Gearing Up for Swimming Season

As of today, it looks like Spring has finally cracked winter’s icy veil (knock on wood). As Ottawa-region parents, this means swimming season isn’t too far away. In the next few blog posts, I’ll share some tips on how to make the most of this glorious time of year. Part one offers advice on gear that can help keep everyone safe, healthy and happy.

Every kids’ activity has a specialized shopping list. Happily, swimming tends to fall on the less expensive side of the spectrum. Beyond the obvious swim suits, there are a few other acoutrements that can make swimming in this region particularly enjoyable for families.

As we all know, the National Capital Region weather swings wildly between too hot, and too cold. This is particularly important to recognize when minimally clad on a summer day at a local beach, splash-park or water-park. We have a “swim bag” (a kids hockey bag) which works perfectly for flotation devices, blankets, extra layers, sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, etc. By taking an hour at the start of the year to get that bag ready, we save a lot of running around, and can literally just jump into the mini-van on a moment’s notice. A dedicated drying rack at home allows us to keep the gear in one place while it dries for the next adventure. No more “I-don’t-want-to-go-swimming-you-forgot-my-goggles!!” from the 5 year old or the all-too-common “honey did you bring towels?”. Editor’s note: baby wipes are not a good fill-in for beach towels.

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Choosing Activities For Your Kids

kyle hiphop

Registration just opened up for spring/summer recreational activities that are run through the City of Ottawa.  It’s always difficult finding programs that the kids are interested in, are affordable and convenient both time and location wise.

For our family, we decided a long time ago that the kids would do no more than 2 activities per session. In the winter they will do a skating class and can choose another activity that interests them (hip hop, cooking, gymnastics and indoor soccer are some of the ones so far); In the spring they can choose one activity, the summer they do swimming and Mr. J plays soccer and in the fall they can choose one activity and sometimes we enroll them in swimming as well. There are a few reasons behind this decision:

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Kids and the “A-word”…

Allowance.

I am thinking about putting my two-year-old to work. No, not cooking fries at McDonalds or handling cash at the grocery store…she’s too young for that.

But I think it’s appropriate at this age to instill some responsibility and expectations about what her role in the house and family is. To show her how she can be an active and contributing member even at this young age. I also want to start early in teaching her simple lessons of money management – saving for a rainy day and delayed gratification.

Mary is already very good about being a mother’s helper. She helps me put clothes in the laundry machine and brings her dirty dishes to the sink after supper. So based on her avid interest in “collecting” money for her piggy bank and her desire to be helpful – I think she’s ready for chores and an allowance.

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Being A Positive Role Model For Our Kids

I always struggled with body image growing up. I started to break out when I was 10, and I had braces at 11 and around the same time my body started changing. I wore baggy sweaters to cover up my developing breasts, slathered my face in make-up to try and cover up the pimples and rarely opened my mouth to keep the braces hidden.

At some point, I started to develop a negative relationship with food, and for many years struggled with eating issues.  I was always surrounded by magazines that pictured thin, beautiful women and at the time I didn’t realize that they weren’t perfect.

I became so focused on the numbers of the scale that I didn’t focus on being healthy.  It was all about the number. I eventually learned to ignore the number and focus on being healthy; eating healthy food and being physically active – that is what was important, not the number on the scale.

Over the years, I have noticed is that there is a lot of talk about positive body image and self-esteem for girls, but not so much for boys.

As a mom of 2 boys, I don’t really understand this. I know many men that struggled with body image (whether it was weight or height, muscles etc) so why is there not the same focus on them.  Boys with poor body image and self-esteem seem to fall through the cracks, and I am determined not to let that happen with my 2 sons.

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How Valentine’s Day Has Changed Over the Years

Unless you are living under a rock, you likely know that today is Valentine’s Day! You know, the day of love! Or more like, the day where all the stores tell you that you should buy this stuffed animal, or that box of chocolates, spend $100 on flowers that are likely to be dried up in a weeks’ time. The holiday of love that is crazily over commercialized!

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a Valentine’s Day hater, quite the opposite! I love all holidays! I just don’t buy into the commercialism of this holiday by any means.

My husband and I have been together for 15 years. When we first started dating, I was only 16 and I wanted very much to receive the jewelry, flowers, chocolates and gifts! Battle the crowds and go out for dinner, all to be able to say what I got and what I did and feel ‘loved.’ We actually got engaged on Valentine’s Day, so cliché but true!

Now that we have children and our lives have changed drastically from those first years together celebrating Valentine’s Day, this holiday has changed for me and the meaning of it too.

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Positive Body Image Begins at Home

One thing I know about kids is that they copy everything you do. If I pronounce the word apple ape-el, then my kids will grow up calling an apple an ape-el. We (and their teachers, daycare provides and friends) teach them everything the know.

But mainly, it’s us, the parents who impact our kids as they grow up. So imagine instead of pronouncing a simple word differently, what I say around the house instead is “I’m too fat and I feel gross and I eat too much and look at how much fat I have around my waist stomach where my abs should be.”

There’s no way I should expect my girls to grow up feeling happy about themselves if all they hear is my talking about how uncomfortable I am with my own body. And I’ll be honest, I always have been uncomfortable with my body. Seven years ago I went through the Weight Watchers program and lost 40+ pounds. Ever since I’ve battled the emotional peaks and valleys that come with bad body image.

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