Helping kids reach their full potential

Helping kids reach their full potential SSISAWhen I read posts about investing in your children, I usually assume it’s to do with a financial plan for education. However, investing in the future of your children also involves their health and well-being. It doesn’t involve money or savings accounts, but has lifelong effects and the best thing you can do for your child. The Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA) is interested in promoting the health and wellness of all South Africans. One of their new areas of interest is how parents can promote the health of their kid’s – particularly physical activity, screen time and sleep. They share their top three recommendations for parents on helping kids reach their full potential. SSISA would also love to hear your success stories about how you get your kids active, put health boundaries on screen time, and make sure they get enough sleep. If you share your stories, you can also stand a chance to win a membership to their Kids on the Move programme. Entry details below.Helping kids reach their full potential SSISA

Moving more

Physical activity plays a vital role in children’s health and well-being, and has a wide range of benefits for not only their physical health – helping to maintain a healthy weight and reduce risk for diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease – but for their mental health as well. Kids who are more physically active have been shown to have better self-esteem; less stress, anxiety and depression; and improved cognitive and academic outcomes.

Physical activity is not just sport and physical education at school, but includes other activities like walking (for example, to school, or on a family outing) and active play. Research consistently shows that children who spend more time outdoors are more physically active, so whenever possible, encourage kids to be out rather than in. The evidence also shows that children who are more active when they are young stay active through childhood and into adolescence, and often into adulthood as well. So it is important to get kids active early, so they can enjoy the benefits later in life as well.

What is recommended

Children who are of school-going age (6-18 years) should be getting at least 1 hour of physical activity every day in order to realise these benefits. This should include activity that is intense enough to get them to sweat and breathe hard, although activity of a lighter intensity is also good for them if it means less time sitting. Younger children (3-6 years) should be active for at least 3 hours per day, and this can be activity of any intensity.

The lure of the screen

In contrast to the benefits of physical activity, lots of time in front of screens has been shown to have a number of negative consequences for kids, which is a sobering thought in this era of ubiquitous screen-based technology. Research shows that kids who spend more time on screens will be more likely to be overweight, and have unhealthy eating behaviours, such as eating less fruit and vegetables, consuming more fast food and fizzy drinks, and skipping breakfast.

Kids with higher levels of screen time are also more likely to score more poorly in things related to their cognitive development and academic performance, including attention, maths scores, reading and language comprehension. High screen time is also associated with a wide range of unpleasant mental health outcomes amongst children and adolescents: increased anxiety, social dysfunction and depression; low self-esteem; school disconnectedness; unfavourable behavioural conduct; and difficulties connecting with parents and peers.

What is recommended

The general limit for daily screen time is not more than 2 hours per day for school-going children, while some recommend not more than 1 hour for preschool children. For children under 2 years, the advice is no screen time at all. Similar to physical activity, screen time behaviours tend to stick from childhood into adolescence and adults, so limiting these behaviours from an early age is essential.

Getting enough z’s

The importance of sleep for the health and well-being of kids is becoming an increasingly hot topic in research, and has been shown to be associated with healthier weight, better emotional regulation, academic achievement, and improved quality of life for youth. Lack of sleep is particularly detrimental to adolescents, and inadequate sleep in this age group has been linked to higher levels of depression, anxiety and pain; low self-esteem, social support and life satisfaction; decreased academic achievement; a greater chance of engaging in future risky behaviour; as well as attention difficulties, withdrawal, tiredness, and aggression. Screen time is a sleep thief – it not only takes up sleep time, but it also displaces behaviours that help with sleep, such as physical activity, and it exposes kids to artificial light that negatively affects their body’s sleep system.

What is recommended

While there are a number of different recommendations for kids’ sleep, the guidelines are generally around 10-13 hours of sleep per night for 3-6 year olds, 9-11 hours for 6-13 year olds, and 8-10 hours for 14-17 year olds.

All of these health behaviours, along with a healthy diet, help to set kids up for a future in which they are physically and mentally health, emotionally and socially adjusted, and prepared to do well at school.

Sports Science Institute of South Africa

The Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA) would love to hear your success stories about how you get your kids active, put health boundaries on screen time, and make sure they get enough sleep. With your permission, these stories will be included in online material that SSISA is putting together, and may be used on their social media platforms, either with your name, or with a pseudonym.

If you would like your story to be included in a lucky draw, please comment below before Monday, 27 February 2017. Your email address will only be used for the lucky draw, and won’t be used with the story. Up for grabs is a one term membership at the Cape Town SSISA Kidz on the Move programme (2 days per week, 4-5pm Mon-Thurs), valued at R1030, which includes an assessment.

For more information about SSISA, visit their website and if you have any questions about what we offer for kids, email

This post is not sponsored. Information provided by the Sports Science Institute of SA (SSISA). Graphic is my own.


Date night at home and a Valentine’s Day gift for under R200

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ShowMaxIs this year going past quickly, or is it just me? It’s already February and that means it is Valentine’s Day coming up very soon. We don’t make a big deal about Valentine’s Day. Well, my husband doesn’t because he isn’t a fan of the commercialisation of the holiday. I, however, like the idea of setting aside a day where you show each other some love in your own special way. As long as both partners are happy and don’t feel pressured by unreasonable expectations of gifts, I think it’s up to each couple to celebrate the occasion how they like.

ShowMaxOnce you have kids though, your expectation of date night is a takeaway and an evening spent on the couch watching anything other than kid’s shows. The takeaway will also mostly likely be cold, as it took you an extra hour to get the kids to sleep as they suspected something was up when you tried, and failed, to shower at 5pm and dress in clean clothes. You don’t mind though, because you would rather be cuddled up at home than have to use your last bit of energy going out or arranging a babysitter. That’s how we feel anyway, and so here is my choice of Valentine’s Day gift for him/her for under R200. A blanket + ShowMax voucher + popcorn + bucket. Add in your favourite drinks, and you have a relaxed Valentine’s Day evening all planned out. If you don’t already know how to set up ShowMax, please read by easy guide on how it works.

ShowMaxNow that you have ShowMax, you need to select your pick of romantic movies and series to watch. Going through all the options, it’s hard to choose just a few of my favourites to share. There is something for everyone, and many of these movies are old favourites. One of the funniest movies is What to Expect When You’re Expecting. It has a fantastic cast who explore the funny side of pregnancy and how life changes when you start a family. If I had to pick just one to watch, that would be it. I may have to debate the movie choice with my hubby, who also likes Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Chasing Mavericks. Have a happy Valentine’s Day cuddling up to your loved one!


Green your home and win with Faithful to Nature

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Going green in your home is easy when you have a fantastic online store like Faithful to Nature. They sell a wide range of food, beauty and home products which are guaranteed to be good for your family and the environment. Being a Cape Town based company, I have received my orders quickly and they always have great specials. They are running a massive giveaway worth R16 000 which you should enter if you want any of these energy saving products. I own a few of these products and you can read my review of the Spindel and the Wonderbag is great for cooking and keeping drinks chilled. I’ve got my eye on the Solar Kit and water filtration system, and would like to investigate the Bokashi Food Waste Bin. Simple changes in the home, can make a big difference long term. So go ahead and enter before the giveaway closes on 13 February – fingers crossed!

Faith to Nature Green your home competitionFaith to Nature Green your home competition


Everything you need to know about ShowMax

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Guide to ShowMax My hubby is into IT and knows his way around computers, devices and the internet. It’s his job. So whenever I need to set anything up, I usually hand it to him and listen to whatever instructions I need to follow once it’s all set to go. He was the one excited when ShowMax announced their launch and signed up to the online subscription service the day it became available. After he explained ShowMax offered series and movies on-demand – without adverts – I was sold on the idea too. Most importantly, for an affordable monthly subscription we could watch the latest international shows, legally (we don’t do illegal downloads and recommend you don’t do either).

When we set up ShowMax, my hubby assured me it would be easy and that I could do it too. He even showed me how to do it myself (so I wouldn’t keep asking him for help, I’m guessing). Here’s my easy guide to using ShowMax and answers to my questions when signing up:

How to get started with ShowMax

ShowMax offers over 20 000 episodes of local and international series and movies for the whole family. Watch online, on-demand at home or on the go, from your smartphone, tablet, laptop or smart TV. Follow these 3 steps to get started:

Step 1: Get a subscription
Step 2: Internet Access
Step 3: Set up your devices

Step 1: Get a subscription

Guide to ShowMax

What’s the cost? R99 per month. Get a free 14 day trial when signing up for recurring billing.

Where do I sign up? You can sign up and subscribe on the ShowMax website.

How do I pay? You are spoilt for choice as ShowMax keep making it easier to sign up. Choose whichever option suits you best and follow the links on their website to buy your vouchers.

  • Credit card: MasterCard and Visa
  • ShowMax vouchers: available at selected Pick n Pay and CNA stores, Game, Makro, HiFi Corp and Incredible Connection stores.
  • Pick n Pay Smart Shopper
  • FNB eBucks vouchers
  • Standard Bank UCount Vouchers
  • ABSA Rewards Vouchers
  • Add to your MWEB account
  • Add to your DStv Account via debit order
  • Add to your Telkom account
  • Add to your Vodacom bill
  • PayPal

Can I cancel? Yes, anytime. There are no fixed contracts or penalties. You will still have access to ShowMax for the remainder of the month that you have paid for.

Step 2: Internet access

Besides your monthly subscription fee, you will need to pay for data. How much you spend will depend on your usage and video quality. ShowMax have created a data usage calculator, so you can work out how much this could cost you. This video shows you have to cap your bandwidth to limit data use under the app settings menu, if needed. You should have a minimum speed of 2 megabits per second though an uncapped 4Mbps connection or faster is recommended for the best experience.

Step 3: Set up your devices

Guide to ShowMaxWhich devices can I use? ShowMax works on laptops (via web browsers), smartphones (via app), tablets, Apple TV (4th Generation), Smart TVs  and via AirPlay. Go to your device’s app store, download and sign in to the ShowMax app.

Can I use ShowMax on multiple devices? Your subscription allows you to watch on 2 devices simultaneously on up to 5 registered devices.

What’s currently showing on ShowMax? If you want to know about more the latest series and movies on ShowMax, please visit and Like their Facebook page.


Party gifts for charity and celebrating Paige’s 5th birthday

Donations as party gifts The Mommy CityMy little girl turned 5! To celebrate her big day and the fact that she can hold up all 5 fingers on one hand to show her age, we threw a party with close family and friends. Paige now understands the concepts of parties and logged a request for a mermaid party a few months back. She is also a very lucky girl in that she doesn’t want for anything, and often receives a new toy and gift. I had her presents all ready for her birthday and so did the grannies, and knew she was going to be sufficiently spoilt on her big day. So we decided that on her party invitations, we would ask for a charitable donation in lieu of gifts. This decision may be controversial for some, but here are my reasons for asking for a charitable donation at my child’s birthday party.

Two weeks before the party, I took the kids to our local animal welfare to meet the dogs and cats. I explained to Paige that for her birthday, we would ask her friends for pet food so we could feed the animals. It was agreed that the dogs were noisy, but the cats were really cute. I then had to decide on the wording for the invite. As I was inviting close friends and family, I felt confident that they would be understanding of my request and were all animal lovers. Even so, it took some time before deciding on asking for “No gifts please. Donations of cat/dog food for animal welfare welcome”.

At the party, Paige was understanding and received the donations in good spirit, but loved opening her own presents even more. She is still young, and a balance needs to be struck between learning to give and receive. She did enjoy taking the food to the shelter and seeing all the dogs and cats again. Once again, consensus between Paige and Ethan was that the dogs were still too noisy, but playing with the kittens was the best. Staff at the animal welfare were very grateful for the donation, and their Facebook post thanking Paige had a great response. I hope to make this a birthday tradition, and encourage the children to select a charity of their choice each year. If you would like to do the same, I share some ideas and suggestions on how to make it fun for everyone.

Suggested charities and organisations:

  • Animal welfare organisations are always in need of food, bedding and toys
  • Fire departments need bottled water, energy bars and drinks, chocolates, and sunscreen
  • Child welfare organisations need clothing, bedding, toys and toiletries
  • Local creches and schools need stationery, toys, soap and toilet paper
  • Libraries and schools welcome donations of books for learning

Party tips:

  • Give your child a choice of local charities in your area to choose from.
  • Incorporate your chosen charity into the theme e.g. a Fireman party. For older children, let them build or make items which can be donated e.g. dog kennels or colourful posters for classrooms.
  • Visit the charity before and after the party, so your child can learn about where the gifts are going and how they will be used.
  • Start the tradition for all family birthdays and occasions.

How to ask for donations:

  • Make it a choice. Some guests may prefer to give a gift of toys or clothes rather than a donation. Always be gracious and appreciative of any gift received.
  • Choose a charity that your friends and family would support. Be understanding that not everyone may support the same cause and would prefer not to make a donation.
  • Don’t ask for cash. I like to bring a gift to a party, and my children like to hand over the present to their friends. It’s also rewarding to pile the donations up for everyone to see and appreciate. If guests offer a cash donation, assure them that it will be going to the charity.
  • Send a thank you message with a photo of the donations. Paige was thanked on the charity’s Facebook page and I sent the image to all her friends and family at the party so they could see that their gifts were donated.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and suggestions on asking for donations instead of gifts at parties.


Back to school with educational shows on ShowMax

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With much excitement, Paige and Ethan started their new preschool this week. It has been a long holiday for us, especially with moving and all the festive celebrations. So I was all smiles as the kids happily followed their teachers to their classrooms and playground, safe in the knowledge that they would have a blast whilst I had my mornings back to work. Now that the school term has started, we are getting into learning mode and it’s so interesting to watch how quickly they pick up new words and skills. They are getting too big!

As we are back to school, I have chosen my top picks of the many educational TV shows available on ShowMax. ShowMax is an online subscription service that allows you to watch load of movies, series and kids shows from any device as long as you have an internet connection. You can stream or download them, so you can watch them anytime. This comes in handy if your kids have to wait with you for siblings to finish school or extra mural activities.

My top picks from ShowMax:

Monster Maths Squad on ShowMax

Monster Math Squad

Max, Lily and Goo make up the Monster Math Squad who uses their collective math skills to overcome any obstacle they face. The scream screen always surprises Goo when a monster is in need and asks the squad for their help to solve a problem. Language: English.

Why your teacher will love it:

The monster friends are relatable to children as they don’t pretend to be the biggest, bravest or brainiest. They like to work together as a team to solve the problems, and aren’t afraid to ask for help.

Why your kids will love it:

Monsters (but not the scary kind) teach concepts such as numbers, weight and measurements through fun animation and scenes. They will love the bright monster world and helping Max, Lily and Goo solve the problems with the help of a maths monitor. The catchy theme tune will also have mom singing along.

Pirates: Adventures in Art

Pirates: Adventures in Art

Imagine a world of grey. No colour, no art and everything the same. That’s what Queen Conformia wants unless Princess Cleo, Pirate Leonardo and shipmates Fresco and Skelly can stop it. Join the mates, create something great, and sail along with the pirates. Language: English.

Why your teacher will love it:

Aimed at preschool kids, this show explores art through the ages and how the main characters can use their creativity to solve problems during their adventures.

Why your kids will love it:

Colourful characters, singing and a talking gecko will keep them entertained whilst learning about portraits, collage and cubism. Let’s not forget that they are pirates!


Hopla on ShowMax

Hip, Hop, Flip and Flop are four rabbits which play along with their friends, learning about colours, shapes and numbers. Set on a white background, these four animated furry friends hop around and take instruction from the narrator. Language: Afrikaans

 Why your teacher will love it:

Kids are taught basic principles of colours, shapes and numbers through the use of flash cards, dance routines and visual references. The plain background allows for the kids to focus on the central characters without distractions. Episodes are 12 minutes each.

Why your kids will love it:

Younger children will love the hopping bunnies, the friendly narrator and the voices of the children who learn along with Hip, Hop, Flip and Flop.

Super Why

Super Why on ShowMax

These super fairytale friends of Storybrook Village have a book club with a difference. Whenever there is a question or a problem, Whyatt calls together his friends to their secret clubhouse, to use their literacy powers to jump into a book to find the answers. Alpha Pig has “Alphabet Power,” Wonder Red has “Word Power,” Princess Presto has “Spelling Power,” Super Why has the “Power to Read,” and Super You has the “Power to Help!”. Language: English.

Why your teacher will love it:

Each story focuses on a popular children’s book, and the Super Readers need to follow along with the storyline to solve the problems. Literacy concepts such as spelling, pronunciation and sentence structure are taught in a fun and inclusive way.

Why your kids will love it:

The kids will love to shout out the answers to our fairytale heroes as they solve the clues with the help of their super powers. With the “Power to Help”, children are encouraged to participate and feel the satisfaction of solving the many problems along the way.

You can stream or download these educational shows on ShowMax for just R99 per month. Sign up for your free 14 day trial now.



Water safety and making a splash this summer

Water safety with Huggies® Little Swimmers® What a wonderful summer we have had so far. There has been lots of sunshine (though we could do with more rainy days) and fun to be had outdoors in the garden, pool and at the beach. Over the season the kids have been slathered in sunscreen, squeezed into sunsuits and topped with hats. Then off to the beach we go for as long as it takes to tire out the kids (and mom) and we are ready to come home for snack and toilet time. At least Ethan still wears Huggies® Little Swimmers® so we don’t have to worry about accidents whilst we are out. The swimming nappies are made from a unique material that does not swell when wet, are a snug fit and has fun Disney graphics, including Finding Nemo and Finding Dory.

Paige and Ethan are still learning to swim, so we have to keep an eye on them anytime we are around water. Even if your children are strong swimmers, you still need to remain vigilant. You just have to read the many sad stories of drowning at home and outdoors over the summer holiday, to be reminded of this.  Huggies® Little Swimmers® shared with us some water safety tips by Sarah’s Swim Academy, based in Craighall Park.

Water safety tips:

  • Be Attentive: never turn your back on a child while they are in or anywhere near water.
  • Arms Reach: always keep a hand on babies and toddlers while in the pool and the bath even strong swimmers under 5 should always be within arm’s reach of an adult.
  • No dunking: never dunk a child under 3 years of age. Younger children can swallow large amounts of water and this could lead to drowning or secondary drowning. This experience might actually increase your child’s fear of swimming.
  • Teach safety basics: teach your child the pool safety basics when s/he’s a toddler. This includes the following rules:
    • Climb in the pool backwards, never climb in forwards or jump in
    • Do not run near the pool and;
    • Never enter the pool or go near water without an adult present
  • Take swimming lessons: if you’re not a swimmer yourself, it’s a good idea to take lessons and learn how to swim to aid your child in the water if necessary. All children should learn how to swim as this can save their lives. Swimming lessons teach children to back float which enables them to call for help if they fall into the pool. Lessons also teach children to reach for a pole or noodle offered to them if ever struggling in the water.
  • Learn CPR: attend a first aid course and know the difference between the types of drowning:

Different types of drowning:

Know the difference between drowning, dry drowning and secondary drowning and what symptoms to look out for.

Dry drowning is a result of breathing in water, which causes your child’s vocal chords to spasm and close after s/he has already left the pool. It closes off his/her airways, making it difficult to breathe. Symptoms of dry drowning usually happen right after the incident in the water.

Secondary drowning occurs where your child’s airways open up, allowing water into his/her lungs where the water builds up. Secondary drowning symptoms generally start later, within 1-24 hours of the incident. Symptoms to look for are:

  • Persistent coughing
  • Rapid shallow breathing, nostril flaring or where you can see the child is working harder to breathe
  • Sleepiness
  • Forgetfulness or change in behaviour
  • Vomiting

Stay safe this summer and enjoy many fun times with the family.

This is not a sponsored post. Information provided by Huggies® Little Swimmers® – Love splash time together. Image my own.