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Dec 24

A Christmas Tradition

Of all the traditions that we’ve read about in the last few weeks, one of our favourites was the reading of the poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’. In case you want to take up the tradition yourself, here are the words, as written by Clement Clarke Moore and now in the public domain:

 

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads; And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap, had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below, when, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick. More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, and he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

“Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN! On, COMET! on CUPID! on, DONDER and BLITZEN! To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall! Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky, so up to the house-top the coursers they flew, with the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof the prancing and pawing of each little hoof. As I drew in my hand, and was turning around, down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot; A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, and the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath; He had a broad face and a little round belly, that shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself; A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, and filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk, and laying his finger aside of his nose, and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, and away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight: HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT!

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Dec 24

Merry Christmas to all of our Friends!

From our family to yours... (1)

 

 

Dec 14

Co-parenting for Happy Holidays

Let’s just say it – creating happy holidays among the hustle and bustle of the season can be challenging for even the Untitled designmost happily married couple. So what does that mean for those who are separated and divorced? And more importantly, what does that mean for the children?

First of all, the basic tenets of co-parenting during the year must be upheld during the holiday season: always be focused on what is best for the children, interactions with each other should be focused on the needs of the children not of the parents, expectations should be based on agreements made and expectations should be met.

Basically – you may have your issues with each other but you should seek to put them aside for the best interest of the children that you still need to raise together and the children should in no way ever (EVER!) be put in the middle.

If you are struggling with these basics, there are a lot of good resources for divorced parents. 

Recognising that co-parenting during the holidays can take it to a whole new level, we have compiled a short list of things to keep in mind:

** Put the time in early to create a holiday schedule: This will allow time to reach compromise and come up with creative ways to meet everyone’s needs. You also want to make sure your children know what the plan is for the holidays.

** Be flexible and create new traditions: It is almost guaranteed that the holidays will not be like they used to be; set the tone for your kids by showing enthusiasm for creating new traditions versus sulking about the things you can no longer do.

** Take care of your needs: you will be happier and better able to support your kids if you are happy. Be sure to make plans with friends when your kids are with your ex so you are not sad or lonely. But also make sure to schedule some down time so you can recharge your batteries.

If you need some extra help to lighten the load and ensure you are able to concentrate on navigating the holidays successfully with your ex, look no further.

Happy Holidays – to one and to all (even your ex)!!

 

Dec 7

Christmas Babies Birthdays!

If you have or are scheduled to have a December baby, you may be worried about the additional stress of “bunched-up festivities – Thanksgiving, Birthday, Christmas, and New Year’s. You likely worry about the impact on cherished family traditions. And what about your child – will his or her special day get overlooked as people are rushing around in this busy season or will friends and family do the “combo” gift, making your child feel short changed?

Like anything in life, it is all about your perspective! Christmas babies have lots of advantages: everyone is a festive mood at this time of the year; friends and family are likely to be in town and spending time together; and when older and looking for bigger presents (tablet anyone?!), the gift combo can be great!

Here are some things to consider when working to make your Christmas baby’s birthday special:Christmas baby post

- Plan your finances so the Christmas money crunch does not impact the birthday party and gifts

- Make gift lists early so you do not lose out on out of stock toys that are popular for Christmas

- Throw a party at school or with friends in late November or early December and save the celebrations on the actual day for family. Send invitations early so your party gets in the schedule before calendars book up!

- Alternatively, throw a birthday party six months away – on the half-birthday mark – from the actual birthday so it is a “stand alone”

- Hold off on putting up holiday decorations until the birthday celebration is done (decorating the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve could be a new family tradition!)

- Explain to your family and close friends that dual presents will not hit the mark for younger kids and that birthday presents should not be wrapped in Christmas paper!

Happy Birthday and Happy Holidays!

Check out the rest of our blog for posts on a range of caring issues, whether for kids, seniors, pets or your home!

Nov 30

5 Ideas for Non-Taxable Gifts for your Sitter or Nanny!

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Need more ideas? Check out the list our friends at Nanny Tax Canada have put together!

Nov 23

The Tooth Fairy’s Rate Card

So what is the going rate for a tooth these days? Kids lose their 20 baby teeth over a period of five to six years, usually starting around age five to seven but sometimes as young as four.

If you have children in this age range then you have likely added “tooth fairy” to the many roles you play. But like Tooth Fairymany things in our busy lives today, we follow the rituals without actually pausing to think why we are doing things and the best way to achieve the desired result.

Losing teeth has the potential to be unsettling for children; the tooth fairy and the gift of money for lost teeth is meant to make the experience more palatable. And frankly, it is such a well-known tradition now that honouring it is part of giving your children shared experiences with other kids. It helps them fit in.

But who invented the tooth fairy? The tooth fairy likely evolved from similar traditions around the world – although more common than the “fairy” is the tooth mouse or rat (called Ratoncito Perez in Spanish speaking countries). 

Okay – so we understand the purpose and background of the tooth fairy but the real question is how to do it well. “How much should I put under the pillow?” is likely the first question that comes to mind. According to several studies (Visa and Delta Dental as shared on Kiplinger.com), the most common amount is $1. Remember that the point of the tooth fairy is not to help your child build his or her net worth.

And money is not everything nor should it be made to be! Get creative in how you mark these milestones. Making a special pillow to fairy dust on the window ledge or tooth fairy certificates are just a few ideas. Get your creative juices flowing and start your own traditions!

If your kids are afraid of the dentist, we have tips here to help you with that!

 

Nov 16

Allowances – The Do’s and Don’ts

Need advice on the do’s and don’ts of dolling out cash to the kids? You have come to the right place. Here is your saving moneyguide to getting started:

Should I give an allowance? Yes. Learning to manage money is a critical life skill. The best way to learn to manage money is by having money. You want to teach them from an early age that they should be saving (between 10 and 20%). Depending on your views, their savings should be for a rainy day as well as putting aside money to help others.

When should I start an allowance? There are different views on this with some parents starting as early as three year old kids but the average is about six years old.

How much to give? The rule of thumb is to give $1 x the age of the kid per week. So a six year old would get $6 per week. But it also depends on where you live and your circumstances. You want to give them enough money so they actually buy things and therefore make decisions.

Should I tie it to chores or behaviour? Again, there are different views on this but many would say that you should not use allowance to punish kids for bad behaviour. Many also believe that allowances should not be tied to chores as kids such contribute to family chores (without payment). Further, you will quickly find that each additional thing you ask them will become a negotiation over cash.

Should there be rules to spending the allowance? Probably. If you have rules about what games kids are allowed to play, music they are allowed to listen and movies they are allowed to see, these should not be thrown out the window now that your kids can pay themselves. But this should be balanced by giving kids some control over how they spend as making bad decisions on poor purchases is an important part of the learning process.

And remember, for all your home support needs – pet sitters, caregivers (for seniors and for family members with special needs), nannies, babysitters, housekeepers and more – please visit us at www.sossitter.ca.

Nov 10

Lest We Forget

One day of the year, the country comes together to remember our fallen members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Remembrance Day

We, at SOSsitter.ca, want to share in remembering the sacrifices that soldiers and their families make, past, present and future. We are wearing our poppies and we are taking time at the 11th hour of the 11th day to pay homage to the fallen.

It’s our honour to provide Canadian Forces families with a 20% discount on all our memberships, not just one day of the year, but all 365 days. It’s a little thing we can do to help members of our armed forces and their families cope with their everyday reality. What will you do?

Nov 2

Birthdays Without Breaking the Bank

Want to celebrate your kids birthday in a big way, but without breaking the bank or your and your housekeeper’s back? Sound impossible? Never fear, budget birthday advice is here!

Plan in advance

As true with everything in life, things left to the last minute cost more. For two reasons: (1) no time to shop for deals child birthday partyand (2) stress to deliver leads to poor decisions and over spending. So plan far in advance! You can even get a lot done in the “off hours” by doing jobs online.

Invitations

Go digital. Not only are they fast, fun and free (!!!) – they can help the other parents by easily going straight into the calendar.

Venue

Search Google for lots of ideas on unusual and affordable venues near you. Your housekeeper will thank you for having the party outside the house because the prep and clean-up of a kid’s party can be a lot of work! If you cannot find something that matches your need, look closer to home. More specifically, look out the back window to your back yard. The price is right and cleaning up outdoors is much easier than indoors.

Activities

Ask a friend or relative who is good with kids or even a coach to organise and lead on games – which are best kept simple such as tag. Kids just want to have fun; they don’t need pomp and circumstance.

Cake

This one is easy; bake your own! You can even enlist the help of your kids to get this one done. Cupcakes are also a great option! Better yet, have cupcakes and let the kids decorate their own with gummies, candies and so on!

Decorations and goodie bags

Goodie bags are pretty standard fare but are not a must. If you do decide to do bags, set a budget and stick to it. Decorations make the party festive. Look online for deals and for easy deliver to your front door.

Hopefully this will give you a good start. If you are stuck for ideas, there are lots of ideas online! And don’t forget that if your child’s birthday falls on a school day, they might want to celebrate a little with their friends, in a fun and healthy way!

And don’t forget the most important ingredient for a great birthday party: Fun, fun, fun! Smile and the whole world will smile with you.

 

Oct 26

Talking about Stranger Danger

When we were kids, talking about “stranger danger” was as simple as “Don’t accept candy from strangers”.

The world has changed. Statistics show that the cases of child abductions by strangers are relatively rare, rather children are harmed by those known (or at least familiar) to them. There is also a school of thought that suggests developing a fear of strangers in children stops them from developing skills needed to navigate life effectively. And finally some think talking “stranger danger” simply frightens kids unnecessarily.Untitled design

Recognising these good arguments, we suggest it still important to work with your kids on the basics of engaging safely with the world outside of their home. The difference today is that the topic is likely to me more nuanced.

Some of the basics follow:

—> Safety in Numbers  – Encourage your kid to be a “loaner” in the safety of your own home. When out in the world, they should play with others.

—> Confidence to Say No – Teach your children how to be assertive and respectful of adults at the same time.

—> Don’t advertise – Monograms are fun and labelling is just sensible but try to keep your kids names in discrete places.

—> Safe Places and Action Plans Give your kids tips about who and where is safe and develop action plans in case you get separated.

—> Family Passwords – Some families have a secret password for cases when someone other than Mom or Dad or Nanny is picking up kids.

—> Gut instincts Teach your kids to trust their instincts. This is a skill that will serve them well throughout life.

There are a lot of good resources online on how to talk to your kids about this topic.

And please do not forget to consider the virtual world as well as the physical world. Set rules for using the internet, including talking with strangers.

Are you looking for additional support in caring for your family – pet sitters, caregivers (for seniors and for family members with special needs), nannies, babysitters, housekeepers and more – Keep Safe!