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World Smokefree Day. Let’s Stop Kids From Starting.

31 May

World Smokefree Day, that falls every year on May 31 is a chance to celebrate and work towards Smokefree/auahi kore lives for New Zealanders.

It happens to coincide with the release of a Government proposal in which the Ministry of Health have proposed a ‘grandfather’ policy, to progressively prohibit the sale of smoked tobacco products to a new age group each year. It would gradually increase the age of purchase restrictions by one year every year, so eventually it would be illegal to purchase if you’re under 25. Hooray.

The same proposal wants to limit the level of nicotine in cigarettes and put more investment into smoking cessation services. This is great for our future generation. Ask most smokers when they started, and they’ll say, ‘When I was a kid.’ And none of those kids realised they could get addicted to nicotine within days of first using it. Why? Because when they smoke, the nicotine goes to their brain. In 10 seconds. Straight to the part that controls feelings of pleasure and releases dopamine, a chemical that tricks them into thinking a cigarette equals pleasure. Then within a few minutes, the pleasure is gone, and the craving for a cigarette begins a new cycle.

There is no better time than now to really wake up to the fact that smoking around kids influences them to smoke, and is harmful for their health. Kids don’t always have the choice or ability to be able to get away from the toxic poisons of second and third hand smoke. You do. You can quit. You can do it. With a plan and behavioural support, it’s easier. If you’re over ok and smoke could it be good to consider vaping? Vaping isn’t smoking. It’s a MOH recommended, humane and harm reduction pathway to help you quit cigarettes. It delivers a controlled dose of nicotine with 95% less toxins than burning tobacco. You get to stay social, spend less, smell better, and satisfy both the cravings and the hand to mouth habit. Don’t vape if you don’t already smoke.

Here’s the thing. Kids learn from what they see, more than from what you say. Kids who have friends and whanau that smoke are more likely to become smokers. That’s one of the reasons why the new proposal wants to restrict the sale of tobacco products. To get them out of the 5000 to 8000 places kids can see them, to 5% of that. To get them into R18 specialist stores. I’m all for it. Let’s get cigarettes out of sight, out of mind and out of reach.

Stopping kids from starting to smoke is the best form of protection. I would like to see proposed ad and social media campaigns include a harder hitting style of delivery about the harmful health realities of smoking, the risks, the dangers, the costs, to shock and influence kids to be non consumers. I loved that stuff when I was kid. It made me want to quote the facts and figures and write speeches and debate about it.

How many kids really know that there are 4000 chemicals in cigarette smoke, and that 60 of those can cause cancer? Or that every cigarette smoked harms nearly every organ and system in our body? Or that in NZ about 13 unlucky people die every day from smoking related diseases? Or that cigarettes contain arsenic which is used for rat poison? Perhaps funding for documentaries and competitions that creatively involve our youth would help us raise Smokefree eco and wellbeing warriors?

(Photo credit. Laura Garcia.)

Calm is a Superpower.

9 Apr

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If someone is baiting you to argue, don’t take the hook. Swim around and find a calm, creative response rather than a reaction. – Leanne French. Secret 59 from Fairytale Love – How to Love Happily Ever After.

Someone’s got to do it, so why not you?

  • Don’t jump to the conclusion that what’s going on has to be about you.
  • Stay focused on content that makes sense, and try to ignore emotional outbursts.
  • Be willing to check whether they are stressed or tired, and ask how you could make things better.
  • Change the mood of the conversation and trick them into escaping.

We control how we respond.

When we take our time to go within we can respond to the same event with annoyance or anger, or we can search for a more thoughtful way to respond with peace and calmness. Continue reading

The Wild Calms A Child.

4 Apr

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Our backyards are a natural source of wonder, with no electrical sockets in sight.

Gather up your child/children. Make sure to ask their imaginary friends to join you in the backyard, otherwise known as the wild, where you can

  • run faster
  • jump higher
  • squeal louder
  • lay out a blanket to read fairytales
  • paint rocks
  • search for frog princes
  • draw with chalk
  • make a walnut bed for Thumbelina
  • bug hunt
  • chase butterflies
  • make play dough food for a pretend picnic
  • find shapes in the clouds
  • plant a magic beanstalk
  • go on a scavenger hunt
  • create a sellotape nature bracelet

…and my favourite of all, make a magic petal potion where you gather, mash, mix, stir and sniff and turn into any creature you wish.

Let the wild rumpus begin!

(Thanks again to Libby Clews – doesn’t she just have the cutest carnivore kid in town? And to my beloved Wolfie for creating my day by day images.)

Imagination Can Take You Anywhere.

2 Apr

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Join them in their world when they’re little, so you’ll be welcome in their world when they get big. – L. R. Knost.

Thanks to Libby Clews for her “paper bag head child” inspiration, and my beloved Wolfie for making my day by day images x

50 Reflective End of Year Family Questions.

3 Dec

How about introducing a new self reflective ritual into your family? As the year winds down it’s the perfect time to choose an evening or afternoon to gather together and consider things like: How was the past year? What worked and what did not work so well? What do I want to create in the year to come? 

Set the scene, make some popcorn, pour your drinks, ditch all interruptions and distractions and choose one person to ask the questions. Each one of you gets to answer one question as best as you can, without discussion, feedback, justification or defence, and then you move onto the next question. The rules are to listen and speak with Continue reading

Why are Some Homes Predictably Unpredictable?

27 Nov

When a parent is addicted to a substance, home life is often tense and unpredictable, and family members may either try to deny the addicts behaviour, make excuses for it, or attempt to control or stop it. For the one choosing to drink or drug, it’s hard to maintain rewarding healthy connections and be emotionally available.

So much time and energy gets gobbled up trying to either recover, obtain, use, and/or try to keep it secret. Addiction messes with mood and sleep and has personal, social, financial, health, relationship and even legal consequences. 

If one or both parents are emotionally or physically unavailable long term, children can develop a fear of abandonment and learn that holding onto toxic relationships is better than being alone. Drinking and/or drugging is also so boring to grow up around. When the “substance” of choice is the priority, the child isn’t, and that reaffirms their sense of  not really being worthy enough to get to know, listen to, learn about or have an in-depth relationship with.

Growing up around addiction, kids have to guess at what normal is. They are more subjected to chaos and Continue reading

Gruesome Twosome.

1 Nov

Zombie nephews. Photo by Hayley French at feijoadesigns.

Zombie nephews. Photo by Hayley French at feijoadesigns.

These two little treasures look iron depleted and could perhaps do with a good feed of spinach from our lush garden, but it’s Halloween and what they are really after is zombie brains and sweets galore.

Luckily their mother doesn’t belong to the fun police and nor is she a religious fanatic, both of which seem to push harder in the media every year to sanitize the darkness of Halloween. Why people continue to say it’s an Continue reading

Raising A Prince.

27 Jul

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magical moments

This week Prince George of Cambridge was born to proud parents William and Kate.  Whilst you and I may not have a child third in line to the throne of England, those of us raising our own prince or princesses know that they, like any lucky parent, are in for an exciting journey of bravery, truth and Continue reading