{FAMILY} Table For One, Please!

Have you ever been out for dinner with your family, and noticed someone sitting alone at a table? Maybe you wondered to yourself why that person was eating alone. Perhaps they’re single? Or maybe they’re travelling alone and dining out as they pass through town?

Well last week, that solo diner was me.

I’ve always found the thought of dining out alone somewhat intimidating. What would I do while I waited for my food to arrive? How would I react to the curious stares of other diners who were enjoying the company of friends – who would wonder why I was sitting alone?

Stepping outside of my comfort zone has been one of my goals for this year. That, and taking time out for myself to keep sane amongst the happily chaotic life I lead as a career mom with 3 kids.

I was out enjoying one of my first-ever facials at Skoah, thanks to a free certificate I had received recently at a fundraising event (side note: I’m adding “get regular facials” to my list of things to do just for me – it was fabulous). I felt relaxed and refreshed when I left, and wasn’t ready to call it an evening, so I strolled through the shops nearby. But I was hungry (as I always am).

My first instinct was to rush to my car, hit a drive-thru, and gobble down a burger and some fries on my way home. And then my eyes fell on one of my favourite restaurants, Trattoria, and my mouth began to water as I imagined gobbling down some of my favourite dishes.

I hesitantly walked up to the entrance, and waited for the hostess to greet me. And to my surprise, she didn’t seem phased when I asked for a table for one. Instead, she warmly asked me how my day was going, and let me know that she was available if I had any questions.

As I sat alone at the table, I glanced around the room. Instead of judgy stares, my eyes were met with friendly smiles. No one seemed to care that I was sitting alone!

I played on my phone (you know, to look busy), and chatted with the server who seemed happy to engage in conversation. I sipped on a glass of wine, and slowly nibbled and noshed on my delicious meal. I didn’t have to cut up food for anyone, or repeatedly ask anyone to stop raising their voices or to take another bite. I just ate. In peace. And I was having such a lovely time, I even ordered dessert!

Dining out alone doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, it’s just the opposite. It’s a great way to take a time out, collect your thoughts, and enjoy a little time just for you.

The next thing I’m adding to my bucket list: a weekend away, alone. Fingers crossed I can take this whole “me time” thing to a whole new level!

Table For One

{FAMILY} Tooth Fairy Torture

Last night my daughter lost her 7th tooth. As I flashed my best grin and cheered her on with enthusiasm while she recounted her valiant efforts to pull her wiggly tooth from its roots, my thoughts went straight to my late-evening plans, and how they were officially ruined.

I remember writing about how I would never succumb to the over-the-top Tooth Fairy antics. Boy was I wrong. The problem is, as much as I would love to drop a quarter under my daughter’s pillow and call it a job well done, friends talk. And there’s nothing more depressing than seeing your sweet little firstborn teary eyed because her best friend’s Tooth Fairy left her a pony and made real-life magic happen right in her bedroom. Ok, I may be exaggerating a little, but seriously, the things that my daughter hears about from her friends at school leave me pulling my hair out as I try to live up to unrealistic expectations.

When she lost her first tooth, she received $5 in her Tooth Fairy pillow, and that was it. She was ecstatic. By the loss of her second tooth, rumours had been swirling that if you left a cup of water by your bed, the Tooth Fairy would change its colour to coincide with the fairy’s colours. Fine, coloured water, done. For the lost teeth that have followed, the antics had evolved to leaving questionnaires for the Tooth Fairy to complete, water for changing colours, a tooth in a special pillow, and a drawing for the Tooth Fairy to take back to fairyland with her.  It’s just too much!

Tooth Fairy

The stress that comes with entering a sleeping child’s room to replace a tooth with a coin is enough to make my head spin, but mom knows no fear like trying to complete a full questionnaire (in whimsical scripture might I add, cause gosh forbid the Fairy has similar writing to mommy’s), dropping food colouring into a shot glass full of water, and leaving money tucked into a pin-sized hole, all while trying not to startle your little one awake.

The worst part of all? Trying to stay awake while you wait for your nocturnal child to fall into a deep enough sleep to complete the list of daunting tasks. Tooth Fairy visits are complete torture. I just pray that the next tooth waits for a few months so I can afford the time and money it takes to make magic happen once more.

 

 

 

{FAMILY} 5 Tips On How To Stay Sane as a Mom of Three

As a career mom of three, I’m constantly asked the same question: How do you do it all? And the answer is easy: I don’t.

The truth of the matter is, any mom who tells you that she ‘does it all’ is simply lying. It’s just not possible to give 100% of yourself to everything that you do. Doing it all (in the true sense) would be like riding a unicycle, blindfolded, while juggling 100 balls in the air with one hand. I don’t know about you, but for me, balls would get dropped.

But while I’m not ‘doing it all’, I do like to think that I’m successful at what I’m doing. Because successful moms don’t strive for perfection, they create their own definition of success. The key is to recognize that you can’t do it all, and to prioritize the things that you are able to do by the things that are most important to you.

Striving for perfection will drive you crazy, so why not strive for perfectly imperfect instead?

To keep your sanity amidst the chaos, here are 5 things that will keep you from completely losing your mind:

mom of three

1) Practice saying no.

Stop being a ‘yes’ mom and pick and choose your projects and events based on how they will be of benefit to you and your family. You can’t be everywhere all the time – learning how to effectively manage your time will play a big role in finding your own success. I know it’s easier said than done, I’m always the first to say yes when asked to work on something or attend an event, but if I say no to a few things, I find that I have more time for the things that need to get done, or that I love to do.

2) Take time out for yourself.

As moms we tend to put ourselves at the bottom of the priority list. But spending too much time meeting the needs of others can be draining. People always ask me how I could possibly find time for myself with a business and three children. I find the time because I make it a priority. A massage, a quiet hour of focused writing at a coffee shop, or even a short nap are enough to maintain my sanity.

3) Limit your children’s activities.

Extracurriculars can be extra time suckers – especially with multiple children, and I can’t even imagine how much busier it’ll get when my third child is old enough for after-school activities. As much as I’d love for each of my children to take soccer, dance, swimming, skiing, skating, piano, and karate lessons, I know that too much running around will drive me insane, so I limit each child to two activities (one that I choose, and one that they are interested in pursuing). It’s still busy but limiting the number of activities that they take allows for us to enjoy family time together too!

4) Accept help from others.

I’m constantly feeling overwhelmed as a mom of three, yet I have a bad habit of saying ‘no thank you’ when help is offered. When my husband offers to take over with the bedtime routines, I tell him I can do it and then rush around to get it all done myself. My parents are always offering to take the kids for the night and I kindly decline, worried that my busy little trifecta might be a burden on them. Accepting help from others will allow us to enjoy a little rest – which I’m sure we could all use.

5) Lower your standards.

Your house doesn’t have to be perfectly clean all the time, and no one’s going to die if you order pizza every once in awhile. I remember thinking it was so important to cook gourmet, perfectly-balanced dinners each night, have the house perfectly clean before bed, and never have the laundry basket more than half full. And then I had kids.

If you try to do everything yourself, you will lose your mind. Accept that you can’t do it all, let others help you, and take the time to smell the roses. Because you only live once, so make the most of it.

{FAMILY} How I Got My Baby To Sleep Through The Night

Unfortunately, teaching your baby to sleep through the night is no easy feat. With each child, I have struggled with long periods of sleep deprivation, and with each child, I have eventually found a solution that works – convinced that I have unlocked the mystery to babies and sleep. But the truth is, there is no one easy answer – at least that hasn’t been the case for me.

With my first child, I tried the Ferber CIO method and let my girl ‘cry it out’.  I found that a combination of playing quiet music, surrounding her with soothers, and leaving her to cry in her crib when I put her down, actually worked quite well.

I remember being so nervous to try it out for the first time – afraid it wouldn’t work, or that I wouldn’t be able to last for more than a minute hearing my baby girl cry for me from another room. But I was so overtired! I had reached the point of desperation where I was willing to try anything.

sleep

My first child – sleeping soundly on her own.

She cried for 40 minutes straight, and then fell asleep on her own. And after that night, she was sleeping through the night. I would lay her down (asleep or awake), and she would suck on her soother and fall asleep peacefully on her own. I was so ready for baby #2. Or so I thought.

With my second child, nothing worked. From the day he was born, my sweet little boy would. not. sleep. There was no honeymoon period at the beginning – where newborns usually sleep most of their days and night away. He just didn’t want to sleep. Ever.

Eventually, when I reached a point of losing my mind from sleep deprivation, I decided it was time to try the Ferber method again. After (I hate to admit) letting him cry for more than 2 hours straight, I realized that it just wasn’t going to work with him. He didn’t take a soother, and just couldn’t settle on his own. I tried every other sleep training technique I could find, and eventually gave up.

sleep

My second child – who would only sleep on the go.

While it took a really long time for him to learn how to sleep on his own in his bed, my little guy had no problem falling asleep when we were out and about – especially in the car or on our boat. With him, I learned that each child is completely different when it comes to sleep patterns and sleep training, regardless of consistency in parenting efforts.

With my third child, this method worked like a charm (so far). For the first 6 months of her life, baby #3 slept like a rockstar. I’d put her down, and she would just sleep. I thought I had been blessed with the best sleeper in the world, and was living the dream. Until about 2 months ago.

Suddenly she just wouldn’t let me put her down. She’d fall asleep in my arms, and if I so much as inhaled too quickly, she’d awake with a vengeance. If I did manage to get her down, she’d wake up in the night frequently. Exhausted, I would pick her up, bring her into my bed, and nurse her to sleep. But I couldn’t sleep with her next to me, and I was starting to lose my mind with sleeplessness once more.

Baby Sleep

Ready to try anything, I started with trying to let her ‘cry it out’. I put her gently down as she wailed desperately for my rescue. I sat in another room listening to her helpless cries, and watched the clock. But as the time went by, I couldn’t handle it – I couldn’t stand to hear her so upset. After about 30 minutes, I went to her rescue. I’m not sure if it was the fact that she’s my last baby, or that my old age has weakened me, but I just wanted to make her feel better. After another long run of sleepless nights, I decided to try something new.

After rocking her and walking her for hours – I put her down in her crib and watched her as she cried. And as she continued to stand up and wail, determined to have me pick her up, I would gently lay her down on her stomach, and say in a hushed voice “It’s night night time, mommy’s here” while patting her back.

For 45 minutes, I continued to repeat those words in a calm and soothing voice, and continued to pat her back and lay her back down as she stood. Yes it was tiring, but I wanted it to work. And you know what? It did.

Her cries faded and eventually she fell asleep.

I ninja’d myself out of the room, and fist-pumped my way back to the living room where I celebrated my victory with a quiet night of tv-watching – baby free and grinning from ear-to-ear. And (knock on wood), she has been letting me put her down (awake!) ever since.

Some nights I still have to pat her back for a minute or two and say “night night”, but then she drifts to sleep – and sleeps all night long.

There is no simple solution – trial and error is what has worked for me.

I’d love to hear what has worked for you – have you unlocked the mystery of babies and sleep with your little one?

Bringing Home Baby: The Only 10 Things You’ll Need

The baby products industry is so jam-packed with fancy-pants  thingamabobs and whatchamacallits that it’s becoming difficult for parents-to-be to determine what they will actually need for the arrival of their new little ones, versus the on-trend nice-to-haves of modern society.

Having done this new baby thing a time or two, I thought I would share with you my quick list of the only things you’ll need to buy before bringing home baby (and a few of the things that can wait until later).

Baby

1) A Car Seat. You’re going to need to bring your baby home in something, so a rear-facing car seat should be at the top of your list of must-haves (unless of course you don’t have a car, in which case, see #8 & #9). There are about a million different models out there, but I’ve found this one to be my favourite (or I’m currently using this one for baby #3 which I also like). These seats are both lighter than most (which is important because for the first few months you’ll be carrying them on your forearm like a purse), and they are quite compact (especially important if you have a small car or other small children). I’ve also found that they are adaptable to most strollers.

2) A Bassinet/Cradle. Because babies sleep. A lot. If you have the space, I would suggest starting with a little bassinet or cradle. In the first few months your new little baby will need you at least a few times throughout the night, and having baby nearby makes those midnight feedings a little more bearable. A smaller bassinet is also more mobile so you can move your baby’s sleep locations more conveniently. Of course, some parents co-sleep, or start putting baby in a full-sized crib right from day 1, so this one can be left up to your own personal preference.

3) Diapers. Whether you like it or not, babies also pee and poop. A lot. So you’re going to need something to catch it all. Whether you plan on using disposables or cloth diapers, you’re going to need to stock up. Babies do the deed an average of 10-14 times a day, so plan ahead my friends! You will not want to run out to the store for another pack of diapers in the first few days of bringing home baby.

4) Change Table/Surface. With all of those diaper changes, you’re going to need somewhere to actually change the baby. I like having a full change table with space underneath to store the supplies (wipes, diapers, creams, powders, cloths, etc), but I know many people who use dressers with change pads on top and this works too – you can just buy a basket or install some shelves above for the extras.

5) Wash Cloths/Blankets. I’ve grouped these together because basically you’re going to need some fabrics to wash, swaddle, and block your baby (block = defence against unwanted explosions, i.e.: pukes, spit ups and blow outs). You will need a lot of these too.

6) A Vibrating Chair. Some parents may challenge me on this one, but with all 3 of my children I found this to be a godsend. Because as much as you love to cuddle your baby, your arms will get tired and you’ll have other things to do. And while the dream is to have a baby who will self-sooth and fall asleep in their cradles on their own, this is rarely the case. I used my vibrating chair constantly – to keep baby happy while I did chores (easy to move from room-to-room), and many times to coo baby to sleep when rocking in my arms just wouldn’t do.

7) Sleepers. While there are endless drool-worthy baby outfits out there (hello adorable sneakers, bomber jackets, tutus, and baby denim!), you’ll really only need a sizeable collection of onesie sleepers (and zippers are a MUST). Cutesy accessories can come later, but for the first few months, the goal is to keep baby warm and cozy, and to regain your sanity from a long slew of sleepless nights.

8) A Baby Carrier. Some parents prefer this one, but I’ve always been happy with this one. There are a TON of choices out there, and the one you choose will really come down to personal preference, but you will need one if you ever plan on leaving the house or using your hands again.

9) A Stroller. Babies get heavy so you’re going to want one of these too. Especially if you have a dog, need to go to the store, or pretty much have to go anywhere that requires you to walk for longer periods of time. Not only are they great for transporting your kids, but you can put stuff in them when you’re shopping which is handy! My favourite strollers of all time are these ones (I was spoiled with baby #1 and received one as a gift from a group of family members – pricey, but THE BEST). Due to tighter budgets with baby #3, I now have this one which has been pretty good so far.

10) Poo Bags. This one might sound a little strange, but I’m telling you, you DO NOT NEED a diaper genie. The thick poo bags that were designed for picking up after your dog are perfect – especially these ones which are biodegradable, and totally affordable. We put the poopy dipes in the bags, tie them tightly, and toss them in our regular garbage can. No stink. I found the diaper genie to be a pain in the arse to change the bags, and it was often difficult to find the refills (not to mention pricey!). If you’re using cloth diapers, it’s still nice to keep these on hand for dirty baby wipes or blowouts when you’re out and about.

There are of course other things you’ll need as well, but you don’t need to buy it all right away! Here are some things that you can save for later.

Save for later:

– full-sized crib

– Bumbo chair

– bottles

– soothers

– high chair

– exersaucer

– toys

– clothes (beyond sleepers) & shoes

– baby foods & accessories (dishes)

If you have friends with kids, ask them if they have any of the items on your list before you go shopping, or add them to your wish list for baby shower gifts. Congratulations on your new babies to come, and good luck!

 Fellow parents, have I missed anything? 

Baby

Pin It!

 

 

How To Win At Working From Home

As I nestled into the corner booth at a local coffee shop to begin my work this morning, I had an epiphany. It hit me like a slap in the face – I had suddenly realized that it has been just over 2 years since I left my corporate job to become a work-from-home mom.

2 years since I took the breath-taking, heart-racing leap from the cushy comforts of an in-office nine-to-five career, to a financially-risky, part-time, home-based job. I remember being anxious, scared, and hopeful about working from home – wondering if I had finally found the work-life balance I had been searching for. I remember writing about my first week as a WAHM and listing the challenges I anticipated I would face in my new work environment.

And now here I am – a recently self-employed mom of three, doing what I love from my home office. And while there are definitely days where I feel like the pendulum is vigorously swinging in one direction, I feel like I’ve come a long way from where I was 2 years ago.

working from home

 

So for those of you who are considering a similar transition, or who need some tips on how to make it work, here are some things that have been working for me (so far):

1) Schedule Time To Work. Like an outside office job, it helps to determine what your hours are. This will help you to manage your projects and complete them efficiently. Working with a young  baby at home can make it tricky to keep a consistent schedule so I have one day a week where I have my parents watch the baby for a few hours so I can work at a coffee shop – uninterrupted. It’s amazing how much work I can accomplish when I know I have 2 hours of time to myself. This also helps me to schedule business meetings – knowing I have at least one day/time when I won’t have to have a little one in tow. If you don’t have daytime help, allocate some hours in the evenings when your babies are in bed (I do this as well). Pour a glass of wine or stew a warm cup of tea, put on some quiet music and force yourself to focus.

2) Learn When To Turn It Off. Separating work from life is a difficult task – especially when the two are based out of the same location. One thing that I find helps is to have a room or space in your home that is allocated as your office space. When you’re ready to work, go to your place and do your best to stay focused. When your work hours are over, close the door, or leave that space just as you would leave your office to go home at the end of a work day outside of the home. Keep your family updated on your work hours, and keep your unwashed laundry and dirty dishes out of sight (out of sight, out of mind, right? – kind of).

3) Get Out, Get Connected, Get Inspired. When you work from the confines of your home, it’s easy to become an introvert. While communicating primarily by email is sometimes more convenient, it helps to schedule in-person client meetings and coffee chats. Having face-to-face interactions with adults can be rewarding – both professionally and personally. Take it one step further and join networking groups or workshops that hold regular in-person meetings. I’ve attended a few Mom CEO Academy and LOCO BC events and plan on making it more of a habit in 2015.

Are you a work-at-home mom who feels like you have it all figured out? If so, I’d love to hear your tips and tricks too!

working from home

One Thing All Parents Should Stop Doing

I was strolling through the grocery store today when I passed a dad who was pushing his young daughter down the aisle in a shopping cart. When he passed me and our eyes met, he glanced down at his daughter and did something that I realized many of us parents do – he talked through his child. “Look how messy your hair is today,” he said to her while side-glancing my way, “how did it get so messy huh?”

He said this in a playful, high-pitched voice, as if to be joking with his little girl, but I knew his intention. I knew, because at that moment, I realized that this was something I had done too – often.

Now, I could very well be wrong, but I believe that this man was using his child as a conduit to pass along a message to listening adult ears – perhaps to justify the dishevelled appearance of his little girl (who by the way was totally adorable). I’ve done this often too – I’ve suddenly noticed that I’ve forgotten to brush my child’s hair, and when another adult looks in our direction, my parenting insecurities set in and I say something similar to my child.  “Oh honey, how did your hair get so messy? I guess we forgot to tie it up today, hey?” I’d say, hoping that by verbalizing it, my insecurities would disappear.

I’ve talked through my children in other ways too – and to be honest, I’m not sure why I do it. “What do you think your brother and sister are doing right now?” I’ll say to my eldest if we’re out alone and I feel as though adult ears are listening in. As if verbalizing aloud that I have 2 other children at home will automatically excuse my lack of makeup, sloppy attire and tired eyes. “Now, I’ll buy these Eggo waffles for you just this once honey, as a special treat.” I’ll say to my middle child at the grocery store. As if saying “just this once” out loud excuses my purchasing of an unhealthy, processed breakfast food.

And the worst way that I do this – talking through my children – is when I’m frustrated with my husband. I often do it as a way to passive aggressively express my disdain for something that he has done (or hasn’t done). “Ok honey,” (I’ll say in an elevated tone of voice) “mommy will help you with that in a moment, she just has to finish cleaning up the dishes in the kitchen, and grab the laundry from the dryer, and tidy up daddy’s mess on the table.” (cue stink eye in my husband’s direction as he slowly flips through the newspaper on the couch). And this passive aggression doesn’t go unnoticed. My husband isn’t an idiot – he knows what I’m doing, and let’s just say he’s not a fan.

So why do I do it? Because I don’t like to nag. I feel insecure sometimes as a parent. And I’m writing about this because I know that I’m not alone – I’ve seen lots of other parents do this too.

So my advice to myself and those of you who are also guilty of talking through your children is this: just stop. Passive aggression is unattractive. And onlookers probably don’t care that your kids have messy hair or that you’re wearing torn sweats. And if they do, so what? Be you. Be confident.  Be happy in the skin that you’re in.

Are you guilty of talking through your children?

Parents

– Mark Twain

Do You Suffer From ‘Text Neck’?

On average your head weighs about 10-12 lbs. With your head at a 60 degree angle – a common hunched-over texting position – your head can weigh up to 60 lbs. That’s like walking around with my Dalmatian AND my little Cloey wrapped around your neck all day. With that much pressure on your neck and shoulders, it’s no wonder a new health condition, deemed Text Neck, is rapidly gaining recognition with health practitioners around the world.

At first I laughed when I heard the term “text neck” and references to this new condition being seen as a “global epidemic”. I mean come on, I know we spend too much time with our faces buried in our handheld devices, but a global epidemic? But after doing a little research, I’m finding that over time, our obsession with smartphones is doing more damage than just making us socially-awkward human beings. There are actually  long-term, legit health risks tied to our hunchy texting postures. Here are just some of the health concerns that have been found to be associated with Text Neck:

If left untreated, Text Neck can result in serious permanent damage including*:

                    Flattening of the Spinal Curve          Onset of Early Arthritis

                    Spinal Degeneration                        Spinal Misalignment

                    Disc Herniation                               Disc Compression

                    Muscle Damage                              Nerve Damage

                    Loss of Lung Volume Capacity          Gastrointestinal Problems

*Source

Growing up, people used to compliment me on my “perfect posture”. My years of ballet training had taught me to walk with my head held high, my neck long, and my shoulders back.

Nowadays I often have headaches and suffer from constant neck and shoulder pain, but I’ve always just shrugged it off as being as a result of having 3 kids, a busy schedule, and not enough sleep. I do tend to hunch over my laptop when I work, and when I nurse my baby, I look like Gollum, hunched over my baby like she’s “the precious” as I feed her. But neither of those habits take up as much of my time as my iPhone does. When I think about it, I’m hunched over that thing all. day. long. After reading a few studies and learning more about this latest health concern, I’m left to wonder : Do I suffer from Text Neck?

Text Neck

Well don’t fret my technology-loving friends. If you do suffer from Text Neck, there are ways to “practice safe text”. This recent news clip shows you some handy exercises that you can do to avoid the longterm effects of this newly-spawned health epidemic. Check it out, and happy texting!

Ask Mama Dina: Are We Teaching Our Kids To Be Helpless?

I can’t count the number of times my children have asked for my help with something, and instead of showing them how to do it for themselves, I’ve just quickly done it for them. Putting toothpaste on their toothbrushes, tying their shoes, and even wiping their bums – it all just seems easier to do it quickly and properly, and I confess, I’m a bit of a control freak. I like things done in a certain way. So when they ask to help with folding laundry or making dinner, I frequently reply with a “sorry honey, not this time”, sprinkled with some excuse as to why mommy needs to do it by herself.

Awhile ago I came across an article that asked the question: Are We Doing Too Much For Our Kids?, and it made me think about my actions and the effects that they have on my children. Today’s society is so focused on convenience – making things easier, more accessible, and faster for us. We’ve become a bit lazy, and I can’t help but wonder: Is our tendency to help ourselves hindering our children’s ability to reach their developmental milestones?

Parenting Tips

When I hear stories about my parents and the responsibilities that they had when they were growing up, I feel a little embarrassed about how much I do for my children. My mom and her four sisters were expected to work from a very young age. When she was only 7 (the same age as my daughter) she would come home from school, change into her “work clothes”, and begin her chores (housecleaning and cooking). When she was 10, she was expected to get a job. She would go around knocking on neighbours doors to see if they needed a babysitter, or help with their lawn mowing, and would work hard so that she could earn money to buy her own clothes. My children on the other hand, have almost everything done for them by yours truly.

In thinking about this, I asked my mom: “Do you think we do too much for our kids nowadays? Are we teaching them to be helpless for our own convenience?” Here’s what she had to say:

She started by agreeing that parents nowadays do tend to do too much for their children (including me). But she quickly followed up with the fact that we are all busy, and when trying to juggle the kids, work, ringing phones, errands, etc. it makes sense to do what’s easiest for us. She said we shouldn’t punish ourselves for it, we’re human and we do what we need to do get through the day. She reminded me that each day is a brand new day, and that it’s never too late to change our ways.

Here are some key tips that she gave me on helping my children to mature and do things on their own:

Ask yourself if you think they are capable of doing it themselves. As often as possible, it’s beneficial for your children to try to do things for themselves. It teaches them independence, and boosts their self esteem when they learn new skills. If they can’t tie their own shoes, respond with “let me show you how” instead of just doing it for them.  If they ask you a question, show them how to look up the answer instead of quickly responding.

I asked her what to do if you’re not sure if they’re capable of the task or not, and her response? “You won’t know for sure until you let them try!”

Praise, don’t punish. Praise them for trying, even if they don’t succeed at doing the task right away. If they can’t tie their shoes after the first few tries, don’t get mad or frustrated (I know, easier said than done), but instead encourage them with praise – “you’re doing a really good job at trying to tie your shoes. Keep practicing and I’m sure you’ll get it!”

**Side Note: Be sure to be specific with your praise. My mom says that always saying “good job” doesn’t teach them as well as being very specific about what they’ve done well. Saying something like, “You cleaned your room without my asking, that shows me that you’re learning to be responsible and that makes me very proud of you!”, helps them to understand what they’ve done right, and helps in the development of their independence and maturity.

Teach them what they need, not what they want. As you teach your children important life skills, be sure to distinguish the difference between the things that they need (healthy eating habits, choosing the right clothes for the season), versus the things that they want (iPhone 6, video game consoles). This will help to develop their decision-making skills.

I then asked her if there were certain milestones that children should reach by certain ages – for example, should my 7-year-old know how to tie her own shoes by now?

She responded that all children mature differently so there really aren’t any predetermined ages for reaching different milestones of independence.

So there you have it! I’m going to try my best to help my children to learn how to do things for themselves. A daunting task to say the least, but worth a try.

ABOUT MAMA DINA:

Mama Dina is a consummate mother, adoptive mother, stepmother, foster mother and grandmother. For over 30 years, she worked as an early childhood educator, and is fully trained and experienced in the Montessori educational approach. She has over 15 years of experience as a foster parent to children from all walks of life, many of whom have special needs. She provides emergency respite care for the foster care system, and acts as a ‘baby whisperer’ for preemie twins on a part-time basis. Her educational background includes training in child psychology, ECE, infant-toddler development, and various areas of special needs (ARBD, FASD, ADHD). Mama Dina’s lifelong passion has been children. She understands typical and atypical child development and behaviour, and combines her magic formula of unconditional love and consistency to enhance each child’s potential. She is also my beloved mama, and I am so blessed that she chose me to be her daughter.

The BC Teachers’ Labour Dispute: Why I’m Accepting The Money

I’m not a teacher, and I’m not a politician. But I am a parent, and therefore am affected by the ongoing labour dispute that is happening in BC. Unlike many of the media outlets who are calling this a “BC Teachers’ Strike”, I think it’s important to acknowledge the fact that there are two sides to this dispute, that this is a feud between the teachers union and the government of BC. I think it is also important to acknowledge that it affects more than just the two sides involved, it also affects the students, parents, and taxpayers of our province.

Until now I’ve been quiet about the dispute. I’ve watched as my Facebook feed has been flooded with backlash against teachers, against the government, and against our Premier. I’ve refrained from commenting on posts about who should receive the $40-a-day ‘childcare support’ that will be provided to families during the labour disruption, and I’ve bitten my tongue as people have raged about the government’s attempt to drag out the dispute in order to make the teachers look like the bad guys.

Tomorrow is supposed to be my daughter’s first day of Grade 2. And as I sit back and read the comments, articles, discussions, and rants from teachers, government officials, union representatives, school board administration staff, parents, friends and strangers, I’m left with some thoughts.

Accepting the $40-a-day childcare allowance from the government for my school-aged child does not make me an idiot, nor should I be excluded from receiving it based on my employment status.

I’ve seen some comments on social media about who should receive the $40-a-day childcare allowance during the school closures, who think that work-from-home and stay-at-home moms and dads should not receive this benefit because they will not require childcare services during the delays. These people are missing the point (and ignorant if they don’t realize that everyone with children, regardless of employment status will need additional support).

I am a taxpaying home owner. And like everyone else in BC who pays property taxes, I am paying school taxes that are used to pay for public education in BC. With schools not in session, doesn’t it make sense for everyone who has paid their hard-earned dollars towards provincial school taxes to receive a refund when that money is not being spent on what it was intended for? While the money is being presented as child care subsidy for parents who are left with children at home as a result of the dispute, what it should be presented as is a refund on taxes that have already been paid.

The money does not dissolve my feelings of frustration towards the dispute and how it will hinder the educational needs of the children in my province. The money does not sway my support for BC teachers, and does not blind me from the challenges that they face every day in over-packed classrooms with limited resources for children with special needs and lower-than-average wage increases.

What the money does do is provide support for parents like myself who will attempt to educate their children during their extended time outside of the classroom, through educational outings, tutors and related resources. This has nothing to do with parents who are working, who work from home, or who take care of their children full time. It is about the children who are missing out on classroom time and the valuable education they deserve.

I feel for the children who are experiencing delays in their final year of high school, and for the children who are entering school for the first time in Kindergarten. I feel for all of my fellow parents who fear for their children and their educational future. But I also understand the issues and am willing to wait patiently for them to be resolved properly. I know a resolution won’t happen overnight, and would rather support our teachers as they fight for what’s best for our children’s futures than to settle for a short-term solution that is not in the best interest of our children.

quote