Author

Aleksandra B

Browsing

My experience as the middle child in my family has taught me to accept all of my quirks that set me apart from my brothers, to embrace my individuality and to stand on my own two feet.

Ever since I was little, as the middle child in my family, I have always felt like somewhat of an alien in my house – the oddball misfit. From the outset, the stark differences between my brothers and I were painfully obvious – where they were sporty and steered by scientific fact, I was geared towards using my imagination and natural creativity. As a child, I never felt as though I belonged to the family. I would joke I must’ve been swapped at birth.

Both of my brothers favour maths and science over humanities and played soccer like it was their divine birthright from an early age. Me? I saw a maths equation in prep and thought, “Nah this is some bullshit,” and never looked back. Soccer on the other hand, is unfortunately not the meaning of my life. I wanted to read and write during school hours, then dance and act after classes.

Being the eldest, middle or youngest child in a family is said to affect personality or tends to box siblings into certain perceived identities. The eldest tends to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, the youngest notoriously gets the most attention and the middle child is just sort of “the other one”.

Somehow my parents got landed with me – a hyperactive, loud and outgoing daughter, with an overactive imagination, more interested in memorising the lyrics to every Taylor Swift song or reading Harry Potter for the ninety-seventh time than sport or maths. I wanted to spend my time on arts and crafts, writing stories on scrap pieces of paper and reading with my torch under the covers after lights out. Yes, I know I was such a rebel.

I was the strange middle child who thought soccer was the most overdramatic and ridiculous sport on the planet and questioned why maths was even taught in the first place.

Clearly, there was always something fundamentally different about what I enjoyed and valued compared with my brothers.

Teachers at my high school always acted as though my older brother was God’s gift to the planet, a maths-science gun ready to save the world with his genius. I’d arrive to maths class every year with teaching staff who’d hear my surname, and their eyes would light up with joy, expecting another prodigy. Instead, ten minutes later, they’d realise I was not a Ferrari of a student, I was a rickety old tow truck whose eyes would glaze over at the sight of maths equations.

I was more interested in drawing hearts in the margins or egging on the teaching staff with philosophical questions like, “but why?” or, “how do we know that maths is even real?”

I would ask myself why are there letters with numbers, how does this apply to the world and most importantly, why should I care? It sounded like a load of waffle to my high school self. Maths wasn’t something at which I excelled, unlike both of my brothers.

And I also couldn’t comprehend the fuss about soccer. Players run around a pitch for ninety horrifyingly dull minutes, nobody scores whatsoever, and the team acts as if every game is a matter of life or death. I wish I was kidding.

I also somehow lacked the sense of direction that both of my brothers magically possessed. They knew what they wanted to do and who they wanted to be. I had absolutely no idea what I was supposed to do with my interests and odd skill set.

I liked to read stories, shout lyrics and act in school plays. I didn’t know where my life was going to take me. I was the odd one out.

Outsiders to the family noticed it too. Family friends would ask why I wasn’t “like” my brothers, or they’d address me as the “little sister”. They saw me as adjacent to my brothers, rather than a person on my own. They wouldn’t ask how I was doing; they’d ask how my brothers were doing.

Some would simply forget I existed in the first place. I’d hear “oh wait there’s a third sibling?” all the time. I would think to myself, yes, Jennifer you and I have met on several occasions, you just didn’t happen to notice that I too am a fully-fledged and functioning member of society. Also, eat my shorts.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite close with both of my brothers, they aren’t monsters or anything. They’re the best! It’s just that sometimes I’d feel as though I was chocolate, and they were both pasta. Both foods are great in their own right, they’re just quite different and you wouldn’t exactly put them together. 

Sometimes, I would let it get to me. I would get so worked up at everyone. How could they not see that I was there too? I mean sure I wasn’t like my brothers in some respects, but I knew I was just as valid and valuable. I just wanted other people to recognise it!

When I was in Year 11, one of my teachers who was in the crowd with me while my older brother was receiving yet another award turned to me and said, “Don’t worry, your time will come!”

Such a small phrase was a massive turning point for me. In true middle child fashion, I was unsurprisingly morbidly offended and went home to cry in my bedroom. I was 16 years old and coming of age myself. I was excelling in other areas like English and theatre, but somehow still being brought to a lower level than my brother. I was still being cornered into the mould of the somehow lesser middle child.

I didn’t want to wait around until my brother stopped being fabulous. I believed that my time was now.

I had spent years thinking others would only ever see me as a sister rather than a person myself and I was struggling with the fact that I didn’t know how to break away from my brothers and stand on my own. It was at this point that all the stars and planets aligned, the universe opened, and I realised that all it took was a change in my mentality.

I had to ignore outsider opinion or comments and I had to accept that I was not the same as my brothers and use those differences to my advantage.

I focused my studies on English. The best part of my week was when I would get to write my essays. I loved it! Now, it was my brothers turn not to understand me. I could do it all day. It wasn’t anything like the rigidity and one right answer structure of maths. It was creative, opinionative and fun. All of those years of reading, music listening, lyric bellowing and drama pieces pointed to a love for both words and the stories they tell.

I had finally realised that this was my passion. As the different middle child. I was the odd one out, and that was okay!

I am now almost 21 and have turned my love for humanities into an arts and law degree, majoring in literary studies. My family still watches soccer every Saturday and I do begrudgingly join them now. If you can’t beat them, join them. My brothers still harp on about maths and science and I still think it’s the strangest thing in the world and that’s also okay! They don’t understand some of my passions and I certainly don’t understand some of theirs.

I myself still don’t always know what I am doing with my life. I still have moments where I feel like a coco pop in a family of rice bubbles. I still don’t always have the answer.

Maybe I’ll become a lawyer or a publisher or a writer or choose from the endless options humanities has to offer. Or maybe I’ll move to Hogwarts to become a witch. Or maybe I’ll be a unicorn when I grow up.

I mean, who knows what I’ll do. I am the middle child after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

School lunches can become repetitive and tedious; the following is a list of 5 easy recipes for our kids to enjoy.

  1. Lunchbox Pasta Salad from BBC Good Food

Ingredients:

  • 400g of pasta
  • 4-5 tablespoons of fresh pesto
  • 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt
  • ½ a juiced lemon
  • 200g of mixed cooked veg (e.g., peas, green beans, courgette)
  • 100g of cherry tomatoes in quarters
  • Choice of 200g of cooked of chicken, ham, prawns, hard-boiled egg or cheese

Method:

  • Cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente. Drain and tip into a bowl. Stir in the pesto and leave to cool.
  • When the pasta is cool, stir through the mayo, yogurt, lemon juice and veg. Spoon into lunchboxes or on to pasta plates and put the cooked chicken or protein of your choice on top. Chill until ready to eat if intended for a packed lunch.

 

  1. Quick Mini Quiches from Kidspot Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 finely chopped spring onions
  • 1 cup of creamed corn
  • 50g of grated tasty cheese

Method:

  • Heat the oven to 180°C and spray 10 holes of a muffin tray with vegetable oil.
  • Mix all the ingredients together and spoon into the pan; fill each muffin cavity about 2/3 full.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes until set in the middle.
  • Cool completely and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

 

  1. Cornflake and oat fruit biscuits from Australia’s Best Recipes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of self-rising flour
  • 3/4 cup of rolled oats
  • 1 cup of Cornflakes
  • 150g of butter
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of sultanas
  • 1/2 cup of finely chopped dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup of chocolate bits
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1/2 cup of coconut

Method:

  • in a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients.
  • Stir in melted butter, vanilla, honey and beaten egg.
  • Drop tablespoons of mixture onto baking trays lined with baking paper. Flatten with a fork.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes at 180C.

 

  1. Kiwi Pops from Kidspot Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 2 kiwifruits
  • 200 g of dark chocolate
  • Pop sticks

Method:

  • Cover a flat tray with baking paper and place in the fridge.
  • Peel and slice each kiwifruit into 4 thick wedges.
  • Push the pop sticks gently into each slice.
  • Melt chocolate in the microwave in a glass bowl in 30 second bursts, stirring well in between.
  • Dip the kiwi into chocolate and tap off excess gently. Place on cooled tray and return to fridge to set.

 

  1. Energy Bites from BBC Good Food

Ingredients:

  • 100g of pecan
  • 75g of raisin
  • 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed (or a mix – milled flaxseed, almond, Brazil nut or walnut mix)
  • 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon of agave syrup
  • 50g of desiccated coconut
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter

Method:

  • Put pecans in a food processor and blitz to crumbs. Add raisins, peanut butter, flaxseeds, cocoa powder and agave syrup, then pulse to combine.
  • Shape the mixture into golf ball-sized spheres and coat in the coconut. Put in the fridge to firm for 20 mins.

 

 

 

 

Children tend to be more prone to some illnesses than adults because their bodies are still growing and adapting to their environment. Here are some common illnesses experienced by children in Australia, and their symptoms.

  1. Allergies

Allergies are experienced when a child’s immune system reacts to its environment; a foreign substance that does not cause a reaction in the rest of the population enters the body which leads to allergy symptoms. Common allergies include a reaction to peanuts, pollen, bee stings and pet hair.

Allergies are sustained because the immune system produces antibodies that mistake a particular substance as harmful even though it isn’t. The reactions can manifest themselves in inflammation of the skin, sinuses, airways and even the digestive system. Allergies range from mild to serious and can be caused by airborne allergens, certain foods or exposure to chemicals or insects.

Medical assessment is available to children to ascertain what they are allergic to and how best to treat symptoms. Antihistamines are helpful to relieve allergies.

  1. Asthma

When asthma occurs, the muscles in the body’s airways begin to tighten and its lining becomes swollen and inflamed in turn producing mucus. This clogs up the airways causing them to become narrow commonly inhibiting a child’s ability to breathe, and leading to shortness of breath, wheezing and tightness in the chest. This can be triggered by a range of different things such as exercise, the weather, allergy triggers or the common cold.

Asthma is one of the most common diseases for which children visit a doctor – around 1 in every 10 Australian children have asthma. While every child’s asthma is different, it can be managed and treated in a way which allows for a normal healthy life.

  1. Colds

Children can get colds more often than adults, as often as once a month. A cold is a mild infection and can be managed easily. It is generally a seasonal virus caused by the spread of germs in the air through coughs and sneezes. Colds usually affect the nose and throat – symptoms include a runny nose, sore throat, head or muscles aches, coughs and sneezing and even a raised temperature.

Children can have multiple colds per year contracting more colds than adults because they do not yet have the same strength of immunity. There is no cure so management of symptoms in the child provides relief – painkillers, saline drops and maintaining fluids.

  1. Conjunctivitis

This is an infection of the lining of the eyeball and eyelid. Symptoms include red, puffy and itchy eyes. This is sometimes accompanied by yellow sticky discharge. It can be bacterial or viral and occurs when the eye is irritated or as part of a cold.

Conjunctivitis is quite common, especially in children under 5 and can be contagious. Speaking to the child’s doctor is important if symptoms persist for antibiotic eye drops.

  1. Gastroenteritis (gastro)

Many children can contract gastro. Symptoms include diarrhoea, loss of appetite, vomiting and nausea, stomach cramps and fever. It generally lasts a few days and can be contagious, so it is important to keep up hygiene to prevent spreading the illness. It is caused by a virus or bacteria that causes infection inflaming the stomach and intestine walls causing the above symptoms. It is more severe in babies and children.

Gastro is not dangerous and does not necessitate use of medication, but it is important to manage a child’s symptoms – keeping fluids up on the regular to avoid dehydration and eating food even if they don’t feel like it.

  1. Nits

Head lice are small and wingless insects that live in children’s’ hair, feeding on blood in the scalp while nits are the eggs that they lay. The insects attach themselves to a child’s hair and skull to lay eggs, causing itching and scratching.

Lice cannot jump so spread usually occurs when children are in close contact – heads close together, sharing hats or using each other’s hairbrushes.

While lice do not carry any diseases, the itching sensation can be quite intense and bad cases can cause dermatitis, so they need to be removed; anti-lice products to kill the lice or wet-combing treatment to physically pull them out works.

  1. Warts

Warts are small flesh-coloured growth, usually on the arms, hands and legs. They are just harmless skin growths. They can spread to other children when there is skin to skin contact. Picking at a wart can cause more to pop up on the same child.

Half of all warts tend to disappear within two years. There is no need to treat them if they are not causing any problems, but there are ways to remove them if this is what is best for the individual child.

 

 

This year Halloween falls on the last Sunday of the month and for any parents struggling with costume ideas for their children, this article provides some options.

October is well and truly in swing and spooky season is upon us! Coming up with Halloween ideas for our kids can sometimes be a tricky and tedious process. The following is a list of potential possibilities with accompanying visuals for any parents needing assistance.

  1. The Classics

Halloween fantasy originals such as witches, zombies, ghosts and even skeletons or demons are always a solid choice. There are so many possibilities!

Kids in line in costumes

Two kids in Halloween costumes

 

  1. The Incredibles

This is an option for the whole family! Dressing up as Disney Pixar’s favourite superheroes, The Incredibles. Violet, Dash, Mr and Mrs Incredible and even Jack-Jack for the babies.

Family dressed as The Incredibles

  1. Favourite Pop Star

There are so many different possibilities for this one! Each child can pick their favourite artist and then go from there.

Group dressed as Spice GirlsTwo singers

  1. Favourite Athlete

In the same vein, but for our sporty kids, there are so many different team, sport and player options.

Kid in football uniform

Two kids playing tennis

  1. Foods

A chance for kids to show off their favourite foods. Sushi, fries, fruits or vegetables, tacos or even toast!

Family dressed as food

  1. Marvel Superheroes

These are always a popular choice as there is an option for everyone! Iron Man, Black Widow, the Hulk, Captain Marvel and so many more.

Marvel superheroes

Kids dressed in Marvel costume

  1. Fairies and Princesses

Always a classic fairies or princesses are a fun, colourful and softer option for Halloween. This is less spooky and more cutesy.

Kid dressed in fairy costumes

Kid dressed in princess costume

  1. Animals

Another one that has so many options – zoo animals, farm animals, wild animals or domestic animals! All the way from cats to lions.

Kids dressed in animal costumes

  1. Demon and Angel

This is an option for siblings and friends to show off their true colours! Demons and angels don’t have to be in pairs, there could be a whole group or just one!

Kids dressed as an angel and a demon

Halloween is on Sunday the 31st of October 2021.

While many parents experience increasing judgement in a digital age, revered parenting expert Maggie Dent assures us that to be a good parent, being perfect is not possible and that mistakes are normal.

Kids outside runningMaggie Dent’s newest book, Parental as Anything, an adaption of her popular ABC podcast, is a guide full of anecdotes, practical parenting advice and humour.

Maggie tells us that while there once was a time where parents could not see what everyone else was doing, today’s social media proliferation exacerbates constant comparing, despairing and fixation on the negatives, or what we as parents could be doing better.

Maggie is an author, educator and mother to four boys, but she stresses she was not perfect and “mucked up so many times”.

There will always be days while raising children where mistakes are made, or morale is low.

But Maggie says to “Look at what’s going well at the funny moments, the light moments, the loving moments, rather than focusing the lens on the things we wish we could do better.” Maggie Dent

So how can we care for, nurture and still discipline our children in today’s age? Maggie emphasises being “the fun, the firm, the fair,” parent and that children are more likely to agree with parents who are kind and loving. If there is compassion and connection, in moments of discipline, children are increasingly capable of listening.

Maggie tells us that there is a difference between the disciplining of a Lamb and a Rooster.

Lambs have a tendency to be more sensitive or gentle and less likely to push against boundaries, while Roosters are outgoing with the need to be respected and seen as important, eager to argue or push against limits. Power struggles can occur particularly with the Roosters.

Maggie reminds us that patience is important when dealing with heated moments.

A child’s “Number one need is a safe base,” Maggie says.

She outlines that “Tuning in to how they are doing,” is vital. Watching them constantly and recognising their needs in certain situations.

There is a difference between a tantrum as against a meltdown, the former of which springs from an urge to assert a sense of self, and the latter a sensory overload. Tantrums come from outside stimuli (“No you can’t do/have that right now”) while a meltdown occurs when the nervous system has been over-flooded.

“Children are gradually growing in their capacity to manage their world,” Maggie says. 

Kids can experience moments of self-struggle, but they will get better with self-regulation and emotional intelligence as they grow up and their pre-frontal lobe matures.

They are not naughty they are just “Not coping with their world right now,” Maggie says, emphasising that compassion and connection are essential.

Maggie addresses when parents wish they had approached certain things differently. She says that parents can always change the ways in which they connect with their children and can always rebuild attachment and love in a new way.

“It is never, ever too late,” she says.

“Every child is a one-off,” she emphasises. There is no exact guide for any one child, but as a parent it is still possible to be the one that knows them the best and aim to help them in their world in any way that they can.

Maggie addresses the dreaded topic of screen time.

She acknowledges that while complete denial is not helpful or realistic, in order to prepare children to live in the digital world; however, it is imperative that online behaviour and technology use are monitored. Girl on computer

“You need to be the pilot of the digital plane,” she says.

She encourages parents to take into account many factors such as:

  • Hand-held device use
  • Television viewing and consideration of acceptable advertisements
  • Rewards systems on video games that can foster gambling traits
  • Risk taking in real life while behaviour modelling
  • Video game characteristics entering into the impressionable classroom
  • Chores still needing to be completed
  • Outside play with peers in real life
  • Levels and when to finish
  • Harmful content

Technology can be used for education, entertainment or even recreational activity. A lot of time and energy will go into raising responsible and respectful digital citizens.

Maggie speaks about sexual education in childhood. She recommends speaking with children about sex and not just in one singular sitting. It should be a continual and constant conversation or ability to ask about this topic.

She underlines topics such as body ownership, permission to touch, basic private anatomy and consent should be discussed at home even before heading off to school. Maggie encourages parents to allow their children to ask questions or come to them if they see something that makes them uncomfortable.

Unwanted online dark or sexual content can be damaging and can set unrealistic standards. Plainly untrue and offensive myths are all over the internet about sex and it is important to be mindful of this as a parent.

Kids on playground

“92% of what children learn is based on modelling,” Maggie says.

To finish, Maggie says that nurturing safe respectful and warm relationships at home and between family members is important while nevertheless acknowledging that conflict is normal and communication is key.

Parental as Anything

Watch the full exclusive interview with Maggie Dent below or on our YouTube channel.