Reflecting on being a School Mum

My son only has just over a term of his final year of school left.  So I’m coming to the end 1st Day of schoolof being a parent of school children.   I have been reflecting on my many years of being a school mum.  If I had my time again there are many things I would do the same but probably some things that I would have done differently.

So what have we done & how would I have changed it or kept it the same?

My children both attended the small, local state school which had many children from a lower socio-economic area than us, as there was a housing commission area nearby.  The local primary school was 8 houses away from our house at the time.  My daughter had a grade 1 class with 17 children, so I was very happy with that.

I did occasionally consider home schooling my son during his last couple of years of Primary school but never really considered it.  I do sometimes wonder what sort of difference this might have made, though on the other hand I don’t know if I would have coped.

They then went on to attend a large, private school about 20 minutes drive from our house.  This was the school my husband had attended & he believed that no matter what they would be into, that they would have the opportunity to pursue it at this school.  Both children moved to the school to start grade 7 as that was the start of middle school.  This was before all Queenslanders started high school in grade 7.  My son struggled with this move more than my daughter.  However we believe that it was good for him to have a change then, rather than the just the massive change when you finish school.

No matter which school they have been at I have been involved in the school.  During theclassroom helper early years I was a classroom helper.  After a few years I joined the P&C and was involved until the end of their primary school years.  At their high school I was involved in the Auxiallary until it folded & have helped some of the relevant supporter groups at specific events.   I have been a tuckshop helper at both schools, so also coming to the end of my 14th year of volunteering in school tuckshops.  I have also been part of a Mum’s prayer group at their high school.

watch-tv-2158506__340During the early years of school we had a no tv rule before school.  If I recall correctly that changed to no tv after school as well, except for Friday afternoons.  It became harder to control screen time when they had school laptops & smart phones.  We have limited their daily downloads and had their devices only connected to the internet at certain times.  They rarely watch tv now but screen time is a real issue, not sure how we would have handled it if they had access to laptops, smart phones & other devices at a younger age.

I have always made my kids school lunches.  Since my daughter has finished school she making lunchnow makes her own lunch but I continue to make my sons lunch.   As children we made our own lunches from an early age so not exactly sure why I didn’t get my children to make their own lunches.  I have continued right through high school but partly because I think my son would take nothing if he had to make his own lunch.  This is my last year of making lunches for my son.  They have both been independently making their own breakfasts for a long time and also make their own lunches on weekends & during holidays.

walk to schoolAs we only lived 8 houses from the primary school we generally walked to school & my children carried their own bags, apart from the first day when they had to carry all their school supplies to school.  I have tried to make them responsible for their school work & school supplies.

As we lived so close to the school my daughter wanted tobus-2145402__340 walk to school by herself & did from mid primary school.  When we moved houses & had to cross a major road sometimes I would ride/walk with them & help them cross the major road & let them go the rest of the way by themselves.  Other times we just drove.  In highschool I have driven them to the school bus or to school depending on before/after school activities.   To get to the school bus by themselves they would have had to walk a fair way or catch another council bus and walk.  I think what we did was the best option but now when my daughter has less then a 10 minute walk to the bus to get to uni, she will often try & find excuses to be driven to the bus.   She catches 2 buses to get to uni & has been quite independent in catching buses to meet her friends at shops or similar since mid high school.

deskRight through school we have had their homework area in a central spot in the house.  When my daughter started university we set up a desk area in her room.  We liked having the homework area in a central spot, particularly when they started having school laptops as we didn’t want these devices in their room.  Recently my son has been doing his homework in his room more but I think we will encourage him to do his homework in the central area again.

Early on we limited after school activities to 1 thing.  My daughter did ballet & my son jazz-1415982__340played soccer.  During primary school they both pretty much only had the one outside school activity each.  When we got to high school there was so much offered at school that if became harder to limit it.  My daughter wanted to do everything & in her final year of schooling she played sport in 1 term & debating in another term, along with being involved in 4 school bands & 2 school choirs.  She coped with it all and I think thrives on the activity.  She is still involved with a university band & works part time while studying engineering.  My son on the other hand has done club & school soccer as well as 2 school bands for most of high school but only just copes.  This year due to injury he withdrew from club soccer but managed to continue with school soccer.  He is still in 2 bands but they have very few performances outside of school (1 of them is the school worship band for their chapel services), so he can cope.

Which of these areas have you done similar things or have you done something different as a school parent?




Books My Children Enjoyed

Last week it was Children’s Book Week in Australia.  Each year The Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) together with schools, libraries, booksellors, authors & illustrators help children & students celebrate Australian Children’s Literature.  As I’ve seen many posts on Facebook this week of children dressed up for Book Week this year, I have reflected on the importance of reading & some of the books my children enjoyed reading.

Many schools have a book week parade during the week where children come dressed as their favourite book character.  My son’s school, a Pre-Prep – 12 school, celebrates book week with a whole school parade.  Apparently there are many who dress up in the junior school but not so many by the time you get to senior school.  I only have a few photos of my children from Book Weeks from the early years of their schooling. (A couple are above).  I’m sure my daughter did get dressed up for Book Week when she was in Middle or Senior school.


However reading was a huge part of their life before school.  We read bedtime stories to both children from when they were babies.  Starting with little chunky board books before moving onto picture books when they were toddlers.  “Stop said the man in blue.  He is a policeman.”  is a page that we can still recite from one of the very first board books we owned.  Some of the picture books have been taped back together as they were loved so much.  We have kept many of the favourite picture books, though we often borrowed from the local library.

We continued reading with our children until they were in upper primary school.  Even though they could well & truly read by then it was fun to read chapter books together or read harder books with them.  Here is a link to one of many articles on the benefits of reading to older children.  I remember my daughter’s grade 2 teacher who had children ranging from about 5-17 years of age said that she was still reading with her 17 year old.  When my son was in grade 7 I do recall reading to him when he had a scratched eye so couldn’t do anything because he needed to lie with his eyes shut.

So what were some of the books that were enjoyed in our house:


Picture Books:

  • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Helen Oxbury (board book but can get it in a paper paged book as well)
  • Fuzzy Yellow Ducklings by Matthew Van Fleet (a touch book for toddlers)
  • There’s a Hippopotomas on Our Roof Eating Cake by Hazel Edwards, illustrated by Deborah NilandBanana's in Pyjamas2
  • Bananas in Pyjamas:  Fancy Dress Party – When my daughter was about 3 this was taken to bed with every night for a while, it had to be taped up.  (Well remembered page is pictured.)
  • Mr Smarty Loves to Party by Janine Scott, illustrated by Christine Ross – It’s about a bear who goes to different parties dressed-up for the event and you can imagine what he wears to a birthday party!
  • Pooh and the Dragon (a Little Golden Book)
  • Lullabyhullaballoo! by Mick Inkpen
  • The King and the Cuddly by Majorie Newman, illustrated by Peter Bowman
  • Love You Forever by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Anthony Lewis
  • Hop on Pop by Dr Seuss – This copy was my own from my childhood
  • Nursery Rhyme Books
  • Fairy Tale Books
  • Other books with a compilation of stories
  • Set of Beatrix Potter books
  • The Jolly Postman or Other People’s Letters by Janet & Allen Ahlberg
  • Spot What books (a whole series with a themed picture on each page with a list of things to find)

Chapter Books:


Advent/Christmas Books:

  • My Birthday, Jesus Birthday by Holly Davis, illustrated by Nancy Munger
  • With Love at Christmas by Mem Fox, illustrated by Fay Plamka
  • Jotham’s Journey; Bartholomew’s Passage; Tabitha’s Travels and Ishtar’s Odyssey a series by Arnold Ytreeide – with a chapter for each day of advent leading up to the birth of Jesus; all told from the perspective of the main character and meets the characters from the other books along the way.  We have been reading 1 of these for about 12 Advent seasons now so great for children of all ages. See more in my fuller post about the series.
  • The Night Before Christmas (pop-up book) – A beautiful illustrated, pop-up version of the famous poem first published in 1823.  A book that Dad reads once a year on Christmas Eve before bedtime.
  • An Aussie Night Before Christmas (pop-up book) – An Australian version of the poem in a beautiful illustrated pop-up book.  This was added to the annual Christmas Eve book before bed routine a few years ago.

There would be many other books that we could add to this list but I’m just going from memory and what we still had.

My favourite picture book (at the moment):


  • Not A Box – My friend sent me this when my kids were older but I was still supply teaching.  I have used this book with lots of Prep & Grade 1 classes.  There are not many words but so much to talk about as you read the book.  I love how it encourages imagination.

What are some of your favourite children’s books?



Sustainable & Ethical Fashion

Recently I’ve read 2 books which have led me to really consider what I buy.  I picked up Wardrobe Crisis  by Clare Press (in April) as I thought it might help me know which shops where ethical to shop at from a human rights point of view.  This book opened my eyes up to how big the issue is and that it is about more than factory workers getting a fair wage & being treated correctly.  Environmental, sustainability & animal rights factors are also big issues.


After reading Wardrobe Crisis I was really struggling with where were good places to buy clothes without costing the earth (literally & figuratively).  I then started to research on-line, particularly for places in Australia. I also found 2 Australian magazines (Peppermint & Slow) at the local library which were focused on this issue as well.  One of these led me to reading Magnifeco by Kate Black (in July) which really helped me to think about what I want to value & spend my money on.  Although this book was American it had lots of useful links & I have found out a lot more. Continue reading

4 Years On!

Today is the 4th Anniversary of starting my blog!

My family has certainly grown & changed since then & so has the blog.  I originally started it to blog about the challenge of feeding my family with multiple food intolerances.  More recently I have blogged not only about physically feeding my family but also about feeding their mind, heart & soul as well.  As I almost have 2 adult children I am finding that I’m blogging less about them & more about me.  While recipes are still important to me and I certainly have lots more I could share, I’m finding I’m blogging about other things more.

My son has outgrown his food intolerances to some extent.  Though nose bleeds & headaches are still a sign of him having too much of the wrong foods.  As he gets older he will need to make his own decisions as regards to food & health.  My husband will be continuing to avoid certain foods for life.  My diet has also changed but I still think some foods are affecting me.  I’m still working out whether I’ll have the same test they’ve had or try a GAPS diet or similar.  As I write this I’m feeling quite achy.  I have had some dairy in the form of ice-cream & cream in the last few days & am wondering if that or too much of another food is the cause or if I’m fighting off/coming down with something.  I do know that in the past I often gotten achy if I’ve gone away & not worried about what I’ve been eating.  We certainly have learnt a lot about how food affects our bodies since being on this journey.

My top 5 viewed posts since the blog began (not counting the About page) have been:

  1. Walking My Way to Fitness (mainly because it was shared on a WordPress round-up post about this topic)
  2. Corn Thins Pizza
  3. Pasta with Leftover Roast Meat
  4. GF, DF, egg free Chocolate Cake (this is probably the recipe I would share most on facebook food groups, especially if someone is looking for an allergy friendly cake).
  5. Letting Go

As you can see 3 of my top 5 posts contain recipes but other topics also made the top 5.

As I was finishing off this post my daughter suddenly asked when dinner was, as she was going out in less than half an hour.  Fortunately I had rice cooked & with some help was very quickly able to make fried rice, also using up some leftover meatballs.

My blog will probably continue to have a variety of posts on different issues.

Is there anything you would like me to blog about?  I’d love to hear from you.

Salsa Mince

Last night I had mince out ready to cook but hadn’t decided exactly what I was going to make with the mince.  At 5 o’clock with my daughter leaving the house about 6pm I had to decide what to cook.  I was thinking some sort of savoury mince but we had eaten a few rice dishes lately & my daughter really doesn’t like pasta, so I wasn’t sure what to serve it with.  I looked in the cupboard & saw the kidney beans & a jar of salsa, so made a dish with those & served it with wraps or corn chips.  It was an kind of an easier version of my Quick Chilli Beef.

Salsa Mince2 Continue reading

Reading Log – May 2017

Reading Log May

May was a very slow month for me in terms of reading books.  I did manage to finish reading 1 book early in the month.  I was reading another couple of books on & off throughout the month but didn’t finish either of them.

I have however done lots of reading, learning and thinking in other ways as I attended a 4 day conference as well as attended part of an on-line conference which didn’t quite work due to time differences.  The content of these conferences has made me want to revisit some books I have previously read, as well as given me a whole list of other books I want to read.

This is the one book that I did finish reading in May:

The Good Life:  What makes a life worth living? by Hugh Mackay

Australian social researcher & Psychologist asks and answers the question “What makes a life worth living?”.  The answer according to him:  “A good life is determined by our capacity for selflessness and our willingness to connect with those around us in a meaningful and useful way.”  He talks a lot about The Golden Rule – “Do to others what you want them to do to you.”  This is a rule my mother very much talked about and lived by as we were growing up.  It was interesting to note that a version of this “rule” can be found in all of the major world religions.

We are made for connection with others and life is much better if we can follow the golden rule.

What do you think makes a life worth living?

This brings my year to date total to 25 books.

What books have you been reading lately?