The Being Brave Book: A novel & guide about finding courage and strength by Sema Musson and Hester Leung.
I have recently enjoyed this delightful book with my 11-year-old daughter, who herself has moved schools and walked, in many ways, in the shoes of the main characters. Not only did it encourage us to discuss the power of positive thinking, but also started conversations on the importance of being determined, brave, honest, imaginative, and best of all, kind. Lessons that we could all take on board and talk to our children about a little more frequently.
‘Ellie and Alyssa have been best friends since pre-school. One chatty, one shy, one adventurous, the other considered, one Australian, one with Chinese heritage, both supportive and giving. It’s easy together. Then they change schools.’
Being Brave is a novel and personal development guide for young girls with themes on self-esteem and resilience. It’s the first novel/guide we have read and I’m glad we did!
We are all aware of the challenges children face while growing up, but it’s stories like this that teach us all how to put one foot in front of the other regardless of how big the climb! It’s an important read for youngsters as it confirms their feelings are not out of the ordinary, and therefore they’re not alone.
Please grab a copy and join Ellie and Alyssa on this important journey through the everyday pressures of school and family life in this all-Australian girls’ adventure story, where girls triumph and the main characters reflect Australia’s wonderful ethnic diversity.
Get a copy, cuddle up with your girl, and take some time out to enjoy the togetherness whilst learning some positive personal development tips!
Australian retailer The Reject Shop has just launched it’s fab range of wheelchair-inclusive Halloween costumes for children, part of a mission to become more inclusive and allow children of all abilities to be a part of special occasions. Can we get a “Hell yeah!!”
Partnering with national charity HeartKids, the range features two costumes that fit over a child’s wheelchair, and easily attach to it with velcro. With the puff of a magic wand, one of the costumes transforms the chair into a gorgeous princess carriage, while an ‘Ahoy Captain’ will see the other transform into a pirate ship. As every wheelchair is different, multiple velcro pieces are included with each costume to ensure that it fits.
“The Reject Shop has long been known as the place for affordable Halloween costumes, but we wanted to ensure that all children were able to join in the fun of Halloween celebrations,” says The Reject Shop’s Acting Chief Executive Officer, Dani Aquilina.
For the launch, The Reject Shop is collaborating with their charity partner, HeartKids, who is dedicated to working with children with congenital heart disease, who often find themselves in wheelchairs post-surgery and throughout their recovery stage.
“Our wheelchair-inclusive range is the first step in ensuring that inclusion and diversity are inherent in our organisation. We’re excited to introduce the range to parents and children this October, as part of our broader strategy to help more families live on a budget.”
“We’re thrilled to partner with The Reject Shop on such an important initiative,” says Rob Lutter, CEO of HeartKids. “These costumes will allow wheel-chair bound children a much needed distraction from their time in hospital, and the chance to simply be kids again and enjoy Halloween celebrations.”
Along with The Reject Shop’s full range of kid’s costumes, the Halloween wheelchair range will be available in selected stores nationally, just in time for Halloween.
Retailing for $49 each, it’s hoped that the range will make children in wheelchairs feel every bit a part of the Halloween celebrations.
I have two children at Primary school. I am “one of those mums” who hasn’t let either of them have a phone yet. Why would I? My son is 7, and my grade 6 daughter is 10. They’re never really in a situation where they need a phone. Not only that, I don’t want them to be able to access any form of social media without me being there. I don’t believe children under the age of 16 have anywhere near the right capabilities to understand or use social media in the right way! They’re still learning social etiquette in the playground for goodness sake, so why open up a whole other world where a simple “No!” can be completely misconstrued.
Aside to the misunderstandings that come about from a simple text message, smartphones and social media can have seriously detrimental effects on our children’s emotional wellbeing. Alongside increased stress and anxiety levels, children have been shown to have dramatic changes in how they see themselves and measure their self-worth. So why would Primary Schools allow mobile phones through the gates? Well, how the hell can they stop it? This week (three weeks after I wrote this article) it seems that the Victorian Government are finally taking steps to ban mobile phones in all Victorian schools. This has caused lots of chat, mostly from parents who are understandably concerned about their children being left without any way of contacting them.
Just like most primary schools, our school has a “no mobile phone” policy. It’s all very clear! When you come into school, you switch your phone off and hand it to your teacher, who locks it away until the end of the day. Or, you can hide it! You can leave it on, hide it in your bag and bring it out at school swimming when you and your mates want to make a TikTok video. Or you can sneak it into your bag when you go on grade 4 camp, and make Instagram stories of your mates being silly in their underwear. Come on, who cares who’s watching our 9 year olds running around half naked? Oh hell, let’s go the whole 9 yards and make some Instagram posts with our girlfriends in front of the mirror in the change rooms. Who cares that poor old Sally is nude in the background? Her mum won’t mind!!
It’s all good and well for primary aged child to have a phone so that parents know they’re safe when they’re walking home, however, when our children are at school, I think we’re allowed to expect that they are safe too, and not being subjected to all the nightmares of social media and the internet? It should go without saying that they aren’t being filmed for Instagram, or photographed for Snap Chat shouldn’t it?
I think as parents, we’re well within our rights to know that when the bell goes, and school begins, children are not uploading to their socials, taking photographs or subjecting other children knowingly or not, to any kind of online activity.
According to Bully Zero Australia Foundation, one in eight Australians experience cyberbullying.
It’s not about being paranoid; it’s about keeping our whole community safe.
Do we need to send primary aged children through metal detectors at the school gate? Probably not. Do we have an all-out ban on phones, and expect our children to walk home with no way of being contacted? No, absolutely not. Do we need to stop our most vulnerable children accessing the help they need through a device, no way! Therefore, the only way teachers can ever get a handle on mobile phone usage at school is by us parents taking control. Now!
We need to talk to our children about their devices and how they are using them. We need to make sure our children are being honest and using their phones in a safe and respectful way. We need to teach our children the importance of handing their devices to a member of staff, and absolutely make it their responsibility to do so. If they can’t be responsible enough to do that, they shouldn’t have a phone!
Mobile phones can take bullying out of the playground and into the home.
You only have to scroll apps like TikTok to see how many children (and I mean Primary aged) are using their devices in school time. It’s not only a worry for the safety of your own child, but for the children in the background who are completely oblivious to the fact they are “Insta famous”.
We mustn’t ever underestimate privacy. It’s supremely important when it comes to our very young children. “Private accounts “still reveal all sorts of information about a child, and do not stop online bullying!
Of course there’s a limit to what schools can do about children who sneak their devices into the playground. Without bag searches, metal detectors or honesty, teachers are being blindsided every day. This is resulting in our children not having a completely safe environment in which to learn, away from the pressures of social media and the worst of the internet.
The village needs you!
Our primary school children don’t understand the dramatic implications of their online behaviour. They don’t see the harm in hiding their phone in their bag and taking the odd picture of their friends in the playground. We don’t need an all out ban, we need to teach our children the importance of honesty!
It’s our responsibility as parents, to keep our children safe, however, it’s also our responsibility to make sure the children around them are safe too.
It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless – L.R. Knost
As you know we are all over ‘Aussie Made’ products, and when they’re combined with a charitable trust, and a lot of cool, we just can’t help but tell you all about them! We’ve been using these organic kids products for a while now, but wait till you see what they’ve just launched!!
Last week I had that message ping up on the school app! First week of the school year, and yes, the dreaded “Head Lice has been detected in your child’s class” message.
It is so grim! In fact I’m itchy just thinking about it. Nits are just the worst! Every time one of the children so much as flicks their hair I’m on them like an Orangutan picking through her babies fur, to yelps of “Oh mum, get offfffff”. I just can’t help myself. Not just the thought of creatures crawling through the kids hair, but the little critters then jumping into mine, and the mammoth task of boiling EVERYTHING our heads could have possibly touched. Ewwww!
The amount of time I have spent armed with a nit comb and a bucket full of conditioner is just too depressing to think about! Thankfully, touch wood, we haven’t had them for a while. Maybe it’s a lucky streak? Whatever the reason, I am certainly not willing to take any chances.
**Enter stage left to a chorus of sweet little hummingbirds…
Detangling Lice Repel Spray
We have been trying out some of Daniel Galvin Jnr’s new mild and gentle ‘Detangling Lice Repel Spray’ (200ml). It is made with organic ingredients and smells super good. *Already winning! If you need more than just sweet smelling & lice repelling, then carry on reading! This spray has been formulated to be gentle on delicate skin so parents can be reassured that even the most precious little peaches are safe and sound with this product! *Insert loud cheer!! No one is being left behind!!
The real magic for me is that this spray naturally repels lice!
“Detangles and conditions wet or dry hair and naturally repels lice with a blend of Tea Tree, Rosemary and Mandarin leaving hair feeling silky smooth and smelling fresh”.
No more wrapping scarves round our faces as we try not to breathe in all sorts of terrifying lice repelling ingredients and no more blood curdling screams as I comb through the knots. All of a sudden keeping our kids lice free isn’t a chemical disaster! The pump is so easy to use; Poppy has been spraying her own hair and her brother’s in the morning. Another job I can leave to the kids! Hurrah! (This product is completely SLS, SLES and Paraben free). (Available in Woolworths – RRP $12.00)
‘Created and launched in response to the growing demand for organic children’s haircare and body products, but without the price tag, Dubble Trubble offers performance results with ethical integrity’
Mango Mania 2 in 1 Shampoo and Bodywash
Another beautiful ‘Aussie made’ product we have in the bathroom at the moment is the mild and gentle Mango Mania 2 in 1 Shampoo and Bodywash (500ml). Honestly, it makes the little people smell good enough to eat! I particularly like how foamy this is, perfect for making bubble monsters and great for styling some awesome soapy Mohawks in the bath too! As a mother, I love that all Daniel Galvin Jnr’s Dubble Trubble products, including this Mango Mania Shampoo & Body Wash are made with 70% organic ingredients. Why do I love that they’re organic? Well by using Organic products on our kids hair and skin, it means we are eliminating the risk of any adverse reactions for their little bodies. Whether they have skin conditions or not, organic is the best option! IMHO. Removing all the nasties from our homes (SLS, SLES and Parabens) is an important step that we should all be taking for ourselves and our children. Available in Woolworths RRP $8.00
So, bath time done and dusted with one bottle, the kids smell divine, and their hair is all swishy, swooshy and lice free! If you need a little reminder of why we love this range, here you go ↓↓↓↓↓↓↓
The Prince’s Trust Australia supports the development and delivery of innovative, high impact projects that align with the charitable interests of his H.R.H. the Prince of Wales. The charity has a number of project areas including the following categories: Health & Wellbeing, The Build Environment, Rural & Regional, Defence Members and their Families, Young People, Environment & Sustainability, Arts and Culture. A royalty of $0.10 for each unit of each product sold will be paid to The Prince’s Trust Australia
These products were gifted to us, however the words I use and the opinions I express are 100% my own. The Wilsons love finding great Australian Made products, and we genuinely love and use this Organic Kids Range!
I’m bloody frustrated today!! The reason for my irritation is that I’m sitting here having a huge battle with an impending cold!!! I’m sniffing every 6 seconds, (I know… get a bloody tissue), thinking to myself, for god’s sake, just do one!! I will not put up with getting a darn cold, especially as the kids are back at school tomorrow and I have some free time on my hands… (*think dancing mum emoji next to sad looking kids emoji)
I have spent a long time now keeping relatively quiet about what essentially is a big part of me, and it’s the reason I kick myself when my immune system gives in to a simple cold. Moving to Australia and becoming an expat was a good chance for me to close the door on a chunk of my life and pretend that it never happened. Why do I rarely talk about it? Probably because I am generally very well, and I don’t want to be drowning again in that vat of “illness”.
Recently however, I have had a lot of questions about my health, after I uploaded photos of myself in hospital.
So, my little secret??
I have Transverse Myelitis. Whaaat?? Yeah I said the same thing when I was told. In a nutshell it’s a neurological condition in which the spinal cord is inflamed. The inflammation damages nerve fibres, and causes them to lose their myelin coating leading to decreased electrical conductivity in the central nervous system. (That’s about as ‘nutshell” as I could manage).
One day, I realised the pins and needles I had over the weekend weren’t going away. The next, I had numb legs. The next, my hands were tingling and the feeling in them was disappearing.
The next…. I couldn’t get out of bed!! I was a human jelly! Not paralysed thank God, but no feeling from my neck down which made it incredibly difficult to move. You know the feeling you get when you have an anaesthetic? This led to an anxious trip to my GP who sent me straight to the emergency department. Phew, I was ok, I was told I probably had Guillain Barre syndrome and you ALWAYS recover from that. Off I went to the hospital for the doctors to do all sort of disgusting tests on me, only to be told three days later it was actually Transverse Myelitis! And no, you probably won’t ever walk again!
Ten days in a hospital room, a kind nurse by my side cutting up my food, lumbar punctures, MRI scans, neurological tests, intravenous steroids, lots of cards, hundreds of student doctors excited to meet me, weepy well wishers carrying flowers, and then I was sent home! That’s the start of the story! Now I’m almost 12 years down the road, the hardest road I’ve had to travel, I am like a walking pin cushion, have a dodgy thyroidbut I’m actually ok!
The October before we moved to Australia, I was in a dark place. I was in a constant state of severe pain and fatigue, and forever left lying in bed with no energy! I felt useless and needed to escape! Don’t get me wrong, I had good days, where I felt almost “normal,” but they came at a high price. I would go out with my friends, knowing that the next day and the day after would be a complete write off. I would desperately want to take the kids for a walk on the beach, but end up in tears, lying in bed, listening to Mr W and the kids getting their shoes on. The reality of any neurological and auto immune condition is it’s debilitating in so many ways. For me, on the outside I looked perfectly normal, and on a good day, you’d probably have no idea there was anything wrong with me. On a bad day…. no words can describe that horror story to you!
Enough was enough!
I felt I had missed out on 8 years of my life already, and I longed with every bit of me for just one more chance! I did heaps of research into diet, exercise, completely natural versions of medicines. I spoke to all sorts of experts in healing! I totally overhauled every bit of food I put in my mouth, and we made the decision to move abroad if I could at least ditch the fatigue. Introduce the Whole 30; and an incredible three months of each day feeling a little bit more human. I began sleeping really well, I was walking a little further, I was staying awake a little longer. I got rid of the wrist supports I’d worn for years, and the stick I was using to walk with. I eventually stopped taking medicine altogether!!
It sounds like a miracle I know. Maybe it was. All I can say is after nearly 8 years of hell, 8 years of being unable to fully enjoy my children or my life; my dreaded fatigue, and my pain were dramatically reduced, so we made the decision to go on an adventure, quickly, before it all came crumbling down again. Mr W searched for jobs all over the world, we desperately wanted to go somewhere, do something exciting, and make up for the past 8 years!! A job offer in Australia came up, we applied for visa’s, and we were off!!! From job offer to Heathrow was about 12 weeks. Expat life here we come!!
The Wilson’s of Oz was born!
As soon as the trip began I decided not to write about surviving Transverse Myelitis, and I started to write about our Expat adventures. I wrote about our days out and all the wonderful things we were seeing Down Under. The more I wrote, the less I thought about my ‘old life’! I forgot about all those people who I had wanted to encourage, the TM warriors who I had wanted to give a huge shout out to. The ones surviving even though they felt terrible! I forgot about the message I wanted to send to everyone that it can get easier. I was having the most amazing time and I hadn’t once reassured anyone that it can get better.
I had once imagined I would become a “Recovery Role Model” for patients at the start of their journey, but in reality I was too frightened to even bring it up in public. I was still running away from all those horrid feelings I had left behind me. I thought that if I was to say aloud how good I was feeling, I may jinx myself and end up back in a hospital bed, only this time I would be 10,000 miles from home. So, I haven’t really mentioned it.
Writing my blog, experiencing ‘living’ again, and ‘Turning life into an Adventure’ was exactly what I needed to do and I desperately wanted other sufferers of TM to see that feeling better tomorrow is possible no matter how far down the road you are.
‘You can look to the future, you can hope for something better, you can plan ahead. People do come out the other side, albeit a little bruised and battered!’
Why bring it up now?
I guess now that more people are checking out The Wilsons of Oz, not just Grandma, I have more of a voice?!? (Does it work like that?) I guess I’m in a better position to let people with a health condition to know that there is hope, and I’m no longer too scared to talk about it here. There is light at the end of the tunnel and sometimes we just need to keep holding on to that glimmer, and keep our minds open. Know your limits, set your goals, and you’ll amaze yourself. I promise!
Just because something isn’t happening for you right now, doesn’t mean it will never happen – Unknown
I’d like to dedicate this post to a true warrior! Joanne Lokwiya is a friend of mine who also suffers from Transverse Myelitis. She is brave, she is beautiful inside and out, and she is a true fighter! I want her to know that anything is possible! xxx
So the big questions on this expat mum’s mind today are: Do our children suffer from being moved around? Can mental health issues become exaggerated with life abroad? How do we, as expats deal with our emotions when we’re far from home?
Initially I thought we were giving the children a great opportunity to be immersed in a different culture; a different way of life, to experience another country; however, the longer we are away, the more I think we may have done the wrong thing. Not just because of the upheaval, or because of the country we’re in, but because parenting in difficult, emotional situations when you are far from help and home, is almost too much to bear! (Yes, it’s been a big week in the Wilson household). Sometimes you just need the familiarity of home to help you in times of need.
You all know we love Australia, we are head over heels in love with Melbourne and we have beautiful friends here. No matter what though, expat life is not easy, and adding an anxious child into the mix means I worry that we’ve made a mistake taking her away from a stable, familiar life.
I love the Aussie competitive nature, the ballsy personalities, the ‘no holds barred’ attitude, the “if you don’t like it…TOUGH” way of dealing with things, but not when it comes to people’s emotions and especially those of my children. I can’t help but think that the personality traits that I love, become ones that I find loathsome when dealing with children struggling with anxiety.
Would I have moved abroad knowing that my child would be made to feel like a baby for being nervous or anxious? Would I have left home only to feel alone and overly sensitive when dealing with such a fragile child? The answer is, I’m not sure I would have taken the risk.
Before we moved I hadn’t given our emotional well being much thought. I had assumed (naively) that the way emotions were treated would be fairly similar everywhere. I assumed that whatever happened we could deal with it together as a family. I guess I hadn’t recognised just how much my family and friends did for us; emotionally…
What I really have trouble with is the lack of compassion in everyday life. Is compassion disappearing across the world? Will our children slowly lose the ability to be compassionate if they are not receiving compassion at the time when they most need it?
My main bugbear with the lack of compassion today, is how anxiety is dealt with, and how as an expat family we are struggling to deal with it; mostly alone. Anxiety is very, very real. A lot of people assume the kid hiding in the back of the classroom is just being a baby, not pulling their weight and should be trying harder. They’re making the mornings awkward by crying at the door; not getting involved in classroom discussions because they’re lazy; they’re being difficult by not grasping what they’re being taught straight away. I’m not sure that the severity of how anxiety affects a child’s whole being, and how it can damage their health as well as their education is fully understood. It seems impossible for some to comprehend that the confident, popular child in the playground finds the thought of separating from their mother, so distressing it makes them physically sick! Like I say, it’s very, very real.
I vividly remember the headmaster at Poppy’s first primary school, coming out of the door as soon as he saw her in the morning, grabbing her tightly by the hand, a kind, warm smile on his face, leading her in to school. The tears and upset leaving me, turned into happy waves as Mr Miller took her straight to her friends. He took a small step to take a huge weight off her shoulders and eased her happily into her day, which from then on started with a smile. A small gesture with a huge impact.
All it takes is a pat on the back to say “I understand and I’m here”, a smile, a wink, or a little note in their book asking if they need more help with something, rather than a scribbled message saying their work is just not good enough. Small changes, gentle persuasion and a warm hand would make the most incredible difference to an anxious child, far from home, and it’s so easy to do.
No matter the age of an anxious person, they should never be told they are “too old” to be behaving the way they are, or to “get on with it” like everyone else. The daily struggle, battling with their demons and their insecurities would be enough to stop a grown man go to work let alone a small child face school. The fact that some children even get to school is a huge achievement. If only we could create more compassion and a deeper understanding of what so many children and adults are going through, we could go a long way to helping sufferers of anxiety realise their potential, and believe in what they can achieve.
So for us, as an expat family, maybe the experience of mixing raised emotions with expatriate life will turn out to be a great big learning curve for us all, but one thing is for sure, we will be approaching every day with compassion, together, one step at a time, wherever we are in the world.
“Living with anxiety is like being followed by a voice. It knows all your insecurities and uses them against you. It gets to the point where it’s the loudest voice in the room. The only one you can hear”- Unknown
High levels of chronic anxiety can reduce your child’s capacity to respond appropriately or effectively to stressful situations, or even normal routine activities. A highly anxious person for example may experience constant physical feelings of panic and may seek to avoid anything that might trigger their anxiety such as:
going to school
talking in front of a group
Anxiety symptoms may be overlooked especially if a child is quiet and compliant. As a result, they may not receive the help and support they need, which may lead to problems with anxiety in adolescence and adulthood. Anxiety commonly co-occurs with other disorders such as depression, eating disorders, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Around one in 35 young Australians aged 4-17 experience a depressive disorder. Breakdown: 2.8% of Australians aged 4-17 have experienced an affective disorder. This is equivalent to 112,000 young people.
One in 20 (5%) of young people aged 12-17 years had experienced a major depressive disorder between 2013-14.
One in fourteen young Australians (6.9%) aged 4-17 experienced an anxiety disorder in 2015. This is equivalent to approximately 278,000 young people. Breakdown: 6.9% of Australians aged 4-17 experienced an anxiety disorder in 2015. This is equivalent to 278,000 young people.
One in four young Australians currently has a mental health condition. Breakdown: 26.4% of Australians aged 16 to 24 currently have experienced a mental health disorder in the last 12 months.5This figure includes young people with a substance use disorder. This is equivalent to 750,000 young people today.
Suicide is the biggest killer of young Australians and accounts for the deaths of more young people than car accidents. Breakdown: 324 Australians (10.5 per 100,000) aged 15-24 dying by suicide in 2012. This compares to 198 (6.4 per 100,000) who died in car accidents (the second highest killer).
Evidence suggests three in four adult mental health conditions emerge by age 24 and half by age 14 Breakdown: Half of all lifetime cases of mental health disorders start by age 14 years and three fourths by age 24 years.
Where to go for help
**Your GP should always be your first point of call…
No Panic: 0844 9674848 Youth Helpline 0330 606 1174 (for 13 to 20 year olds open Mon to Thurs 4pm-6pm)
Helpline for anxiety disorders, panic attacks etc. Provides advice, counselling, listening, befriending and can make referrals. Local self help groups and produces leaflets, audio and video cassettes.
OCD Action: 0845 390 6232. Information and support for Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCDs) and related disorders including Body Dismorphic Disorder (BDD), Skin Picking (CSP), Trichotillomania (TTM) – compulsive hair pulling.
TOP UK (Triumph Over Phobia) – The OCD and Phobia Charity: 01225 571740
UK registered charity which aims to help sufferers of phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder and other related anxiety to overcome their fears and become ex sufferers, run a network of self help therapy groups.