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Jun 6

5 Things Your Nanny Should Always Have Handy!

Now that the good weather is here to stay, your kids and their nanny will probably be spending a lot more time outdoors.

So make sure they’re properly equipped with some basic things:

5 Things Your nanny Should Always Have

 

May 31

Social Media and your Babysitter

So you think you are up on social media? You have heard about and may even use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, child and nannyTumblr, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Vine.

But do you know the other social media sites and applications kids are using? Heard of Whisper, Yik Yak, Burn Note, ooVoo and Kik Messenger? That’s right! There are more and more outlets every day that enable us (and particularly teens) to communicate in new ways. Wikipedia’s alphabetical listing of social networking sites passes 50 in number by the time it gets to F, as in Facebook.

[A cheat sheet is included at the bottom for anyone scratching their heads right now!]

Technology and social media in particular opens up new ways for you to stay connected to your home – i.e. your kids and babysitter or nanny – that did not exist previously. That is wonderful!

But… You need to be clear about the rules of the road for its use. This should absolutely be one of the things to discuss in very clear terms and even better, document on your babysitter board or its equivalent.

And the first thing you should do is find out what social media your babysitter or nanny uses. Don’t be shy! Life is busy and social media moves fast. Find out what they are using and then how it is used. Then decide what you are comfortable using for communicating with each other or more widely.

Next, set the rules for what is okay for your babysitter or nanny to post that includes your kids. You want to consider whether you are comfortable with your kids’ image, name, location or situation (i.e. home without parents) being online. If you are comfortable with some combination of the above, ensure that you are notified of posts.

Agree what types of communication you want to have whilst you are away. Do you want those super cute moments captured and texted to you? Do you want a live stream of how activities are going (homework done, veggies eaten, teeth brushed, good night routine)? Set rules for taking images and photos of your kids away on their devices.

One word of warning – be sensible: if your babysitter or nanny is texting you every 5 minutes how is she or he paying attention to the kids? And what are you getting done? Also have clear rules on when devices should be down – like when driving or watching the kids on the playground or in the pool.

And don’t forget your children. Kids today are glued to their devices. Talk frankly with your nanny or babysitter about what apps and sites are allowed and when devices need to be put away.

Finally: Here is a quick run-down if you DID NOT know any of the social media sites we mentioned:

Twitter – 140 character microblogs called tweets

Instagram – app for positing pictures and short videos, both publically and to private networks

Tumblr – short streaming blogs (tumblogs) including text, audio, video and photos

Snapchat – app for messaging (including pictures and videos) that disappear after a set period of time; note that this is increasingly becoming a standard means of communications for kids today

WhatsApp – app to send text, audio, photos and images directly to one person or a group

Vine – app for posting short videos

Whisper – app for putting out messages (that are paired with an image) anonymously

Yik Yak – short messaging app that is accessible to the 500 closest users

Burn Note – app for messaging (text only) that deletes messages after a set period

ooVoo – app for messaging, voice and video, including a group chat function

Kik Messenger – app that lets you text for free

Facebook – if you do not know this one, well...more than 1.5 billion people on earth are using it so worth checking it out to be a little more current!

Do you need to find a babysitter or nanny before you even start thinking about this? 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.

 

May 24

Senior Summer Fun

It is time for some Senior Summer Fun! Just think how good it feels for you and your kids to get out and enjoy the fresh air, blue skies and warm sun after being inside for all those winter months. Well the same is true for seniors. Maybe even more so since they can sometimes have a more limited and indoor existence.seniors playing a game

Why is this a good idea?

Sunlight is a great source of Vitamin D which is important for bones, brain and muscle function. It provides the opportunity for some additional and varied physical exercise and can provide a mental lift as well. Getting out and about and engaging in a wider social group is good for the soul, no matter what age. I am hard pressed to think of any downsides to getting out to enjoy the fresh outdoors.

And if you or your senior loved ones need some encouragement to get out there and enjoy life to the fullest, get them watching Grace and Frankie! Netflix’s show, starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Sam Waterson, and Martin Sheen as seniors who are anything but retiring, has just started its second season. It is sure to inspire young and old alike!

So what are some fun things that seniors can do?

People watch!
Those who know me, will not be surprised to see this top of the list. I can think of nothing better than to find a bench in an interesting area and just watching who comes passing by. People are fascinating!

Play Ball!
Whether it is your ten-year old’s baseball game, the local minor league or the majors, games can be enjoyed by fans of all ages.

Take a stroll!
Or a roll if your senior loved one requires some mobility support. However you need to do it, get out and get breathing that fresh air.

Take a dip!
Swimming and water aerobics is a good way for seniors to get exercise without taxing their body too much. If swimming days are long gone for your senior loved one, suggest sitting by the pool, dangling their feet in.

Go fish!
Literally, go fishing. Fishing is as low impact a sport as you are going to find, so if you have got the equipment and a place to go nearby, get to it! If that is not an option, what about playing “Go Fish” or another card or board game on the picnic bench in the backyard or in a park?

Celebrate!
There are tons of reasons to have a BBQ over the summer, national holidays and made-up holidays or just because! A BBQ or picnic always leaves family and friends with great memories and usually a good night’s sleep!

If you want to give your senior loved one some Senior Summer Fun but find you need some help, you have come to the right place to find a senior caregiver. 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.

May 17

Pet Sitters: The Questions to Ask

For someone who did not grow up with pets (Julius Augustus Caesar – our short lived parakeet, bought to fulfill a Girl Guide badge requirement – does not count), I sure do love my animals. I have: two horses, two donkeys, 1 beagle and 3 egg-laying hens.

As my partner says, pets are life enhancers. Boy is that true. The never-ending love I receive from this motley crew pet sitter questionsconstantly amazes me. And frankly, their love more than makes up for the hard work required to care for them. But don’t tell my partner that! I am forever complaining about said work and the fact that we can never get away for a much needed holiday because… the animals.

Here are the top four questions I ask to help my partner get comfortable enough with someone to leave our precious “children” in someone else’s hands:

Are you an animal Person?

What pets did you have growing up and what type of animals do you have now? Why do you love animals? This is a great way for you and your pet sitter to get to know and feel comfortable with each other quickly; people bond over their love of animals. And if your pet sitter does not seem to have a love of animals, that is a good indicator that he or she is not the pet sitter for you and your four-legged family members!

What are your experiences and your credentials?

What experience do you have a being a pet sitter? What type of animals have you cared for and for what period of time? What type of things did caring for them include? What did you like and what did you dislike? What did you learn from these experiences? Did you run into any trouble or emergencies and how did you handle them? Can you provide references?

What is your approach to pet sitting?

How do you go about making animals you are caring for comfortable with you? How much time can you give my pets each day? Will you play with them? Will you bring your animals over? How many other pets are currently caring for? What do you like being a pet sitter?

How will you keep us up to date on how things are going?

In today’s world, it is easy to be away but to keep up to date on how things are going at home. On a recent girls trip, my friend and a new mother, got texts and photos throughout the day from her Nanny with updates on how and what her baby was doing. Some of the girls on the trip initially rolled their eyes but we were all convinced by the end of the trip. The messages were short and the pictures cute and most of all, our friend was relaxed enough to get out onto the dance floor and boogie with the rest of us, knowing her baby was well. The same approach can be used to our furry and feathered babies!

If you are as crazy about your pets as I am, you will want to find a pet sitter you can trust. You have come to the right place. 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.

 

May 9

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions….

Decisions, decisions, decisions….We make many decisions every day. It starts the moment we wake up (what to have for breakfast, what to make the kids for lunch, what to wear to work) and picks up a rapid pace from there.

too many choicesSo we know we make a lot of decisions each day, but did you know (make sure you seated for this one) that some reports say that the average adult human being makes 35,000 a day! That is a lot of decisions. Even if the figure is not that high, it is no wonder there is something called Decision Fatigue. Decisions Fatigue means that we become less effective at making decisions as the day goes on.

So what is one to do? Cannot decide? We recommend (1) minimizing the number of decisions you need to make a day; (2) Actively minimize and manage decision fatigue and (3) Just do it – make a choice. Easier said than done? Here are some ways to make this happen:

Minimize the number of decisions

We will always face a staggering number of decisions to make but we can make it easier on ourselves in many ways. Take clothes for example. If your kids are in a school that requires a uniform, you know the joys of not having to decide on a new outfit every day. This can work for adults too. Develop your “work uniform” such as a series of simply cut suits paired with scarves, and cut down on a number of decisions from the get go.

Make the best decisions possible by minimizing decision fatigue

The more decisions we make, the more it wears us out. So make your most important decisions as early in the day as possible. Go further and know what big decisions you are going to make; any new “biggies” that pop up the day should be put off, if possible, to another day. Limit the number of options you have… choosing between a few options is much easier than many. Fewer options also affords you the opportunity to get better “decision support information” on each option.

Just do it – make a choice

Every decision is a choice. Alexandra Stoddard, a philosopher of contemporary living and the author of many best-selling books, wrote on this subject in her booked titled Making Choices. She talks about the negative emotional impact that can come from leaving decisions unmade for long periods of time. A work colleague gave me similar advice – any decision, even one that you later think was not the right one, is better than no decision. Think about it. Can you identify recent decisions that you have given a lot of your time fretting over, only to feel relief (and a bit silly) when you have finally made it? Make that a lesson learned and face your decisions head on; you will feel better for it.

Making decisions – and a lot of them – is a privilege of modern life but also can be a burden. You will always have a lot of them before you. You will make some good decisions and likely some less good decisions. The best you can do is realize that decision-making is a critical skill set in today’s world and so it’s worth the effort to be deliberate about how to make the best possible decisions possible.

There is one easy decision to make – use SOSsitter.ca for all of your home support needs! 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.

 

May 2

Celebrating Mothers and Stepmothers this Mother’s Day

Happy Mothers Day Moms and Stepmoms! We love you and appreciate all you do for us!

So, remember the days of the TV show Leave it to Beaver when families were made of up of one Father, one Mother, one boy and one girl and a dog named Spot? Well, whether that was a true reflection of families in the 1950s or not, it certainly is not a good reflection of families today.

Single mothers, single fathers. Stepmoms and stepdads. Two dads, two moms. And probably more combinations! Most people today would agree that families come in all shapes and sizes and should be celebrated no matter shape or size.

Easy right? Unfortunately, it is not always that simple. For example, Mother’s Day is coming up and it can cause mother's daysome questions and anxiety when considering how to include stepmothers.

Every family is different and each family has different circumstances over the years. There is no one answer or approach to Mother’s Days but there are some universal truths that we believe can be helpful as you navigate your particular circumstances: recognize and consider the feelings of all involved, act with kindness and talk it out. If you keep these in mind, you will do just fine! We have also included some tips for all the different players in Mother’s Day equation.

Teachers

When handing out materials for kids to make Mother’s Day cards, check to see if kids need materials for more than one card. You can no longer assume kids only have one Mom!

Fathers

You have a big role, you do realize that, right? Not only should you help your kids prepare for Mother’s Day for their biological mother but you should take the lead in helping the whole family navigate how best to honour the stepmom. This could mean that just you do something special for your spouse if your kids and ex wife are not ready to include your new spouse in Mother’s Day celebrations. It is your job to help find a comfortable solution for all – and that includes ensuring you recognize all your spouse does for you.

Mothers

You will always be your children’s biological mother and they will always love you. If your kids feel they want to celebrate their stepmother as well, do not feel threatened. Feel happy that your children have so many people in their lives that love them. And know a child’s heart has no limitations when it comes to how much love they can give.

Stepmothers

Some stepmoms can feel like it is a job that has all the requirements of being a mother – the time, money and worry – without the upsides of being the adored mother. Whether you have developed an good relationship with your stepchildren easily or it will take some time, recognise that they will see all that you have brought to their lives eventually and stay confident and up beat. Give yourself whatever you need to keep taking the high road.

Stepchildren

Like in all areas of your life, consider the people around you and how they feel. If you feel strongly that Mother’s Day celebrations are only for biological mothers, find another way to show your stepmom that you appreciate all that she does.

No matter how many mothers you are lucky enough to have in your family, you will likely still find that you need to some extra help at home. If that is true, you have come to the right place! 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.

Apr 25

Celebrating Mother Earth: Projects for Kids of all Ages!

Were you mad about Mad Men, the ultra-stylised TV show centred on an advertising agency in the 1950s and 60s? There were so many jaw-dropping moments! But what shocked me most – more than the non-stop drinking and smoking in the white male-dominated working world – was a picnic scene. That’s right a picnic!

Don Draper (the central character) and his family have a picnic in a lovely lush green park. And then they finish. And Earth weekthen they get up and walk away without a care in the world. And they leave all their trash on the ground. I was bowled over!!! I guess I had forgotten how we so recently and so easily disregarded Mother Earth – individually and collectively.

Whilst there is still much more to do, Earth Day and Earth Week was started in the 1970’s to demonstrate support for environmental protection. In simple terms, Earth Week reminds us to be kind to our planet. If you have not joined in on this celebration, this is the year to make a start! And here some of our favourite activities for kids of all ages:

Get outside and enjoy nature:

What better way to celebrate Mother Earth than to experience it! Take a bike ride. Go to the park and walk barefoot in the grass. Pick flowers in your back garden. If you live in the city, get out to the country! Research destinations, such as a farm, to visit. If you ever picked strawberries as a kid, you know what a wonderful memory it makes!

Create a garden:

Or work on it as a family if you already have one. You can plan it out in advance and come up with ideas that will please everyone. When I was very young, my parents grew pumpkins and so we had our very own to carve at Halloween! My grandmother had ‘moon flowers’ in her garden and all the cousins would rush out when the sun had set to see the ‘magic’ as the flowers blossomed as they would only in the moonlight. A friend created a salsa garden to indulge her love of Mexican food. Gardening has so many benefits including building an appreciation for what our earth can produce for us and the care and time it requires to do so.

Create a Photo Documentary:

Arm every member of your family with a camera (smartphones today have fantastic cameras) and get out into your neighbourhood and photograph nature. It’s a fun way to flex your collective creative muscles and to take the time to appreciate your surroundings. When home pool them all together and make a slide show to watch as a family.

Cook locally:

Plan and make a meal together made of all locally sourced food. If you do not have fruit and vegetables growing in your own garden, research where local produce and products are available. Going to your local farmers market not only provides your ingredients but is a great morning out together.

Create new habits:

Turn off the lights and enjoy the natural sunlight. Open the windows and create cross breezes. Revisit your recycling practices as see how you can improve them and talk about why it is so important to do so.

Whatever you do, make sure to stop and smell the roses! Get out there and breathe the fresh, beautiful air; appreciate the big blue skies and all the natural beauty around you. Celebrate

Mother Earth and all she provides for us and commit to make small changes to help her live on in good health for years to come!

Our planet is sending us a SOS to take better care of her; listen and respond! 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.

 

Apr 18

Pet Parties: Pupcake Anyone?

You can picture it, can’t you? Little party hats and plates, each set in front of a pillow, intended for the four legged pet guests to sit on. Yes, it’s a birthday party for your dearest FurKid. The cookies are all homemade, meat flavoured, and bone shaped. The water dishes are all read to be lapped at. Streamers are hung just out of reach of little jaws and paws. And party games: Will you pay a rousing game of fetch? Or will all the four legged guests just head out to the pet birthday partyback yard for a run about and a wee?

Let’s just address the elephant in the room straight away. Some of you are going to say: You are crazy to have a party for your pet!

But if you are feeling at all shy about the love you have for your pet, don’t! Pets are members of the family. They’re an important part of many of our lives and can be very beneficial for children, to help them learn responsibility, empathy and just to know the love of another creature.

And in case you are still in doubt, let me remind you of just a few of the great pets in history:

  • Snoopy! Charlie Brown’s faithful companion
  • Toto, Dorothy’s best friend in the Wizard of Oz
  • Silver, the Lone Ranger’s trusted steed (Hi-ho Silver, away!)
  • Fang, Hagrid’s boarhound in Harry Potter
  • Dug, from the movie Up (“I have just met you and I love you! Squirrel!”)
  • Lassie, Old Yeller, Pluto, Lady and the Tramp, Astro, Scooby-Doo (and Scrappy too!) and too many famous and talented cats on the Internet to mention!

So as you approach your pet’s birthday, don’t hesitate! Go ahead. Have a party for your pet! After all, any reason for a party is a good enough reason!

Here are some ideas to get your pet party started:

  • Decide if you are going to have a family affair or something bigger by inviting friends and their pets. Or their children. Either way, it’s important to consider how many people / pets will be attending and if you have the space to take this on! If not, considering moving your event to an off-leash park.
  • If you choose to invite other animals, make sure that you know whether they play nicely with others and make sure that their ‘parents’ understand that this won’t be a drop off party!
  • Choose a place that is enclosed so the animals can run free and go for a wee and double check the space to make sure that it doesn’t have any safety hazards. Your dalmatian may be fine with that little stone pool but the shih-tzu from down the street might take an accidental dip if you don’t block it off!
  • Gets lots of water bowls, treats and perhaps even some ‘pupcakes’? There are hundreds of recipes online for safe, healthy treats that you can share with your guests.
  • Don’t forget a supply of bags for scooping!
  • Plan for some refreshments for the owners too! It’s hard work being a FurParent!
  • Party games: Fetch, Chase your Tail, Pin the Tail on the… oh wait, never mind. Let’s skip that one.
  • Pass out loot bags (with yummy treats and toys) at the end but make sure parents hold on to them. You want to avoid introducing any aggression among the animals. You know, like the “Hey, how come HE got a blue ball and I got a pink one?”

Most importantly, go for it! You are not alone in your admiration for your pet, so celebrate and have fun!

Celebrate your pet everyday by finding a great pet sitter on SOSsitter. 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.

 

Apr 11

Getting Past ‘Fine': Ways to Get Your Kids Talking!

It’s funny how you spend so much time getting your kids to say their first words. MA-MA. DA-DA. And then when they do start talking, boy it seems they will never stop! They even say things you don’t want them to, like telling everyone when they went potty or your age.

And then – just like that – they go to school and clam up! You go from knowing everything that happens in their life from moment to moment, and then nothing! And you want to know.

Do you face the same dreaded word other parents do: FINE. How was school today? Fine. How was your first music Getting your kids to talk!lesson? Fine. How did your test go? Fine.

Fine! Fine! Fine! For such a neutral word it sure can bring a lot of anxiety for parents. But never fear, we’ve got four tips to turn those “fines” into real information from your kids:

Give it time

Many of us are quick out of the gate when meeting back up with our spouses and children at the end of the day. We are, understandably, anxious to hear how it all went. We want to know that everything is actually fine or even better, good. And often times, work went into a project or getting ready for an event and it would be nice to know how it actually went! But slooowwww down! Give your family some time to decompress and unwind when they get home. A little bit of time to get some distance and process the day will help kids be willing and able to communicate.

Homework Time is Primetime

Having a set time to do homework is a good discipline for your kids that will pay dividends throughout their academic and even professional careers. But a hidden benefit is that it facilities discussions. When working on math homework with your child, it is a natural point to ask about what happened in math that day or alternatively you may find your kid naturally talks about the goings on in the class.

Dinnertime is also a good time

Having dinner at a specific time every night and eating together is a good thing to do on its own merit, but like homework time, there are some additional benefits. It is the perfect time – after some unwinding and school work – to discuss the events of the day. Some families use the “hi-lo” approach where everyone in the family takes turns talking about their “hi” moment of the day and “lo” moment of the day.

Be specific every time

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Do you keep asking “How was school today” and keeping getting “Fine” as the answer. Whilst you might not be insane, you are soon going to feel like you are going there fast. Change it up and ask specific questions: What craft did you do in art class today? What book did you read during story time? Who did you play with at recess? How is the new girl getting on? What was the most interesting thing you learned today?

These are great tips for kids of all ages, but do remember that kids communicate differently at different ages so you might need to vary the specifics of your approach. Pre-schoolers, for example, are going to have a widely different set of issues than teenagers. Whatever their age, keep at it. It can be frustrating but engaging meaningfully with your kids is not only important for their development but rewarding for you as a parent!

And parents, we challenge you! Don’t be guilty of “it’s all fine” either! If you need extra help in your home, get it! 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.

 

Apr 4

You, Me and We: Teaching Your Kids About Empathy

The great Albert Einstein is quoted as saying: If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.

Reading to your kids – especially when they are very young is good for so many reasons. It helps you bond with them; it increases their learning abilities; it helps them build their communication skills. And the list goes on.

But Einstein was likely not just suggesting that reading to kids is good. He might also have been giving us a hint about the importance of teaching our kids about empathy and how we might go about it.

But before we explore that further, it is worth pausing to consider what empathy is and why it is so important. In the simplest of terms, empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It is to understand what another person is feeling. This is different from sympathy which is feeling sorry for someone else. It is worth explaining this to kids as there is a subtle but important difference!

Empathy is so important, not only because it makes you more successful both personally and professionally but also because it makes you happier as an individual. Being able to understand the people around us, whether in personal relationships or in a professional setting, allows us to meet their needs. And meeting the needs of others is essentially what moves us forward in life. But it also gives us a connection to those around us. That connection to the world is a critical element of happiness. Not having that connection can create a sense of loneliness and hopelessness, neither of which we want for our children!

So why does Einstein want us to read fairy tales to our children and how does it teach empathy? The characters and kids readingstories in fairy tales expose your children to different worlds and challenges. In a way, it builds their experience base and allows you to talk with your kids about what the characters in the stories are experiencing.

Einstein died in 1955 and a lot of thinking has moved on since then. There will be those who warn you off of fairy tales as they might make your children wonder why their lives do not always end as neatly and happily as a fairy tale. Others will say that the themes in fairy tales are out-dated and do not reflect our thinking on issues such as the role of women in society.

Love them or hate them, take the key message away: reading stories, whether fairy tales, basic children’s books or great literature, will give your kids an early foundation in listening and understanding the situation in which others find themselves.

There are many other ways you can teach your kids about empathy – show them by modelling the behaviour yourself; work with them to identify their own emotions as it helps identify similar emotions in others; teach them good listen skills. However you go about, get on with it! It is too important a skill to think about another day.

And if you are at all skeptical about the importance of empathy, look for examples of those who lack it. One of my favourite examples is Dr. Sheldon Cooper on the TV show The Big Bang Theory. The show is so funny in large part because of Sheldon’s total lack of social graces, including empathy, and the struggles he has because of it. Watch one episode and you will be straight on to teaching empathy to your kids!

At SOSsitter.ca, we empathize with your need for help in your home! 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.