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Keep in touch – Skype

You will discover a whole new world of keeping in touch.

There has been some previous posting on the topic of “keeping in touch”, we thought another good way is to use Skype.  Skype is a software application that allows users to make voice or video calls over the Internet for free.  It is as simple as creating a free account with Skype.  You simply log on, select “Get Skype” from the home page and choose the computer system your using from the drop down menu i.e Windows or Mac?.  Follow the prompts, download and Skype runs a video tests and audio tests and then you are set to go.

Its a good idea to include a set of head phones so that you can chat without the worry of interruption.  Its that easy!

If you can, set up your child with their own Skype profile (It just needs a name and email account only)  Don’t be too worried about the profile info, there are ways you can keep their details private i.e. don’t fill out the profile info.  You can take extra precautions and now it might be a good time to discuss Internet safety.  Some other tips on Internet safety are as follows:

  • Parents should monitor their children while they are utilizing Skype.  If necessary, keep the computer in a common area, like the living room, or if the Skype is only for communication between yourself then you should have no concerns. They should turn it on to accept your Skype and off when you have finished.
  • Discuss “stranger danger” with your children, especially how to avoid contact with strangers online and what to do if one tries to communicate with them on the computer.
  • Make sure your child’s account is protected with a unique, long password that includes a combination of letters numbers, and characters.
  • Update your privacy settings for receiving communications. For a PC, open Skype and click “Tools.” Then go to “Options” and “Privacy.” On a Mac, open Skype and click “Preferences” and then “Privacy.”
  • If you want to keep it as private as possible, leave your profile completely blank.
  • If you think your account may have been compromised, change your Skype password immediately.
  • If a questionable incident occurs (like the one described above), contact your local authorities.  Be sure to save all pertinent information for the police, such as the predator’s user-name, time and date of the incident, and any other details about the conversation itself.

The Equipment

If they have complete access to a computer that’s great, if they don’t, you may be in a position to purchase a small laptop for them with internet access and built in camera are usually standard.  Laptops can be relatively inexpensive these days and a WiFi remote Internet cards are pretty cheap.

Lap-tops can be sourced through Officeworks or JB Hi FI for as little at $350. A wireless WiFi card can be as little as $15 a month through Dodo mobile broadband and if it is only used for your Skyping then that should be completely adequate.  You will be able to set up both your own and your child computer, chat and get approval from their mum to use Skype during the week  and if all is agreed to then it’s the next best thing to being there!

What kids really need from their dads

What kids really need from their dads. A 7 minute sampler of a brilliant 21 minute DVD from The Fathering Project, a University project, aimed at helping fathers and father-figures (such as stepfathers, grandfathers, teachers etc) understand what it is that kids REALLY need from them.  Described by teachers, fathers and psychologists with words such as ‘awesome’, ‘brilliant’, ‘deeply moving’ and ‘should be viewed by EVERY father or father-figure’.
see for details.

Party Sausage Rolls

Grab the kids to help you in the kitchen and make these yummy sausage rolls.
There is nothing better than cooking with kids, its so much fun 🙂

Makes 24

500g sausage mince
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons mustard powder
1 small brown onion, grated
1 medium carrot, peeled, grated
3 sheets frozen puff pastry, partially thawed
Tomato sauce, to serve

Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan-forced. Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper.

Combine mince, tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, breadcrumbs, mustard powder, onion and carrot in a bowl.

Cut each pastry sheet in half. Shape 1/2 cup mince mixture into a sausage shape. Place along 1 long side of 1 pastry half.
Roll up pastry to enclose filling.
Using fingertips, pinch pastry to seal.
Cut into quarters. Place, seam side down, on 1 prepared tray, 5mm apart. Repeat with remaining mince mixture and pastry.

Bake for 35 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Serve with tomato sauce.


Cyber Bullying

“Adults use the Internet, but children ‘live’ it”
John Bertrand, Chairman of
The Alannah and Madeline Foundation.

Young people see digital technology – including the Internet, social networking services and mobile phones – as a normal part of their social life and connecting with their friends, as well as sourcing information and for education purposes.

I remember a friend who told me that the primary school where their daughter attended set up an email account for all the students – remember they are primary school aged children!  When the children received their own personal email address they (as young people do) shared passwords! Friends logged into each others email account and sent emails out to their friends saying things like “I hate you” “you are ugly” “I don’t want to be your friend anymore” etc.

How could that school think for a minute that children could handle the responsibility associated with email and understand the consequences of actions like that is beyond me? You have probably guessed that the email accounts were shut down within a week.  Ask your school if they are registering for the program, I certainly will be! If not, what measures are they taking to educate and protect children within their school from Cyber Bullying?

This News update is to let you all know that The Alannah and Madeline Foundation in conjunction with  The Victorian and Queensland State Governments are rolling out a Cyber Bullying education program called “eSmart” for schools.  The uptake of the program has been huge with over 1000 schools signing up within weeks of it being launched.

A little about The Alannah and Madelaine Foundation,  The Centre Against Bullying and eSmart.

The Alannah and Madeline Foundation is a national charity protecting children from violence and its devastating effects.

They care for children who have experienced or witnessed violence and run programs which prevent violence in the lives of children. They play an advocacy role and are a voice against childhood violence.

The National Centre Against Bullying (NCAB) is a peak body working to advise and inform the Australian community on the issue of childhood bullying and the creation of safe schools and communities, including the issue of cybersafety.

NCAB is made up of a number of experts and works closely with school communities, governments and industry. It plays an important role in speaking out for children and advocating for their right to be free from bullying and other forms of violence.

About eSmart

eSmart equips everyone in the school community with the skills and knowledge they need for smart, safe and responsible use of technology.

eSmart helps schools to embed a culture of positive technology use, create policies and procedures, gain access to evidence-informed resources and track their progress in becoming eSmart.  Follow this link to more  information for Parents on eSmart and here for more Information for Schools

“As a parent, I would know that when I enrol my child in an eSmart school, it is a school where cybersafety and bullying are dealt with effectively. The teachers will know how to deal with incidents, children will look out for each other and can safely report bullying. As a parent I would know who to go to if my child was involved in anything risky online.” Dr Judith Slocombe, CEO, The Alannah and Madeline Foundation.
For more information on what Cyber bullying might look like follow this link.

Windy road ahead but keep going

There is at least one common thread amongst us, we are all trying to raise our children and be the best Dad that we can be.  There’s no need to go it alone or feel that it is hopeless or you are a second rate carer compared to their mum.  We know, mums have been paving the way in child care for generations and most of them doing a great job. There is absolutely no reason why we cannot be as competent in all aspects of child care as mums.  I found, you just have to want to!

When thinking about how we can overcome some challenges whilst we take on the most important job that we could ever do – raising children to be good adults.


Remember to look after your health both mentally and physically as we know too well parenting requires both physical and mental effort.

Don’t be the stereotypical male and attempt to go it alone, it’s too hard, there are people you can ask for help, other dads, friends, family and today there is so much information provided online there is no excuse for not knowing – you just have to “Google your questions” may I even suggest to ask your question here, I am sure you will get hundreds of good people wanting to help.

Be kind to yourself and interact with other adults, we all need adult conversation. I remember going on holidays with the kids and by the end of the holiday as much as I loved it, really enjoyed hanging out with some adults when I got home.

If you have lost friends through separation as we all know we do, get involved with a hobby club, walking club, sporting club or some “people” interaction activity, it’s great to just chat.

There is one area that I feel is always a challenge and will post more on this later.  But for now it is “discipline” When we separate we feel we have put our kids through enough change and are reluctant to argue with them or to enforce rules.  The best way forward would be to agree on a basic set of rules with their mother that are enforced in both homes and then stick to them.  They soon get use to them and unhappiness is replaced by routine and happiness returns.  The short term struggle is worth the effort as you are teaching them values, respect and discipline to enable them to step into adulthood knowing what is right and wrong.

Because all our situations are different and there are degrees (more or less) of the above, one thing is for sure, if we are consistently trying to improve our life and our children’s – you will succeed.

Our kids are the main event

I was never allowed to participate in parenting, If I dressed my kids they would be too cold or hot, if I prepared a meal it was too spicy, when I cleaned their room it wasn’t done correctly? Maybe she was right? But that all changed when we separated.

It became my time to engage in parenting and to perform fatherly duties without the aggravation and arguments that came from a bad marriage.  I was able to dedicate time to getting better at all the things supposedly I was doing wrong?

Today I get no criticisms from the kids around how clean the house is (it is clean), what the meals taste like and my overall parenting skills…OMG maybe I got better! I dedicated a lot of time to practicing being a good parent and learning all the skills of being a great dad.   There is a good book called “Wednesday evenings and every other weekend” it has a story around dedicating time to the task of being a good parent.

The story talks about being a responsive parent and to clear your schedule and your mind of everything except your child, I think about this in way of being 100% present when ever you are with them.  It takes practice and even then I am guilty of not achieving 100% all the time.  The book has a good analogy: The circus understands this principle.  There might be three rings, but when the star appeared there was only one center ring – the only part of the big tent that was lit.

Our kids are the main event, the top of the bill, the one you have come to see.  Have you paid for a ticket to the big top?  Absolutely! You have spent thousands to be able to spend time with your child, to say nothing of your emotional investment.  Now sit back and fully enjoy that which you have given so much to see.  This is the V.I.P performance. At this moment you are the only ticket holder. You can find this book at Amazon:  “Wednesday evenings and every other weekend”  a second hand book can cost .12 cents with only $4 shipping, definitely worth a read.

It was my opportunity to parent, I loved showing the world that I was good at it and that dads are as capable and competent as mums.  I didn’t feel like I was missing out anymore,  I loved planning our weekends and including downtime on the couch just hanging out.  I worked hard at putting all the disappointment behind me and concentrated on our main event.

We know that divorce smacks the smile of your face and we feel run over by a semi trailer – No a B double! 🙂 But finding the quickest way to get over it and finding your smile will be the best thing for you and your kids.  If you feel that you are hardly ever present when your kids are with you, it might be worthwhile seeing a physiologist to help you get to a better place so that when the kids are with you they are the main event.  I did a couple of times, it helped me sort out crap and to be more fun with my kids.  There is a good health directory for practitioners in your area if you feel it could help.