PLAY | Q&A with Dr Paula Barrett

The Milo facebook page hosted Australian academic Dr Paula Barrett this afternoon for a live chat about playtime and how important it is for our kids.  The hour just flew by as eager mums were keen to chat with Paula who specializes in childhood anxiety and depression.

As it was at a tricky time for us here in NZ (3-4pm) I thought I would post a transcript of the Q&A below.  Enjoy!

I seem to recall from somewhere that physical play, ie play fighting, wrestling anything involving contact and personal boundaries is particularly important for young boys in many ways. Is this true?

It is true that many boys learn best through active play – they learn by doing things, more than through just verbal communication. It really helps them them to learn important life skills, such as how to relate with other children. They learn those skills because they’re engaged and happy when they are active. When they are play fighting, it is not aggressive play – it’s a way of learning what the boundaries are.

My daughter is almost 9yrs old & has anxiety issues. I try to provide her with craft activities & art supplies as creative means of processing her emotions & anxiety, but she ends up a screaming, angry mess when things don’t go to plan. I’d really appreciate some tips on helping her enjoy her play time & equip her with skills to manage the anxiety.

Anxious children tend to be perfectionistic – they don’t like doing things unless they are perfect & they worry about not being perfect. There are lots of strategies to manage anxiety, but the main thing is to try and encourage her to do things just for the fun of it. Create easy fun tasks outside (like playing with a ball) that are not competitive in nature and emphasise the fun of the activity. You can also visit and look up the ‘Friends Program’ where you’ll find more information on helping children with anxiety.

Boys need to be boys, as well as have good male role models especially a father (father figure).Would you say those lacking the father figures, boys, especially, lose out?

Positive male role models do play an important role in the development of both boys and girls. These male figures can include dads, granddads, brothers, uncles, sporting coaches just to name a few.

My daughter and son are 13 and 10. I encourage physical activity as much as possible, but as I am unwell they get frustrated that I can’t play too. I take them to the beach, but I can only watch from the sidelines. Is there something I can do as a fun outdoors reward that involves all of us, so they don’t just see mum sitting on the sidelines feeling miserable.

It’s wonderful that you take them to the beach and encourage them to play in outdoor settings – by being there you are already very invested in their well being. Other things you can do to get more involved is to be the goal keeper, time keeper or score keeper in one of their games. You could also invite your children’s friends to come along and become part of the activity.

My 4 yr old son isn’t the most athletic kid and while he loves playing at the park he tends to only last 5 min or so riding his bike or playing ball games, etc before he is bored and wants to go inside. How could I encourage him to want to play outdoor games and build his stamina???

It’s great that you’re encouraging outdoor active play! One ideas is to invite a few of his friends of the same age along to the play time – he’ll be inspired and encouraged by having his friends around to stay playing for longer. Another idea is to turn it into a regular activity that happens every day – as he gets more comfortable with the idea of staying outside for half an hour every day and playing, you’ll find that he will look forward to it and ask to do it more!

Playing outside comes pretty naturally to our 7yo boy, but EVERYTHING turns competitive, and some of his playmates are not as hard out as he. What can I do to encourage non-competitive behaviours when appropriate?

Games where there is no winner or loser, but where they share or learn, are great for encouraging non-competitive behaviour. One of the best ways to do this is to change the rules of a game so that they get points for cooperative, fun and happy behaviour, rather than scoring. Everyone is a winner and it encourages fun and learning.

What is the max time you think kids should spend playing video games/on the computer/watching TV every day?

For primary school kids my recommendation is no more than half an hour – and always remember to keep a balance between this time and active outdoor play. Definitely make sure you also get outside with your kids and go to the park, the beach or the bush and have fun!

My daughter suffers from this (anxiety), how do we deal with it when she has a I hate myself moment or an outburst moment?

Most children and adults have moments where they feel they can’t control their emotions – teach her to take deep breaths and give her a glass of water, then create small, simple games. Give her things she can do in small steps, and then she can build on these steps bit by bit – make sure you let her know that trying her best is good, she doesn’t have to be perfect.

  • I am participating in the Milo Play Movement as a Blogger Ambassador and any compensation received is for advice provided directly to the MILO Play Movement team on the social media engagement plan.
  • All communications I share regarding the MILO Play Movement are my honest opinion.

Sunday; Sustainable Coastlines | Workshops on the Waterfront

Ethan doesn’t know it yet but he has been enrolled in an art workshop on Sunday!  Yay!

He will bitch and moan until a) he finds out he gets to make a marine animal, win! and b) we can go to the fish market afterwards and c) Sustainable Coastlines makes mama very happy  – everyone wins!

I am so excited about this, come hang with us, we are registered for the 11am Trash to Art session.

Creating colourful artworks from waste. Participants will be guided in the construction of a marine animal from brightly coloured rubbish collected during coastal clean-ups, either on a pre designed ‘flat’ template, or a three dimensional mini sculpture to take home. Creative input will be encouraged, so children can make whatever they choose with the provided materials.

Register here

Public Service Announcement | Dyson Vacs

Who knew. Dyson Very-Spendy Vacs have a filter! Two even! And, they have to be cleaned every six months. Well, today is your birthday little Dyson Vac and because you are amazing {and somewhat ornery and shut your power off this arvo!} I called customer service and nek minnit you work again! Always clean your filters people (more often then once every 4 years!)


Play | What it means to us

When I was asked to be involved with the fantastic Milo Play Movement I was awesomely stoked {and quietly confident, play, meh, we play ALL the time}.  We play rugby, we play touch, we play trombone, we surf and skateboard, Ethan swims every week, we run, we cycle……we are an active family, we are BUSY all the time, we play, right?

Hmmmm.  After our first Mum Ambassador conference call one phrase stuck in my head.  Cath from Squiggle Mum mentioned the term ‘hyper scheduling’ and I filed this away.  I thought about this awful sounding code name and wondered if I was guilty of hyper scheduling.  Is Ethan more busy with structured play than unstructured?  How much free time, with no extra-curricular activities and no homework does he actually have?

Lets see;

  • Monday:  I pick him up from school and we do a 180 and head right to swimming, we may do a couple of errands beforehand, we do homework, eat afternoon tea in the car, E swims and we arrive home at 4.45.  This leaves 1hr of playtime if he is not too tired.
  • Tuesday:  Free day.  Afternoon tea, homework (1/2hr max) then at least 2hrs free time)
  • Wednesday:  Afternoon tea, homework, Rugby or touch training.  No play time.
  • Thursday:  Afternoon tea, homework, music lesson.  1.5hrs free time
  • Friday: Afternoon tea, homework, Rugby or touch training.  No play time.

Weekends are always quite busy for us, we are rarely at home but seem to always squeeze in some fun, active family play eg skateboarding, cycling, hiking.

So, here I am, admitting to you, the interwebs, that I am a hyper-scheduler.  Play, plain old imaginative, ACTIVE, unstructured, backyard/park/beach play needs to feature more in our week and over the course of this year I will endeavour to provide more time to simply PLAY with our son.

What do you guys think about this?  Could your little ones use more play time?  Lets share some ideas and get our kids imaginations firing!


  • I am participating in the Milo Play Movement as a Blogger Ambassador and any compensation received is for advice provided directly to the MILO Play Movement team on the social media engagement plan.
  • All communications I share regarding the MILO Play Movement are my honest opinion.


Cook, Eat | Peach Pie Recipe

Thanks to the lovely local grocer I have a boat load of Golden Queen peaches to deal to. Like 7kgs worth and no jars to make jam. But hell , one cannot say no to such a bounty of fruit for under two bucks!
So instead of jam I made dessert. I stumbled upon a most amaze recipe at and threw it all in the oven.
So good! Definitely give this one a go if you find yourself endowed with millions of peaches. I had some broken pastry sheets to use up so I pressed those into my deep casserole dish to make a jumbo pie.
I didn’t quite have enough pastry for the lid of my second pie so I topped it with crumble mix instead. A hybrid of sorts!


  • 1 pastry for 9-inch (23cm)
  • 5 cups (1.25 L) peeled and sliced peaches
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped candied ginger (I left this out)
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) butter
  • Milk or cream
  • 1 sprinkle granulated sugar


Line 9-inch (23 cm) pie plate with pastry.

In large bowl, combine peaches, sugar, flour, lemon juice and candied ginger. Fill pastry shell with peach mixture; dot filling with butter.

Moisten edges of bottom crust. Cover with top crust. Trim and flute edges. Cut steam vents. Brush top with milk or cream; sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar.

Bake in 425°F (220°C) in bottom third of oven for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 350°F (180°C) and bake for 35 to 45 minutes longer or until peaches are tender, filling thickened and crust golden.




From Paisley Jade | Things I’m Loving

  • I am loving a weekend that finally felt a little bit like a weekend.  We took Saturday off, so to speak, and cruised around Auckland, doing a bit of shopping, eating, exploring, gelato and the boys hit up a new skate park.  It was lovely.  As was the summit of Mt Eden, born and raised in Auckland and I had NEVER been up there!  Def the windiest place I have ever experienced -probably not the ideal winter destination, but the view is worth it (sorry, no pic of the view, I prefer this one of my boy & I x)

  • Dave and I are both loving Game of Thrones {we had a brief free month of Soho channel on Sky and got good and hooked}.  This show is amazing, I never imagined myself a fan of a medieval/LOTR/Braveheart mash-up but I LOVE this show.  We are only two episodes in but we are major fan-boys already.  Plenty of gratuitous sex, gore and violence so be warned.

  • Ethan and I are swooning over The Lorax.  Thanks to Coup de Main Magazine we were able to go to a preview screening in 3 D this morning – including goodie bags and CAKE POPS from Whoopie!!!  Such fun.  The Lorax may be the definitive animated movie of our time.  I’m seriously going to throw that out there.  Review to come but it’s amaze.  Loved it.  Whoopie is opening tomorrow in Grey Lynn, so make sure to pop in next time your sweet tooth comes calling because their cake pops are the business.

p.s.  E totally loved the 3D glasses, he swears they are just the bestest sunglasses!

  • Finally I am loving about 6kg of GOLDEN QUEEN!!!! peaches for just, wait for it, one dollar and ninety six cents.  Sure, they aren’t the most beautiful looking peaches, but most of them aren’t even ripe!  Such a find.  Without question my fave summer fruit, Golden Queens seem to be getting rarer each summer, there is no other peach quite the same.  Oh I baked up a storm this arvo and have found the ultimate peach pie recipe, will share soon.

I love Paisley Jade’s Blog.  It’s pretty, all about family and she is always cooking or DIYing something awesome.  This weekly reminder to be thankful for all the little things around us is hosted by her – so visit!

352 Days

That’s how long it has been since my Dad died of melanoma.

I think of him every day, I have conversations with him every day in my head and I talk about him to someone else every day.  I can still smell him every time I hop in his old truck to drive anywhere.  I love that.

Most of the time I think I’m doing pretty well.  Until something sneaks up on me that I wasn’t expecting and then I feel like I’ve been flattened all over again.

Tonight we started watching My Sister’s Keeper and I could feel the sorrow creeping over me like a shadow.  The girl with cancer began chemotherapy and I lost the plot.  It was all so familiar.  I think Dave just about gave himself a hernia in his scramble to find the remote and change the channel.

To make a bad night even worse, our normally quiet neighborhood has been transformed into party central, overrun by obnoxious 18 year olds; shrieking, banshee-like females and their male counter parts who do not speak only yell and race the POS cars.  I do not drink enough to sleep through this shit.


PLAY | Boy v Wild. Mixing the old with new

By accident, we came upon this idea of mixing the new technology we love with the old-fashioned play we miss.  By combining something a child is passionate about {in Ethan’s case bugs/animals/wild/dirt etc} with a little YouTube inspiration, taking cues from suitable role models and fashioning them into outside play in your own yard is easy!

We {read: ME} are big fans of Bear Grylls.  We love his wild ways, we have taken careful note of scree-running techniques and applied them to our day to day lives haha!  But really, we have run down one scree mountain slope on the Tongariro Crossing and it was AWESOME because Bear taught us how to do it in our living room!

So, naturally when the Man v Wild episode filmed in NZ aired on discovery last week Dave and I were stoked.  He ate a Weta people!

The next day Dave was showing Ethan the episode on YouTube, the effect was instantaneous.  MOVE OVER ROBSON GREEN, there’s a new hero in town.  I just knew what was about to happen so I waited, with camera in hand of course.

Playing Bear Grylls kept E amused for hours, he fashioned a knife out of wood and sharpened it into a lovely vicious shape on a rock.  He explored various habitats {sandpit, garden, woodpile, rocks} and catalogued his finds.  He whispered commentary the whole darn time {I learnt so much in my eavesdropping!}.  He got dirty-filthy, ATE SLATERS!!! {I was not aware of this until he insisted I smell his breath}, achieved his ultimate back-yard catch and release – a skink – and slept like a log.  My work here is done.