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What is the most common excuse you make when it comes to your health and fitness?

In my line of work, and with decades of my own personal experience in yo-yo dieting and riding the weight-loss-roller-coaster, I have heard (if not made), every excuse under the sun when it comes to avoiding eating well and exercising!

Having experienced two polar opposite realities in my life (ie: unhappy, overweight and unhealthy VS happy, fit and healthy), I’ve learned many valuable lessons. One of the most critical is this:

We are all blessed with the freedom of choice!

We can either:

  • Live each day making purposeful progress towards the reality we desire….

Or we can:

  • Continue to make excuses on why we can’t or why we shouldn’t.

Have you ever heard people say the following?

  • I don’t have the time.
  • I’m too tired.
  • I can’t afford gym membership.
  • I don’t have any exercise equipment at home.
  • It’s too hard.
  • My (body part) hurts.
  • What’s the point, I’ve failed in the past.
  • I’ll never succeed, I never have.
  • I’m too old to start caring about myself now.

Do you know what? I’m calling it…. they’re all EXCUSES!!

Well…. to be even more accurate, they are all ‘comfort distortions’…. distortions of the truth that we create in our own minds, in order to feel a sense of comfort and safety, but effectively they are an act of self-sabotage, because they distract us from actually achieving the goals we wish to achieve!

Ultimately, they are driven by a deeper, unconscious desire to protect ourselves against negative feelings such as anxiety or shame…. and the more anxious or ashamed we are likely to feel, the more likely we will create barriers that hinder our goal achievement. They shift the focus from issues relating to our internal sense of ‘self’, towards externalised issues beyond our sense of ‘self’.

For example… if someone asks you why you haven’t been jogging lately, or why you’re eating chips when you’ve declared you’re on a ‘diet’, your subconscious quickly tries to protect your sense of ‘self’ from being attacked or criticised. The ‘excuse’ you throw right back might be: “it’s too cold outside for jogging”…. or…. “I didn’t have time to do the grocery shopping”!

In a way, this self-sabotaging behaviour also acts as a self-protective mechanism as well, because we then feel less burdened, less anxious, less ashamed, and ‘off the hook’…. a reward that then reinforces the excuse! However… the ‘reward’ also adds to the counter-productive cycle that sabotages the achievement of the ultimate goal.

In deriving an initial sense of reward or relief from our ‘comfort distortions’, (eg: not enough time, not enough money, or not enough skill)….   we will often then go to extreme lengths to prove or validate them. When we succeed in proving those excuses, we feel an even greater sense of victory…. which then further reinforces and perpetuates the distortion.

Do you see a pattern emerging here?

The unfortunate truth though…. is that some people will go to extraordinary self-sabotaging lengths, just to derive that small sense of victory from proving their excuses to be valid: wasting hours watching Netflix or scrolling through social media…. wasting money on cigarettes, alcohol or junk food…. limiting or failing to apply resourcefulness. Crazy right?!!

Choosing the Path of Purposeful Progress:

When we decide to step up and be stronger than our excuses, they fail to have any power over our life!

Making a change in our excuse-making behaviour is just like breaking any other habit and although it requires conscious focus, it’s actually easier than you might imagine!

Shift the Goal, Shift the Perception:

One of the easiest actions we can immediately take to ‘beat’ our own distortions, is to create goals that we ‘want’ to achieve, rather than goals that we ‘should’ achieve.

In changing our goal-focused language and our perceptions, we can effectively minimise the potential for anxiety &/or shame and thus reduce the need for comfort and safety (ie: excuses).

For example: “I should go on a diet” versus “I want to eat healthier to achieve a better quality of life”, creates a completely different mindset and approach. One is driven by a sense of dread and obligation and the other is driven by a sense of empowered positivity. The latter is perceived as more easily achievable, which diminishes the risk of any failure-based anxiety or shame.

Reset the Thoughts, Reset the Result:

Habitual and semi-automatic behaviours are stored in an area of our brain that responds well to self-regulation activities. Mindfulness meditation, even for brief periods, is a quick and effective strategy for fostering self-control.

Sometimes breaking excuse-making habits literally requires the application of conscious focus for the rest of our lives, because old habits are never truly forgotten, they are merely tucked away and can re-emerge when we least expect it. Meditation and visualisation are great ways of reinforcing new, positive behaviours, as well as the underpinning reasons, benefits and actions required to maintain those habits.

Choosing Strength and Chasing Potential: 

Reinforcing and validating our excuses ultimately holds us back from creating the life we desire. When we ‘beat’ our own distortions and discard our excuses however, we become powerful, free and unburdened. Our self-confidence, self-belief and capacity for self-determination are strengthened and our self-limiting perceptions are dissolved…. and that’s got to enable us to be better parents, right?!!

What excuse will you discard today?

__________

 

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In 2015, David Bottomley found himself in a unique and frustrating situation. Earlier in the year, his son Stewart had fallen for a Spanish woman named Atenea, sparking a whirlwind trip to Spain to meet their future in-laws. With the language gap meaning that neither family could understand each other, it was left to Atenea to frantically translate all conversations, placing a strain on the new families. As Stewart and Atenea’s romance blossomed, David made the decision to learn Spanish, without anticipating just how powerful his new skill set would be.

David and his wife Carol kick-started their Spanish with once-a-week classes at their local leisure centre. Thirsty for a more proficient grip on the language, the couple then supplemented their classes with language-learning app, Babbel. Completing mobile lessons and testing each other over a cup of tea, David and Carol managed to fit learning into their daily routines easily, with helpful nudges from Babbel’s cheerful prompts.

Soon after, Stewart and Atenea got engaged and began planning their wedding in sunny Spain. By this point, David was confident in basic conversational Spanish such as ordering food and asking for directions. Curious to take it a step further though, he  set himself a personal goal to deliver his ‘father-of-the-groom’ speech in Spanish in front of a sea of locals. The big day arrived on October 2017 and, full of nerves and excitement,  his skills were put to the ultimate test. Looking out to a crowd of wedding guests, David went blank.  Months of practice seemed to fall away to nothing in a matter of seconds.

It wasn’t until he scanned the room for his son and, seeing the happiness on his face, that the Spanish began to flow. David’s consistency and dedication to immersing himself in a new language made his son incredibly proud and even the Spanish guests were impressed with his new party trick. Most encouraging for Dave was that many took the time to congratulate him following the speech, praising him for his fluency.

Eager to upskill on their Spanish,, David and Carol continued to develop after the wedding, by venturing on a road trip around the country.  The two found that they were able to easily communicate and befriend the locals.

“One of the kindest gestures you can make when visiting a new country is to speak the local language. By showing the local community that you care and respect their culture, you can open up conversations and develop new relationships,” David commented about his and Carol’s continued dedication to learning Spanish.

David’s advice for those wanting to take on the challenge is to tackle new information in bite-size lessons, set realistic goals, and learn with others. Knowing that he can comfortably converse in Spanish means that he looks forward to his family adventures more than ever.

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Anyone who has been through a separation or divorce knows that the emotional ride that it takes you on can be like no other! The time period just after Separation can be the most trying, sorting out the emotional reality of the demise of your relationship and enduring the ride can be tough! I call this period “The Separation Vortex”. The Separation Vortex” period may have differing durations of time depending on YOU and your situation, mine last approximate 2 years! This period of time is where you shake off your old world and recalibrate (sometimes apprehensively) into your new one! The emotions experienced during this time are many so let’s just focus on a few!

The Emotions:

Anger

This is a big one! The push and pull of figuring out the new rules of engagement during the early days after separation can surface many HIGH conflict situations which in turn may provoke ANGER. Depending on WHY you are separating, may also impact the high/low level of anger.

Anger may be present due to the disbelief of how your Mr/Ms Ex now lives their life post-separation, and how they may/may not be parenting your kids. My anger levels went from sheer explosive disbelief type levels to medium explosions!

Combatting anger may lie in choosing your battles, and therefore diffusing the potential times of conflict. Attempting to have open channels or communication based on an almost business-like exchanges (even in the worst situations) may help. For me, anger was mostly a result of the pain and betrayal inflicted on me by my Mr Ex. Have you questioned where your anger may have come from? Perhaps anger is a reactive emotion based on others such as pain, hurt, jealousy? ( I am no expert and only speak from experience).

Irrespective of WHERE OR WHY, in my experience anger is best dealt with after having some breathing time after a provoking situation.  This allows all parties involved some space and thinking behind how one will react. Of course, this does not work for ALL situations, however showing restraint in reacting out of anger has proved so beneficial for ME!

Pain

Pain is HORRID to experience or endure. This can be due to the realisation that your Mr/Ms Ex made decisions that were beyond your control, that you have grown apart and are no longer aligned or that they may have had an affair. PAIN in my experience triggered my anger, and in my experience has only been relieved with time.

Dr Karen Phillips (a professional listed in www.theseparationexchange.com) suggests “mourning the loss of a relationship can be extremely painful. Your dreams and plans have melted away. When one leaves the relationship, the other person is often left with a feeling of having no control, but you do. Once you can recognise the relationship is over, you can move toward setting up a new life, surrounding yourself with friends and family for support. Professional Counselling is essential to help reduce the feeling of pain faster, allowing you to move toward a new and happier life that you deserve”.

Time heals many things! Focussing on things you can do in the future vs what others may have done to cause you the pain is a positive way to break through it. Pain can prevent you from living a wholesome life so dealing with it in my experience was my best plan of attack (even if it was using baby steps to work through it). Emotionally disengaging yourself from your ex may also help, and keeping all contact minimal (to sms/email/exchanges for children) even temporarily while you travel with pain in the early days post-separation.

“The finest of souls are those that gulped pain and avoided making others taste it” – Nizariat

Sadness

This can be due to unrealised dreams or because someone has inflicted this on you by changing their plans to a life you both committed to, sadness can be due to the loss of your family unit.

Sadness can expressed/supressed.

In my situation expressing my sadness and talking to my inner tribe of friends really helped! Ones that REALLY listened and not ones that listened to react. Surround yourself with good people that will support you.  I allowed myself time to be sad and then made positive actions towards getting myself out of the lull of sadness whenever possible by meeting new people, or making an effort to go and try new things like boxing, so my point? Try something new and make the decision when you are ready, to work towards diffusing the sadness!

5 Tips to TAME the emotions (based on my experience!):

  1. Avoid blaming each other

Focus on going FORWARD.

  1. Choose your battles + Compromise

OK so there are 2 tips here, but definitely worth a try!). Making this a priority will enable an outcome that is more in line with what YOU want.

  1. In conflict DO NOT REACT

Take a deep breath, take some time out and then react! Be selective with the words and tone of your conversations with your ex

  1. Understand that time REALLY does help

As hard as it is to realise especially in the excruciating early days.

  1. Protect your VIBE

Your kids (if you have any) will definitely absorb what vibe you exude.

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How NOT to be a HOT Mess, Post-Separation

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Kiddipedia by Your Journey To Healing - 3d ago

Eczema, allergies and asthma…. Three common childhood conditions that are often linked together.

Eczema is often the first of these conditions to appear, with 50% of kids who develop eczema developing it within the first 12 months of childhood (Williams 2005). Food allergies are also common in kids with eczema, with 30-40% of kids with eczema also having food allergies (Eigenmann 1988, Tham 2019).

While typical approaches to eczema tend to focus on the skin (with steroids, moisturisers, bleach baths and wet dressings), this symptom-management approach fails to address the bigger picture.

By focusing on these elements alone, the root causes remain ignored.

Research shows that eczema is a complex condition, which has many different contributing factors. While every child with eczema may have different triggers than another child with eczema, the pieces of the puzzle may be similar and most – if not all – need to be addressed to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Food triggers for eczema are common – either as allergies or food intolerances.

What we use on our child’s skin can also be soothing or irritating – and in Australia and the USA, it is up to consumers to determine for themselves!

Environmental triggers are often those unseen and may include mould, synthetic perfumes and cleaning chemicals, can play a significant role in eczema and a healthy-home audit should be completed to ensure these are minimised or removed from the home.

It is becoming increasingly clear from the research that in kids (and adults) with eczema, their gut health is commonly impaired. ‘Gut Health’ is becoming more and more mainstream these days – less so 8 years ago when we started working on this with my son with eczema (no longer!).

What is gut health? It is the mini eco-system of microorganisms (both beneficial and harmful) throughout our digestive tract. You may have heard of our gut microbiota which houses most of our immune system.

In the research field over the last few decades, poor gut health has been linked to eczema, allergies, asthma, depression, anxiety, obesity, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and much, much more. Poor gut health – ‘Leaky Gut’ also known as ‘Increased Intestinal Permeability’ in the research literature (type that in on PubMed if you’re curious), is a key area to address for kids with eczema.

While gut health is becoming more mainstream these days (which is fantastic!)…some of the commonly recommended approaches to ‘gut healing’ that I see recommended in FB groups by well-meaning people are often triggers for kids with eczema!

Many parents that I work with have spent between 7-12 months searching for information on how to really help their child – usually on Google, FB groups, or blogs – to help their little one.

And it’s a world of conflicting messages out there, with lots of different approaches and opinions…

Parents don’t have the time, energy (any parent of a child of eczema knows that itchy skin can sure contribute to interrupted sleep for the entire family!), or research background to be able to interpret the current research …

And they just want the right, evidence-based information so they don’t have to keep wasting time looking for it… often ending up down a rabbit hole without getting the information they want and need..

And when parents are sleep deprived, stressed, anxious or feeling overwhelmed it can be so hard to even know where to begin…

For parents wanting to move beyond a band-aid approach, I’ve pulled together a free guide – The Busy Mum’s Quick Guide to Childhood Eczema that you can access right here.

References:

Eigenmann PA et al (1988). Prevalence of IgE-mediated food allergy among children with atopic dermatitis. Pediatrics. 10(3): E8

Tham EH, Leung DYM (2019). Mechanisms by which atopic dermatitis predisposes to food allergy and the atopic march. Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 11(1):4-15

Williams HC (2005). Atopic Dermatitis. New England Journal of Medicine. 352 (22):2314-2366

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As parents, we spend an enormous amount of time and effort trying to get our kids to say ‘yes’. Yes to eating veggies, yes to bedtime, yes to putting away toys, yes to cleaning teeth, yes to a multitude of tasks throughout each and every day. On the other hand, teaching our kids to say ‘no’ isn’t something that we normally spend much time encouraging.

Yet when it comes to keeping our kids safe, it is important that we take the time to help develop our children’s response to unsafe situations, by teaching them how to say ‘NO’ not only to strangers but also to family, friends and acquaintances.

Depending on the situation and the age and maturity of your child, there are different ways you can help develop this skill.

Responding to Strangers

The most basic response is to teach your child to shout a big ‘NO’. This response is easy for very young children to learn and involves shouting or screaming the words ‘no’, making as much noise as possible and trying to get away from the stranger.

Another valuable response is to teach them a sentence like ‘No – you are not my mum/dad’ or ‘HELP – Stranger’. This detail will bring much more attention to a screaming child in a public area and alerts others to the fact that they are not just witnessing a child throwing a tantrum.

Responding to someone known to them

Teaching your child to respond to inappropriate behaviour by someone known to them, can be a little more complicated.  To help our children deal with these tricky situations, we want to give them different options to extricate themselves. Whilst we can still encourage them to shout a big ‘no’ and to physically run from the situation, some other options include:

  • Teaching them a sentence like ‘Please don’t do that I don’t like it’ or ‘Can you stop that it makes me feel uncomfortable’. This can be useful in the earlier stages of abuse, where the behaviour may be very subtle, but still unwelcome.
  • Giving children permission to make-up an excuse such as ‘I’m busting to go to the toilet’ or ‘I think I can hear Mum calling’ to enable them to leave a space and seek out others.
  • Developing a password or message that older children could text on their mobile phone if feeling unsafe or requiring help.

Finally, keep in mind that these responses should always be age appropriate, should be practised aloud where possible and should be revisited as your child grows and matures. For further information go to www.onlyforme.com.au.

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Physical activity in children is important for a wide variety of reasons. It helps to reduce overweight and obesity increases strength in muscles and bones and can even improve concentration at school. Exercise is a vital component of any child’s development—laying the foundations for a healthy life and also fundamental motor skills.

Here are 10 reasons as to why it is important for kids to exercise:

  1. Promote healthy growth and development – the benefits of exercising at a young age, kids are more likely to translate these to adulthood
  2. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight – in 2018 it was estimated that 28% of Australian kids were overweight or obese. Regular exercise combined with a healthy diet can help reduce the likelihood of childhood obesity.
  3. Improves cardiovascular health – regular exercise helps to reduce the risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes.
  4. Improves balance, flexibility, coordination and strength – balance and coordination are fundamental motor skills for life, and improved muscle strength and flexibility can improve a child’s overall health
  5. Assist in the development of gross and fine motor skills
  6. Improves concentration and thinking – studies have shown that exercise encourages your brain to work at maximum capacity by causing nerve cells to multiply, strengthening their interconnections and protecting them from damage
  7. Boosts confidence and self-esteem
  8. Improves posture
  9. Stress relief and promotes relaxation
  10. Provides a social environment to develop skills and make friends

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By Sarah Smith, Accredited Practising Dietitian

www.baysidedietetics.com.au

FB Bayside Dietetics

I am stoked by the positive feedback I’ve been receiving about my blog. I’d say the most common reflection I get is parents appreciate the blog as a source of food inspiration and easy ideas to get healthy. So here’s a full blog dedicated to taking the after-school snack your child asks for and boosting its nutrition… without wrecking dinner. So both you and your children are happy.

If your child likes to come home to crackers or chips, try this…a tapas plate

Draw an imaginary line on a plate to divide it into four. Within one of these sections, add a few chips or crackers. Your child’s request for crackers or chips is now ticked. Now use your instinct on what food you’d like to provide your child to fill in the remaining three sections, aiming for roughly a quarter of the plate each. Here are a few ideas:

  • Carrots, hommus and olives
  • Cheese, apple, cucumber
  • Salsa, beans, capsicum
  • Sliced boiled egg, dip, cucumber
  • Tinned tuna, avocado, lettuce
  • Nuts, cherry tomatoes and carrot
  • Slice of leftover chicken or meat (from last night’s dinner), cob of corn, celery sticks
  • Falafel balls, hommus, mini salad

What these changes have done is to take food that isn’t really nourishing to a mixture of foods that will give some important nutrients to your child. They are also a more satisfying snack than plain chips and crackers. This is because all the options I’ve listed have a good source of protein and a good source of fibre that your child will take a while to digest, making them feel full.

This kind of plate works particularly well for kids who are so busy at school lunchtime that they don’t eat much. The tapas plate can be made up to be a reasonable “lunch replacement”.

For families that pop into the bakery on the way to an after-school activity…Try stopping at a sushi shop

A sushi roll has a similar energy to a hot cross bun or finger bun, but tuna or egg sushi roll will have a whole lot more nutrients like protein, iron and magnesium that can be hard to get in a child’s diet. If your child likes salmon sushi that’s a huge bonus as it provides those nutrients, as well as a, being a source of particularly good fat, known as omega 3. Omega 3 is helpful for brain development and overall health. Avocado in a sushi roll is another source of good fat.

A sushi roll is filling but it has less energy than a cheesymite or apple scroll which is important for some families worried about their child eating too much after school and wrecking dinner.

For a child that likes to come home to a glass of milk…Try a super smoothie

Smoothies would have to be one of the best ways to “sneak” in some great nutrients for your child. Sit back and have a think about what it is you think your child misses out on in their diet then have a look below for inspiration on how to sneak it into a smoothie:

  • Wholegrains (this is great for a child with a diet based on mainly packet foods) – there are 3 things that could be mixed into almost any smoothie recipe, just blend well:
    • 1 tablespoon of oats
    • 1 Weet Bix
    • 1 teaspoon of LSA mix (ground Linseed Sunflower Almond – found in major supermarkets alongside dried fruit and nuts or with the oats and brans).

  • Fruit – here are some stunning fruit smoothie recipes:

https://www.taste.com.au/recipes/collections/smoothies

  • Vegetables – ssshhh but here are some ways to get your child eating spinach (which can be substituted for kale in any of these recipes if you prefer)
    • From Buzzfeed, blend together:
      • ½ cup frozen spinach or kale
      • ½ cup frozen pineapple
      • ½ cup plain kefir or pourable plain yogurt
      • ¼ cup water into a blender
    • From cuisinicity.com, blend together:
      • 1 cup fresh baby spinach
      • 1 cup water
      • 1 whole pear (diced)
      • 1 cup ice

Creativity has also drawn people to create smoothies with carrot, beetroot and other vegetables. Just plug your vegetable idea with the word “smoothie” into google.

  • Healthy fats – frozen avocado is a wonderful product to keep in your freezer to mix into smoothies at any time of the year. Kids that don’t love avocado might still take a couple chunks mixed in, while an avocado lover will like a recipe like this from thelemonbowl.com:
    • ¼ avocado
    • ¼ cup blueberries
    • ½ banana
    • ¼ cup oats
    • 1 teaspoon flax seed meal (another source of good fats that mixes well into most smoothies)
    • ¼ cup yoghurt
    • ¼ cup water
    • 2-3 ice cubes

A child stuck on fruit but you want them to have a little more…Try a fruit and yoghurt sundae

Simply layer your child’s favourite fruits with a couple of spoons of yoghurt. For even more nutrition add a layer of muesli or chopped nuts.

For a toast-loving child…try an autumn vegetable soup with a slice of toast

Adding a bowl of vegetable soup to your child’s afternoon toast adds a whole lot of good stuff for your child’s body and they still get their favourite warm toast. Here is a sample basic soup recipe:

https://simply-delicious-food.com/easy-vegetable-soup/

Worried your child will be full for dinner? Remember it is vegetables that will be filling their bellies

Bon Appetite

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Talking about sex can be very embarrassing for many people. So what happens when your child asks you how babies are made?

There are three important points to consider when talking to children about reproduction.

  • Be confident
    Talking about reproduction and sex should always be spoken about with confidence. For many generations, sex has been a taboo topic and it doesn’t need to be that way. Try to remain calm, confident and matter a fact when responding to this question. If your child can sense stress, embarrassment or shame then they can develop those same feelings which can affect their intimacy when they are older.
  • Be as factual as possible
    When answering questions about reproduction, always try and be as factual as possible. Children will only understand what information they are ready to understand so don’t dumb it down.
  • Always use the correct names for body parts
    Using the correct names for body parts is not only important for children to learn so that they do not feel ashamed or embarrassed to call them by the correct name but it is also a known fact that paedophiles often refer to body parts using pet names so if your child refers to their genitals by a pet name you would be able to identify a possible red flag immediately.

Keep it simple

The first conversation that you have with your child could be as simple as, the lady has eggs inside her body and men have sperm inside their testicles. The sperm are like little tadpoles and when they swim into the ladies egg it makes a baby.

This response is often all a child needs to hear. It could take years before they need to ask more questions or they might need to know more straight away.

What happens when they want to know about how the sperm actually gets inside the lady?

Talking about sex should be casual and honest. It’s important to tell your children that people have sex because it feels good and not just to make babies.
You can still keep it simple or go into as much detail as you feel comfortable.
This is the explanation I gave my eldest when she asked “but how exactly is the baby made?” when she was 6 years of age.
Sometimes adults like to kiss each other and they touch each other’s bodies which makes them feel really good. The man’s penis goes inside the vagina and the sperm comes out his penis and swims towards the ladies eggs. If the sperm goes through the egg, then a baby can start to grow. Nearly three years on, she has not needed to ask any other questions as this is as much information as she needs right now.
Although there are other ways to fall pregnant, unless your child knows someone directly who has been through IVF or fallen pregnant through an egg and sperm donors etc, these explanations would possibly come at a later date so as not to over complicate the situation.

Understanding the body

Understanding the body from early on is a great way for children’s knowledge to naturally progress.
My children have always been aware that once a month, my uterus fills with blood and if a baby is growing then the blood stays inside to help the baby grow but if there is no baby then the blood comes out my vagina. These conversations have always occurred organically, and I believe are the reason that they are so comfortable with talking about bodies.

These conversations are always best done organically which means they can occur in any place and at any time so be prepared and remain calm and confident.
You’ve got this!

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In today’s digital world, most people don’t think twice about documenting our children’s milestones on social media. From birth and right through school, parents are sharing every aspect of their family life with family and friends.

And it’s not just parents who are doing the sharing – schools, grandparents, other parents, the soccer club, local café, and kids gymnastics class – are all sharing photos of children on their websites and social media accounts.

Yet, once an image has been shared in the digital ether, control can quickly be lost as to who has access to it and, in turn, a plethora of risks emerge.

Recent McAfee research shows 30% of Australian parents use social media to post a photo/video of their child at least once a week. However, less than 30% are concerned about the consequences even though 71% know the image may end up in the wrong hands.

From pedophilia to stalking, cyberbullying, identity theft and kidnapping, the online risks for your child are many and great. The Australian eSafety Commission warns that half of all images on paedophile image-sharing sites originate from social media sites and blogs.

But the virtual world is an unavoidable feature of modern life so how can parents and carers let their children lead a digital life while protecting them at the same time?

 

Set rules for yourself

Think before posting. Is the content appropriate? Set yourself some rules: for example, you may want to avoid swimwear and partial nudity shots. Do you want to post full-frontal face shots? By only posting shots that show faces on an angle, you are minimising automatic identification abilities and the likelihood of image stealing by third parties.

Only share images with people you know and trust. This may mean reviewing your social media channels’ friend lists but remember that if one of your friends ‘likes’ your picture, it may be visible to their friends too.

 

The devil is in the detail

Strangers can learn a lot about your child from a single photo, including where they can be found during school hours and their age.

Exclude (or blur) details that may clearly identify your child such as school uniform badges, outside specific local landmarks. Do not tag the location of the photograph if it is significant to your everyday life, such as your child’s school.

And while you may want to share one of your proudest moments on social media, the birth of your child, consider excluding the exact date of birth along with their full name.

In addition, every digital photograph contains metadata that records the time, date and GPS coordinates of where the photo was taken. There are different ways you can wipe that data or better still, simply create a screenshot of the image and share that instead. This also ensures the image is low resolution, lowering the chances of that image being stolen.

 

Don’t sign away their privacy

Stop signing blanket or general consent forms. Make sure you only provide informed, specific consent to any organisation wanting to use your child’s photo, including their school. Find out when and where a photo is being used, and for what purpose. Remind the organisation involved that photos are personal information requiring greater protection.

This also means checking your social media privacy settings to ensure you’re not sharing images of your children with the whole world every time you post.

 

Ask before sharing

Be respectful and take the time to ask other parents’ permission when taking photographs that include their children if you intend to post the photo publicly. Having open conversations about what they are happy to share and, in turn, conveying what you are comfortable being shared, will leave less room for unwanted online images.

When your child is old enough, you should ask permission before posting their image. This establishes a ‘privacy-first’ mentality in your household which should set them up for a healthier relationship with technology when they are old enough to protect themselves.

Navigating the digital world is a complex one for adults and children alike, but with a bit of time and careful consideration, you will not only protect your family but create future responsible digital citizens too.

About the author Colin Anson, CEO and co-founder of pixevety:

Colin Anson is a digital entrepreneur, and the CEO and co-founder of child image protection and photo storage solution, pixevety https://pixevety.com/

In 2012, Colin saw an opportunity to create a unique business within his area of passion, photography. He witnessed first-hand the potential risks and harm the mismanagement of photos can have on children. And he became an advocate for protecting every parent’s right to determine how their child’s photo is used and protecting every child’s right to safety and digital privacy. After learning of the minefield of privacy laws and the daily stress for schools in managing and sharing the photos of every single student, Colin decided to do something about it. And pixevety was born.

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Written by Alice Zsembery

Ever pulled out the playdough only to find that the lid has been left off and it resembles a frisbee? Found your child trying to get their hands on some super glue or paint the bathroom in lipstick? Need some ideas for the grandparents’ day with the kids?

Here are my 5 quick and easy, super cheap, made-at-home-using-nothing-but-what’s-in-your-pantry play recipes that every parent and carer needs to have on hand!

  1. Bath Paints

For an awesomely easy painting session at bath time, simply squirt some shaving cream into a bowl and stir in a tiny drop of food colouring.

Bammo! You have yourself an easy bath paint that can (just as easily) be washed off the tiles at the end of bath time!

  1. Playdough

My all-time favourite playdough recipe comes from the NMAA cookbook; a classic staple in many Australian households of the 1980’s.

Mix together the following ingredients in a saucepan:

  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • food colouring

Cook on medium heat for 3-5 minutes stirring until dough comes together, cool slightly and knead to a smooth dough.

Be sure to store in an airtight container or zip lock bag.

(Hint: this also makes for a wonderfully cheap idea to put in kids’ birthday party bags)

 

  1. Edible Finger Paint

Got a child that likes to put everything in their mouth!

Simply mix a teeny drop of food colouring into some Greek yoghurt and you have yourself some edible finger paint. (Greek yoghurt is nice and thick so performs better than other yoghurts).

A perfect activity for the high chair when you just need them to sit still for a moment!

Remember you only need a minuscule drop of food dye to get a colour.

 

  1. Glue

Cornflour glue has been used for generations and, not only is it quick and easy, but it is perfect for those pre-school art projects.

Simply blend together 1 tbsp cornflour and 1tbsp water until smooth. Slowly pour in 1 cup of boiling water whilst stirring constantly to create a thin paste.

 

  1. Puffy Paint

As a child of the 80s and 90s, I am a lover of puffy paint. Like all good things (scrunchies and slap bands included), it seems to be coming back into fashion, so make sure you get in on the action!

All you need is:

  • 1 tbsp self-raising flour
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • little bit of water
  • drop of food colouring

Mix all ingredients to a relatively liquid consistency

Paint it onto paper and then put in microwave for 30 secs and it will puff up. Remember to allow it to cool before kids touch it as it comes out very hot.

And if you are looking for more play ideas, be sure to check out our resources here, including a simple and quick recipe for window paint.

Happy playing!

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Don’t eat the Playdough

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