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Having recently returned from a wonderful family vacation, some of which was spent hiking in the backcountry near Lake Louise, I’ve got a new trick for encouraging little hikers along the trail that I picked up from some of our group members. The ‘hiking fairy’ is a variation on the candy theme that is even more effective than the promise of an M&M every 50 steps or so.
Just like kids want to believe in the tooth fairy when they think they will be left a little something, kids want to believe in the hiking fairy too—especially when they think that fairy might leave them a candy or two ahead on the trail. Like on a nice, easy to spot rock, for example. So assign an adult who is ahead on the trail to drop little piles of the candy du jour (at least one per kid still coming up the trail) from time to time and watch the motivation levels soar. Sweet trails!
Kids need structure—they crave it, according to the experts. And what happens when you shake up that structure and introduce the kind of change that even mature and responsible adults (like us) can’t handle? Well, I can tell you from personal experience this past week that your child will turn into someone you have never seen before. But if it does happen to you, don’t panic because you will get your child back soon enough.
This past week my 10 year-old son switched schools—yes, mid-year. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I thought he would accept it and embrace the challenge like any new sport or team he has joined in the past. Like going to camp, maybe?
Not so much.
Apparently, I forgot about the structure part of life that we had supported for so long. I forgot that he had been in the same school for seven out of his 10 years—that’s almost a lifetime for him. So we considered for a few days—is the change too much? Or is it actually a good thing? Will the anxiety of adapting to a new environment be damaging or affect his learning process?
When we told him the news, he went from being the nicest kid in the world to the craziest kid in the world. Clearly, just thinking about the change was too much for him. We knew the only way for him to accept it was to get him into the classroom and learn from experience. Sure enough, we are on day five and he has figured it out. There have been a few tears and a lot of (very) loud discussions, but we are through the worst of it.
As parents, we are reminded that change is a reality of life. Whether you think it’s a good thing or a bad thing, our kids benefit from learning how to navigate through it at some stage. There will be a time for most parents when we are faced with making a tough decision on behalf of our children that we feel is right, but that we know they won’t understand. Those are the toughest decisions to make and even tougher to execute because they usually involve some kind of change.
The best advice I received through our process was to follow my instincts and stick to my convictions. I’m glad I did.
Tell me a tough love story of yours. I am interested to hear it.
First let me start off by saying that I am not always very creative when it comes to my kids. Luckily for me, I have a sister-in-law who is quite talented, and she is currently volunteering for two of her kids’ schools to create some 2010 Olympic Spirit crafts in their classrooms. We were together at a family gathering on Sunday and I was duly impressed with her latest creation. She has come up with a great Olympic souvenir that is sure to be a hit with both the 3 year-olds and the 7 year-olds (whose Winter Games excitement she is looking to pique). The best part is that this souvenir is also simple to make (even for moms) and cost-effective, too.
Homemade Gold Medals
What You’ll Need:
How to Make:
I can tell you first-hand that my boys thought these were the coolest gifts they had received in a while. One of my sons did not even want to take his off to go to bed. Their cousins (ages 3, 6, 7) also wore their new medals all afternoon.
Our kids may not yet understand what it takes to win a real medal (or qualify for the Olympics for that matter), but beyond the pure fun of having an Olympic souvenir, they gain a sense of the excitement building in our city and maybe as they watch their favourite athletes earn their real medals on the podium, they will understand the pride and passion these athletes deserve to feel.
I have Olympic Fever. I admit it. Whether it is the Canadian spirit that I have never previously witnessed on such a mass scale, the amazing feeling of the party-like atmosphere on our streets or watching an athletic event with spectators from around the world, all showing their team colours and national pride as they cheer their athletes on—these games have truly captured me.
At Thunderbird Stadium, the Swiss were capped in Swiss flags and ringing cow bells to cheer their women’s hockey team on as they took on Team Canada. The Richmond Oval was a sea of orange (and no matter if the fans were young or old, the orange attire was wild!) as the Dutch dominated the cheering during the women’s 500m Long Track. Of course, the Koreans, Japanese, Germans and Chinese fans also came in groups to the Oval, waving flags and cheering loudly, and it was this incredible cultural mix that made the event so much fun.
The Victory Ceremonies last week were also colourful. Among medal presentations for Canadians Christine Nesbitt and Marianne St Gelais and Americans Shani Davis and Shawn White, the Norwegians won Gold in men’s 20km and women’s 15km Biathlon in Whistler, and while their medals were announced, Norwegian flags were everywhere.
Canada Hockey Place was equally divided during Czechs vs Latvians men’s hockey game. There were not just flags and shirts to show support, but full body (and face) paint in red, white and blue or burgundy and white. Latvian fans cheered “Ja, Ja, Latvijia” loudly. The Czechs, victorious, matched the cheering, which spilled onto the streets after the game. Women’s semi-finals hockey between the USA and Sweden was the same: the rink was divided between the distinctive yellow and blue Swedish colours and the red, white and blue stars and stripes.
Whether they live there currently or just have roots in these countries, everyone is proudly supporting the world’s best and creating an international flavour that this city has rarely seen. It is an amazing, fun and light-hearted introduction to international culture for our kids. You are sure to see fans from countries such as Finland, Belarus and Russia and many more proudly wearing and waving colours of the world’s flags throughout the city.
They say on St. Patrick’s Day everyone is Irish. So in celebration of that,we wanted to suggest a few fun things to explore on Wednesday. After all, St. Pat’s Day is all about luck, and we could all use a little of that (as well as a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, of course).
So here are some quick and easy ways to celebrate.
Pull out all that green clothing from your closet and make it a green-themed day. Make dinner all about green goodies (it’s a great way to get the kids to eat those veggies!). Add a little Dr. Seuss to your world and create green eggs and ham. Or simply add a bit of green food colouring to those mashed potatoes. Food colouring also works well to transform white cupcakes and icing into green goodies, and for good measure, add a chocolate coin on top!
Try Your (Craft) Luck
The nice thing about St. Patrick’s Day is that there are lots of great themes to work with. Rainbows, leprechauns, four-leaf clovers… all of them can be transformed into fun crafts. Consider making rainbow-beaded bracelets (with a few gold beads thrown in for good measure). Take the idea of ‘green’ to heart and recycle an old cardboard box to create your own painted rainbow, clovers or gold coins. Large yogurt containers can become the top part of a lucky leprechaun hat. Place the wide brim on a piece of thick cardboard and trace a circle. Then, trace a wider circle around that. Cut out both circles and slide it down over the yogurt container until it’s down at the bottom like the brim of a hat. Paint everything green (or use construction paper over top). If you’d rather, transform the containers into special lucky ‘pots’ by painting them black. You can use them for the hunt below.
Hunt for Gold
Who says Easter is the only time you can go on a chocolate treasure hunt? Hide some gold-wrapped chocolate coins around the house and send your kids off with their own pots (see above) to collect them. Or make it a bit more savvy by creating a series of four-leaf clovers out of construction paper. Add a riddle to one that leads to somewhere in the house, where a second one is hiding with another clue, etc. The final clue can lead to a special spot where your pot of gold treats is waiting.
Or, you could simply ad a bit of flare to your dinner (Irish stew, anyone?), then sit back and relax with the family with a St. Patty’s Day-themed movie (Finian’s Rainbow, Darby O’Gill and the Little People, The Luck of the Irish) and a mint-flavoured hot chocolate.
In any case, we wish you lots o’ luck this St. Patrick’s Day.
How do you celebrate the holiday?
Becoming a mom means you’ll never be the same person again—I think we moms can all agree about that. But exactly who that new person is really depends on you. Some of us feel more ‘whole’ with a baby by our side; others feel torn with our varied roles. Some of us are happy to put others needs first 24/7; others need more ‘me-time’ to recharge.
With Mother’s Day coming up, we want to learn how becoming a mother has changed you. Do you worry more? Shower less? Fight with your partner more? Fight with your mom less? Share some thoughts with us on your ‘mom milestones’ and be entered for your chance to win this gorgeous lifestyle bag from SoYoung Mother valued at $150. It’s got features you can’t even dream of and will take you through all the stages of parenthood.
And take it from us, every stage is as wonderful and rewarding as the previous one.
Enter here and good luck.
(View contest rules. Contest closes April 30, 2010)
Here’s a great job description for parents that made its way into my inbox recently. I liked it so much, I found myself reading it over, forwarding it to friends, reading it out loud in the office and smiling and nodding a lot.
Now that my boys are getting a bit older, I can relate to the part about endless sports tournaments and being hated (temporarily) until someone needs $5. But no matter what the age of your children, there is something in this that you will relate to—especially the end. But I won’t give it away, you can read for yourself. (Ed note: my favourite part is the compensation package.)
POSSIBILITY FOR ADVANCEMENT & PROMOTION:
WAGES AND COMPENSATION:
Last weekend SavvyMom joined hundreds of mom brands and businesses at the International Centre for the 12th Annual Spring BabyTime Show. It was a great weekend and we met a lot of other interesting companies and vendors.
It goes without saying that we most enjoyed meeting the ladies from Please Mum, our show partners this year. Please Mum is a Canadian retailer started by a mom entrepreneur with over 90 stores across the country. They sell adorable and affordable kids’ clothes (in case you haven’t heard of them, but I’m pretty sure you have). Our partnership is based on an exclusive contest we are running with them for SavvyMom readers—a chance to win a $500 shopping spree! This contest is running online and is being promoted in stores as well throughout the month of May.
The BabyTime show was a great opportunity to launch the contest and get some buzz going. And since we like to ‘super-size’ everything we do, we decided it would be fun to showcase some of the fabulous fashions for kids by hosting a fashion show. So we did just that. All of the SavvyMoms from our office with babies and toddlers came to the main stage to show off their kids in the latest Please Mum summer fashions.
Thank you to Ally, Madeline, Riley, Josh and Mathew, who all got up and smiled, waved and danced in front of all those strangers! And thank you to our savvy staff who brought their beauties to the show and accompanied them out on the catwalk!
It’s National Drowning Prevention week and the timing is critical.
As of July 16, there have been 197 drownings in Canada this year, versus 163 at the same point last year, according to the Lifesaving Society. With a number of recent deaths, that toll has now been raised to over 200 drownings. According to the Canadian Institute for Health, seven people per day visit Ontario emergency departments with water-related injuries in the summer months, and children under five are at greatest risk.
As a competitive swimmer (in my youth), lifeguard and swim instructor, I thought I knew a lot about water safety. My most recent research taught me something new, however, and I think it’s worth sharing: SILENCE IS DEADLY. If you can’t hear your children playing in the water, they could very well be under the water. The point here is that drowning victims do not always splash around and call for help because they don’t often have the ability to if they are choking on a huge gulp of water (it’s very similar to choking on land—where the victim is silent). So if you have rambunctious kids like I do, you already know that when things are quiet, that’s not necessarily a good thing—on land or in water.
The best way to avoid major accidents is to insist the kids wear life jackets. Not water wings or one of those fat bathing suits—a proper, certified life jacket.
If your kids can swim, great. But don’t leave them with someone who isn’t watching closely. Send that older sibling, grandparent or friend in to make the sandwiches and you keep an eye on the swimmers.
For more water safety tips, read the SavvyMom article on drowning from earlier this week (just in case you missed it).
What are your water safety tips?
How clean is your laundry? Apparently it’s not easy to tell unless you have revolutionary technology that can detect residue like sweat and body oils that linger on your clothes. Watch this video on the Sunlight.ca site or the one below to see for yourself. It shows that with UV lighting and a special formula that is sprayed onto the laundry, you can detect all of the smelly body oils and fabric residue that’s left on laundry. In other words, your white towels might look white, but they’re not necessarily clean. Gross, I know.
For the record, and in the spirit of editorial transparency, this is not a sponsored post. After learning about this new product, I was a bit suspicious about this ‘scientific method’, so I took some of the Sunlight Deep Clean home and tested it against my worst laundry nightmare of all time—smelly camp towels. It worked. How do I know it worked? Not from a special spray and UV lighting, but my eyes and nose. Years of experience with mildewed towels told me they were clean to look at, but my nose was the most surprised. For the first year, I only had to wash those towels once to get rid of the mildew smell. I’m told that mildew smell is a result of all the oils and buildup left on towels which doesn’t get deep cleaned (pun intended).
I don’t know if I need to use this detergent on all my fine washables, but for the tough stuff (and I have a lot of that with two pre-teen boys), it will be on my shelf.
Wait for more sponsored info on Sunlight Deep Clean in our newsletters coming soon.
What’s your favourite detergent? I would love to know.
Camping has always been a tradition in my family. For the past 30 years, we have been travelling en masse to a small provincial park in northern Ontario. This year, my husband and I decided to be brave (or crazy) and take our twin girls (2 years old), Madeline and Riley, camping for two nights.
Even though we were only going for two nights, my preparation began weeks ago. I started by making lots of lists, and stressing about all the potential disasters that awaited us—bugs, dirt, water, open flame—not to mention how we were going to handle napping and bedtime! Here are a few things I learned on our trip:
We were all exhausted by the time we got home, but had a great time and I’m already looking forward to next year. Maybe we’ll go for three days…
What are your camping experiences with kids?
We’re a mountain family at heart and spend most of our vacations on some mountain range or the other, hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter. But this summer we branched out a bit to experience a houseboating vacation on Lake Shuswap (in the interior of BC) with my husband’s entire family, and it was definitely a wonderful vacation experience.
You might be, as I was, a little nervous about the prospect of spending a week on a boat with seven other adults and five kids (can you say claustrophobia?). But our boat was huge and had plenty of room to spare. It was 60 feet long and had six separate sleeping quarters so, with my three kids snuggled up in one, everyone had their own (albeit little) space. And since the kitchen, dining and family room areas were almost as big as the ones in my own house, there was lots of space to hang out inside.
The best part was that we didn’t have to hang out inside because the weather was great and all three deck levels had their own delights to offer. The lowest one sported the swim platform; the middle one had an eight-person hot tub (yes, hot tub, which was surprisingly essential as you can’t swim while the houseboat is under power), a wet bar for making margaritas (my sister-in-law is an expert, I quickly learned) and plenty of space for deck chairs; and the top deck housed the entrance for the three-storey curly (or is that twirly, or swirly?) slide! This was, of course, the highlight of the whole trip and the kids spent hours and hours sliding down it, shooting out into the lake, and then back up to do it again.
With two BBQs on the back deck, dinners were easy and everyone had lots of time to read, relax, play games and enjoy the warm water. Late afternoon, once our cruising was done, we would beach the boat for the night and explore the beautiful shores and cedar forests that line the lake. Wet…wild…smiles all around.
What do you think is the best family vacation? I would love to know your thoughts.
Everyone is always so stressed out about back-to-school planning. I know there is a lot to do, and I’m certainly not trying to diminish the importance of being organized and ready for a fresh new start.
Having said that, there is only one week left of our glorious summer and do we really want to spend it running around finding the right pair of jeans and the coolest hoodies for the kids? Not really.
I have two boys. One wears a uniform and the other wears shorts (and he would wear them all year long if I let him). My strategy is to make up a quick list of what absolutely must happen before day one:
The reality is that most public schools tell you what you need on the first day, so it’s best to pop into the school supply stores that week. I know it doesn’t sound that savvy to wait, but then you get what you need. Another tip is to do your shopping in the evening when the stores are empty as most Staples or big-box school supply stores are open late for the first week back at school.
For all those ‘must have’ back-to-school fashion clothes for school, can’t they wait one more week until summer is officially over?
Enjoy your last week of summer and let the shopping happen when it needs to.
What are you doing to get ready for school? Our readers have offered some great tips on our Facebook page as well!
Last night as I surfed around on Twitter, I was struck by all the comments from our mom followers sharing their thoughts on their ‘babies’ heading off to kindergarten today. The majority of moms seemed more worried about how many tears they would shed than how many tears their children would shed. Insterestingly, among Ontario, BC and PEI moms, there was a lot of chat about the new full day kindergarten, launching today. Some were thrilled to have the kids gone for the full day, and others were clearly sad to be losing this time with their little ones.
With my youngest out of kindergarten this year (hello, grade one!), I hadn’t been paying too much attention to the planned changes to the kindergarten program, but I participated in a roundtable last week with Premier Dalton McGuinty and a number of other social media moms, and learned a great deal about the new plans for Ontario.
Premier McGuinty shared with our group some compelling evidence that full-day early learning supports more success with a transition to formal schooling and future academic accomplishments. He also shared data that showed that investment in early learning pays off in the future for society as a whole with economic advantages through a more productive workforce and savings on social welfare.
From my simplistic point of view, it always struck me that with 2.5 hours of school every day in a half-day kindergarten program, by the time you got through roll-call, recess, snack and packing up for the end of the day, there was precious little time left for anything else, so I welcome the opportunity for full-day learning for our children. Furthermore, I was impressed to know that in conjunction with the full-day school, the new initiative also includes very low-cost, before-and-after school care so children can spend the entire day at the same facility, under the care of early childhood education specialists, and not be schlepped around from one place to the next. If you are in Ontario, you can get more details on the program at Ontario.ca/kindergarten.
At our session last week, I also learned (or perhaps was reminded) that kindergarten in Ontario is optional—children are not required by law to be in school until grade one—and for those children who are in areas where full-day kindergarten is being offered this fall (it is gradually being rolled out across the province as facilities permit, and will be fully available across the province by 2016), parents are able to send their children for just a half-day if they prefer. So it seems this new initiative offers more child care and educational choices to families.
What do you think of full day kindergarten? Is it right for your family or not? I would love to know your thoughts. (And you can follow the debate on Twitter too using #FDK.)
When my kids were really little, I used to sit, exhausted from running around all day trying to keep them alive (literally), and think: ‘One day they will be 10 and everything will be so much easier.’ A very wise friend of mine constantly reminded me not to wish the time away because when our kids turn 10, we will be turning 40 (and she had an excellent point).
Obviously I don’t want to wish the years away, and since 40 is the new 30, I’m kind of over that whole issue. My boys are all grown up (11 and 13) and every once in a while I think about those babies I held and wish for a hot tub time machine to take me back for just a minute.
An amazing video I came across recently pulled on those very same heart strings. It’s called Reflections on Motherhood and asks the question to moms—if you went back in time to the days just before your first child was born, what would you tell yourself? The answers are beautiful and emotional and range from practical answers like ‘Google does not have children’ to ‘Be prepared to meet the love of your life’.
What would you tell yourself or any other new mom-to-be?