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SUMMER 2020-21


Our best


Summer fun at

About Us

Summer is here, let’s celebrate HELLO summer! The sun is out and so are we. What a year it’s been - and as we are catapulting towards the end of 2020 (good riddance) I’m sure you are all as willing as I am to spend as much of it outdoors as possible. So rather than dwell on the past, we are here to focus on the future. Especially now that it’s looking a little brighter than we expected. We can travel again, people can visit our wonderful Yarra Ranges and we welcome them with our arms open. In this summer edition of Yarra Ranges Kids we boast about our wonderful playgrounds (some of them new), we’ve got a gift guide for Christmas and some words of wisdom from our regular columnist Steve Biddulph. The pandemic really changed every day life for many families and parents - but especially pregnant mums-to-be.

We speak with Michelle Wise - who gave birth to her beautiful baby girl Peyton at home and the reasons she made the decision to steer clear of hospitals.

- it’s that mental health is important and so is balance. These stories will hopefully lift you up and remain positive as we move full steam ahead into 2021.

And facing her darkest, toughest days - Maddie Francis tells us how she turned the feeling of loneliness when her son Ashton was in NICU into something positive, now helping other parents going through the same rollercoaster of emotions.

Yarra Ranges Kids magazine is a Mail News Group publication.

I for one will be visiting as many local haunts as I can and supporting those who struggled through the year because after all we are in this together.

Yarra Ranges Kids will be published quarterly prior to each of the school holidays.

We also welcome our newest columnist, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist Dr Bronwyn Hamilton. There’s a great education section, books for kids, and some events too But I have to admit my favourite story is our chat with Melissa D’Arcy. She wants mums to become more selfish. She says the time is now for mums to take a little “me time”. And I totally agree.

I’ll also be making the most of the beautiful sunshine and fresh air as the kids tucker themselves out at one of the many amazing playgrounds. Take some time to take a deep breath and smell the roses. And remember, whatever 2021 throws at us - you’ve got this.

Mandy Clark mandy.clark@starnewsgroup.com.au

If we have learnt anything this year

Phone: 5945 0666 Published by Mail News Group Pty Ltd ACN 99 006 310 498. Publisher/Managing Director, Paul Thomas. All material is copyright to Mail News Group Pty Ltd. All significant errors will be corrected as soon as possible.

When to see a gynaecologist

It’s time to be a Selfish Mum

Our top parenting podcasts




Steve Biddulph on being a good dad

New channel just for kids



Summer day plays

Summer fun at Gumbuya


PAGES 6 & 7



Homebirth in the face of Covid


Inspiring the hero in all of us


The birthday trend getting high-fives





What’s on this autumn

The mum bringing cheer to all


The case for free childcare

Melissa Grant





Phone: 5945 0666



244 Maroondah Highway, Healesville, Vic 3777 Phone: 5957 3700 Fax: 5957 3777



Christmas toy guide

Yarra Ranges Kids

Cover Make a splash at Gumbuya World this summer. Picture: Gary Sissons

Pre-loved fashion PAGE 19

SUMMER 2020-21

A hub for parents


PAGE 17 Top tips for toilet training

PAGE 10 A strong start to education

Our best

Summer fun at



PAGE 11 A happy school PAGE 11 Raising to the challenge of Covid readiness PAGE 12 A return to Lilydale PAGE 14


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It’s Your Life

Why it’s time to be a selfish mum By Melissa Meehan Melissa encourages other mums to build acts of self-care into their routines.

SOMETIMES mums need to be selfish. They need to go to the toilet by themselves, drink a warm cup of coffee before it goes cold, watch anything other than Bluey or even spend a few minutes alone checking Instagram when they are supposed to be showering. These things aren’t really selfish - but sometimes mum guilt gets in the way and caring about number one is often forgotten. That’s why Melissa D’Arcy set up an online support group so that mums from around Victoria, Australia and the world can support each other. The online group, found on Facebook and Instagram, allows its members to celebrate the wins and share tips and tricks to be #selfishmums. It all started when Ms D’Arcy went to see the maternal child health nurse for her son’s one-year-old appointment.

Melissa says it’s important to drink your cup of coffee before it goes cold.

“After only a few minutes of chatting, she said to me ‘you’re running on empty, aren’t you?’,” Ms D’Arcy said.

“There isn’t as much pressure on men to ‘do it all’ as there is on women,” she said.

“She was right, I was exhausted and hadn’t been taking any time to look after myself. I thought there must be other mums who are feeling the same way and it would be great to connect.”

“This is evident if you look at the recent situation where we have all been spending most of our time at home due to COVID-19. Women, generally speaking, have picked up more housework and managed the bulk of their children’s home schooling compared with their male counterparts.”

And that’s where The Selfish Mums all started. “The name of the group is meant to be a bit playful because selfish is the last thing most mums are - I’d say most mothers are selfless,” she said. “More often than not, we put others’ needs above our own and if we never make any time for ourselves that’s when exhaustion and burn out can become an issue.” The group quickly gained momentum and now boasts more than 300 members. Ms D’Arcy says it seems that despite the fact it is 2020, there is still a traditional view floating around that motherhood must equate to sacrificing your own identity. She says it’s time for mums to be more selfish. “I’d encourage mums to build in small acts of self-care into their daily and weekly routines,” she said. “I’m not talking about grand activities once in a while but small things done consistently like reading, a hobby, walks or catching up with friends things that will help you recharge your batteries. “Self-care isn’t selfish - it’s an act of self-respect.” It’s also important for mums to have their own goals and dreams, according to Ms D’Arcy, not necessarily connected to their families - learning a language, running your own business, mastering a sport are just some examples. “Mums shouldn’t feel guilty for nurturing their identities outside of motherhood,” she said. Often when we talk about mums and parenting, dads say they get the raw end of the deal - that the so-called bad dads make the good ones look bad. But The Selfish Mums isn’t about shaming dads - or telling them to be less selfish, Ms D’Arcy says, it’s allowing mums to step back and see that it is possible. www.yarrarangeskids.com.au

She admits everyone’s situation is different, but for many traditional expectations have continued throughout generations. And for some, society allows (or expects) men to be more “selfish” than their female partners. “I’d imagine many dads would love to use parental leave and flexible working arrangements available to them but feel pressure they will be judged as not taking their jobs as seriously if they actually use these entitlements,” she said. “Both mums and dads need time out for themselves and it’s important to communicate that within your family. Spending time together as a couple is vital too, although that can be tricky if you have very young children. “The key is to be flexible - you might not be able to go out for an entire day but even an hour together so you can talk in peace is helpful.” Balance, she says, is the key. As well as having confidence in knowing that being “selfish” is OK. And she must be onto something. What started as a group in Geelong, now has members spanning across the globe, with some members in the UK, New Zealand, Canada and the Philippines. And there are big plans ahead for The Selfish Mums - Ms D’Arcy is already working on a refreshed content plan for the group.

Self care isn’t selfish - it’s an act of self respect” - Melissa D’Arcy

And in the near future she’d like to explore supporting other mums on a one-to-one basis. “I’ve created a free self care step-bystep guide for mums, which will be available on The Selfish Mum blog, launching in June (www. theselfishmum.com.au).”

Melissa D’Arcy says it’s time for mums to be selfish. Pictures: Louisa Jones

SUMMER 2020/2021 3

It’s Your Life

Dadding around

By Steve Biddulph ONE of the good things about being old is that I can figure out exactly what I should have done 40 years ago, after finally having time to think about it.

years - being always that bit too rushed, worried about being a provider, radiating a feeling of ‘person doing urgent and important things’. And kids pick up on that. If I had that time over again, I would dial it way down, trust that we’d get by, and just plain enjoy life more, and give them more of the feeling that life was fun, at least most of the time.

It’s definitely true for fathering - if I could have it over again, I would do it so differently. Although in parenthood this also applies to the last 24 hours too!

We did have lots of fun. My kids had me around a lot more than many dads, and I was affectionate and close to them, but I was still too wound up.

Being a man and a dad, there are some key things to remember (and hello to all dads reading this, much love to you).

So my take home message? You’ll have your own view, but my idea of a wonderful dad is someone who young kids think hasn’t a worry in the world. He is amiable, slow, takes time with them, listens, and is good fun, while also being clear about boundaries. He is good mates with their mum. Only when they get older do they figure out you did all that other stuff like saving the world. And be impressed that you never let on!

Almost always, we men are the largest and loudest person in the family. We don’t think of it that much but it’s a key feature for everyone else, especially the littlies. So a dad often sets the mood in the whole house when he is around. For good, or for ill.

beside Niagara Falls!

I am not sure if you remember being a small boy and your dad kind of looming like a mountain wherever he went. So the ‘weather’ on that mountain had a big effect on you. Sunny was wonderful, stormy was not good.

But mostly with dads it’s their voices that kids are aware of. When researching my book Raising Girls, I discovered that some girls have far more acute hearing and they hate it when dad is too loud, and love it when he speaks gently. Our idea of normal sounds like shouting to them, and that sets off their adrenaline.

Luckily my dad was gentle, because he was also huge. I remember being in the bath, and him coming into the bathroom for a pee - it was like being

Being very serious for a moment, somewhere deep down a small child knows that an adult that big could badly hurt them. This only comes into

awareness if they ever see us really out of control, but then that memory remains with them for life. A boy who is hit is three times more likely to hit his wife when he grows up. Luckily people who read magazines about parenthood are generally pretty gentle, but some of us remember being a child in a home like that.

Steve’s renowned talks on Raising Boys and Raising Girls are now being hosted online. Have a look at his website for more info. www.stevebiddulph.com Steve Biddulph AM,

For most of us, it’s just anxiety that we bring too much of into the family environment.

Author - 10 Things Girls Need Most, Raising Girls, Raising Boys.

I am pretty sure I spent the years between 28 and 48 - my parenting

Complete Secrets of Happy Children, and The New Manhood

Premature babies affecting dad’s behaviours BECOMING a dad for the first time, or even the second or third, can be very daunting. But spare a thought for those who have babies born very prematurely. For many, there can be extra pressures and responsibilities to navigate. A recent Monash University study has taken a look at the mental health of fathers of babies born very prematurely and the impact on their early parenting behaviours. It found that almost one in five fathers experienced high depressive symptoms, and approximately half of 4 SUMMER 2020/2021

all fathers experienced moderate anxiety symptoms that persisted throughout the first year of their baby’s life. However, the study also found the experience of more severe mental health symptoms had little effect on fathers’ parenting behaviours with their baby at 12 months. Led by Grace McMahon from the Turner Institute and conducted in the Centre for Research Excellence in Newborn Medicine at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, the study asked fathers about their symptoms of depression and anxiety shortly after the baby’s birth, around the baby’s

expected due date, and then again at three, six and 12 months after the baby’s expected due date. At 12 months, fathers and their babies were videotaped during a play session to look at a range of parenting behaviours. Ms McMahon said that fathers’ experiences following very premature birth are rarely studied but are crucial to understand given the potential stress associated with concerns about their baby’s health and managing family and work activities, as well as the importance of fathers for the babies’ wellbeing and development.

persistent mental health difficulties in this study is concerning and highlights the need to include fathers in ongoing mental health screening and support following very premature birth,” Ms McMahon said. “While our finding of minimal impact of depression and anxiety symptoms on fathers’ early parenting behaviours is encouraging news for fathers suffering with mental health difficulties, we do believe that these relationships are complex and further research is needed to better understand the experiences of fathers following very premature birth”.

“The high rates of fathers reporting www.yarrarangeskids.com.au

Unlock your cool! Unlock your loud! Unlock your wild! Celebrate summer with your friends and family at Victoria’s home of cool action, loud laughs and wild adventure, Gumbuya World. Take the plunge on epic water slides, spin out on awesome rides and say hello to Pebbles, our newest baby koala!

Book online now at Gumbuya.com.au! Always #funsafe. Check out our #funsafe Covid guidelines at gumbuya.com.au 12471404-LB49-20


SUMMER 2020/2021 5

It’s Your Life

It’s a free water park in Warburton.

Lillydale Lake.

Warburton W b t Water W t World. W ld

6 SUMMER 2020/2021

Castle Hill Reserve in Mooroolbark.


It’s Your Life

Lillydale Lake.

Castle Hill Reserve.

Summer day splash and play By Melissa Meehan OUR masks are off (outside), playgrounds are open and the sun is shining. Summer is the perfect time to get outside - even more so after Melbourne’s epic lockdown. So we’ve tested some old favourites and new playgrounds in the Yarra Ranges that tick all the boxes.

drenching bucket. And don’t forget the two playgrounds that sit around the water park. Its layout is really well thought out - with the younger kids on one side and the bigger kids on the other. Do yourself a favour and head up the mountain - you won’t be disappointed. 20 Woods Point Road, Warburton *BBQ *Playground *Picnic Tables *Seating *Toilets * Water Play Park

We all know the favourites including Olinda Play Space, the train park in Healesville and the water park at Seville. But we may have uncovered some awesome spaces that you haven’t heard of - some at the entry to the Yarra Ranges.

Castle Hill Reserve in Mooroolbark.

Rolling Hills Reserve in Mooroolbark.



Before we even go into this dramatic and fantastic design - we must talk about the views from this playground. They are beautiful and surprising when you are in the relative flatlands of the Yarra Ranges council area.

Hidden in the middle of a residential estate, this is a fun find. Plenty of green space surrounds this playground that has a slide, flying fox and a climbing net. While it’s a great space, the playground is probably best suited to kids five and up as little ones could find the flying fox and birds nest climbing net a bit overwhelming and difficult to use.

But this relatively newly renovated play space is a family favourite. The castle themed combination unit features slides, climbing nets, flying fox and hidden surprises under the towers. The playspace also has a swing set with two sling seats and a junior seat.

Churchill Drive, Mooroolbark *Flying fox *Picnic Tables *Drink tap

129 Partridge Way, Mooroolbark * Accessible *BBQ *Bicycle Paths *Grass Areas *Playground *Picnic Tables *Seating *Shade Areas *Undercover areas *Walking Trails Paved

Lillydale Lake.

LILLYDALE LAKE Always a summer time favourite, Lillydale Lake playground is a popular one at the best of times, but in summer it really steps into its own.

Warburton Water World.

WARBURTON WATER PARK This brand new free water park, playspace and recreation area for people of all ages is brilliant. It’s so good it’s hard to believe it’s free. Built on the former local outdoor pool and located right beside the caravan park, this is promised to be a summer favourite. There is also a fabulous picnic and barbecue area, new toilet facilities and amazing water features, including a


The Splash Pad has water jets and sprays perfect for younger kids, but you are sure to find the older kids cooling themselves down too. It’s even more fabulous when you realise they have an array of food trucks every day including an ice cream truck - which really means you can spend the whole day there. Our tip - get there early. Lillydale Lake Splash Pad, 435 Swansea Road, Lillydale *BBQ *Grass Areas *Lake *Playground *Picnic Tables *Seating *Shade Areas *Water Play Park

Summer Hill Reserve, Mooroolbark


YARRA GLEN ADVENTURE PLAYGROUND It’s an oldie but a goodie - Yarra Glen Adventure Playground has something for everyone. The award winning, fully landscaped playground has a huge variety of activities suitable for all ages and abilities. McKenzie Reserve also has a skate park and plenty of shade and lawn areas to play and have a picnic. Cnr Anzac Avenue & Bell Street, Yarra Glen *BBQ *Grass Areas *Playground *Picnic Tables *Seating *Shade Areas

One of two reserves, the east side has a newly upgraded playspace which is perfect for very young kids including a wide junior slide, spinner, trampolines and swings. The playspace is to south of the reserve by the exisiting trees allowing for shade over the equipment and nature play opportunties. The West Reserve contains a dog off leash area. 19A Summerhill Park Drive, Mooroolbark *All Abilities Playground *Accessible *Dog Off Lead Area *Grass Areas *Playground *Picnic Tables *Seating

SUMMER 2020/2021 7

It’s Your Life Baby Peyton was born at home.

Home birth in the face of Covid-19

Michelle and baby Peyton, who arrived on 13 May a healthy 3.8kg.

Pictures: Garry Sissons

By Melissa Meehan SITTING in a pool at home with her midwives on the phone telling her not to push just yet wasn’t the way Michelle Wise expected to welcome her baby girl into the world. But nothing in 2020 has really gone to plan. Peyton entered the world. Michelle carefully unwrapped the cord from her shoulders and placed her daughter on her chest and describes waiting for that first breath as a little scary. “It was then I was like, wow, we are really on our own,” she said. Soon enough Peyton opened her eyes, looked around and made a little squeak. It was then Michelle knew it would be all OK. Michelle hadn’t always planned on having a home birth. But the uncertainty surrounding Covid-19 and new restrictions across Victoria about only having one support person with you in hospital during the birth led to her decision. “It was very important for my husband and I to have our doula with us and, even though she ended up missing the birth, we really wanted our photographer there too,” she said. When she first fell pregnant Michelle looked into having a home birth, but after getting a few quotes for a private midwife she didn’t think it was financially viable. Especially given she had already given birth to her son in a hospital setting and had a good experience. But things changed when the pandemic hit and they felt forced to change their model of care to one they thought would be safer, no matter the cost. Contractions started just before 2pm on the day Peyton was born. And by 3pm they were getting closer

8 SUMMER 2020/2021

Unprecedented interest in homebirth BEFORE the Covid-19 pandemic had hit - Yarra Valley Midwives Lisa Wraith and Robyn Partington had a holiday planned. Some time off from their busy schedule to put their feet up and relax. But it wasn’t to be. With constantly changing rules during the pandemic, Yarra Valley Midwives had an unprecedented number of women seeking homebirth as an alternative to birthing in a hospital. “Yarra Valley Midwives as well as all other Private Midwives in Victoria have experienced the same phenomenon,” Lisa said.

together and more frequent. “I sent our doula, midwife and photographer messages just to let them know I was thinking we could have a baby later that night or the next day,” she said. Her son Logan was picked up by 4.20pm and by 4.40pm Michelle’s husband Josh started to fill the birthing pool. By 5pm he was on the phone to the midwives, who were 40 minutes away, and that’s when Michelle’s body gave an almighty push. “My body had taken over,” she said. “Mish, our doula, called an ambulance as it was clear the midwives weren’t going to make it and three strong waves later I yelled out ‘her head is out’.”

Just minutes after Peyton arrived, so did the photographer who was shocked to see Michelle already holding her baby girl. She was closely followed by ambulance officers who stayed until the midwives arrived. “Everything was absolutely perfect,” she said. “I couldn’t be happier with our decision to have a home birth and the whole experience was so surreal. “I keep looking at her in disbelief.” The Australian College of Midwives reported a flood of calls relating to home births in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. ACM CEO Ann Kinnear said, “Home birth is a safe option for a woman, but key to this is that her midwife is practising safely and competently.”

“We had so many women who just didn’t feel comfortable about giving birth in hospital during the pandemic and with the changing restrictions many were worried they’d have to do it alone, without a support person,” Lisa said. So they cancelled their holiday and worked hard to ensure they could help as many pregnant women through the pandemic as they could. The nature of their work meant Lisa and Robyn are often booked many months in advance, but cancelling their holidays meant they could help women in May and June. Upwey mum Michelle Wise was one of those women. And although they missed the birth, Michelle said knowing that she could deliver her baby safely at home free from restrictions and illness was exactly what she needed.


It’s Your Life


SmarTrike Trampoline.

Paw Patrol Dino Patroller.

Hot Wheels Ultimate Garage.

Cool Maker Hollywood Hair Studio.

Bosch Deluxe Workbench.

The Globber Explorer Trike 4in1.

UNO. Barbie Dream Camper.

Barbie Dream House.

The hottest toys for Christmas By Melissa Grant

their perfect home with Barbie Dreamhouse.


WHAT are the must-have toys this Christmas? It’s a question you are probably asking yourself as you scratch your head for gift ideas. There are so many new toys and games that have been released in time for the festive season, not to mention all the old favourites sitting on retailers’ shelves. While it’s impossible to feature them all, we’ve put together a list of hot gifts for kids this Christmas.

There are limitless ways to play and explore, from friend sleepovers to birthday parties and backyard BBQs.

This DIY hair studio lets children design, customise and create their own hair extensions. They will love decorating one of the coloured or pattern hair ribbons with marker pens then pressing a button to transform it into a super cute hair extension. The set includes a curling wand, hair rollers and clips, two markers and spray bottle.

HOT WHEELS ULTIMATE GARAGE The newly released Hot Wheels Ultimate Garage is designed to fuel kids’ imaginations. Take vehicles all the way up in the kid-powered two-car elevator, then race down through the multi-level garage and experiment with dual-play mode for continuous thrills. For kids aged 5+. RRP $129.99. PAW PATROL DINO PATROLLER Save the day with Dino Patroller, the first motorised Paw Patrol team vehicle. It features room for all six pups, oversized wheels, a projectile launcher and an exclusive Chase and t-rex dinosaur action figure.

Perfect for kids aged 3+. RRP $249 BARBIE DREAM CAMPER Kids can hit the open road and go wherever their imaginations take them, with Barbie Dream Camper. There are multiple transformations and hidden surprises make playtime exciting. For kids aged 3+. RRP $139 HEDBANZ By popular demand, Hedbanz, the classic picture guessing game of “What am I?” returns with all-new picture cards, six themed headbands, and art. Pick a card, but don’t peek! It’s then a race against the clock to guess what’s on your card, by asking your opponents yes-or-no questions. RRP $24.99 UNO

For ages 8+. RRP $39.99 GLOBBER EXPLORER TRIKE 4IN1 This 4in1 trike can be used from 10 months through to five years. At 10 months, your child can use it in trike mode, Then at 18 months they are ready for the guided trike. By the time they’re 2 it can be switched to training tike mode before being switched to a balance bike. RRP $299 BOSCH DELUXE WORKBENCH A height-adjustable workbench with a drill press, vice, saw, pliers, hammer, wrench and more. With so many screws, saws, spanners and more to play with, this gift nails it. For ages 3+. RRP $79


You know this game needs no introduction! Players take turns matching a card in their hand to the card showing on top of the deck by colour or number. Skips, Reverse, Draw Two, Wild and Draw Four Wild cards can deliver opponent-beating moves. There is also UNO Junior, a simplified version for younger players.

Kids can use their imaginations to set up

UNO RRP $10, UNO Junior RRP $6.99

RRP $169

For kids aged 3+. RRP $109.99


SMARTRIKE TRAMPOLINE A ball pit and trampoline that folds small enough to fit just about anywhere. The SmarTrike Trampoline encourages development and growing with your child from 10 months to five years.

WIN! WIN! WIN! We’re giving away some awesome toys for Christmas.

MATTEL TOYS Up for grabs is one Barbie Dreamhouse ($249), which offers so many options when it comes to imaginative play. We’re also giving away one Barbie Dream Camper ($139), and the newly released Hot Wheels Ultimate Garage ($129.99)

SPIN MASTER TOYS We’ve got two toy prize packs to give away, each valued at more than $200. Each pack features: Paw Patrol themed vehicle, Bakugan Dragonoid Infinity, Monster Jam 1:64 Basic Playset Season 2, Twisty Petz Beauty, HedBanz and Hatchimals Crystal Flyers.

GLOBBER TRIKE Win a Globber Explorer Trike 4in1 in teal ($299). The all in one tricycle for toddlers aged 10+months and balance bike for kids aged 2-5 years adapts as your child grows. To put yourself in the running to win one - or all - of these great toys, visit www.yarrarangeskids. com.au/competitions Hurry - entries close Thursday 17 December.

SUMMER 2020/2021 9


Free childcare? By Danielle Galvin WHEN Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced in April that his government would roll out a free childcare scheme to keep parents in work amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, families across the country breathed a collective sigh of relief. For many it took the pressure off and eased some of the financial burden, with the government footing the bill and paying childcare operators directly. It was also meant to be a lifeline for childcare services, although it was criticised by some. In mid-July, the scheme was wound back. Since then, policymakers have been unable to avoid what many have been lobbying for: major reform to Australia’s early education.

made the decision to make childcare free for a period of time, it really did just show overnight that it is possible to do things differently and make change.” She has been critical of the government snapping back to the old system, and believes there is a case, now more than ever, for a major overhaul. “Households are going to be squeezed in a way they haven’t been before, the cost of care become even more crippling,” she said. “It wouldn’t be surprising if more families decide they just can’t afford it. “That means children miss out on all of the proven benefits of attending high quality early learning. “And it means if and when jobs become available, if a family doesn’t have care, it’s impossible to take up those opportunities.”

Georgie Dent is the executive director of The Parenthood, and a vocal advocate for reform.

In late July, the Australian Council of Trade Unions released a plan for national economic reconstruction after Covid-19.

“While the case for universal access to high quality early education and childcare has been made for a very long time, this is the first time in Australia’s history that it has really seriously been considered,” she said.

The report stated reconstructing the economy should include a “broader strategy to roll-out high-quality, publicly-funded not-for-profit childcare services”.

“Part of that is obviously because in April, when the federal government

Policy think-thank The Grattan Institute also put forward a case for reform in August. It made a number of

There has been a renewed push for free childcare in Australia since the pandemic.

significant recommendations. “We recommend the government increase the existing subsidy from 85 per cent to 95 per cent, with a simpler, flatter taper as household incomes increase,” the report read. Under the institute’s model, 60 per cent of families would pay less than $20 a day per child for childcare. Ms Dent said women are overrepresented in casual jobs. “That then makes the ability to take paid work more difficult. “For families where there isn’t a certainty of shifts, the high out of pocket costs for care are a real barrier.” But is a taxpayer funded childcare model popular policy?

“We have been tracking public sentiment, it’s roughly two thirds of people think that this is a good idea,” Ms Dent explained. “There would be people who would say (if you have a child) you have to pay for their education and childcare, but the argument that needs to be made in response is that no one says that about primary school. “If you’re a millionaire or if you’re unemployed, if you have a child who is 5 there will be a position at primary school, and that will be funded by taxpayers. “And that is because we recognise as a nation, that investing in children’s education is critical.”

Little Yarra Steiner School is Yarra Valley’s Independent K-12 Steiner School A worldwide education that nurtures and cares for the developing child from Kindergarten to Year 12. We strive to bring out the best in our students to reach their highest goals in life.

For more information please visit our website lyss.vic.edu.au Contact us: (03) 5967 1953 office@lyss.vic.edu.au 205 Little Yarra Road, Yarra Junction VIC 12473029-CG51-20

10 SUMMER 2020/2021



A strong start to education

A happy school GHILGAI is a small School set in natural bushland at the foot of Mt Dandenong. Our simple yet beautiful buildings nestle into the slope of the land. Ghilgai teachers strive to sustain it as a sanctuary for childhood.

EVERYTHING has its beginnings in its root. Educating children is no exception. With a strong emphasis on early learning because afterall it is here that is most important, Smart Reader has been able to see it through many generations of successful adults who have had their early exposure through our proven system. A system that has been around for decades and still continues to evolve with the times.

What the children say ... What’s one good thing about Ghilgai?... “Oh ... that would be plants and kindness ... “ “ ... a lovely environment ... lots of trees ... its good to be here.” “the teachers are kind ... you can understand what they’re talking about” ...

Let us take you and your child through a solid journey of growth like no other. Years 1 to 6 at school are very important in determining the ability of a child to cope later on in life. And ages 3 to 7 even more so. There is a saying, “you see the man in a child by the time he is seven”. With this in mind, let Smart Reader not delay in giving what the child needed yesterday. Before you know it, 2021 is just weeks away. There is a lot of catching up to do. More now than ever before!

... “its great to sing with everyone - you know - our Sharings (pre Covid/ Whole School Sharing each Friday morning) ... its good to see everyone and sing together ... “ “ ... you don’t have screens in your face ... I’m sick of them.” What the parents say ... “The reason I chose Ghilgai for ‘Martin’ was because I wanted him to spend his childhood years in a safe and nurturing environment and in a place where he could participate in activities that are often denied boys. He has received all of these things at Ghilgai and much more. I am sure that the richness of Steiner Education will be with him throughout his life.

Contact us now on 0401109895, Smart Reader Wantirna South Facebook page or email info@ smartreaderwantirnasouth.com.au to learn more about our English, Mandarin, Mathematics as well as Arts and Crafts program.

Thank you Ghilgai.” “Ghilgai is in many ways unique and I am so glad that my son and daughter were privileged enough to be nurtured along by all the goodness in it ... They were lucky children to have had such a rich and secure foundation, endowing them with a sense of wholeness and wholesomeness. As we move on, I feel sad at leaving my children’s childhood behind us as well. Ghilgai has been such an encompassing shelter for this.” “Ghilgai is a beautiful and nurturing place where my son has flourished and has had instilled in him confidence, joy and freedom to be himself. He has had a lovely all-round education where his head, heart and soul have been uplifted and nourished and it has been wonderful to see him grow.” We have vacancies for 2021. ■ Visit our website: www.ghilgai.com ■ Phone 9761 8369 for an introductory conversation. ■ Education Evening: Dec 8th 7.30pm - The Fruits of Steiner Education a zoom presentation that uses slides of the childrens work to overview the Class 6 year. Email edadmin@ghilgai.com.au for a link.

Smart Reader Kids Yarra Junction is

Ghilgai Steiner School

focused on fostering strong relationships

Playgroup - Class 6

with parents throughout their child's early education journey. Our educators are caring and passionate about teaching children through creative-play based learning.

295 Liverpool Rd Kilsyth Enquiries: 9761 8369 4 Station Street, Yarra Junction, 3797 T: +61 3 5900 6724 E: srkyarra@sraus.com 12471274-SN51-20

www.ghilgai.com.au Ghilgai Steiner School 12470736-NG51-20


SUMMER 2020/2021 11

Rising to the challenge of COVID for school readiness CIRE Children’s Services has responded to the challenges of COVID to ensure its young learners are ready to start their school journey next year with confidence amid the normal flurry of mixed emotions.

Tips for families to prepare their child for school: ■ children learn best through play so play with them ■ have conversations with them ■ read to them

The benefits of Cire’s efforts are backed by early childhood experts who say overall, children due to commence foundation (prep) year in 2021 are surprisingly ready. Despite disruptions to learning in the more formal setting of four-year-old kinder due to restrictions and lockdowns, children have continued to develop and be extended through home-based activities with their families and the underestimated power of play.

■ encourage open-ended play, i.e. painting, drawing, dress-ups, dancing, singing, dolls, playdough; games such as Uno, snap, memory, matching, sorting; and puzzles ■ physical activity outdoors ■ cook or bake together, sharing the opportunity to measure the ingredients and follow a recipe ■ scavenger hunts around the back yard or neighbourhood finding things that start with a specific letter

At Cire Children’s Services, educators quickly focused on the anticipated needs of all of its children well ahead of the pandemic restrictions, putting in place innovative ways to keep children continuously engaged and curious, and their families connected and supported. Through regular phone contact, FaceTime and virtual delivery across varying platforms such as Zoom and Cire Kids Hub videos featuring our educators as presenters, Children’s Services reassured and supported families, emphasising the importance and rich opportunities to learn through activities beyond more formal settings. ‘Our relationships with families are actually stronger than ever,’ said Diletta Lanciana, Executive Manager of Cire Children’s Services. ‘Some families may still be concerned their child is not ready for school but it is important to realise that school readiness involves many different skills and behaviours such as social skills, emotional maturity, language skills, cognitive skills, physical health and coordination and independence.’ Diletta described as fantastic some of the at-home learning experiences during

12 SUMMER 2020/2021

■ play hide and seek or create treasure hunts in the house and garden, with clues

COVID restrictions such as science experiments, cooking experiences, craft, gardening, and play, as well as simply spending quality time together. She emphasised that play particularly is vital for children’s overall development and physical health with the benefits carrying through to adult life. Research shows that through play, children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them. Further, the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework states school readiness is about the development of the whole child - their social and emotional skills, physical skills, communication skills and cognitive skills which all help form the basis of further learning. Children also need to have developed skills like getting along with other children, following instructions, and

communicating their needs. The Department of Education and Training has recognised that some families may be anxious and has been working with kindergartens and schools to ensure children won’t be disadvantaged as they move into their foundation year in 2021. Schools and communities have been collaborating to modify Term 1 programs to accommodate children who may have a greater diversity of needs. In fact, ‘ready’ schools provide learning environments that are flexible, adaptable and responsive to the needs of individual children at all stages in their development. If families believe their child would benefit from a second year of four-yearold kinder, it is strongly recommended they speak with their teachers with the view of applying for an additional year.

■ self-help skills, i.e. pack a lunch and ensure children can navigate opening and closing and getting the food out on their own ■ chat about school ■ drive past the school so they know where it is ■ explore the school’s website together, show them the uniform and describe the pictures Respected early childhood consultant Louise Dorrat says: ‘When this pandemic is over, and our lives get busy again, we may look back at this time and wonder why we didn’t appreciate the slower pace with our children. So, feel confident that when your child is playing, they are developing life-long skills in mathematics, science, creative arts, emotional learning, language and literacy. Ready children, ready families, ready schools and ready communities result in a smooth transition for everyone’.



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Fun for kids during the school holidays Monday 4th January to Friday 22nd January 2021








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SUMMER 2020/2021 13


Back in Lilydale SWINBURNE Childrens Centre has officially opened in Lilydale. In what could be described as a homecoming, Lilydale Community Childcare Inc trading as Swinburne Childrens Centre are back in town after originally opening in Lilydale back in 1997.

This way, children’s natural curiosity and interest in the world is channelled to help them to develop vital, life-long skills. Swinburne Childrens Centres, also located in Croydon and Wantirna, are open to the whole community, providing full-time and part-time care and education.

The new state-of-the-art centre opened on August 3rd - right on the eve of Covid-19 restrictions shifting into full gear.

Their highly trained and qualified educators empower children to develop inquiring minds and to experiment within a trusting environment.

Located conveniently on Maroondah Highway and with capacity for 122 children, the centre is set up with child development in mind.

Swinburne Childrens Centres also offer a fully funded kindergarten program for children who are 4, or turning 4 before the 30th of April of that same year offering much needed flexibility for families.

“We offer an acre of brand new, purpose built experiences for children to enjoy,” General Manager-Belinda Wilson says.

All of Swinburne Childrens Centre’s

Swinburne Childrens Centre is back in Lilydale.

Pictures: Stewart Chambers

existing services have been assessed as “exceeding” the National Quality Standards. All enrolment and Tour enquiries to lilydale@swincc.vic.edu.au or 03 9070 1159.

“We have large, open spaces that enable our year round indoor/outdoor program, reflecting our philosophy at Swinburne Childrens Centres.” Providing children with opportunities to develop psychosocial skills alongside literacy and numeracy is the focus of Swinburne Childrens Centres, where play-based learning, intentional teaching and inquiry-based investigations are embraced.


With Reggio Emilia inspired learning environments our brand new Lilydale Centre featuring a diverse range of indigenous cultural influences and many community programs for children and families. Offering Full time and part time care and education for children from 0-6 years and including an integrated 4yo Kindergarten program focussing on school readiness.

OUR PROMISES TO YOU Ź Safety & Security Ź Highest Level of Care Ź Successful & Capable Learning Ź Quality Educators

Our highly trained and qualified educators empower our children to develop enquiring minds and experiment in a trusted setting.

Ź Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Cultures Valued

Proudly, all of our Centres have been assessed as `Exceeding’ the National Quality Standards.

Ź Parents & Families Are Respected

Ź Equality, Inclusion & Diversity 12470547-CG51-20


Waitlist enquiries: Please Contact E: lilydale@swincc.vic.edu.a 03 9070 1159 | www.swinburnechildrenscentre.com.au 14 SUMMER 2020/2021



Our top parenting podcasts By Danielle Galvin IF you’re into podcasts, we’ve put together a list for you to sink your teeth into. Below are a few recommendations, for those times you’re feeling lost and in need of advice, or you’re in the mood for something funny or informative. I found some of these useful, as an example, when I was struggling with my daughter’s tantrums around the age of 3.

It was a difficult time in parenthood and I sought out advice from some podcasts. There are so many good ones to choose from, but here are a few of our picks: ■ Parenting in the age of the coronavirus: A new podcast from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne. Child health experts discuss the challenges parents are facing, and explore how you can best support yourself and your children so they can continue to

learn, thrive and develop. ■ Mamamia’s Me After You podcast is on my ‘to listen’ list. It poses the question - who am I, after having a baby? ■ Happy Mum Happy Baby - the podcast is from Giovanna Fletcher, UK mum of 3, author, blogger. I’ve been a fan a long time. She always has some great names and talent and some of the podcasts are absolute tearjerkers! ■ Maggie Dent on the ABC - Parental

As Anything - She covers off a lot of different topics. Always a great listen. ■ Respectful Parenting: Janet Lansbury Unruffled. Another famed parenting expert. Plenty to sink your teeth into. ■ Kirsten Bell’s Momsplaining: OK, not a podcast but a light hearted little series nonetheless. Always good for a laugh! ■ The Modern Dads: This is a podcast about the dads doing it all ■ The Happy Families podcast with Dr Justin Coulson. Advice, easy to listen to, what’s not to love?

Fresh & Fruity Family Fun This Summer OPEN EVERYDAY 9AM - 4PM


• equipment hire included • 50cal low impact markers • BBQ area available Call Daniel 9777 0613 or book online at www.paintballgames.com.au

Ride around the farm behind the tractor a covered trailer - discover a new fruit, sample tasty fruit in season, Pick your own fruit straight from the tree. Suitable for ALL ages, eat as much as you like taste at least 8 fruit varieties. Tour duration - 1 hour. No bookings required • JOIN US AT PEACH CAFE FOR LUNCH! Visit our farm cafe and check out our latest range of Jams, chutneys, preserved fruit & fruit leathers.

Visit our fruit plant nursery located on the farm stocking 100’s of fruiting plants, specialising in dwarf varieties.

Paintball Games 3 Locations -Ballan, Cockatoo, Coldstream

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SUMMER 2020/2021 15


Summer fun at Gumbuya World CELEBRATE summer with your friends and family at Victoria’s home of cool action, loud laughs and wild adventure, Gumbuya World. Take the plunge on epic water slides, spin out on awesome rides and say hello to Pebble, the park’s newest baby koala!

The Ready Set Dance crew.

New channel just for kids A NEW free-to-air television with 12 hours of kids programming has arrived.

produced preschool dance series Ready Set Dance, Totally Wild and Scope.

The channel, 10 Shake, is airing a stack of popular children’s shows, including PAW Patrol, Bubble Guppies, Top Wing, Blaze and the Monster Machines, Dora the Explorer and Butterbean’s Cafe.

The full 12 hours of kids programming runs from 6am-6pm, including weekends.

The channel is also airing Australian-

At 6pm, the channel switches to adult programming with shows such Teen Mom Australia, Ex on the Beach UK and Lip Sync Battle.

Party Time

The fiver birthday By Melissa Grant ARE you planning your child’s birthday party but dreading that you’ll end up with a pile of unappreciated toys. You might want to consider throwing a ‘fiver party’. What is a fiver party? Well, it’s a pretty brilliant party concept that’s growing in popularity. Basically, each guest inserts a $5 note in a card for the birthday boy/ girl. It’s brilliant because it cuts down the number of unwanted toys and takes the pressure off parents when it comes to buying gifts. Mums and dads don’t need to spend a small fortune or struggle to come up with a

gift idea, while the birthday child gets to put some money towards something they really want. But asking for money can be awkward, you say? Well yes, but it’s only $5 and you can ask for it nicely on the invite. You just need to write something like “Mia is celebrating her 10th birthday with a fiver party. Mia has her heart set on (insert expensive toy here) so instead of buying her a gift please put a $5 note in a birthday card. Thank-you.” However, before deciding to host a fiver party, you need to consider whether your child will appreciate the concept. Do they have an understanding of money? Obviously a fiver party probably isn’t the greatest idea for a 4-year-old.

Throughout the summer, patrons can make the most of Oasis Springs which underwent a $10 million expansion last year. New features include The Break - a massive family wave pool that includes a standalone kids area, and a number of new water slides including the Tiger Snake Tango and Red Belly Racer. There’s also the 300-metre long Lazy River, and Surf’s Up - an epic wave machine. Thrillseekers can enjoy unlimited rides all day in Oz Adventure, with the mighty Rebel and the high speed, high altitude Tree Swing. For little adventurers there is Outback Explorers, with Dodgem Cars, the Outback Pirate Ship and the Berry Twirl. Finally, with more than 50 species of animals - including koala joey Pebble - The Wildlife Trail is the perfect destination to spot something furry, featured or fanged. For an unforgettable experience, visitors can book an Animal Close Encounter. Tickets will be capped in line with

Typhoon Island, one of the many awesome water attractions at Gumbuya World.

government guidelines. All tickets must be purchased via the website beforehand, with no tickets available at the entrance. From 11 December, the park is open daily right through to the end of January (excluding Christmas Day). Gumbuya World is located at 2705 Princes Highway Tynong. For tickets or more information, including the park’s Covid-safe guidelines, visit https://gumbuya.com. au/

Finding ways to celebrate online By Danielle Galvin AS party-loving Melburnians, we were forced to get creative when it came to get-togethers, birthday parties, baby showers and celebrations in 2020. When we couldn’t meet up in person and we had to keep our distance, we found ways to be together virtually. During the height of the second lockdown, I attended (is that the right word?!) a surprise virtual baby shower on Zoom for a dear friend. It was truly wonderful, and given the difficult year she’d had being pregnant in two restrictive lockdowns, it was lovely and memorable. Many Melburnians found positive ways to celebrate milestone events - whether that was through virtual discos for kids birthdays, Zoom catch-ups - there were ways to celebrate. If you’re looking to host a virtual party again in the future (maybe with interstate or overseas family and friends) here’s some ways to make it easy and special! ■ Reach out and find local suppliers - it’s amazing how many cookie makers, cake bakers, and people there are in every municipality who have come out of the

woodwork and who can put together grazing boxes, beautiful sugar cookies and more for whoever you are celebrating. ■ Make it a surprise (if it’s possible) Logistically this might be way too tricky - but it can work! We managed to do it for our friend’s baby shower and she had no idea, it was truly magical to watch her surprise as she saw 30 of her closest friends on a computer screen. ■ If there’s a few of you and you can afford it - band together and get balloons and flowers delivered. Just makes it a nice touch. ■ You can still play games and involve everyone attending. The group organising this baby shower had arranged for everyone to send their guesses for the baby’s weight, gender, name and had it printed off for the mum-to-be to read on the day. Similarly, we played fun guessing games with photos of the expectant parents and it was a lovely way to break the ice and involve everyone. ■ Get different groups/family members involved - this is important. If you can, get multiple people on the party committee to help get in touch with as many people as possible.


16 SUMMER 2020/2021


Reality Bites

Maddie Francis collects donations throughout the year to help families with children in NICU.

The mum bringing cheer to all By Melissa Meehan

for families spending time in NICU over Christmas.

UNLESS you’ve had a child spend time in a neonatal intensive care unit, you’ll never know the loneliness and worry that comes with it.

“So the idea to start up NICU Cheer started in 2016, and we did our first delivery in 2017,” she said.

Maddie Francis knows that loneliness all too well. Her son Ashton was born 10 weeks early in 2016. And while she and husband Aaron were relieved their baby boy was being cared for, they felt very alone. “It was really scary and we just didn’t get much support while we were in there,” Maddie said. “We felt very alone, and I sort of wasn’t even made aware that there were Facebook groups and all sorts of things out there until long after we left the hospital.” She said although family and friends were amazing - preparing meals, doing everything they could - it was so hard to describe the feeling of how traumatic it was to have a baby so early, so little and so sick. “The first time I saw him was hours after he was born, and he had eight wires coming out of him, it’s a little like a NASA space mission,” she said. “It was very overwhelming, and it’s so hard to understand unless you’ve had a similar experience.”

“I just thought I would put together a nice little hamper for the parent’s room or one for the staff room - but when I put the call out on Facebook, I got inundated with donations. “I just really love humanity, sometimes.” She started with hampers at Mercy Hospital for Women and then it just snowballed. She now delivers numerous hampers to the NICU wards at the Mercy, Royal Women’s Hospital, Monash Children’s Hospital, Royal Children’s Hospital and Joan Kirner Women’s & Children’s Hospital at Christmas time, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. And while she’s yet to get official charity status, the long-term plan is to get deductible gift recipient status which would help more businesses get on board. “I’m not stopping any time soon, I just love it and we get such beautiful feedback from families and I’ve actually become friends with some of the mothers who received our bags,” she said,

And it didn’t stop when they went home.

Ashton still has some health battles ahead of him and spends a lot of time in hospital.

“When the baby comes home, and you’re waiting for them to roll over or sit up or meet anything - the milestones are very different,” she said.

But Maddie says that’s what keeps the idea of how horrible spending time in hospital with a bay really is fresh in her mind.

So, in what can only be described as inspiring, faced with her son’s own ongoing health battles, Maddie started thinking about how horrible it would be

Ashton, who is now 4, was 10 weeks early, but was allowed to go home after six and a half weeks in NICU.


Maddie Francis and her son Ashton. Pictures: Gary Sissons

Within three days, she was used to all

Maddie Francis and her son Ashton.

I just really love humanity, sometimes.” the terminology and acronyms that comes with NICU babies. “The staff are just amazing, I think nurses are wonderful, but NICU nurses are next level,” she said. “We love them all.”

departments across two hospitals as we strive to get a diagnosis for his extreme fatigue, and check-ups on his laryngomalacia, subglottic stenosis, brain bleeds, innocent heart murmur and more.

Ashton is attending a specialist daycare where he’s thriving.

But he’s the happiest little boy and enjoys making his mum, dad and sister Lily laugh.

He still has ongoing hospital and specialist visits with multiple

For more about NICU Cheer or how to help go to www.nicucheer.com.au

SUMMER 2020/2021 17

Watch for the signs

Reality Bites


Top tips for toilet training success By Melissa Grant TOILET training is one of the hardest and messiest - tasks you will go through as a parent. And many of us are leaving it too late, according to a toilet training expert. Parents commonly wait until their child is well into their second year of life - or even their third - before they start the process. However Tracy Fulwood, the founder of PottyTraining.com.au, says it’s much easier to start toilet training your child before their second birthday. “If you don’t wait until the terrible twos to start, when they are ready to assert their authority, then they are developing good habits before then,” she explained. “Parents do need to choose when it’s right for them, but the earlier we can break the bad habit (of wearing nappies) the better.” Tracy’s own toilet battles with her first child led her to developing her toilet training business. Her two-and-a-half-year-old would scream that she didn’t want to go to the toilet. Tracy concedes that initially she did “all the wrong things”. But when she sat down and devised a toilet system training system, her daughter was toilet trained in three days. Tracy began toilet training her second child at four months of age, by putting him on the potty when it was obvious he needed to do number twos. She started the process with her third child at two months. They both were using the toilet independently by 19 months of age. As Tracy researched toilet training, a theme began to emerge - it’s easier to do it earlier. “A research project actually showed

18 SUMMER 2020/2021

there was a window of opportunity. It found parents who started at 18 months to 24 months had less problems,” she said. So why are parents leaving it so long to start? Tracy says parents are often told to wait for signs of “readiness”, which may never come. She also says the multi-billion nappy industry has a lot to do with it. “You speak to many grandparents and they don’t understand why we are having problems. But they started earlier because they didn’t have the convenience of disposable nappies.” Tracy developed the Know Your Child system to help parents toilet train their children. Her system has two components - a know your child training module and a toilet game, offering a tailored approach so you can best engage your child. If you are reading this and think there’s no reason to delay toilet training any longer, here are Tracy’s tips: KNOW YOUR CHILD’S PERSONALITY Before starting it pays to understand your child’s personality. The Know Your Child toilet training system identifies four different types of personality - courageous lion, lovable lamb, wise old owl and cheeky monkey. The courageous lion is the hardest to train, they tend to hold on because they don’t like to feel like they aren’t in control. The lovable lamb is also hard to train as they simply don’t care and are very stubborn. Then there’s the Wise Old Owl who doesn’t like change and will stick to what they know which is the nappy. The cheeky monkey can be inconsistent and the challenge is typically keeping them on the toilet long enough for them to go. Knowing your child’s personality helps you tailor your approach. If you have a strongwilled child you need to give them the feeling of control and ownership.


IN Australia, a gynaecologist is a women’s health specialist doctor who has trained for up to six years at medical school, undertaking rotations in general medicine and surgery at hospitals as a junior doctor, and then a further six years in speciality training in obstetrics and gynaecology (managing pregnancies, delivering babies and learning now to manage women’s health conditions). We are well qualified to help out with any issues you have with your reproductive tract, whatever they may be. Reasons you may need to see us can include:

SIGNS OF READINESS There are definite signs of readiness such as your child telling you about poos, removing or tugging at their nappy, and taking an interest in you going to the toilet. If your child shows these signs of readiness get going. However, some types of personalities won’t show those signs. LOSE THE NAPPY You cannot toilet train with a nappy. We feel wet, cause and effect. While the nappy is there it takes the sensation away - you are actually making it harder for them to win. If you say ‘do you need to go?’ they don’t know. It’s like saying ‘here is a bike, ride!’ Pull-ups are a marketing tool. TOILET OR POTTY? The decision to use a toilet or potty is based on age and personality. If you start a bit younger and your child is more petite then a potty is great. The challenge with the potty is that childcare centres don’t accept potties and there is a clean-out process. If your child is nearing two years then going to the toilet makes it easier when you go out. Also, if you have a child who doesn’t like change then transitioning from potty to toilet will be another battle. HOW LONG TO TRAIN Often parents quit toilet training a day too early. It takes two to five days of concentrated effort versus a very painful effort long-term. So stay home for two to five days to focus on and create this new habit. Exactly how long it takes will depend on your child’s age and their personality. NIGHT TRAINING Wait until you finish day training before you start night training. Night training is something you can’t do for your child. There are uncontrollable factors such as heavy wetting, deep sleep and hereditary factors. The key is the bladder brain connection. Parents can make the mistake of waking up their child during the night.

1. Painful or overly heavy periods. If you are concerned that your periods are heavy, you have large clots or flooding during your period then it is time to seek help. If you are experiencing pain for more than a day or two and not relieved by simple pain relief medications such as Nurofen and Panadol you should also seek medical review. You would usually see your local doctor (GP) first and they would arrange referral to a gynaecologist if needed. 2. Irregular periods. If you are having large breaks between your periods (eg skipping a few months at a time), this can be a sign that something isn’t right with your cycles. It can be a sign of things like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), thyroid disease or other hormonal imbalance issues. Similarly, bleeding more frequently than once a month is also not normal. 3. Painful intercourse. Pain with intercourse is not normal. Please seek help if you have new or longstanding pain with intercourse as there are many things we can do to help this. 4. Abnormal discharge. No one likes talking about vaginal discharge but it’s a part of everyday life for all women. You will find the days around ovulation (mid cycle) you will have some clear and watery discharge as your estrogen levels increase. During the one to two weeks leading up to your period this will be thicker and a creamy/ white colour. If there are any variations to this like increased odour, itchiness, increased volume or green/grey in colour this could be a sign of infection so go get this checked out! 5. Issues trying to conceive. If you have been trying for a baby for more than six months if over age 35, or 12 months if aged 35 or under then you should be seeing a gynaecologist or fertility specialist. This is particularly important if you are aged over 35 as time is of essence when trying for a baby. For more information on women’s health visit: https://www.instagram. com/drbronwynhamilton/?hl=en or www.drbronwynhamilton.com.au www.yarrarangeskids.com.au


Pre-loved items for every child Some of the wide variety of pre-loved clothes

Pre-loved fashion at Pipsqueakz toys and other products for over 20 years, catering from newborn through to 12 years old.

WITH SIX tonnes of textiles and clothing going to landfill in Australia every 10 minutes, retailers offering pre-loved and recycled goods have never been more vital.

“It’s a real community,” Rachel, the owner of Pipsqueakz Recycle says. “It’s a very family oriented place. Everyone talks, everyone’s happy and it’s very laid-back.”

Tucked in amongst the trees in the heart of Mount Evelyn, Pipsqueakz Recycle has the local community covered. There’s a growing demand for recycled goods as people continue to recognise the financial and ethical benefits of pre-loved rather than new. It’s something the local Mount Evelyn community has been embracing since

It’s not just clothes at Pipsqueakz!

Pipsqueakz Recycle opened in 2000. The store has been offering recycled (and new!) baby and children’s clothes,

Pipsqueakz also offers a consignment service, where goods are priced and sold on behalf of clients. Rachel notes that the store is a regular haunt of many local parents, who take advantage of the thousands of goods on offer as well as trading in and picking up items as

their children grow. Purchasing secondhand toys and clothes is also far cheaper than buying the same items new - an important consideration when children may only wear something or play with a toy a handful of times before outgrowing it. They have now introduced a NEW ballet and dancewear section as well as still selling secondhand dancewear. Pipsqueakz Recycle is worth a visit, whether you’re local or from further afield. https://www.pipsqueakz.com/

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SUMMER 2020/2021 19

Reality Bites

A community for parents By Eliza Henry-Jones A lot of us are feeling lonely, which means places like The Parents Hub in Mooroolbark are becoming increasingly vital. Last year, the Australian Psychological Society (APS) and Swinburne University of Technology undertook a comprehensive study of loneliness in Australia. The results suggest that one in four of us don’t feel as though we have a lot in common with the people around us and just under 30 per cent of us don’t feel part of a group of friends. After the year it’s been and the isolation that we endured, now more than ever feeling part of a community, is so important. We all need to feel connected to people. And it’s particularly crucial for parents of young children to feel connected to their communities. Erin Bourke – the powerhouse behind The Parent’s Hub in Mooroolbark – is passionate about giving local parents every opportunity to find their tribe. The Parents Hub, which opened in 2019, is already offers facilitated

Maggie Vos feature in reality television show This Is Calisthenics.

By Romy Stephens MONTROSE’S Maggie Vos is shaping up to have quite the career in performing arts. The 15-year-old recently made the top five of two-part reality television

20 SUMMER 2020/2021

playgroups and mother’s groups as well as support groups for new mums, mums with new babies and premmie mums as well as 1:1 support services, retreat days, first aid courses, kids fun days and so much more. Erin, a mum of three kids under 5, noticed a trend with parents of small children and the need for a space that was all about connection. “In spaces like cafés, you see parents sitting on their phones while their kids are playing, they’re craving that connection and they’re getting out of house, but ultimately they’re still on their own.” Erin says that the location of The Parents Hub had previously been a free-play venue, where parents could let themselves into the building at any time to use the facilities and then simply let themselves out when they were finished. This, Erin felt, fell short of what parents needed. “The space needs to feel really welcoming and if you’re just letting yourself into a room, and there’s nobody greeting you, you can still feel isolated. I

Maggie shines on the stage show This Is Calisthenics. The show, which aired on channel 7TWO on 1 July, followed the journey of 15 elite Australian calisthenics performers, as they auditioned and performed to take out the This Is Calisthenics title. At 15-years-old, Maggie was the

Mum Erin (she is the contact at the centre) with Pippa (5 months).

want parents to feel welcome and feel like it’s a home away from home.” Thanks to funding from Mooroolbark Bendigo Bank and support from Yarra Ranges Council, the space has been revamped to make it as welcoming, comfortable, safe and fun for the kids. “We make sure that there’s a facilitator there for each program,” Erin says. “It allows people to more easily connect with each other if there’s someone there to facilitate conversation.” Through the wide range of programs, the focus is on improving the mental health of parents, particularly mums who are deep in the trenches of those early years.

“We’d love to be having more parents becoming involved with self-care and empowering and equipping themselves with tools and knowledge to navigate the early years. “Once parents start looking after themselves, the flow-on effects are amazing. We want to empower parents. But above all we want to keep building up our community, it’s been phenomenal the friendships and connections that have already been created here and we are excited for what’s to come in 2021. The Parents Hub is a place for all parents and all children. That’s the magic of it. The Parents Hub www.theparentshub.com.au

“At night the toys go away and it becomes a space for parents,” Erin explains.

168 Manchester Rd, Mooroolbark VIC 3138

youngest contestant to make it through to the show’s prestigious final five. The achievement was a milestone for the young talent, who hopes to one day excel in musical theatre. Maggie’s calisthenics journey began 10 years ago. “I started when I was five. My mum put me in dance and calisthenics and she told me to choose one,” Maggie said. “I never ended up choosing because my coaches’ mum, who’s had a really big role in my calisthenics, told mum to let me do both, so now I do both. “I think dance really helps your calisthenics, especially ballet, they go hand-in-hand really nicely.” Maggie now trains every night, about 22 hours a week, which includes piano and singing lessons. But the busy schedule hasn’t seen Maggie’s passion for being on-stage dwindle. “I love performing and I love being part of a team that all like to perform as well. I love my coach and I love everything she does for me,” Maggie said. “She’s one of the main reasons that I love calisthenics.” Maggie’s coach, Brooke Synnott is the principal at Regent Calisthenics in Ringwood. Maggie’s mum, Mallory, said Brooke was an “exceptional” teacher and if Maggie were to have a successful performing arts career, it would be largely due to having such great guidance. “You have calisthenics coaches and then you have Brooke Synnott and that’s largely because she’s done musical theatre. Her experience that she brings to the table is huge in terms of creativity,” Mallory said. “One thing that I’m quite boastful to other people thinking of coming to

Regent is the holistic education that they receive. “She’ll have sessions with these girls where they just might talk the whole class and they talk about not just how they feel but about their goals. “She gives them that breadth of understanding and a way to think about things that they may not necessarily do at their age.” Throughout This Is Calisthenics, Maggie was often praised by the judges for her ability to bring theatre into her performances. She, along with the other contestants, also had to deal with unique circumstances during the show. From having cameras filming from all angles to having strict Covid-19 restrictions in force, including social distancing during filming and learning group performances through Zoom. However, it was Covid-19 that actually made the show possible. With an absent TV slot, due to other sports being cancelled, producers decided to shine a light on the unique sport of calisthenics. But the need for social distancing within the show meant parents were unable to view the performances until they were screened on TV - something that was difficult for Mallory. “Watching her dance is one of my favourite things. Something I’ve really missed over the pandemic is watching her dance and perform,” Mallory said. “We’ve been a team for many years ... I find comfort watching her and going ‘she’s really done a beautiful job of that, what will be will be’. “She’s very consistent and reliable so academically I knew she would have done a good job, I just wanted her to feel happy in herself and think there was nothing she could have added.” For more information about the show or sport, visit calisthenics.asn.au.



Inspiring the hero in all of us By Danielle Galvin

message, anyone can save the day.

REUBEN Cullen certainly goes against the grain when it comes to children’s authors.

It also talks about the values Reuben was seeking in his own life: to be ambitious, healthy, reliable, selfless, caring, honest, confident, determined and happy.

He’s probably an unlikely character to write for young children, being a tradie and openly talking about his former battles with addiction, but that’s part of the magic of his story, and his new book, A Hero Born. It’s a self-published book he wrote to help him believe in himself again. “One day I just had an idea of writing a story, and being your own hero. “And I thought it was best targeted to kids given that they are really into superheroes. “Being your own hero is probably pretty important and it was what I was struggling with at the time, a bit of self-belief.” The book follows the story of a caped hero and an everyday hero, with the

His book is a message of self-love and awareness, simply, he wants children to be their own heroes. “I have had some people say to me (after writing A Hero Born) you have always had a way with words. “I didn’t really use poetry as a way to express myself until my early 20s and probably my mid-teens, more so when I had my battles with drug addiction I used it as a way to express myself.” Coming up with the story came naturally to him, once he’d established the message and the characters. The book is also dedicated to Kasey, the daughter of a woman he was in a long-term relationship with. It’s a deeply personal book, in that sense.

Street artist Michael Glenda, a father of three, illustrated the book.

“The message is that definitely no one is too old to know they can be their own hero. “I wrote it with the intentions of wanting to believe in myself and like myself again. “Kasey was a big reason I wanted to write the book. “I wanted to one day have something to show her and hopefully read to her. I just hope kids can learn to be the best person for themselves from reading the book - if I can just help one child not go through what I did then I’ll be happy.” And while the book is suited for children of any age, he said the message starts to ring true between that 4-9 age bracket. “When I’m writing, I’m not afraid to express myself and say how I am feeling. “Giving people the power to be self-aware is good, to learn to know yourself is really important I believe.”

A Hero Born is Reuben’s first children’s book.

There’s a mirror in the book at the end, with a powerful thought to end on. “I remember (Kasey) used to love looking at herself in the mirror. “It’s got a mirror on the last page, so the last page reads ‘when I look in the mirror what I want to see the best version of myself, so my hero is really me’.” To find out more and order the book, visit https://reubencullenkids.com/

Children’s books...

My Dad’s A Tradie Missy and Beefy Illustrated by Ogilvie The perfect book for a child with a father who is a tradie! It follows the adventures of Australian bull terrier Missy and her little brother Beefy, an Australian bulldog. Their dad is a tradie. It’s also Beefy’s dream to be a tradie. The pair visit worksites with their dad. Beefy is constantly asking ‘Are you a tradie like my dad?’ They meet all sorts of tradies including a tiler, electrician, foreman, plumber and painter. While Missy is pretty well behaved on worksites, Beefy tends to find himself in trouble! The characters are based on two real life dogs who live north of Sydney. A fun read for young kids. New Holland Publishers, RRP $19.99


Have You Seen A Tree for Me?

Powman: Find The Courage Within

Sarah Eccleston,

Dave Pow Tabain and Nadia Worland, illustrated by Shane Ogilvie

Illustrated by Jenni Goodman A beautiful children’s book that highlights the modern dangers koalas are facing in the wild. It’s a timely title given Australia’s koala population has drastically declined following the devastating 2019/20 bushfire season. Author Sarah Eccleston has been a koala specialist at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on the Gold Coast for nearly 22 years. The book is inspired by her special bond with a three-yearold koala named Enzo, who resides at the sanctuary. A great way for kids to learn about the dangers koalas face in the wild, from loss of habitat to domestic animals. New Holland Publishers, RRP $19.99

Motivational speaker Dave Pow Tabain has teamed up with special needs consultant Nadia Worland for this empowering children’s book. The book helps equip young children to cope with their anxiety. It also encourages them not to be fearful of seeing a school counsellor. A young boy suffering anxiety around an upcoming maths test in the central character in this inspiring read. With the counsellor’s help, the boy comes up with the perfect POW plan to control his anxiety and ace his maths test. The book also features a helpful list of tips for kids to deal with anxiety. New Holland Publishers, RRP $14.99

We Are All Kind P Crumble and Jonathon Bentley A follow up to the bestselling children’s book We Are All Equal, this cute title explores the many simple ways we can show kindness. The text is beautiful. One passage reads: “We are all kind. You walk lonely miles. Life is much better when somebody smiles.” The text is accompanied by illustrations by award-winning illustrator Jonathan Bentley. This beautiful book teaches children the importance of being kind to others. It shows how they can offer a hand, make amends, solve a problem, heal hurt, love and share a laugh. A lovely read for children aged 4+. Scholastic Australia, RRP $19.99

The Bad Guys Episode 12: The One?! Aaron Blabey The Bad Guys are back for another enthralling instalment. For those unfamiliar, The Bad Guys are a crew of animals who sound, look and smell like bad guys but are on a mission to do good. The book is in a format similar to a comic book, with black and white illustrations and fun text. In Episode 12, something is up with Snake. He has terrifying powers and evil allies. Meanwhile, Agent Fox has suddenly become very mysterious. A great read for children aged 7+ transitioning from picture books to chapter books. A movie-adaption of the series is due for release in 2021. Scholastic Australia, RRP $15.99

SUMMER 2020/2021 21

Kids Calendar

What's on

this summer





Make sure you are hungry as there will be at least eight varieties of fruit to try on every tour at Rayner’s Orchard, where you’ll be guided through the orchard with lots of fruit and interesting and entertaining facts along the way. Book your U-Pick tractor tour Online at www.raynersorchard.com.au or call 59647654 Open 7 days 9am-4pm. Closed Christmas Day. Rayner’s Orchard is located at 60 Schoolhouse Road Woori Yallock Running until mid-2021

Seven acrobats push their physical limits without reserve. Recommended for all ages, presented by Arts Centre Melbourne and Gravity & Other Myths.


Stunning and joyous for kids and adults alike, A Simple Space is stripped back circus at its very best.


A Simple Space delights audiences with non-stop feats of exhilarating acrobatic ability. Feel the heat, hear every breath, and be immersed in every moment.

Join the celebrations including a christmas themed pets parade, photos with santa, pet performers, live street entertainment, street dining. 5PM - 8PM


Watch it here https://www. artscentremelbourne.com.au/ community/content-hub/together-withyou/videos/a-simple-space

UNTIL 25 DECEMBER CHRISTMAS SQUARE, FED SQUARE The hub of the Christmas Festival, Christmas Square is a lush wonderland of festive cheer. See the 16m giant Christmas tree, Santa’s Workshop and enough sparkling lights to compete with the stars themselves. It’s Melbourne’s official Christmas destination, open until Christmas Day.



The market will be gift stalls only, with a Monbulk Rotary sausage sizzle, so it will be a perfect opportunity to buy your Christmas gifts while also supporting local and small businesses.


5.30PM - 9PM


The Leading 4 the Future eigth-week program is a unique and exciting opportunity for 18 to 25 year-olds interested in making a positive difference in their community. Register here: https://www. yarraranges.vic.gov.au/Experience/ Events/Leading-4-The-Future-Program

Princes Bridge, St Kilda Rd





This free light show is fast becoming a must-do in the Yarra Ranges at Christmas. Shows start every 30 minutes. Old Melbourne Road, Chirnside Park

A FREE online event for young children, youth and families in the community of Healesville. The event will be screened on Facebook and YouTube.

9pm - 11pm


22 SUMMER 2020/2021

Melbourne’s famous Christmas projections return. Stroll Swanston Street to see animations at State Library Victoria and gorgeous static displays light up Melbourne Town Hall and Princes Bridge. The projections at State Library Victoria feature a thank you tribute to some of Melbourne’s COVID-19 heroes. It will have you feeling all the emotions. Visit all three sites for the ultimate Melbourne Christmas experience. Projections run every night 9pm to 11pm.

RUNNING UNTIL 21 JANUARY IMAGINARIA, THE DISTRICT DOCKLANDS Located in the heart of Melbourne, Imaginaria is a new form of immersive play. An hour long walk-through experience where imagination and technology collide to create a visually stunning audiovisual play experience from the future. Visit imaginarianow.com www.yarrarangeskids.com.au

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Profile for Star News Group

Yarra Ranges Kids Summer 2020 - 2021  

Yarra Ranges Kids Summer 2020 - 2021