Some ideas in case you have run out of things to do with the kids this holidays.....

Posted by Meg Parkinson on 6 January 2015

Every-one looks forward to the holidays but the idea of keeping the kids busy and out of trouble can be extremely daunting, and stressful on the purse strings! Following, is an idea to help you maintain some structure, which most kids need, as well as some activity ideas and sites to help you enjoy your time at home with the kids without having to strain your brain every day.

Daily planner idea

Each day at breakfast (or the night before, whatever suits your family) take the time to plan your day. It might take a while the first day, but once you get into the habit, it shouldn't take long at all.

1. Write a list of all the things you need to do each day, such as eating times, jobs, visits to the shops/ family/friends houses, baths, feeding the dog. Remember to include the things you need to do as well.

2. Organise the day into parts. Include the things you do each day, time for active activities, time for passive, or quiet activities, and time for activities that you do together. Try to have a  quiet activity follow  active or physical activities so that your children do not get over stimulated (and vice versa).

3.  Discuss, or write down the activities that you could do in each part of the day. This way, you won't feel pressure to try and think up something amazing that is the answer to everybody's dreams on the spot, when they ask 'what can I do now?' You might want to cut up your list, throw it in a jar and get the kids to pick out an activity each.

Some notes about different activity types during the day.

Unstructured and quite time encourage boredom inspired resourcefulness.
While many parents are quite fearful of child directed play these days, because they worry it equals children getting up to mischief, it is extremely important for learning how to apply rules, learn  what is 'fair' and discover how others might see things differently. Those loud arguments about whether an out of bounds ball was actually out of bounds actually serve a purpose.

Children also need time to stop and stare. The ability to take pleasure and interest in their own ideas and imagination requires practice. Looking out the window has its benefits in developing creativity and resourcefulness. For example, A.A. Milne wrote a poem, "Waiting at the Window,"  in which the narrator names two drops of rain, then creates a pretend drama as they make their way to the bottom. Such suspense!

If you let your children  know that a part of the day is going to be set aside for independent play and quiet time then you are setting up the expectation that they can do it with-out getting themselves into trouble, or coming to you whinging about being bored. Allotting the time, and letting them know what it is for, does two things.
1. It stops children from thinking this is a 'nothing to do' time and that just because nothing has been organised for them, they must be bored.
2. It puts some responsibility back on to them to entertain themselves. Children actually thrive on a bit of responsibility. You never know, you might be pleasantly surprised.
This is the time where they can organise their own activities, invent games, play in the sandpit / toy room, draw pictures, play with the dog, read, think and dream.

Time spent together

When you make your plan, it becomes obvious to everyone how much time you spend together, involved in activities. It is really good for children to be able to see this, as they often take for granted the times that you are spending with them, but they sure notice if you are doing your own thing and they can certainly let you know that this is not to their liking! This is not because children are selfish, they just need things pointed out to them sometimes because they just don't know any better. Don't let them 'guilt' you into giving up all your time to play with them. Using your daily plan, you can now say to them, 'When you have finished your play time, then it is time for us to play a game/ do some cooking'. Remember, if they pester you, the 'together time' can always be reduced. Alternatively, if you can see they are making a big effort to 'stick to the plan' the together time can be made to seem more exciting and special.

The main points

1. Plan your days, it helps you stay on track with the things you have to do as well.
2. Don't fall into the trap of thinking you have to entertain your children all day, especially with expensive trips, encourage resourcefulness.
3. Do try to allow time for physical activity each day. Taming children with excess stored energy can be stressful!
4. Break up quiet activities and active activities so that your children do not get over or under stimulated.
5. Don't feel as though you have to stick to the structure and the allotted times rigidly, think of the plan as something that is there as support, if you need it.

Useful Websites - an American site, but it has a pretty good list of activity ideas Kids Pack packs that arrive on your doorstep already packed full of activities kids can do while travelling - TODDLER TRICKS gives the parents of toddlers a whole box of on-line tricks that they can use to have happy, healthy fun-times with their toddler every day. They all cost nothing, or next to nothing and have been tried and tested on real live toddlers!  Toddler Tricks is delivered by a weekly blog which you can subscribe to through Facebook, by email or Twitter.  If you know the parent of a toddler, or are one yourself, then you are going to love Toddler Tricks. COME CHECK OUR TRICKS OUT!

Activity ideas

(If you have any other favourites, please let me know and I'll add them to the list)
1. Make play dough.
2. Learn magic tricks together and put on a show.
3. Create awards at
4. Make bubbles.
5. Have a photo taking contest. Share cameras.
6. Sign up for a walk or run for a cause.
7. Write letters to soldiers.
8. Go to the library and take out books, rent books on tape and movies.
9. Have colouring contests.
10. Plan a picnic indoors.
11. Have breakfast food for dinner.
12. Hold cooking classes in your own kitchen, invite friends.
13. Share favourite birthday and holiday stories.
14. Rent dance videos and hold a dance contest.
15. Create books using pictures from magazines.
16. Visit nursing homes, bring musical instruments and put on a show.
17. Volunteer at a soup kitchen.
18. Make cupcakes and have a decorating party.
19. Download free e-books.
20. Hold a family game night.
21. Visit the zoo.
22. Design a family website.
23. Fill with family pictures and stories.
24. Go rollerblading.
25. Attend free festivals.
26. Attend free concerts.
27. Press flowers and make cards.
28. Decorate thank-you notes, write messages inside, put stamps on envelopes
they will be ready to go as needed.
29. Decorate placemats on construction paper and cover with contact paper.
30. Play charades.
31. Decorate small notebooks and begin a daily journal.
32. Organize dresser drawers.
33. Clean bedrooms.
34. Draw pictures and mail to other family members.
35. Finger paint with shaving foam.
36. Collect rocks and paint them.
37. Tie dye T-shirts and matching socks
38. Share daydreams.
39. Rent a yoga video for kids.
40. Rent dance videos and have a contest after practicing.
41. Make a bird feeder.
42. Wash the family cars together.
43. Make macaroni jewellery and art.
44. Visit playgrounds and local parks.
45. Visit a working farm.
46. Take nature walks.
47. Go fishing.
48. Arrange photo albums.
49. Play torch tag.
50. Practice musical instruments.
51. Do brain teasers.
52. Trace cookie cutters, decorate and cut out.
53. Write stories about past family events you have in photo albums.
54. Play card games.
55. Decorate clay pots.
56. Plant flowers in the decorated pots.
57. Do jigsaw puzzles.
58. Sleep outside under the stars.
59. Research a new hobby at the library.
60. Play a family memory game. ie What are the name of your great-grandparents?
61. Make a collage of what you are thankful for.
62. Make paper bag puppets.
63. Write love and appreciation letters to each other.
64. Cut out coupons together.
65. Read to each other from joke books.
66. Make friendship pins.
67. Make potato stamp art.
68. Play scrabble.
69. Do science experiments.
70. Create a secret family code.
71. Plan next summer's holiday
72. Play indoor golf.
73. Play broom ball.
74. Practice and become good at hackey sack.
75. Each child collects things they don't use anymore. Play bingo and choose things for prizes.
76. Have a fashion show.
77. Study a topic and hold a debate.
78.  Visit a farmer's market.
79. Visit a flea market.
80. Visit an auction.
81. Watch a sporting event you've never seen before.
82. Learn how to use a compass and practice your skills.
83. Try to break a world record.
84. Play Frisbee
85. Go on a scavenger hunt.

Posted in: parenting tips activities for kids getting along  

Are you letting your children your children run feral? Michael Carr-Gregg thinks so!

Posted by Meg Parkinson on 20 October 2014

Wowww! I personally have a lot of respect for Michael Carr Gregg. I always think his solutions to parent’s dilemmas are very practical, sensible and effective. That is why I was VERY surprised to read this report. It sounds like he has just had enough! I have added some ideas to help you say no at the end.

Following is a report written by Sarah Sedghi
A prominent Australian psychologist has warned Australia is currently raising a generation of spoilt brats, because their parents are "crap" and "never say no".
Dr Michael Carr-Gregg believes today's parents have a lot to answer for, and there may be serious long-term consequences for Australia.
Dr Carr-Gregg attributes the rise of poorly-behaved children to five major parenting problems.

"The first [problem] is that there are too many parents being doormats for their kids. They have got what I call a vitamin N deficiency, which is a failure to say no.
"It's incredibly important that parents set limits and boundaries and I don't know that that's happening at the moment."
Dr Carr-Gregg identified the "helicopter parent" as another "model of crap parenting" he was targeting in his work.
"The high-strung, control-freak parents that want to smother their kids with so much love and attention and monitoring and supervision that they never, ever develop any self-reliance and can't solve their own problems later on."


The Australian psychologist said he has seen ample evidence of the consequences to these types of parenting, not just in his own clinic but in schools around Australia.
The short-term consequences you can see in restaurants, waiting rooms and airports, these kids who are just completely feral, running out of control.
"We've had people moving to these artificial villages called cities, primarily to get jobs and in doing so, a lot of the kinship networks have been destroyed.
"A lot of the wisdom around parenting, which was derived from grandparents, for example, has no longer been so readily available."
The consequences of bad parenting has both short- and long-term effects, warned Dr Carr-Gregg.
"The short-term consequences you can see in restaurants and in waiting rooms and in airports throughout Australia, where you have these kids who are just completely feral, running out of control.
"Parents don't do anything about it because they're frightened of being seen as bad parents or frightened to say no."
Dr Carr-Gregg said this style of parenting has major effects on the mental health of children and adolescents as they grow up.
"Long-term, I think what we're doing is infantilising a lot of children into incompetence."


I think, from speaking to the parents that I work with that the real difficulty is to KEEP saying no. I would like to outline a couple of reasons why it is so important to  persevere:

1. Children feel safe and supported when strong and fair boundaries are in place.
I always say to parents, imagine  being 2 or 4 or 6 or even 12 knowing that you always get to make the decisions and that you are in charge. It would be a bit scary wouldn’t i? When children feel safe, knowing that a strong and fair adult is in charge, they can learn more, do more and are far more likely to develop at an age appropriate rate.

2. Saying no to your children will not harm their self-esteem.
In fact, research suggests that children with more freedom  have lower self-esteem,  whereas the clearer the rules and limits set by parents the higher the child’s self esteem. Remember self esteem = feeling good + doing well. NOT just feeling good. Expect your child to follow your rules and meet your expectations and surprisingly, they will actually feel better about themselves!

What to do: Start small. Ask yourself some questions. What do you think your child needs to learn right now? What boundaries do you need to put in place to help them learn this?  Make this the area where you can be firm.

3. If  you feel as if you are saying no to everything, try this:. Find a way to ‘yes’
On many occasions, children ask us for something, and we want to say no. Try using if …. then or when ….. then statements instead. For example, your child may ask, “May I watch T.V?”  Instead of saying no, you can reply, “When you finish your homework….. then you may watch T.V.”

I hope you fing these ideas helpful as you continue to take a stand and say no.

Posted in: being assertive Michael Carr - Gregg Saying no to children Children not listening to instructions parenting tips  

Take the long view

Posted by Meg Parkinson on 19 March 2014
Dr Stephen Cowan's 11th and last insight for you is:

Take the long view. (Because it’s easy to get caught in the immediacy of a problem, especially at 2am.)

Having watched thousands of children grow into adulthood, what sometimes seems like a big deal at four-months old or 14-years old may be no more than a small bump in the road. Children have taught me how to take the long view of life. When we step back and see the big picture of our lives, we discover wisdom and compassion.

I hope that you enjoyed these tips and insights and that they might have helped you in your parenting or in your role as an educator.

Warm Regards,


Posted in: parenting tips  

Trust yourself: You're the expert on your child

Posted by Meg Parkinson on 12 March 2014
Dr Stephan Cowan's 10th insight for you is:


One of the most important things I teach new parents is how to trust themselves. Nowhere is this more daunting than when a new baby comes into our life. We’re expected to know everything and yet we feel like we know nothing. But children have taught me that this knowing-nothing can be a real opportunity to open our powers of intuition.
Mindful parenting begins by listening with an open heart to your child’s life without fear or panic. Studies have shown that a mother’s intuition is more powerful than any lab test in picking up problems. Unfortunately today we are flooded with so much scary information that it interferes with our ability to listen to our own intuition. (Just think of the arrogance of a doctor who acts like he knows your child better than you do!)

Take a tip from your baby. Look into your baby’s eyes. Imagine what it feels like to be conscious of the world before you have language, before all those labels that scare us and divide things into good and bad, right and wrong. Babies have no enemies. This is seeing from the source. It is what Zen Buddhists call “beginner’s mind.” Watch closely how your baby breathes with his belly. This is Qigong breathing. Stop thinking for a moment and try breathing this way. You may just find the answers you need waiting for you there.

Posted in: being assertive parenting tips anxiety  

The secret of life is letting go

Posted by Meg Parkinson on 5 March 2014
And insight number 9 from Dr Stephen Cowan is:


Life is a process of constantly giving way. Things pushed past their prime transform into something else. Just as spring gives way to summer, so is each stage of development a process of letting go. Crawling gives way to walking. Babbling gives way to speaking. Childhood gives way to adolescence. By breathing in, you breathe out. By eating, you poop.

Each season, each stage, each little rhythm of our life is a matter of letting go. This allows us to get rid of what we don't need to make room in our lives for new information. Learning to let go is not always easy and each child has his own adaptive style and timing. Nature favours diversity. Remember to honour your child’s unique nature. This is what my book Fire Child Water Child is all about.

Perhaps the most important way children teach me how to let go is in the way they play. Playing means letting go of our inhibitions; it frees us up and allows us not to take ourselves too seriously.

Posted in: dealing with disappointments getting along