Spooky Halloween Crafts

How to have a great All Hallows’ Eve on a budget! This year, I’ve learned my two boys are starting to really get into the spirits’ spirit and asking for ever more creepy decorations around the house! I’ve done the usual paper plate and cotton ball decorations but want to really up my game on decorating the front porch. How can this be done on a budget? And with little time (as I seem to lack this too)!

Those inflatable creatures and light shows on my neighbours’ lawns are simply amazing! But, if I want to afford Christmas this year, I had to get creative with help from my family! And I’d love to share my spooky trash upcycling secrets with you!

The Halloween Pom-poms

This one was a craft I stumbled upon many months ago when I was prepping for my sister’s wedding. In order to decorate my house to be fit for a bride, I found white tissue paper pom-poms made my house look elegant and striking. For Halloween, I made the same pom-poms but using black and orange tissue paper – and it looked ghastly!

Here’s how:

  • Take five pieces of tissue paper, stacked one on top of the other, and fold them over like a fan or accordion.
  • Wrap wire around the centre of the fan, tying it tight (I used floral wire because of the abundance I currently find around the house now but you can also use pipe cleaner).
  • Gently pull the tissue away from the tips and into the centre, in all directions, until it looks like a large tissue ball.
  • Hang it from the trees outside – this is a great part to do with your kids!

The Ghastly Ghosts

As I stopped at the store last weekend, I was shocked that there were no pumpkins left to be carved! The shortage wasn’t going to slow me down though, I thought, so I grabbed a couple of 4 litre jugs of milk instead.

Why? To make a few ghoulie ghosts for my own front steps. Here’s how:

  • Empty the jugs into another refrigerable container and store for breakfast cereal.
  • Wash out the containers and cut a small hole in the bottom of each.
  • Let your kids draw some spooky or silly faces on the milk jugs with black sharpies – don’t forget to colour them in!
  • Plug in a strand of Christmas lights, preferably white, and creep them down your front steps, bunching them up in the spots the ghosts will sit.
  • Put the ghosts on top of the bunched up lights, ensuring the lights are within the holes cut in the bottom.
  • Alternatively, if you’ve got a good ladder and kids that listen remarkably well, you can also hang the lights and use tape to keep the lights within the ghosts so that they are actually flying.

The Sinister Spider

This one might give grandma palpitations – it’s not for the faint hearted – but my kids loved it!

For my sister’s wedding, I strung up a ton of wedding bells in the centre of my room (this was where the bridesmaids were doing hair and makeup morning of). Then I strung streamers from the centre of the ceiling to the walls. To all the ladies, it looked beautiful, but to my four-year old son, it “looks like a spider web.”

Which gave me an idea.

  • Fill one black garbage bag with leaves or anything else soft and filling. Tie it shut.
  • Tape or tie the garbage bag slightly off-centre so that there is a large section, which will be the abdomen, and a small section, which is the head.
  • Take a second black garbage bag and cut it lengthwise into eight pieces so that you have eight long legs.
  • Tape or tie the spider together and then to the front porch banisters or to a tree.
  • Use white streamers to make a web around the spider.
  • You can also add eyes using construction paper – my son found that red was the creepiest.

The Eerie Witch

This is a craft my parents have done a few times in their front yard. It helps if you have a creepy large cauldron full of candy. One year, my brother hid in the cauldron and jumped out when approached. He nearly froze his toes off so I don’t recommend that part.

But do try this eerie, faceless balloon witch! She’s (nearly) priceless! Here’s how:

  • Blow up a green balloon and tie it closed.
  • Get a black garbage bag and slit it on one side so you could wear it like a cape.
  • Put it over the balloon like a hood and tie or tape it to the tied part of the balloon. The green balloon should look like a face with a black hood and a black, flowy cloak.
  • Make a witch’s hat out of construction paper by making a cone out of black construction paper and stapling or taping it together. Take a second piece of black construction paper and cut out a large circle (don’t cut out the inside circle where a normal head would fit because our balloon witch can’t hold on to her hat if the wind picks up). Instead, just tape the cone to the centre of the circle, and the centre of the circle to the witch’s head.
  • Hang the witch up using fishing line or another type of string and tying her to an overhanging tree branch or soffit.
  • Watch her sway unnervingly in the breeze.

The Haunting Howls

Lastly, the most effective and least costly idea – sounds to accompany the sights.

I like to play fun Halloween songs in the house for the kids, namely The Monster Mash, The Purple People Eater, and I Put a Spell on You, among others. It gives the spirit of Halloween an extra kooky theme with dancing and sing-along fun! My siblings and I loved all of these songs growing up and now, so do my kids!

However, if you are looking to really spook some older kids or want an extra unearthly edge over your neighbours’ Halloween displays, nothing compares to werewolf sound effects! Just ensure your neighbours don’t mind the hair-raising vocalizations!

Happy Halloween!

As always, I hope you and your family have a safe and fun holiday! Don’t forget to dress everyone in extra winter gear to stay warm and wear reflective garments to be seen in the dark. If you need reminders or tips on how to stay safe, please check out last year’s Halloween blog here!

Have a FANGTASTIC Halloween!

Beauty Tips for Rushed Moms

As I write this blog on rushed parenthood, I am even now multitasking. Halfway between sentences and thoughts, I am busily trying to eat a meal before it gets cold and helping my child remember the words to his favourite Christmas jingle.

As I’m sure you would agree, the early years of parenthood have sparse moments for a hot shower. Where does one find time to make themselves presentable for company or for work each day? After a few years of the practiced art of making myself smell more like a flower and less like a diaper, I am ready to share a few hot tips, most of which, conveniently enough, fit easily into my bathroom cupboard!

Tip One – Showering Timeline

Shower the night before. For those of us with longer, thicker hair, blow drying is not an option anymore. That super amazing windswept, voluminous hair is still achievable, but not in the time department. Instead, after doing your do to your slept-on hair, use hair spray and run your finger through your hair to give it that tousled look. This works best if you lift your hair in sections, spray each section in a fluid motion, then flip your lid upside down to let it dry. You may want to brush the ends with a soft brush after though, but let your roots remain bouncy with just adjustments from your fingers.

Tip Two – Three Day Hair

If you do find yourself with enough time to shower and blow-dry the day of, use dry shampoo right after the hair is set. I noticed this when my sister used dry shampoo as a hair thickener when practicing for her wedding. Once she had curled the hair, she used the dry shampoo to give it bounce. I did the same and was amazed that my style lasted for days longer than when I use dry shampoo on dirty hair. It basically kept my hair in perfect condition for three days without needing to reapply.

Tip Three – Multi-use Products

I’m not sure how many moms are as resourceful as I am (or as plucky), but I did end up trying to use baby wipes as make-up remover – and it worked! I was cringing, waiting for my eyes to hurt or for my face to break out days later, but it didn’t! If you find yourself budgeting, use baby wipes in lieu of expensive makeup remover pads. They’ll save you time and money!

Another multi-use item I actually found before my mommy experiences is baby powder as a hair product. Because dry shampoo can run in the pricier range at the local store, and since we are all in the baby section at one point or another anyway, you can use baby powder as dry shampoo! Baby powder will work the same way as dry shampoo – it gives you volume and wicks away moisture. It’s also vastly cheaper. The only downside is that you and your child will now smell like you bathed together!

Tip Four – Bathroom Breakfast

This one was scary the first time I tried it but I haven’t turned back! Set up a breakfast table in your bathroom. Your kids can dine while you beautify! I grabbed one of those little plastic table and chair combos off Kijiji and set up a little nook for the kids. They usually watch me while I get pretty and I can keep an eye on who is trying to feed the dog avocado.

This even helps me in the food department because I can usually whip around and finish their leftovers before running out the door, saving food and money as I don’t have to grab take-out on my way to work anymore!

Tip Five – Waterproof Ways

Get waterproof mascara and eyeliner. I used to hate waterproof makeup because it didn’t come off easily. Now, I find the longer it lasts, the more time I have for other things. Plus, my purse is just too full of toys and extra pull-ups to be karting around my makeup bag anymore. Makeup that doesn’t run also helps us moms look like we got the sleep we so badly need, hiding any bags and puffy lids.

Tip Six – Moisturizing Regiment

Use coconut oil before bed. I use this on my kids and myself. It helps keep skin moisturized and hair soft. I usually do a deep cleanse on a weekend night as I have to wash it out of my hair the next day but it keeps the body looking young and smelling great!

Tip Seven – The Timeless Updos

Master an elegant or professional updo. Some days, no matter how nice you are to it, your hair just won’t cooperate. I’ve mastered two different styles to help with this unfortunate, but common scenario. I usually try the low, elegant bun first to give myself a young-beauty appearance. For this, try giving yourself a deep side part, swooping your hair into a ball at the base of your neck, and then pulling slightly on pieces to give it more volume.

If I’ve slept in a funny position and my hair just won’t heed my warnings of threatened scissor action, I then try a professional topknot. This is always easiest when using a hair donut, which can even be found at the dollar store. Put your hair in a high ponytail, then pull the tail through the donut, then swoop and pin the tail into place around it. This style nearly always works, especially if you’ve got a stylish headband to hold back any strays.

Tip Eight – Dental Dedication

Never forgo the dentist. I always have trouble finding the will to make a dental appointment. Luckily, I’ve found a dentist that will do it for me! She took my phone number (rather too willingly), and has proceeded to remind me every couple of months or so of when I’ll need to rebook. I know she has my family’s best interest at heart too because she always accommodates a full family appointment. My sons get their checkups and fluoride applications and I get a regular cleaning. I know it should be more about dental health than a beauty regiment, but I just can’t help grinning when I look in the mirror after a dental trip.

Tip Nine – Posture Makes Perfect

Practice good posture. I work in an office, sitting in one position all day. I have put myself through extensive ergonomic training, which has helped me stay healthy but it’s also helped my appearance as well. Nothing looks better or more professional than someone confident, and with confidence comes posture.

Tip Ten – Embrace Yourself

Probably my biggest money-saving and time-reducing tip is embracing your natural look. It took me years to accomplish this (and I’m still getting the hang of it). I used to always dye my hair and buy makeup that would make me look like I was a natural… well anything but red. Lately, since becoming a Mom, I’ve grown out my red hair. To my surprise (although I’m still not a fan of the colour), I’ve grown to really like the soft texture that accompanies natural hair. Embracing a part of myself that usually takes a thousand bucks a year to cover up really made a difference in my routine and personal nature. Not to mention I enjoy the cost savings!

The Skinny on Beauty Tips

Now that I’ve tried many beautifying tips for Moms on the go, even unconventional ones, I’m glad I was able to share the ones that worked! Beauty tips can be little things that you found saved the day at least once or monumental epiphanies about your own lifestyle; they all help give us the confidence boost while simultaneously being there for our families. So, you do you, and let me know your tips – because I can always use more too!

Magical Music

I’ve always known that I wanted musical children. I always dreamed of learning a few instruments myself. So when the day came that I was bringing my son to his first piano lesson, I was a little crushed when he wasn’t ready for the program.

I contacted the music teacher and asked if she would take on a 4 year old. She was very hesitant to say yes over the phone and instead, suggested an interview. We made an appointment, arrived on time, and proceeded to answer questions about our knowledge and understanding of music. My son was a superstar throughout the interview – he answered all of the questions spectacularly and his personality shone bright as he exuded confidence and understanding. Unfortunately, he didn’t answer one question right; what letter “E” was when it was drawn on the piano key. From that, the pianist let me know that he was going to be an extraordinary musician, but not for a few months yet. She gave me some homework to do with my son and let me know to come back when we were ready.

The Importance of Music

The research shows that music is an extremely beneficial skill to pick up as a child as it helps with childhood development in ways not fully understood and are still being uncovered. A study done by the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California indicated that early music instruction accelerates brain development in the areas associated with processing sound, language development, speech perception, and reading skills. The study was five years in length, starting to 2012, and looked at children ages 6 and 7 just learning to play the violin. The neuroscientists used MRI scans to monitor changes within the brain, EEGs to track electrical activity in the brain, and behavioural tests. They compared the violin students to groups of kids playing soccer or not participating in any extracurricular activity. Within two years, the results started to show that the auditory systems, the system responsible for the development of language and reading, was greatly accelerated in the children learning to play the violin in comparison to others. To read more on this study, click here.

If that wasn’t enough, could you imagine the added benefit of dancing to music? Gross motor skills and social skills built during dancing also play into the mix! According to the North Vancouver Recreation Centre, dancing, in combination with music, engages the brain through patterns, helps cultivate communication skills, boosts self-esteem and physical skills, and promotes creativity (see here). So there’s a lot to be said for having a musician in the family!

Adopting Music into Your Home

After all of those benefits, it’s easy to see why music should be in the lives of all budding families. But how do we incorporate it into our routines?

As a new Mom, music and dancing were more instinctual for me than they are now. When I had a cranky baby, I would bounce them along in a little dance while I hummed my favourite tune. I also started singing songs that my parents sang to me. This would be my way of calming my children, but now that they no longer need to be bounced to sleep, I seem to have moved away from the music, and ushered in the age of sports and science.

Music is everywhere though. Theatre, movies, holidays, religion, celebrations, and even in books, music can be found. However, if you are finding it hard to find it, or want more musical activities for your young children, try these out! I’ve also included ideas for those looking to increase musical toys in the home!

Infants and Melodies

Infants can recognize the melody of a song, even if they don’t know the words. They enjoy simple, calm music and especially those sung by close family members. I sang songs about getting dressed, changing a diaper, eating yummy green food, or going to grandma’s house to my children to soothe them. It also helped reiterate positive emotions for good behaviours – particularly eating green food! Avoid loud music and music with harsh rhythm.

Know a little baby that could use some music in their life? Try this beaded raindrop toy. It’s great for gross motor skills and problem-solving too! Find it here.

Toddlers and Tunes

My boys, after learning to moves around a bit more, loved to dance! Their “moves” certainly weren’t graceful or nimble, but they could memorize and repeat motions. They could also try toy instruments like drums and shakers. Find fun songs with a little bounce in them, like “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” “The Ants Go Marching,” or my sons’ ultimate favourite, “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” and let your child play an instrument or clap along throughout.

My toddler absolutely loves his Fisher Price cassette player! It comes with lots of music on both sides of the cassette and we can even record and playback our own tunes! Click here.

Preschoolers and Notes

My preschoolers is an enthusiastic musician. He can dance, sing, and has acquired a sensible side of confidence. He is eager to learn new songs and pick up new instruments. Although not ready for the professional level quite yet, I can tell he is going to knock ‘em out at those future Christmas recitals. To help stimulate his love of music, I now incorporate dance routines, funny songs, finger plays, and nonsense rhymes into songs he already knows to mix things up. For instance, I will sing a song he loves, but instead of singing the correct words, I will add something funny, like “Old MacDonald had a spider.” He catches on really quick and it keeps his brain moving. We can also now do Patty Cake with the hand movements and add snapping our fingers to cool songs.

I am getting him a giant floor piano mat for Christmas to help him learn the names of the piano keys easier and with a dash of fun. If you feel the impulse to get this for your child, the piano instructor we saw advised us to get one that looks like a piano and has the keys in the correct spots, like this one.

Kindergarteners and Chords

Have a little one in school already? These not so tiny tots are ready for the big leagues with musical education, real instruments, and intricate sing-alongs. Try incorporating songs into everyday teachings and everyday teachings into songs. Like counting, spelling, and recalling sequences of stories. Kids this age may also start expressing their likes and dislikes in musical taste, and may prefer to play or sing certain genres. Keep informed of your child’s progress in music class and practice their homework with them. They love to play for parents!

When my munchkins get to this stage, I hope they will tell me which instrument they want to pick up! I do pray it’s the beautiful and melodic piano but one can only hope!

More on Music

If you’re interested in introducing or increasing the music exposure outside the home, try KARA’s Rhymes That Bind program or, coincidently, the Castledowns Public Library also holds Baby Laptime and Family Story Time that also incorporate music into the mix!

In the words of Beethoven, music can change the world. So get out there!

Kindergarten Hunting

As another school year starts, I’ve come to the exciting realization that my eldest is due to start kindergarten next year! I was able to determine his age appropriateness by referring to the Edmonton Public Schools’ website and check out their Kindergarten Registration page here.

So, this week I thought I’d talk about my experiences so far in finding the right school for my children! First off, there are three (and maybe more) choices: private schools, charter schools, and public schools. Then there are the different kinds of each of those! You can register your children in immersion schools, where they learn different languages; you can look at different extracurricular activities or advanced programs; there are separate schools, where classes are all girls or all boys; and you have the choice of different religions or no religion schools. On top of that, as if it wasn’t confusing enough, you can decide on how much time they spend away from home from boarding schools to homeschooled – the choice is yours – and it’s a big one!

Here is a little breakdown of the three main kinds and those that are most easily available:

Private Schools – There are around 180 private schools in Alberta. Most private schools are not funded by the Ministry of Education and parents are required to pay for their child’s education. The reviews of private schools and education foundations are outstanding. The price per year for a child in a private school can run between $7,000 and $18,000 (during my searches). Find more information here and look up schools here.

Charter Schools – Alberta has 13 charter schools, most of which reside in Edmonton and Calgary. Charter schools sit in the middle of private and public. They are non-profit schools, meaning that they are like public schools, and are tuition-free, and they provide high-quality education. The catch with charter schools is that they are hard to enrol in. They rely mostly on a lottery system where you register and hope they pick your name. Additionally, if one of your children is chosen, it isn’t a guarantee that the other will be. To find more information, click here and look up schools here.

Public Schools – All public schools are funded by the Ministry of Education (taxes). They usually only require an administration fee, transportation fee, and school supplies. When I looked at the difference between daycare costs and these types of schools, my piggy bank did a happy dance! However, depending on where you live, class sizes of public schools can be very large and the facilities may be run-down from overuse and lack of adequate financing. Another downside is that you can’t simply “choose” your school if living in a large community. Chances are, there will be districts (based on addresses) and, depending on your district, your child may have no choices in the public school they attend. You will need proof of where you live (driver’s licence will suffice) to enrol your child. Find your designated school here.

In addition to these resources, I’ve also been relying a lot on school rankings by grades from the Fraser Institute. This is a nice way to check that the school you’ve fallen in love with consistently achieves high rankings in comparison to others. Check it out here.

Decisions about where your child goes to school are sometimes very personal and can be difficult. It’s common and normal for parents to feel anxious about getting this decision right. These decisions depend on where you live, your personal values, your child’s needs, school-specific factors, religion, and more. When you’re choosing an elementary school (like me), it’s also important to consider things like before-school and after-school care, and proximity to the day-home for any younger children still requiring care.

For some parents, the decision isn’t simple. Mine certainly wasn’t!

My husband and I have determined that the public school system will be a feasible, and still wonderful, option. As we have two children, charter schools were not for us, as we wanted them to stick together. Private schools are not feasible for us (unless I’m holding the winning lottery ticket).

But which public school? Going through our current interests and requirements helped us further determine which one was for us. Our youngest will still be attending the dayhome full-time, so proximity and commute are important factors. There’s nothing like the whirlwind that is our current morning schedule, and minimizing any further stress is very important. Both my husband and I attended immersion schools, me in French and he in Aboriginal, so that was a key interest of ours. We also have two very active youngsters that enjoy the outdoors and sports, so after-school extracurriculars were important too. We also needed to fixate on drop-off and pick-up times as we are both working. To accommodate this, you might consider sharing the load with your spouse. For example, many parents take the morning shift while the other spouse goes to work. The other spouse can then leave work early to pick up the kids and handle the afternoon shift. Many companies are becoming more flexible to accommodate two working parents and this option is very economical and stress-relieving.

So, to what we decided! We are very much looking at a French immersion daycare that is accredited as a public school kindergarten. I am uneasy splitting my youngsters up and when I found this co-preschool-kindergarten option, I was very relieved! As both kids will be in the same building, in different classes, the pick-up/drop-off will be easier, plus both will be with youngsters of their own ages and be learning the approved Alberta curriculum. The costs of daycares exceeded our reach in the past, but because this is a publicly funded school, the costs for my kinder-aged child are low. As it is a daycare, and not a public school, districts are not an issue at the moment (although this daycare is right around the corner too!). We believe that, after the months of research, our efforts have paid off with finding this gem!

We hope you and your family have success in finding the right educational fit for your family too! Whether it’s homeschool, public, charter, private or other (boarding schools sound the best during rough mornings!). Please feel free to share your inputs or other resources with the KARA online family!

Happy School Hunting!

The Overscheduled Child

Children have a lot of free-time during their young lives. This free-time is often good for them, increasing their independence and improving imagination and creativity. However, the organic and idyllic times of “just playing outside” sailed away quite a while ago. These days, free-time is often jeopardized by screen-time.

Screens Always Win

Even in school, children have cellphones and are required to do much of their schoolwork using a computer. This means they have this constant distraction, a digital temptation. Many parents wage war against screens, limiting time using parental controls; however, the screen always wins. My four year old child is in a dayhome for 8 hours a day, has a class once a week, and a pet to walk with me every evening and I still have to restrict screen time. Unless there is another activity to take children away from them, the screen-time wins the free-time!

Overscheduling Myths and Theories

In 2008, a report regarding overscheduled children was published by a non-profit group called Child Trends. At the time of publication, many theories regarding overscheduling children leaned towards the notion that overscheduling had negative effects, and children suffered as a result of too many activities. Contrary to this belief, Child Trends showed that children exposed to overscheduled activities had higher self-esteem, were able to maintain balance in their lives naturally, and had lower rates of drug and alcohol use in later years. These same children also spent more time doing schoolwork, playing informal games, and doing household chores than other children, and still watched TV! How?

They spent less time in front of computers and video games. You can view the publication here.

In 2016, a documentary titled “Screenagers” was released. It explored the challenges of parenting in the digital age and exposed the theory regarding overscheduling children. Psychologists and brain scientists revealed how internet addictions, social media, and video games increased stress and anxiety and reduced the ability to maintain a healthy life balance. Screenagers also goes into detail on how to reduce friction within the home regarding screen-time: scheduling of course! Click here.

Of course, as a parent, we are drawn to other articles regarding children that are depressed or anxious as a result of being too busy. While this has not been proven, the alternative to overscheduling is free‑time, where a child has the freedom to explore the world and create their own fun. The reality, though, is that playing outside, making up a game of your own, or daydreaming in a corner isn’t easy when a screen, of one form or another, is in every room of the home, and sometimes in your back pocket.

Who Can Schedule Their Family

Screenagers, which is based around families with teenagers, emphasizes the divide between those families with the time and income to increase their child’s amount of extracurricular activities. However, scheduling a child, even ones as young as mine, with a starter-family income, is very feasible! For instance, we purchase one class at a time through our local recreation centre (classes that usually accommodate the entire family to get our monies worth). Additionally, their Grandpa is big into soccer and practices with the boys once a week on “Blog Night.” We schedule arts and crafts time, and park time on weekends. And I even schedule household chores into my children’s lives; right before bedtime, we start cleaning the house together. This also adds to our bedtime routine and keeps me from losing my mind in a dirty home.

How Many Activities

There is no set rule for the amount of scheduling and which kinds are optimal. Researchers agree that it all depends on the child. Additionally, allowing for some downtime is necessary to accommodate relaxation and family-time. The key is to find the balance between activities and unscheduled downtime. You want to minimize boredom, which is often the cause for excessive screen-time. Watch your children or talk to them for indications of what kind of scheduling is beneficial to them to limit screen-time.

Sever the Screen Connection

Like educators, researchers, and exasperated parents everywhere, you and your family can embrace the benefits of a scheduled lifestyle to reduce screen-time and increase your family’s self-esteem! Not to mention productivity!

By scheduling sports, crafts, social interactions, outdoor activities, and household chores, you’re ensuring your child is busy with creative, mind-stimulating, and stress-reducing activities. The activities you choose are up to you and your child!

The Importance of Sleep

Have you ever wondered why all living things need sleep? You might have pondered this question while yawning, and likely after a night spent bouncing your baby or coaxing your child back to his own bed. As new parents, it’s hard to get an adequate amount of sleep at night, but we have to in order to give our bodies and brains a boost. That’s right! Not a rest, but a boost.

What Happens During Sleep

According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep is an active period in which we complete information processing, restoration, and strengthening. The exact mechanics of how our bodies and brains do this is unknown and why we are programmed for such long hours of sleep is still a mystery, but some of the vital roles of sleep have been determined through research.

During sleep, we process and store memories. Memories, shockingly, are not directly logged or recorded as our day goes on, they are stored in our tentative, short-term memory for the time being. Once asleep, our brains process the information and transfer it to long-term memory, a catalogue of important information.

Sleep also rejuvenates and restores our bodies. During our lengthy hours of sleep, we grow muscle and repair tissue. I’m sure this comes as no surprise to new parents as our first years with our child shows an excessive amount of growth paired with extraordinary amounts of sleep!

Lastly, researchers have also shown that sleep allows our bodies to create hormones and improve the immune system.  This certainly holds true if you get a cold and need the extra hours of sleep to help your body fight the fight. It also indicates why teenagers often can’t get out of bed before noon…

For more from the National Sleep Foundation – Click here

For other theories currently being researched – Click here

These activities that occur during sleep have amazing benefits for us – fixing our bodies when we are injured or sick, helping our digestive and circulatory systems function through synthesizing the correct hormones, and processing thoughts, ideas, and memories. Littler ones even sleep to grow. Arguably, sleep, although still mysterious, is more beneficial than most other daily activities. So it’s important to get enough!

How Much Sleep is Needed

What a great question! The amount of sleep that’s needed per person all depends on their age. Kids require more sleep than adults because their bodies are continually growing, making more muscle mass and synthesizing more hormones. Adults can get away with less sleep, but nonetheless, sleep is very important for everyone.

The recommended amount of sleep per age group is as follows (click here):

  1. Newborns require 14 to 17 hours a day. I bet that seems like a lot, but when you’re napping all day, it really doesn’t take long to accumulate.
  2. One year olds require approximately 10 hours a night plus 4 hours of nap during the day. The naps can be split up in the morning and afternoon but it’s important they get a total of 14 hours of sleep a day.
  3. Two year olds should get approximately 11 to 12 at night with a 1 to 2 hour nap during the day, totalling 13 hours a day.
  4. Three to five years and they require 10 to 13 hours a day. They may not take a nap, and just sleep the entire night.
  5. Six to thirteen years and you’re looking at 9 to 11 hours a night.
  6. Fourteen to seventeen and 8 to 10 hours are required.
  7. Hit your eighteenth birthday and celebrate with 7 to 9 hours a night for the rest of adulthood!

The Stages of Sleep

As you may have known, there are different stages: Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3, and the rapid eye movement (R.E.M) Stage (click here). And your brain runs the show!

Stage 1

In this stage, you’re in the lightest form of sleep. You can be woken easily but your body and brain are drowsy. Many people, such as myself, experience the sensation of falling during this stage, waking themselves up. This stage usually lasts less than 10 minutes.

Stage 2

A deeper sleep, your brain gives direction for your muscles to relax, including your heart, which will beat a little slower. You also breathe a little slower and your body temperature drops a smidge. This stage lasts between 30 and 60 minutes.

Stage 3

Now you’re in a deep sleep known as slow-wave sleep, the most restorative stage of sleep. Your brain signals again and your blood pressure drops a bit. It’s very difficult to be woken from this stage of sleep. Both sleepwalking and sleeptalking occur during this stage. Your body also won’t respond to temperature changes in this stage, meaning your spouse can now steal all the blankets and you won’t notice. This stage lasts 20 to 40 minutes.

R.E.M.

The muscles everywhere else in your body are relaxed, but the eye muscles are in action. They move back and forth very quickly beneath your eyelids. This stage is known as the dream stage, where you have very realistic dreams. Your heart may beat faster and your breathing may be irregular to accommodate those lifelike dreams, but your brain paralyses your muscles so you don’t act out what you’re dreaming. You can be woken easier in this stage than in Stages 2 or 3.

These stages of sleep allow your brain to complete the tasks that are needed. Your brain repeats these stages every one to two hours or so until you wake up. For adults, the cycle is repeated three to four times a night. For children, about four or five sleep cycles can occur in a night because they spend more time in R.E.M. sleep than adults. Now you can see why sleep is not exactly resting!

How to Get Your Sleep

Now that we know the importance of sleep, here are a few tips on how to get those much desired ZZZs. These tips are great for both parents and children!

Go to bed at the same time every night. The circadian rhythm, developed by the 24 hour clock that is the rotation of the Earth, is programmed in to all living things. The human clock (our brains) signal drowsiness during the afternoon (napping is normal, even for adults!) and in the evening. For many of us with work schedules or school, napping isn’t feasible, so setting our own programs to the same time every day is the next best thing.

Follow a bedtime routine that is relaxing. Watching TV, playing video games, or staring at a computer is false light and can trick our bodies into thinking it’s the wrong time of day. As well, playing energetic games boosts our blood pressure and hormones into gear, not helping our brain motion towards its sleep signals. Complete a calming, nightly routine, such as having a bath or reading a book to assist your brain in running the program.

Remove or limit caffeine. Coffee, soda, and even iced tea contain caffeine, which is a stimulant affecting your brain’s ability to synthesize the correct hormones for sleep and even normal function.

Speak with your doctor if stress is affecting your sleep. Stress can have negative effects on all daily functions. It can double the negative effects if you are also losing stress-reducing sleep as well.

For more sleeping tips, especially ones for children, click here.

Have a Wonderful Sleep

Although some of the mysteries of sleep still elude us, I hope you won’t lose any sleep over them! Check out the links I’ve included within the text to learn more. As we saw, sleep is deeply important, so I hope you and your family are able to sleep deeply tonight!

Back to School for Tots!

It’s that time of year again – back to school! What an exciting time for those that are returning to school or for those who will be attending for their first time! But for those kids that are still preschool aged, not getting to hop on the yellow bus with their friends, this time of year can be a little disheartening. We experienced this in our household this year. Our two boys attend a dayhome that is full of school-aged children during the summer months. This week, when school was up-and-running again, and my boys were faced with saying goodbye to their new friends, we noticed their faces looked as gloomy as the rainy weather.

To help blow their troubles away, with the added perk of educating them in all-things-school, we sat down together to do some back-to-school crafts! This really helped brighten their moods and learn a thing or two about what their friends were up to while they’re away!

Tissue Box School Bus

Every morning, my kids and I arrive at the dayhome at the same time the older kids are leaving to catch the bus. Sometimes, we even see the bus coming to get them. Longingly, my boys, especially my older four year old, watches the bus and gets excited when it stops to pick up his friends. Last weekend, we decided to make his own school bus with a tissue box, paint, and a picture of him and his brother. Here’s how:

  1. Help your child paint a tissue box to look like a school bus using yellow, black, white, and red paint. The tissue box can be full or empty.
  2. Cut out square-shaped pictures of your child(ren) and yourself. Glue them into the windows of the school bus.
  3. Let your child(ren) play with the school bus and pretend to go to school!

Apple Stamps

Apple and paint crafts are a staple in all kindergarten classrooms; I even remember doing them when I was little! They are very easy to prep, do, and enjoy. My little ones had a blast! Here’s how:

  1. Get a couple of apples and cut them in half from the top to the bottom, allowing the classic heart‑shaped apple look to be your guide. If you are lucky enough to have crab apples growing in your backyard, these are perfectly sized for little hands.
  2. Use any kind of paper to be your canvas. Help your little ones paint the heart-shaped side of the apple and make apple prints on your paper! You can also jazz these up with sparkles or (what my boys preferred) using stamp pads to mix and match colours.

Popsicle Pencil Bookmark

Help your kids develop a love of reading big books with their very own bookmark! I explained to my kids that when I read big books, I use a bookmark to help me remember the last thing I read. This may inspire them to pick up big books and use their own special bookmark to keep their place! Here’s how:

  1. Cut a piece of cardboard as thick as three popsicle sticks wide (wider or thinner also works!), making sure to leave a triangular shape at the top for the top of the pencil.
  2. Help your little ones to glue the popsicle sticks into place on the cardboard and colour them yellow with a marker, pencil crayon, or paint. We also coloured them silver and pick at the bottom to make our pencil have an eraser.
  3. Help your little one colour the top of the pencil, the triangular shape, white and then black on the tip. You’re done!
  4. Help your little one mark his or her page in their book using their new bookmark!

Monster Pencil Cases

This final craft was one that really excited my children and also helped them develop superior fine-motor skills. It was so exciting because they got to use Mommy’s crochet yarn and boog googly eyes! They, with a little help, made their own pencil cases – in monster form! Here’s how:

  1. Using one full sized piece of craft foam paper, fold it 4 ½ inches up from the bottom. Then fold the remaining top down. When folded, the top of the paper should reach approximately halfway down, giving the monster a mouth. The monster should now have the appearance of an envelope.
  2. Mark out 15 dots along the edges of the envelope, not along the folded top, but along the folded bottom and back of the envelope. Do this to both edges.
  3. With a child-safe plastic yarn needle and contrasting coloured yarn, help your child pierce the craft foam on the dots, sewing the sides of the envelope together. This should close the envelope sides and provide a pencil case structure. Tie off the yarn on each side.
  4. Lastly, let your child draw teeth and put googly eyes on his or her monster pencil case! In our house, we even used sticky-backed Velcro to allow the pencil case to open and shut. It was a hit!

Summer is Over – But Back to School is Only Beginning!

Try out these school crafts with your little ones! Enjoy being the first to introduce them to bookmarks, pencil cases, apple art, and school buses! It won’t be long before they are bringing home school projects that they’ll be teaching you!

Dinner Recipes

As a parent, cooking tasty meals that our kids will eat can be difficult. Too often, our lives get busy and we lose ambition in the kitchen. We may even end up ordering pizza or some other form of take‑out to battle the blank faces we get in the grocery store. My husband is here to help! He has a few delicious, quick, and inexpensive meal ideas that might get you into that apron again! But be warned, he’s a huge fan of garlic! So I’ve written each of his favourite go-to recipes with half the amount of garlic he normally uses!

Pan-fried Salmon

Let’s start with the salmon because it’s my favourite! I request it whenever there’s a good sale on. Salmon is an excellent choice for the healthy–minded too! It’s high in vitamins, very high in protein, and contains antioxidants. To get started, get yourself a 250g (approximately half-pound) filet of salmon for a family of four. Pink Salmon is the least expensive option on the list, but other types have distinctly different tastes. Go with your gut (literally) on this one. The best tasting is Sockeye in my opinion. Pair it with rice and asparagus (also pan-friend in butter) and my kids and I go nuts for it! If asparagus is out of season, go with broccoli with melted cheese. Mmmmmm…

Required Ingredients:

250g or ½ lb of salmon, cut into desired portions

125mL/½ cup of butter/margarine

3 cloves minced garlic (double if you’re a fan)

2 tsp basil

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Empty butter/margarine into large skillet/frying pan.
  2. Turn heat to medium on large burner.
  3. Mince garlic.
  4. Add garlic and basil to pan once butter has melted/begins soft boil.
  5. Place salmon skin-up on skillet.
  6. Wait for salmon to grow pink-white half-way though; flip – ensure butter/margarine fills space under filet.
  7. Continue cooking until salmon is fully cooked.
  8. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

That’s it!

Another note: Many people don’t like the skin on their fish, so if you have a dog, give it to them! They love it and it’s very beneficial to their coat.

Butter Chicken

Next is his butter chicken on rice. This one is actually his go-to, favourite comfort food. He typically buys the Asian Home Gourmet powdered spice, which is always at Save-On-Foods and it’s the best priced by far! Try to stay away from the larger brands like VH sauces. I made this mistake once and it didn’t contain a lick of taste. This recipe is very budget friendly, as chicken can be extremely inexpensive, and one packet of spice will make two meals for a family of four (that’s eight husband-sized servings!).

Required Ingredients:

500g/1lb chicken breast

1 package [sauce]

2 cups rice

1 cup milk/coconut milk.

½ cup butter/margarine

Garlic to taste

Directions:

  1. Set rice to cook depending on your preference – He normally finds a rice cooker produces best results. I prefer the pot.
  2. Pour milk into medium pot, set burner to medium-low.
  3. Add sauce mix – whisk immediately, and every minute or so thereafter.
  4. Empty butter/margarine into large skillet/frying pan.
  5. Turn heat to medium-high on large burner.
  6. Mince garlic.
  7. Add garlic to pan.
  8. Cut chicken into 1cm cubes – add to skillet/frying pan.
  9. When sauce reaches just slightly under desired consistency, remove from heat. Let final thickening occur as it cools.
  10. When chicken is completely cooked, mix with sauce.
  11. Pour sauce/chicken mixture over rice on plate.

Enjoy! But there are no leftovers for puppies here! The spice doesn’t mix well with them so best to enjoy all of it by yourselves.

Tasty Tortellini

And finally, my husband’s favourite pasta recipe! He typically tries to avoid using premade tomato sauces as they’re loaded with sugar. A healthy oil sauce may be similar calorie-wise, but with less of the negative effects of a high-sugar meal. Like the other recipes, this one only requires a pot and frying pan, along with a chopping board.

Required Ingredients:

1 package tortellini

Mushrooms or veggies (zucchini is great) to your preference

1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese

1/3 cup of your favourite cooking oil

1 tbsp butter/margarine

5 cloves of garlic

1 tsp basil

Directions:

  1. Heat oil and butter in large frying pan/skillet.
  2. Boil tortellini in large pot.
  3. Mince garlic.
  4. Add garlic and basil to frying pan/skillet.
  5. Chop mushrooms veggies. Add to frying pan skillet.
  6. When tortellini is cooked, drain.
  7. Add parmesan cheese to frying pan skillet. Whisk until cheese melts into oil/butter mixture.
  8. Add tortellini to frying pan/skillet; stir to coat tortellini in sauce.

Ready to serve!

Full Bellies

I hope you give these a try. With minimal cleanup and only about 20 minutes start to finish, these meals will satisfy both your stomach and your schedule, while allowing you to avoid the fast food trap. Leave me a note if you try any of them or want to share your own recipes!

The Organized Parent

Apart from my time spent blogging, I also have two full-time jobs. I am a consultant with a firm and I’m a parent (both equally hard!). I recently went from one firm to another and in my interview, I was asked how I kept myself organized. My interview panel was significantly impressed with how I managed my time between my daily work activities and deliverables. I had wonderful answers for them in regard to keeping up with tasks, clients, and ever-changing regulatory frameworks. What shocked me most, and what I didn’t know how to answer when it was asked, was how I managed my work-life balance with respect to keeping myself organized. It wasn’t until I’d given it a few moments of thought that I realized how organized I’d made myself as a parent too!

If you’re interested in a life with less chaos or just keeping your family on schedule, check out these tips I’ve compiled! They are handy for any super-organized parents out there or those looking to manage their time a bit better too!

The Daily Activities

This list of tips includes the activities I do daily – I really notice a difference when it comes to saving time here!

Get Yourself Ready First

As a mom waking up at obscene hours of the early morning on weekdays, I always cherished my child‑free moments. I take lengthy showers and try on two or three outfits while I procrastinated waking my children. I always did this to enable myself a bit of free time to be myself! What I never realized was that this greatly expedited the process of getting out the door. The few times my children have woken up before me on a weekday always ended with tardy attendance. They would halt my progress by asking for toys or food or getting into my make-up bag (they also try on my shoes!). When I am the first to be freshened, I can devote my time to helping them, which speeds everything up! Try it out and see if it’s a speedy morning for your family!

Do One Load a Day

When it comes to household chores, I keep up by doing one load a day! Of course, I’m talking about dishes and laundry. For dishes, I wait until after breakfast and turn the dishwasher on right before leaving for work. When we arrive back at home, all the dishes are ready for dinner! I load the dishes throughout the day to keep the area tidy and turn it on the next day after breakfast.

For laundry, it really helps that my washer and dryer are on the main floor, right beside the kids’ and our bedrooms. Our kids are also too young to change themselves, so clothes never actually touch the floor (or the hamper). They go right from my hands to the washer and once a full load is in, it gets turned on. I don’t worry too much about sorting colours, I only keep my fancy clothes separate to do on the weekends. An extra tip – I also keep a garbage next to the washer too for those disposable diapers!

Clockwork Meals

I make very simple meals to keep our schedule on track. Breakfasts are raw foods like grated cheese, cut up fruit, yogurt, peanuts and mushrooms. The low prep time allows me to get a healthy meal put together in no time at all and my children learn to appreciate healthy choices. Lunches are similar with smoked salmon or deli meats, crackers, and raw vegetables. Dinners are pre-made from the weekend or are made with similar raw foods and a smoothie. This low prep time really helps my children stay healthy and have a consistent schedule. Their little tummy alarms go off at the same time everyday too, so I can also anticipate their needs!

Bathroom Cleaning

Before I was a parent, I used to pick one household cleaning chore to accomplish a day (along with sweeping up dog and kitty hair, which was truly out of hand!). My apartment was always spic-and-span! Now that I’m a parent, and have more than just a one bedroom apartment to clean, the days of having a perfect household are gone (for now). I’ve changed my tactic to always cleaning the dirtiest part of the house daily and leaving other chores until the weekend. I don’t doubt if you’ll agree; the bathroom is always the messiest place in our home. Giving it a once over every morning has really helped make me less anxious when leaving my home, knowing that it is glowing. How I manage to do it quick is by using the most available thing in my home – wet wipes! After hair and make-up, I wipe everything down in a jiffy.

An extra tip – I also learned a neat trick from my sister. Keep a pack of wet wipes in the bathroom and when surprise visitors come to call, tell them you would love a chat after your own potty break. Wipe your bathroom clean under the pretense of using the loo. They need never know your bathroom wasn’t clean! My sister has been doing this for years, keeping a supply of baby wet wipes in her lavatory, even though all of her children are teens (the messiest of all but at least they’re potty trained!).

Schedule Procrastination

Every parent needs downtime. I myself need two breaks a day. On top of my morning beautification process, I also relax for an hour in the evening, every evening. The best way is to schedule it in daily. Make it known to the entire family by being consistent with it too. After I pick my boys up from their dayhome, I usually spend an hour with them outside or exercising (5 pm to 6 pm), have dinner with them (6 pm to 6:30 pm), then put snacks and a show on (6:30 pm to 7:30 pm). During snacks and show‑time, you will find me taking up an entire couch and enjoying my favourite kid-friendly documentary. I don’t feel badly about this feet-up time either because my children have full bellies and are usually learning a great deal from Bill Nye or David Attenborough. They also wander off to play with toys or colour too, allowing them downtime too!

Weekender Tips

These activities are reserved solely for weekends so that things run smoothly during weekdays! Check them out!

All Other Chores

Weekends are the days to get any other chores done around the house. It really doesn’t take too long either since the laundry, dishes, and bathroom have all been taken care of. I do a general, low‑maintenance pickup of out-of-place items, Swiffer wet-jet the floor, and mow the lawn or shovel the walk. These activities really help me stay efficient the rest of the week. My neighbours also appreciate that I keep my outdoor activity noises on the weekend schedule.

Groceries and Meal Prep

I do any big grocery orders on the weekend. I take my kids along too, which they consider a nice family outing, saving me time and money elsewhere. We get the raw foods for the week and items to make a big meal to keep in the fridge, which is usually a hearty pasta. We make the meal together too so I usually do this before I Swiffer the floor as I’m usually mopping up garlic flakes!

Fancy Outings or Occasions

Have you ever gone into work and run into tired coworkers? My coworkers and I chat about our weekends and sometimes I learn that they’ve completed several big events all in two days! They always sound like a lot of fun, going on multiple hikes or attending several birthday parties. I limit our weekends to just one grand event, whether we’re hosting a garage sale or going to the zoo, it’s only ever one big occasion. This prevents my family becoming drained and requiring more time off than was scheduled. It helps my children stay on top of sleep and me on top of everything else!

Anytime Organization

Lastly, one thing I do to keep myself organized is email myself. I do this anytime. This really helps me remember plans, outings, birthdays, grocery store items, checked-off tasks, upcoming events – you name it! If I’ve emailed it to myself, I’ll be ready and on top of it!

Your Organization Tips

I really hope these do-it-yourself organization tips for the busy parent help you build your dream of staying on top of everything that’s going on in your life! They may have also inspired you to feel good about the tricks you use in your daily, weekly, or anytime schedules! Feel free to share your pro‑organization parenting tips with us – I can always use more tips in my personal schedule!

Apologizing to Kids

My son came up to me the other day to tell me that one of his family members had pushed him and didn’t say sorry. The family member was within earshot and came right over to say that “No, no, no, I didn’t do that,” making my son feel embarrassed for telling me. It hurt me to see that my son was conflicted with telling the truth, feeling embarrassed, and learning that apologizing was seen as a ‘bad thing’ all within one single event. It was also a tough situation for me as I was then faced with criticizing an adult, taking the word of a preschooler over them, and scolding someone that wasn’t my child. It certainly wasn’t an easy situation for anyone, but what parenting moment is?

Look at Apologies in Your House

I recall when I was a child. I was no stranger to mistakes and I certainly stole a toy or two from my siblings. The instant I made a mistake, I was chastised for an apology and was expected to deliver one on the spot. Children today are treated no different but when an adult makes a mistake, especially wronging a child, they often delay or don’t offer an apology. The reasoning could be embarrassment, believing that it was too small of a mistake for an apology or that no one would notice. The reason could also be that they believe they are too old and wise for apologies or that children aren’t smart enough to understand the mistake made. It could also be due to adults believing that apologies are a sign of weakness and that children would no longer respect them or would start to take advantage of them.

Whatever the reasoning, the opposite is the case. All mistakes warrant an apology, children really do see everything, no one is ever too old to make a mistake, children are very intelligent and empathy is build right into them, and children do not view our actions as signs of weakness, only as moments to learn from and mimic.

The Importance of Apologizing

There are numerous benefits to apologizing to a child, so many that I’ve barely succeeded at summarizing them into a blog.

First of all, children watch our every move and aspire to be just like us. They learn much more from our actions than from our words. Recall building your child’s foundation, as discussed in so many other blogs? The ones about dental hygiene, sports, or proper nutrition? Empathy and kindness are no different when it comes to building connections and memories in your child’s behavioural blueprint. Your child will mimic your actions, so when you’ve used strong language, broken promises, or even accidentally bumped them to the ground, they won’t just remember what you did but how to responded after the fact. Build the blueprint to include a genuine apology, being the role-model for them and leading by example. It’s a guarantee they will use your guiding principle when they make their own mistakes.

Genuinely apologizing to children also strengthens the bond we share with them and lets them know we are listening and care about them and their feelings. They are people too and grow from positive self-esteem knowing that you think of them as an equal. This gives them, and you, the knowledge that everyone has worth and is equally human, no matter the virtue of their age or relationship to one another. By watching you apologize, your child learns to distinguish right from wrong. You also grow in the eyes of your child, and that cements the bond of mutual respect that you share.

Apologizing to children also helps them learn to take responsibility for their actions, just as you have done by modelling a sincere apology. It teaches them the virtue of honesty and how to be accountable. When adults accept their follies and apologize, it sends a very strong message – that everyone makes mistakes and the right way to make amends is to accept it and do what it takes to make it right. Hiding a mistake or lying about it sends the worst of messages to a child. It tells them you are above others and they will mimic this behaviour and feelings when interacting with others. Instead, be honest, own the mistake, apologize genuinely, and make amends by resolving it. No one is perfect, so show your child how you rise after you’ve made a mistake. Take responsibility, and be honest and accountable.

If you hadn’t guessed it yet, there are also benefits for the parent who practices apologies. It builds our self-esteem too by accepting one’s mistakes and doing the right thing by making amends. It also presents opportunities for adults to learn and grow. If you find yourself apologizing, take a moment to learn from the experience, whether that be learning how not to make a similar mistake or how to make the most of your apology.

What Not to Teach a Child

What your child will learn if you don’t apologize for a folly is shocking and not worth the risk. They will make the assumption that apologizing means you’ve done something bad, or that you are bad. They will assume there’s a feeling of shame attached to apologizing and will be hesitant to apologize when they make their own mistakes. They will also learn that it’s okay to damage a relationship and not acknowledge it or try to repair it. It’s likely that they won’t show or feel respect for others. They will also assume that when you apologize, you lose your status. A parent or adult has the most status in a child’s life and if you are scared to apologize for fear of showing weakness, a child will also fear the same and not show remorse. Lastly, a child will learn that apologizing is something you wouldn’t want to do unless you were forced to. This leads them to being dishonest and lack responsibility and accountability.

Don’t underestimate your child, they certainly do learn by example, so avoid making the additional mistake of not apologizing. You will gain more by taking the time and effort to do the right thing for your child.

How to Give a Genuine Apology

Apologize easily and often. Even for very small “Oops” moments where a short “Sorry!” is appropriate, be sure to admit it readily. Small apologies like this show your child that apologies are just a part of life, as are mistakes that accompany them. Anytime you act in a way that you wouldn’t want your child to, like accidentally interrupting someone who is speaking, offer an apology to show your child that it’s easy and natural to do the right thing.

“Oops! Sorry bud, I didn’t see you there!”

“Oops, sorry for interrupting you!”

Always apologize when you lose your cool. Grown-ups have tantrums too and it’s critical that we explain that we had an emotion, but the action that accompanied the emotion was not acceptable. There’s no need to apologize for setting limits, but it is important to enforce limits with a calm, respectful manner.

“I’m sorry I yelled at you for not staying in your bed. That was my mistake and I should not have gotten angry. I do need you to stay in bed at bedtime. How can I make it easier for you to stay in bed?”

If your child thinks something was a big deal and wants an apology, acknowledge that, even if you don’t think it was. There will certainly be times when you think an action was worth an apology but your child doesn’t. You will want to role model good behaviour at all times to ensure your child respects the feelings of others.

“I’m very sorry for stepping on your play-doh ball. I did not see it and I’m sorry. I know you’re upset. Is there a way I can help fix it?”

By apologizing for all shapes and sizes of mistakes, this also ensures your child will feel comfortable telling you any mistake that he or she thinks is afoot. This was particularly helpful to me as I struggled with leaving my children at dayhomes. Knowing that my child was comfortable telling me everything and never felt embarrassed to come to me was a huge emotional load off of my shoulders.

Also, always resist the urge to blame. Many of us start off by apologizing and then veering off to an excuse, like why you did what you did. This normally comes in the form of using “but.”

“I should not have thrown out your toy, but you should not have thrown it at your brother.”

Everything that was said before the “but” no longer has any meaning. Your child will not learn how to properly apologize without strong examples. It’s important to deliver a full apology after describing what happened.

“You threw a toy at your brother. Then I threw the toy in the garbage. I’m sorry, I should not have yelled at you or thrown out your toy. I am very sorry for yelling and for throwing out your toy. Please go apologize to your brother.”

It’s a very good strategy to explain the events leading up to a mistake, but do not let the explanation ruin a good apology by making excuses. A child needs to know that what you did was a mistake if they are to learn what they did was a mistake. By saying you threw out their toy because they deserved it for throwing it at their brother, they will in turn rationalize their mistake by thinking their brother deserved it.

The Take Away

When I was faced with my difficult situation, I am very proud to say that I took my son’s side, knowing what I know of the importance of apologies. I calmly told the accused that a real apology was required because it will show my son that his feelings are important and that all mistakes, even accidents, warrant an apology. It had the added benefits of showing the adults that mistakes do not have to be a big deal and that the littlest of children learn from the behaviours of adults. I was proud to stick up for my child and teach everyone involved, including him, that he has value.