Thursday, October 17, 2013

Catherine Knox – Winner of the CALI Award

Catherine Knox - Winner of the CALI Award

Our newest CALI (Community Action Leadership Inspiration) award winner is Catherine Knox, CEO of the Gidget Foundation. Following her personal experience of perinatal anxiety and depression, Catherine has pursued a passionate interest in the area of mental health and women’s life experiences.

Q: Tell us about the Gidget Foundation.

Catherine: The Gidget Foundation is a charitable organisation, which was established in 2001, after the tragic death of a young mother suffering from postnatal depression. She was a vibrant, engaging young mother and her nickname was Gidget. Her family and all those close to her, were unaware that she was suffering so desperately.
Every year in Australia, a number of mothers lose their lives to this illness, while many other parents experience significant emotional distress.
The Gidget Foundation is supported entirely through donations and receives no government funding. The focus of our work is education and awareness. Representatives of the Gidget Foundation speak regularly at community and corporate functions.
We also provide ongoing education to medical students, midwifery students, midwives and GPs, and have presented papers at a range of conferences.
Catherine addressing the audience at NSW Parliament House, during Postnatal Depression Awareness Week
Catherine addressing the audience at NSW Parliament House, during Postnatal Depression Awareness Week
We work collaboratively to provide synergy with individuals and institutions, in supporting women with perinatal anxiety and depression. All funds raised are directed to programs supporting women during the perinatal period.
The foundation is closely aligned with a number of professional organisations. Our next big project is to create ‘Gidget House’, providing integrated care and support services to families experiencing perinatal anxiety and depression.
We have produced a number of resources including a DVD, Behind the Mask; the Hidden Struggle of Parenthood and a book Beyond the Baby Blues both of which are now being used by professionals and the community around the country.
The Gidget Foundation has also been working with a number of companies, to provide information and resources for parental leave packages. We have a partnership with Career after Kids to provide seminars on transitions in the workplace. The impact on the workforce, from people suffering from mental health problems, cannot be overstated.
Barker Old Boys Rugby held a Ladies’ Day in support of the Gidget Foundation
Barker Old Boys Rugby held a Ladies’ Day in support of the Gidget Foundation

Q: What inspired you to get involved?

Catherine: Following my personal experience of perinatal anxiety and depression, I have pursued a passionate interest in the area of mental health and women’s life experiences. I had no medical history of anxiety and depression so I had no self awareness when I became unwell.
My husband and I experienced two horrible years of distress – rather dark and turbulent ‘groundhog days’ before I was eventually helped. My diagnosis came as an immense relief. I was not losing my mind – this was actually a known condition that had a name, which many people suffered from.
My husband and I are both tertiary educated professionals. My husband is in fact an obstetrician, yet we were unable to understand what was happening to us, nor to access the help that we needed. How then must this impact on others who do not have the resources we had?
In response to my experience, and in the hope of gaining some understanding, I completed a Masters in Gender and Cultural Studies from USYD. Around this time I was invited to join the Gidget Foundation – which I did with great enthusiasm.
I have a passion for increasing awareness about perinatal anxiety and depression. I have since supported the creation of an educational DVD and co-authored Beyond the Baby Blues; the Complete Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Handbook.  I am currently undertaking a Graduate Certificate in Social Impact through UNSW.
Beyond the Baby Blues co-authored by Catherine Knox with Seana Smith and Benison O’Reilly.
Beyond the Baby Blues co-authored by Catherine Knox with Seana Smith and Benison O’Reilly.
I believe that knowledge is power. Through educating health professionals and the broader community, we have the opportunity to support parents of young children. Raising the profile of perinatal anxiety and depression, provides an environment where health professionals feel confident in helping young families navigate through the complexities of the perinatal period.
Diagnosis and treatment are more straightforward, ensuring that mothers and fathers receive care and treatment that will eventually aid in their long term recovery.

Q: Why should people know about perinatal anxiety and depression?

Catherine: Previously known simply as postnatal depression, anxiety and depression during the perinatal period (from pregnancy to one year after the birth) affects nearly 20% of mothers and 10% of fathers. That’s around 50,000 families in Australia each year. Friends, communities and workplaces can also feel the impact.
If left untreated it can have a long term negative impact on the development of children, and on intimate relationships. Perinatal anxiety and depression is a diagnosable illness. It is the result of biological, psychological and social factors and needs to be considered when:
  • A mother is experiencing strong emotions which are impacting negatively on her ability to function in her usual way and have lasted for two weeks or more.
  • This is accompanied by a lack of enjoyment or pleasure in life, and an inability to plan for the future.
Catherine Knox  -  Davidson Electorate Woman of the Year 2013
Catherine Knox – Davidson Electorate Woman of the Year 2013
While pregnancy and the first year of parenthood can be a uniquely special time, it is also a time of great adjustment, and the impact is often underestimated in our society. While most parents manage the mixed emotions and physical demands of pregnancy and early parenthood, around 50% of parents do find adjusting to their new role challenging.
Parents are also confronted by mixed messages from the media, parenting books and websites and even other parents.  Often parents find there is a huge gap between their expectations of parenting and the realities they face.
It is extremely hard for new mothers and fathers to admit that life as a parent is not unfolding as they had anticipated.  There is still stigma and judgment within our society around the notion of a depressed or anxious mother.
Mothers who are not functioning as they imagined they would, will often hide behind a mask of secrecy, fearful that they will be labeled a ‘bad mother’. It can also be very difficult for mothers and fathers to articulate exactly how they feel, and even harder to seek help.
The good news is that perinatal anxiety and depression can be treated and parents do recover. Early intervention and emotional support enables parents to move on and enjoy this time with their children.
Ladies’ Lunch May 2011  -  ‘Mum Cha’ 500 women attended
Ladies’ Lunch May 2011 – ‘Mum Cha’ 500 women attended

Q: What advice do you have for families who think there may be a problem?

Catherine: I adhere to the ‘chaos theory’ of mothering. It is grounded in the principle of the ‘good enough mother’. The reality of life is not reflected in the ‘cult of the perfect mother’ that is served up to us on a daily basis by the media.
However …
If parents feel that they are not functioning in the way they had hoped, if they perceive that their lives are overwhelming, that they are consumed with feelings of grief and anger and a lack of happiness, do seek help.
A GP or a child and family health nurse is a good place to start. If you are not receiving the support you need, seek out another health professional who will help you. Treatment can be provided by a range of health professionals including a psychologist or psychiatrist, and will generally involve therapies and sometimes medication.
Perinatal anxiety and depression can be treated, and parents do recover!
'Behind the Mask - The Hidden Struggle of Parenthood' - a DVD co-produced by the Gidget Foundation and PANDA
Behind the Mask – The Hidden Struggle of Parenthood’ – a DVD co-produced by the Gidget Foundation and PANDA

Q: What is something that you are particularly proud of?

Catherine: The Emotional Wellbeing Program at North Shore Private Hospital, funded by a grant through the NIB foundation.
Based on the Clinical Practice Guidelines for the perinatal period (an evidenced based research document produced by Beyondblue). We have developed a model for screening and assessment of women during the antenatal period.
A similar model is in place in the public sector, in various forms around Australia. Our program is the first of its kind in Australia to be run in a private hospital. We have professional support from perinatal psychiatrists, researchers and midwives.
Women booked to have their baby at North Shore Private Hospital, have the opportunity to have an interview with a trained midwife. We are evaluating the program both qualitatively and quantitatively, and have presented our findings at national and international conferences.
We have received overwhelmingly positive feed back from the mothers and our data shows that we are also helping those that require further support.  We now have a program that can be scaled and replicated in many different settings.
This development and implementation of this program has shown me, that with passion and the right people, we can do anything.
Gidget Foundation Ladies’ Lunch July 2013
Gidget Foundation Ladies’ Lunch July 2013
Q: What drives you?

Catherine: Every day I hear stories from women and doctors around personal struggles with perinatal anxiety and depression.  As long as parents are struggling during this period, I will keep advocating for them.
I also hear words of support for the resources we have produced and the program that we have run.  Most important are the personal stories of recovery.  It is wonderful when parents are finally able to enjoy their children and embrace their role as parents.
Q: Do you feel there are rewards in your efforts?

Catherine: I work with passionate, talented and professional people – it is a privilege to be involved with these individuals as we work together to support parents of young children.
I know that raw, brittle feeling, the knot in the stomach, the grief, the anger. It has left an indelible mark on my soul. I hope my passion can help alleviate the distress of others who find themselves in this situation.
The ultimate driver and eventual reward will be to manage the establishment of ‘Gidget House’. Here we will provide support and treatment for parents and families, whose lives have been impacted by perinatal anxiety and depression. We’re nearly there!

Q: If you had your way, everyone in the world would spend 5 minutes a day…

Catherine: Giving a few moments of kindness to those around you including some words of support for new parents you might know.  I believe that if societies are to thrive and flourish we need to live as part of a supportive community. Ask that new mother or father ‘How it is really going’…and listen to the answer!
As well as her work with the Gidget Foundation, Catherine Knox’s mission also includes medical student and midwifery education, career seminars, and frequent representation to professional, industry and community groups. Catherine has a Masters in Cultural Studies (USYD) and a Graduate Certificate in Social Impact (UNSW). 
Mums@Work 18 Oct 13
Source: FivePointFive

How Georgia Beattie created single serve wines

How Georgia Beattie created single serve wines
Georgia Beattie doesn't live up to the Gen Y stereotype. She's the opposite of lazy, more driven than most people you're likely to meet, although one thing does ring true, she does have a love of alcohol – namely, wine.

Beattie grew up in the wine industry, as her father was a winemaker, and this gave her an appreciation at a young age of wine and also of the industry's limitations. But it wasn't until the summer of 2009 that Beattie realised she wanted to be in the industry.

Beattie, who was 23 at the time, found herself at Melbourne's Laneway Festival. Not much of a beer drinker, and not a fan of ready-to-drink spirits, Beattie asked for a glass of wine only to be told by the bar manager it was too hard to serve at outdoor events.

This gave Beattie an idea – create single serve wines in plastic glasses which are suitable for the outdoors. Beattie returned home that night and ruined her housemates iron by sealing foil onto plastic wine glasses, experimenting with the design for what would emerge as Lupé Wines.

"I had no idea what I was doing, I did it all wrong," she says. But now she's created a product which is shatter-proof, has a shelf life of 12 months and is made of recyclable PET (soon they will be 100% recyclable).

The business officially started production in 2012 and launched in Japan. It is now also in Singapore, Korea, Taiwan and Australia. In just one year it's already reached a turnover of $1 million. Beattie has also secured contracts with Treasury Wine Estate, the AFL, Victoria's Spring Racing Carnival and a major golf tournament.

Women's Agenda sister publication SmartCompany spoke to Beattie about her decision to launch in Asia first, the challenges she's faced so far and launching her upcoming retail offering.


For Beattie, the mornings are her time.

"I'm a big believer in owning a part of the day," she says. "So for me that's between 5.30am and 6.30am before the phone is ringing. I'll usually run or do Pilates."

After her morning exercise, it's time for a coffee and to plan the day.

"I create a to-do list and work out who I'm chasing and what I want to achieve," she says.

"There are usually three main tasks to complete and other smaller ones."

Daily life:

Beattie's days are varied as she regularly visits the production factory, the wineries which produce Lupé's wine and also her office in North Melbourne.

"I move around where I'm needed, but I I'm constantly wearing the exporting, sales and procurement hats," she says.

"Because it's me running the business, I'll also be doing admin, financing and invoicing. My days are all focused around what I decided in the morning is the priority."

Not a creature of habit, Beattie likes every day to be different.

"I don't even go to the same coffee place; I'm always mixing it up. As soon as you get comfortable I like to throw myself in the deep end again because I find that's where I get the most out of myself and I'm pushing myself to new limits," she says.

"At my age it's a good time to give everything an absolute belting, as I have nothing to lose."

At first Beattie struggled to convince the wine industry of how her innovation was worth embracing, but it was her fearless attitude which helped make Lupé Wines so successful.

"It was a challenge to get the wine industry's head around what this innovation meant to them and how it would make them money, as it wasn't a risk to them," she says.

"If you've spent 50 years developing a brand like a lot of wine brands have, they're not going to want to jeopardise that. So we had to prove it was safe by using our own wines in the glasses and show them with sales and behind the bar."

Beattie made the decision to launch her product in Asia first because she believed the market would be more open to single serve wines.

"I studied in Beijing and have always wanted to do business in Asia. I've always learnt and understood how business works in all the countries I've visited.

"We're on the doorstep of a very large market, so it was about leveraging that."

Beattie has spent this week in China and she's already travelled to Japan, Korea and Indonesia this year on business.

"That will be a trade show and also a sales round. We're constantly innovating, which I consider to be a big part of what our point of difference is," she says.

"I thought putting wine in a plastic glass would be a walk in the park, but it's bloody hard. Plastics haven't had much to do with wine and there is no other benchmark in another industry to use. So we had an engineer, a winemaker and a plastics person in a room for a year working on the product."

To help Beattie in developing her business idea, she took part in the first Springboard Australia program to help Australian women get their businesses off the ground.

"It helped us with capital raising and getting our businesses ready to go through that process. We were given mentors and advice and our businesses were put through a boot camp and tested to see how robust they were," she says.

"It gave me an insight into what my business would look like in 10 years. That was in February and my business is quite different now in terms of its strategy and business model."

Eventually Beattie wants to be the leader in the single serve packaging industry across all alcoholic beverages, but her interests extend beyond business.

"I'm actually also really interested in the non-profit sector. I studied in Boston in the States and they have this attitude that you create a commercial, profitable business, but at the same time it has to give back to the community," she says.

"It's really different here in Australia and I'm not sure which industry I would go into, but I will increase my not-for-profit participation. I'm also interested in entrepreneurial teaching involving people of less fortunate backgrounds and also fee-paying students. I think the dynamic could be very interesting to get the venture of the ground."

Beattie's proudest moment has been seeing her products in some of Australia's biggest sporting stadiums.

"I have friends taking photos at the MCG of the wines and sending it to me and it's only the start of what I'm doing.

"I also do a lot of speaking at RMIT and other universities and corporate firms. While I've just started my business, I get a lot out of passing on what I've learnt."

Leisure time:

A few years ago Beattie was diagnosed with Crohn's disease (a type of inflammatory bowel disease) and this has reshaped her outlook on life.

"I'm a big believer in healthy body, healthy mind. It's changed the way I eat and sleep and look after myself.

"I was diagnosed not long after I started and now I'm all about having the right amount of sleep, exercising and eating clean raw foods."

Beattie also has a love of travelling and in India she studied Buddhism and meditation alongside a monk, but ultimately for her working is not a chore.


Beattie is in the process of launching the retail division of the business, Beattie, which she hopes will be a "force on the retail shelves" come summer, and creating a colourful range of glasses for the warmer months.

"At the end of the day I'd like to be a respected business person in Australia, so I can use that to create social benefits and change which is commercially feasible," she says.

I also want to create businesses around social change and have money go toward a service which is actually part of building a community."

Beattie says her biggest challenge is convincing the Australian wine industry of the benefits of single serve packaging.

"It is a game changer in the wine industry and we have a point of difference on the shelf," she says.

"For individuals who aren't educated in wine, wine is perceived as intimidating if they don't have an understanding of wine-growing regions and understand the communication of quality. Our little glasses are cheaper and if you're very new to wine, you don't even need a wine glass."

Mums@Work 17 Oct 13
Source: Womens Agenda
By: Yolanda Redrup / Oct 15, 2013 8:15AM

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Should you commit to further study to further your career?

Should you commit to further study to further your career?
Mary, Marketing Manager, Manufacturing says:

"I am thinking of doing further study but I'm not sure what I should do, and whether to do it for personal or professional reasons. Can you please give me some advice on what I should be thinking about in making a decision?"

It is great that you are looking at furthering your education, as continual learning is one of the keys to thriving and growing. There are a few areas to consider as you progress here:

** What is your intent for the study?

Are you clear on why you want to do more study? Is it to further your career, deepen your skills in your professional area, or make a total career change? Get clear on your intent and make sure you know the impact the study will have on your career. Sometimes we believe that if we get our MBA then some magical ladder will appear to take us to senior management. But in some professions and organisations, an MBA doesn't hold as much value or cache, whereas another qualification might make a big difference. Make sure you know what skills gaps you will be filling and the difference that will make before you dive in. I have seen too many people slog their way through degree or post graduate programs that were never going to have a great impact on their career prospects. It is just not worth it. So do your research, speak with your mentors, sponsors or manager, and get clear.

** Is it a passion play?

Sometimes we do study for pure passion. My first Masters degree was in management and was definitely to tick the career box. My yoga teacher training, Masters in Wellness, and now my PhD in Women's Studies, are all passion plays. They now also support my career plans. It is just as valid to do further study to indulge your passions as it is to progress your role. I know people who do pottery, photography, jewelry making, philosophy and psychology amongst others, and sometimes it leads to merging career with passion, which is the ultimate. Don't let anyone make you feel like it is a waste of your time. It is one of the most important things you can do to contribute to your wellbeing.

** What is the time and financial investment?

Go in with your eyes open. I suggest you map out the financial investment, which most people do, but also the time and energy commitment that your study will require. Be realistic about this. If it is work related study, can you get financial contribution from your employer? Will they give you study leave? If it's for your personal benefit, can you afford the program and the time required to get the benefit from the effort? The more thorough you can be planning these areas out, the less stress you will have as you get underway.

**What are you willing to trade to undertake the study?

As someone who has done a lot of study, for both professional and personal purposes, I know that there have to be tradeoffs involved in carving out the time you need. Note that I do not use the word sacrifices, as having a positive mindset about where your focus goes is key to your success. But there are tradeoffs, and that is fine if you know what they are and are prepared to make them.

The final thing I would say is to make sure you have the support you need to move forward. Regardless of what you decide to undertake, having the right infrastructure in place to support you, your work, and your personal wellbeing and life, is paramount. Whether it's your partner, parents, team mates, or hired support, get some infrastructure in place so that you can enjoy the experience, not suffer your way through it.

Mums@Work 16 Oct 13
Source: Womens Agenda
By: Megan Dalla-Camina / Oct 15, 2013 6:35AM

Monday, October 14, 2013

The gender pay gap: Separating fact from fiction

The gender pay gap: Separating fact from fiction
Whenever I speak to audiences about the gender pay gap I can almost see the discomfort level in the room rise. There's lots of disagreement on many elements of the gender debate but there's something about the cold hard reality of a 17.5% difference between men and women's average weekly full-time earnings that is hard to ignore. Perhaps that's why I have now heard every objection and justification for the gap that you could imagine.

Here's a list of the main offenders and the evidence we now have at hand rather than relying on more conjecture and stereotypes.

There's a pay gap because women work less hours than men.

The gender pay gap is calculated from comparing full-time earnings of men and women and does not compare full-time to part-time wages. Of course the 17.5% pay gap statistic is a very broad calculation and some of the discrepancy does reflect structural economic factors such as occupational gender segregation, which results in women being more likely to be employed in certain lower paid sectors (teaching, community services, retail).

While it is an average figure, the 17.5% is based on data which has been collected for years using payroll information from employers and is therefore statistically robust. And even when more detailed studies are made comparing men and women's pay in similar jobs within sectors, or States, a gender pay gap still emerges.

Part-time jobs don't explain the gap but they do further depress women's earnings. It is now well established that women who move to part-time work, after childbearing for example, on average attract a wage penalty estimated at 5% for the first year taken off and 10% for a two year break, according to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency. (Don't ask about what happens after three years). So even if these women are returning to the same job but on reduced hours their equivalent full-time salary would be less than before they took a break for child bearing. It's called the motherhood penalty for obvious reasons.

The gap is widening because of the resources boom and few women work in mining because it's too dirty and physically demanding.

Actually the number of people employed in the resources sector is much lower than many people think - resource jobs made up less than 10 per cent of total employment in Australia in 2011/2012 (RBA Bulletin March quarter 2013). It's true wages in the sector did increase rapidly over recent years, and there aren't many women working in higher paid resource jobs but that's a pattern that is repeated in many sectors, and nor could it account for the entire national gender pay gap.

As Dr Carla Harris, research executive manager with WGEA points out, the worst gender pay gap in Australia is in Western Australia (26.4% in November 2012) but the gap was actually just as pronounced before the resources boom.

Mining jobs are demanding but try telling a nurse or aged care worker they have a clean and easy job. Many of the most unappealing, dirty and stressful but crucial caring jobs in society are done mainly by women. Unlike mining however these roles are usually poorly paid.

Women choose to work part-time and in lower paid roles.

This is a furphy, according to Harris, because it's obvious women gravitate towards them because they can manage their own caring responsibilities. As Julie McKay, the executive director of the Australian National Committee for UN Women, commented in Women's Agenda on Equal Pay Day, women also gravitate towards 'caring' jobs because that's what they are encouraged to do. Choice means having viable options to select from and that's still not the case for many women looking for employment in Australia.

Women don't know how to negotiate a pay rise.

This has become a truism in business yet the reality is much more complex. Research does consistently show that women are more reluctant than men to initiate negotiations, according to Melbourne University negotiation expert Professor Mara Olekalns. They also ask for less and undervalue their work. But when they do proactively seek a raise, her research points out, they are often penalised for being too pushy and are seen as less likable which can obviously affect their promotion prospects. This is known as a 'no win' situation.

However, when organisations provide clear guidelines on what is negotiable and when it is appropriate to negotiate, the gender gap is removed according to a range of studies Olekalns cites. Pay scales and bonus calculations remain notoriously opaque in many organisations. In the public sector, which has clearer pay bands, there is a much lower gender pay gap of 13% compared to 20.8% in the private sector, Dr Harris says.

Over the years I've had many irate women tell me they know there is no pay difference among their peers only to admit they have no idea how much their colleagues take home as a yearly bonus. And in some sectors of course the bonus far exceeds the fixed salary.

The good news

Separating the fact from the fiction can help to address the real culprits when it comes to the gender pay gap: systemic and attitudinal problems which result in undervaluing of women's work and highly subjective promotion and recruitment processes. Thankfully, more businesses are running pay audits to identify the gap instead of assuming there is none and the new reporting regime to be introduced by WGEA next year will collect detailed information about the components of remuneration which is another step forward.

Long gone are the days when businesses could simply claim 'we just pay everyone the same'.

Mums@Work 14 Oct 13
Source: Women's Agenda
By:  Catherine Fox / Sep 05, 2013 7:56AM


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Using grandparents for child care

It offers many benefits but is it the best choice?
With child places at a premium and the cost of care on the rise an increasing number of Australian families are looking to grandparents for help with child care. In fact, ABS figures show that 937,000 children received care from a grandparent on a regular basis in 2011.
Child care by grandparents offers many benefits, including reduced costs, the chance to build strong bonds between grandparents and grandchildren and the reassurance that comes from knowing a loving and trusted family member is caring for your child.
However, it's important to do the groundwork and ensure everyone is on the same page before the child minding arrangement begins as you can't change grandparents as easily as you can change a child care provider.
Is grandparent care really the best choice?

As a new parent or parent to be, the first thing you need to do before talking to your parents about child care is make an honest assessment as to whether they will actually provide the best type of care for your family. Ask yourself:

  • Are the grandparents physically up to the job? Can they manage the stroller, the lifting and the physical activity involved in caring for a small child?
  • Are the grandparents mentally up to the job? Will they be able to handle the emotional challenges of dealing with a small child?
  • Would a regular child care commitment impinge on their lifestyle and personal commitments leading to feelings of resentment?

The last thing you want to do is put your parents under any pressure to care for your child if they are not actually up to the job, this would be bad for your child, bad for your parents and bad for your family's relationship with them. If you have any doubts about their physical and mental ability to do the job then you should consider other types of care such as a nanny, family day care or centre based care. A shared care arrangement could also be an option where, for example, the grandparents take your baby for one day per week and you use a child care provider for the other days.

If, however, the grandparents are fit and well and up to the challenge then it's time to lay the groundwork!

The first thing you need to do when considering a child care arrangement with grandparents is to sit down together and work out the ground rules of the arrangement. It's important for everyone to have a very clear idea about what is expected.

As part of this initial negotiation you should discuss:

How much care the grandparents will provide:

Will it be a regular weekly arrangement and if so how many days, which days and for how long each day. Long day care providers offer care from 7am until 6pm and if that is your expectation you need to ensure your relative is okay with that.

Where the care will take place:

If it is at your house then you need to allow for travel time and ensure you have adequate supplies of everything to make the job as easy as possible. If the care is at their place then you need to conduct an audit of the house to ensure it is baby proof, provide them with all the necessary supplies, including but not limited to a cot, high chair, nappies, wipes, a car seat, spare clothes, toys and milk or formula.

If/how you will compensate them:

Although some grandparents may be willing to provide child care for free, for others it may be a case of having to stop work in order to do so. In this case you should look at some form of payment. You should also consider a reimbursement or petty cash system for any expenses which come up while the baby is in their care.

If your relative refuses to accept any form of cash payment then you could consider regular treats or gifts such as movie tickets, gift baskets or any items you think they would appreciate. You know how tiring caring for a child is and it is important to keep in mind the generosity of what your family member is doing!

Acknowledging the generation gap:

Grandparents have plenty of experience when it comes to raising kids and you are living proof of that! However, parenting involves many personal decisions and you and your relative's ideas on the best ways to bring up the grand kids may not always marry up.

It's normal to expect grandparents to indulge their grand kids on the odd occasion however, if they are caring for kids on a daily basis then you'll need to establish some ground rules on treats and the routines and philosophies your family adheres to.

Before the care arrangement starts have a frank and fearless exchange of views on subjects such as:

Food: If you have clear ideas about what and when your child should eat then explain this to your relative, better still write down a meal plan and stock the fridge with food that supports the meals you have in mind. Grandparents naturally want to treat their grand kids and that is fine but should be on the odd occasion and not daily. If you are worried about your family member's ability to cook then prepare the food in advance, explain the rules around where the child can eat (High chair? Table? Stroller) if and when snacks are permitted and make sure you advise them on any anti-allergy protocols in your house such as no peanuts before 12 months. The thinking and information around allergens will have changed since your relative was a parent.

Sleep: Is it okay for your child to cat nap in the car or stroller during the day or would you prefer all sleeping happened in the cot? Does your relative know and understand all the safe sleeping guidelines? Would you like your relative to wake the child up after a certain amount of sleep to ensure they sleep at night, is your baby allowed a dummy at nap time? Does your baby sleep at certain times or do you have an "anything goes" approach to the issue of sleep? Whatever the procedure is in your family you need to be explicit and direct with your relative.

Discipline: Although this won't be so much of an issue for grandparents minding infants it will certainly turn into an issue as the child grows. If you are the parent of a very young baby it will help galvanise your thinking abut discipline to have a conversation with your family member, even if it isn't actually relevant just now. Be clear about your warning system, whether or not you use physical punishment, what words you would prefer they use when dealing with tantrums and how you would like them to reward good behaviour. Discipline can be a very divisive issue and one you should aim to be consistent on. If compromise is necessary to ensure a consistent approach then you should seriously consider taking that direction.

Crying: Another issue which can divide wholly invested parents and family members is how long you should leave a child to cry before going in to soothe him or her. If your family favours attachment parenting then no crying will be tolerated, if however you are sleep training you may accept crying as a part of the process. You and your relative may sit on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to crying and if that is the case then you will need to explain your point of view and the reasons for it as clearly and directly as possible. If your relative's views are strongly held then you will need to consider their opinions and experience as well. Finding a middle ground will be the best way of ensuring your philosophy is adhered to as closely as possible.

Activities: Gone are the days when it was considered acceptable for children to be plonked down in front of the TV for hours at a time. If you have strong ideas about how you want your child to be spending their time then make it happen, write a list of possible activities the relative could do on a daily/weekly basis (story time, park visits, beach trips etc.), sign your child and carer up for classes, provide a box of age appropriate toys, activities and books, arrange play dates and play groups and so on.

Downtime: It's reasonable to expect your relative to have some downtime during the day. If they have regular commitments or chores that need to be done then check it's okay to take your child along. It's reasonable to expect them to get on with their life in the same way you would if you were home, as long it doesn't interfere with the responsibilities of caring for your child. If your relative naps at the same time as your child then provide them with a baby monitor to ensure they can hear the baby wake up.

Whatever you decide keep in mind the fact that your relative has a lot of valuable experience and the simple fact that you are comfortable with them potentially looking after your child suggests that you probably have some parenting philosophies in common.

Relinquishing control is hard to do as a parent but is something which will pay off and as long as you maintain good lines of communication with your family member then the care arrangement should be successful.

If and when disagreements come up, try not to sweat the small stuff. Focus on maintaining a warm, loving and consistent approach and accept that even if you and your relative do some things differently as long as you both have the child's best interests at heart then your child will thrive.

According to a recent study found that 20 percent of grandparents who are responsible for caring for young children 30 or more hours a week meet the criteria for clinical depression.

If you notice your family member displaying any of the symptoms below you should at least consider the possibility that they are depressed:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or "flat" mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including spending time with the grandchildren
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Suicide attempts
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain

If your family member is depressed, you will need to help them seek medical assistance and make alternate child care arrangements as quickly as possible.

Government Support

There is a range of government services available to help grandparent carers and it might be helpful to look at the resources available and show your family member where to find the information relevant to your circumstances.

Resources include:

Grandparent advisers who can help by:
  • understanding and supporting your family circumstances and the unique conditions faced by grandparent carers.
  • providing information and help to access government payments and services
  • arranging appointments for grandparents with our specialist staff, such as social workers
  • arranging referrals to other federal, state and community service providers who may also be able to help grandparents meet their care commitments.
For more information on grandparent advisers click here.

Payments to help grandparent carers

There are several payments to help non-parent carers, such as grandparents, who provide care to a child. Family Tax Benefit is available to help with the costs of raising or caring for children. It is made up of two parts - Family Tax Benefit Part A and Part B.

If you claim Family Tax Benefit Part A for a child in primary or high school, you may also be eligible for the Schoolkids Bonus. The Schoolkids Bonus helps with the cost of education and will be paid to eligible non-parent carers in two separate instalments each year - one in January and one in July.

To help grandparents who are also paying for child care there is:
  • Child Care Benefit which helps cover long day care, family day care, occasional day care, outside school hour care, vacation care, pre-school, and kindergarten child care
  • Child Care Rebate which covers 50 percent of out-of-pocket child-care expenses, up to a maximum amount per child per year, in addition to the Child Care Benefit
  • Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance which can help meet the cost of approved child care by paying some of the 'gap fee' not covered by Child Care Benefit for the hours of care needed for approved activities such as job search, work, study or training.

Source: Care For Kids Sep 4 2013


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Your kids are more than alright

Your kids are more than alright
Do you sometimes feel torn between work and your children? Like you're not giving 100% to either? Do you worry about whether you are doing a good enough job bonding with your little ones since so much of what you do when you are with them is focused on catering to their physical needs?

Well it's time you relax and stop being so hard on yourself. It's very likely that are doing more than you realise to have a positive impact on your child's emotional wellbeing.

Simply interacting with your children mindfully when you are with them is teaching them so many important social and emotional skills. These are the skills that are vital for them to develop in order for them to grow into well functioning human beings in this social world.

Undoubtedly, though, it is easy to forget this especially when we are away from them at work and experiencing a moment of guilt. In these moments we are at risk of getting caught up in what we think we should be doing more of. Common catalysts for us 'should-ing' are the times we hear colleagues talking about the accomplishments of their children and what they are doing that our children aren't, or when we hear of the amount of time stay-at-home parents are spending with their children.

When this happens, we start to question ourselves and so the negative inner dialogue begins: "I should have, I should have, I should have."

At this point it's important to recognise the pursuit of being 'perfect' tends to take away from what your children really need socially and emotionally which is what your children get from quality interactions with you.

Your child's true needs can be met by ordinary care for their physical needs and making sure the time that you do spend with your child is loving, devoted and responsive. When it comes to the development of their vitally important social and emotional skill-sets, it really is a matter of quality rather than quantity.

When you have moments of 'angst' that you are not doing enough or being good enough in some way, please remember that the definition of getting 'it' right includes things that you are already doing with your kids. Things like smiling, singing, talking, cuddling, looking into their eyes, supporting them, sitting with them, including them, being silly with them, saying to them 'I love you', being accepting of their 'negative' emotions as well as their positive, and even managing your own emotional outbursts.

Working doesn't mean you stop being able to parent in ways that, from a child's perspective, really matter. So forget the guilt and start thinking about all the positive things you do for your kids.

Things that really matter:

  • By encouraging our children to say 'sorry' and by knowing when to say sorry ourselves, we are teaching them how to maintain positive relationships with others.
  • In mindfully sitting, singing, reading, and generally interacting with our child we are connecting with them. Their experience is that we are noticing them, enjoying them and spending time with them. From these types of interactions, they learn that they are worthwhile, valid, fun to be around, and this is vital to their developing sense of self.
  • By managing our own emotional reactions (which is sometimes easier said than done), we are teaching our kids how to manage their emotions, including how to bring about calm when required.

Mums@Work 2 Oct 13
Source: Women's Agenda
By: Lynn Jenkins / Sep 09, 2013 9:16AM