Spring is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it means warmer weather, getting out in the great outdoors, a breath of fresh air. On the other hand, it means it is time for the annual Spring Clean!
Here are twelve house cleaning hacks to save time and money this Spring Clean:
1. Vinegar – Did you know some vinegar on a paper towel will clear up cloudy glass in a jiff? And that is just one of the things you can do with vinegar.
2. Onions – Onions are great for cleaning grills and cheaper than wire bristle brushes. Just cut one in half and have at it!
3. Lemons – Use lemons in your fridge or food disposal to remove food odours. Again, only one of the many uses for lemons!
4. Throw plastic toys into the dishwasher for quick and easy sanitizing.
5. Clean your blinds with a sock. Moisten an old sock with a water and vinegar solution, slip that sock on your hand and get wiping.
6. Use the Coca-Cola from your fridge to clean your toilet. Seriously! The acidity of the Coke makes it an effective cleaning agent. It also works on lots of other things such as removing rust and loosening grease. And it does not have to be Coke – any fizzy drink will do, whether diet or regular. Just be sure not to use the most expensive cola you come across!
7. Dryer sheets are great at cleaning dashboards and providing a fresh clean scent.
8. Clean your microwave and your sponge at the same time. Microwaving a damp sponge will disinfect the sponge and loosen food and grime inside your micro.
9. Make your home smell wonderful by “baking” a cup of vanilla extract for an hour or so. Better yet, make some cookies. EVERYONE will appreciate that more!
10. Use dampened bread as a means to pick up little pieces of broken glass. Playdoh also works wonderfully for this. And for glitter. Because that stuff never goes anywhere otherwise! Even a vacuum cleaner can’t get to it.
11. Use your hairdryer to get water rings off your wood furniture: Set the hair dryer on medium heat and hold it two inches away from the stain. As you apply heat, use a cloth or napkin to buff away the mark. Continue wiping until the surface is blemish-free.
12. Take some vodka to bed! Mix some vodka (and some essential oils if you prefer) and lightly sprinkle your mattress and let dry before re-making. The alcohol works against odour-causing bacteria.
And a bonus – when you go to the market to buy cleaning suppliers, leave the shopping cart parked. Buying only what you can carry is a great way to keep you focused on the products that you really need.
These ideas have hopefully gotten you in the mood to get going with your Spring Clean. If not, a few more ideas:
Just do it! If you put it on your list and leave it there for weeks, it will be a monkey on your back. Just do it. Get it done. Leaving it on your list will waste your time and energy.
Make a list! Lists keep you focused. Lists break up the huge tasks into smaller bite-sized pieces. Lists give you the satisfaction of the “scratch off”.
Turn on the tunes! I like Madonna’s Immaculate Collection. Nothing better than dancing and singing while you clean.
If you are looking for some cleaning help in your home – whether spring cleaning or on-going cleaning – look no further than SOSsitter.ca . There are many resources in your local area. SOSsitter.ca is a Canadian portal designed to help you find local caregivers in your area, easily and quickly. The caregiver who is right for your family is only a click away.
February is considered the month of love because Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14. It is a special day that most of us have marked in the calendar, just like other holidays such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Hallmark and the other “suppliers of holiday cheer” gear up for this date, each year.
Hurrah for Valentine’s Day when couples celebrate and show their love for one another!
Hurrah for Mother’s and Father’s Days when families show their love for their parents!
But we also say:
Why have beautiful china plates and only use them once a year?
Or in other words, why wait for a future date to tell your loved ones just how much they are loved?
For the love of Family
Use your words! That is usually an expression used to encourage children to express their feelings of frustration or anger using words in place of an emotional or physical outburst. But it applies here too! There is no better way to let your parents know how much you love them than actually telling them:
Actions speak louder than words! Definitely tell your parents you love them but also show it through your actions:
For the love of all the Family
It’s a fact that parents hold a very unique and special place in our hearts. We suggest sharing this with them in this month of love, and in every month. Let’s go even further! Why not tell all the members of your family that you love them! Grandparents, aunts and uncles and siblings would certainly appreciate hearing this as well. And don’t forget to tell your favourite babysitters or your nanny just how much you appreciate all that they do for you. Why not? It is free yet priceless!
No matter how you go about it, remember to use your “good china” every day of the year. Or in other words, do not wait for a special occasion like a birthday or Mother’s/Father’s Day to let your parents and other family members know how much you love them! Let them know today! And tomorrow! And the next day!
If someone you know is looking for a Nanny, check out qualified candidates in your area at SOSsitter.ca. SOSsitter.ca is a Canadian portal designed to help you find local caregivers in your area, easily and quickly. The caregiver who is right or your family is only a click away.
By Deborah Shure
January 1st is the day when we all get a fresh start. It’s a new year, and many of us are vowing to make 2017 our best, healthiest, most productive year yet. While motivation is high for a few days, many of us lose steam as the first week or two of January flies by. How can you make this year different and stick to those New Year goals? The answer could be in your pocket!
More people are downloading apps and using their smartphone to keep resolutions and meet goals. You have your phone with you 24/7, why not make it work even harder for you! No matter what your resolution is for 2017, there is an app out there that can help. Below are just a few examples of apps that can help you do more, get healthy, and reach those goals.
Any.do To-do List
Any.do calls itself the “all-in-1 app to get anything done with to-do list, tasks, reminders…” While there are hundreds of apps out there that will help you get your busy life organized with task list and reminders, this one is different! You can sync it with all over devices (hello iPad to work laptop to phone), and you can share your lists with other users (your spouse, your kids, your nanny!). Create your lists and get morning reminders. The app itself is free, however you will have the option to make in-app purchases.
EveryDollar: Budgeting by Ramsey Solutions
Trying to watch your budget for 2017 and finally start saving? EveryDollar: Budgeting allows you to make a budget, manage your money, and track your spending. If you’re a fan of Dave Ramsey, you know that every dollar counts. This app is free, allows you to quickly analyze your spending, shows you how much you can spend before you blow your budget, and will help you reach your money goals.
MyFitnessPal is an app that will help you figure out your calorie goal, track what you eat, track your fitness, and more. The Google Play store says this app is the world’s most popular health and fitness app and that members have lost 200 million pounds as a group! There are over 6 million foods in their food database, you can add a photo of your meal, connect with friends and cheer each other on, connect your Fitbit and see how many calories you crushed through movement, and sync other fitness apps to it such as MapMyWalk.
Do you have a different goal for 2017? Search your phone’s app store and see what innovative new apps are out there to help you! There are also apps out there that can tell you if that “healthy” diet shake is really healthy (like Fooducate), apps that can help you stay on top of household chores, apps to work on your elder’s memory skills, apps to teach tots to sign, and apps that can create workout routines personalized just for you.
Deborah Shure is the owner and founder of Nanny Tax, the premier nanny and caregiver payroll service in Canada. With over 25 years of combined financial experience, Deborah and her team are the most trusted source of nanny payroll information. When she isn’t busy providing “nanny tax frustration relief”, Deborah is spending time with her 3 kids doing all the things that supermoms do!
Tinkle. Tinkle. Tinkle. Did you hear that? That is the sound of an angel getting his wings.
If you do not know that reference, you need to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” this holiday season! It is a classic Christmas movie and sure to be on the television line-up once or twice in the coming weeks.
In fact, have you noticed that the number of “feel good” movies have already started to increase? We are officially in the ramp-up to the holiday season and the corny but lovely movies will be rolling and everyone will be putting in that extra effort to be a little bit kinder and gentler.
All the love and kindness makes the holidays the perfect time to remind your little angels about the importance of generosity.
What is generosity, you ask? I mean, you know what it means… being generous… but you have never really thought about it before, right? Whilst Google tells us that “Generosity is the quality of being kind and generous”, Wikipedia helpfully clarifies that it “Often means to provide help to others by giving them an (unusually precious) item without thinking twice.”
You may wonder how to help your children be generous towards others, when they are mostly being generous in texting you links to the exact gifts they will be expecting this holiday season. But it can be done!
The basics of teaching your kids are like most things you teach them—lead by example; start small and build; give them choices; and be patient!
And the good news about the holidays is that there are already things happening in your community that can provide learning opportunities such as food and gift drives. I remember the Angel Tree drives when I was a kid. You choose an entire family (with their names and ages noted on an Angel decoration on the tree) and bought presents for them. My friends and I even kept it up through our teenage years. Volunteering at a soup kitchen or behind the scenes at a toy drive sorting out gifts is also a good idea.
But don’t forget your older relatives, senior family friends and elderly neighbours. A friend always tells me the famous saying:
The way you can be most generous this holiday season is by giving your time to an older person. Some ideas to get you going:
All of that sounds wonderful right!? And given the luxury of all the time and money in the world, you would be right on it. But things are busy. You are stressed. Urghh… too much to do!
If that is how you are feeling, remember that studies show that being generous can pay dividends to your physical and mental health. Connecting with people through your generosity will make you feel connected and improve your overall happiness levels.
And if you do still feel too overwhelmed, maybe it is time to be generous to yourself and get some help in your home! If you or someone you know is looking for a Nanny, check out qualified candidates in your area at www.SOSsitter.ca. SOSsitter.ca is a Canadian portal designed to help you find local caregivers in your area, easily and quickly. The caregiver who is right for your family is only a click away.
There are certain holidays or events that mark the year. Remembrance Day – or Poppy Day as we called it when I was a kid – is certainly one of those events.
Poppy Day was always a signal to me that summer was long gone, that we were fully into autumn and that winter weather and Christmas holidays were just around the corner. It was (and still is!) the days and weeks leading up to Poppy Day that brought that feeling as you started to notice the poppy pins appear on people’s clothes.
You likely know the history of Remembrance Day but it is always worth for our old brains! It is a day observed in countries in the British Commonwealth of Nations to remember all those who have died in the line of duty and those affected by war. It has been held since the end of the First World War and is held on Armistice Day – the day the treaty to end World War I was signed.
Whilst the tradition of honouring those lost was started by King George V, it was a poem written by a Canadian doctor for the funeral of his friend who in perished in the First World War that introduced the concept of poppies. The poem, refers to the poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers.
You may wonder and war. can be challenging, especially as they are hopefully far removed from your kids experiences to date. Try to relate it to things that your kids can understand such as separation and or the loss of loved ones. Grandparents can help as they can explain their experiences or memories. But always remember to make your child feel personally safe and secure when talking about these types of topics.
Balance the harder aspects of a discussion on Remembrance Day with a discussion on all the events and activities that are planned. Talk about the for example as well as events planned in your home town. Go online and show your kids pictures of the thousands of in 2014 that marked the start of the British involvement in the First World War.
There are also many activities that you, or your nanny or babysitter, can do with your kids for Poppy Day. There are that you can download. There are word games and puzzles and pictures for colouring.
There are different views on when to start wearing a poppy – the day after Halloween, the week leading to Remembrance Day and more! that “Veterans Affairs Canada says poppies can be worn from the beginning of the poppy drive, which this year was Oct. 30.”
If you do not have poppies for your family, this is another activity you, your nanny or your babysitter, can do with the kids. Simply get out the red and black construction paper and scissors and glue and get to work!
If you or someone you know is looking for a Nanny, check out qualified candidates in your area at www.sossitter.com. is a Canadian portal designed to help you find local caregivers in your area, easily and quickly.
One of my favourite parts of autumn is Hallowe’en. I have great memories of pouring my bag of candy out on the living room floor and sorting through it, followed of course, by the candy trade negotiations with my sister.
Even as an adult, I have many happy memories of Hallowe’en. I remember well Hallowe’en night in my first house. I had a dinner party and all conversation stopped as we started to hear the sound of kids running through the leaves (swish, swish, swish) and the knocking at the door.
The enthusiastic shouts of ‘Trick or Treat’ from ghosts and goblins brought smiles to everyone’s face and we equally enthusiastically took turns answering the door and handing out pieces of candy from the big pumpkin bowl.
As the hour grew late and the stream of trick or treaters slowed, the group conversation resumed and many around the table admitted that they were glad that costumes had not been required for my gathering. Last minute and ‘Do It Yourself’ Hallowe’en costume horror stories started to flow like blood in a low-grade slasher movie.
Homemade Hallowe’en costumes are sometimes the product of a creative imagination and personal ambition. More often than not, however, they are a product of lack of planning or a desire to save money.
CTV shared some interesting statistics just before Hallowe’en last year: “About 50 per cent of all searches for Hallowe’en costumes and decorations typically come within five days of the event, according to Google Canada’s figures.” And “searches for makeup have grown about 30 per cent over the past few years.”
So …the countdown is on! Hallowe’en is just around the corner and it is time to get on top of costumes! And the big question is always – what to be!
Many news outlets and costume sellers are talking about a shift in the top choice this year. The ‘princess’ has been knocked out of her tower and replaced by super heroes. How unchivalrous! Fortune Magazine reported the top ten list of kids Hallowe’en costumes this year, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation:
The best news about this list? If you have left it late and the costumes shops are sold out, you can make some of these yourself and without dire consequences. If none of those costumes strikes you or your kid’s fancy, look online for ideas. There are many articles and sites with some pretty interesting and fun ideas. A few we particularly liked:
Recommendations for making “the making of the costume” as painless as possible include:
And don’t forget to get your candy bowl sorted before the stores are out of all of the good stuff. The CTV report last year stated Skittles, M&Ms and the classic candy corn as the top searches. No tricks – all treats! Happy Hallowe’en!
If you or someone you know is looking for a Nanny, check out qualified candidates in your area at www.sossitter.ca. SOSsitter.ca is a Canadian portal designed to help you find local caregivers in your area, easily and quickly. The caregiver who is right for your family is only a click away.
The last days of summer have slipped away, so it’s time for you to work with your family to get school-year routines back in place. Consider introducing something new this autumn. School Lunches: Made by Kids!
D (no. of days of school per year ~180) x K (no. of kids) = A (as in A LOT!)
There are so many reasons to get your kids packing their own lunches. Who better to gauge how hungry they are and what snacks are likely to be eaten? What better lessons in autonomy and, if you make lunches the night before, the benefits of planning ahead? But the best reason – if I am being honest – was well put on PopSugar: “After all, of the thankless and often unproductive exercises parents submit to over the school year, making lunch, well takes the cake.”
Hear, hear to that! Now, you must recognise that it may make the process longer to begin with but the return is well worth the investment. And I do recommend doing it the night before as mornings are already busy: there is no reason to add to the stress.
If you have made the mental leap (I know, I know… twist your arm!), start at the beginning and let your kid choose the lunch box or sandwich bags or whatever! Let them choose how they will be carrying their lunch every day for the next year.
And set them up for success: plan ahead for balanced meals. Take your kids shopping; create their own accessible space in the kitchen; take advantage of some breaks from lunch-making such as a “lunch at school”; and make it fun!
Find time towards the end of each week to talk about what they liked and did not like about their lunches over the week and then make a plan for their lunches for the coming week. You know what they say – planning is 80% of the job!
When planning, help them consider building a well-balanced lunch. Yes, it would be nice if we lived in a world in which potato chips, sugar drinks and chocolate bars equalled good health but alas… You will likely have your own views on what constitutes well-balanced but the basics should include: protein, whole grains, dairy and fruit and veg. Don’t forget to reinforce any restrictions your school has: nuts, peanuts or other!
Armed with your plan for a week of well-balanced lunches, it is time to head to the grocery store. Not only should you involve your kids in the full “lifecycle” of lunch-making but the grocery store is also a great place to get new ideas. And when you get home, let your kids unpack their lunch supplies to a place that is their designated lunch space such as a kid-level shelf in the pantry. This will keep things focused when the packing begins.
And as with everyone thing in life, create some breaks from the routine and have some fun! It is the only way to keep things going over a long period like a school year. If your kids school offers lunch, choose a day when he or she buys versus brings. I still remember Taco Thursdays fondly! And consider introducing some fun such as “Whacky Wednesday” where the rules are loosened on what can go into that lunch box.
Congratulations! You get your first gold star of the school year! One thing off your Mommy (or Daddy!) list of things to do and a great life lesson for your kids.
In the short term you can enjoy the empty lunch boxes coming home at the end of each day. [Although not scientifically proven – it has been suggested that lunches packed by kids are more likely to be eaten.] And over the long term, you can feel satisfied that your independent and well-adjusted kids are free to pursue their big dreams and make time for fun, rather than struggling with the basic maintenance of life. And just think – all because you got them to make their own lunches. ☺
If you or someone you know is looking for a Nanny, check out qualified candidates in your area at http://www.sossitter.ca. SOSsitter.ca is a Canadian portal designed to help you find local caregivers in your area, easily and quickly. The caregiver who is right for your family is only a click away.
The great outdoors. You love it and you want your kids to love it as well. And why not! According to research referenced in a Washington Post article, “spending time in nature has tremendous benefits, including improved concentration, better motor coordination, improved overall cognitive functioning and a greater ability to engage in creative play”. Who does not want that for their kids?!
So how do you get your little ones interested in the outdoors? Simple really – give them experiences that make them want to do it again and again! And you don’t have to go to one of our great National Parks – although they are wonderful – or on an expensive holiday to do it. You can spark that love of the outdoors right in your own garden! Here are five things to do in the garden to get the little ones interested in the outdoors:
Backyard Camping: The fastest and cheapest way to introduce your kids to the fun and wonder of the outdoors is to organise a backyard camp out. Whether you go all out with a tent or simply tie a hammock between two trees or throw some sleeping bags on the ground, a backyard campout is easy and fun for all. And once the sun goes down and you’re snuggled into your sleeping bags, the nights sky will provide you with an adventure that can last a lifetime: stargazing. You will have the best luck when the moon is fuller and when it is darker in your immediate surroundings.
Butterfly Garden: Did you know that there is such a thing as butterfly gardening? It simply means creating an environment that will attract butterflies. Pretty cool right. There are lots of resources online that can help you design and build your own. Or you can always order a kit from Amazon! And then watch the transformation of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly!
Fairy Houses: Remember the magic of Tinker Bell from Peter Pan’s world of Neverland? Why not bring a little bit of that magic to your back garden and into the life of your little one. They say that building a fairy house will attract fairies to your garden. Whether that is true or not, designing and building one will certainly introduce a sense of wonder.
Bean Pole Teepees: These creations help you kill two birds with one stone – building support for your pole beans and creating a fabulous hiding spot for kids to play in all summer long. However, building a bean pole teepee is not for the weak hearted; it does require some skill. So be sure to plan it out in advance. Remember that kids have a fairly short attention span so you don’t want to lose them while you are losing the battle with the teepee!
Bug Hunting: Goggles, magnifying glasses, bug hut, bug book…. All the things you need to go on your first bug hunt! As with most things, you can either build your kit yourself with things you have around the house or buy a bug hunting kit already made. Regardless of which way you go, you will likely want a book about bugs to help guide you and your kids on your hunt. Alternatively, you can find the bugs and then try to find them online using google! Just remember to teach your kids to treat all living things with respect!
These are just five ideas to get your started. There are likely 500 ways to get your kids interested in the outdoors and what a gift that is! So get out to the back garden! Create adventures for you and your kids! And spark a love of the outdoors that will bring them happiness for the rest of their lives.
If you or someone you know is looking for a Nanny, check out qualified candidates in your area at www.sossitter.ca. SOSsitter.ca is a Canadian portal designed to help you find local caregivers in your area, easily and quickly. The caregiver who is right for your family is only a click away.
In the blink of an eye summer will be over and the kiddos will be back in school. Make the most of these last few
precious moments by unplugging, unwinding, and really connecting with your little ones. Now you are probably thinking, “Sure I’ll fit that right in between laundry, dishes, chores, soccer practice…” The trick is not to make bonding time one more thing on the to-do list, but to fit it in naturally throughout your day.
The Sock Match Game
You’re a busy parent, you love your family, but the chores still need to be done. How about playing the helping game? The next time you’re folding laundry, turn the socks into a matching game. Lay out all of the socks, and while you fold and hang the laundry let your little one match socks. It’ll be fun watching your little one work on those matching skills and the laundry will still get done. With the older kids, you can make putting away the laundry a race, or see who can hang/fold the most clothes in 60 seconds.
Kitchen Dance Party
Does your child beg to help in the kitchen? Instead of turning them away, let the time you spend in the kitchen become family time. Depending on age, kids can wash produce, chop veggies with a kid safe knife, stir, mix, count and crack eggs, measure, or set the table. You can use this time to talk about your day, teach basic kitchen skills, or just turn on music and dance together while whipping up snacks or meals. As an added bonus, kids are much more likely to eat their veggies when they helped wash and prepare them.
A Family Workout
Exercise is important for keeping you physically and mentally healthy, and many busy moms and dads make fitness time non-negotiable in their day. Instead of jogging around the block solo, get your kiddo in on the act. Exercise is good for them too, and you may (or may not) be surprised to find that it’s you trying to keep up with them. You can push little ones in a stroller or carry them in a kid pack on your back, and get an even better calorie burn in your workout. There is no wrong way to bond, and bonding while getting healthier is full of benefits for the entire gang.
Deborah Shure is the owner and founder of , the premier nanny payroll service in Canada. With over 25 years of combined financial experience, Deborah and her team are the most trusted source of nanny payroll information. When she isn’t busy providing “nanny tax frustration relief”, Deborah is spending time with her 3 kids doing all the things that supermoms do!
Do you remember some of the movies you watched when you were a kid?
I remember watching Stripes at the first boy / girl birthday party I went to when I was nine. NINE! Stripes was rated R and included topless women, drug references, profanity (four F-bombs) and some violence.
Stripes, although the 5th most popular movie in the US and Canada in 1981, was not appropriate for a group of nine-year-old boys and girls in my opinion. It was exciting to be able to see it (I guess my wild streak started at an early age), I can remember being uncomfortable and pretty surprised we were watching it. I had seen nothing like it before!
What were those parents thinking, right? Although truth be told, my friends and I watched Purple Rain at my all girls 13th birthday slumber party. I don’t really remember the movie but I can imagine that Prince did not shy away from mature content. And my parents were conscientious and fell into the “strict” category!
Most parents are interested in ensuring the movies, TV and other content their kids see are age appropriate. Why? Well, essentially because as your kids develop, they need to have experiences that they can understand and process before they are ready to move on to more advanced experiences. Jumping ahead is thought to negatively impact a child’s development. Also – and without seeking to fuel the debate – some studies say excessive exposure to violence and risky behaviours can desensitize children, leading to poor life decisions. Whether that’s true or not, every parent has to decide what they consider to be appropriate for their kids.
But what is a parent to do when they’re just not sure?
First, you should be knowledgeable about the movie rating systems. In Canada, movie ratings are done at a provincial level by seven ratings boards. The Ontario Film Review Board, for example, uses the following ratings:
The other provinces are fairly similar although most included an additional rating: Adult – Content is sexually explicit, or graphically and excessively violent. Nova Scotia jumps from 18A to XXX and includes a designation “E” for material it has not reviewed, whilst Quebec includes a rating for movies appropriate for those over 16 and stops its ratings at 18A.
In the United States, the Motion Picture Association of America provides the ratings which are fairly similar to Canada: G, PG, PG13, R, NC-17. Television shows have ratings too, with TV-14, for example, indicating that a show is not appropriate for children under 14. Keep in mind, however, that there are different attitudes around the world. There is more leniency for sexual content in some European countries for example.
Ultimately, deciding what your kids can handle is for you as a parent to decide. If you want to go beyond the rating systems, which is generally a good idea, there are websites that lay out the facts for you to make a decision. IMDB, for example, has a parent’s guide. But the bottom line is that you will need to decide what is right for your kid.
If you are looking for a Nanny or Babysitter and DO NOT want a repeat of the movie Adventures in Babysitting, you have come to the right place! SOSitter.ca is a Canadian portal designed to help you find local caregivers in your area, easily and quickly. The caregiver who is right for your family is only a click away.