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THANK YOU to all the Mumsnetters who took part in the Freeview research into children and television. You can view the final report by Dr Tanya Byron and Viewtrition: A Parents' Guide to Quality TV for Kids, including a selection of Mumsnetters recommendations, here.

Hello from Mumsnet HQ...

...Where we've been putting the finishing touches to the brilliant Mumsnet Christmas cards. They go on sale tomorrow, with all the money raised going to Kids Company. So that's the cards sorted, but what about presents? Mumsnet toy reviews have been spruced up in time for Christmas shopping, so make sure you have a look at how other parents rate toys and gifts before you start buying.

This Saturday sees the Mumsnet London Xmas booze meet-up in a Clerkenwell hostelry. We dread look forward to seeing the pictures afterwards. Have a gander at the details of your nearest Mumsnet Xmas do.

But if the festive season makes you long to get away, we have a timely new Mumsnet partner - independent travel company Mark Warner, who are offering Mumsnetters a 7% discount. Skiing or winter sun? Tough call.

And we've got another great offer to warm your cockles: every adult who buys a ticket to the smash-hit show Hairspray on a Monday night between 5 Jan and 29 June 2009 will get a child's ticket absolutely free.

Now for this week's parenting news ...

Four children a week die from abuse: Up to four children die each week in England from abuse or neglect, according to official figures. The report, from Ofsted, makes clear that the death of Baby P was far from an isolated tragedy. Ofsted found 282 vulnerable children – many of them already known to social services – died in the 17-month period to the end of August. Two-thirds of those killed or hurt were babies aged less than a year old (Times 20.11.08).

Work ban for new mums: Mothers will be banned from working within six weeks of giving birth, under new EU plans that aim to improve maternity leave and make it uniform across Europe. Business leaders have criticised the plans, saying they believe employers will stop giving jobs to women if the cost of maternity leave rises – and the Tories warn the six-week rule could damage the careers of businesswomen who want to return to work as soon as possible after a birth (Daily Telegraph 20.11.08).

Other stories in brief

Hundreds of primary schools in England will be rebuilt, it was announced this week, as the government promised £1.75bn for building work (BBC Online 14.11.08); parents believe watching TV can have a positive influence on their children, says a report by Dr Tanya Byron, who was commissioned by digital TV service Freeview to survey parents' views via Mumsnet (Daily Telegraph 19.11.08); the computer crash has overtaken the family dog's appetite as the number one excuse for pupils who haven't done their homework, according to a teachers' survey (Times 19.11.08); family maths classes and arithmetic-themed coffee mornings for parents could help improve standards in the subject in primary schools, the government spending watchdog said this week (Times 19.11.08); mums are better drivers than dads, say most children - they think fathers tend to be aggressive, drive too fast, and lose their tempers too quickly in the driving seat (Daily Mail 18.11.08); a father who spent a night in police cells because he was seen smacking his son's bottom has made an official complaint and demanded an apology (Times 18.11.08).

TIME FOR A STORY on Windows Live Messenger is a service that enables you to see and talk with your little ones, wherever you are, whilst reading them an interactive story. Get closer to your loved ones and never miss out on Time for a Story!

Hot threads

Competitions

Prizes galore to win this week: And don't forget, you can enter as many competitions as you like.

Quote of the week

sfxmum on her how her DP would respond if she texted to say 'I love you': "Mine would think I had been taken hostage and it was code, police would be at the door enquiring after my welfare."

3 x FREE CHILDREN'S BOOKS FOR EVERY READER Three fabulous books - Christmas Books by Charles Dickens (a collection of five seasonal stories), Wind In The Willows by Kenneth Grahame and Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. These books are yours FREE... you just pay p&p of £3.25. Click here to claim your books.
If you're planning a winter day out, Mumsnetters recommend:
For trips and outings in your area, look at your Mumsnet Local (site, not pub).

Carmenere's recipe of the week: Bozza's turkey meatloaf

Next Thursday is Thanksgiving, so if you want to make a homesick Yank feel welcome without going the whole hog, try this recipe for turkey meatloaf. Turkey's cheap, tasty and not just for Christmas - but please don't serve it with sweet potatoes covered in marshmallows (boak).


That's your lot for this week. We're off to muster some Dutch courage for Saturday's do.

Love,
MN Towers

PAMPERS/UNICEF The run-up to Christmas is the perfect time to turn your thoughts to those around the world who are less fortunate, while also having some fun. That’s why Pampers has set up the Regional Fundraising Project in aid of the UNICEF tetanus campaign. Visit pampers.co.uk for more details.

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