Category Archives: Children’s Health

Comparison of different childhoods

New Yorker article on “Why Are American Kids So Spoilt?”

Read this article this morning – oy vey. What an eye-opener!

Somewhat relieved that I make Miss 6-y-o, my DD, do chores. It’s expected that she can get herself dressed and that she can pack her schoolbag (granted, with a little nudging some mornings). She feeds the kitten and I clean the kitty litter. Those sorts of things. If she sat back and expected me to pander to every requirement, I would go nuts pretty quickly and doing everything for her would do her no service whatsoever. I want her to grow into a resilient, reliable, thoughtful adult.


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Dirt’s not so bad

Sure, I’ve thought about the three second rule, and found that nowadays it’s more like, um, the 5 or 10 second rule depending upon how recently the floor has been cleaned. You see, I’m one of those strange women who prefers that people take off their shoes in the house (but I don’t carry on about it and if people don’t do it, well, I just suck it up and deal with it). DD and I take off our shoes as soon as we get home. DD would rather have bare feet and I wear slippers or jiffies. Just one of my quirks, not wanting dirt tracked through the house.

I’m still thinking about the ‘immunising your kid through dirt’ hypothesis. There’s an op-ed piece that I read today here by Tory Shepherd. Have to say, her piece gave me a bit of a giggle (way to go, Tory! I appreciate that!).

There’s a vindictive delight in knowing that it [excessive hygiene paranoia] might just all be a crock. And more, that all this sterility is really not very good for children at all.

I think this very specific and bitter pleasure comes from having evidence that “helicopter parenting” is bad. […]

This is not a noble feeling, but it’s one plenty of us have. At a guess it’s spawned by defensive thinking that we were not that protected.

Our parents never worried about us that much and we’re just fine thank-you-very-much.

Parenting now is a competition sport. Marketers know that, and use it to increase the guilt motherlode and sell more and more products.

I don’t use the sterile wipes on DD because she has eczema which flares up horribly when the alcohol in those wipes touches her skin. (Same thing with me – still getting over dermatitis from using one of those wipes 2.5 weeks ago.) So it’s back to basics like my mum did: damp facewasher kept in a plastic bag. Heck, let’s splash out – let’s have a few of them! At last count, DD had about 20 facewashers in the linen closet and it’s really not too hard to get organised to do that. If you don’t want to use a plastic bag, get a small reusable plastic container for the damp facewasher. That’s it. Soap and water in the bathroom are fine. Just wash all over the hands, between the fingers and all the way down the wrist, and make sure the hands are completely dry. Of course, that means a bit more laundry because hand towels will get wetter quicker, but that’s do-able.

DD has eaten her share of dirt and sand to the point where she had vile nappies. As far as I can tell, she wasn’t missing anything in her diet but she grew out of it. Even now, she has a pretty laissez-faire attitude towards dirt.

I suspect part of this is due to me deliberately not going down the OMG teh dirt and cooties! route. I remember getting totally obsessed about germs as a little kid and it was horrible. Even now, I’m quite aware that I could go back to that behaviour under stress because I’ve done it again and again as an adult. I can see that with a child who has a compromised immune system, you must be particularly vigilant – your child’s health will improve with your actions. But for the average kid, this can be pretty much over the top.

In the meantime, I have a kid who has what appears to be a fairly healthy immune system. She eats her fruit and vegies. Any cuts or scrapes heal quickly after being cleaned and having some magic ointment on them (Bepanthen or Dettol). She doesn’t catch many colds. And best of all, she’s full of beans, wants to play all day and loves life. Even if she nearly gives her mum a panic attack now and then. 🙂

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Posted by on December 13, 2010 in Children's Health


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“7 Mummy Sins”, but not apparently the ones done by Daddy or Aunty or Uncle …

Seriously, the title of this article stinks. On the surface, it looks like one of those tee-hee, look at me, I do some daft things as a mummy and maybe some of them are ill-advised, so hey, let’s get some so-called experts give their take on it, and voila, here is an article with a snappy headline. And blow me down if I didn’t get caught in the trap of reading the darn thing.

Let me save you time. Basically you aren’t a bad mum if you feed your kid the occasional dinner of baked beans instead of a gourmet meal of pureed organic vegies and a teeny bit of steak from a named cow, or if your kid goes through a phase of only eating one or two things. Things are getting questionable if you use tv all the time to babysit your kids, or if they’re drinking from a baby bottle when they’re old enough to go to preschool. It’s inadvisable to give kids sweets every day – keep them as a “sometime” treat.

WHY is it necessary to make the mother the sinner, the evil one who has to cut corners to get things done, who does things sloppily or holds onto old habits because she doesn’t have time to work on new habits or behaviours? How about coming up with “7 Daddy Sins”? Let me start the list, thinking of some men I have known in the past.

“I leave my kid watching TV all afternoon while I sneak off to my study to play wargames.”

“I take my kid to fastfood restaurants because I couldn’t be stuffed cooking a proper meal for myself and my kid, and besides, I don’t really like vegies and I love hamburgers.”

“I do everything to get out of looking after my kid and I call it babysitting when I do look after him.”

Go on, make your own list!


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Vegies Redux

For a while it looked like we were winning the vegie war. In early 2008 I had some success in getting DD to eat vegies after praying the Vegie Prayer. Then there was considerable backsliding for months.

A few months ago, DD would eat some things out of a meat and vegie stir fry, e.g. some “trees” (small pieces of broccoli), some “branches” (green beans) and maybe some carrot or corn, plus some fluffy rice and perhaps a few small pieces of meat.

That sweet period is over. NONONONONONONONO is the response when presented with anything that could be related to vegies. True, this started when she had a sore throat after having her tonsils removed. A lot of poor eating behaviour dates to that time. Sure, she’s cut back on the biscuits, no more juice except maybe one or two small cups on the weekend, ice cream once a week, custard a couple of times a week. The fresh fruit situation is cool – varied, delicious, eagerly eaten on most occasions.

It’s just that the vegies stump me, even when processed, hidden, dressed up and disguised. OK, she’s not going to starve. She has adequate vitamins and minerals and protein and carbs and all that. She drinks water. She eats a variety of foods. But oh boy, I wish she’d eat vegies sometimes.


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Mind your own business

Well, that’s what I feel like saying to people when they decide to “help” me by criticising my choices that I make for my daughter regarding food, entertainment, activities, bedtimes, sleeping patterns, clothing, and more. Sometimes it’s so-called experts (all that OMG your television will ROT your child’s BRAIN), sometimes it’s pretend-friendly acquaintances who want to guide me into the path of approved righteousness. Now comes the irritating news that childcare staff will check children’s lunchboxes for unhealthy nasties. No, I don’t mean cheese that’s going off, but rather, targetting poor choices of those awful adults who think that the occasional sweet treat is acceptable in a lunchbox.

And y’know? All this does is make me dig in my heels. Yes, I can see many sides to situations, one of those useful skills I learned at school and university. Equally, I learned how to analyse and test data and put forth my own propositions and findings.

Excuse me for taking my daughter to swimming lessons. I am not intentionally trying to ‘hothouse’ her into physical and mental excellence by providing additional activities. To be frank, I am not a brilliant instructor for swimming and though we have a fine time splashing about in the pool together, DD gets a better idea of how to move her arms and legs and how to float by some instruction from one of the lovely teachers at the swim school.

Excuse me if I don’t feel obliged to put my child in a woolly singlet because generations have done it in the past. Obviously my dereliction of duty in that area means that my child will freeze into a popsicle and I will win the prize of Fail!Mom.

Excuse me for letting my darling daughter watch Dora the Explorer on TV. Even if we spend time in the garden when we come home, exploring the plants, looking for birds and bugs, working on the compost heap, and pulling out weeds, that activity counts for naught because … DD watches TV for a while afterwards. Every minute she watches it, apparently she will get grams of fat wriggling from the screen onto her beautiful legs and arms. My care in creating meals from scratch doesn’t mean a thing – that evil LCD TV will grab hold of DD and take her over to the Obese Side.

Goodness, I could go on and on about this. I guess it’s my ornery nature. 🙂

If you want to read someone else’s rant on this subject, go to Susie O’Brien’s opinion piece in the Herald Sun. She reminded me of some points that I had forgotten.

Looking through the guidelines for kinders and childcare centres, which are being considered by the Federal Government, there’s a long list of nasties.

Besides TV, high on the black list are parents who drive their kids to kinder or child care, use food as rewards or punishments, give their kids “sometimes” foods sometimes, and give them treats in their lunchboxes.

Susie, you’re welcome to come over to me and join the ranks of Fail!Mom. 🙂


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Road Safety in the Holiday Season

Article from The Sydney Morning Herald here.

A woman crashed her car while driving last night in Sydney. Nothing unusual there. The thing that caught my eye was that she was allegedly six times over the legal drink-driving limit and she had her three year old daughter in the car. She had been to a university function, apparently.

What would lead a woman to drive with that much alcohol in her system with her dear daughter in the same car? According to The Daily Telegraph, she had her dog in the car also.

I’m honestly amazed that she drove that far before having an accident, and relieved that only the cars were damaged.

At this time of year, road safety becomes a more visible topic in newspapers, on the television and the radio. It should also become a big topic at parties. If you see someone drinking steadily, offer to get them a taxi and assure them that their vehicle can be retrieved the next day. Road safety is everyone’s business.

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Posted by on December 11, 2008 in cats, Children's Health, Education, Uncategorized


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Cotton Wool Kids

I nearly fell out of my seat when I read a recent article about cartwheels being banned in a primary school’s playground. The mother of one child who loves to do cartwheels decided to investigate further.

Ms Buschgens met with school principal Glenn Dickson and was told gymnastics activities were a `medium risk level 2′ that posed a danger to children.

After making her own inquiries, the North Ward mum found that gymnastics was indeed listed as a level 2 risk – when performed in class – along with cricket, soccer, tennis, netball, touch football and other sports.

Those sports have not been banned at lunchtime.

Funny how those organised sports that can bring glory to the school are allowed to continue, whereas the simple fun that happens during recess or lunchtime, sometimes with a bit of competition LOL is banned. This is the nanny state gone mad.

Here’s an opinion piece that says much that I was thinking.

Now it might be that back then we were a little too casual in our attitudes to child safety, but we are swiftly headed towards an equally unacceptable extreme.

That’s why schools and parents need to work together and find a balance between a responsible duty of care and letting kids be kids.

One school I have been told of has put seatbelts across all their swings in case the kids fall out.

Fair enough – but it doesn’t teach them the far more important life lesson of how to hang on.

Hang on, friends, and stand up for the right to do cartwheels. 🙂

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Posted by on September 1, 2008 in Children's Health, Life Matters


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