Tag: COVID-19

This Christmas We Need to Share More Cheer Than Before

Participate in the Mayor’s Christmas Cheer Appeal to bring joy to locals in need.  

The Mayor’s Christmas Cheer Appeal is back this year and more important than ever due to the events and challenges of 2020. The appeal provides local families and senior citizens with hampers of basic meals and staples. In previous years, the appeal delivered roughly 700 hampers to those who needed a helping hand around Christmas time, and they also required fundraising efforts to raise roughly $70,000. But now there are many more people expected to need help during the festive season in 2020.

Mayor Bob Manning says “This crisis has had an incredibly devastating impact on our city. Times are tough and people are hurting…we anticipate that the impacts of coronavirus on the community will result in an increase in demand for hampers. We would ordinarily provide 700 hampers; I would not be surprised if we had twice as many people needing assistance this year.”

The fundraising normally begins in October however locals need more help while experiencing the current hardships and losses caused by the pandemic. Because of this, fundraising had already been launched to make sure that the demand for hampers can be fully met. Now it’s time for us to give generously and support our locals.

How can I help?

You can donate $65.00 to buy a family a hamper or donate $35.00 to buy a senior a hamper. To donate a select amount you can visit the page for this appeal here. Every cent that people donate to the Christmas Cheer Appeal will go to buying food supplies for the hampers, which will go to the people that need our help the most right now.

Council will be working with 22 local charities and organisations to identify residents who are eligible for this festive cheer. Additionally, there are a range of some great Cairns media partners who will be donating services. This includes Adhesive Communications, Adllins Media, Cairns Post, CityLife, Channel Nine, Cre8 Design, GoTransit Media, HitFm, Oasis Media, TripleM, Yfilms, and PakMag!

That’s right – we want to share the love this Christmas and give back to the community that we adore. We encourage all of those who are capable to do the same thing and help another person or family have the Christmas they deserve.

Donate here. You can also find a list local charities and organisations where you can confidentially apply for a hamper.





Children Find Happiness in Current Situation

During the current COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of routines for families and young children has been made clear. During this time, Mary MacKillop Childcare North Queensland continued to offer quality childcare and education to all families across the Diocese of Townsville. They did so through their Early Learning Centres, Kindergartens and Outside School Hours Care services. Many centres were well aware of the differences in families lives. So, in addition, they put a number of programs in place to continue to offer support and care for the children.

The children at Mundingburra St Mary MacKillop Early Learning Centre shared rainbows as a way to spread joy and happiness. This was not only to those at the centre but to the wider community. “The children painted rainbow hand prints. Then educators decorated the trees that line our footpath at the front of our centre. The hope was to brighten the days of those in our local community as they drove by.” said Mandy Wassman, Mundingburra Centre Director.

“Bright colours brighten up a room. So why not share some brightness to the local community. This would let everyone know that we were thinking of them during this period.”

The educators used the opportunity to explore the meaning of the rainbow trail with the children. “The children were extremely excited to have people in our community see their group project,” Mandy said.

“Families that attend our centre and members of our community would walk by the decorated trees. They would all comment on how lovely and thoughtful it was,” she said.

Educators worked with children during the height of the pandemic to further enhance their abilities to express and show both empathy and compassion to others. By having children’s artwork on display, they demonstrated their resilience through these difficult and challenging times.

Mary MacKillop Childcare NQ’s Executive Director said “It was important for MMCNQ services to continue to operate during these challenging times. It provided families with support. And, of course, it allowed for children to continue their learning and access care.”

Mary MacKillop Childcare NQ Kindergartens are taking enrolment applications for 2021.

Email enrolment@mmcnq.catholic.edu.au to register your interest or call 4729 3299.


Read more from Mary MacKillop here. 




How to Balance Work and Childcare at Home

The coronavirus lockdown has been especially challenging for parents. With schools closed, they have had to pull off the fine balancing act of looking after their children at the same time as fulfilling their usual work duties from home.

Even in ordinary times, it’s difficult enough for parents to juggle both commitments at once. Working from home can make this easier to manage – less time is spent commuting to the office, and there’s less of a need to constantly be in two places at once. Out of necessity, working from home has become widespread during lockdown. In fact, according to recent research, 32% of working Australians have been working from home over the past couple of months due to coronavirus. But will this change in work culture last once life returns to normal? A study from Direct Line suggests that working from home could be here to stay – with HR directors expecting a 45% increase in the number of flexible workers in future. 

Although working from home offers greater work-life balance, it does also come with its own pitfalls.There is less of a clear distinction between work and family life. Because of this, it’s possible that neither sphere receives the full attention it needs.

With that in mind, here are some strategies that may be able to untangle the difficult knot of working from home and being a parent at the same time. 

Set clear boundaries

It’s certainly easier said than done, but setting clear boundaries is one of the key issues that needs to be addressed. Constant distractions are not conducive to either a productive work day or effective parenting. Instead, our minds need clearly defined and separated tasks to focus on. Although it can be tempting to try to multitask, studies have shown that this could actually reduce productivity by 40%. Our brains can trick us into thinking we are multitasking well, when the reality is quite different.

A definite structure and timetable for the day can help with this. It lets us carve out separate hours for work and family responsibilities. Life is messy, and so it’s inevitable that it won’t be perfectly successful. But, having a clear plan and direction can help to calm the mind; bringing a sense of order to the chaos. Try and get a diary like this one or this one to write down your plans for the day and set specific tasks to focus on. As you work through them, cross them out. It seems basic, but it can really help you to prioritise and get things done (plus it’s a great feeling to have a completed list by the end of the day). 

Share the load

When children are at home full time, however, separating home and work life can become almost impossible. If you have a partner who’s also working from home, the solution would be to rotate family responsibilities during the day. This means one parent is always there for the children, and the other has the freedom to fully concentrate on their work. 

Childcare is also a potential solution, but this has become problematic with the current coronavirus situation. For many families, too, childcare is simply too costly an option to be considered. 

Go part-time or job share

Another solution that’s worth considering (if it’s possible for you) is to reduce your work hours. This will take more of the load off your shoulders. This in turn will allow you to dedicate more time to your family life during the week (among other benefits). If you have a flexible home working arrangement, with no specific hours, it becomes even easier to shape your work hours around the demands of life at home. 

It may seem scary to ask for reduced hours at work, but communication is key here. Your work colleagues will be sure to understand your situation when it’s explained to them. It IS possible that a job-share solution can be found. You won’t be the only working parent seeking part-time hours, and so it may be more feasible than you think to share your job with a like-minded colleague.

Juggling working from home with family life is certainly a challenge, and the coronavirus has made this even more difficult. There may not be a perfect solution. However, a combination of some of the strategies above may be able to bring balance back to your life. Hopefully, it will allow you to give each of your responsibilities the attention it deserves. 

Read ‘work-life balance tips for parents’ here

About the Author

Ross is a freelance researcher and content producer from Kent. He is finalising his post graduate research papers on modern day parenting and technology effects on children’s behaviour. His recent work includes Lockdown, School response, and Children’s Boredom. 




How to Spend More Quality Time with Your Child This Winter

Looking for ways to keep your family sane during COVID-19 this winter? While some winter activities may be cancelled this year, there are still many ways you can spend quality time with the kids and maintain social distancing. Consider adding one of these fun activities to your wintertime to-do list.

Go on a Hiking or Camping Adventure

Enjoying the great outdoors isn’t reserved for the summer. The cooler months in Australia are some of the best times of the year to go backpacking with the kids. Whether you’re exploring the flowing creeks of Dinden National Park or sleeping beneath the stars at Malanda Falls, there’s no shortage of natural beauty to take in. And with the right backpacking stove, you’ll be able to stay warm and cozy at night and treat the family to roasted marshmallows. A camping trip is the perfect way to avoid the spread of COVID and get out of the house at the same time.

Bake Something Warm and Gooey

If you must stay in, why not teach your kids some valuable chemistry skills and make something delicious at the same time? Spice up your fairy bread game with something new. Brownies, cookies, and cake, oh my! Or maybe try your hand at homemade Tim Tams. Baking is a great bond-building activity that any child is sure to enjoy. The best part? You can make them do the dishes afterwards.

Find the Perfect Whale Watching Spot

May to November is prime whale watching season as migrations are happening all over. Thousands of whales make their migration from the Atlantic to warmer waters in the Cairns Great Barrier Reef. While there may be fewer boats on the water due to COVID-19 social distancing, you can still experience these majestic creatures as they put on an energetic show.

Share Stories with Dedicated Reading Time

Some kids love to read, but it doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. Find a book you’ll both love and set aside time to read together with your kids this winter. Reading is one of the best, low-stress activities to cap off a long day. It’s not only an excellent way to keep them entertained indoors, but also build some language skills early on. If you have a younger kid, take turns reading each chapter aloud to help keep them engaged and encourage them to practice.

Don’t Let COVID Stop Your Family from Having Fun this Winter

It may seem harder than ever to keep your kids occupied this winter with all the restrictions of COVID-19, but if you set your mind to it there’s still plenty of ways to spend quality time together. Whether it’s hiking to your favorite hotspot or crafting something tasty, we hope you find something the whole family will enjoy!

Written by Jenny Hart

You can find more things to do here. 




Give Your Hands a Little Help

Has hand washing and sanitising during the pandemic done a number on your hands too? Are your hands dry, irritated or cracking?

We’ve been trying to keep COVID-19 at bay with thorough handwashing and sanitising, but our hands are needing some extra TLC to cope with the effects. As much as sanitising is a necessary action, I’m feeling lizard-like with dry, suffering hands as all the good stuff is stripped away with the bad (germs) – and I know I am not alone. I moisturise, but it just isn’t enough to put back in- what I’ve scrubbed out. So, what can we do?

As we’ve upped our use of hand sanitisers…we need to up our moisturising game.

Our delicate skin barrier is so important. But, did you know over-using harsh soaps & alcohol sanitisers can cause damage to this barrier, making it even more vulnerable to bacteria? So, we need to make sure we are moisturising effectively too. A step… I often forget #mybad. This practice is a good one to adopt, not just for now (during the pandemic), but for always.

I’ve stumbled across a great Aussie Made Product called ‘Herbs + Heart’ – After Sanitiser Overnight Hand Mask which I have absolutely fallen in love with. Not just because of the magic performed on my hands, but because they use 100% Australian grown, natural ingredients… so you can feel even better about how good your hands feel after using it.

How does it work?

Massage a pea sized amount onto clean hands before sleeping, For deeper moisturising effects pop on a pair of their pure cotton gloves. While you’re sleeping, it will nourish, restore and hydrate your skin with its rich formula of soothing butters and powerful skin repairing plant oils. Think of it as your ‘Sanitiser Ally’… the two literally go ‘hand in hand’ to help you stay safe and germ-free, but Herbs +  Heart will keep your skin soft, hydrated and healthy too.  In the morning simply take off the gloves and rinse your hands in warm water and voila! Just like that you have reversed the damage you did the day before.

According to the Herbs + Heart website,  it’s 10 times richer than any hand lotion. And after one use, I was a believer. My hands felt 10 times more hydrated. Don’t just take my word for it… check out these before and after photos (with no filter), taken on my mobile.

The only difference between these picture is the lighting (natural, just at different times of the day).

There are more benefits than just providing moisture too. I don’t want to freak you out, but hands give away your age more than any other body part. I don’t even want to ask you how old you thought I was just from my hands in the ‘before photos’.  Experts recommend keeping your hands moisturised with thick creams – particularly overnight. And you are never too young/ too old to start. Most people don’t take action on aging until the visible signs appear. Except damage has already happened. I’m not going to tell you what to do with your life, but starting the healthy routine of moisturising daily to help your hands stay younger and healthier can only work in your favour right?  

You can purchase Herbs + Heart AFTER-SANITISER OVERNIGHT HAND MASK here. It retails for $24.00. The gloves are just $5.00.

Use code PAKMAG15 at checkout to receive 15% off and give the Overnight Hand Mask a go – offer valid till the end of August. 

That healthy hand feeling… totally worth it. Oh and don’t forget to moisturise with a hand cream during the day too. The more moisture- the merrier!

During this difficult time, don’t forget to take care of you and your hands 😊




The Thing Is…COVID-19! – With Bree James

I’ve never really been one to fit in or have many friends. As a result, COVID-19 life for me didn’t change my social (well anti-social) life much. I enjoyed having a simpler life for those few weeks. I finally had a rock-solid excuse for not having to get out of my pajamas and leave the house. The thing is, it’s been quite interesting living this ‘new norm’ as they call it. And I am finding myself having a laugh at what life was and is like thanks to this pandemic.

I have noticed a few things like my children’s banter about germs. Everything is “I don’t want to catch Covid, so I can’t… (insert task they don’t want to do)”. My child forgot his toothbrush for an overnight trip and he told me he couldn’t brush his teeth with his finger in case he caught Covid-19. Literally everything they can link with Covid-19… they do. They come up with more theories than any conspiracist on social media that I have seen. Our children are not only little greenies these days; reminding us which bin to put things in, they’ve started a war or germs and we finally don’t have to argue with them to wash their hands. Covid-19 has become the “dog ate my homework” excuse for the 21st century.

The next thing I found hilarious, or sad, whichever way you look at it, is; twenty years ago I was lining up for nightclubs. Now I am lining up to go into Bunnings, Bra’s and Things, and the pharmacy with the same sort of anticipation. Instead of getting excited it’s ‘happy hour,’ I got excited if I found seeds to grow my own food. Or some hand santiser and toilet paper!.

What the heck has happened to my life?

Then, I realised that I used to do anything to avoid taking the bin out. In ISO I was volunteering. This was just so I could get out of the house for an excursion and smell something better than my own family. Being in a house of boys is smelly business at the best of times. This is especially true when they’re eating our camping kit of baked beans because you’ve been avoiding going to the store.

Many of us thought we’d turn into farmers. I started gardening just in case food shortages got worse. All I can say about this phase is that if my family relied on my food growing ability, we’d be eating weeds as these are the only things I can’t seem to kill.

One thing I was great at though – was cooking.

ISO was a time where ingredients were low, and we had to become the MacGyver’s of our kitchen. Finding recipes to create without the key ingredients of rice, eggs, pasta, and flour saw me create some pretty cool dishes. I don’t know about you, but some of us have eaten waaayyyy too much and have become a little ‘cuddlier’ – as I like to call it. It didn’t really matter then as we didn’t see anyone, but now it’s like ‘ok…someone pull me out of these jeans.’

Due to this, many of us thought it was a good time to take up an old hobby. Of course, it involved exertion to try and burn some of those extra kilo’s from all of that cooking, eating and drinking. But we forgot that we are older, heavier and way less fit than we used to be. Medical professionals coined a new term “Covid Casualties” to deal with people who took up new sports like Mountain Bike riding and left with two broken arms not being able to wipe their own butts after their first attempt. I thankfully didn’t injure myself doing some of my old hobbies. I do think however that something like knitting is on the horizon for the future as I have said to myself many times these past few months; “I am too old for this stuff” with very sore muscles and bones.

My favorite thing is watching two people interact; trying to work out if they should shake hands, hug, fist bump or just awkwardly flap around each other like startled chickens, realising mid movement that they were about to touch and they shouldn’t.

Who would have thought life would ever be like this?

In the end, this pandemic has taught us a lot more than we could ever have realized. This includes a lot about ourselves and our resilience. Most importantly – we have learned what we value most and what is really important. Something I hope we remember as life starts resembling pre-covid normality. 


Read more of Bree’s ‘The Thing Is’ articles here