Tag: kids

TRAVELLING TO CAIRNS? DON'T MISS THESE 7 TOP TIPS!

8 TOP TIPS FOR FAMILIES TRAVELLING TO CAIRNS

Cairns, the vibrant tourist town nestled on the coastline in between rainforests and the Great Barrier Reef, is jam-packed with activities for young and old. The region is packed with local treasures and foodie hot spots, but it is also in a hot climate which could call for some adjustments to your packing list.

We’ve compiled a handy list of top tips about the region, including some spots you won’t want to miss, and some things to be aware of.


1. Watch the sunset from the Esplanade

Sure, the Esplanade is a popular spot for swimming, meals, and jogging, but any local will tell you that seeing the sunset from the Esplanade is something else. Kick back, relax, and watch the sky change colours. Some evenings Mother Nature really puts on a show and the sky turns all sorts of pink, orange, and yellow.

2. Visit the magical Fairy Falls

Escape to a dreamy spot in the rainforest and swim underneath a waterfall. Avoid the tourist-packed pools below and venture down a trail starting from the Crystal Cascades car park. The walk itself isn’t long, but does require good balance and fitness at times, making this walk unsuitable for prams, young children, or the disabled.

3. Life’s a beach

Another thing Cairns is known for is its pristine beaches lining the shore. Palm Cove and Trinity Beach are among the most popular with locals and tourists alike, but if you’re looking for a quieter beach, head to Ellis Beach, Clifton Beach, Kewarra Beach or Holloways Beach and get your feet into the sand.

4. Walk the Red Arrow

This walking track is frequented by locals on a daily basis and you’ll see why. Walking the Red Arrow Track rewards you with stunning views of Cairns City and the nearby Cairns Airport. See the planes take off and land from a whole new, unique angle.

5. Beware of the stingers

Dangerous jellyfish are often found close to the shores of Cairns between the months of November and May. During this time period, swimming nets will be present at popular Cairns beaches, although it’s safer to wear a stinger suit or avoid swimming at the beach altogether. Alternatively, opt for a freshwater swimming hole such as Crystal Cascades or a public swimming pool like the wonderful Lagoon at the Esplanade in the city.

6. Check out some local markets

You’ll find markets in various areas of Cairns, from the beachfront to the rainforest and everywhere in between. These markets are a fantastic opportunity to taste some delicious local produce or purchase souvenirs handmade with love. To name a few, Tanks Markets, Yungaburra Markets, Port Douglas Markets, and Holloways Beach Markets are definitely worth a visit.

7. Float around in Mossman Gorge

If you’re heading up to Port Douglas, take an extra few hours out to visit the stunning Mossman Gorge nestled in the the tranquil Daintree Rainforest. This is the perfect spot to take a refreshing dip or simply relax in the shade.

8. Pack plenty of clothes suited to the weather

Pretty obvious, this one. Cairns is warm pretty much all year round. Even the “winter” (if you can even call it that) averages at about 25 degrees during the day, although it can get chilly at night. Pack for warm weather, but bring a jacket or jumper too. If you are heading to the Atherton Tablelands in the winter, you’ll want to bring some more warm clothing.


Besides the obvious Daintree Rainforest, Great Barrier Reef and Atherton Tablelands, Cairns is full of gems just waiting to be discovered; you just have to look a bit harder!

Feature image courtesy of Tourism & Events Queensland. Photographer: Oliver Vegas Montero.

CAFFIN8 CAFÉ, A FAMILY-FRIENDLY CAFÉ IN GORDONVALE

CAFFIN8 CAFÉ, A FAMILY-FRIENDLY CAFÉ IN GORDONVALE

Caffin8 Café is a new and exciting café in Gordonvale. It has a kid’s play area, that is not only family-friendly but also family-run.

The café is owned by Belinda – whose passion for good food and coffee has led to this realisation of her dream of owning a café. Managed by her daughter Natasha, but it doesn’t end there. Natasha’s little son Memphis loves to help out too!

Be sure to pop into Caffin8 Café at 46 Norman Street, Gordonvale and enjoy the family friendliness and the delicious treats on offer. They also are happy to cater for events and meetings.

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Developmental disabilities in children

DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES IN CHILDREN

As parents, navigating the minefield of bringing up children can be a challenge. The trial and error nature of parenting, and the fact that every child develops at different rates means that knowing whether our children are on the right track can feel like a guessing game. This is particularly true when it comes to identifying problems such as developmental disabilities in children.


Developmental disabilities range from autism and behavioural disorders to cerebral palsy and Down syndrome. Spotting signs of these disabilities can be easy or complicated. Certain issues can be identified at birth (and sometimes even before). However, some problems don’t become apparent until certain milestones are not being met. That’s when we realise that a child is behind in their development.

So, how do we identify developmental disabilities?

Well, unfortunately for many of these disabilities, there is no cut and dry test. Observation is the key to identification in the early stages.

Knowing when a child should be reaching certain milestones is a starting point. It will help you identify whether your child is delayed in their development. It is important to make sure you don’t panic if your little one is slightly behind expected milestones, these are only a guide. It’s when significant delays occur, or delays across multiple aspects of your child’s development that further investigation should be done.

What causes developmental disabilities?

For many developmental disabilities, the cause is unclear. It is often a number of factors which contribute to the problem. The main risk factors include problems at birth (including prematurity, low birth weight or oxygen deprivation), medical conditions (including ear infections, illnesses and injuries), and environmental factors (including trauma, a mother drinking or taking drugs prior to birth or poor living conditions).

What should you be looking for?

There are five main areas in which a developmental disability may occur. These include cognitive skills, social and emotional skills, speech and language skills, fine and gross motor skills, and activities in daily living. If a child exhibits issues with two or more of these areas, it is considered to be a global developmental delay.

Cognitive delays

These affect a child’s ability to learn, think and problem solve. Early ways to identify this is to ask yourself if your baby exhibits curiosity or if your toddler is learning new words, colours or counting. If the answer is no to these things, it may be a sign of developmental delay.

Social and emotional delays

They present themselves in a child’s ability to relate and interact with others. Babies should smile at people and make noises in an attempt to communicate and toddlers should be able to express their feelings and make friends. A lack of these signs could be cause for concern.

Speech and language delays

These may seem obviously identifiable but there are some things to consider that you may not have been aware of; it is not always the case that a child can’t pronounce words. With babies, the absence of babbling or cooing could help identify issues but in toddlers, their ability to understand instructions, tell stories that keep on track or use words in the correct context could also be telling signs. This type of delay is quite common which is perhaps the reason that Speech and Language Pathologists are trained specially to deal with this, whilst the other four issues are generally dealt with by paediatricians or occupational therapists.

Fine and gross motor delays

These can be identified in babies if they are not able to hold objects (fine motor) or if they don’t begin to sit up, roll or walk (gross motor). As children get older, not being able to hold tools or draw (fine motor) or having difficulties jumping or climbing may indicate a developmental delay.

Daily living problems simply mean that day to day tasks are not handled by the child. In babies, we as parents naturally do this for them, but if children don’t begin to eat or dress themselves, herein lies a potential issue.

How does a child receive a diagnosis?

Generally, your first step is to visit your GP who will advise you of the next steps based on his initial assessment of your child. Your GP will generally refer you to a specialist or for further testing and investigation based on this assessment.

If you think your child has a speech or language delay, you can opt to visit a speech and language pathologist without a referral from your doctor.

Remember, early intervention is best and there’s no harm in going to the doctor if you think something’s not quite right. As the age old saying goes, “It’s better to be safe than sorry”, and it’s true when it comes to helping your child with their development.

What treatment is available?

Depending on your child’s diagnosis, there are a number of different treatment options. Most of these include the help of a specialised professional. Occupational therapists are amongst the most common options for children with developmental disabilities, along with physiotherapist, speech and language pathologist and behavioural therapists.

Living with developmental delay

Living with any kind of disability comes with challenges. But, with a positive outlook and the right tools and professionals at your disposal, living a happy and fulfilled life is absolutely possible. Understanding that life won’t be bad, it will just be different is a great way to look at life when raising a child with a developmental delay.

With early intervention and treatment, many children with developmental disabilities grow up to become independent adults. For those with more serious developmental disabilities, particularly those who have trouble with completing day to day tasks or have low cognitive function, there are still options to help them live the best life they can. This includes community living, providing them with the equipment that they need and equipping their families with the skills and tools to help.

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN TRAVELLING WITH KIDS TO JAPAN

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN TRAVELLING WITH KIDS TO JAPAN

We recently ventured out of our comfort zone and took our two young boys to Japan for a family holiday. Japan is approximately an 8 hour flight from Cairns, 9 hours from Brisbane, 12.5 hours from Sydney, 13 hours from Melbourne, and 15 hours from Perth.

No one in our family speaks any Japanese, we had never been to Japan before, and we really didn’t know what to expect. The most experience we have had with Japan is Sushi Train for dinner. But I can honestly say we had the best time, felt very safe and loved every minute of our trip.

Plan your Trip

Japan isn’t a country that you can just “wing it” and this is mainly due to the language barrier. That said, we did try to wing some of it and it made for a few laughs. If you look lost, someone will usually stop and help you so they can practice their English.

Japan has four distinct seasons. To really enjoy you need to take advantage of the seasons. Your itinerary and the things you do will vary from season to season.

Spring (March to May) is one of Japan’s most famous times – Cherry Blossom season. Summer (June to August) is warm so you will need less clothing, meaning more room for shopping. Plus the days are longer in summer. With its beautiful colours, autumn (September to November) rivals spring as the best time to visit Japan. And winter (December to February) is all about the snow and skiing!

Choose your location

Osaka was a great central location for us. We flew into the Osaka airport and happily based ourselves in a hotel for the week. We then moved onto Tokyo for five days, and spent our last two days back in Osaka before flying home. There are other options near Osaka like Kyoto and Nara; however, we found doing day trips from Osaka out to these locations was no problem.

Choose your accommodation

I would definitely book accommodation well in advance as family rooms do book out and can be quite hard to find. We chose to stay at the Osaka Castle Hotel which as reasonable priced. Our room was small but sufficient with four single beds and a small bathroom. Best of all, it was right near the train station and in a great location. The main thing with Japan is that you don’t spend much time in your hotel, you are out and about seeing the sites every day. So pick somewhere close to a train station if you can.

Your accommodation options include:

Japanese Style

Ryokan

Traditional Japanese style inns with Japanese style rooms whereby you sleep on rollout futons on the floor, giving you the opportunity to experience a traditional Japanese lifestyle. They have large rooms where you can fit the whole family, no problem.

Minshuku

Japanese style “bed and breakfast” lodgings. They are usually family run, and offer Japanese style rooms.

Japanese Apartments and Houses

Increasingly popular, but this is still a relatively rare type of accommodation to find for a family. They are entire apartments or houses offered to foreign tourists for short term stays to experience a true everyday lifestyle.

Western Style

Western Style Hotels

If booking a twin room for a family, you need to be careful that it is an interconnecting room. Otherwise, you may find yourselves on two separate floors.

Hostels and Dormitories

Offer lodging and meals at the lowest budget level. These have bunk beds and sometimes a private or shared bathroom. These suit a family on tight a budget.

Weekly and Monthly Apartments

Apartments and shared apartments, rented on a weekly or monthly basis (sometimes even on a daily basis), are among the most inexpensive ways of staying in Japan for an extended period.

House Sitting or Swapping

House sits don’t come up in Japan very often, but there are many websites for house swapping. Free accommodation is just one of the benefits.

Plan your Transportation

Train is by far the fastest and most cost effective way to get around Japan. It is recommended that you buy a Japan Rail Pass. It is an investment and only available for tourists to pre-purchase, but we used it to travel to Tokyo and it was available to use on many of the trains we had to catch, covering 70% of the trains in Japan.

There is also the subway as well as buses and taxis. However, we found the trains and subways worked well for us and after two days we were familiar with how the system worked.

7 TOP TIPS FOR CAMPING WITH KIDS

Camping and kids – two words that can go together harmoniously. Right? the joy of camping can lose some of it’s sizzle when things go wrong.

Poor weather, poor preparation and poor attitudes can really put a dampener on a weekend away. We have put together a few helpful hints to ensure nothing but happy memories are made when you embark on your camping adventure with the kids.

1. ANSWERING “ARE WE THERE YET?”

This phrase is inevitable. No matter how many games, books and electronic devices you provide to the little darlings, you will hear this. Accept it. It’s been going on for several generations and it is not going to stop anytime soon. Think pleasant thoughts.

Before the car trip has begun, it’s helpful to have set some expectations about the trip and length of time in the car. Show the kids a map, explain the length of time so the younger ones will understand (we are still two Disney movies away) and slice your road trip into different parts.

2. ENCOURAGE CAMPING CHORES

At the campsite (where you have done all of your research, of course and therefore know what facilities are on offer), try to get the children to “help set up the campsite”, by giving them easy tasks to do. Setting up an area for their toys and putting out the foldable camping chairs are easy tasks to keep little fingers busy. 

After set-up, keep them busy with collecting firewood (if allowed), getting fresh water, finding marshmallow roasting sticks and sweeping the outdoor area.

3. PACK SUITABLE RAINY ACTIVITIES

Rain happens. Books, colouring activities, board games and cards are a good stand-by items. LEGO and puzzles are not as good as all those tiny pieces can go missing. Keep electronic devices on stand-by, in the event of seriously poor weather only. If it’s nice outside, the electronic devices stay hidden.

4. GIVE EACH CHILD THEIR OWN BACKPACK

Fill this with essential items such as a headlamp, water bottle, tissues, sunscreen, repellent and snacks. You may also like to include a whistle so if they get lost or wander too far, they can use it to advise of their location. Their involvement in packing this bag prior to the camping trip is a good way to get them interested in the trip and take a little bit of responsibility for their own belongings.

5. ALWAYS PACK EXTRA CLOTHING

Just in case. The trip where you don’t pack enough clothes is the one where it will rain, or your children will fall into the creek the moment they arrive at the campsite. Bring along clothes suited to the location you are visiting, plus plan for accidents, change of weather and dirt.

6. TEACH THEM CAMP COURTESY AND SAFETY

Some basic rules include:

• Don’t run through people’s campsites. Go around them.
• Be quiet early in the morning. Not everyone wakes with the birds.
• It is not polite to impose yourself upon other campers when they are eating. Take the hint and return to your family at mealtimes.

7. USE THIS CAMPING TRIP AS A GREAT ADVENTURE FOR ALL

Camping is all about creating memories that you and your children will cherish for years to come. There are lots of new sights to explore and new experiences to enjoy. Prepare meals together, take day hikes to see animals in natural habitats, collect unique plant clippings to bring back to the campsite, jump into the freezing cold creek water, roast marshmallows and tell ghost stories around the fire and spend time together as a family.

We often don’t realise how busy life can get. Research has shown that being outdoors promotes happiness, health and helps with cognitive development in children. And nothing beats escaping your strict schedules (even if it’s just once a year or for a sneaky weekend away) and spending time with your family outside of the home.

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THE SCARY TRUTH ABOUT TECHNOLOGY AND OUR KIDS

As technology rapidly infiltrates our lives, many believe we are in danger of raising a generation of overweight and unmotivated children who have no concept of how to play creatively.
According to mother of three, Teresa Johnson, the overuse of technology is already affecting many children’s ability to socially interact with their peers.
“You have to wonder what is wrong when you organise a play date and kids as young as 2 yrs old refuse to play with your children because they would rather play Xbox or their iPad,” she says. “I don’t see a problem with older children using technology in moderation, but some of the kids I have seen are not even toilet trained, yet they know how to search YouTube and show little interest in normal kid’s games such as ‘hide and seek’ or ‘tiggy’.”
On the other hand, Jacinta Riley is proud of the fact that her 3-year-old daughter is already computer literate.
“Provided you monitor their usage and have all the appropriate safety software in place there’s really no reason to hold them back,” she says.
“There’s no avoiding it these days, so it’s important to be educated as a parent, so you can foresee any possible dangers.”
And in terms of using electronic devices to keep children occupied, Jacinta believes it’s no different from handing them a colouring book and pencils. “There are times when it’s simply unavoidable,” she says. “I’d much rather give my child an iPad for half an hour than suffer the consequences. It’s not only disruptive to me, it also inconveniences other people when children are constantly whinging and throwing tantrums around them.”
In addition to the social implications, perhaps the most important factor to consider when introducing a child to technology is safety. Not only do we as parents need to consider the exposure to inappropriate imagery, we also need to be aware that the earlier a child becomes accustomed to social media the sooner they are potentially at risk of anti-social behaviour such as cyber bullying.

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Now with recent surveys revealing that Australian children are amongst the youngest and most prolific internet users in the world, It’s more important than ever to be well informed.
According to recent study, AUkids Online, the average Australian child starts using the internet at just 8 years of age – making them amongst the youngest in the 26-nation survey.
In addition to this, a report released by Senator Stephen Conroy titled ‘Tweens, Teens and Technology Report’, revealed that children are adopting technology much faster than expected. In fact, 67% of tweens (children ages 8 to 12) currently use a social media site while more alarmingly, 13% have admitted being “friends” with people they don’t actually know online.
Like everything in life, technology requires balance. While it’s important for children to be educated and entertained – there has to be limits. We also need to ensure that in our quest for a minute’s peace, we aren’t depriving them of the opportunity to learn those old fashioned virtues such as courtesy, patience and self-reliance.
For more information on the “Tweens, Teens and Technology Report” visit: www.mcafeecybered.com/cybered