We Are All in This Together!

One of the blessings of the internet is that it makes it easy for people of all ages to reach out to each other online and to share their stories. I have found it especially helpful that there are blogs and websites like this one, CHEO Mom and Dads, where parents can connect. But despite all of these resources, it can still sometimes feel as a parent that you are struggling up the mountain alone and that everyone else is more organized, is cooking healthier meals for their kids, and keeps a tidier home.

But these critical thoughts of mine were turned upside down last week. And that’s a good thing. I was taking my grandfather to a show at the National Arts Centre and a television personality was there with his family. I first caught a glimpse of this local celebrity as the individual was chasing down his toddler who was racing back into the Studio during intermission. While I enjoyed a rare night out with my grandfather, I couldn’t help but watch this parent-child duo while I sipped my wine before the second act.

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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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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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Parenting and Technology AKA “Mummy, Put Down Your Phone”

I didn’t get my first cell phone until I was working as a Commissionaire in university and needed one for when they called me for last minute shifts. That was in 2004. In the 10 years since, I’ve somehow become addicted to my smart phone. I use it mostly to keep up on emails, blogs, and news, and to look up information. To be honest, I don’t really remember my life before Google. The only thing I use a “real” computer for is when I need to type an article or document. Otherwise, the smartphone will do. The problem is that the phone is too easily accessible, and if I look at it to answer an email, it’s more than likely that I’ll fall into the black hole and not look up for a while.

I’ve noticed that I am not the only one who suffers from this affliction. On the OC Transpo bus riding from Lebreton to Stittsville, most of the bus is sitting quietly hunched over their phones or e-readers. When I take my daughter to her activities, the parents are not always watching their kids learn to swim or jump on the trampoline. They are catching up on the internet. On one recent Sunday morning, I was sitting with my daughter waiting for her toddler program to start at the local gymnastics centre. While I sat and cuddled my daughter, I surveyed the room and saw that the majority of the parents weren’t looking forward at their children, but down at their devices. I turned my eyes to the kids and saw young ones perfecting their routines and watching the audience for their parent’s nod or smile of approval. I had a sickening sense about what would happen next. A girl, around age 7, ran out to the “viewing room” after her class to her father in the front row, playing with his iPad.

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Intention of Getting Better Sleep

It is well known within my family and circle of friends that I LOVE sleep. If you were to ask me what my favourite sport was, I’d likely say (jokingly, but maybe not really joking) sleep. Always have been and likely always will be a huge fan of sleep.

I also believe that getting proper sleep is so, so, so important in children. We started out quite early sleep ‘training’ (I don’t love using that word, but will here) our 2 kids when they were babies. We are blessed with AMAZING sleepers! They always have been. They get a good 12-13 hours of sleep per night. Some of my family used to bug us that our kids slept too much, but we brushed it off, knowing that they were the better for it!

So you would think that since I am such a fan of sleep, that I too, would get a lot of it each night. Not so much so the case. Which is why this New Year’s, one of my intentions was to try to have a more routine sleep pattern.

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I’m Glad You Asked: Watching Horror Movies

“I’m Glad You Asked” is an educational forum for discussion of general mental health questions and issues on CHEO’s website.

My 12 year old daughter watched a horror movie (The Conjuring) at the neighbour’s house without our consent or knowledge. It has been almost a month and she is scared to sleep in her room alone. She has been sleeping with me and I am trying to reassure her that there is nothing that will hurt her.  I have tried to read with her before bed and use a nightlight, but she can’t seem to fall asleep or she is fighting falling asleep because she is fearful. I don’t know how to help her and of course I don’t want her to be sleeping with me anymore.  I asked if there was anything else that bothers her but she says no.  When she closes her eyes she sees the image of this scary person.  I have told her to think of happier things and she says that she can’t get that image out of her mind. She was okay up to watching this movie.

Teaching your daughter some relaxation skills (yoga is terrific for this), practicing them with her, and modeling your own coping all become important parts of supporting your daughter deal with her fear.  She may also want to decorate her room, making it her “chill out space,” something that can involve lots of pillows, favourite posters, scents, etc.  She can also create the image of a safe space for herself, somewhere real or imagined where she feels very safe, and use this image to counter that of the scary movie.
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