Raising Healthy Children in the Screen-Age

Let’s talk about the wired and hot topic at the moment, screen time! Rockmybaby® got answers to some of the tricky questions from the very knowledgeable Dr Mary Redmayne at a recent workshop we attended;

  • What is recommended for age groups?
  • What can we do as parents and caregivers, for children’s exposure to technology?
  • What are the effects?
  • How can we monitor the use of technology?

Dr Redmayne is an independent researcher, consultant, and an educator in environmental health (transmitting technology). She opened with the sobering question “What relationship do you have with your phone?”. If you’re honest, it’s probably an unhealthy relationship, one that you have become reliant on. So, what does this mean for our children, our next generation?

My mobile phone…to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, til death do us part…

Younger generations are becoming more exposed to technology, and as time goes on, the age of exposure is starting earlier and earlier. Those that are most exposed to these devices, are not fully informed. While the research is being conducted about the detrimental impact technology has on our health, it is important to create good user habits – this includes role modelling.

Let’s take a look back to 1879, when there were very few magnetoelectric fields. It was basically only natural exposure to magneto-electric fields, which included the sun and lightening. Our bodies have developed a need for the sun, vitamin D, which means it’s good for us!

Over time, we have increased our exposure through the immense amount of technology available to us. If you were able to see electromagnetic, it would be literally like being in smog, man-made smog! That is a pretty sobering statement when you consider your exposure, including: phones, laptops, watches, headphones, baby monitors, iPads, iPods, Kindles, the list goes on!

Cell phone emissions

Your phone is continually sending emissions, whether it is receiving or not. Simply being connected or wired in means that it is constantly transmitting. Interestingly, when your phone is in low reception areas, it is conducting more emissions as it’s working harder to find signals.

TRY THIS EXERCISE:

Using a radio and your cell phone, turn the radio to AM, with the volume up. Slowly bring the two devices together, you will literally be able to hear the transmissions between the two – it’s very frightening! (That’s without receiving or sending – the busier your phone, the higher the emissions become).

AREN’T THERE LAWS TO PROTECT US?

No! New Zealand’s exposure standard is not a legal procedure. It is our responsibility and obligation to protect ourselves, and more importantly, our children! It is up to us as adults, to teach the next generation technology safety. This should be taught and considered of extreme importance, as we do with sun safety and road safety. It needs to be brought into consideration when raising children, as there is growing evidence of the negative effects technology is having on not only children, but adults too!

Here are some implications that are currently being discovered:

  • Neurological
  • Fertility
  • Sensitivities
  • Brain tumors
  • Sperm and egg damage
  • Issues related to lack of fresh air, sunshine and exercise
  • Myopia (eye condition)
  • Postural and spine issues
  • Screen addiction
  • Increased bullying
  • Socially withdrawn
  • ‘Text neck’ (chronic neck pain and soreness)
  • Chronic upper back pain (stabbing pains)

Did you know, females are born with all of their eggs they will ever have? A simple way to protect fertility is not sitting a laptop on your lap, which is such a common position to engage with a laptop. The same protection applies to males for resting devices on their laps for sperm damage.

WHO IS MOST AT RISK? Children, the sick, the elderly

These three groups are the most at risk and vulnerable to absorbing emissions to their brains and bone marrow!

ACTION TIPS:

  • Keep technology as far away from your body as you can
  • Reduce cordless phone time/cellphone
  • Use speaker phone
  • Use a wired landline
  • No transmitting devices in bedrooms at night
  • Role model to your children (limit your own screen time)
  • If you have under 2 year olds, use screen time when they’re asleep (their recommendation time by NZ’s Ministry of Health is zero hours!)
  • Talk during TV watching, talk to your children about what they are viewing, help them understand what they’re viewing. Have an input into their understanding
  • Stop screen use an hour before bed time (stop stimulating the brain) – encourage reading a book before bed
  • Keep the screen further away from eyes
  • Look out of a window frequently to exercise the eye muscles
  • Teach children not to talk while on devices
  • Talk to your children!
  • At night: turn all devices off (including WiFi)
  • If you have to have your device on your body,ensure it is switched to flight mode or turned off
  • Baby monitors are one of the worst for transmitting, use other methods of checking on your baby.

“More connected = Less connection”Loneliness and screen addiction

“This system is better at hijacking your instincts than you are at controlling them. You’d have to exert an enormous amount of energy to control whether these things are manipulating you all the time. And so we have to ask: How do we reform this attention economy and the mass hijacking of our mind?” Tristan Harris

Dr Redmayne suggested the importance of creating contracts with your children around screen use. Get them involved in making the contract, if they are contributing to it, you are more likely to have a buy in.

Key things to have in your contract:

  • Password access
  • Be able to access their device at all times and check their device
  • If they break or damage their phone, it is replaced at their own cost
  • No mobile phones in bedrooms
  • Do not upload anything to social media you would not like your Grandma to see!
  • If you are being bullied, show your parents, don’t hide.

New Zealand Ministry of Health advice – screen time for age groups

  • UNDER 2 YEARS OLD – Zero screen time (no exceptions!)
  • 2 – 5 YEARS – Less than 1 hour
  • 6 – 18 YEARS – Less than 2 hours (non-school activities)

Problem substitution

  • Balance is urged
  • Teaching and modelling safe habits can start from birth
  • Technology can’t be eliminated, but we can put in safer measures, and reduce our exposure to ourselves and children.

WE’LL LEAVE YOU WITH THIS QUESTION TO REFLECT ON…

“What memories will your children have of their childhood?”Mary Redmayne

WORKSHOP PRESENTED BY DR MARY REDMAYNE

Nutrition for the Mind, Body and Soul

Nutrition, it’s always a hot topic – what should, and shouldn’t we be feeding our children? It’s important that we make informed decisions around what we are fueling ourselves and children with. Take the time to read about the products you are buying – what’s in them, how much sugar has been added, where is the product made?

We eat food and not single nutrients, that’s why it’s important to know what nutrients are in your food so you can ensure you have a balance, and of course informed, diet.

Children are totally dependent on you for food, which means the early years are a great time to create and talk about healthy eating habits.

Breakfast
Studies have shown that children who have breakfast are more likely to be able to concentrate. If your child is reluctant to eat breakfast, try getting them involved in making choices about their food by giving them options. Here are some great options that have no added refined sugar.

  • Weetbix
  • Porridge
  • Whole grain toast with peanut butter
  • Fresh fruit on its own or added to cereal is another fun thing to add
  • Natural yoghurt with a tablespoon of raw honey

Snacks
It’s important to keep children topped up with healthy snacks in between meals as they tend to burn off a lot of energy. Try to avoid sugary and salty snacks – vegetables and fruit are always a great filler! They require little preparation, wash and cut!

Here are some ideas for snack fillers

  • Fruit
  • Fruit smoothies (low fat milk, berries, banana and yoghurt)
  • Vegetable sticks (carrots, celery, broccoli)
  • Salad (fruit salad or vege – tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers)
  • Yoghurt (make sure to chose a natural, no sugar option and add your own berries or raw honey. Buy in 1 litre and refill your reusable containers, saving the planet and also on cost!)
  • Popcorn
  • Crackers
  • Nuts and seeds

Nutrition & Sleep
There is a direct correlation between nutrition and sleep. All food provides energy, therefore all food is energizing! Did you know that some foods have a stimulating effect on the brain? The most common for adults is caffeine and for children this is sugar! If your child is having sugar injected food, they’re going to be less likely to sleep because their brain is being stimulated – seems simple, but this is where reading the nutrition label comes into play!

Tryptophan (sleep hormone) produces a brain chemical called serotonin, which is how melatonin is created. The exciting thing is that there are foods that are high in tryptophan – which literally creates sleepiness!

  • Dairy products (particular swiss, cheddar and gruyere cheese)
  • Nuts
  • Tofu and soy products
  • Wheats and oats
  • Bananas
  • Leafy greens
  • Eggs
  • Poultry (especially turkey)

For these foods for work as a natural sleep remedy, they must be consumed with a healthy complex carbohydrate. This is so because carbohydrates release insulin, which helps tryptophan reach the brain.  Here are some ideas of healthy complex carbs to mix with the list above

  • Sautéed Greens
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Egg sandwich on whole meal bread
  • Stir fried vegetables
  • Brown rice

Mind & Body
Fueling your mind and body starts with preparation.
“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail” – Unknown.

Tips for success

  • Make an effort to have 95% of your meals home cooked ones
  • Involve the children in what you’re going to eat for the week (they can even help at the supermarket!)
  • Keep healthy snacks on hand (nuts, seeds and dried fruit)
  • Teach children to eat when they’re hungry, not emotional
  • variety in food groups
  • Moderation – we all need treats, everything in moderation

True hunger signs:

  • Rumbling stomach
  • Energy loss
  • Headache or trouble concentrating
  • Irritability

False hunger signals:

Thirst cravings
–     Emotions
–     External cues (mealtimes, social events)

Tuning into your body, and teaching children to do the same, is a really powerful skill to be able to do. Ask yourself, what am I hungry for? What do I need? How much do I need?

It’s important to listen to what your body needs and make mindful decisions.

Written by Kaya Brophy

So, maybe you are wanting to be an au pair, or you are a family wanting to employ one?

There seems to be an upward trend across New Zealand  and other countries for families to employ an au pair to support them in their busy modern lives, as dual working families with multiple children. Employing an au pair often represents a cost-effective way for families to juggle these multiple needs, and they come with the added benefit of offering cultural exchange, becoming part of the family, as well as the possibility of forming of close enduring relationships your family and children may enjoy well after the au pair has left. Au pairs are generally young woman (sometimes men, or “mannies”!), sometimes on their gap year, wanting to improve their English, experience a different culture, and to become part of a family overseas. Very commonly au pairs will want to combine work with a bit of travel and exploring.  For many, this might represent the first time they have left home or travelled abroad.

So, what does a family need to know and be able to offer an au pair to ensure a successful stay? What does an au pair role typically looklike?

As a guiding thought, it is important to remember that these au pairs are often young, fresh out of school, and this experience will often be their first major step away from the comfort of home. These au pairs are someone’s daughter or sons, they could be yours – a valuable lens to approach this engagement.

First, it is expected that a family will be able to provide an au pair with a bedroom of their own and personal or shared bathroom. It is important this is a beautiful and welcoming space, as this will be your aupairs “home- away-from-home”! This space needs to be an inviting, relaxing, and private space where they can unwind.

Guidelines around expected hours of work are ideally no more than 30 or 40 hours per week. Respectfully, an au pair should have weekends or at least two consecutive days off, and most evenings free. Remember, an au pair is also entitled to a holiday/breaks away. Respect the au pair as a young human being that will need rest and recovery in order to offer the best quality of care and support to a family. It is important to discuss the expectations around hours and duties in detail prior to the au pair accepting the role with a family. The more detail discussed the better! Remember, an au pair is primarily there for your children, and yes, they can certainly help with household tasks, but it is unfair to expect them to be a full-time cleaner, or part-time farm worker. Clarity and communication around this at the beginning can prevent all sorts of problems. It is a great idea to offer the au pair a family “hand book” outlining tasks/duties/expectations that can be a point of discussion for both parties.

Remember, an au pair may not have great English and families will need to be patient and supportive around this. Simple daily written instructions are gold. Guidance and communication around your family values and childcare practices are also very important. Help them to get to know your family, your child, and what works for the children in terms of routines, food, behaviour guidance etc.,

Don’t forget, looking after children alone can be tiring and lonely at times. An au pair may feel isolated and vulnerable. It is valuable to help connect an au pair to a wider au pair network – there are many great social media sites that foster this. Supporting an au pair to connect with a wider network is part of the responsibility as a host family.

We would highly recommend that whether you are an au pair,or a family seeking an au pair, that you go through an agency. Apart from the assurance that an au pair sourced through and agency will be brought through a rigorous recruitment process including at least an interview, reference checks, and police vetting and visa requirements, both parties benefit from the ongoing on-call support of a qualified team. If an issue arises on either side, there is someone to talk to and provide guidance. Agencies, like Rockmybaby® can also facilitate in connecting an au pair to a network, minimising a sense of loneliness an isolation. Facilitated by an agency, neither party need feel totally alone and have the comfort and framework and agency provides.

This can be one of the most rewarding experiences of a lifetime! Good au pair- family relationships can endure well after the au pair leaves, and what a wonderful opportunity for children to be exposed to other languages and cultures!

If you are thinking about employing an au pair, please contact our friendly consultant team www.rockmybaby.co.nz or call 0800 762 569

Life Without a Rubbish Bin, with Lucie & Dylan

Hannah and I, along with some of our educators went along to the Hawkes Bay Environmental Centre to listen to a talk about how to live without a rubbish bin. Lucie and Dylan live in Napier, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand and were inspired to live without a rubbish bin after they went to a talk about sustainability. Their journey was challenging, and definitely didn’t happen overnight, but in the end proved worth it for the feeling they get that they are caring for the planet and educating others to make simple small steps one at a time. Their dedication to the cause was certainly impressive!

Here are some of the ideas and take away messages from this professional evening:

  • Take little steps to start with – aim for something achievable
  • Think about all the bins you have at home (office, bathroom, bedroom, kitchen) – do you need all these bins?
  • To reduce your waste, shop in bulk or shop loose i.e. vegetable/fruit shops, butchery, local markets. Bring your own reusable bags or containers to carry your food home in.
  • Take a reusable coffee cup with you when you travel or visit your local café. Those bio-degradable cups are not what you think they are!
  • Shop with your $ and make good choices with your food/product packaging – have you thought about a shampoo bar?
  • Try using a vinegar and baking soda mix to replace all your cleaning products.
  • Think about this time of year and the amount we consume and buy. Think of ways to reduce your waste by making your own gifts. Homemade gifts are much more meaningful than something store bought anyway! How about the gift of “time”, an experience with your children instead of yet another toy.

If you would like more you can follow Lucie and Dylan on their Facebook page “Plastic free Hawkes Bay”, 

Written by Angela from Rockmybaby

Care Moments

Throughout a child’s day, children experience many moments of care between them and
their parent/educator/caregiver. These special moments are commonly referred to as routines, but at a much deeper level, these are sacred moments shared with a loving, respectful adult who is fully present and engaged in the moment. Care moments can be a change of nappy, sitting down to eat, getting dressed, being supported to sleep, or any other intimate moment that requires care for a child.

While engaging in care moments, we as adults need to be mindful of our own movements, slow down and ensure the child feels involved and respected. The child is then more engaged, and will enjoy spending this special time with you. Imagine attending a doctor’s appointment where the doctor checked you over with no thought about your feelings, no conversation, no care? How would this make you feel? It is the same with children.

♥ Children who are consistently handled with kind hands and good humour are far more likely to radiate those gifts back to the world – Brainwave Trust ♥

We need to ensure we give them the respect they deserve and show love and kindness.
When this happens, the child becomes emotionally satisfied and the relationship between the caregiver and the child is cemented in trust and reciprocity.

An emotionally satisfied child feels secure in themselves and is happy to explore, play, and be involved, as they know all their needs will be met from a responsive adult.

The presence of respectful care, natural unfolding, and offering an unhurried pace, is especially crucial in a child’s early learning stage when they are developing a sense of self, as well as making sense of the world around them.

beach-holding-love-blanket-mother-toddler-warm-son-hug-cuddle-kiss-snuggle-cozy_t20_OpGn0y

By offering choice and our calm respectful presence, we empower children and communicate that their needs, feelings, and interests are important and worthy of respect – setting them up for life-long learning and a healthy self-esteem.

Take a nappy change for example – it is estimated that a child may have up to 5,000 changes in their lifetime! Imagine if all these opportunities for relationship building and learning were wasted or lost? Inviting the child to transition from playing into a care moment is a way to show that you respect what they are doing in their play.

Imagine if you were deep in thought and someone whipped you away, and plopped you
on a nappy changing table. An invitation can be as simple as getting down  to the child’s level, asking them if they are ready to engage in the care moment, or simply outstretching your hands with palms facing up. This works particularly well with infants. All you need to do is simply pause and wait for a response, whether this is verbal or non-verbal.

A young child may shake their head and tell you they are not ready, whereas an infant may turn their body towards you or hold their hands out to you. By taking this approach, slowly in time, you will find you will begin to read children’s non-verbal cues, listen to what they are saying, and respect them as little people with feelings and emotions, just like us.

For infants, care and education are inseparable because valuable learning is taking place during routine care times and this learning is hindered if the child does not have a strong reciprocal and consistent relationship with the person who is caring for them. In being cared for, the infant is learning to care for others.

The Pikler Collection

A ritual or a routine? What is the difference?

A routine is something you HAVE to do. It does not have any thought, or love, and you end up on auto-pilot just doing something because you have to.

A ritual is something more meaningful, beautiful, well thought out, delivered with care, kindness, and something that children enjoy and want to be actively involved in.

If you think back to your own childhood, it is the rituals that are imprinted into your memory because it was something you looked forward to and enjoyed. It was special and meaningful.

cute child girl on cozy outdoor tea party in spring garden with

Do you  often smell a particular smell, or hear a particular song and it instantly takes you back to a joyful time? What was it that made it special? Think about when you have a bath. Do you just jump in, with the lights on? Or do you add in bubble bath, light candles, a face mask, and sink in to soak with a good book? How does this make you feel?

A ritual is something that happens regularly and is what you look forward to. This is the same for children in our care. Children don’t choose to be in care, and even though they are having a great time, it is up to us to take the boring every day and inject a little bit of sparkle and magic. After all, children deserve the best.

As educators, teachers, parents, and caregivers, we need to ensure every day is special and that children have something special to look forward to.

“It is not enough to say we love the child, they must feel the results of the care”
EMMI PIKLER

What does a ritual look like?

Rituals require a little bit of thoughtful planning and time, but they are easy and fun to introduce.

Meal times are one of the easiest ways to inject a bit of magic into the mundane. Imagine sitting down to lunch with just your lunch box on the table. BORING! How about taking the extra few minutes to be prepared and lay out a table cloth, some warm lavender infused flannels for washing the face, a beautiful centre-piece, some calm lighting, some herbal tea, and real crockery (yes glass).
Involve the children in this process also and let them help set the table. This allows children to contribute to their environment and gives them a sense a belonging within the group. You’ll be amazed at how the authentic conversations and sense of calm will follow!

table-setting_t20_roYvwJ

One-on-one rituals such as a nappy change or sleep time, can also be transformed from something clinical, to a time that a child looks forward to. Try singing the same special song, setting a relaxing environment, allowing the child to be involved, drawing the curtains, a special foot massage before bed, having a child’s special cuddly ready, essential oils in a diffuser or calming relaxing music. In the words of Kimberley Crisp… “It is about being prepared in head, heart, and hands”.

Written by Angela StoneRockmybaby

Interview tips for Nanny roles

First impressions are formed within seconds of meeting someone for the first time, keep this in mind when preparing for your interview with a family.

  • As soon as the family expresses interest in interviewing you, make contact as soon as possible and lock in an interview time. A phone call should be your first point of contact, not a text.
  • Wear clean, tidy, professional clothing and shoes. Ensure you are well–groomed including tidy hair and clean groomed nails. Don’t overdress or wear inappropriate revealing clothing or high heels – remember this is a nanny interview, dress accordingly!
  • Don’t be late: Ensure you have the address and contact number of the family and allow plenty of time to travel and map out your route.
  • Bring a hard copy of your CV along, use this as a reference or talking point as appropriate.
  • Know the job! Make sure you have found out as many details as possible about the children, family, and the nature of the role prior to meeting with the family.

mom-daughter-playing-at-the-park_t20_pYzeb1

“Find your joy … and let it run your life” – Cleo Wade

Be open, friendly and chatty and be prepared for some of the questions you might be asked for example:

Why do you want to be a nanny?

What activities do you enjoy doing with children?

What are your views on children’s routines and rhythms?

What are your views on behaviour management strategies?

Can you give me some examples of age appropriate activities for children?

Are you comfortable with house work and preparing meals?

What other experience and skills do you have?

Are you flexible with hours i.e. babysitting or if a parent is running late?

  • Engage with the children, it is not just about impressing the parents / whanau (introduce yourself to them).
  • Be a good listener not just a talker!
  • When the interview complete, ensure you thank the family/whanau for their time and express that you enjoyed and appreciated meeting them and their children.
  • Lastly, make sure you follow up with an email or phone call thanking the family for the opportunity to be considered for the role, and emphasise that you would be delighted to work with them and their children into the future.

Good luck, you have got this!

dauther-and-mother-autumn-walk_t20_jolOyj

“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius

www.rockmybaby.co.nz 

 

 

 

 


 

Play environments – Rhythm & care moments

Do you often find that your day feels hurried, rushed, and stressful at times? Do you constantly battle with the children in your care to get them to sit and enjoy a meal? Is there food everywhere with very little consumed? Is it a constant battle to change a nappy or take a nap? Does this bring up feelings of guilt, frustration, annoyance? Are you overwhelmed with negative emotion? As a parent and an early childhood teacher I know this feeling all to well!! The question is:

                         “How do we create a more peaceful environment for all?”

twenty20_3a7dca87-c14b-4a54-a0f5-1de27f27b561

The answer is to be mindful of these feelings, slowing down and ensuring the children feel involved and take part in the care moments. Care moments are just that – moments of care that take place throughout the day. If you slow down, take care, and show respect for the child, then your stress levels and frustration diminish. The child is then more engaged and enjoys spending special time with you.

Early on in my teaching career, when I taught in an infant and toddler room, we found we were being slaves to the clock, so we took it away, and what a difference this made!! Instead of “lunch at 12pm”, we ate when we were hungry. Instead of “bed at 1pm”, we put the children to bed when they showed signs of being tired. We slowed down, we were present, we were engaged, we were mindful. Instead of “nappy time!”, we invited the child when they were ready to come.

                                       Invite the child? But what do you mean?

twenty20_87d3cd20-4137-49c2-904c-027a03331b6b

Inviting the child to transition from playing into a care moment is a way to show that you respect what they are doing in their play. Imagine if you were deep in thought and someone whipped you away and plopped you on a nanny changing table. An invitation can be as simple as getting down to the child’s level, asking them if they are ready to engage in the care moment, or simply outstretching your hands with palms facing up. This works particularly well with infants. Then all you need to do is simply pause and wait for a response, whether this is verbal or non-verbal. A young child may shake their head and say, “no, I’m not ready”. You would then offer to come back in xxx amount of time. This shows respect for the child’s eventual readiness and removes the power struggle, as you are empowering the child to own the decision. An infant may turn their body towards you or hold their hands out to you. By taking this approach, slowly in time, you will find you will begin to read children’s non-verbal ques, listen to what they are saying, and respect them as little people with feelings and emotions, just like us. The presence of respectful care, natural unfolding, and offering an unhurried pace, is especially crucial in a child’s early learning stage when they are developing a sense of self, as well as making sense of the world around them. By offering choice and our calm respectful presence, we empower children and communicate that there needs, feelings, and interests are important and worthy of respect – setting them up for life-long learning and a healthy self-esteem.

For infants, care and education are inseparable because valuable learning is taking place during routine care times and this learning is hindered if the child does not have a strong reciprocal and consistent relationship with the person who is caring for them. In being cared for, the infant is learning to care for others”, (https://thepiklercollection.weebly.com/uploads/9/4/5/3/9453622/toni_respectful_care.pdf)

Written by Angela Stone