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BROOKE EVANS-BUTLER

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I have finally become ‘cool’ in the eyes of my children. My secret? Telling my boys that Mister Maker was going to be calling me. ‘That’s so cool Mum! You are so cool! Can you ask him how to make a rattle snake? Can you ask him to come to our house?’

It was at that moment I felt a bit nervous about the interview – and what I would tell my kids about Mister Maker afterwards. After all, I had to remember I wasn’t going to be speaking to Mister Maker, but the man behind the spotty vest and spiky hair, Phil Gallagher. It is always interesting when you interview someone who you see on television every day – there is a feeling that you know them already – so sometimes it can be a shock when they are not as you imagined them to be.

However, when my phone rings at 10.03am (only three minutes after our interview was scheduled), Phil apologies for keeping me waiting. I tell him it is fine because of my new ‘Cool Mum’ status and he laughs, asks all about the kids and tells me to say hi to them from him, and that he would love to see them at the show. He is lovely (cue Mum Crush) – and it is clear, from the onset, Phil loves being Mister Maker.

“Getting this job was the best day of my life and every day is even better,” he reflects. “It was always my dream to be a kids’ television presenter and the live shows have taken on a life of its own. It is beyond my wildest dreams.”

“I’m so excited to be coming back to Australia. This year we are bringing the biggest show we have ever done.”

I do not think Phil could ever have imagined how big ‘Mister Maker’ (and other series’ including Mister Maker Comes to Town, Mister Maker Around the World and the new Mister Maker Arty Party) would become since first airing on our screens in 2007. It now plays in over 100 countries and live shows are touring around the globe (he tells me that as well as touring around Australia and New Zealand, he will also be taking the latest live show to Hong Kong and across the UK later in the year).

Perhaps the popularity of the show comes from the fact that the show inspires parents to set up arts and crafts for children who are crying ‘I’m bored’, without fuss or expensive materials (and we know from Mister Maker’s ‘minute makes’ that you don’t necessarily have to put aside a whole afternoon to create something).

ARTY TIP: “Recycle and collect materials to use – something that is ordinary that you can turn into the extraordinary. Plan ahead and start your own ‘doodle drawer’.”

When I ask Phil what he believes is the main benefit of doing arts and crafts for children, he says the key thing is confidence. “When I was growing up I loved making things. I got a lot of pride from what I made, so I believe art and craft generates confidence,” he says. “That is not just for children but for grown-ups as well. I often have parents and grandparents talk to me after live shows and they say thank you because the show has shown them that they can be creative and they can be arty. That is the cause of the show at its very core – to teach simple techniques. Once that has been taught, we hope to inspire whatever age that they can have a go – and the materials are easily attainable. It makes me pleased and proud that people surprise themselves.”

(Breakout) MISTER MAKER’S FAVOURITE MAKE: Phil says ‘pom-pom bugs’ are his favourite arty make. “It was something I made with my grandad when I was little. I still have one I made over 30 years ago, which I treasure.”

The tour commences June 25 in Hobart – with performances following in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth. For complete tour and ticket information go to livenation.com.au – and if you do see Phil out-and-about, Mister Maker loves meeting his fans. “Quite often it is the grown-ups that stop me first,” Phil says. “A lovely thing is that children don’t expect to see me in any other way than in my spotty waistcoat and spiky hair, so it can take a while for a child to comprehend what’s going on. It is lovely when people say hello – grown-ups and mini makers alike.”
What should I include in my child’s ‘doodle drawer’?
If your child’s art and craft box only consists of paper and pencils, Phil offers some of his top arty material inclusions:

  • Pom-poms (Phil says they are his favourite arty material)
  • Googly eyes (or you can use white stickers and draw on the eyes with a black pen)
  • Pipe cleansers
  • Gloopy glue

TIP: Not the glitter…If you curse Mister Maker when you are cleaning up glitter after your child creates a masterpiece they saw on the show, Phil offers a handy ‘glitter clean-up tip: “A piece of sticky tape is a good trick. Gently push it onto a surface and the glitter sticks to the tape.”
“I do apologise to all the grown-ups about glitter,” he says. “Quite often parents will come up to me with a smile, put their arm around me and say ‘Why, Mister Maker? Why the glitter?’. I apologise for that. If it’s any consolation, I find glitter everywhere. My mum came to my house yesterday and as I was making her a cup of tea she remarked how much glitter there was in my kitchen… It follows me everywhere.”

 

Food basket
A ‘gourmet food’ basket can also be a fun and useful gift for a toddler – tailored to suit the toddler’s tastes of course! Think things that are handy to have on-hand, such as boxes of sultanas, muesli bars, rice cakes, plain biscuits and fruit/yoghurt/custard pouches. Some handy storage containers or a little lunch box, drink bottle or packet of wipes for sticky fingers make great additions.

Messy play
Anything that makes a mess will be a hit at this age! Water-based paints, crayons, Playdoh and large pieces of chalk are always winners. As a side note, an art smock is a great addition to any messy play or craft gift, or is also great as a stocking stuffer.

Role play
A favourite game for many toddlers is doing the things their mums and dads do every day. There are so many toys that can let your toddler emulate everyday tasks, such as a toy kitchen with plastic food, toy shop, cash register and shopping trolley, dolls pram, change table and baby bath.

Ride-ons
Toddlers love anything that moves! And depending on your budget, there are many options including tricycles, wagons and pedal cars. A great gift idea is a balance bike (which is essentially a training bike without pedals, which allows the toddler to scoot along with their feet, as they learn how to balance their bike.

Experiences
If you are buying for a toddler who appears to have every toy available, then why not get them an experience? Passes for swimming lessons, toddler gym, a music class, trip to the zoo or even a toddler-suitable concert or show (think The Wiggles or Justine Clarke).

Stocking fillers: bath crayons, toothbrushes, crayons, PlayDoh, bath toys, balloons, bubbles , musical instruments, hat, bucket and spade.

Whether for participation or for passion, there are many sports and performing arts options for your child to try. We look at the options, so you can make the best decision for your child.

DANCE
Dance is a popular activity for toddlers right through to adults, and for good reason. Jerrika Howley, head of the ‘Petite Performers’ and ‘Young Performers’ departments at Brent Street, says there are many advantages of dancing, including social relationships, balance and coordination, as well as confidence, respect, fun, sportsmanship, teamwork and goal setting.

There are many types of dance your child can try, but Jerikka recommends a beginner try ballet and/or jazz. “Ballet is the foundation of dance so all dancers will benefit from ballet training, and the co-ordination of jazz technique is always fun with the upbeat songs,” she says.

Liliana Maddams, principal at LA Talent School, recommends children try out a trial lesson. “Some kids love ballet but some find it a little bit slow,” she says. “Others love hip hop, which is very popular, and they love jazz. The best way to decide is to come along and try a class because every child is so different.”

MUSIC
Whether you take your baby to a music class or encourage your child to learn an instrument – there are a number of options available to immerse your child in music.

Professor Alan Lourens, head of UWA Conservatorium of Music, recommends children take part in music from a young age. “We know that students who take part in musical activity before the age of 12 develop very particular pathways in the brain, in a way that no other subject does,” he says. “What they do is connect the right and the left side of the brain very strongly.”

Students who take part in musical activity before the age of 12 develop very particular pathways in the brain, in a way that no other subject does.

He adds the sociological benefits are also massive. “One of the things about having students take part in music is that it is a social activity,” he says. “They have to learn to work with others in a way that is positive. There is no one trying to stop them from being their best because there is no opposition. For young kids, they are learning things like having to give things back, having to wait their turn, and having to put things in a particular place.”

DRAMA
To increase self-esteem or to bring out their inner actor – why not consider a good drama program for your child?

“Although there can be a misconception that a Performing Arts program is all about the performance side of things, it is often more about learning life skills,” says Helen Davey, Executive Principal, Helen O’Grady Drama Academy WA.

“Drama in general can help children with confidence, self-esteem, creative thinking, language skills and communication. The wonderful part about it is that all children have amazing imaginations which can be tapped into and used as a platform on which to build these skills. Creative programs can really help children to articulate their thoughts, feelings and emotions – to help them find their voices.”

Helen says performing arts programs suit everyone. “All young people enjoy creativity, when presented in the right environment. Some children come along to classes to increase their confidence and self-esteem, while others attend drama classes as a creative outlet, and to improve on their drama skills.”

MARTIAL ARTS
There are many types of martial arts, including judo, karate, mixed martial arts and more – and they are great not only for fitness, but to learn self-defence and increase confidence.

Celeste Knoester, coach at Kano Judo Schools, says judo and many other martial arts have physical benefits for children, such as improved gross motor coordination, spatial awareness, strength, balance and overall fitness levels. “The aspect that sets martial arts apart from other sports however, is the impact it has on the whole person,” she says. “Children will learn respect, friendship, confidence, emotional and physical self-control, conflict-resolution and self-defence skills.”

There are various martial arts classes, so when choosing a class for your child, Celeste advises to ensure it is something your child enjoys and looks forward to attending every week, while you as the parent feel they are learning something of value.

“Trust your gut as a parent and if you are not comfortable with something being taught, there are plenty other martial art options for you and your child. A good martial art will keep your child active, while building them into the best version of themselves.”

SWIMMING
Swimming is a great bonding activity for parent and baby (and is a perfect way to introduce young children to water). As your child grows, swimming lessons allow them to learn their strokes and develop water safety.

VenuesWest spokesperson and manager of Aquatics and Swim School, Taryn deLestang, says swimming lessons should be appropriate to the developmental age of the child, be fun and engaging, and include safety skills.

“When choosing a swim school parents should look for experienced and competent instructors who can guide your child through the learn-to-swim process in a safe and compassionate environment,” she advises. “It should be a positive experience for children and parents. As with learning any new skill, practice is key and being able to attend classes at a suitable time and location is also a major consideration. If the classes are close to home and at convenient times then you are more likely to be able to commit to regular lessons.”

LITTLE ATHLETICS
If you are worried about your child becoming bored with a repetitive activity, why not try Little Athletics?

Little Athletics Australia CEO Martin Stillman, says there are a wide range of events for children from 5 to 15 years of age in Little Athletics including running, jumping, throwing and walking and the events are modified to suit the age, developmental stage and ability of the children.

“Little Athletics promotes that it is important to ‘Be your Best’,” he says. “The emphasis being on fun, participation, performance, technique and getting involved with your family in physical and healthy activity.”

NETBALL
Ball sports are great to promote team work and skills – and with options including netball, basketball, soccer, football and more, there is sure to be a suitable ball sport for your child.

Kobie Combes, Netball WA’s Participation Manager, says Suncorp NetSetGo (Australia’s official netball starter program) is suitable for girls and boys aged 5 to 10.

“One of the biggest advantages of the Suncorp NetSetGO program is the use of modified equipment and rules,” Kobie says. “This allows the participants fundamental movement and motor skills to develop at an appropriate pace while allowing them to feel success and confident. Suncorp NetSetGO is also a very inclusive program for all boys and girls of all abilities aged 5-10.”

Kobie adds that playing a team sport such as netball from an early age holds many physical and mental advantages including developing self-esteem, teaching leadership skills, improving team building friendships and developing communication skills.

Janine Ripper, Marketing Officer, Act-Belong-Commit, says some of the advantages of children taking part in activities such as Performing Arts and sports are:

  • Boosts their mental and physical health and overall wellbeing.
  • Builds resilience.
  • Helps them to develop a sense of belonging and connection to others through forming new friendships and feeling a part of something.
  • Improves confidence and self-esteem.
  • Adds meaning and purpose to their lives.

If you are worried about not doing enough activities (or doing too much), Janine says there is no ‘ideal’ number of activities for children, “it all depends on the individual child and the family”. “We highly encourage parents to strive for a sense of balance, especially between structured and unstructured activities, free time and rest.”

Remember there are so many activities that your child can try! If none of the featured sports/activities appeal to your child, why not try something a bit different, such as parkour, fencing, breakdancing or archery.

How much does one little baby actually need? Your baby shopping list might seem overwhelming, but you don’t need all the bells and whistles. Offspring has created a guide to help you work out the must-haves from the nice-to-haves.

Before you hit the shops it is important to do some research. Look for product reviews online and talk to other mums about what they found most useful. Going to the shops unprepared can be overwhelming (just how many additional features can a pram have?) and it can be very easy to overspend when you are surrounded cute baby clothes.

Out and about

The first trips outside of the home with a newborn can seem scary, but you don’t need to pack like you are going away on a holiday.

The must-haves

Car restraint

You must have a rear-ward facing car-restraint that meets Australian Standards sorted before you bring your baby home from hospital. Many car seats will be suitable for your child from birth up to four years old, so as well as being an important piece of safety equipment, it is something you will be using every day for years.

Your decision will be determined by:
The space you have available (if you have more than one child you might need a slimline car seat to fit all the car seats across your car’s backseat).
You might decide on a travel system with a capsule that attaches to a pram frame. Some parents love this option, as it is easier to get baby out of the car without disturbing them, however, babies do outgrow this option quickly.

TIP: It’s a good idea to add to your to-do list to get your car restraint professionally installed by a local fitter to help ensure it is correctly fitted and safe to bring your newborn home in.

Pram/stroller

There are so many options when it comes to purchasing a pram, it can seem like you are purchasing a car. Features and prices can vary considerably.

Consider:
The intended use of the pram. Do you want a pram that you can exercise with (to put your baby in when you go running or for long walks) or will it mainly be used to go to the shops or short trips?
How big the pram is. It is important to check that the pram will fit in the boot of your car.

Check how easy the pram is to fold. If it is too complicated or heavy it will make it difficult for you to get the pram in and out of the car’s boot.
A big consideration is if you also have a toddler, are expecting twins or are planning on having babies close in age. Twin or double prams are available (but be sure to check the width is practical to go shopping to fit through the aisles, for example) or configurations are available with toddler skateboards at the back of the pram, for example.

Second hand gems!
Purchasing or being gifted second hand baby items are a great way to save some money – and as many baby products are used for such a short time, you might find they are in brand new condition! However, it is important to carefully check the condition of things like cots, mattresses and car seats if you are considering hand-me-down options. Ensure any product is safe and meets relevant Australian Standards.

Nice to have

A nappy bag

Some sort of bag is definitely important so you have some nappies and spare clothes on-hand, as well as bottles if bottle feeding, and toys etc. Some nappy bags revival designer handbags with stylish designs and multiple storage compartments (including in-build change mat and insulated bottle carrier) but for the budget conscious, you can also get away with any practical bag or backpack.

Baby carrier

This is a personal choice and for some parents, a good baby carrier will supersede a pram. It is certainly useful to be able to carry your baby and keep your hands free to do the shopping, for example, and is a great option for using in the outdoors when going for a walk. A supportive baby carrier can also be handy to use at home to settle your baby.

Portable cot

A portable cot is definitely not on the must-have list, but can be very handy, especially if you are planning on going on holidays or to be used at a babysitter or grandparent’s home for naps or sleepovers.

Other travel products to consider: pram liner, trolley cover, rain cover/sunshade for pram, ‘Baby on Board’ car sign, car window shades.

Going to sleep

It is important to create a comfortable and most importantly safe environment for your baby to sleep in.

Must haves

Cot

A cot is an expensive investment, but if you are considering using a family heirloom or second-hand find, it is important to ensure it meets current Australian safety guidelines. There are many cots to suit your needs, including cots that convert to a toddler bed at a later stage. A good quality, clean mattress that properly fits in the cot is also a necessity.

A good quality, waterproof mattress protector is essential to ensure your baby’s cot mattress stays in good condition. Purchase two or three so you have spares for when you are doing the washing.

There are many options when it comes to wraps, swaddles, sleeping bags and baby blankets. Again, ensure you have a few options, so you have spares for when you are doing the washing. Some babies love to be swaddled, while some love to be able to have their little arms out in a sleeping bag, so test out what option is going to be best suited to your baby.

Nice to have

A bassinet

This will only be used for the first couple of months, so it isn’t a necessity. However, a bassinet can be very handy during those first few weeks, as a bassinet is easy to move around the house.

A baby monitor

If your baby is in their own room, it can be comforting to be able to easily hear them if they wake during the night. Some monitors are quite sophisticated, with options including video monitoring. Some monitors are also available that doubles as a night light, and some monitors also monitor a baby’s movement, to provide additional peace-of-mind.

Other sleep products to consider: White noise machine, room thermometer, night light.

Feeding time

Your feeding essentials will differ depending on whether you choose to breast or formula-feed.

Must-haves

Breast pads are essential if breastfeeding to prevent embarrassing leaks. Disposable pads are available, or reusable pads can be washed and used again and again.

Bottles and teats are essential if you are formula feeding or if you want to express breastmilk. There are many styles of bottles and teats available and sometimes it can take a while to work out which ones will suit your baby, so don’t buy too much until you try them out for yourself.

High chair

When your baby starts solids, a high chair will be used regularly. High chairs range from very basic options to deluxe designs with padded seating and adjustable backs. Whatever you choose, remember that this is where your child will be eating (which often means mess!), so it is very important to ensure it can easily be cleaned.

Nice to have

Breast pump

This might be an essential item if you are breastfeeding (especially if you want to express some feeds) but you don’t have to buy one as they can often be hired at your local chemist.

A steriliser

A steriliser isn’t optional (you can always sterilise by boil bottles, teats and feeding gear in a large pot), but a steriliser can certainly be handy.

Mess Mat

This is useful to put under the highchair to catch any food that falls from the highchair.

Other feeding products to consider: Mess Mat, bibs, suction bowls, bottle warmer, bottle drying rack.
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Nappy changes

You will be changing many nappies over the next couple of years! Here’s what to get:

Must haves

Nappies and wipes

Whether you choose disposable or cloth options, you will need a good supply of nappies and wipes. However, it is advisable not to go overboard and buy too many nappies before you have bub. Firstly, babies grow very quickly so if you buy boxes and boxes of newborn disposable nappies, chances are your baby will outgrow them before you use them all. For cloth nappies, it might best to try different brands to find the best fit for your baby.

Change mat

Whether for out-and-about or to use at home, a good quality and easy-to-clean change mat is a must to keep nappy changing mess contained.

Nice to have

Change table

For some parents, a change table is essential as a dedicated nappy changing space. Other parents might use a change mat on top of a dresser or might change their baby on a bed. Do whatever works for you!

Barrier creams

Your baby might never get nappy rash, but if they do there are many nappy rash creams on the market. Some parents like to use a barrier cream as nappy rash preventative after each nappy change (talk to your pharmacist or health care professional about the best option for your baby).

Other nappy change products to consider: Wipes warmer, nappy bin, soaking bucket

TIP: Nappy changes can be tough on your hands, so get a good quality hand moisturiser to help keep your skin in good shape after all that hand washing. Hand sanitiser is also a good idea to have on-hand in your nappy bag for nappy changes on-the-go.

First aid
For peace of mind, some first aid items are a good idea to have on-hand when you bring baby home. Saline solution, baby paracetamol (ensuring it is only used according to directions) and a baby thermometer are good products to have handy in the early months.

Baby clothes

Of cute, tiny baby clothes! It is tempting to go overboard, but your baby will not need too much. Remember, baby clothes will be one of the most popular gifts or hand-me-downs you are likely to get from family friends, so to start off with, buy what you think you will need for the early weeks.

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Must haves

Several onesies

Remember, even in the warmer months, hospitals can be quite cool due to air-conditioning, so get some long sleeved, as well as short sleeved in the Summer months. 0000 is a common size for a newborn but get a couple of 000 if you are expecting a big baby.

Hats

Get a sun hat for the warmer months or beanie for the cooler months.

Socks

Tiny socks can double up as mittens in the early days to stop a baby from scratching themselves. Buy a few pairs – one sock can easily fall off and go missing.

Nice to have

Fancy outfit

Cute little outfits, such as tiny dresses, suits or little tracksuits look adorable on a new baby, but they are not necessary. However, you might like to buy a special outfit for taking baby home from the hospital.

Does the thought of Christmas shopping make you sweat? Never fear, Offspring Magazine’s Christmas gift guide has gift ideas covered for all of the family.

BABIES

Although a baby cannot make their own Christmas wish-list, there are so many options to spoil your little one this festive season.


Rocking horse
A beautiful rocking horse will be a loved gift for years to come. Coco Rose Rattan Rocking Horse, rrp $399, www.cocoroseinteriors.com.au

The Clean Collective bundle
Practical gifts are always a good choice for baby (before they can make their own Christmas wishlist, and this range of essentials are not only good for baby but also for the planet! This lovely bundle includes goodies including natural wipes, organic muslin swaddle, biodegradable nappy bags, massage oil and so much more. Items can also be added, removed or swapped on request. The Clean Collective – Baby’s First Christmas Bundle, rrp $215, thecleancollective.com.


Poppy & Pom rompers
Bub will have something gorgeous to wear throughout the festive season with these adorable rompers from Poppy & Pom. Their core romper range is made from 100 per cent cotton and is Australian made and designed. Poppy & Pom, $50+GST (for basic romper), www.poppyandpom.com


Roly Poly Koala
Baby will love this friendly koala – it makes a bell sound when it rolls. Roly Poly Koala, rrp $30 from www.tigertribe.com.au


Carrol Boyes ‘Bunny’ Children’s Set Tube
This stainless steel cutlery set is useful and cute! ‘Bunny’ Children’s Set Tube, rrp $60, available from David Jones, www.carrolboyes.com


Safari Learning Playspace by Leapfrog
This fun activity centre is designed to grow with your child – with three configurations so your little one can play with it through the sitting, to crawling to standing stage. It also has three modes (music explore and learn) to keep bub entertained. For babies 6 months and over. Available from Big W and selected toy stores, rrp $99.95.

Stocking fillers: bibs, teething toys, bath towels, books

TODDLERS

There are so many options to fill your toddler’s stocking. Just ensure you check the recommended age for the toy you buy to ensure you get something that is safe for your toddler’s age.
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PJ Masks Super Learning HQ Welcome to the PJ Masks Super Learning Headquarters by VTech
If your child is a PJ Masks fan, they will love this Learning HQ, with 12 activities to keep your child entertained, as well as the PJ Masks theme song and sound effects. rrp $49.95 from Big W, Target and selected retailers.


Storytime Buddy from Leapfrog
This adorable puppy is educational and cuddly! Buddy teaches colours, shapes, numbers, letters and so much more. He comes with five books and also has a nightlight – perfect for night time cuddles. rrp $59.95 from Big W and selected toy retailers.


Peppa Pig Lights and Sounds Family Home
It’s Peppa Pig’s house! Sure to delight Peppa Pig fans, the house features seven rooms and a range of accessories. The house also features favourite sounds and phrases from the show. rrp $149 from Myer, Big W and selected retailers.


Pokémon Power Action Pikachu
This Pikachu is so much more than a cuddly toy – it has a light up tail and cheeks, movement sensors and speaks more than 15 different responses. rrp $59 from Big W, Myer and selected retailers.


Push Along Pet Carrier by VTech
Toddlers love toys they can push along, but this push along carrier also features a cuddly puppy, as well as fun songs and sounds. VTech Push Along Pet Carrier, rrp $69.95, available from Kmart.


Starlight
Of course, Christmas is about more than presents, and these delightful toys from Starlight helps raise money for sick children and their families. Star Wand ($10) and Captain Starlight Doll ($25) from
www.shop.starlight.org.au

Stocking fillers: bath toys, balls, swimwear, clothes, bubbles

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KIDS 5-9 YEARS

Whether you are looking for something educational or purely just-for-fun, check out these great gift options for your children.


NeoBear AR Globe
If you are looking for an educational toy for your child, this globe makes learning about the world interesting with 3D animation, interactive learning and videos. Things become even more fascinating when viewed through the NeoAR app using a mobile device, enables children to see buildings, animals and more in the countries around the world. NeoBear AR Globe, rrp $59, available from Kmart.


Time teacher watches
These watches not only look great, but their easy-to-read faces help children learn how to tell the time. Stylish and educational! Time Teacher Watch, from rrp $39.95, www.cactuswatches.com


African djembe drums
Does your child love music? Then why not let them make their own with these fantastic drums. rrp from $59 (for the 30cm size) from www.africanbeat.com.au/product/djembe/


Jewellery box
This lovely Mini Beau Jewellery Box is perfect for a child who would like to keep their jewellery and precious trinkets safe and sound, rrp $24.95 from Smiggle

Ultra Trampoline
Let the kids burn off some energy with a gift that will be used long after the Christmas decorations are packed away. Vuly Play’s Ultra Trampoline, rrp from $599   from www.vulyplay.com

Lush
These gorgeous Lush products are perfect stocking fillers that look and smell great. Lush Candy Cane Reusable Bubble Bar, rrp $7.95 and Lush Gingerbread Man Sparkle Jar, $15.95, www.lush.com.au

Hatchi-Babies
Does your child like Hatchimals? Then they will love hatching the adorable HatchiBabies! Each comes with a highchair and birth certificate and they can be taught how to talk and play games like ‘find my toes’. HatchiBabies, rrp $109.99 from Target, Big W and Kmart, www.hatchimals.com

Stocking fillers: PlayDoh, art and craft supplies, books, clothes

PRETEENS 9-12 YEARS

No longer a child but not quite a teen – these are some great gift ideas that are fun or educational, depending on your preteen’s interests.


Smart watches
Delight your tween or teen with their own stylish smart watch. Cactus Kids Smart Watch Activity Tracker, rrp $99.95. Interchangeable banks available for rrp $14.95. www.cactuswatches.com


iPad cable
‘Can you charge my iPad?’ is a cry many parents will be familiar with – and now charging has become a bit more glamorous! The Laser Glitter Lightning Cable looks great and is a handy spare to have over the Christmas holidays, rrp $15 from Big W, www.bigw.com.au


Drone
If a drone is on your child’s wishlist, the Smiggle Remote Controlled Drone is easy to fly (and will fly up to 25 metres, which is sure to impress the kids), rrp $64.95 from Smiggle.

 

 

Slam Pro Basketball Hoop
Future basketball star on your hands? This portable hoop is multidirectional – allowing slam dunks from any angle. rrp $999 from Vuly Play, www.vulyplay.com

 

 

Comic Book Kit
Let your child create their very own comic, with step-by-step instructions and everything they need, rrp $25 from www.tigertribe.com.au

 

 


The Daredevil’s Guide to Dangerous Places
This fun book introduces your child to fascinating and destructive wonders, from venomous snakes to erupting volcanos. rrp $19.99, www.lonelyplanetkids.com

Stocking fillers: art supplies, slime, books, vouchers, PJs

MUMS

Mum deserves to be spoilt this Christmas.


Sustainable necklace
Handmade in Australia, these unique necklaces are ethically made from ceramic stoneware, leather and sterling silver, and a great gift idea for mums. Woodfolk Natural Wonders Necklace, rrp $75 from www.woodfolk.com.au


Parenting for Legends
Give a mum or mum-to-be a big belly laugh with this hilarious parenting guide by bestselling author Shannon Kelly White. Parenting for Legends by Shannon Kelly White, rrp $29.99, www.parentingforlegends.com


Bobbi Brown Eye & Lip Palette
Spoil Mum with the pocket-sized Bobbi Brown Life of the Party Mini Eye & Lip Palette, for glamour on-the-go, rrp $80, www.bobbibrown.com.au

Stocking fillers: books, gourmet treats, pampering goodies, movie tickets

DADS

From budget gifts to something a bit luxurious, there are options for the perfect gift for the Dads in your life.


Crash camera
Whether Dad is a car enthusiast or a stickler for safety, he will love the Naavig8r GPS X 616 Crash Camera, rrp $99.95 available from Harvey Norman.


AncestryDNA kit
Are you looking for a gift for the person who has everything? Then look no further than the AncestryDNA kit, which can provide a personalised ethnicity estimate back up to 1000 years from more than 350 regions around the world! This unique gift is sure to be talked about for years to come. AncestryDNA kit, rrp $129 plus shipping from www.ancestry.com.au/xmas


Wine cellar
Can you imagine Dad’s face when he receives his very own wine cellar? Smeg’s Dolce Stil Novo collection features two wine cellars to choose from, including a 450mm high built-in model and an 820mm underbench, the wine cellars are tailored to store and mature Dad’s favourite drops. rrp CVI618NR Compact Wine Cellar, $3490, www.dolcestilnovo.com.au

Stocking fillers: Books, gourmet delights, skincare/body products, socks, scratchies/Lotto

FAMILY

Why not get the family something to enjoy together?


Car charger
Christmas road trips just got easier! The Belkin Road Rockstar: 4 Port Passenger Car Charger features four USB ports so you can charge four devices so the kids can keep playing their tablets without the risk of the battery running out mid-trip. A six-foot cable also means even the kids’ devices in the backseat can charge. $59.95, www.belkin.com/au


Monopoly
Nothing brings the family together like a good board game, and the new Monopoly Cheaters Edition (which rewards cheating) is sure to be a hit. rrp $39.99 from leading toy retainers including Big W, Myer, Target and Kmart.


iFLY
Experience gifts are always a hit, so why not try indoor skydiving for something a bit different? The great thing is it is suitable for most of the family, suitable for ages 3+. For pricing and details go to https://downunder.iflyworld.com/

Gift options for all!

  • Gift vouchers. A great idea for those who are difficult to buy for. To make a voucher a bit more personalised, they can be gifted in a funky gift voucher case or card.
  • Experiences. For the people who have everything, an experience is a great idea, and there are so many options – from movie tickets and restaurant vouchers to spa vouchers and hot air balloon rides.
  • Books. A book (or a magazine subscription) is a great gift for all ages.

 

Choosing where to give birth is one of the biggest decisions you will make during your pregnancy. Whether you are contemplating public or private care, there are several important factors, as well as possible alternatives, to consider when choosing the best maternity care option for you and your family.

Finding out you are going to be a parent is a very exciting time, but making decisions about the right maternity care for you and your new baby can be a bit overwhelming. We take a look at some of the maternity care options available.

Private Care

If you have maternity care included in your private health package, you may wish to choose private care for you and your baby. If you receive care through the private system, you choose a private obstetrician, who will care for you from your antenatal appointments, right through to the birth and postnatal check-up.

Dr Stephen Lane, president of the National Association of Specialist Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (NASOG), says in the private system, the baby is delivered by very experienced caregivers, with obstetricians going through six or more years of specialist training, on top of their five or six-year medical degree.

He says the most common reason many people choose to have a private obstetrician is continuity of care.

Dr Lane says some considerations expectant parents think about when choosing an obstetrician include:

Gender (for some women, choosing a female obstetrician is important)

Location (“Is there a suitable carpark that is accessible? Are the rooms easy to get to? I think these things are important to consider,” says Dr Lane)

The obstetrician’s desk staff (“If the desk staff are friendly and approachable that is a good sign,” Dr Lane says. “It gives a good feel that they are a mirror of the person you will be seeing.”)

Cost (Dr Lane says the majority of obstetricians and gynaecologists in Australia charge well below the Australian Medical Association’s rates, with the average out-of-pocket cost for delivering a baby throughout Australia around $2000).

Note: Ask about your chosen obstetrician’s fee schedule and check with your health cover provider to find out exactly what is covered so you can be prepared for any out-of-pocket expenses.
“Australia is recognised as one of the safest countries in the world to have a baby, and this is a reflection of the world class education our specialist obstetricians and gynaecologists undertake, with many completing more than 12 years of study and training,” he says. “NASOG believes that the care provided by specialist obstetricians and gynaecologists is worth every cent to the patients who enjoy improved health outcomes as a result of our professional care.”

Katie Lavercombe says she chose a private hospital because she wanted to be able to access any pain relief that she wanted during childbirth and was afraid her wishes might not be respected at a public hospital.

“I loved giving birth at a private hospital, the care was great, it was never too busy, and the staff were attentive,” she says. “We loved being able to stay together as a couple and have time to bond with each new baby.”

Katie is currently pregnant with her fourth child and does not have the right level of cover to choose a private hospital this time, so is receiving care through the public system.

“We are utilising the public system, and while it is full of hard working doctors and midwives, there are long wait times at each appointment, meaning a large chunk of my time is taken up by waiting for medical appointments,” she says.

Crystal Henderson decided to have her daughter at a public hospital because her GP recommended it. “We had planned to go Private, but when he recommended it, along with many of our friends, who shared their very positive birth stories after giving birth in public hospitals, we thought we should at least look at it,” she says. “When we went to the public hospital, and they took us through the rooms and birth suites, we were blown away.”

Ms Henderson says she was very happy with the care she received. “There (were) some minor complications during the labour and I needed extra medical assistance, however I felt very safe, in control and informed of everything the whole time,” she says

Shared Antenatal Care

If you have a great relationship with your trusted family GP, then shared antenatal care might be an option to consider. In a nutshell, antenatal shared care involves a woman’s appointments being shared between maternity care providers (usually GPs, midwives and obstetricians), and is most commonly between a GP and maternity staff in a public hospital.

Dr Wendy Burton, chair of The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners’ antenatal/postnatal care specific interest group, says women choose to have shared antenatal care with their GP for a number of reasons.

“They may have a good relationship with their GP and are confident that they will be well taken care of,” she says. “The GP’s rooms may be closer or more convenient than the hospital/obstetrician or GPs may work extended hours, making appointments easier to plan around work commitments.


“Antenatal shared care involves a woman’s appointments being shared between maternity care providers – usually GPs, midwives and obstetricians.”

“The best models of shared antenatal care involve a collaborative team effort with well-informed GPs communicating effectively and efficiently with the other providers of care,” she adds. “If your usual GP is not up-to-date with current best practice for antenatal care, they may be able to recommend another GP who is better placed to provide care for you.

Work is currently underway to create digital records and an app for women, which will give additional options for the sharing of the pregnancy health record.”

Your Support

Who will be your support person when you welcome your baby into the world?

Many women will choose a partner, family member (such as their Mum) or a close friend to be their support person. However, there are some options to consider.

For example, a midwifery student is a good choice. They will attend antenatal appointments with you and, if you consent, can also attend the birth.

Another support option is a doula (a professional, non-medical birth and/or postnatal companion who is able to provide continuity of care, and emotional and physical support during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period).

Michelle Perkins, chairperson of Australian Doulas, says many women hire a doula after experiencing a negative or traumatic previous birth experience.

“Some hire a doula to help them understand the maternity/obstetric systems. Some hire a doula to provide emotional and physical support if they do not have a partner, or if they believe their partner may also need support and guidance.”

Home Birth

Do you want to have your baby at home?

Grace Sweeney, coordinator at Homebirth Australia, says a woman who chooses to birth at home is guaranteed to receive continuity of care from a known midwife.

Ms Sweeney says the most important thing that a woman considering homebirth needs to do is to seek out a midwife as soon as possible.

“Nearly a decade of a sustained witch hunt against homebirth midwives has meant that midwives in private practice are scarce, and book out early,” she says. “It’s worth doing research on midwives in your area before you’re pregnant and making a booking as soon as your pregnancy is confirmed.”

Dr Lane says NASOG does not support home births in Australia.

Sarah Purvey decided she wanted a homebirth for her first child. “I had two private midwives,” Sarah says, when asked about her care. “A primary midwife came to my house regularly in pregnancy, so I built a very close relationship with her in that time and all the options for tests and injections were managed by her, with my consent and our discussions about them first. My primary midwife was there during the birth and then I had a second midwife attend shortly before my babies were born. For my first birth, I was also supported by a private obstetrician. I saw her a few times during pregnancy and she was open to supporting me, if I needed to transfer to hospital, if I needed more medical support from home.”

She says her experiences were wonderful and empowering.

“My first birth was very tough, long and in the end, I did transfer to the private hospital with my obstetrician, as I had a long second stage. In the end, I had an episiotomy, which couldn’t be done at home. This was handled beautifully by my midwives and by my obstetrician. I spent about 30 minutes continuing to labour in the private hospital, once I arrived, then we all discussed the option to do an episiotomy. I consented and this was done well. I felt wonderful when my baby arrived, despite 18 hours of active labour and a previous night of no labour.”

“Second time was much easier – four hours of active labour and my baby was born in to the water, straight into my arms and onto my chest.”

How do you choose the best school for your child? We look at the options so you can make an informed choice.

 

Choosing a school for your child is a big decision. After all, your child will be spending a large amount of their time there, so you want to ensure you choose an environment where your child will not only be happy but will be supported to reach their full potential.

Government/public education
Choosing public education is a very popular option in Australia and for good reason – the schools offer a high standard of education, and chances are, your local public school might be as close as across the road or just down the street.

If you choose a Government education, chances are you will not get to choose which Government school your child attends, as most Government schools have a set ‘enrolment zone’ so your eligibility will be determined by which zone your address falls into. Check with your local school about their enrolment requirements.

There are also independent public schools, which are Government schools that have increased autonomy to make decisions at a local level.

Independent schools
There is a wide range of schools within the Independent school sector, which includes Christian, non-denominational Christian, Jewish, Steiner, Montessori, Islamic and Community schools.

According to the Independent Schools Council of Australia, independent schools have a reputation as providers of quality education.

The schools are not-for-profit entities and have their own boards or management committees. Many independent schools are religious-affiliated. School fees vary within the Independent school sector.

According to the Independent Schools Council of Australia, independent schools have a reputation as providers of quality education.

Catholic Education
Ray Collins, acting executive director of the National Catholic Education Commission, says Catholic schools are faith-based schools that offer parents the choice to send their children to a school that aligns with their values and beliefs. He adds Catholic schools offer the same curriculum as Government schools, plus a wide selection of electives, sporting and creative arts programs.

“An important difference is that Catholic schools provide their curriculum through a Catholic perspective and also provide the opportunity for students to learn more about the Catholic faith through Religious Education, and to experience their faith through regular prayer, special liturgies and the celebration of the sacraments,” Mr Collins says.

“Catholic schools are known for the quality of their teaching and pastoral care programs, which means students are not only challenged in their learning but are equally supported in their social and emotional development.”

Mr Collins says the majority of Catholic schools belong to a system of schools and charge lower fees to make them as affordable and accessible to families as possible. He says Catholic schools also provide a range of scholarships and fee assistance to support families in financial hardship.

Home education
Myfanwy Dibben, committee member for the Home Education Association, says many parents decide to home school their children before their children reach compulsory school age.

“Some find they need to withdraw their child from school because the child’s educational and developmental needs are not being met in the classroom,” she adds. “Among these, special needs feature largely, both for children that are accelerated in their learning and those who struggle to learn using the methods and resources used by their teachers. Anxiety and depression, often associated with unresolved bullying at school, are increasingly being cited by parents inquiring about home education.”

Ms Dibben says in addition to the Home Education Association, there are state-based associations, as well as hundreds of online home education support groups to help parents find resources and information to help their children learn at home.

Ms Dibben says in addition to the Home Education Association, there are state-based associations, as well as hundreds of online home education support groups to help parents find resources and information to help their children learn at home.

Steiner education
Virginia Moller, CEO of Steiner Education Australia, explains that based on a holistic and integrated approach, a Steiner education aims to nurture and develop the unique qualities and capabilities of each child. “It seeks to lead students towards healthy sea-knowledge, as well as deep understanding of the world they live in, so they can be positive, creative and resilient citizens who can envision a future which they believe they can help create,” she says. “This is achieved through balancing academic, artistic and practical life experiences throughout the Steiner curriculum, which is designed to bring thinking to life through imaginative teaching.”

Ms Moller says some of the advantages of sending a child to a Steiner school include:

>High standards, but less pressure

>Integrated approach with focus on teaching through the arts

>Sense of connectedness to self, to the environment, to the past, present and future.

Montessori education
Victoria Marshall-Cerins, Chief Operating Officer of Montessori Australia Foundation says Montessori is a wider approach to human development.

Their education program, which focusses on independence, has an individualised learning approach, where children (who are in multi-age classrooms) are provided with education materials, which they explore at their own pace.

“The educator’s role is to provide the children with the materials and observe the children’s own insights and capability,” she says. “The materials given to the younger children (three to six years) enable children to learn how to do things for themselves – for example, wiping a table.”

“However, they are also learning how to follow a sequence of steps, how to concentrate on a task and to complete the task. They start with something simple and as their ability grows, more activities are introduced to fit those needs.”

Ms Marshall-Cerins  advises that parents ensure when they are considering a school or centre
they look for one that it is ‘Montessori Registered’ through the Montessori Quality Assurance Programme (MQAP).”

Climate change champion, mother of four and founder of 1 Million Women, Natalie Isaacs, is an inspiring woman proving that one person is capable of making a difference.

As mothers, we all want to make this world a better place for our children, but understandably, good intentions can often go unactioned in the busyness of work and family. 

Battling climate change wasn’t always on the forefront of Natalie’s mind. In fact, she was a cosmetics manufacturer and a busy mum of four.

But then, by making some simple changes, she reduced her electricity bill by 20 percent.

“I realised then that what I did was powerful, and if other people did what I just did that would be incredible,” she recalls. “I went on and changed my food waste habits and from that one action I profoundly changed the way I lived.

So, I went on to think, ‘Oh my goodness, imagine if I could share my story with other women like me, who were not engaged for whatever reason, and if I could tell my story, they might want to change too.’ That is what really led me to create 1 Million Women.”

Natalie founded 1 Million Women in 2009, and the idea was simple – get 1 Million Women to sign up to the website and make a commitment to cut a tonne of pollution out of their lives within a year.

The movement grew quickly (although Natalie admits, she thought they would reach one million women within six months), and the movement is now reaching people all over the world.

The idea was simple – get 1 Million Women to sign up to the website and make a commitment to cut a tonne of pollution out of their lives within a year.

The cause continues to climb towards their one million goal (the 1 Million Women community, which includes women who have committed as members, as well as their followers across the 1 Million Women social platforms, currently comprises more than 700,000).

Additionally, the cause has expanded to not only encourage women and give ideas on how to reduce their carbon footprint, but also take on larger campaigns, such as fighting for the Great Barrier Reef and reducing food waste.

“The heart and soul of 1 Million Women is about empowering women and girls to live with the least impact on the planet,” Natalie says. “We show you that everything we do in our daily life shapes the world we live in, and of course, this is about climate change.”

Women are responsible for 85 per cent of the consumer decisions that impact a household’s carbon footprint, and with 17 per cent of global emissions coming from households, the difference small changes can make collectively is huge.

However, it is not about making women and their families feeling guilty to facilitate change. “One of the things we have learnt is the way that we do it from a view of optimism and empowerment, not from guilt and despair,” Natalie says. “We show you how to act and we show you the results.

We bring you along the road of empowerment as opposed to making you feel guilty about what you’re not doing. It is showing this collective action – if one million of us did this, then this would be the result.”

Natalie says women are amazing at networking, and the social media following of 1 Million Women is certainly impressive. Natalie says the small team behind 1 Million Women decided to work on building their social media following and to make their blog a priority a few years ago, and it was the right decision.

“The blog went from 500 views a month to 10,000 views a day.”

Their social media community, through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is also very active – with the 1 Million Women team posting several times a day. “They are such an engaged community,” she says. “Social media is such a big part of how we communicate.”

They are also working on a (free to download) app, which is planned to be launched in February. The app will provide daily climate actions and track how much carbon pollution you save.

Natalie has recently been awarded The Australian Geographic Conservationist of the Year. “I am so honoured by it because it is real recognition of the work that we do.”

“Behaviour changing is the elephant in the room – it is the hardest thing to do.”

In an affluent community like Australia it is hard to change the way you live.

“You might do something for a month or two but then you forget. We are trying to get women to change their lives profoundly so you don’t even see it as behaviour change any more, it just becomes who you are and that is a hard thing to do.”

Since Natalie is a mother and a grandmother, she gives a sense of comfort that she truly understands how making and sticking to changes can be difficult. But, she acknowledges little changes can make a big difference and the benefits can be great.

She believes her children (the youngest is now 16) really live with an appreciation of the Earth and she encourages women to get their children onboard as well.

Natalie’s top tips to make a change
Natalie’s not suggesting you make drastic changes that will make a difference, which your family can begin today (and she didn’t suggest taking cold showers or living by candle light!).

  • Take a breath when you go to buy something and ask: Do I really need it?
    “Overconsumption is out of control”.
  • “Buy less – less is more. We can all stop consuming and we don’t need all the stuff that we have. Share, swap, buy second-hand, buy better quality – but buy less.”

 

  • Reduce food waste
    “In Australia, we waste one in five shopping bags of food. Look at your portions. Don’t be tempted to buy two for one deals at the shops. Get yourself a worm farm or some chickens to reduce food waste.”
  • Reduce energy consumption
    “We can reduce energy consumption just by being vigilant around the house.”

“That was the first thing I did. I didn’t even really know what I was doing – just turning this off at the wall – but it really makes a difference.”

Do you want your child to grow up to be a happy, resilient teen? Offspring catches up with renowned parenting expert, Kathy Walker, about what you can do now to help that happen.

Let’s face it – saying life is busy when you are taking care of a young child is an understatement. Each day is a juggle between swimming and ballet lessons, playgroups and visits to the library, toilet-training and trying to get them to eat a balanced meal (when will they eat a vegetable without it being disguised with cheese?).

Everything you do for your child, you do to make them happy and to give them the best start in life – but have you started thinking about how you will equip them to deal with future challenges, such as peer pressure?

It seems like a long way off, but a stern word about responsibility the first time your teen asks for your car keys is too late to shape them into a young adult that makes good decisions.

Parents need to be proactive in helping their children create strong relationships to instil self-discipline, learn emotional intelligence, master mindfulness and a sense of self, and develop resilience.

Leading parenting expert Kathy Walker and author of Future Proofing Your Child says by establishing boundaries and by being a good role model, parents can equip their children, from a young age, with the skills and qualities to become a happy, resilient and emotionally-intelligent teen. She calls it ‘future proofing’. “We are spending more time on electronic devices and in Australia we have increasing rates of suicide and depression,” she says. “I felt that anything we can do early in life, the better…future proofing is about prevention rather than cure.”

So how do you ‘future proof’ your child?

According to Kathy, parents need to be proactive in helping their children create strong relationships to instil self-discipline, learn emotional intelligence, master mindfulness and a sense of self, and develop resilience – all of which are very important skills and qualities to have when they reach teenage-hood and beyond (when they are likely to be exposed to stressful situations).

Kathy says all parents focus on making their children happy, however, things like setting boundaries, learning about disappointment and frustration (such as realising they cannot win all the time or missing out on something they want to do), being able to make mistakes and solve problems, and having time to ‘be bored’ can all help your child learn develop qualities that will be invaluable for them in the future.

For example, one example Kathy uses is by respectfully saying no to some requests (she says many parents don’t like saying no to their children for fear of them missing out), children can learn:

  • We don’t always get what we want when we want it.
  • We can feel frustrated, angry and disappointed but we will get over it.
  • We can’t manipulate people with our emotions.
  • It is okay to say no to someone.

(Source: Future Proofing Your Child by Kathy Walker, Viking, 2015).

One of the most common mistakes, she says, is when parents overschedule their children because children need time to play to learn, discover and make mistakes – but she says having time to be bored is a good thing! “I have been working with families for over 30 years and all parents want is the best for their children, but they don’t know how to say no,” she says. “They want to give their children many opportunities but they then end up overscheduling so their children don’t have the opportunity to self-entertain – and self-entertaining is so important. In life, you have to look after yourself, and if the pattern early in life is that every minute is scheduled, then you don’t get that opportunity to initiate your own ideas.”

 

Kathy says all parents focus on making their children happy, however, things like setting boundaries, learning about disappointment and frustration (such as realising they cannot win all the time or missing out on something they want to do), being able to make mistakes and solve problems, and having time to ‘be bored’ can all help your child learn develop qualities that will be invaluable for them in the future.

Kathy says you don’t have to be the perfect parent – but it is important to be reflective as parents and take on strategies to keep communication open with your children and create a strong relationship – which will make your child feel valued and secure. Then hopefully this will mean that in the future, your child becomes a teen that keeps communicating with you and will come to you with any worries or concerns.

Limiting screen time is an important aspect, according to Kathy, who says long periods of screen time can promote isolation. “Just because children have the skills to work these devices doesn’t mean they have the maturity to use them,” she says. “I wouldn’t let a toddler use an iPad. For older children, I would set a timer so they have a set time to use them. They need to communicate in the real world and get outside and play.”

“(Parents) want to give their children many opportunities but they then end up overscheduling so their children don’t have the opportunity to self-entertain.”

“Remember that you are models for your children,” she advises. “One example I think of is going to a restaurant and seeing every member of the family on an electronic device – the kids are watching their iPads and the parents are on their phones, so no one is communicating with each other. You need to spend quality time together to keep communicating with your child.”

Kathy’s top 3 tips for parents:

– Really listen to your children.
– Always end each day with love.
– Never discipline when you are angry.

 

To help future proof your child, Kathy provides the following top tips:

  • To create strong relationships with your child – Spend quality time together.
  • For self-discipline – Follow through with consequences.
  • To learn emotional intelligence – Parents need to acknowledge a child’s emotions.
  • To master mindfulness – Learn to slow down the pace of life. We all rush too much and we need to remember that children are not mini adults – they weren’t designed to work at adult pace.
  • To develop resilience – Let children make mistakes. It is important to sometimes let kids make discoveries for themselves.

 

Kathy Walker’s latest book, Future Proofing Your Child, RRP $32.99 (Viking) is available now.

Avoid the cries of ‘I’m bored!’ these school holidays. There are so many wonderful events and activities around Perth. We’ve done all the hard working searching for ideas – so all you have to do is pack the sunscreen and hat for your kids and decide what you want to tick off the list first.

SEASONAL EVENTS

Christmas, New Year and Australia Day means many opportunities to celebrate over the summer school holiday period. Check out these family-friendly options:

  • Christmas decorations During The Perth City Festival of Christmas there will be Christmas lights and decorations throughout the city, including a new 13 metre tall Christmas tree, a nativity scene and The Bell Tower’s lighting display. A number of city streets and parks will be illuminated with lights and decorations as well, including James Street, Lake Street and William Street in Northbridge.

 

  • If you love Christmas lights, remember there are many individuals that go to great effort to deck out their homes with Christmas lights for neighbours and friends to enjoy. Check out the Buggybuddy’s guide to Christmas light displays to find participating homes in your local area, which supports the PMH Foundation’s Christmas Lights campaign, buggybuddys.com.au/christmas_lights_perth

 

  • Forrest Place Christmas Carnival Held on the 6th and 7th of December at Forrest Place, the kids’ carnival features free rides, face painting, mini golf, a petting zoo and a visit from Santa.

 

  • Festive Flicks There will be free festive feature film screenings at Northbridge Plaza movie screenings the 6th and 7th, 10th – 13th, 17th – 21st and the 24th of December, with Christmas family favourites including The Polar Express, Elf, The Santa Clause, Love Actually, Frozen and The Muppet Christmas Carol.

 

  • Piazzarama Northbridge: Festival of Christmas – A free family day with roving characters, activities for the kids and family-friendly films. Held on the 7th of December in Northbridge Piazza from 12noon to 4pm, it will feature Christmas craft activities, carol singers and screenings of The Polar Express at midday and Elf at 4pm.

 

  • Dreaming of a White Christmas? Head to London Court from the 13th of December until the 24th of December for the London Court Snow Show. Each day, snow will fall at the entrances to London Court during two fifteen minute shows at 11.45am and 1.15pm.

 

  • Christmas Nativity Take the kids to Forrest Place from the 16th of December until the 19th of December to see the story of the birth of Jesus featuring hundreds of performers and live animals, at Forrest Place at 7.30pm.

 

  • IGA Carols by Candlelight Enjoy a picnic at this great event, held at the Supreme Court Gardens on the 21st of December at 7.30pm.

 

  • The Channel Seven and The West Australian Christmas Pageant supported by Lotterywest and City of Perth Everyone loves the iconic Christmas pageant with amazing floats, dancers, television personalities and Santa. The pageant is held on Saturday the 6th of December, St Georges Terrace at 7.30pm.

 

  • Tech-savvy kids? Have some festive fun by downloading the ‘Perth City Visual Friends’ iOS and Android app to take photos with Christmas characters around the city. There are six characters to unlock between the CBD and Northbridge.

 

  • Streets Happy Zoo Year If you thought there were no family-friendly events on New Year’s Eve – think again! Have you ever thought of going to the zoo on New Year’s Eve? See the animals, children’s entertainers, listen to good music and bring a picnic to enjoy with the family. As a family-friendly event, the New Year will be counted in at the earlier time of 9pm. Tickets through Ticketmaster. Go to www.perthzoo.wa.gov.au for details.

 

  • Northbridge New Year’s Eve To celebrate the New Year, there will be free entertainment, including roving dancers, singers and acrobats around Northbridge Piazza, Perth Cultural Centre and surrounding streets from 6pm.

 

  • City of Perth Australia Day Skyworks Various family-friendly events will be held on Monday the 26th of January to celebrate Australia Day – including an Entertainment Zone at Langley Park.

 

TOURISM HOTSPOTS

You don’t have to be a tourist to enjoy the tourism hotspots of Perth during the school holidays. If you haven’t been recently, these great places make for a fun family day out:

 

The Swan Valley

There are many things to do with the family in the Swan Valley.

  • Enjoy a game of ‘supa golf’ at the Oasis Supa Golf and Adventure Putt.
  • Indulge in some chocolate at The Margaret River Chocolate Company or Whistler’s Chocolate Company (Whistler’s has a fantastic outdoor play area – with a large grassed space and large chalkboard for the kids to burn off some chocolate-fuelled energy).
  • Visit the Cuddly Animal Farm.
  • Enjoy lunch at one of the many wineries or restaurants. Mandoon Estate and Homestead Brewery have a beautiful grassed area along with an enclosed play area, which is perfect for the kids.
  • For something a bit different, why not go on a driving adventure with the kids? ‘The Amazing Valley Chase’ is a fun scavenger hunt, beginning at the Swan Valley Visitor Centre in Guildford. You download an instruction or clue sheet from the Swan Valley website (or pick one up from the visitor centre) and you are guided through the Swan Valley to collect clues to a riddle, with stops along the way at interesting locations. The chase takes about three hours and is a great activity to discover gems of the Swan Valley with the family. www.swanvalley.com.au

Hillarys Boat Harbour

Enjoy the water, scenery and food that makes Hillarys such a hit with tourists and locals alike.

  • Find some Christmas presents at the local art and craft market, which is held on the second last Saturday of every month. The December market will be held on the 20th of December.
  • Enjoy a meal at one of the many food establishments. The Sorrento Beach Shack is a family-friendly venue worth mentioning, with fun decor and a play area for the kids.
  • Go to AQWA – the Aquarium of Western Australia. Learn about WA’s coastline and see fish, sharks and other marine animals.
  • Have fun at The Great Escape – a fantastic adventure playground with rock climbing, waterslides and rides.
  • Catch a ferry over to Rottnest Island for a day trip. Hire a bike to explore the island, look out for quokkas and enjoy the pristine waters.

Fremantle

Art, shopping and great food – catch the train into Fremantle for a great family day out.

  • Experience the colour, food and shopping at the Fremantle Markets.
  • Take a tour of Fremantle Prison – or for something different, go on a tour of the prison by torchlight on a Wednesday or Friday night.
  • Enjoy lunch at Little Creatures Brewery – there is even a sandpit for the kids to play in. Visit the Maritime Museum. Go to www.visitfremantle.com.au for details.

Think like a school teacher and take your kids to places that are fun, interesting, and educational, such as:

The Western Australian Museum (Perth)

Simply  explore the museum or check out a current exhibition. The exhibition, Afghanistan Hidden Treasures from the National Museum Kabul, is currently on display until the 18th of January. www.museum.wa.gov.au

The Art Gallery of Western Australia

Just go to enjoy the exhibitions or check out the school holiday activities. The kids can take part by drawing their own masterpiece at the Art Gallery’s drawing space or make their own mask inspired by a piece from the New Passports, New Photography exhibition (from the 12th of January to the 23rd of January). Go to the Art Gallery’s website for updates on school holiday activities, www.artgallery.wa.gov.au

Scitech

It’s a fun and interesting place to go for a school excursion or family day out – but there are also some great activities for the kids over the school holidays. Some great activities at Scitech to check out these holidays include

  • Workshops in the CSIRO Lab

– Suitable for children aged 4 to 16, they offer workshops on various topics including engineering design, electronics, chemistry and physics (bookings essential).

  • Backyard Adventures exhibition

– This new exhibition enables the kids discover the science in their own backyard

– they’ll get the chance to do things such as use special lenses to look at the garden through the eyes of a dog, check out the DIY Science garden and use a giant skipping rope

  • Starlight planetarium show – A new show, narrated by Sigrid Thornton, which explores what a star is. The show is at Scitech from the 18th of December.                                                                     For more information visit www.scitech.org.au

 

WATER FUN

It is summer after all, so cool the kids down by taking them somewhere to enjoy some fun in the water. Some popular places for water play around Perth include:

  • The Great Escape at Hillarys Boat Harbour.
  • Bayswater Waves (an aquatic centre that features a wave pool and water slides).
  • Whiteman Park
  • Rainbow Waters Playground Ellenbrook (a free community water playground).
  • Beatty Park Leisure Centre l Adventure World

AT HOME

Get the kids to decorate an empty tissue box. Write various activities on pieces of paper. This could include everything from playing a board game, reading a book, Skyping or calling a friend or watching a movie, to a chore like cleaning their room or washing the car. This tissue box then becomes the ‘I’m bored box’. If the kids say they don’t have anything to do, get them to choose a piece of paper from the box with a suggestion that they have to complete.

Events may be subject to change. Go to relevant websites or contact event organisers/businesses to check times, booking details and costs involved.