Born and raised in the Philippines, Gladwin Pantastico, 40, was surrounded by musicians in his family. Yet, he discovered his love of classical music at just 12 years old. By the time he was doing his music degree in a Filipino conservatory, he had taught classical music for five years in several schools in the Philippines.

Aged 22, when the classical music sector was still evolving in his home country, he realised that making a living out of it was a tough nut to crack. Keen to explore his boundaries, he ventured into the wide world and took his first overseas job offer in the Maldives, where he performed classical music for seven years.

But after some time, staying in the entertainment industry felt like a dead end to him; he wanted to “go back more academic,” and moved to Singapore, where he taught classical music for almost ten years. In 2013, he was designated as general manager of a music school in Singapore and led a team of internationally acclaimed music teachers.

Visiting friends in Phuket, he noticed the lack of music education on Thailand’s largest island – and that was the start of his lifelong journey in a destination better known for beaches, parties, and tourist life. 

His profile offers insight into the different approach to education and child development, the challenges of relocating, and ultimately, setting up a business in Thailand.

Why did you start a music school in Phuket?

“I recognised many children had a talent for music, but there weren’t enough music schools. I thought it was important to introduce western classical music to the young generation and enhance the quality of classical music education with qualified teachers from abroad.”

Gladwin set up his licensed “Phuket School of Music” in 2018 with his Thai partner. His school – registered with the Ministry of Education – has lived to tell the tale and grown despite Covid-19. He believes that foreign teachers and quality instruments are critical to his school’s success.

“It’s imperative to provide high quality instruments to the students because the very foundation for them is to train with responsive and tone sensitive instruments, allowing them to express themselves in performing. We offer programmes for the violin, piano, classical guitar, clarinet, saxophone, singing, and flute, immersing learners in the art of western classical music.”

Phuket School of Music boasts a 70 seat recital studio equipped with a Steinway designed Boston GP178 Performance Edition II, and music rooms furnished with Essex upright pianos by Steinway & Sons, enabling students to learn and perform with superior instruments.

“Speaking of quality instruments, I can safely say that about 95% of major concert halls worldwide use Steinway & Sons, and many institutions prefer to use Steinway designed pianos for their students. Steinway has become the preference of many great musicians.

His enthusiasm is palpable. He stands up, and strokes the grand piano affectionately. “The beauty of this piano is – we always think a piano is the key; that you get the sound you need. But in fact, the piano changes. When you play it softly, it sounds very sweet. When you play it harder, it responds to you. This grand piano can be fierce and bright, like the chiming of a bell. It’s a privilege for a pianist to know how to play a quality instrument,” he raves.

He says it allows the performer to express music with ultimate control of tone, dynamics, and articulation. “The response is very sensitive.”  

Are most of your students children?

“We have lots of young kids aged five to twelve, and there are a couple of teenagers and adults. There are no boundaries; we also teach three year olds.”

Even if a 70 year old signed up, he would accept them. “Music has no age limit; you can learn it at any point in life. But the best age to learn music is usually from age six to nine, so we encourage this generation to take the chance.”

Learning to play an instrument, Gladwin says, is like learning a language. “When you learn it at a young age, it stays with you as you get older.”

Children grow in the school over the years. “And especially nowadays” – he pauses, takes a deep breath – “it’s becoming more competitive; youngsters are getting more into music. Many kids are taking up music at an early age. It’s a privilege. I started late; I was twelve. They begin at four.” 

His father wanted Gladwin to pursue music and have his studio in the Philippines. “He wanted one part of the house to be a music studio, something like that,” he says and laughs heartily. But he never forced him; musical family members surrounded Gladwin. His uncle and cousins were all doing something with music. Eager to gain experience in different countries, he left the Philippines. He believes he learned from that.

For Gladwin, classical music is a lifestyle. “I want to make sure every student who learns here – it’s not just about learning to play a particular instrument – that we also build their character towards music, especially that of young kids.”

He wants the kids to lead the lifestyle of a musician. “It’s not just about the one hour per week that they’re here. When the students go home, it’s important for them to surround themselves with music. Whether it’s listening to music or talking about it, music has to be part of their lives. If they don’t do anything with music in their free time, it can be challenging for them to cope with their lessons. It has to be planted into their lifestyle. And that’s what we teach them.”

Has any of your students made it big?

“Some have joined competitions where they won first, second, and third prizes, but we are still a young school. We encourage kids to set their goals, whether for a performance or music exam – which we offer under the ABRSM – the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, a UK based examination board. And of course, the ABRSM is an excellent programme for all ages. When someone wants to get into university to develop music further, we set a strong foundation for them and help them prepare for auditions.”

What were the biggest challenges of setting up a music business in Thailand?

“I had to make sure moving here was feasible. Was the potential for a music business big enough? I noticed many expatriates want their kids to study at international schools in Phuket. There are also many local schools for sure. I realised every family wants their child to do something with music. And with this population that we have here in Phuket, I saw there was an opportunity.”

Scouting the area for a location, he found this place near Central Festival. “I felt it was the perfect location for the school. Having to start a school from scratch, with zero students, zero teachers, was demanding.”

“Business in Thailand” – he takes a deep breath – “to be honest, it’s a lot of paperwork. And to get to the right people who can show you how it’s done is a challenge.”

He explains you have to know how to develop a curriculum and submit it to the Ministry of Education, which needs to approve it. The school had to be licensed with his concept of employing expat teachers who need visas and work permits. “And qualified music teachers have to earn a decent income to sustain themselves here. We have to balance sustainable rates for the school and keeping them affordable for people.”

Another challenge is the language barrier. Some students aren’t able to communicate well in English, but they understand, somehow. And he has staff that helps him translate in the classes. But if a Thai doesn’t understand English at all, it isn’t child’s play. Some parents deliberately expose their children to this environment, so they learn English in the bargain. 

“Interestingly, it works for many students. Music is a language,” Gladwin says and laughs in a relieved manner.

Each kid responds differently in music, and creating individual solutions isn’t always easy. Some students have longer lessons, one hour or two hours per week, and if they’re preparing for an examination, concert, or any performance, even longer.

What was settling in like?

“I had to find a room, which is difficult if you don’t speak Thai. I was in Singapore for a long time; moving here after living in a fully developed city was a significant change.” He reflects. “Public transport is not as convenient here as in Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, or Manila, where you have the skytrain or subway. You got to have your own car. Other than that, you get everything you need. It’s very liveable.”

When Gladwin moved to Phuket, he always ate at food courts. Big C, Central Festival. Then he discovered eateries like Gluay Nam Wa, a restaurant in Phuket town’s Samkong area. He prefers local dishes now and always eats out as he enjoys the variety of dining options in Phuket. “I stopped going to the malls after a year. You can eat at different places every day for a month and still find new meals and restaurants.”

He thinks Phuket town is a mini city and appreciates the excellent balance in life the island offers. There are many world class hotels, beautiful beaches, and friendly Thais. To be in the centre of the island helped him a lot as it gave him a sense of Phuket’s local lifestyle.

What advice can you give to anyone wanting to move to Thailand, and Phuket in particular?

“It depends on what you want to do. You need to understand the culture, locals, and their lifestyle. How they tick and do things here might be very different from the way they handle things in your country. Many unexpected things might happen.”

He explains that if you want to settle in Phuket as a business person, you need to know the market and blend in.

Gladwin stresses it’s essential to follow your passion. When he moved to Phuket, people were skeptical about a classical music school on the island. “They were like, ‘There’s no market here for a classical concert.’” Gladwin ignored them and organised concerts in 2018 and 2019, and they were sold out.

“Before relocating, I was fully aware that the vast majority of companies targeted tourists. Phuket is and will always be a tourism hotspot. But I am not into that business.” He laughs convincingly and says there are many opportunities. “If you want your project to last, do what you love.”

Are you living your dream?

“Doing something that you love is a dream. But of course, we always try to expand our boundaries; life is an endless journey. For me, helping students grow and seeing them succeed is a dream. It’s a dream come true for them and for us.”

But rather than Holy Grail, for Gladwin, seeing the kids perform well in a concert and achieve high grades “is not just a dream, it’s a fulfilment.”

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Soi Dog Foundation warns the importance of global animal health is being overlooked in the fight against pandemics
To mark World Vet Day on April 24, Soi Dog Foundation has joined a number of international organisations in signing an open letter calling on governments and international agencies to invest in animal health and welfare in order to prevent another pandemic.
At least 75% of all new human infectious diseases emerge from animals, including the likes of Covid-19, SARS, Rabies and Ebola (UNEP). Looking ahead, it is vital that we take a One Health approach and recognise the complex relationship between humans, animals and the environment.
The letter, penned by the Action for Animal Health coalition, calls for an immediate injection of funding to map the gaps and train more veterinarians and veterinary paraprofessionals to standards established by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). By keeping animals healthy and remaining vigilant for new disease outbreaks, veterinarians play a critical role in preventing the next pandemic.
Action for Animal Health, which officially launches the week of May 24 to coincide with the OIE General Assembly, is a coalition of organisations working together to call on policymakers to invest in strengthening animal health systems. Key focuses include the need to increase and improve the global animal health workforce, increase the availability of veterinary medicines and vaccines, improve animal disease detection and surveillance, support community education and promote the One Health approach.
To find out more about the Action for Animal Health coalition and read the letter in full, please visit
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EmQuartier owned by The Mall Group in Phrom Pong recently launched EMJOY – an open edutainment centre for young children.

EMJOY for the youth of the digital generation in the heart of Sukhumvit is now open for business – and play! 

Expand your children’s imagination and encourage limitless creativity with over 6,000 square metres of educational and extra curricular activities within a fun, safe and colourful environment.

The area on the second floor of Building C the EmQuartier shopping complex is packed with facilities and functional spaces to entertain and enlighten your children and is a perfect destination for the family lifestyle.

EMJOY features the world’s leading institutes, most widely praised by the family community, focusing on encouraging out-of-classroom learning experiences for the younger generation with diverse fields of interest such as Bungee Workout, Choi’s Taekwondo, Code Genius, Copel, D Dance Studio, Haole Chinese Language, I can read, Kolor Me, Kumo Creative Studio, KX Smart Play, Mahidol Music Academy, Math Talent by Dr. Yong, Play Chef, Vocalise and many more.

Located in the zone are Kiddoland, Little Red Fox, Tanwa The Food Project, as well as Greyhound Café, with a new selection of family and kids menus. You can even take your Little Princess to the beauty parlour at Take Care Salon & Beauty, the beauty salon for kids and parents.

Dedicated to our children where they can explore and enjoy EMJOY and meet new friends. There are a variety of shops, restaurants and services that cater exclusively to young children.

The play zone is gaily decorated in a colourful, fun, educational and safe environment. It features functional spaces and convenient amenities, perfect for the family lifestyle, such as children’s restrooms, benches, and playgrounds. 


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The next generation of global citizens from everywhere, from nowhere

For third culture kids answering the question “where are you from” is not so simple. For the children of expats this explanation can take embarrassingly too long and cause some anxiety. Should the answer be one of nationality, where one was born, where one lives presently? Even where ones parents are from?

It was American sociologist Ruth Useem who in the 1950’s first coined the term third culture kid (TCK). She was studying the children of Americans living and working in India. The term was conceived to describe expatriate children who spend their formative years outside of their home country. They are shaped by the multicultural, nomadic spheres of their parents, many of whom are diplomats, military members or working for major multinational corporations. What she observed more than half a century ago rings true today still. Third culture kids are a globe spanning, diverse and highly adaptable lot.

As expat parents many of us find ourselves in the position of raising third culture kids. Even if we have recently moved abroad, the transition from “regular” kid to TCK happens faster than your shipping container might arrive. There are a few fail proof signs to determine if you are dealing with a third culture child. 1) The child’s accent changes depending on who they are talking too, 2) Even young children are very, very good a calculating time differences and flight durations 3) They pick up multi-language curse words before they can pass grade five spelling, 4) They know how the McDonald’s menu varies drastically from country to country. 5) They can convert the price of any toy to least two different currencies in an instant. There is a certain sparkle and fascination when it comes to this group, those with the well stamped passports and perfect recall of the best airport lounge food offerings.

Happy young mother playing and having fun with her little baby son in the park on a sunny summer day. Family on sunset

With the exception this past year due to Covid-19, expat families find themselves relocating frequently to locations that reach even the most remote corners of the globe. Children often transfer from one international school to the next every three to five years. They are exposed to communities populated by peers from dozens of nations with a melting pot of languages, customs and traditions that blend together. From this eclectic realm the concept of the “third” culture is born.

Each expat community differs in terms of the mix of precise backgrounds and nationalities, but what remains consistent is how expat groups prioritise spending time with each other. Their shared experience in a perpetual loop morphing from newbie, to fully settled in, to prepping to move again is at once both relatable and frustrating. There is the initial excitement, then the big ambitious plans to master the local language to the realisation that the posting is nearly complete and it will soon be time to pack out! Expat community members relate to one another on a level that acknowledges this state of impermanence, of always upcoming mobility whether for the annual trek back home to visit family or the move to the next post. The children of expats historically were even pigeonholed into smaller, less complimentary, category labels reflecting where their parents worked – “Army brats,” “biz kids,” “diplo brats,” even “oil kids.” Putting these belittling labels aside, third culture kids do have a unique upbringing. They are comfortable within multicultural settings. They typically are better equipped to deal with newness and change. They have to hone these skills to thrive, after all.

But it is not always smooth sailing for these cultural chameleons. There are some unique challenges to raising third culture kids. Most important may be the stress level they experience when the time comes to repatriate to their home country. A stress that can be compounded by the anticipation of culture shock their parents themselves expect imminently as well. The simplicity of early childhood is a time under appreciated by TCK parents. At the time, parents are too exhausted to recognise the early years are the “honeymoon phase” of third culture kid parenting. The inherently adaptable child will be amendable to trekking along on a variety of outings, even the “boring” cultural stops or rustic hikes through remote hillsides. The challenging teenage years are when the TCK will typically feel more worry over peer issues, fitting in or more accurately worry about being different. These life disruptions do run the risk of having lasting effects from loneliness to depression.

Yet, overall, most highlight that the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks of raising third culture kids. The experience also can bring the family closer through these shared times of change and adjustment. So, let’s celebrate the benefits of today’s TCK – an ever digitally connected, creative and curious tribe. This child can become bilingual or multilingual, a skill exceptionally seamless to achieve in the early years when language skills are developing. They can gain a truly worldview perspective getting up close knowledge of everything from cultural events to civil unrest. They can be more sensitive and empathetic to people from different backgrounds and socio-economic groups. They will be highly adaptive. They will have killer stories to share with friends back home and their own children in the future. They will have a network of friends around the globe. They will always think a flight under five hours is a quick commute. They will be natural mathematicians needing to calculate cost of goods between currencies, Amazon import fees and time zone differences for social media chats with friends across an array of globe time zones. They will have a diverse range of favourite foods, goofball jokes and corny songs to love.

Some say being a third culture kids creates a risk of being rootless. Never fully belonging to one place over another. I believe it brings choice, freedom, and adaptability – benefits that are priceless.

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When I was little I was laid down to sleep by hands that have felt darkness and light, eyes that have seen grief and pain, yet never allowing us to see it in their gaze. My pancakes were made extra doughy by a woman who has cared for children from third world countries and children from all over the New England states who needed specialised care. My body was hugged and felt safe by a man who rushed to houses in the middle of a cold dark night to save someone’s dream home that was up in flames.  

I grew up playing inside of a funeral home, my siblings and I played hide-and-go-seek behind caskets and thought nothing of the body laying in the room waiting for their family to come see him or her dressed and made up for their final goodbye. In my teenage years I would happily join my Dad on a ride to – pardon the harshness – “go pick up a body” at the airport.  The quiet ride together and the reality of life and death so profound at that age. 

I was raised by The helpers. These helpers are my parents. Helen and Russ. When my father returned from the Vietnam War to find a ‘new normal’ way of life, he worked as a contractor and then later was hired as a funeral assistant at a funeral home, close to where he was raised.  

Years later he went to school to become an EMT and then a full time firefighter. He worked at the funeral home and as a firefighter for 32 and 34 years, respectively.  

My mother and her eldest sister became the first two of three sisters to become nurses. In her career she worked in a children’s hospital, nursing homes and her favourite – which ended her nursing career on paper – a school nurse to elementary school aged children.

Our lives were filled with shift schedules. My Dad entered home in one uniform, to the “station” as it was said in our house. My mom left once he arrived – to work the nightshift to help make ends meet. We heard beepers ring in the night, we were left staring at my father’s empty chair where his Thanksgiving meal was sat, covered in aluminium foil awaiting his safe return from the massive warehouse fire he was helping the neighbouring  city put out.  

Our house did not have a study with a computer, or framed diplomas with their degrees and accolades lining our hallways. Our house was not large, modern or trendy. It was cozy, filled with warm blankets for cuddling up, the smell of cookies and bread being baked in the oven. It was an open door, welcoming, loving, and healing you. It was filled with the noises that alarmed us, let us know something was happening, that there was an emergency, or someone had passed through to the gates of heaven.  

This was my childhood. Early dinners we shared before Dad headed off to his shift just to simply be together. Secret “free” car washes in the back of the station garage that Dad would allow when we had our first car. I can still smell the soap they used. Mom was called on by neighbours, hurt children, ill parents needing home care – could she help? Did she have time to spare?     

Each corner I turned I was praised for their goodness. Teachers, coaches, my friends’ parents acknowledging how my mom or dad had helped them through a death, a tough time, or a moment where they didn’t know where to turn and when they found them they were saved. A gentle word said by my Dad to comfort someone’s loss at a viewing. My Mom’s support and referral to a hospital she knew someone working at, to help connect them to a Doctor and speed up a pending diagnosis. There would be late summer evening knocks at the door to see if she could clean boo-boos from boys who fell off their bikes or out of the tree. She’d greet them with warmness and a tender touch, making you feel instantly better and safe with her voice and hands alone.  

It meant something then, it was a feeling, undefinable until I was older. The feeling would run deep, even at six years old when I was watching my Dad in his fire gear teach my classmates how to “Stop, drop, and roll.” Lessons scheduled each month in our home to make sure we knew our escape route and how to execute. It wasn’t paranoia, it wasn’t overdone. It was simply natural – as if a chef would teach their child to sear a steak or a hairdresser teaching their daughter how to cut her fringe.

Right or wrong, too much or too little, this was how my older sister,  younger brother and I were raised. It was a childhood with caution, awareness, stories of triumph and sadness, and exciting outcomes after heartbreak and fear.  

We learned how to accept disappointment – if my dad made it to our field hockey game we were lucky that day and never took it for granted. Understanding on that day he planned to drive an hour to see our championship game, he never arrived. I’d look for his face, his uniform perhaps to flash on the side of my eye as I dribbled down the sideline – when it didn’t come, I knew he tried. It was just that he had to help and that support he’d be giving may be to someone suffering their  greatest pain.  

My parents have been retired for years.  They’ve been able to have a huge hand in supporting my sister, Heather and her husband Sean raising their three children, Caitlin, Cara and Connor. They’ve made their home into my family’s only home in the USA for the past six years as we’ve lived in Bangkok. Reverting movie rooms back to play rooms, and reconverting bedrooms that had long ago been turned to storage rooms back into bedrooms with Star Wars adorned beds and closets filled with boys shorts and tee shirts from the house we sold. 

Even though their careers ended, The helping did not and it far exceeds my immediate family. When COVID started to become more prevalent in March, I asked my parents while on a FaceTime call what it felt to be them right now. How were they coping, being the helpers of the past and now, unable to due to age and ability? They were quiet, they looked at each other while finding the words. After some time Mom spoke and said “I wish I could do more, I wish I could help, I want to help.” Dad nodded, and said “I agree, it is difficult to sit here and not be doing.”  

We talked more, sharing how the pandemic was impacting healthcare, essential workers, and funeral homes overrun so much so that bodies were placed in refrigerated trucks in parking lots. Both of my parents couldn’t fathom what was happening and how to overcome it. 

If you looked at them and peered into their souls, you would see all they’ve done for others has just made sense and has never been a compromise. There is a world full of these humans and they are to be treasured and appreciated. This pandemic is showing the amount of these selfless beings and in some way I hope we can look at that as a light, that we were able to see what the helpers are dedicated to and how many there are. If I can sure say anything myself, they are capable of a whole heck of a lot.  

“Don’t be hard on yourself, or others. None of us have done this before, none of us know what we are doing. We weren’t trained for this.” Russell F. McKenna Sr. My dad’s first words of encouragement when we went into lockdown in Bangkok and we talked about what it felt like.

Meghan Lynch 

December 9, 2020

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Today the country marks the passing of the Late King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great our beloved Rama IX who died on the 13th October 2016 at the age of 88.

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej visited the Tourist Organisation Thailand (now the Tourism Authority of Thailand) on 25 February 1971
When the King visited the Tourism Authority of Thailand (then known as the Tourism Organisation of Thailand) office for the first and only time in February 1971, he had the wisdom to give the TAT, and by extension, the fledgling travel & tourism industry, some guidance on what was really at stake.

He made no mention of job creation, income generation or visitor arrivals. In less than 500 words, he simply recommended building a good global reputation for Thailand by highlighting its real assets – natural beauty, rich culture, well mannered people and way of life. If this can be done, he said, Thailand will enjoy good relations with foreigners.

He advised, “Everything you do you must stress this. I hope everyone who is working (at TAT), does it with strength, thought and concentration so that it will benefit the country. I hope everyone performs their work to the best of their abilities and succeeds in their objectives.”

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How often should you wash your sheets, pillows, doona and mattress? And when is it time to throw them out? Experts explain how to keep your bed clean

Or perhaps, like this TikTok user’s boyfriend, you’re hanging on to a decade-old set of pillows that have never seen a splash of water.

Homebound and hygiene-conscious, we’re paying more attention to keeping things clean in the bedroom. And while most people probably don’t “season” their sheets, many of us aren’t cleaning our beds as often as we should be.

Sweat, skin cells and tiny prowlers

Is that just plain gross or is it a bigger problem? According to respiratory expert Professor John Blakey from Sir Charles Gairdner hospital in Western Australia, “If you didn’t wash your bedding for a year it would be more than a kilo heavier just because of dead skin.”

It gets worse. Little microscopic dust mite arthropods (like spiders), thrive on these skin cells, particularly on pillows because they love the humid environment. “More than 10% of the weight of the manky pillows will be hundreds of thousands of dust mites and their droppings,” Blakey says. Even if that doesn’t unnerve you, it can be problematic for the millions of Australians who have asthma. Dust mite allergy can also cause all-year-round hayfever-type symptoms.

Other microscopic lurkers that flourish on sweaty old bedding include bacteria that can alter the lungs’ microbiome and lead to infections or interfere with inhaled drugs, says Blakey, along with allergy-causing fungal spores such as Aspergillus fumigatus that can trigger asthma. And to complete the cycle, it’s thought these little spores, which are most commonly found in pillows, might feed on dust mite droppings.

Bed bugs are not as common in Australia as they are elsewhere, but infestations are increasing, and the resulting red welts could be mistaken for eczema. Even skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis can be exacerbated by bacteria that lurk in unwashed bedding, according to dermatologists Dr Steven Shumack from Central Sydney Dermatology. Exposing infected skin to sheets can also cause reinfection. Other nasties to look out for that can hang out in sheets and pillowcases are staphylococcus and scabies.

So, freshly laundered bedding clearly has more perks than the exquisite smell of clean sheets. But when and how should we clean it?

Sheets and pillowcases

Although there is no hard and fast rule, the consensus is that sheets and pillowcases should be washed each week. “I’d be a little worried if people weren’t washing their bedding approximately weekly,” says Blakey, and only a hot wash will kill mites and fungi. The National Asthma Council recommends washing in water hotter than 55C. Failing that, they suggest hot tumble drying for 10 minutes or washing in cold water with a product containing tea tree or eucalyptus oil.

Opening the windows and airing sheets in the sun are also recommended. Shumack suggests people with skin conditions wash even more often, adding that ironing sheets and pillowcases can also help sterilise them.

It should be noted that sweat – and urine – contains urea, which can react with cleaning products and form compounds called nitrosamines which trigger asthma. The best evidence so far in this regard points to bleaches, so it is better to avoid cleaning agents that contain chlorine. Pouring bleach into a bathtub to clean filthy pillows as in the TikTok video “might well make someone wheezy”, notes Blakey. People with skin rashes can also react to certain cleaning products, says Shumack. This can be alleviated by making sure the bedding is rinsed well after washing to avoid any residue.


The Good Housekeeping Institute suggests pillows should be washed every six months. But as they are hotspots for dust mites and their teeny friends, Asthma Australia recommends washing and drying them thoroughly each month.

Most pillows will come with cleaning instructions on their tags, so it’s best to follow the manufacturers directions – but if you’ve cut your pillow tags off (or never had them to begin with) down and synthetic pillows can typically be machine washed, while memory foam pillows should be soaked with gentle detergent, rinsed, gently squeezed then left to air-dry.

To keep mites away, the National Asthma Council recommends covering pillows, as well as mattresses and quilts, with mite-resistant cases – which is no substitute for washing them regularly.

Asthma Australia suggests replacing pillows when you notice they’re starting to lose their lustre, while some manufacturers suggest doing this every couple of years.


Doonas – and likely other covers like blankets – can also collect dust mites, so these should be at least aired, and ideally washed, regularly. Many doonas and covers are dry-clean only, so pay close attention to the manufacturer’s directions.

While some manufacturers suggest replacing doonas every five years, there’s no hard and fast rule about this, and the lifespan of your duvet will likely depend on how often you wash it.

Either way, if you do want to get rid of your doona or pillow, Friends with Dignity gratefully accept them.

There are other options, too. “The crafty ones among us can upcycle them into large floor cushions, door stops or use for packing and moving,” says Ryan Collins, head of Circular Economy Programs at Planet Ark. Unfortunately, they are not recyclable so will otherwise need to go in the bin.

The mattress

“If you can’t remember when you bought your mattress, get a new one!” says Blakey. He also recommends vacuuming your mattress when you’re hoovering the floors, and for sensitive people, using allergen-impregnable covers to help avoid contact with dust mites and their droppings.

Disposing of mattresses can cause other problems, though. Collins says 1.6 to 1.8 million are thrown out every year in Australia alone. Only half are recycled, so the rest end up in landfill. This is a problem because they are hard to compact and take up a lot of space. And most of their components, such as wood, foam, fabric and steel springs, can be recycled. “By not recycling these materials we’re wasting the resources, energy and water that went into making the product in the first case,” says Collins.

Many councils around Australia provide mattress recycling services, although there may be a fee, and some mattress retailers or brands have a return service. If the mattress is in good condition, it can be cleaned and reused or donated to charities. Householders can search for drop-off and pick-up services, and businesses can search

Even though these measures can help keep mites and other little lurkers at bay, all-round cleanliness certainly helps. Blakey says not to forget about exposure from other sources like sofas, rugs, clothes and office chairs. “Just having a clean bed isn’t going to be a cure-all.”

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When I gave birth to my daughter and made the transition to motherhood, I was still trying to grapple with my own concept of what a “good” mother means. What should a mother do and not do to be considered “good”, because I know I wanted to be a good mum for my daughter. I remember feeling guilty and ashamed for leaving my daughter with a nanny to go for my own exercise. Then I asked myself why should I feel bad? I felt bad, because I was having an internal battle with myself.

My internal battle

My love for exercise started when I was in the final year of high school, going through a stressful period of preparing for a university entrance exam in Australia. Truth be told, I started running because I didn’t want to get fat. I was studying and eating all day long and it was starting to show. I quickly realised that not only did exercise help me destress, it gave me more energy, it made me stronger, and I was pleasantly surprised at the distances I was able to cover! I was proud of myself – I never thought I had an athletic streak in me. I kept up with exercise right through to my pregnancy. I remember going to a gym class the day before my daughter was born and feeling great about the session.    

After I gave birth to my daughter, I felt disconnected to my postpartum body, I didn’t like what I was seeing in the mirror. My belly was wobbly, I felt weak, I didn’t look right. I wanted to do something about my body, and get back to exercise, but in my mind I had an overwhelming sense of guilt. The voice inside my head kept asking “what kind of a selfish mum are you leaving your baby to go exercise?” I felt so confused and ashamed – where was all this guilt coming from? I felt compelled to be with my daughter and look after her, but I also wanted to go exercise and look after myself. I was torn in two.

Our society praises selflessness and decries selfishness. The message is loud and clear – mum has to be selfless. A good mother cares first for her babies, then her partner, then herself. Therefore, self-care gets equated with selfishness. When a mum takes time off and does something for herself, she’s selfish, she’s not a good mother.  

For the longest time, I smothered the side of me that wanted to look after myself, and I stayed back with my daughter to be a good selfless mum that I ought to be. But slowly I grew unhappy, and resentful. Unhappy because I felt drained and exhausted like a cup half-empty. Resentful because even though I wanted to be “selfless”, I still desperately needed a little time out, so I felt “forced” to give from my already half empty cup.  

Fear of selfishness syndrome

Selflessness doesn’t come naturally to me, it comes with a level of exhaustion, anxiety and unhappiness. Then it dawned on me that I was suppressing the urge to look after myself simply out of the “fear of selfishness”. I was afraid what other people would think of me. This feels like the exact opposite of giving from the heart which selflessness embodies. The fear of selfishness asserts that I need to do whatever it takes to be there for other people,  especially my children, even when I feel overwhelmed and worn out. Because of this, the fear of selfishness carries the energy of shame and guilt. I felt bad leaving my daughter to go exercise, and equally bad not going. I felt trapped without a choice. The realisation that a good mother comes from within NOT from others marked my turning point. It made me want to search for my own definition of what being a good mother means. I truly believe we cannot adequately care for others if we do not care for ourselves first.

Put on your oxygen mask first before helping others

The truth is a mother also needs her downtime, for me there’s a time for self-care and there’s a time for selflessness. The two concepts are not mutually exclusive. By recognising when to be generous and when to be self-attentive, you create boundaries that will help you. Help protect you from over extending yourself and help protect others from the resentment that can form when you overextend for them. You wear yourself thin when you act out of fear of being selfish. Just as the cabin crew say in the flight safety briefing – “Put on your oxygen mask first before helping others”. You are no good to anyone if you run out of oxygen. To me, the distinction between selflessness and self-care is not black and white. We can divide our time to do both. We spend 1 hr on ourselves, the remaining 23 hours we can still be good and devoted mums. We can be a selfless mum and we can also be a mum who takes care of herself. We don’t need to exclusively choose one or the other.

Self-nurturing is an essential prerequisite for good parenting. As your child gets older, you need to set a good example for him or her. Your child needs to see a mum who respects and looks after herself. This is not selfishness; this is self-respect and good role modelling.   There’s no need to lose your sense of self in the process of mothering. Don’t let your identity disappear in the guise of motherhood. I strongly believe in practicing self-nurturing daily!

Make sure you have space for your own needs. Nurture yourself by doing something each day that you want – go exercise, get a manicure, read a book, dress up and get out. I promise your baby will be just fine with your husband, your mum, or your nanny. Thailand is a great place to get help, it’s affordable and never too far away.

Sharing my belief – creating My Mummy First

I founded My Mummy First during my maternity leave, because I believe mums deserve to be looked after too. I was inspired to create a company that focuses on the mum, and the mum only. Through exercise and fitness, I found other mums out there that felt the way I did. Through this common connection I realised my superpower, I can make fitness fun. I get to work with the most amazing women who show me how wonderful and powerful motherhood truly is. My Mummy First is a company, but it’s really a community of mums that support, celebrate and lift each other up so we can all become the best version of ourselves. 

Be good to yourself – give yourself the love and respect you deserve. You’ll be a better parent, a better partner, and a happier mum. This I truly believe.

Gale Ruttanaphon – Graduate Purdue University, Masters Sydney University, ACE Certified Trainer with Pre/Post Natal Specialisation, Corporate Speaker, Life Coach, Mother of two.


IG: MyMummyFirst

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Hello, everyone now is the time for each of us to stay safe at home and to wait for the restrictions to lift for Covid-19 crisis.

Work related issues; it is almost impossible to stay in the house for a couple of weeks like this because of school issues. So, to overcome the crisis and finish your seven-step tasks, let’s just do the following:

1. Cooking

First of all, let’s say this: ‘the gut’ is the most important thing. You can ‘wait for the bowels of the womb’ and do other things you want to do in the womb. 

In addition, it is absolutely essential to maintain good health now that you have to cook your own food.

We also encourage those who have never been in the kitchen to try and cook. So, when you are alone, There is no problem when it is time to eat from home.

2. Spend time with family

Because of work routines, it is not always possible to spend time with the family. Now is the best chance to fill the void.

While at home, you can make bread with your family. By watching movies together, you can fully create the best memories of life.

For a moment, I would like to remind you of social media and encourage your family and your archetypes to warm up.

3. Tell your crush

It is now time for everyone to stay indoors, as well as to climb the line almost full time.

There are so few external issues and little attention is given so now is the best chance to get attention from your crush.

Therefore, I would like to encourage you to take a closer look at crush in your own way.

Speak up immediately… If you immediately ask for an answer, immediately (repetition) blame yourself.

4. Make time for hobbies

Now you can spend a lot of time working to get what you are passionate about.

I would like to encourage you to do some lighthearted and fun things to relieve your tiredness at work.

Look at what you want to do and what you want to do because it depends on the person doing it.

5. Get recording

While filming your day at home, take a video and record it. I also want to talk about what you want to say. Also, tap into the video that you want to share.

By doing so, you can re-evaluate yourself. The memory will remain.

Besides recording video, you can record audio and video. You can also do diary writing.

6. Keep yourself safe

It is easy to let go of too much fast food while eating indoors. Do not stop doing what you do every day.

We do not always live at home. Soon you will be interacting with people.

The skin is damaged or damaged during that time. Extra fat – don’t be bothered by acres.

Eat a healthy diet. There are so many exercises that can be done at home, so take a look online and try it out.

Male or female skin girl or girl learn makeup tutorials and step up so when you meet up with your friends, you will be glowing and glowing.

7. Think about the future

When you are less active, review your position.

Whether it’s love or not. How to deal with work issues. How to do it better. Think about what you still need. Make plans.

Those looking forward to the future will not be the night. You will be able to work calmly with what you have to do.

So, I urge you to be prepared for the future while you are spending time.

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Beginning with my rape at 14, sex has been a disturbing, sometimes violent and always unfulfilling experience. To the outside world, I have it together: a solid job I am good at, a caring ex-partner and two beautiful children. Yet, all my attempts at intimacy have been fraught with shame, secrecy and a lack of authenticity.

Most recently, I reconnected with an older man I met four years ago. I rebuffed his advances first time round; for reasons I am still unsure of, I pursued him this time. I thought the disclosure of my vulnerability and my history of abuse would ensure he would treat me respectfully and with care. I was wrong. The sex felt forceful and, during oral intercourse, I became so distressed that my bladder, weakened by childbirth, lost control and I wet the bed.

A week after our night together, he stopped initiating contact. Though my rational mind understands how unhealthy the experience was, the feeling of abandonment is strong.

What makes it worse is that, to my deep dismay, this is a pattern I keep repeating, seemingly ad infinitum. It is as though the abuse I experienced as a child has trapped me in this pattern I unwillingly recreate to my own detriment. I desperately want a fulfilling, safe, loving and intimate relationship. I would like to experience an orgasm with someone, something I have never achieved. My experience shows how difficult it is to recover from childhood abuse. I fear that I will never find what I am longing for.

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