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 some 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 then 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, and 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, 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.
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.
Our planet is sending us a SOS to take better care of her; listen and respond! 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.
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 back 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:
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:
Most importantly, go for it! You are not alone in your admiration for your pet, so celebrate and have fun!
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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.
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 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 : 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 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 . 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!
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?
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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.