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Mar 29

Spring to Action! Tips for People who Dread Spring Cleaning!

Is your excitement for the coming of spring dampened not only by “April showers that bring May flowers” but also byspring cleaning with the kids the annual tradition of doing a good “Spring Clean”?  I don’t know about you but I am not a fan. And talk of it is everywhere!  I could barely believe it when I settled in to read my daily email from Vogue and one of the articles was on Spring Cleaning!

But you can do it! Here is what you need to know:

  • Stop dreading it! It will not make it go away; dreading it will just add to the agony. A secret of life is to get on with what needs to be done and then it will be done that much faster.

  • Make your list! Alright, “the list” is my go-to. I admit it. But it is not just the satisfaction of scratching things off the list, although that is pretty great! Gosh I love it. It also helps you get organised and focused which increases your likelihood of seeing things through to completion.

 

  • Pick a room, any room! Or a type of task. By going after your cleaning in some kind of order, you can more easily break it up over several weeks in a coordinated fashion. It also helps break the cleaning up into bite-sized pieces.

  • Good enough is good enough! You want to do it properly but you don’t need to be a perfectionist. What is that expression? Perfect is the enemy of done. It can help to set time limits. 45 minutes to clean out the fridge. Two hours to clean your closet. I call them “speed exercises” but really that just means it is done and better yet, in time for me to watch some TV!

  • Make it easy on yourself! I have a friend whose kitchen is always a mess: the stacks of dirty dishes with food that looks cemented-on is overwhelming. Whilst I always try to do dishes right away, sometimes you have to come back to it. In those instances, stack the dishes neatly in the sink, squirt some dish soap and run the hot water. When you return to the task, the job is almost done!

    Look for ways to apply this across all aspects of your cleaning. For example, get rid of stuff you don’t need (or equally important, don’t use!) throughout the year rather than leaving it for an annual spring clean.  And take good habits, like keeping surfaces clutter free…it will make your job easier for the next big cleaning!
  • Learn from others!  You would not believe the inventive ways people have found to short circuit cleaning jobs; just google it!

Oops! Don’t forget that Spring Cleaning does not restrict itself to the indoors! You need to get out to the garden and pick-up winter debris and oh, so much more. But really, that is a reward. Just think of the sunshine on your face!

And do not worry. You do not have to carry the burden alone! Spring into action and find some help with your house cleaning on SOSsiter.ca! SOSsitter.ca is a Canadian portal designed to help you find local caregivers in your area, easily and quickly. The caregiver (or housekeeper!) who is right for your family is only a click away.

 

Mar 21

Two Religions – Too Much?

What is that expression? If you want to keep the peace, never talk money, politics or religion. That might be a good rule for the work place and parties although if you are not talking about these things at home then where are you talking about them?

But as the number of “interfaith” relationships increases, how do you talk about religion at home whilst keeping the teaching religion to little kidspeace and not confusing the kids?

I used to joke that I don’t know how I got out of my childhood house alive as my mother is Irish Catholic and my father is English Protestant. On the surface of it and according to relatively recent history, that is a fairly volatile mix! In reality, my father is not that religious and was happy for us to go to mass together as a family. He and I would invent ways to entertain ourselves, such as counting the number of times the priest said “Um”.

Differences in religion within a household can take many forms: couples of the same religion but of varying levels of interest, couples of different religions (again with varying levels of commitment) or even couples where only one person believes in God.

When it comes to kids and two religion families, it is fairly straightforward to “choose the religion” if one parent has a strong faith and the other does not. But if both parents want their kids to be raised in their faith, then what?

There are some good resources online to help you navigate this: Time Magazine did a good article called The Case for Raising Your Child With Two Religions. And check out Amazon for a book called Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family by Susan Katz Miller. It is largely referenced and Jewish-Christian marriages seems to be on the front lines of interfaith marriages.

One point of view is that it is worthwhile to teach your kids a bit about all the major religions of the world. There is so much religious tension in the world but most people really do not know much about religions other than their own. Teaching your kids about understanding and tolerating different religious beliefs could just lead to a more peaceful future!

One thing that both parents can easily agree…. extra help with your home and family is a god-send! 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.

 

Mar 14

Taking the “Parent” out of Grandparents

Do you remember when the first of your siblings had a baby? My older sister was the first in my family and her pregnancy was a wonderful time. We rallied around her as a family as she prepared for her new arrival and my parents excitedly settled on their new names: Nana and Papa.

What I did not know was that we should have been preparing ourselves emotionally for a whole new set of dynamics within our little group that had existed with no “new blood” for the past 28 years or so. Wow! Things were about to change.

First things first.

Having family, especially grandparents, involved in the lives of your children is wonderful. For kids it is not only an additional source of love and fun but is also another wise guiding hand during their development. For parents, grandparents can offer help and advice, financial support and the opportunity to get a break. And for grandparents, spending time with their grandchildren is a great source of joy and can provide a sense of purpose.

Win, Win, Win. And something not to be taken for granted as many do not have the gift of grandparents either nearby or interested in getting involved.

Having said that…

Learning to become a parent in the shadow of your own parents can be tough! Especially if you are as close knit and opinionated as my family (meaning we havepushy parents”).

On the lighter side, Papa was too smothering. And Nana was always scheming to take my sister’s “organic only” kids pushy grandparentsto what she called “Hal’s Health Food” but was really a donut shop. On the more serious side there were (and still are!) very different views on topics such as the power of love versus the importance of discipline. And I often found myself in the middle.

The most important thing I learned through these experiences was that everyone needed to chill out! Take it down a notch. When you do this you can actually start to understand each other’s point of view, realise you all want the best for the kids and come up with compromises. Having said that the second most important thing I learned was that it is important to set boundaries. Grandparents are not the parents so it should be clear what lines are not to be crossed.

Do you need a babysitter so you and your parents can go out to dinner to discuss boundaries? If so 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.

 

Mar 7

Time to Play Nice

Remember that book from the 1980’s called All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten? If you are not old Kids playing and sharing nicelyenough to remember it (cough, cough), it was all the rage and essentially said that the world would be a much better place if we remembered some of the basic things we learned when we were young: how to share, how to play fair, being nice to one another… you get the drift.

While the message was sound, I thought the book was the latest clever marketing gimmick. That was until I went back to school to get my Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and clocked that they were teaching essentially the same thing! Yes, Strategy, Marketing and Finance featured heavily on the curriculum, but a big part of business school was how to work well in teams to maximize outcomes (translation: how to play nice with others).

Turns out I could have saved a fortune on my MBA and bought the book on Amazon for $15.99! But I did pay the money and I do know how to play nice with others.  And I can prove it by sharing some top tips for teaching your kids how to play nice and share!

The first thing to know is that we, as humans, do not come out of the womb doing it naturally. Kids go through a stage where they develop their sense of self and independence and “No! It’s Mine” often comes with that. However when kids get to three or four, they are usually ready to learn the lesson of sharing.

So what do you do?

  1. Tell them – Explain why sharing is important and the benefits they will enjoy from it.
  2. Show them – Practice what you preach by sharing with your spouse, for example, and explain to your kids what you are sharing and why.  Even better, share with them!
  3. Practice with them – Look for opportunities to practice such as group games like puzzles or when playing with siblings.
  4. Reward them – When you see them playing nice or sharing well, celebrate their good efforts.
  5. Understand them – This is a marathon, not a sprint, so be patient if they are taking some time to get it or regress now and again. They will get there!

Are you looking to share some of the responsibilities and chores in your household? 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.

Feb 29

Long Distance Grandparents

Over the past hundred plus years, Nana and Papa have gotten farther and farther away. In 1916, grandparents were very likely to live in the same area, if not the same home, as their grandchildren. In 2016, grandparents are not only not likely to live in the same home as their grandkids but might not even live on the same continent!

This sounds like bad news for grandparents and grandchildren alike. Grandparents get so much joy from time spent with grandkids; Children benefit from the additional love, attention and teaching from another trusted adult in their lives.

But stop the boo-hooing! The changing world not only means we are likely to live far from family, it also means that we have many new ways to stay in touch.  So grandma and grandpa…

Computer communication SOSsitterGet your tech on!

If you were not sure you wanted to Facebook or Facetime, let me be clear – you do!  Stay on top of the technology your grandkids like to use – Texting, Instagram, Twitter – and get on. Not only will you be able to learn what they are doing day to day, you are also likely to get a response if you communicate with them in the way they communicate with their friends.

Keep your old world ways!

Balance your online and offline presence in your grandchildrens’ lives. Sending letters, cards and special care packages can be one of your “special things” with your grandkids. My mother used to send a care package to her godchildren on every conceivable holiday, every year, like clockwork. They are all grown now but still talk about how they knew to run to the mailbox to look for their package.

Give virtual and in person hugs!

Schedule regular Skypes or Facetimes because nothing beats seeing each other face to face – even if on a computer. Balance this with regular visits in person.

The most critical thing to know is that it is the adults in your grandkids’ lives who are the key to the kingdom.

Whether the kids’ parents, Nanny or other support in place, they will be the ones to facilitate you staying in touch so keep a good relationship with them as well. 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.

Feb 22

Staying Close when Far Away

Luckily I do not travel for work as much as I used to but there was a time when I caught three or four flights in a kid skype computerweek. I used to say that, for me, taking an airplane was like catching a bus. Travel can be exciting but when you have kids, it can also be difficult. Here are some of our practical tips  for how to stay close when far away:

Before you go

  • Make sure you tell the kids of your plans in advance so there are no surprises.
  • Explain how long you will be away – such as two sleeps – and that you will be back.
  • Make the news fun by looking up your destination on a map or online.

While you are away

  • Plan on a call or skype at the same time every day. Find the time that works best – first thing in the morning before they head for school or every night before bedtime.
  • Send each other selfies. No special lighting or full make-up required. Just snap some fun photos of yourself as you go about your day and send them off with a quick note.
  • Introduce some fun traditions – such as sending a postcard from every city you visit which can go on a peg board in your kids’ rooms. Make this easy by keeping a stash of stamps in your suitcase, picking up the postcard before your luggage at the airport and writing them out on the way into town.
  • We would recommend staying away from a gift from every trip as this can become an expensive practice!

When you get back

  • Have something special or fun planned for when you get back home. This is not about but spending money to ease guilt, this is about spending quality time together.

Bon voyage Mom or Dad!

Craving some ‘adults only’ time on vacation?

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.

 

Feb 16

Keeping Kids Busy

Whether it’s a holiday, PA day or a “too cold to go outside today” day, there are lots of ways to keep your kids busy when they are not in school. We have found that the best way to make these days fun – for the kids as well as for the parents, nanny or babysitter – is to plan ahead and to get your kids engaged. This means you will not be at loose ends and that your kids will have ownership for their day. There are tons of great ideas online so start Googling!  Kids cooking for fun

Some of our favourite ideas include:

  • Too cold outside? What about an indoor snowball fight? White sheets on the furniture make snow drifts and white sport socks make great snowballs. Just be sure to move that fragile and expensive vase from your mother in law out of the way before you get started!
  • Kids’ fancy dress dinner party! Nanny and the kids can plan and prepare a fancy (well – relatively fancy!) meal for the family, design the theme and invitations and even help all find the costumes by raiding closets, the Halloween collection and dress up chest.
  • Board days, not bored days! Dig out all of the old board games, the deck of cards or the puzzle you have not gotten to yet. This can provide hours of fun for the whole family!

 

  • The show must go on! Children’s imaginations are vast and a great way to see this in action is a play written and acted by kids. Set up a “stage” area in the living room and chairs for the audience.

 

  • Cookies and cakes and pies oh my! Baking is a great way to keep the kids entertained and to start teaching them about cooking. The yummy treats are the cherry on top!
  • Find your inner artist! What kid doesn’t love doing arts and crafts? If your supplies are dwindling or you just need some things that are new and fun, hit your local crafts store for inexpensive items like stickers and colour paper and glue. And then let your kids do the rest.

Let the fun begin!,

We’re a portal for finding caregiver support for your home and family BUT we also have lots of content about parenting, nannies and babysitters and things to do with kids. Check it out!

 

Feb 8

Nanny: Will You be My Valentine?

Valentine’s Day is about telling and showing the people you love and care for – and who love and care for you – how Tell nanny you love her: Valentine's Dayyou feel.  Nanny certainly falls into that category so make sure he or she is on your list! Here are some of our favourite ideas for showing Nanny how you feel this Valentine’s Day:

  • A homemade valentine, crafted with love, especially for Nanny.
  • Cupcakes or cookies you know Nanny loves.
  • An invitation to Nanny to join the family celebration.
  • A skit depicting the ways Nanny cares for the family or recent adventures.
  • A collage of favourite pictures of the kids and Nanny. Lots of stickers and sparkles recommended!

But why not use the good china every day? Or in other words, there are things you can do every day to make Nanny feel like the valued and loved member of the family that he or she is already. No need to wait for a holiday! Let your imagination run wild; some ideas to get you started follow:

  • A heartfelt thank you – whether in person, by email or text, or good old fashion snail mail. It does not matter how but showing appreciation for all Nanny does for the family (both day to day and the above and beyond extras) is the number one thing you can do to make Nanny feel a part of the family.
  • Tell Nanny he or she is part of the family!
  • A text to check in – say hello and we miss you! – when Nanny is away.
  • Telling your family, friends and neighbours how great Nanny is (as they inevitably tell Nanny!).
  • Keeping Nanny’s favourite snacks in the cupboard or sodas in the fridge.
  • Remembering Nanny’s special occasions such as birthdays.
  • Asking Nanny is he or she needs anything when running out to do errands.

It is important to say that all of this should be in addition to a solid relationship in which expectations, remuneration (pay and benefits) and performance is communicated about openly and fairly.

Looking for a local nanny or babysitter? Look no further!

So how about it Nanny? Will you be my Valentine?  xo

Feb 1

Foster a Love of Music in Your Kids!

Let’s dance! Put on your red shoes and dance the blues…

Remember your first song – the song that opened your mind consciously to music? Mine was David Bowie’s Let’s Dance.

I was just reminded of it recently with the news that Bowie’s creative genius had left us. And singing that song in my head took me right back to sitting on the bottom bunk in my sister’s bedroom as she played it for me for the first time. I can see it perfectly in my mind’s eye: her green bed spread, her cassette player and my very own sister as a newly minted teenager, all as though I was there.

I was also lucky enough to be exposed to a variety of music: my Dad loved the Beatles and my Mom blared Opera and Elvis’s Blue Christmas at the holidays! We went to see the symphony. And like most kids, I complained my way through piano lessons for a good part of my childhood.

Music is powerful! It is wonderful! Helping your kids discover the gift of music is easy and has so many benefits.

Why do it?

Whilst music can encourage creativity and act as a form of expression, it is also very good for teaching discipline through the patience and constancy needed to learn a new instrument. Music can be a means for connecting with others (choir, marching band, singing in the back seat), for gaining confidence, and for retreating and feeling understood.

How do I do it?

Listen!
Turn it on, turn it up, tune in; play music in the house, in the car, where ever.

Music and kidsExplore!
Play different types of music – pop, jazz, blues, opera, indie, folk, symphonies, rock, (kid appropriate) Hip Hop.

Sing!
Sing songs you know and learn the songs your kids are singing at school.

Play! 

Encourage your kids to take up an instrument.

Dance!
Kids are generally (and naturally) great dancers; get some dance parties going at home.

And most of all, Enjoy! Your love and enjoyment of music will be all the inspiration your kid needs to start their own wonderful journey in life with music.

And if you are looking for another “member of your band” – whether a Nanny or pet sitter or housekeeper – auditioning and finding the right addition is easy!

 

Jan 25

Psst – Things your Housekeeper Would Like You to Know!

Psst… You. Yes, you!  It is time to sit down and listen to some hard truths. There are a few things your housekeeper would like you to know:

1 – I am not a mind reader!

If you would like things done in a certain way, please don’t hesitate to say so. Your housekeeper wants you to be housekeeper inspecting the jobhappy with the results of their work but they need to know if there are specific things that are important to you. Remember, your housekeeper is a professional, not a magician!

2 – I find it hard to clean around your clutter!

Unless agreed in advance, housekeepers are there to clean the house, not fold laundry or wash a sink full of dirty dishes. Further, if they are to clean, they need to be able to “get at it” so pick up dirty clothes and kids toys off the floor.  

3 – I find it hard to clean around your family!

As lovely as your family is, a housekeeper has a job to do. And sometimes doing that job is hard when the kids are playing catch in the living room. If possible, schedule the cleaner for times when the house is quiet.

4 – Your family’s fluids belong to you!

Anything intimate or gross that belongs to or comes from your family should stay with your family. For example, if your child has been throwing up all night, you should clean it up. Do not leave the soiled linens for your housekeeper. 

5 – I have views on cleaning products!

Your housekeeper is the professional so consider discussing which products work best. For example, if you are interested in going “all natural”, it is a good bet your housekeeper knows which products work and which just make you feel good.

6 – I am a person too!

Housekeepers provide an invaluable service to your family and deserve to be treated with respect.  Treat your housekeeper well by not only demonstrating that you understand the points above but also by paying a fair wage and treating them with kindness.

Burning the candle at both ends? Look for a housekeeper in your local area and take a break! You deserve it!