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.”
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 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!
, 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 to our children and how does it teach empathy? The characters and stories 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 – 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! 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.
Is your excitement for the coming of spring dampened not only by “April showers that bring May flowers” but also by 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:
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.
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?
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 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 And check out for a book called 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.
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…
On the lighter side, Papa was too smothering. And Nana was always scheming to take my sister’s “organic only” kids to 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 , 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 . 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.
Remember that book from the 1980’s called All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten? If you are not old enough 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?
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.
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…
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.
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 week. 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
When you get back
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.
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!
Some of our favourite ideas include:
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!
Valentine’s Day is about telling and showing the people you love and care for – and who love and care for you – how you 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:
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:
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
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.
Turn it on, turn it up, tune in; play music in the house, in the car, where ever.
Sing songs you know and learn the songs your kids are singing at school.
Encourage your kids to take up an instrument.
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!