedback from attendees on the night and committee members are still hearing members of the local community talking about this great event and how much they learned.”
The evening would not have been possible without the support of Parents Centre volunteers, generous financial contributions from the Mainland Foundation, travel and venue costs from Bodywise Natural Health or the support of local businesses, Baby on the Move – Nelson, Buonissimo Gelato Café and Benge & Co. Stoke, who sold tickets for the Centre free of charge.
On stage, Nathan Mikaere Wallis & Nelson District Parents Centre Committee Member and event organiser, Madeline Austin
Focus on Christchurch South Parents Centre n Christchurch South Parents Centre has a dedicated committee of ten who work hard to present quality parenting and pregnancy education to the community in the south, east and west of the city. Their membership numbers have shot up in the last quarter, due to a renewed focus on encouraging our new parents-tobe to attend Baby and You class (which are free to members). President Liz McNeill said, “In recent months we have had a very successful fundraising push and also provided opportunities for our members to attend some quality parenting seminars. Our Hot Topic Nights Co-Ordinator, Cat Helms, superbly organised a second very popular event late in the year, the Brainwave Trust Early Years Seminar. With over 70 attendees, this was well-supported by our local community, Rukmini Keane presented an interesting, and informative talk and we have had a lot of positive feedback regarding this.” The Centre has also had a big presence at some recent local events, including the Canterbury A&P show and PORSE recent birthday celebrations and they are well known in Christchurch for their Baby Gear Sale, “we usually hold four a year at the Cashmere club with a couple of hundred buyers through the door!”
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my dark journey I have suffered with Postnatal Depression (PND) since February 2008. A lot of things happened while I was pregnant; we lost a close friend who was only my age, I had morning sickness up to 18 weeks and I worked up until 32 weeks, as I was a Vineyard supervisor and walked about 18kms a day. I had a big bubba on board and decided that at 32 weeks I would start to get ready for Christmas as family were coming up. My parents came up to Blenheim for Christmas. There was no way Dad was not going to come up, even though he had just suffered a stroke at 57! Christmas came and went and my due date got closer. My husband also ended up in hospital with an eye injury which meant no support from him, as he couldn’t see, drive, or do anything as he was on a huge doses of Tramidol. I had another scan and baby was about 8lb 14oz – Yikes! I was so big I could hardly move with another few weeks to go. The stress was starting to build – I was very worried that my Dad was going to get worse as well as my husband. Already lots of red flags were popping up! My
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due date came and went and they let me go 10 days over. I was induced and only got to 4cm after 13 hours. It was then decided that a Caesarean was needed – luckily as Jack was 10lb 14oz! That night in Wairau Hospital in Blenheim was truly awful: my husband had to leave as the nurse kicked him out and I had no one. I was scared as I couldn’t get up and my bed didn’t move up or down (it was from the pre -1940s). Blood was seeping from my wound. There were two awful nurses on duty who forgot to give me pain relief overnight. I thought this was normal and was too scared to ask or ring the bell. They didn’t help with Jack and spoke as if I was not there. The next morning I couldn’t move. I had blow-up things on my legs to relieve blood clots, I was struggling for oxygen and felt like I had buzzy bees in my stitch line. The nurses changed over and one came in and introduced herself. She was to become my favourite. She couldn’t believe what had happened overnight and called in the Nurse Manager, anaesthetists and my midwife.
All was not good! Jack hadn’t even been fed. His jaundice was bad and he ended up on a billy bed (Phototherapy) for three days… there went the bond and that would not return until one year later. I spent the next five days in hospital. I tried so hard to breast feed. This was so stressful I was starting to feel like the worst Mum ever. Jack also had problems feeding/ sucking so they put in a feed tube. He ended up with a burnt bottom from the billy bed, as the nurse had not changed the nappy and urine had burnt the skin. The paediatric team was horrified; they also had a closer look at him as he had a loose larynx and signs of reflux at day two! Argghhhhh! I had read about reflux… As for all new parents, the next few weeks were hard trying to adjust to new beginnings. We ended up in and out of the children’s ward as Jack continued to get worse with his reflux. We tried every med and it was truly awful. He also started getting urine infections. After four or five infections and heaps of scans, they found a kidney stone at five months. My husband Devon (in the Air Force) put in for a compassionate posting down to Christchurch to be closer to my family. I was starting to become very unwell with weird thoughts and feeling I was not a super Mum to my baby. I felt no bond and also felt as if he wasn’t mine, as I hadn’t delivered him naturally. I wouldn’t go out, hated being by myself with this screaming child who spewed large amounts of his feeds and would never sleep. Life was a nightmare, hell. Finally, we were seen by the Christchurch Paediatric Team – they were great with his medication, scans and some support. I continued to put my mask on but it was getting harder and harder every day. I would cry and cry and couldn’t even talk to friends or my own Mum and Dad, as I didn’t want to stress them out. Dad had just had a second stroke and then urgent surgery. We had no support from my husband’s family, as his Mum and Dad had decided to write us out of the family. This was hard to deal with, as we continued to post photos and letters, but with no reply. I became so unwell that my husband wanted to contact the doctor, but I would always talk him out of it. I knew
things were bad when I had a thought that if I shut my eyes and drove into an oncoming truck, I wouldn’t feel anything again and that I would put Jack out of his pain. With that thought, I rang Plunket Postnatal and they saw me within a few days. I started taking medication and that was truly hard. I felt useless, worried, sick, a bad mum, stressed that people would think I was crazy, and would be locked up or Jack would be taken off me. I couldn’t tell anyone how I really felt because no NEW MUM FEELS LIKE THAT. It’s not spoken about in your coffee groups, as everyone is FINE and baby is SLEEPING FINE and BREASTFEEDING IS FINE and everything is great… YEAH Right! I felt alone and I could only lean on my husband, who was pulling heaven and earth to help me. My doctor had a fair idea of what was happening and sent a referral through to the Mothers and Babies unit in Christchurch. I was told there was a seven week waiting list. With that, I broke even more. I was so sleep deprived that I didn’t even know what I was running on by then.
Adding to the stress We then decided that it would be a good idea if we moved from Burnham to town and bought a house. Little did I know I was going to stress even more, but the good thing was that we put Jack into preschool for one week. Ahhh bliss! This was awesome – we were painting and hanging new curtains. I loved doing this as I had control. It was so exciting. I couldn’t wait as we finally had our own home, but with it came another stress of packing and unpacking. Jack would cry and cry. I would often leave him as I didn’t know how to stop it. We found out he had severe ear infections, one after the other, and then the kidney stone passed. Life was turning upside down. Christmas 2009 was round the corner and it was to prove to be the Christmas from hell. Mothers and Babies had started seeing me weekly as an outpatient, which was a blessing because of what was to follow... Jack had his first febrile convulsion. My husband called me to say Jack was choking, turning blue and then shaking or convulsing. Then he stopped… breathing. I gave him mouth to mouth. I thought I was losing him. We were taken to hospital via ambulance. Wow, what a Christmas night in A&E. He was fine, but it was super scary.
Remember: you haven’t failed at being a mum; you just need someone to understand.
The next febrile convulsion was in the Children’s Acute Ward one month later... they went to take blood and he began to convulse. He wouldn’t stop for two hours. They had every doctor and specialist in the ICU team in our room that night. Every kind of anti-seizure med was given and we were told to make THAT call to family. It wasn’t looking good. It was 4am when I first felt THE BOND to my son. I felt as if my heart was being torn out – I had chest pain and was vomiting. Our family came in and we were allowed to go and see Jack. He came round and was on all sorts of tubes. He was taken down to have a scan of his head with two doctors and two nurses and life support gear. I felt numb and also a sadness, wondering how Jack became so unwell. He spent the next three days in the Children’s Intensive Care unit and then three days in the general ward. My depression was at breaking point. I had another appointment with Mothers and Babies and pleaded for a few hours sleep. If they had no room I would be happy to sleep on the toilet floor… I was desperate. They did have room and said I could stay with Jack for three or four days. Little did I know that I would stay for eight weeks. It was my first steps to acknowledging that I was very unwell with Postnatal Depression. The words were frightening. I had read about it but never thought I would have to face this dark journey. Although I had the best nurses, doctors and supports, I decided that if I wanted to get well I would have to accept that I needed to drop my mask. The days were long and the nights even longer. I would cry myself to sleep — if the meds didn’t put me to sleep first. My one-in-a-million husband was in every day, at every meeting, and there every night to help me with Jack. Every night I would walk him out and tears would stream down my face. How could I have let him down so much? Life was going to get better, but it was going to take a long time. I would have to accept that I would have bad days, but they would become further apart eventually.
The angels who saved me They sorted my medication and I had a lot of therapy. I talked so much about all the things that had got me here. They were my angels that saved me. Little did I know that my Mum and her Mum had also suffered with Postnatal Depression. Maybe if I had been told earlier, I could have put more things or support into place. My husband went downhill, as I became better, but we sought medical advice straight away. He was treated and had lots of great support through The Air Force. I bet you’re asking: Did we go back for a second? Well yes, BUT we had all the supports in place — I was still taking medication and had a first class ticket to the Mothers and Babies Unit if we needed it.
Lily was our earthquake Baby. She was born at 36 weeks in foetal distress via an Emergency Caesarean on Christmas Eve, 2010. I fell in love with her as soon as she was put on my chest. I felt it — those warm fuzzy feelings, the ones I had never experienced with Jack till later on. I loved my second experience. I was well supported, had a wonderful midwife in Christchurch. I had been open at all the hospital appointments about PND and the staff that looked after me were amazing. I had access to an extended stay if I needed it as Mothers and Babies had written to hospital. I was there for seven days with lots of great sleep on board, a baby that fed, and good milk supply topped up with formula. The only thing that I stressed about was the Boxing Day earthquake which was very scary. When the February 22nd earthquake struck, I was so frightened. Our house in Spreydon was a mess — liquefaction to 70% of our home for the second time, cracks, broken windows, no power, no water. How were we going to live? How was I going to express? Luckily a friend came forward and we lived with them for eight weeks. All four of us in one bedroom! I think because Devon was home as well as our friends to help, cook, clean, hold Lily, and entertain Jack etc I didn’t get PND. We were living in the ‘it takes a community to raise a child’ atmosphere over that 8–16 week period where routine and sleep become important. Our home became a rebuild in 2012. I went downhill when we watched it come down in late 2012, but I was able to seek help straight away. Ironically, we moved back to our home this year on February 22nd 2014; it’s so nice to put all that behind us. The kids love it to bits.
Fast forward to today Jack, now six, is the height of a nine year old, and doing super well. He had reflux to the age of three, five lots of grommets, a few more convulsions, and was under the care of Beacon House (supporting children with developmental issues) until the age of five. He still sees Paediatricians for his special wee traits. He is still an awful sleeper and is on melatonin every night to get him to sleep. He has a heart of gold, loves school and rugby and is great with Lily. Lily (three) is the complete opposite. No health issues, sleeps well, still has a 2–3 hour sleep each day and is the cutest wee button. We are happy we went back a second time round.
We have a huge involvement with Postnatal Depression Family/Whanau New Zealand Trust, which runs a fantastic website called www.mothersmatter.co.nz. I am the administrator for The Trust and the Facilitator/ Co-ordinator for the Mothers Matter PND Support group here in Christchurch. My husband is a Trust member and also runs the Men’s evenings at the Plunket Postnatal Adjustment Programme. I found volunteering a healing path for me, and the fact that we are able to help other mums or dads, and their families, understand Postnatal Depression and the journey it takes you on. Please, if you think or feel that you have Postnatal Depression or Anxiety or if something just isn’t right, please go and see your midwife, doctor or Plunket Nurse. It is really important that you don’t leave it to see if it gets better because most of the time it will eat away at you. Then it becomes harder to look after your baby or family and stay connected with your partner/ husband. Remember: you haven’t failed at being a mum; you just need someone to understand. I am glad I had PND, as I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now. Also, I wouldn’t have met all the wonderful mums and their babies or toddlers. I feel privileged to be part of the mums’ journeys. �
If you – or someone you know – needs support reach out. Surround yourself with positive people and be realistic about what you can achieve. Be kind to yourself, you’re worth it. These links may be helpful. Mothers Matter www.mothersmatter.co.nz Linkage www.linkage.co.nz Father and Child Trust www.fatherandchild.org.nz Trauma and Birth Stress www.tabs.org.nz Perinatal Metal Health New Zealand Trust www.pmhnz.org.nz
Sonya Watson Sonya lives in Christchurch and works for the Mothers Matter Trust which is the only community support group in Christchurch running weekly.
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So, your wife/partner/significant other has Postnatal Depression (PND)... But…this wasn’t part of the master plan was it? What is PND really – it sounds bad, but what is it, you have no idea? Why is it happening to us? Where to from here? How can I fix it? Your head is full of questions and answers. The trouble is you can’t seem to match the right question and answer. As a new father you may already be feeling the pinch – disrupted sleep, loads of “baby stuff”, budget worries, stress and conflict. And now a new twist – PND. Here are a couple of tips that may help you navigate through the “my partner has PND” minefield.
Maintain the right attitude! Make yourself think positively. Even when you find it very, very hard. Sometimes when you are not feeling AOK it is too easy to focus on negatives instead of positives. You need to be the positive one in the house. This is going to be hard to keep up.
Decide what your priorities are going to be Remember, you are going to have to be the driving force in the home – make sure you plan what you are going to do and how.
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A little bit of organisation helps keep you calm You may find you end up doing many of the chores around the house for a while. Don’t resent this – if you look at chores as being a positive contribution to the home, it changes your mindset. For example, you are not just doing the vacuuming, you are providing a clean environment for your baby. Doing the laundry – if you never paid attention to garment care labels – now is the time to learn. Oh, and I recommend investing in a good quality lint roller, good to have it handy in case you accidentally get lint or fluff on items that shouldn’t have been washed together.
Eat right Feeding the family, including yourself, a healthy meal regime is important. You may find you have to take over the cooking duties as well. Get your head round this early and accept it. Take it as an opportunity to learn new skills – buy a new cookbook and work through it. It will be fun! Kids can be fussy – but there is nothing like the satisfaction of watching them try something new, even if they have refused to “ever” eat the very same thing time and again. Keep it interesting and you may find you enjoy it. And there will be disasters, don’t sweat it.
And then there was the grocery shopping...with kid(s) Many quake at the thought. However, it can actually be a fun outing with Dad. Take a list, at least it won’t get distracted by the kids! Make sure they know there is a job to be done, and that you are not buying all sorts of things. Tell them what you are looking for as you go – you will be amazed how much they learn from this. As they get bigger ask them to identify simple things, like vegetables or fruit. Take your time. If they have been good reward them with a little treat at the end or spend ten minutes in the toy section letting them look. Carrot and stick! Our kids love unloading the trolley onto the till.
Don’t over analyse the situation Sometimes your thoughts get out of control but you can stop this and start to think more positively. Sometimes she will do or say things that really hurt, or get your hackles up. Pick the time and place to discuss these further.
We are all human Remember it may be the illness talking, not her. There are going to be flashpoints. There are going to be rows. No matter how hard you try, we all have one thing in common, no matter who we are – we are all human. And humans are perfectly imperfect. Disagreement is part of life – remember, compromise, accept you won’t always have it your way. Apologise. Move on.
Talk to each other It is very important that you express how you feel, and that you listen to your partner when she is talking also. A successful relationship without PND requires communication – one that involves PND requires even more communication. It is just more complicated.
Employ family members to help wherever possible Nana watching the kids can provide you with some sanity time with your partner. If your family can’t do this, then make sure you spend time with your partner. Would you rather spend time down at the pub with your mates? This may not be the best time – that’s not to say you shouldn’t have “your” own time. Remember it is about priorities and balance. She won’t be ill for ever.
Sleep. Beautiful sleep Hands up all those who are not cranky when they haven’t had enough sleep? If you are going to keep it all together – you need to be sure you get enough rest. This will not be easy. You may find that you and your partner need to rest in the day – you watch the kids while she rests, then she does the same while you rest. Or maybe you all sleep when the baby sleeps.
Find out as much information as you can
Try and appreciate the positive moments
So…try to make the best of a difficult situation. Your kids won’t be this little that long – roll up your sleeves, get stuck in, laundry, nappies, poo, vomit, hey, all in a day’s work. I bet you will find yourself turning into super Dad in no time at all, and I suspect you may find you actually enjoy a lot of it. �
There will be some, maybe few and far between – but when they come along, make the most of them and remember them. Use them to focus and keep yourself going.
She will get better. Hang in there.
i’m a dad i’m scared John Kirwan has spent the past ten years raising the profile of depression and anxiety amongst men in New Zealand. Following on from his best selling book All Blacks Don’t Cry John has travelled the country talking to men – and women – about mental health issues in an effort to remove the stigma that can too easily become a barrier to seeking help. Recently, John released a follow on book called Stand By Me – helping your teen through tough times. This extends his personal journey, but also shares his experiences as a dad looking for guidance. It mirrors his concern for his own children as well as all young people growing up in our rapidly evolving world. The opening words of the book say it all: “I’m a Dad and I’m scared.” Having spent a lifetime battling his own demons, John worries about his three teenage children. He wants to know what is really going on inside their heads, how to reach them and how to support them. “The groundwork for parenting teenagers starts much earlier,” John says. “When I was only a boy I showed signs of acute anxiety, being homesick, worrying about the unknown, feeling helpless and afraid. I reckon those were the first signs of depression. If your child hurts themselves you have a first aid kit full of solutions. But what tools do we have to help a child that needs emotional first aid?”
Stand By Me is written with Wellington parents and Clinical Psychologists Dr Elliot Bell and Kirsty LoudenBell. They provide a professional perspective to the copy that is sprinkled with anecdotes, interviews and helpful suggestions. “I wanted this book to read like a series of conversations – with children, parents and health professionals – so that we can explore what it’s like to be a kid today” John explains. “And the world is a radically different place to that I grew up in.”
“It is estimated about one in five Kiwi kids will suffer from a depressive disorder by the time they are eighteen” – John Kirwan
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Anxiety can cause people to avoid things and miss opportunities. Fear is a big part of the experience of both anxiety and depression. In John Kirwan’s experience, which is a common one, pretending the fear wasn’t there was disastrous. It’s much better to acknowledge the fear and name it - this helps to overcome it. - Extract from Stand By Me
“There’s more pressure put on kids from a very young age in an environment that has much more of a competitive edge. Social media constructs a false world where everyone is popular and life has the perception of being perfect, even drugs and alcohol are much easier to find. Children are encouraged to grow up fast and make their own decisions when they are barely out of primary school. If this is the reality – how do we help our kids cope?” John is the first to admit that he is not an expert and has more questions than answers. “I want what you want, to have a good relationship with my children and to not worry that I am missing out on something important in their lives that’s causing them problems. I want to be a great parent and not let them down.”
Stand By Me is easy to read, whether you are a grazer or a cover to cover consumer of words. I would recommend this book to parents with children of all ages – after all little children grow into teenagers. The foundation for good communication is laid from a very early age. This is not a clinical book but rather a road map of what is happening inside the teenage brain, some of the harmful mental illnesses that can occur and look at treatments and therapies. But, for me, one of the most valuable parts of the book were the sections that explored recovery and prevention and identified ways of encouraging wellness and resilience in children to help them avoid unhelpful thoughts that can lead to anxiety and depression. �
If “I” is replaced by “we” illness become wellness.
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My son was running around the house, butt naked and carefree, having flung his dirty nappy into a (upside down) heap on the carpet, leaving the fulsome fug of fresh poo wafting on the breeze behind him. I was in full chase, roaring at him to get into the shower NOW! when my partner said quietly, “You're always shouting at them.”
Bowen Therapy is a form of body work using subtle and gentle moves over the muscles and connective tissues designed to aid in the healing of a wide range of conditions.
His comment literally stopped me in my tracks. Of COURSE I was always shouting at them. They don't bloody listen. But his comment made me feel bad. REALLY bad. I suddenly found myself wondering if I was a good parent – because good parents don't shout at their children.
Having your parenting choices criticised starts as soon as baby makes an appearance. There's always someone around who is happy to tell you how to do it better. With my daughter, it started when she was about seven weeks and in the full throes of colic. Colic is beastly. Your baby screams and writhes for no apparent reason for hours and hours every evening until that sweet blessed day when they don't (again, for no apparent reason). My daughter suffered terribly from colic. Nothing Plunket recommended worked. Massage, warm baths, tilted cot, rocking, diet changes – nothing. One evening she screamed for eight hours straight. It was awful. Eventually at around 2am I stripped her and myself and covered us both up with a soft blanket, belly to belly, skin on skin. And we both slept deeply and sweetly for around five hours. It was great. The next day I happened to mention to a Plunket person my brilliant technique for settling my daughter. There was a disapproving silence and she said, very stiffly, “You shouldn't do that.” That same feeling of badness washed over me but this time it was tinged with a little indignation. Where was she all those weeks when my baby girl could be heard over three provinces, face resembling a squashed tomato, back arched in a pose that would make a Yogi proud? I never called her again. I did have marvellous success with Bowen Therapy. If you can get hold of a practitioner, do it, do it, do it. If you're living in Whanganui there's a practitioner who does Bowen free for babies because her own babies suffered terribly from colic and she feels sorry for mums. How nice is that?
Then there was the time a mad old lady at the park told me I shouldn't put my girl on a backless swing because she was too little and she would flip off backwards and kill herself. I, who had been pushing my daughter on a big girl's swing for some weeks, was at a loss. Who was this person, this complete stranger (who was wearing Crocs and a tea-cosy hat for heaven's sake), to tell me how to play with my own child? As I stomped her interfering face into the mud, I didn't feel bad at all. In conclusion, I can only surmise that if someone you know and love criticises your parenting, it cuts deep. If a so-called expert tells you you're doing it wrong, you'll feel slightly less bad – after all, they may know a better way. But if someone you wouldn't be able to pick in a line up of random idiots criticises your methods, it's your god-given right to tell them to get lost. Now, where did my children get to? Excuse me. I think I may have to raise my voice. �
Stephanie Matuku Popular blogger, Stephanie Matuku, is an accidental stayat-home Mum to two busy preschoolers. In a previous life she was a radio creative writer, voiceover artist and occasional actor. She is an award-winning playwright, sporadic exerciser and aspiring novelist. She regrets once being a childless person who liked to dispense parenting advice. Sorry.
don’t bother me
With the joy of summer comes the annoyance of those pesky sandflies but you don’t have to take getting bitten lying down. There are some simple things you can do to make your time outdoors more fun Becky’s top tips for surviving the onslaught of sandflies this summer are :
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Protect your ankles with socks or bug repellent. Sandflies tend to start their attack at the ground level and work upward.
Wear light coloured clothes. Sandflies are attracted to dark clothes.
Walk. Sandflies are very slow creatures. As long as you are moving they can't swarm.
Keep your car, caravan, and boat closed up or screened. Sandflies are notorious for their ability to find openings to enter and fly in wait. If you have no screens, keep downwind windows and doors closed. They prefer quiet air to wind.
6 7 8
Boats can anchor offshore a short distance to minimise the sandfly effect. A portable net can be draped over doors and hatches for a much more peaceful night.
Sandflies are attracted to heat. Turn off needless lights during dusk.
Avoid using ‘sweet’ smelling body care products. Eat less sugar. Sandflies love sweet people.
Sandflies will go into a feeding frenzy just before it begins to rain. They can be your little weatherwomen (it's the females that bite), so put on your rain jacket.
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It is a whole lot better to know where sandflies are before they find you, so, if you’re heading off on holiday you may want to check out the sandfly map at www.goodbyesandfly.co.nz for up to date info on where the little critters are lurking. �
Becky Cashman Becky and her husband John live with their two kids on a 5-acre organically run property in Kerikeri. They are devoted to growing vital food, natural living and kid sport. Becky and John developed Goodbye Sandfly while working as canoe guides on the Dart River out of Glenorchy. It is a natural New Zealand bug repellent for sandflies and mosquitoes and is made from essential oils of Eucalyptus, Lavender, Pine, Manuka, Tea Tree and Lemongrass blended with sweet almond oil. The unique combination of oils delivers both a bug repellent and a skin soother for bites.
As Kiwi families around the country head outdoors to enjoy the summer months, it is timely to remember the danger that lurks in household driveways. Every two weeks a child is hospitalised with serious injuries received from a vehicle driving on a private driveway in New Zealand. A further five children are killed annually, on average, in the same way. Most children injured in driveway incidents are toddlers, aged about two years old and when death does not occur, the injuries they receive are often severe. The driver is usually a close family member. The devastating impact of these events upon families cannot be overstated. Plunket national child-safety adviser Sue Campbell says physical separation was the best protection for children. “With the best intentions in the world, you can't supervise toddlers 24/7,” she said.
She says that people must be able to recognise and manage the risk. Whether it's a shared or long driveway, children's play areas must be totally separated. That's the best protection they have against vehicles. “There are problems with all sizes of vehicles,” Sue says. “The blind spots are huge. If people can afford reversing cameras, that's useful, but it's not the sole answer.” But the best way to keep children safe is to know where they are before you even get into the car.
Every two weeks a child is hospitalised with serious injuries received from a vehicle driving on a private driveway
S ARE D I K E H T E R KNOW WHE CAR E H T N I G N I T BEFORE GET
for children before driving off
children around vehicles - always
play areas from driveways
WHERE THE KIDS ARE
THERE’S NO GOING
G THERE’S NO
www. s a f e k i d s . o rg . n z
123351 Safekids A3poster.indd 1
24/7/06 9:08:09 AM
Trauma Relief...... naturally Homeopathy works well to assist individuals to overcome a variety of situations which result in emotional distress. Using appropriate remedies can assist the person from internalising their emotions which, if not dealt with, often lead to more complex health problems. Just as severe physical pain can cause an emotional response, our system can also respond in reverse. When we experience strong emotions such as overwhelming fear or grief, a traumatic physical disaster or a personal humiliation, our system can respond rapidly and biochemically to express the intensity of that emotion by feeling faint, trembly, nauseous or weak. Traumatic events may range from a house move, a new school or a child's best friend moving away, childbirth or a natural disaster. What is a traumatic experience for one person may be different for another – homeopathic treatment individualises each unique experience. Increasingly, there are natural disasters, which leave whole communities homeless, grief-ridden, powerless and struggling to cope. The use of some fundamental homeopathic remedies is a great way to help loved ones through such a time. In the longer term, acute emotional pain can also lead, in some cases, to chronic physical illness. Homeopaths often treat patients suffering years of chronic illness, which began after such an event. Effective and appropriate professional treatment for children or adults in these situations can allow the
individual to feel a sense of resolution and peace, assisting them in moving on from repetitive patterns and avoiding the need for treatments such as anti-depressants or anxiety medication. Homeopathic remedies, made from things found in nature, do not contain toxins and have a gentle effect for the person taking them. While long lasting or serious situations require a visit to a professional homeopath, there are many remedies that can be used effectively to assist adults and children in the midst of the trauma.
Fright and shock – from any cause Aconite Fright – is the predominant reaction in Aconite, with shock, panic, anxiety, trembling and restlessness. These people are very obviously severely distressed and require a lot of reassurance. It is common for them to think they are going to die. Stramonium – Patients needing this remedy experience great fear; their reactions may appear hysterical. Fear of death, as with Aconite, and of violence are intense. The fears of Stramonium, unlike those of Aconite which are immediate, are markedly aggravated at night. There is a fear of the dark. Nightmares and night terrors may surface. Arnica – The fearful reaction of Arnica, often occurring after a major shock or accident, is submerged beneath a semblance of normalcy. It is typical of someone needing Arnica to protest that they are fine, that nothing is wrong. They may also feel a bit strange, as if they aren’t all present. Fear can arise from their subconscious at night in the form of disturbing nightmares and recurring images of the trauma.
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Gelsemium – This belongs with the group of remedies whose response to trauma is subdued. Gelsemium patients become sleepy, dull, weak and tremulous — in a sense paralysed by the shock they sustained. Their eyes droop. Though fearful and sad, they can’t cry. They are extremely listless. Phosphoric acid – This remedy, like Gelsemium, reacts to emotional trauma and bad news by becoming apathetic and tired. They lose interest in daily activities and their usual sources of pleasure. Physical symptoms can include loss of hair, dryness of skin and mucous membranes, and marked thirst for juicy, refreshing drinks.
Dealing with grief Ignatia – The Ignatia reaction is more one of grief. These people suppress their grief however, restraining their tears when with others and refusing to talk about their feelings. When alone, they may sob hysterically. They are prone to sigh a great deal. The effort of suppressing their grief often causes a marked sense of constriction or a lump in the throat, sometimes resulting in hiccups. Natrum muriaticum – This is a remedy that can react almost exactly as Ignatia; at times they can be impossible to distinguish. Natrum muriaticum patients are less prone to hysterical sobbing and are often averse to consolation – they prefer to deal with their grief on their own, seeking solitude. They carry their grief for a long period of time.
Pulsatilla – Very sensitive people who are greatly affected by the moods of others around them. They weep easily and desire comforting. Open, cool air may make them feel better as will the company and sympathy of others.
After receiving bad news Cocculus indicus – News of a tragic event provokes great anxiety about others, especially family members, with resultant insomnia. They then become fatigued and mentally dull and slow. Often vertigo occurs, especially when looking at moving objects. Calcarea carbonica – Bad news causes anxiety and fear for the future and that something bad will happen. Their over responsibility leads them to worry about the state of the world; they become fatigued, sad, and overwhelmed by it all.
Arsenicum album – These people react anxiously, worrying about themselves primarily. They become restless, chilly, and afraid to be alone. Their anxiety might cause them to become very fastidious or irritable with others, which is one way to exert some control over the chaos of the world. Homeopaths see many patients who have suffered traumatic experiences in their lives. Remedies can be utilised, long after the event, to help stabilise any symptoms that have stemmed from this time, but dealing with the fear and shock more immediately is very useful. Whether you learn to prescribe for situations such as those covered here, or seek the support of a qualified homeopath, alleviating the debilitating reactions that occur from shock, grief and trauma is a great relief for the sufferer, enabling them to continue life with relative ease rather than being limited by their past experiences �
Judy Coldicott RC Hom Judy practices as both a homeopath and reflexologist from Pleasant Point in South Island’s rural heartland. She is a senior staff member for the College of Natural Health and Homeopathy, primarily involved in curriculum matters and student support. Judy’s passion is to make homeopathy user-friendly and accessible to the general public and she loves to inspire people of all ages to feel confident in its use.
reduce your credit card costs Reduce your credit card costs With the holiday period and summer sales behind us, now’s the time to take a look at your credit card (or cards!), and learn how paying a little more each month could help you save in the long run. When it comes to paying off your credit card debt, you could be saving money just by paying off more than the minimum monthly amount.
Why pay more than the minimum? The minimum monthly payment on a credit card is generally only a small percentage of the outstanding balance. On many credit cards it is the greater of 2% of your total balance or $5, which means you could spend years paying off the total amount assuming you make no new transactions, and that the fees and interest rates do not change. If you make only the minimum payment each month, you will pay more interest and it will take you longer to pay off your balance. The table below shows how much interest you could save on a closing balance of $2,000 by paying a higher monthly repayment rather than a minimum repayment of $40, assuming you make no new transactions.
Here are a few tips on how you can manage your credit card bills and save on interest.
Pay the balance in full each month
Whenever you can, pay off your credit card bill in full by the statement due date. If you pay off your balance in full each month it will ensure that you avoid any unnecessary fees and don’t have debt longer than the interest-free period that may be available on your card.
Make lump sum payments
If the opportunity allows it, try and use lump sum income like annual bonuses and tax returns to pay off any outstanding debt. Making additional payments will reduce your balance faster, and reduce overall interest charges.
Take advantage of interest free periods
Many credit cards have an interest-free period that gives you more than a month to pay back outstanding debt without paying interest. By paying off your credit card debt each month by the statement due date (i.e. by the end of the interest-fee period), you could avoid having to pay interest.
If you make no additional transactions using this card and each month you pay...
You will pay off the Closing Balance shown on this statement in about...
And you will end up paying estimated total interest charges of...
A: PAY THE MINIMUM
Only the minimum payment ($40)
19 years 4 months
$95.54 ($55.54 more than the minimum)
$292.98, a saving of $1,868.55
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If you have two cards, pay one off first
Choose a low-interest credit card
If you know you’re not always going to be able to pay off your credit card each month, ask your bank about switching to a low-interest credit card, which could save you money in the long run.
If you have more than one credit card, try to pay off the one with the highest interest rate first, and then begin on the other, whilst continuing to meet the minimum monthly repayment on the other card. This will mean that you pay less overall interest.
While paying only the monthly minimum is a flexible option it’s not in your long-term interest. For more information on how you could save on your interest speak to your Bank Manager. �
Consider a balance transfer
Transferring the balance of your current credit card to a credit card offering discounted interest rates on balances transferred could help in lowering the amount of interest paid. You could enjoy an introductory period of several months where you pay lower interest on any balances transferred giving you some breathing space to pay off more of your credit card debt. Just remember to close the old credit card account should you decide to do this.
The content of this article has been adapted for a New Zealand audience from an article by the Davidson Institute, an education initiative of Westpac Banking Corporation www.davidsoninstitute.edu.au
Kate van Praagh
WE S 1 4 4 4 K i w i _ p a r
Karen is a part-time working mum to a busy two-year-old daughter. As Senior Sustainability Manager at Westpac, Kate is responsible for programmes relating e n t Ato . financial pdf Peducation, a g e 1social 2 9 / and affordable housing and diversity.
Visit www.westpac.co.nz and click on the ‘Managing Your Money’ tab for helpful tools including saving and budgeting calculators and online tutorials. You can also check out if there is a workshop coming up near you. There are even tools for kids including some cool online games to 0 6 / 1 2 get , 1 1 :thinking 4 4 Aabout M kids money and how to save – click on ‘Your Life Stage’ to find out more.
Getting back to work? We can help it work for you. Now you can balance your career with your family and help them both grow. We’ve got a variety of exciting career opportunities available, including roles with flexible hours to suit your busy lifestyle. With positions available on a casual, part time or full time basis, there’s sure to be something to suit you. If you have the drive and passion to deliver a great customer experience, and want to join a team of people that are passionate about helping Kiwi’s get ahead, then we want to hear from you.
Interested? Check out westpac.co.nz/careers for all your options.
Westpac New Zealand Limited
a gift of time Volunteering New Zealand defines volunteering as any activity that involves putting your unpaid time, energy and skills for the greater good and also notes that New Zealand volunteers contribute more than 270 million unpaid hours of work valued at over $3.3 billion to non-profit organisations. This is an outstanding effort by a community that cares and by individual people who want to create change and to make a difference. Pregnancy Help volunteers, just like Parents Centres volunteers, are an important part of this caring community.
Who is our ‘typical’ volunteer? We don’t have a ‘typical’ volunteer, like the people that we help we celebrate the beauty and richness of individuality and diversity. Some of our volunteers have children and some don’t, some are students at University or Polytechnic, some are here from overseas for a period of time while they study or their partner studies, some have professional skills to donate, some are working in paid employment and some are not, and some are retired. Most are women, but we do have some volunteer positions available for males.
What do volunteers do? Pregnancy Help is about supporting individuals and family/ wha¯nau by providing information, advice and practical support. We recognise that the people that we help are doing their best, but that life isn’t always very straightforward or easy and that people need support for a variety of different reasons. We recognise
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that it isn’t easy to ask for help and our overall aim with each and every contact that we have is for that contact to be a positive one – that each person is treated as an individual that they are treated with respect and they are not judged. If we can’t provide the support that is needed we help to facilitate the connections where people can find that support. Every task that our volunteers do, contributes to this as it’s very much a team effort: Providing face to face client services Guiding our organisation at governance level Knitting and sewing items for babies Organising practical support to be given to families Helping with fundraising and promotional events Working as project based volunteers e.g. painting premises or putting together plans for promotional opportunities Sorting donated clothing and equipment to make sure they adhere to safety standards and are safe for families (for the short-term volunteers.) We offer a wide variety of opportunities that are flexible, rewarding, worthwhile and meaningful.
What skills do volunteers need? The skills required do depend on the task being undertaken, but in general it is useful if volunteers: are empathetic and understanding have good listening skills have a desire to make a difference want to be part of a dynamic team.
Pregnancy Help is about supporting individuals and family/ whanau by providing information, advice and practical support.
What do volunteers get out of volunteering? Volunteers are giving a gift of time to help others and to make a difference in the community, but we also expect volunteers to ‘get something’ out of their volunteer work as well. This might include the satisfaction of helping others, the satisfaction of sharing a skill, the satisfaction of making an impact, the opportunity to learn new skills, the opportunity to learn work-related skills, the opportunity to gain volunteer experience relevant to a course or degree e.g. social work, midwifery or nursing, the opportunity to make connections with the other organisations that we work in partnership with.
Be a part of changing the world - Your gift of time is your gift of caring. www.pregnancyhelp.org.nz
Chris Ottley Chris is a parent and grandparent and has been involved in Pregnancy Help for 12 years. She cares passionately about the work Pregnancy Help does and the impact that it makes. She also feels strongly that people are the taonga of the organisation – the people that are helped and the people who contribute so that help can be provided.
We also do our best to recognise the huge contribution volunteers make by doing things such as having shared morning teas or lunches, acknowledging significant events such as birthdays, making contact to say hello, acknowledging them in our Annual Reports, and passing on small gifts from sponsors or donors (specifically donated for this purpose). We would like to encourage potential volunteers to make contact with their local Pregnancy Help Branch. You don’t need to have decided that this is where you want to volunteer for before you make this contact – we recognise your time is valuable and that it’s important to make informed decisions about how you are going to donate your time. Talk to us and have a conversation about what you can offer us and what we can offer you. If Pregnancy Help isn’t going to be the organisation for you, we encourage you to contact your local Volunteer Centre or Volunteering New Zealand to look at other volunteering opportunities.
Auckland volunteers proudly share their work with Pregnancy Help’s National President – they are part of a large team of volunteers who lovingly prepare the tens of thousands of items which are distributed to families each year.
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What volunteers have to say I volunteer for Pregnancy Help as it makes me feel like I am making a positive contribution to the community. I also do it to set a good example for my daughter, I get her involved when she can so she can see how rewarding it is to give back. I've been in the position in the past where I would have benefitted from Pregnancy Help's services so know what an amazing difference non-judgemental advice and baby items would make. Salena
I volunteer with Pregnancy Help Canterbury for a number of reasons. Firstly I wanted to do something practical to help pregnant women. Being pregnant can be a great blessing but it can also be a very challenging time and I wanted to do something to ease the burden, particularly for young women. Secondly, I have been involved in running a number of small community organisations and I am aware of the difficulties that an organisation like PH Canterbury faces and I have experience that can be useful. Thirdly, the impact of the earthquakes on the most vulnerable people and on community organisations gives me extra motivation to volunteer my time. Finally, I am aware it is becoming increasingly difficult for organisations to attract and retain volunteers so it is important for us all to help when we can. Neil
I was approached to join through a friend. I didn't know much about the organisation but as I learnt about the work we did and how we are unique in our community the more I felt like I was actually doing something rewarding. Volunteering is one of the best things I do because I can give something back to my community ...my time. Donna
Nilda Howes is 91 ½ years old and volunteers for Pregnancy Help Taupo. She has been a volunteer knitter over twenty years and calls herself a knitter nutter.
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When a friend asked if anyone could help out with our local branch I put my hand up, out of curiosity really. I was immersed in the child and baby world already and knew that being involved in a network of supportive, positive people would benefit me as much as my volunteering could help others. It has, I've met amazing people volunteers and clients, and gained confidence in my own abilities. I have been able to provide assistance as my circumstances have allowed. Raising a large family has given me knowledge and experiences which helps me support clients and their wha¯nau. In return, I am thankful for the many volunteers who enrich our lives through sports coaching, cadets, arts groups, and many interwoven ways through the community. It feels good and it does good things. Mel �
If you’re planning to head away these holidays with young children, be sure to check this handy checklist to make sure your infant restraint is fitted correctly to keep them safe.
Rear-facing infant restraints
Forward-facing child restraints
When you fit a rear-facing infant restraint in your vehicle:
When you fit a forward-facing restraint in a vehicle:
• Always carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
• Always carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
• Always install a baby’s infant restraint so the baby is facing the rear of the car.
• The back seat is the safest place for the child restraint.
• Rear-facing infant restraints should never be placed in the front seat if there is an active front airbag. • Check your child’s restraint fits firmly against the seat and cannot wobble; if your restraint does not fit firmly, seek advice from a registered Child Restraint Technician.
When you put your baby in a rear-facing infant restraint:
• Check your child’s restraint fits firmly against the seat and cannot wobble; if your restraint does not fit firmly, seek advice from a registered Child Restraint Technician. • If your child restraint comes with a tether strap, it must be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions. • If your vehicle doesn’t have an anchor point for the tether strap to be attached to, have one fitted into your car by a qualified mechanic.
• If there is a chest clip, make sure the clip sits at the baby’s armpit level.
When you put your child in a forward-facing child restraint:
• The harness must fit snugly against your baby and go over the baby’s shoulders.
• The harness must fit snugly and comfortably against your child.
• Blankets must be put over the baby only after the baby is firmly secured into the harness.
• The shoulder harness must always go over the shoulders and be moved up as your child grows.
• Babies are better protected travelling in a rear-facing restraint until they are at least two years old.
• Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the correct harness shoulder height.
• Babies have outgrown their infant restraint when they are over the restraint manufacturer’s recommended weight or height restrictions.
• If there is a chest clip, make sure it is sitting at the level of your child’s armpits.
For more information
• Children have outgrown their restraint when they are over the manufacturer’s recommended weight or height restrictions for that model of forward-facing child restraint.
Many retailers and other organisations have NZQA certified Child Restraint Technicians who can provide you with advice and assistance. To find out more on how to safely use child restraints, you can visit the following websites:
NZ Transport Agency – www.nzta.govt.nz/childrestraints (you can also find a list of qualified technicians in your area). Plunket – www.plunket.org.nz
my precious girl Laura Mackay and her family
Having a baby was not something I had put on my to do list at this particular time of my life, I had just left full-time employment to begin my studies to become a midwife. A few weeks into this new phase of my life I realised I was pregnant, although my beautiful girl wasn’t planned, from the moment I knew my baby was growing inside of me I loved her and wanted her.
My pregnancy was perfect – I was young, fit and healthy. I had the usual morning (ALL DAY) sickness and at the end of my pregnancy I was ready for her to be out! I had gone on maternity leave at 36 weeks after deciding to go back to work while I put my studies on hold. I was 37 weeks and 4 days pregnant sitting at home watching some telly when my first niggle hit. At first I thought it was just a tummy bug, as it was too early for baby to make an entrance. My memory from then on really becomes a bit of a blur. Contractions started to become more intense and closer together very quickly, so, after a chat with the midwife, we decided to head into hospital. I called my Mum to meet us there – she told me I couldn't be in labour it was to early. I remember the car ride in, thinking it would be a false call and we would be sent back home. Looking back I think deep down I knew something wasn't right. I arrived at hospital and continued to labour, At this stage everyone was expecting a healthy baby girl to be born in the next few hours. I can't remember why we decided to check baby's heart when we did. There was no Doppler in the room so the midwife went out to find one. She returned and tried to find baby’s heartbeat, but couldn't. I remember her saying: "Oh maybe this was in the corridor because it's broken." I didn't think anything of it. The doctor came in next with the ultrasound machine. I was in throws of labour and don't remember paying attention, to anything around me, I just wanted to get off that bed. My midwife asked me when I last felt baby move. I don't remember anything that was said after that – but I remember my Mum's face. It was the look of a woman who had just lost her grandchild, the look of a woman whose daughter had just lost her baby and the look of a woman who had just been taken back to the moment, 23 years ago, where she was told that her own baby had died. I’m not sure any one actually said the words your baby is dead, but I knew. I was in shock and labour had really taken a hold, I don’t remember even thinking about the fact I was going to be giving birth to my still baby. Labour progressed quickly and at 1.05am I gave birth to my beautiful daughter. We only had a short time with her, and I am so thankful to my wonderful midwife and hospital staff who helped us create some very precious memories with our child. My partner dressed her, we made hand and foot prints and took plenty of photos. I had my parents and a few friends come and meet her. I was still a proud parent and I am so glad that friends and family got to say hello and give her cuddles. These are such precious moments for me as I look back. We had a funeral for her soon afterwards, it was so heartwarming to farewell Hazel surround by so many family and friends.
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Hazel’s little life did not end there and she continues to be a part of our family. I fell pregnant very quickly after having her and we welcomed her little sister safely into the world 11 months later. Life continued on as usual and as time went by some of those who had been supportive in the weeks after her birth slowly disappeared but a select few continue to remember Hazel and support me to this day. I tried going back to work but it all seemed so trivial after everything I had been through. I left work and decided to commence studying again, this time as a Childbirth Educator. I had a completely natural birth with Hazel and this is something I am incredibly grateful for. I also become amazed at how incredible the female body is and how birth – whether a baby is born alive or not – can be so transforming. My little girl gave me this gift and has sent me down the path I am on today, a completely changed woman. Would I take all that away to have my daughter in my arms? Absolutely, but I can’t, so I try to honour her little life in any way possible. We welcomed her little brother into the world this May as well. I love watching my kids grow and seeing them develop into the amazing little people they are, but with this also comes sadness as I now see all the precious moments I will never get to have with Hazel. Our children will grow up knowing who their big sister is and she will forever be held in our hearts. Hazel’s little life changed my big life forever.
Sands New Zealand is a network of parent-run, nonprofit groups supporting families who have experienced the death of a baby with over 25 groups/contact people around the country. Most members/supporters are also bereaved parents. They offer empathy and understanding. While they are not counsellors and do not give formal advice they do offer an opportunity and environment to share experiences, to talk and to listen. SANDS promotes awareness, understanding and support for those dealing with the death of a baby at any stage in pregnancy, birth or as a newborn, and due to medical termination or other forms of reproductive loss. � www.sands.org.nz
Laura Mackay Laura lives in Wellington with her husband and children. She is a Childbirth Educator at Lower Hutt Parents Centre.
It's easy to get stressed juggling family, washing, cooking, cleaning, money, getting from A to B and so on. Sometimes everything just seems too huge and too hard. Here are some proven tips on managing stress. Things that could help
T hink about how you react to certain situations. Are there some things that wind you up more than others? Talk about these with someone else and think of ways you could manage them better. Take deep, slow breaths when the pressure builds. S ometimes just accepting "I can't do anything about it, it's not my problem" is a relief. B e realistic. If you've got small children keeping the house really tidy is impossible. Set aside a time at the end of the day when you all put the toys away together. E xercise. Set yourself a goal – maybe walk three times a week, 20 sit ups every morning or 15 minutes digging the garden. S et aside some time for yourself. Sit and read a book for 10 minutes, or watch TV. Don't spend all the time your children are asleep rushing around trying to do things. Use that time for yourself. Unplug the phone and take a bath, write down your feelings, mow the lawn, lie in the sun, ring a friend. M ake friends. Join a coffee group, playgroup, Playcentre or Ko¯hanga Reo. Find support by talking with parents of the children your child plays with, this can lead to friendships and a show you you're not alone in your feelings.
Things that won’t help B eing critical of yourself; no one does everything perfectly all the time. B eing aggressive to others; take a deep breath and walk away. F alling into the trap of not eating enough, eating too much, drinking lots of coffee or alcohol. Y elling just winds things up leaving you and your children feeling upset. G etting so tired that everything seems too hard. Try to lie down and relax when your children are asleep. Go to bed early. Driving too fast. Avoiding people. www.skip.org.nz
bike! Exploring the outdoors and cycling are key features of a Kiwi childhood, but with the number of electronic toys now in the market, it can also be something that is seen as too hard for many busy parents. But there are plenty of advantages for children who participate in cycle skills training â€“ they develop motor skills, balance, independence, the fundamentals of bike maintenance, acquire a wide range of skills and learn to value physical activity.
Here is my simple five-step process for learning to ride:
Set up your child’s bike correctly to give them the best possible start
Your child should be able to stand over their bike and be clear of the top tube. The bike should not be too high and they should not have to reach too far in front of them for the handlebars and more importantly the brakes. When sat on the saddle, your child should be able to reach the ground with both of their feet flat on the ground.
Getting on and off your bike
It’s very important to teach your child the fundamentals of getting on and off their bike safely. I would recommend the following approach: When your child gets on their bike, encourage them to apply the brakes and lean the bike towards them. When getting off the bike, remind them to keep the brakes applied.
Striding and gliding or scooting along
Encourage your child to scoot along on their bike using their feet to push off before teaching them to pedal. This helps them to learn the feeling of balancing on two wheels. The aim is for children to learn to push themselves off and keep both their feet off the ground for as long as they can. Children who are too big for balance bikes should aim to learn to balance on their normal bikes without training wheels by pushing off with their feet and scooting along.
4 Cycling can be really fun and a great way for families to get out and about together and remember three key points: Build bike confidence – the more you ride, the better you are – practice makes perfect Give positive encouragement throughout the learning process – and stop when it’s time to stop. Try and end on a positive note. Make it fun! I recommend learning to cycle off-street in netball courts or school playgrounds or other car free areas. These are great for learning. Many parents make the mistake of teaching their children on grass in case they fall, however it’s best to teach them how to ride on a flat, smooth surface first, if possible, it’s easier. The children benefit from learning to ride smoothly first, before going over bumps!
Starting and stopping
Children should be taught to use their brakes properly from the beginning even if they cannot ride yet. You can practise by having them walk along pushing the bike and using the brakes to stop. Braking is an essential skill, which ultimately will enable them to feel in control when starting out. Note: Balance bikes do not have brakes! Your children should be taught to use both brakes evenly to assist with more control when coming to a stop. It is worth noting that although many children’s bikes will have a front hand brake it is often very difficult for them to apply the brake as little hands are simply not strong enough to do so. In this case you can teach children to stop using the back pedal or coaster brakes. The aim is to get them to be able to stop without wobbling too much.
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Balance and vision
To give your child the best possible start, I recommend balance bikes over training wheels. It’s hard to progress to riding until they learn to balance on two wheels. Training wheels shift the weight of the child from sideto-side and so it’s hard for them to learn the ‘balancing instinct’. Once the feeling of balancing is learned it doesn’t go away – it’s an internal mechanism that kicks in, hence the phrase “it’s like riding a bike”. Gaining this feeling early is invaluable as once they have it, a child will not lose it. Anything that involves balance is helpful. Scooters are good for learning to balance for older children – if they can scooter with both feet on the platform, they can learn to balance on two wheels.
Encourage your child to look where they’re going. “Look where you go – go where you look” Get them to keep their eyes up and look ahead – the eyes control their inner-balance and direction. If they are looking down – it can make it harder to balance and get going when looking as it pulls you forward.
Once your child has learned these fundamental skills and gained their balance, it’s time to start learning to pedal. Aim to have one of the pedals in the 2 o’clock position – the pedal ready position – in line with the downtube on the frame – which will help them get started and gain momentum. You can run alongside them and help support from the front by holding onto the stem to help them keep their balance. You will feel it as well when this happens. Once they get the hang of it, get them to practice riding along and riding around in areas that are free of obstacles and hazards. You can add in some gentle turns to help with steering the bike where they want it to go. A great way to teach them to turn is to set up some cones (a friend of mine uses rubber ducks!) two to three metres apart and ride in and out with gentle turns. They’ll soon pick up the techniques for controlling their bike. Use any opportunity to practice stopping using both the brakes.
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Some important safety tips from Pedal Ready Maintain your child’s bicycle regularly – check their brakes, tyres and chain. If you have any doubts, its best to get their bike serviced by an expert or cycle shop. Alternatively your region may have a Big Bike Tune Up coming up. Check the dates for your region at the Bike Wise events page Lead by example. Teach your child the correct road rules, and ride with them if they are under the age of ten.
Safe biking for families with preschoolers
Bike Wise Month in February 2015
Learn in a safe car-free area, such as netball courts or school playgrounds. When it’s time to have a go on public cycle ways/ shared paths, the best idea is for an adult to ride behind them and give instructions and advice as they go. As a parent, you can ride between them and any obstacle or hazard, to help protect them. This is similar to protective riding on the road. Helmets are a legal requirement and an essential part of any cyclists kit – no matter what level. Good, closed toe shoes should be worn so they don’t have to worry about banging their toes.
Longer clothing can help when learning as this will help protect them from bumps and scrapes if they take a tumble.
Marilyn is well known as one of New Zealand’s leading cycle skills trainers and consultants, having worked with kids and adults for more than 20 years to develop their cycle skills. Marilyn runs programmes in schools and is affectionately known as the ‘bike lady’ by many past and present Kiwi kids.
Don’t let your child wear clothing that is too loose or baggy, and make sure they have tied up shoelaces that are tucked in so they don’t wrap around pedals and chains. �
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Find a Centre near you Parents Centres span the entire country with 50 locations around New Zealand. Contact your local Centre for details of programmes and support available in your area or go to
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directory supporting Kiwi parents Baby On The Move Specialists in quality, affordable baby products which you can hire or purchase new. Our qualified team can help you select the correct restraint. Plus if you hire or buy from us we will install your car seat for FREE! Stores nationwide. Phone: 0800 222 966 www.babyonthemove.co.nz
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My Food Bag Every week Nadia and her team of Test Chefs dream up exciting and nutritious dinner recipes just for you. We like to keep things simple, so every week (or fortnight) we deliver the ingredients and recipes right to your door. You just open your food bag and discover what tasty meals you get to cook and enjoy. Simple. Healthy. Delicious www.myfoodbag.co.nz
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Shopping cart Become a Childbirth Educator increasing the awareness and knowledge of expectant parents
hildbirth educators are essential to increasing the awareness and knowledge of expectant parents through many choices and challenges related to childbirth education and the ongoing care of babies. Aoraki Polytechnic offers the Diploma in Childbirth Education (CBE). Offered on a part-time basis, through distance learning the programme also includes two workshops and constant tutor guidance and support through a variety of technology. The Diploma is a 2 year programme and trains you to become a childbirth educator competent to teach pre-natal classes to expectant parents in a wide variety of settings.
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2 compact baby food freezing trays with lids. 1.2L capacity for maximum storage recipe e-guide with 27 recipes for starting solids and beyond
Conscious parenting – want to know more? Check out upcoming programmes at your local Parents Centre: www.parentscentre.org.nz Browse through the resources here: www.skip.org.nz Join ‘Conscious Parenting’ pages and groups on Facebook Research online and read, read, read!
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win great giveaways 5 Bright Starts Baby Bases to be won Sitting up means baby can engage more in playtime, join you at the dinner table, and take in a whole new view of the world. Baby Base 2-in-1™ provides the support that allows babies to sit up. With 2 modes of use, it is designed for use on the floor or can attach safely to a dining chair for use as a booster seat and has a 3-point harness for safety. Baby Base 2-in-1 comes with its own tray, which conveniently stores beneath the seat f so you won't lose individual pieces. The foam insert provides cushioning for baby and can be removed so the seat will remain comfortable as baby gets bigger. Features: - Tray included, stores beneath seat for easy storage and portability - Soft, foam insert removes to grow with baby from infant to toddler - 3 point harness keeps baby secure - Safety strap secures seat to dining chair - Self-storing, dishwasher safe tray with 2 cup holders RRP $89.95 each www.babyfactory.co.nz
Enter online at kiwiparent.co.nz and follow the instructions. Entries must be received by 5pm 2 March 2015. Winners will be published in issue 266.
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80 kiwiparent – supporting kiwi parents through the early years
The product most recommended by doctors for pregnancy stretch marks. Colmar Brunton, 2014
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Bio-Oil® helps reduce the possibility of pregnancy stretch marks forming by increasing the skin’s elasticity. It should be applied twice daily from the start of the second trimester. For comprehensive product information, and details of clinical trials, please visit bio-oil.com. Bio-Oil is available at pharmacies and selected retailers at the recommended selling price of $20.45 (60ml). Individual results will vary.