30 Parenting Resources We Can’t Live Without
Parenting: it’s challenging, rewarding, and sometimes? Just plain bewildering. But somewhere along the way, we’ve all picked up little gems of information and pure nuggets of genius that have somehow made a difference to our lives.
We’ve gathered our favourite Australian bloggers and asked them to share their best parenting resources with us – from tots to tweens. Introducing:
Lexi Kentmann, the blogger behind PottyMouthMama and mum to a 10-year-old boy (‘The Doctor’) and a seven-year-old girl (‘Tiny’).
Jen Bishop, the publisher of Interiors Addict, and new mum to 12-week-old Sebastian.
Clare Hillier, the blogger behind Checks and Spots and mum to 10-year-old Alfie and three-year-old Mabel.
Steph Bond, the publisher of Bondville, an Australian design blog for kids, and mum to two girls, aged five and seven (‘almost eight’).
We hope you find a good gem or two that your children will love, and some tips that will help make your life run a little smoother. Let’s go!
1. Quirky Kid Shoppe
Don’t let the title put you off. Whether you have a ‘quirky kid’ or not (don’t all kids have their own quirks?), this is a brilliant shop with a curated line-up of therapeutic resources for kids’ social, emotional and behavioural issues. – Rebecca Lowrey Boyd from We Are Scout
2. Tiny Tots in Brisbane
Living in both Brisbane and Sydney with little ones, I was so impressed with the quality and development that my girls received from community playgroups. In Brisbane, the Lang Park PCYC runs an exceptional Tiny Tots program for little ones including music and soft-play. – Steph Bond from Bondville
Featuring the delightful illustrations of Charley Harper, this is a beautiful take on an old favourite. It’s also a fun way to practice focus, concentration and memory with your rug rats! – Clare Hillier from Checks and Spots
4. The Children’s Bookshop in Beecroft
This is one of the best bookshops in Sydney, and I can say that comfortably because I frequent many. The name really says it all, but the staff are second to none in: knowing the latest and greatest reads, and being able to recommend books to suit your child’s interests and reading levels.
This has been incredible given both my children have voracious reading appetites, for which I have no guilt for indulging. It’s a great place to spend a Saturday morning – and later head to Chicken and Fishhead for a coffee/milkshake to flick through your new purchases. – Lexi Kentmann from Pottymouth Mama
Friendships can be a tricky thing to navigate sometimes. GirlPower & GoodGuys workshops empower tweens with the skills, language, and self-confidence to be better friends and develop healthier friendships. For girls and boys in grades 1 to 6 – Lisa Tilse from We Are Scout
6. Save the Date to Vaccinate App
As well as obviously being a great reminder about important vaccinations, Save the Date to Vaccinate, released by NSW Ministry of Health, also has some lovely lullabies on it which help get my baby off to sleep if we are out and about and he is cranky! – Jen Bishop from Interiors Addict
We are completely smitten with Discovery Kids. The TV shows are beautifully-produced and full of inspiring information about animals and the world. Finding Stuff Out with host Harrison is particularly good and covers all areas of science and the environment. It’s bang-on target market for our five and seven-year-old. – Steph
My four-year-old isn’t quite ready for Anorak magazine, but it’s the kind of kids’ mag I wish I had the brains (and balls) to launch back in my kids’ magazine editing heyday. This design-led magazine features puzzles, stories and loads of fun activities. – Rebecca
Having family living overseas, we have made annual trips to the US and Canada since the girls were born. Yes, the plane trip is challenging, but both of my girls are growing up truly understanding that the world is larger than the small bubble we live in, and to appreciate and wonder at the differences and similarities of the lives our own family lives. I hope this instills a life-long love of travel. – Steph
10. Parenting Ideas by Michael Grose and Steve Biddulph
These are my home boys. If I hit a tricky bit in my parenting adventure, I usually turn to reading Michael Grose or Steve Biddulph books. Real, really good, and relevant, they both share practical ideas and solutions to everyday parenting woes. I couldn’t recommend them highly enough – they’ve really helped my navigate my way through tricky periods, and be on the front foot to know what to expect next. – Lexi
11. Kids in Mind
Kids-in-mind.com is my go-to resource whenever we are considering going to the movies, or renting a DVD. It’s not a movie review site in the traditional subjective sense, but rather a very detailed and objective guide which enables parents to make the decision if a movie will be suitable for their individual child(ren).
Together with a brief story outline, there is a list of discussion topics together with the key message for each film. Movies have individual ratings for sex and nudity, violence and gore, and profanity – and every example is listed, however innocuous they may seem to some. The value in this website is that you can base your decision of the suitability of a movie for your family on your own standards, ethics and morals, rather than relying on someone elses’. – Lisa
If your pre-schooler loves playing with apps on your iPad, Breathe, Think, Do is a brilliant resource that’s part of Sesame Street’s Little Children, Big Challenges initiative. This is a great app for building emotional intelligence, and teaches your child breathing techniques for self-control, how to solve problems, and how to persist with tasks. All the good stuff! – Rebecca
Our son, Alfie, draws morning, noon and night. This book is one of his faves as it breaks down the basics of drawing and cartooning with 501 quick sketches. – Clare
14. Play Session at North Sydney Institute of TAFE
In Sydney, the North Sydney Institute of TAFE Crows Nest campus operates an incredible play session with childcare workers-in-training that gave my girls access to all sorts of crafts and activities as well as a fabulous playground. This play session, along with Tiny Tots in Brisbane, were both extremely inexpensive and gave my girls amazing experiences. – Steph
15. Dot magazine
A relatively new launch by the makers of Anorak, this is a creative mag for pre-schoolers. Each issue of Dot has a special theme and features beautifully-illustrated stories, games and activities. A nice alternative to commercial mainstream magazines filled with licensed characters. – Rebecca
Both of my girls have had a keen interest in cooking and have baked with me in the kitchen standing on stools since they were tots. Having child-sized aprons, their own mini whisks and using measuring spoons and mixing bowls makes them feel like they are cooking independently. – Steph
17. Lammily Doll
We’re not professional musicians, but we have always had a corner of our home filled with a pile of instruments (drums, maracas, tambourines, sticks, mouth organs, recorders, keyboard, ukuleles, and more) that the kids can pick up and play at any time. My husband plays his guitar a lot, and we are always singing, and sometimes I even bust out my trumpet. It’s great for impromptu performances when friends come over too. – Steph
19. ‘When I’m Feeling’ book series by Trace Moroney
The When I’m Feeling series of books by Trace Moroney is championed by child psychologists and helps pre-schoolers better understand and manage their feelings, as well as building self-esteem. – Rebecca
20. Child-friendly Cafes
They are more common these days, but a good child-friendly cafe can be good for mind, body and soul. Getting out and about with the smalls is really important to me, so we have a few favourites. It’s a great opportunity to practise manners, to socialise in public, to try different food and cultivate an interest in food (and hopefully cooking).
Some of my favourites include: Chicken and Fishhead (Beecroft), The Greens (North Sydney), our local Chinese restaurant – where it doesn’t matter if you’re messy, because it just is! and Via Napoli (Lane Cove) – the 1-metre long pizzas are fun, the Italian staff are warm and welcoming, and the buzz is always fun. – Lexi
21. A Mighty Girl
As a mum to a little boy, I thought this website wouldn’t be relevant for us. But when I was looking for sex ed books for pre-schoolers, a friend steered me in the direction of A Mighty Girl. It’s a fantastic resource for the best books, toys and music for kids of both genders. – Rebecca
22. Feed Baby App
23. Miniland Baby Dolls
If you’re looking for the best first baby doll for both boys and girls, these educational dolls are amazing. They’re anatomically correct and have well-defined facial features representative of different races. They can be bathed and are a great starting point for talking about bodies, gender, private parts and difference. Available at Oliver’s Twisty Tales and Zanui –Rebecca
24. Common Sense Media website
We use this excellent website to help us navigate and determine age-appropriate movies. We hope the excitement of going to the cinema and the tradition of making homemade popcorn and snuggling up on the couch with family and friends will stay with them. – Steph
25. Sex education books for pre-schoolers
When my four-year-old started asking questions like, ‘How do eggs turn into babies?’, I wanted to give him the correct age-appropriate answers. No avoidance, distraction or silly stork stories for us! My research into the best sex-education books for pre-schoolers led me to Amazing You, which addresses the difference between boys’ and girls’ bodies and reproduction, without going into the mechanics of sex.
But when he starts asking more direct questions about sex, I’ve got What Makes a Baby on standby. It’s an utterly modern book about sex and reproduction for all kinds of families, regardless of how many people were involved, their orientation, gender and other identity, or family composition. New reproductive technologies addressed, as well as adoption and surrogates. – Rebecca
26. Classic Musicals
We love watching movies with our girls and have prioritised the musical classics – the original Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory and Annie, The Sound Of Music, Mary Poppins, The Muppets Movie, to name a few. – Steph
27. Bellaboo Skincare
Roxy and I have discovered this great brand of Australian skincare for tween and teen girls. The ingredients are safe, high quality natural and sustainable, and Bellaboo promotes a positive self-image. – Lisa
I’ve found that having a selection of fun cookbooks aimed at kids inspires discussion around cooking, even if they are full of sweet treats; they love the very girly, very pink Cupcake Book For Girls (Icewater Press), Fairies Cookbook (Gibbs Smith) and Cupcake Greeting Cards (Kingsford Editions), but by far the favourite is Frankie magazine’s Afternoon Tea book (not just for kids!). Not a day goes by that the girls aren’t flipping through the pages at the kitchen counter. – Steph
29. Girl Stuff by Kaz Cooke
30. Australian Geographic shop
Australian Geographic is a one-stop shop for imaginative and instructive gifts that stimulate curious minds of all ages. From astronomy to geography, nature and geology, science, weather, gadgets and games – educational and non-gender-specific gifts tick all the boxes. – Lisa
Tell us: do you have a favourite parenting resource that you couldn’t live without? Share your top tips in the comments below and we’ll build a mega go-to list!