Sophie Phoon


Mornings are hard! With the help of our readers, we have put together a list of tips and tricks to help your mornings run smoother.

There was a time, before kids, when you could wake up at a leisurely pace, pee in peace, drink your coffee hot, shower as long as you liked and still make it to work on time. Now, you’re lucky if you remember to brush your teeth!

We hear you. If you’re looking for more peace and less fuss in the mornings, check out these tried-and-true tips and tricks from some of our readers.

The Night Before

• Lay out clothes (yours and theirs) the night before.

• Prepare and pack lunches and put them in the fridge to be packed into school bags the next morning.

• Make some grab-n-go breakfasts if you’ve got the time and/or inclination. Muffins and granola bars tend to work really well.

• Get enough sleep. Kids generally need between 10-12 hours at night, while you need 7-8 on average.

Take Care of Yourself First

We cannot recommend this highly enough. Waking up 10-15 minutes earlier than the kids should give you enough time to do the following:

• Drink a big glass of water.

• Get showered and do your hair / make-up.

• Have some coffee (One mum suggests pairing this with some Cadbury’s Chocolate Fingers. We don’t disagree.)

• If you’re feeling extra brave, try waking up an hour earlier to meditate and start the day off right.

Waking Them Up

Try these at your own peril.

• Start the day with a hug. This lets them know they are loved and puts them in a good mood.

• Sing loudly as you’re walking through the house on your way to their room. By the time you arrive, they’ll be wide-awake. Grumpy, sure. But awake!

• For older children, put their alarm at the other side of their room so that they have to get out of bed to turn it off.

• Let older children be responsible for getting themselves up on time. If they’re not ready, then they’ll learn from that.

• If your kid is really upset about going to school, it might be worth talking to their teacher and checking that nothing is going on that you should be concerned about.

Morning Procedure

• Get dressed AFTER having breakfast to avoid having to get changed if there are any accidents or spillages.

• Use a checklist so that they know what they need to do. Little kids who can’t yet read can use picture reminders (toothbrush, clothes, cereal bowl, etc.)

• Parents should be sharing morning duties between them; one getting the kids fed while the other gets them organised/dressed.

• Give yourself more time than you need. If you allocate the time in advance for any accidents, tantrums or spills, you won’t go into panic-mode when they happen.

• Limit time on showers and have an agreement on who will use the bathroom first, while the others have their breakfast.

• No TV in the morning. It’s too much of a distraction, and they won’t want to leave before the end of their show.

Getting Them Out The Door

•  Leave on time, even if they’re not 100% ready. They’ll soon learn to hustle.

• Do a quick tidy-up before you leave. It’ll make coming home in the evening much more restful if you’re walking into a reasonably clean house.

• If they are late because they refused to get out of bed or dawdled in the morning, let them take responsibility and tell the teacher themselves.

The most important thing is to relax. Kids will usually take their cue from you. If you’re stressed out and panicked, chances are they will be too. So, take a deep breath. Things don’t always go the way we plan, and that’s okay.

Mumma, you’re doing fine.

Everyday, the kids walked barefoot amongst the broken glass and shrapnel covering the garbage dump where they lived, until one man intervened.

Rick gritted his teeth as the doctor began to lance his toes apart, one by one.

That old farmer on the side of the road had warned him. He’d taken one look at Rick’s bare feet crisping up in the summer sun and said, “Boy, I don’t let my donkey get out on the road in this heat ‘cause it’ll cripple him. I guess that makes you dumber than a jackass.”

It was Day One of ‘The Walk’. Rick was 32 miles in, with 308 miles left to go.

He managed a second glance at his feet, torn to shreds by the sun-scorched earth on which he had spent the last thirteen hours walking barefoot. It was the kind of burnt tarmac that would melt your thongs if you stood on it too long. Not only had his toes fused together, but his feet were all shades of red and blistered.

The worn-out preacher closed his eyes and sat back to let the doctor finish his work, thinking again about the promise he had made…

“Hey mister,” had come a small voice in Spanish, and a hand pulling on his sleeve. “Can I swap my toy for a pair of shoes?”

The source of the voice, a little boy maybe seven or eight years old, was barefoot amongst the broken glass and scraps of rusted tin that blanketed the garbage dump where they stood.

It was Christmas Day, and Rick and his elves had driven overnight with a carload of toys to reach the northern slums of Mexico. Following a vulture rather than a bright star, they had stumbled upon a dump filled with mountains of garbage that at first glance seemed to move.

But as they got closer, they realised the moving parts were actually people, dozens if not hundreds of ‘garbage pickers’ – men, women and children who rummaged through the trash for something to eat, wear or sell.

The boy stared intently up at him, a shiny green toy truck clutched in his outstretched hands, and at first Rick was surprised – why would any child give up a toy for some shoes? Especially at Christmas! But as he caught a glimpse of the boy’s feet, it made a lot of sense – cut to pieces by the unforgiving terrain, his little feet were bleeding, blistered, swollen and red.

But there had been no shoes left to give him, no money either. So with a broken heart, Rick gave him the only thing he could, “I give you my word – I’ll come back this summer and I’ll bring you some shoes.”

As a high school teacher and a minister, he and his wife could put together the money to buy those shoes, he thought. But fortune seemed to smile on him just a couple of short weeks later as he drove up to a church where he was booked to speak.

“There were so many Jaguars in the parking lot, you could have filmed a Tarzan movie,” Rick recalls. 

Wealthy though they were, the congregation was unmoved by his request for funding – just a few pairs of shoes for the boy and his family.

Finally he managed to convince them to sponsor him 10 pairs of shoes for every mile he walked across his home state of Alabama. There was just one catch – he’d have to do it without any shoes on.

That summer, on the 4th of July, Rick began what he calls his “pilgrimage of a promise” – 547km from east to west, the equivalent of walking across the entire state of Victoria, and he was going to walk it barefoot in the middle of summer, just like his friend down in the dumps in Mexico.

“I zigzagged here and there across the blazing hot ground and I remember burning my feet up, thinking what a dumb idea this is.” He laughs. “This was a dumb idea.”

It was at the end of that first day when Rick had to get his doctor to lance his toes apart after they had welded together in the scorching summer heat. They looked every bit as cut up as the feet of his little Mexican friend.

The next morning, Rick awoke to a nation stirred by the amazing story of a preacher walking barefoot across his home state. The story had been picked up by CNN, ESPN, ABC, NBC – pretty much every major news station in the country.

“My goal was to get 3,400 pairs of shoes for 340 miles,” Rick said. “I ended up that year with 60,000 pairs of shoes, and we went back to Mexico.”

After finding “the little rascal” and his family, they gave shoes to every person in that garbage dump, young and old.

Later, Rick’s organisation bought the dump and converted it into an orphanage, which has since been voted the top orphanage in Mexico.

Since that first year, Rick – often accompanied by his beautiful wife, Kim, and now with his shoes on – has diligently walked across one state every year, sometimes more than one if they’re small enough.

With the help of charitable organisations like Soles4Souls and Roma Boots, they have raised over one million pairs of shoes in the last three decades, and the 60-year-old preacher isn’t stopping anytime soon.

“There’s still one more kid that needs a pair of shoes. There’s still one more mother crying because she can’t put shoes on her children’s feet.”

This year he will walk across his 39th and 40th US states.

“I always ask people, how far will you go to keep your word? So far I’ve walked roughly 25,000 kilometres to keep mine.”

For reference, that’s like walking the entire coastline of Australia almost twice! However, as Rick likes to tell people, you don’t need to walk across the country or even the state to make a difference in your community.

“Just take a step and see where it takes you. You may take a step across the lunchroom and sit down next to the new kid at school. You may take a step at work and talk to somebody that you can tell is going through a tough time.”

He and his wife Kim instil this philosophy of compassion-in-action in their four children, RC, Winchester, Elliot and Dreamer, who regularly join them on the walk as well as their biannual trip to Mexico.

Rick encourages people to keep their donations local, to give to those that are doing good in their own backyard. However, if you would like to learn more about the ‘The Walk’ or make a contribution to their amazing work, you can do so here or on their website.

Women Scientists: Dr Katie Bouman photographed a black hole for the first time, but did you know that women have been blowing scientific minds for hundreds of years? Read about these six incredible women scientists with your daughter, and watch her eyes go wide with wonder. 

Every little kid has a dream of being something when they grow up: a footballer, a singer, a lawyer, a crazy scientist who turns a car into a time machine – the limit does not exist for the aspirations of children. Rarely if ever do our childhood dreams turn into realities, sometimes because we change our minds and even more often because we are told that those dreams are just not realistic. The same could be said for these incredible women scientists who pursued these dreams and didn’t give up!

For 29-year-old Harvard professor, Dr Katie Bouman, her dreams came true last month when the computer program that she and her team developed made it possible for the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) – a network of eight connected telescopes around the world – to capture an image of a black hole for the very first time.

Now, we take a look at six other remarkable ladies who not only rocked the world with their incredible discoveries, but prove that dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them. 

Margaret Hamilton


When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin began their epic journey on 20 July 1969, their lives were in the hands of hundreds of NASA scientists, including Margaret Hamilton. A hardware-related problem on board the lunar module Eagle could have wrecked the day, but the software designed by Hamilton and her trusty team of engineers compensated for the fault and allowed the boys to safely land on the moon.

In 2016, she was awarded the Medal of Freedom by US President Barack Obama, who said, “Her example speaks of the… spirit of discovery that exists in every little girl and little boy who know that somehow to look beyond the heavens is to look deep within ourselves.”

Jane Goodall

Pictured above with her chimp teddy Mr H, the inspiring story of Jane Goodall started with a childhood dream to see the African wilderness. After working as a secretary, she saved enough money to travel to Kenya. During her expeditions to the Gombe Stream Reserve, she gradually gained the trust of the chimpanzees and made many surprising discoveries.

She discovered that chimps not only make and use tools, but they can form close relationships and experience a range of ‘human’ emotions like joy, despair, fear and love. Today, she is an avid conservationist, a United Nations Messenger of Peace and has even been knighted by the Queen.

Mary Anning


During the time of King George III while Jane Austen was writing her famous collection of novels, a young Mary Anning was digging about in the dirt on the now-named Jurassic Coast in England, looking for what she called ‘curiosities’. Later, she would discover that they were actually fossils of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals.

Her many incredible finds, including full skeletons of an ichthyosaur, a plesiosaur and a pterodactyl (think of the flying dinosaurs in Jurassic Park) are now on display in the Natural History Museum in London. Oh, and she also pioneered the study of fossilised poo.

Grace Hopper


Rightfully known as ‘Amazing Grace’, this mathematician and computer programmer is remembered for her invaluable contribution to modern computing. Grace Hopper served in the US Naval Reserves during World War II and made it her life’s work to make computers accessible to the general public. She developed a programming language called COBOL, which was based on actual English words instead of numbers and was the first person ever to receive the Computer Science Man-of-the-Year Award.

Marie Curie


Would any list of distinguished scientists be complete without Marie Curie? She and her husband Pierre Curie made many notable scientific breakthroughs, including the discovery of two new chemical elements, namely polonium and radium.

After her husband’s death in 1906, she continued her work, eventually discovering a way to measure radioactivity. This earned her a Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Three years later, she invented the Petits Curies, which were mobile X-ray units that were used to diagnose battle injuries during World War I.

Valentina Tereshkova


Valentina Tereshkova was not only the first woman to ever visit space, she also remains the youngest person to ever do so. She was selected for the mission because of her expertise in parachute jumping. In 1963, at the age of 26, she spent three days flying in space and orbited the Earth a whopping 48 times. On her return, Valentina Tereshkova was so well-liked and respected, she ended up on a Soviet stamp.

One school’s decision to ban kids from handing out birthday invitations in the playground has enraged parents across the country.

Mosman Public School in Sydney has banned children from handing out birthday invitations in the playground due to concerns that kids who are not invited will feel left out.

Parents will now have to “covertly” collect the email addresses of their children’s friends’ parents in order to send out e-invites, according to the Daily Telegraph. Children will also have to refrain from talking about their birthday plans at school.

The ban is allegedly the result of one child recently becoming distressed after not receiving an invitation to a classmate’s birthday celebration.

The ban is allegedly the result of one child recently becoming distressed after not receiving an invitation to a classmate’s birthday celebration.

The Department of Education told Yahoo News that the decision came “at the request of parents, and in consultation with the school community.”

Parents across the nation have flocked to social media to weigh in on the new rule, with 87% of those polled saying that the school had gone too far.

Those in support of the move say that not receiving a birthday invite can be emotionally scarring for children, especially if they are the only ones not invited. They particularly focused on special needs children who are often on the receiving end of this type of rejection.

Others called the new rule “ridiculous”, with one woman saying the school was “creating a generation of sooks.” They claim that shielding children from rejection will only hinder their social development and keep them from building up a tolerance for disappointment. “We have to build resilient kids,” said one mum.

What do you think? Has the school gone too far, or have they made the right decision?

Gay sex and adultery will now be punishable with death after strict new Islamic laws came into effect in Brunei on Wednesday.

Brunei has brought in strict new Islamic laws that make it not only illegal for consenting males to engage in gay sex, but punishable by stoning to death. The news has resulted in fierce global outrage.

In 2014, Brunei became the first nation in Southeast Asia to enact ‘Syariah Law’, a restrictive form of Islamic law that aims to deter acts that are against the teachings of Islam. The legislation was rolled out in three stages, with the final measures being brought into place on Wednesday, 3 April 2019.

Under the new reforms, sex between two men and adultery is punishable by stoning to death. Sex between two women carries a punishment of 100 lashes, while dressing as someone of a different gender will result in imprisonment. Further penalties include amputation of limbs for those accused of theft and public flogging as a punishment for abortion.

The nation’s ruler, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah is one of the wealthiest men in the world and is the head of the Brunei Investment Agency, who owns the Dorchester Collection – operator of the Beverly Hills Hotel in LA as well as many other top hotels worldwide.

The nation’s ruler, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah is one of the wealthiest men in the world and is the head of the Brunei Investment Agency, who owns the Dorchester Collection – operator of the Beverly Hills Hotel in LA as well as many other top hotels worldwide.

On Wednesday, the Sultan said, “I want to see Islamic teachings in this country grow stronger.” The law will mostly apply to Muslims, who make up about two-thirds of the population, but some aspects will also apply to non-Muslims.

The news has been met with international condemnation from human rights organisations, LGBTI groups and celebrities. TV show host and LGBTI activist, Ellen de Generes is encouraging her Facebook fans to boycott the Sultan’s hotels, saying “we need to do something now.”

The United Nations has labelled the new laws “cruel and inhumane”, and the Australian foreign ministry has called on Brunei to do away with the measures.

Despite the international outcry against the archaic and cruel new laws, the Sultan shows no signs of backing down, issuing a statement at the weekend saying that Brunei “enforces its own rule of law.”

“I’m just a Catholic mother of four sons with a problem that only girls can solve: Leggings.”

In an open letter to The Observer, Catholic mum Maryann White slams leggings for being “so naked, so form-fitting, so exposing”. She urges young ladies to abandon the comfortable garment in favour of jeans so that concerned mothers won’t have “to find scarves to tie over the eyes of their sons to protect them from [girls like] you.”

In her letter to the student-run newspaper at the University of Notre-Dame Indiana, she recounts an incident in which she and her sons were at Catholic Mass and seated behind a group of young women dressed in “very snug-fitting leggings… and short-waisted tops” – saying that the leggings looked as though they had been painted on.

“They didn’t stare, and they didn’t comment afterwards. But you couldn’t help but see those blackly naked rear ends. I didn’t want to see them — but they were unavoidable.”

“My sons know better than to ogle a woman’s body — certainly when I’m around (and hopefully, also when I’m not). They didn’t stare, and they didn’t comment afterwards. But you couldn’t help but see those blackly naked rear ends. I didn’t want to see them — but they were unavoidable.”

She draws laughable parallels between leggings and the iconic “slave girl outfit” that Princess Leia is forced to wear in the sci-fi classic Star Wars, saying that the outfit was a way for Jabba the Hutt to “steal her personhood”. Ms White blames the fashion industry for promoting a product that “has caused women to voluntarily expose their nether regions,” and goes on to say that she is ashamed of the young women who choose to wear them.

Responses to the letter, which you can find here, were varied. Some supported the troubled mother, saying that young men are naturally drawn first to a woman’s body. They suggest that these poor young boys can hardly be expected to think with their heads in these cases and that young ladies should cover up.

Others were less enthused by the conservative views touted in what was a declaration of war not only on leggings, but more significantly on a girl’s right to wear whatever she wants.

Students responded with ‘The Legging Protest’ – a day dedicated to wearing and celebrating leggings and the freedom to wear them without a lecture from concerned Catholic mothers.

Just days later, students responded with ‘The Legging Protest’ – a day dedicated to wearing and celebrating leggings and the freedom to wear them without a lecture from concerned Catholic mothers. The event page on Facebook includes a response to Maryann’s letter. They say:

“Leggings are not slave girl outfits and women do not wear them so they can be catcalled or stared at. And no one is forcing us to wear them, but we have the right to wear them, the right to choose what we put on our bodies… The belief that viewing a woman’s bottom is inescapable is the reason that men in our society believe that they have the power and the right to mistreat women.”

The male-dominated superhero stratosphere is getting a makeover and female nerds rejoice.

For far too long, the superhero world has been dominated by men, with women generally being relegated to ‘sidekick’ or ‘love interest’. Even their names suggest a secondary position to their male counterparts: Batgirl, Supergirl, Spidergirl, She-Hulk.

[T]hey serve as the ‘sexy element’ to the story – an excuse to draw women with massive busts and short skirts.

Although there are plenty of women featured in superhero comics, they don’t generally tend to be the most popular characters. Instead, they serve as the ‘sexy element’ to the story – an excuse to draw women with massive busts and short skirts.

But in recent years, Hollywood has bucked the trend to provide us with a mix of strong female role models, and for nerds around the world, life has never been better.

Here are some of our favourites.

General Leia and Rey

In 2015, Star Wars captured our attention with The Force Awakens, the first installment in their girl-powered sequel trilogy featuring Jedi prodigy Rey and resistance leader General Leia – who you may remember as Princess Leia from the original films. Only this time there’s none of this “Help me Obi Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope” crap – she’s taking care of business herself.

Wonder Woman

In 2017, muscle-clad Amazonian warrior princess Wonder Woman charged onto the big screen and became one of DC Comics’ highest grossing films of all time. Indeed it did wonders (pun intended) for the studio whose movies had been losing out to their Marvel competitors until this badass showed up.

Captain Marvel

In March of this year, supercharged blonde bombshell Captain Marvel and her cat sidekick ‘Goose’ rocked the planet, and blasted box office expectations on opening weekend despite major political backlash online. It is officially the highest-grossing female-fronted film ever, prompting Marvel Studios to dub it the ‘Number One Movie in the World’.

Daenarys, Cersei, Sansa and Arya

For older teens and adults only, George R.R. Martin’s HBO series Game of Thrones is a haven of Athenian power. His fictional world of Westeros is overrun with iron-fisted female leaders such as the fiery Mother of Dragons Daenarys Targaryen, the cunning Queen of the Iron Throne Cersei Lannister, the Lady of Winterfell Sansa Stark and her bloodthirsty assassin sister Arya Stark.

With so many butt-kicking women rocking the fantasy and sci-fi world, don’t be surprised if your daughter asks for a superhero-themed birthday party this year.

Nerds are the new norm 😉

It’s a universal truth: cheaters stink. They’re disloyal, dishonest and disrespectful. But… what if you’re one of them?

Cheating is the universal relationship crime. And it is so common that Cameron Diaz reckons everyone will be cheated on at some point.

But let’s get something straight here: cheating is not just physical.

While cheating is generally defined as having sex with someone other than your partner, emotional infidelity is potentially even more damaging to a relationship.

In fact, one study shows that women are more hurt by emotional infidelity than they are by infidelity that is sexual.

Emotional infidelity starts small.

Thoughts and fantasies can quickly progress to flirting and sly hints with the other person. From there, most people assume you make the decision to cheat or not to cheat. And if you choose not to, then you’re innocent, and if you give into your fantasies, then you’re guilty.

But I’m going to go against the grain here and say that thinking – and I mean actively thinking – about cheating is just as bad as physically cheating.

As soon as you allow yourself to actively think about someone other than your partner in that way, you have taken the first step down the road of adultery.

Don’t get me wrong, we all have those involuntary thoughts that pop into our minds when we see an attractive-looking person. But there is a big difference between that and actively deciding to dwell on those thoughts.

Our thoughts are powerful, and what we think eventually affects how we feel. And how we feel has a lot of power over what we say and do in life. As soon as you allow yourself to actively think about someone other than your partner in that way, you have taken the first step down the road of adultery.

A bit harsh, you say! Maybe. But isn’t it true? Don’t you feel angry when you catch your bf checking out another girl’s backside? Isn’t that anger real? Isn’t it reasonable?

If it’s not a form of infidelity, then you shouldn’t be angry. But if it is, then your anger makes sense. Right?

Let me put it to you this way: would you rather your partner fell in love with someone else and didn’t sleep with them OR slept with them but didn’t fall in love with them?

Both are pretty awful, but potentially equally devastating to a relationship.

Let’s hear your thoughts! Emotional infidelity – is it just as bad as physically cheating?

The ultimate betrayal for anti-vax mum Jill Wheeler came when her 18-year-old son got vaccinated against her wishes.

Ethan Lindenberger, who grew up in an anti-vaccine household, went against his mother’s wishes and was vaccinated when he turned 18. Now, he’s addressing the US Senate about the importance of immunisation.

The teen from Ohio was not vaccinated as a kid. Although his older siblings were, mum Jill Wheeler was against the idea for him after reading information online that claimed vaccines were linked to autism and brain damage.

“My parents are kind of stupid and don’t believe in vaccines. Now that I’m 18, where do I go to get vaccinated? Can I get vaccinated at my age?”

When he turned 18, he reached out to Reddit users to find out if he could get immunised independently of having his parents’ consent.

“My parents are kind of stupid and don’t believe in vaccines. Now that I’m 18, where do I go to get vaccinated? Can I get vaccinated at my age?”

A month later, he was vaccinated against influenza, HPV, hepatitis A and hepatitis B. Since then, he has also been immunised against diseases such as measles, chicken pox and polio.

“[anti-vax groups] instil fear into the public for their own gain selfishly… knowing their information is incorrect.”

Earlier this month, he addressed the US Senate about his concerns around the anti-vaccine movement.

He claims his mum didn’t get her ideas from credible sources, but mainly from anti-vax groups on social media and organisations that “instil fear into the public for their own gain selfishly… knowing their information is incorrect.”

He stressed that the organisations that push misinformation about vaccines are the ones at fault – parents like his are only trying to protect their families.

His mum, Jill, told the Associated Press that she was proud of her son, but “didn’t agree with anything he said.”

“For my mother, her love, care and affection as a parent was used to push an agenda to create a false distress.”

His mum, Jill, told the Associated Press that she was proud of her son, but “didn’t agree with anything he said.” She also didn’t understand why a teenager was getting a platform like this to discuss the issue. “They’ve made him the poster child for the pharmaceutical industry.”