Parents need to budget money, time

The third round of the National Parenting Programme district meetings featured ‘balancing the budget’ as its theme.

Budget is usually thought of in terms of money, but speakers in North Side, West Bay and East End this week also emphasised the need to budget time.

Find the time to spend with your children was the message of social worker Annette Joseph. She asked parents their fondest childhood memories and then encouraged them to share that type of activity with their own children

Doing things together doesn’t mean just recreational activities, school counsellor Alexia Walters pointed out. Younger children especially like to help in the kitchen and there are many tasks they can do with supervision.

Nutritionist Bethany Smith spoke about staying healthy on a budget, but pointed out that children can be involved in meal planning, shopping and preparing lunches and snacks.

Ms Smith suggested that parents teach children that there are ‘everyday’ foods and ‘sometimes’ foods, so that they don’t expect candy and chips on a regular basis.

Breakfast is very important for children so they can concentrate better in school. If there is no time, let them eat something in the car on the way, she urged.

Healthy snacks include fresh fruit, dried fruit, trail mix (especially economical if home made with cereal, pretzels and raisins). Graham crackers, low-fat yogurt, cookies without frosting and dry cereal are also good.

Encourage children to drink more water, Ms Smith urged. Milk is important for strong bones and teeth; 100 per cent fruit juice has vitamins, but high sugar sweet drinks should be given sparingly.

The changes in today’s lifestyles compared with parents’ own childhoods were even more dramatic as described by Mr. Joey Ebanks of Caribbean Utilities Company.

Thirty years ago most homes were small cottages, but today homes of 2,000 and 3,000 square feet are not unusual. Air conditioning is now the norm, but it comes at an expense.

In fact, Mr. Ebanks said, 70 per cent of a household electricity bill can be from air conditioning. It is therefore essential to have the right size unit for greatest efficiency. He recommended thermostats, which can save 25 per cent of one’s bill.

Another dramatic figure is the saving realised by washing clothes in cold water. Cold wash and rinse takes up seven cents worth of electricity for one load. Hot water wash and rinse costs $1.17.

Mr. Ebanks warned that insulation must be installed properly. Awnings, solid front doors and shade trees also help keep a home cool.