While our country burns
As you know, From: Aunt Matilda, sends out monthly subscription boxes designed to get kids off screens and outside roaming free, playing wild and discovering nature. This month’s box was named the ‘Backyard Summer box’. It was full of my favourite childhood memories. A sprinkler for all those times we cooled off running through the sprinkler. A frisbee and ball for all those games played on the beach. A grass head for the fun we had giving them haircuts and ice block holders because who doesn’t love ice blocks on a hot summer's day.
This summer, like the summer past, we headed down the NSW South Coast to our holiday house. This summer my children learnt that sprinklers go on roofs to prepare for the approaching fire front, that the beach is our evacuation point, that grass is brown and that without power ice blocks melt.
As parents, carers and loved ones our instincts are to protect our children from things they might not understand or find upsetting. The tragedy our country is experiencing is unprecedented and it is unlikely you can protect them from the impacts entirely. Thus they need to understand the bushfire emergency in a way that is appropriate for their age, maturity and level of sensitivity. Below is a great resource for use when discussing bushfires with kids:
Hopefully by discussing it with them it will alleviate any unnecessary stress or fear and instead become a teaching opportunity on the importance of caring for our environment and showing compassion for our fellow humans and animals that have been impacted.
So in a time when many of us feel helpless and sombre here is a short list of some positive activities you can take part in with children so they can regain some control, further their understanding and spread kindness.
No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted. Art is a wonderful tool for children to articulate their feelings. Write thank you cards and letters of appreciation to send to all those volunteering their time to keep us and our homes safe. Cards, letters or pictures can be sent here:
NSW RFS - Locked Bag 17, Granville NSW 2142
VIC CFA - 8 Lakeside Drive, Burwood East VIC 3151
SA CFS - GPO Box 2468, Adelaide SA 5001
There is something about animals that brings out the best in humanity. Whether you are affected by bushfires or drought take care of your local wildlife by putting out water and food.
A great guideline can be found here: https://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/wildlife/2017/12/a-guide-to-helping-our-native-animals-with-the-heat-this-summer/
For the animals affected by the bushfires their carers need our help. Put your kids to work making pouches, nests or blankets - see the Animal Rescue Craft Guild for templates, instructions and drop-off locations - https://www.facebook.com/groups/arfsncrafts/ . They may even learn a new skill!
Children without their possessions
If you’re in a position to donate money by all means this is the best option - here's a list of legitimate bushfire appeals to donate via https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/bushfire-relief-how-you-can-help-those-in-need/news-story/a0476ac3538b8c373f281ea6be204421
If not, then GIVIT is a wonderful organisation (all year round) that helps vulnerable people connect with those that have something to give. They are currently running specific bushfire appeals. You can check what items are needed here http://www.givit.org.au/disasters and perhaps get your children to clean their rooms in the process!