Vacancy Care's November Newsletter

November 2020


Hello everyone, and welcome to our November newsletter! As always, we’re looking at what’s happening within our childcare community. This month we’ll focus on easy steps to become a greener family.

The younger generations are passionately leading the way as environmental ambassadors and there’s pressure on everyone else to contribute too. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming when considering exactly how to accomplish this, so we’ve compiled a family-friendly list to do this effortlessly. Lead the way greener within your community without too much fuss.

So without delay…

Topic of the month 

Easy ways to be a greener family

Some days you feel like you're on top of it. An eco ambassador leading the good fight for the planet. Then reality kicks in and you forget your reusable shopping bags... again… and as you use cling wrap on the leftovers from dinner, then wipe the bench with single-use paper towel because the dishcloth isn’t hanging in its usual place, you’re suddenly feeling right back there at square one. Not an ambassador at all, merely an eco wannabe. Or are you?

We get that life is busy. Especially life with young children. Sometimes it’s a good week if you get a load of washing done AND brush your hair. But as the planet marches on towards what sometimes feels like environmental armageddon, the younger generations are living proof that eco-warriors are out there (seventeen year old Greta Thunberg is now a household name worldwide) and the pressure is mounting for everyone to do their bit. 

Becoming a little bit greener as a family doesn't mean you need to chain yourself to a tree in a rainforest. That's why we’ve come up with simple changes you can make. Changes that will lighten your load, lessen your carbon footprint and have you treading lightly across our planet. 

Worth noting... in many of the below suggestions there’s a link to a wide variety of Australian businesses that have a foot firmly in the eco-warrior category. So, with these green tips, you can support the environment and support local in one easy step!


Ditch the plastic. 
Nearly nine million tons of plastic waste fill our oceans every year. Ugh. Australia has stepped up in recent years. Now you're hard-pressed to find single-use plastic bags handed out freely in supermarkets. The flow-on effect meant that Australians were forced to step up too. A good nudge in the right direction towards a less plastic future. So, what else can we do to reduce that crazy amount of plastic sneaking into our oceans? Ideally, keep a reusable bag with you at all times. There are many types to choose from, ranging from bags that bunch into a golf-ball sized space and fit into a purse. There’s canvas which is a little more sturdy and there are old-school baskets which are perfect for carrying fresh produce bought at the market. Here's a guide to different options for reusable bags. As long as they aren't single-use, you are making progress!

Don't be a slave to fashion.
Children outgrow clothes so quickly and given the environmental impact of making clothing, it's more eco-friendly - not to mention economical - to embrace hand-me-downs and second-hand clothing. In the early years especially, it isn’t unusual for baby clothes to get only a couple of wears before they no longer fit. Try second-hand shops, garage boot sales, local online groups or let your friends know that you'd welcome clothes their child grows out of. Then keep the cycle going and pass them down to your friends’ babies as they’re outgrow by your children. 

Wash in cold.
Wash clothes in cold water. Your machine will use much less energy when it doesn't have to heat up the water, plus you’ll save money on your energy bill!


Soap nuts.

A plant-derived laundry detergent with no artificial fragrances and sulfates. Gentle on skin and gentle on the planet, yet tough on stains. Cue soap nuts. Soap nuts are actually small berries which are cracked open and dried in the sun, producing a golden shell. These shells - grown and used for centuries in places like Nepal - can then be placed in your washing machine instead of detergent and fabric softener. Containing a natural form of soap, called saponins, soap nuts will leave your clothes clean, soft and without scent. Containing a very high percentage of saponins . Foaming when they come into contact with water, which removes dirt and oils from clothing. Soap nuts can also be boiled into a liquid concentrate and used as a general-purpose cleaner, shampoo or hand soap... so many uses! 


Dryer balls.

Woollen dryer balls are a fantastic all-natural way to soften your clothes, eliminate static and reduce energy usage by drying your clothes faster. Wool dryer balls work by bouncing their way in between wet layers of clothing that would otherwise stick together. The separation of the layers of clothes allows warm air to dry your clothes more quickly.


Go nude.

Opt for nude food options. Reusable containers that held today's morning tea, can be washed up and used for tomorrow's afternoon tea! Yumbox is one of many great reusable options, and is loved because its design is based on a traditional Japanese o'bento box - which is a similar concept to tapas. Small amounts of food on offer, in compartmentalised sections. Particularly great for variety... and for picky eaters! It's also guaranteed leak-proof!


Temperature is key.

According to CSIRO, the best temperature setting for your fridge - for both food safety and to conserve energy is 3°C (for freezers it’s -18°C to -20°C). Anything lower is a waste of energy and can actually cost you money.


Talk conservation.

Chat to your children about conservation. Explain the concepts and benefits behind recycling, composting and worm farms and solar energy. Get your children involved locally with planting trees or with organisations that have initiatives like Clean Up Australia Day. Follow in the many individuals - including children - who’ve made a pledge to the environment. Anything from picking up rubbish in the community when you come across it, or doing the weekly household recycling. Take 3 for the sea is a beautiful, simple initiative for families to get behind. With experiences like these under their belt, they're more likely to grow into environmental ambassadors.



Get outdoors.

Get outdoors and get active. Start a veggie patch or grow herbs at home. Find a farm that offers fruit picking and make a day of it - or make it a regular day out! Involve the whole family in outdoor hikes and adventures. Encourage tree climbing, fort building and exploration. Ensure a sedentary lifestyle is not in your child's future, and encourage a respect and awareness of our planet, by introducing them to the myriad of wonders you can find outside! Australia’s The Wilderness Society is a great place to read more on this.


Pack the snacks. 

When you're out and about with the family, pack your own nibbles to avoid the heavily packaged options available in supermarkets. Fresh fruit and veggies are always a quick & easy option, as is popcorn, mini muffins, or cheese cubes and crackers popped into a reusable container.



Scrap paper towels. 

Thousands of tons of paper towels end up in landfill every day. Swap this for alternatives such as compostable kitchen sponges. Made from materials like plant or coconut fibres. Plant fibre sponges can absorb up to twenty times their own dry weight! Add them to your compost bin when no longer useful! If you need to use paper towels, opt for the recycled kind, available now in many supermarkets.


Clever conservation.

Make an effort to shorten your showers - using a timer can help. Teach children to turn off the tap when brushing their teeth. Pop a bucket in the shower and collect enough overflow to water your indoor plants. Small acts of water conservation such as this can save litres of water!


Swap straws. 

Are straws even necessary? Well, sometimes they’re a big help to a toddler learning to drink without losing a large portion of liquid to the floor or down their tee shirt! Plus, they can be a bit of old-fashioned fun! If you like them, consider investing in re-usable metal or bamboo straws. They take a second to clean, look incredibly stylish in an afternoon mocktail or milkshake, and can make a quiet glass of sparkling water into an event in a way a plastic straw never could! 


Ditch plastic wrap. 

Bee's wax wraps are a reusable, washable, and compostable food storage solution that make a great alternative to single-use plastic cling wrap. So simple and so beneficial.



Pop a recycling bin in your bathroom. 

It's likely you have a recycling bin in the kitchen. Especially now that it's rare to find a local council who doesn't offer a recycling collection. Chances are you haven't extended this to the bathroom too? Things like shampoo bottles and toilet paper rolls, can easily miss their turn at collection day unless you make it incredibly easy for all family members. Whose household hasn't ended up with products for recycling going to landfill, due to a well-intentioned spouse or child popping the toilet roll into the bathroom bin? (Ok. step back. Sometimes, we're just grateful if they've made it to a bin and aren't left on there’s NO excuse!


Bin liners.

Swap plastic bin liners for compostable liners. Often made with corn starch, at supermarkets, brands like Multix offer greener compostable tidy bags, which are a great sustainable alternative to plastic liners and are compostable. 


Nappies galore. 

The amount of nappies going to landfill is a truly scary thought. There are alternatives to this that don't require you to step back into your mother's shoes (and a big bucket of dirty nappies to soak!) Whether you're interested in cloth nappies or plastic-neutral alternatives, there are so many choices.


Leave the car at home. 

Curb air pollution by embracing alternative modes of transit. Walk to the local shops, take the train, bus, or even cycle. Wagons that attach to bikes and comfortably transport children are a popular option.




According to international, non-profit, environmental advocacy group, The Natural Resources Defense Council, a quarter of all residential energy consumption is used on devices like modems, computers and televisions that are in idle mode. They're not even in use and they're sucking power! By taking the time to switch off products when not in use, not only are you aiding the planet, but you'll save money on your electricity bill, too. Bonus!


Shop at your local farmers market. 

Enjoy cooking family meals with fresh produce direct from the farm? Even if you're nowhere near a farm, you'd be surprised at the dedicated vendors you'll find at these markets. Many travel hours each week to bring their incredible fresh products to your local farmers market. Contact your local council to find out if there’s a farmer’s market near you.


Raise little beekeepers! 

Many bee species continue to decline at an alarming pace due to habitat loss and pesticides. Help protect these vital pollinators - who'll help pollinate your treasured plants, veggies and fruit trees, plus you'll likely get a taste of their honey. Australian stingless bees are easier to handle than other bees - with no chance of getting stung they’re easy to keep in a suburban back garden, providing an incredible front-row experience for your children.



Plastic fantastic. 

Plastic water bottles are being recycled and repurposed into a plethora of unbelievable products! Everything from active wear and yoga mats to shoes and board shorts! WWF have put together a blog featuring a stack of cool companies that are doing amazing things with upcycled plastic! 


Prams don't need to be shiny. 

It's not always necessary to buy a brand new pram, when you can often get a great second-hand one through a community Facebook group, as a hand-me-down from a friend ready to pass theirs along, or at the local opportunity shop! Help lessen the energy used to manufacture and ship a brand new pram, and save the mega-dollars often charged, by making a few enquiries before purchasing new.


Scrap the chemicals. 

From the bathtub to the floors, you want to create a home environment that's free of harsh chemicals for your child. Cleaning products have come a long way - bleach isn't the only option for a sparkling home - but a great starting guide is this list of chemicals you probably want to avoid. Instead, try your hand at making your own cleaning products using gentler ingredients like castile soap, vinegar, bi-carb and aromatic oils... and if you've always wanted to give this a go, but didn't know where to begin, here's a starter kit to point you in the right direction.


Cut back on red meat

Research has shown that red meat is detrimental to good health (for example, it can increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes), but along with this red meat is not great for the environment. According to the United Nations, cattle farming is responsible for eighteen percent of the world's greenhouse gases and is a major source of deforestation. If you're a steak lover, you don't have to cut it completely from your diet, consider introducing "meat-free monday" instead, or swapping some of your red meat options for chicken or vegetarian recipes


Plants that purify.

Use indoor plants to help remove toxins and purify the air in your home. Devils ivy, peace lily or spider plant are just some of the great plants used for this purpose... and the added bonus is that they look incredibly fresh and add a pop of colour to any home. Read the blog by Better Homes and Gardens to see a list of twenty indoor plant options to choose from.



Avoid new books. 

The paper industry accounts for a huge percentage of greenhouse gas emissions globally, and there are so many alternative options now. It's significantly more eco-friendly to borrow from your local library, buy from a used bookshop, or purchase a digital copy. Better still, start a street library in your community for book swapping.


If you could pick even two or three of the above options, you’d be making a change for the better. Going greener doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Chat to your family and decide together which would be the easiest to implement together. 

Childcare development

0-12 month development

How to cope when your newborn feeding plan doesn’t work out as you hoped

Author: Sarah at Modern Mom

Some mothers place significant emphasis on the breastfeeding process. They feel it is important that they breastfeed until a certain age, and plan the age they want to stop breastfeeding.

Unfortunately, breastfeeding does not come easily or naturally for all women. Issues ranging from poor latch to low milk supply or even mastitis make it difficult for women to breastfeed.

Ultimately this makes it very difficult to follow a feeding plan. And although this is not something any woman should beat herself up over, the inability to follow a feeding plan can be tough to deal with emotionally.


The original article offers advice for women dealing with this issue. 


1-2 year development

Different kinds of textures for children

Author: Claire Siemsen

Kids love to feel and touch everything within their grasp. This is because every child needs to learn about the different textures that surround them. A natural curiosity means that children already come into contact with a variety of textures every day. 

However, they can still benefit from experimenting with texture through thoughtful play. This teaches children about science and exploration, how to analyze and predict, and also introduces new vocabulary.

An example of such a game is to run marbles over a smooth surface, such as glass, and then a rough surface, such as tarmac. 


Refer to the original article to learn about other fun games that can help your children learn about textures.

2-3 year development

What to do if your child plays favourites

Author: Juno DeMelo

Although children love both their parents, favouritism is often present. It begins and peaks in toddlerhood, but can re-occur repeatedly, and flip-flops regularly.

This can be unpleasant for parents, no matter what side of the favouritism they happen to fall on. You should look to deal with this issue correctly, following a simple list of do’s and don'ts, effectively nipping it in the bud.

You should avoid insincere praise of the unfavoured parent. Children can be surprisingly perceptive, sometimes seeing straight through fake compliments.

Read on for the full list of dos and don'ts.

3-4 year development

When is childhood shyness normal and when is it cause for concern?

Author: Heidi Gazelle

Shy children are relatively common. You often see children clinging to their parents, hiding behind their legs, especially when they meet new people in unfamiliar surroundings.

Most children outgrow their shyness, blossoming into confident young children. However, others remain shy and struggle to interact or make friends for years to come. This can make it difficult for parents to decide if their child’s shyness deserves serious concern.

While shyness with strangers is no reason for concern, a child should warm up to people they have spent a significant amount of quality time with. Furthermore, shyness among adults is no worry, while shyness among children of the same age could be an issue


Continue reading for a better understanding of childhood shyness.

4-5 year development

How to read to your kids to inspire a love of books

Author: Molly Ness, PhD.

Reading, widely regarded as a great way for children to learn. Those who read regularly gain an advantage at school, and often develop into incredibly interesting people. 

This one of the reasons many parents read to their children each night. They aim to inspire an interest and love for reading and hope that their children will continue to read on their own accord once the nightly reading sessions stop.

As a literacy specialist, Molly Ness explains that the way you read - your tone, the rise and fall of your pitch, as well as the expression that you incorporate - can matter just as much as the narrative and pictures in a book.


Refer to the original article to learn how you should read to children.

Development of boys

A boy’s apparent memory issues

Author: Maggie Dent

Many parents struggle with young boys’ apparent memory issues. From asking your son to fetch something, only for him never to return, to your little guy forgetting to brush his teeth every night - parents can become incredibly frustrated with this issue.

Evolutionary scientists attribute boys’ very general inferior memory to the historic division of labour, which was largely gender-based. The tasks were generally taken on by women required and developed memory.

However, there are things you can do to help develop a young boy’s memory, such as visual cues and lists they need to complete each day.


Continue reading to learn more about the difference between male and female memory.

Development of girls

How fathers can nurture a special bond with their daughters

Author: Matthew McCabe

The importance of a healthy father-daughter relationship has been recognised for decades, with studies showing direct correlations between these relationships and future achievements, such as career success and financial wellbeing

However, fostering a positive relationship with one’s daughter is not always a simple task. Some fathers worry that they would be better suited to raising a son and would be much more comfortable doing so.

If you do worry about your relationship with your daughter, there are a few simple things you can do to help your relationship blossom. While simply being present and playing together regularly are essential, you can also take a vacation together or take on a fun project.


Continue reading for tips on fostering positive father-daughter relationships.

Craft Corner

Geometric paper tiles

This more advanced craft may be more suitable for older children, or those younger ones possessing artistic talent. A printable template helps you create interesting geometric patterns. The result is truly beautiful and will be something you will want to display. 


Read on for further instructions.

Draw an owl

Teach your children to draw an owl using simple shapes. This step-by-step guide makes it easy for young children to draw something they are proud of, encouraging future efforts. And despite the instructions, there is still scope for children to express themselves.


Detailed instructions provided here.

Paper bug rings

These intricate paper bug rings are guaranteed to impress your kids and their friends. Children always enjoy creating something they can wear to school and show off to their friends, making this a particularly popular craft.


Follow the steps to create your very own crow

Butterfly life cycle paper toy

Teach your child about the life cycle of a butterfly through this interactive craft. The engaging flextangle features each of the butterflies 4 stages of life - eggs, caterpillar, cocoon and butterfly. This craft is a great way to teach a child about the natural world.


Refer to the original article for exact directions