Vaccines

Vaccinations are one of the most important defenses against dangerous diseases. They protect our bodies by giving our immune systems a glimpse at the diseases that are really out there. And this little sneak peek makes all the difference!

My son loves to play “fight-to-the-death” imaginary games. He will take his little foam sword and hide behind a curtain, under a desk, or behind a couch and pop out when I’m least expecting it – or so he thinks! I know what my son looks like and his favourite hiding spots. It’s not that hard to find him and anticipate those little jabs. Now, imagine that my son was disguised as furniture, and I was searching for him but couldn’t distinguish him from the other furniture. It would be so much harder to find him because he looks like everything else! Kapow! That little foam sword is sharper when you didn’t see it coming! This is what our immune systems deal with every day.

Vaccinations come into the mix. Vaccinations are literally made up of pieces of viruses so our immune systems can learn to recognize the virus without getting sick. Yes, our bodies are tricked into thinking it’s the real deal, so we get immune response symptoms like fevers, but not the symptoms associated with the disease – like vomiting! Vaccinations peel back the disguises so our immune systems are that much more prepared because they are given the power of recognition. We fight off diseases much more effectively, experience less symptoms, and don’t carry diseases to other people.

Once our immune systems are given this glimpse of the potential disease, it carries the memory forward, enabling us to build up a resistance to the actual disease, which could be very dangerous otherwise (click here).

Herd Immunity

There are some folks out there that can’t get vaccinated. I know one of them! She is a nurse (no joke!) and she is unable to be vaccinated because she has a certain allergy to the metal in the needle. Now, thanks to the vast majority of the population that is vaccinated, the chances that she will run in to someone carrying a very dangerous disease is slim (but not impossible!). She is lucky, thus far, and also has the power of being the right age and having a healthy body. If she does contract something, she is likely able to fight it off with a few days in hospital. Others, like babies or the elderly, are susceptible to more detrimental effects, so it is that much more important that everyone who can, get vaccinated to protect others (click here)!

Where to Get Vaccinations

Now that you know the benefits of vaccinations, you’re probably wondering where to go! The Immunization Program in Alberta is free to those with Alberta Health Care cards. To find the location nearest to you, call Health Link at 811. Likewise, your doctor will give you the location information of the one that applies to you and your children. When you have a new baby, it’s likely that there will be a location designated to you based on where you live.

Routine Immunization Schedule

When I had my first child, I ensured he was immunized right on schedule, practically to the day that was recommended. With my second, being a busier Mom, we ended up doubling up on appointments after missing some scheduled days. We were very fortunate that we did not cross paths with a virus during this time of catch-up. This is because the vaccination schedule has been adapted from years of research by hundreds of doctors and virologists. The range of dates given to have a child vaccinated is based on the child’s likeliness to contract a virus as well as their ability to combat the vaccine (the immune systems response). If you’d like to read more on the prescribed vaccination routines for children, there is a very long book called The Childhood Immunization Schedule and Safety. Not shockingly, a very long synopsis is also available, and can be found here.

Immunizing on schedule ensures your child gets the maximum possible protection from vaccine-preventable diseases and gives your child the best immunity possible.

The schedule outlined below has been in effect in Alberta since January 1, 2019 (click here).

2 months (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (whooping cough), Hepatitis B, Polio, and Haemophilus influenzae type b, Pneumococcal conjugate, and Rotavirus)

4 months (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (whooping cough), Hepatitis B, Polio, and Haemophilus influenzae type b, Pneumococcal conjugate, Meningococcal conjugate, Rotavirus)

6 months (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (whooping cough), Hepatitis B, Polio, and Haemophilus influenzae type b, Pneumococcal conjugate, Rotavirus)

6 months and older (annual Influenza 2)

12 months (Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Varicella (Chickenpox), Meningococcal conjugate, Pneumococcal conjugate)

18 months (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (whooping cough), Hepatitis B, Polio, and Haemophilus influenzae type b)

4 years  (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (whooping cough), Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Varicella (Chickenpox))

Grade 6                (Hepatitis B, Human papillomavirus)

Grade 9                (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (whooping cough), Meningococcal conjugate)

When listed out like that, it certainly does seem like a lot! However, usually only one needle is given at each appointment – lucky for those wee babes and the heartbroken parents!

Immunization Records and Statistics

If you are reading this and can’t recall your child’s last vaccine – don’t fret! Immunization records are kept by Alberta Health Services (AHS) at the health zone level. However, this has only been recently done and records for us older generations are unlikely to be found. If it has been more than 7 to 10 years since your last immunization, AHS may not have a copy of the record. But the records will be available for your child or children! If you have questions about your immunization records, contact Health Link at 811.

A Moment to Consider

“And when I knew that that’s what they had, and I knew that there was a fairly recent vaccine for rotavirus, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh. Maybe we didn’t have to just suffer through this.’” – Kirsten O’Meara, Mother of three

Hope you and your family benefit from this info! Please share your comments below!

Back with Summertime Tips

It’s Wednesday, May 29, 2019, at precisely 6:00 pm. It also happens to be 32 degrees Celsius outside. It appears that summer is, at long last, officially upon us!

While this is exciting, it begs the question: how am I going to occupy my children with fun, safe, affordable outdoor activities?

The first activities that come to mind for me are KARA summertime programs. These are free, drop-in programs running from the start of July to the end of August. They are largely spent outdoors and follow weekly themes and adventurous outings around the city. Until these programs start up though, you can usually find my family at Drop-In Fun, Creative Play & More, and Playtime Drop-In. These programs are also a blast – the ladies and gentlemen running the drop-in programs put in a lot of effort to make family time fun and educational! Connie’s cooking is also worthy of the long trek it takes to get there!

For those who are as familiar with KARA’s wonderful resources as I am, here’s a bit more about our great city:

Edmonton is home to 70 completely free to access spray/water play parks! These are typically my go-to and they are easy to find close to any home. They always provide a way for my family to cool off on hot days as well! Some of these sites are still under construction, but to find one near you and see their availability and hours, visit the City of Edmonton’s website here.

Another fun water activity (my kids LOVE the water) is Edmonton’s several outdoor pools. Edmonton has announced that, for the third year in a row, all of its outdoor swimming pools will be open to the public with no cost of admission! If you happen to live near KARA, the Borden Natural Swimming Pool is where you will want to be this summer! It is the first of its kind in Canada – a man-made natural pool surrounded by sand and disinfected without chemicals! This pool is set to open June 22 – just in time for the really hot weather! For more information on the Borden Natural Swimming Pool, including hours of operation, special facility guidelines, and how it is cleaned, click here. Interested in other free pools? Click here.

Did you know that Edmonton has the second largest metropolitan park in all of North America? It’s second only to the famous Central Park in New York City. Conveniently, a river runs straight through ours, and the Riverboat Queen is accepting passengers 6 and under for free this summer! Enjoy the cost-effective boat ride or a free bike-ride in the park!

Want more hot tips??? Edmonton is known as “The Festival City,” for good reason. While attending the theme parks can be quite expensive, Edmonton also plays host to many festivals and parades accompanying these events – which can be free to watch! Most notably, and hosting their 35th anniversary starting on July 5th, the Edmonton Street Performer’s Festival is certainly one of the most beloved festivals in Edmonton! Featuring approximately 1,500 performers and having a long tradition of accommodating free shows for infants/toddlers, how could it not be? Note that tips to the performers are encouraged, but in no way expected. More information can be found here.

Don’t forget Edmonton’s parades! Many of these parades stretch for long distances throughout the city – the most notable being the K-Days parade! Set to happen on July 19th, your family will surely enjoy the musical theme this year as they set the stage by partnering with Alberta Music! Your children are sure to love all the charismatic performers and talented musicians. Mark this one in your calendar – click here.

Raising late-night owls rather than sun-loving salamanders? Check this one out! Perhaps a lesser known program because it just started, but still a super value – Edmonton offers the “Kids Bowl Free” program. Located at the Bonnie Doon Bowling Lanes and Gateway Entertainment Centres, find all of the info here. Please note that sign-up is required.

Or perhaps your little one is more of an “intellectual”. My family seems to be raising a grown up rather than a child – last Wednesday, he shook his soccer coach’s hand rather than giving him a high-five (I suppose that’s better than what his brother tried to do, which was head-butt him). If a sophisticated aura appears to be wafting off of your child too, have I got news for you! The beautiful Art Gallery of Alberta is offering free admission on Thursday evenings between 5 and 8 pm! Children are always free at this majestic museum but on Thursdays, consider yourself a child too! You’ll certainly feel like one after you get in for free and start discovering the secrets of King Tutankhamun or exploring your fascination with dinosaurs. It’s sure to be a treat so check them out here!

Anything else spark your or your children’s fancy? Leave a note for other families to check out! Hope to see you at KARA and cheers to a wonderful summer!

Pets and Families

When I was little (littler), I had many pets and adored them all. I grew up on a farm, one of the luckiest kids in the world I thought, and cherished each of my companions. I had herding dogs named Emma and Kirby, a brawny mousing cat named Socks, a cow named Mable, pigs named Beans and Bacon, and about a hundred chickens, all named Sue. Despite constant wonderful interactions with all of the animals, my most meaningful companionship was with a kitten I rescued from a nearby highway culvert. I named her Ginger to match her (and my) hair.

My early memories of rescuing animals and caring for them, I believe, has given me the compassion and patience I exhibit now as an adult. It led to my course choices during my post-secondary education and to the organizations I choose to volunteer with. It probably also helped me in the choice to become a parent.

“Nothing less than alchemy is involved when animals and children get together, and the resulting magic has healing properties that work well.” – Elizabeth Anderson, The Powerful Bond Between People and Pets

Are Pets Beneficial?

After pondering my upbringing, I wondered if pets have been proven to show benefits to a family. Turns out having a pet in the home may have remarkable positive effects on people. Studies have shown that by having a pet you: are less likely to have depression, are more likely to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol, are more likely to be calm and relaxed as a result of good hormones, and are more likely to live longer. I believe these attributes would help create more positive family relationships.

If you’re excited about the idea of the benefits of a companion but would rather a creepy-crawlie over a snuggly one, it’s no problem! The science even shows that the pet doesn’t have to be a cat or dog. Even watching a fish swim has shown the positive benefits indicated above.

There are a few other benefits that are more lifestyle benefits than health (although they are intertwined). Pets can help you get exercise (by demanding it themselves). They can help you meet new people (by running up to strangers and licking their faces). They can even help regulate sleep by forcing you to build a daily routine (what’s Saturday?).

Health benefits for kids; they have them too! Unlike some family members or friends, pets are never critical or bossy, so they are a great source of support for rough days. They can also provide a sense of security and ease separation anxiety. Pets can help teach a child responsibility and how to build relationships. It’s also been shown that pets can help children with attention deficit disorder, autism, or with overly aggressive attitudes, but that is dependent on proper pet and child training.

 

To learn more about the benefits of pets, click here.

Should We Get a Pet?

While everything sounds wonderful and easy, it can certainly be challenging to raise a pet while raising a family. Pets don’t “grow up” like children do. They do learn but not in the same astonishing and exponential way kids do. A pet will never be able to clean up after itself or get its own food. In this way, pets can be thought of as perpetual toddlers that will need care for their entire lives, which could be a while.

If considering a pet, it is recommended you scrutinize your lifestyle and living situation before taking the plunge. It’s best to assess your living situation. Do you have the room and finances to support a pet, particularly a large or energetic one? Assess your family; are you unanimously decided on adopting a furry or scaly companion and are your children ready to make room in their lives and hearts? Does anyone in your family have allergies to pets? Assess your lifestyle and unconditional devotion for the lifespan of your pet; are you willing and do you have the time to give a pet the attention it needs? Do you have a vet close by? Dogs in particular need daily exercise provided by humans. Cats need daily litterbox cleanings. All animals need food, baths, regular vet checkups, and love.

If you’d like to discuss or read more on how to determine your family’s pet-readiness, contact the Edmonton Humane Society or another local SPCA. They can provide plenty of information to prepare and help you. Also visit this site with advice from Canadian pediatricians (here).

We’re Ready, Let’s Do It!

When a pet first comes home, it can be stressful on both the animal and your children – and YOU! The change in the environment leaves everyone feeling distinctly out of place. In order to minimize risk, it’s usually best to keep children and new pets separated until the new pet has settled into its new environment. It’s important to give your new family member time to adjust by allowing them to explore undisturbed and in a quiet environment.

After your companion has had a chance to explore, you’re ready to introduce them to their new friends – your children. Children tend to make erratic movements, and this startles many animals. For this reason, it’s commonly recommended to introduce children to new pets whilst outdoors or in large, open rooms. Just remember to keep dogs on a leash!

It’s important to encourage any curiosity on behalf of either party but take care to notice the signs that anyone may be feeling uncomfortable. Common signs for dogs include a stiff posture, stiff tail, and raised hair on his or her back. The most common sign of alertness for cats is typically a stiff and bristling tail. Animals make themselves look larger when uncomfortable or afraid. This is an evolutionary tactic to scare off unwanted visitors. If your pet is trying to make itself look larger, it’s a sign he or she is uncomfortable.

Once the introductions are complete, it’s important to teach children that animals aren’t the same as their stuffed toys. Children should know to respect the boundaries of their animals – they’re your children’s responsibility too! It’s very important not to leave children and pets alone together until both are comfortable and your children are of a responsible age. The Edmonton Humane Society has Pet Sitter Courses for kids to help them learn the best ways to interact and care for pets (click here).

Last note: another important point that many adults don’t realize is that dogs and cats alike have extremely sensitive whiskers. While they may look cute to a baby or toddler (or you!), disturbing them can be extremely uncomfortable for your new friend.

Already a Pet Family and Bringing Home a Child?

Pet introductions to new babies or adopted children can also be challenging. A pet can see the new baby as competition, just as they would another pet. They are animals after all.

It’s very important to keep careful watch over your child at all times and never to leave him or her alone with your pet. Your pet can get jealous, which can quickly escalate into a disaster.

To help your pet adjust, there are some steps to complete before you bring home your new addition (3 weeks beforehand is recommended):

If you have a dog, ensure they are trained to follow basic commands such as sit, stay, no, and are willing to complete a solid recall. If this is not your dog’s forte, obedience training classes may be well worth the price.

Make gradual changes to your pet’s routine before the new arrival. Change where they will be sleeping or when they will be playing/walking beforehand so they don’t associate the changes with the new child. This also includes decreasing the amount of attention they get to the amount they will have when the new child arrives. It’s not nice to think about, but you won’t have much time for your pet with a newborn, so prepare them! Don’t make the mistake of lavishing them with last minute attention just to take it away when the new child arrives.

If you have a nervous or grumpy-type animal, it’s advisable to play recordings of a baby crying. Just jump on Youtube and play new baby crying sounds – it could help you and your partner to adjust too!

Help your pet acclimatize to new baby things and odours (the good ones) by letting them explore new furniture, check out new clothes and toys, and smell baby lotions.

If you have a dog, teach them where his “bed” is. This will help a dog with any type of personality, from excitable and jumpy to older and uncomfortable. This “bed” or “place” is a safe place for your dog or cat, acting as a buffer for commotion and a place for them to reset. I’m sure we all remember being “grounded” or having “time-outs” as children and having to stare endlessly at the ceiling above our beds. This is the same type of zone for your dog. Praise them when they are let out of their bed. If training, praise them when they get into their bed too to encourage the behavior.

Now for the arrival of your child! When you bring the baby or child home:

Greet your pet alone, if possible, to avoid them jumping on the baby or child.

Allow your pet to adjust to the sight, sound, and smell of the child before making a closer introduction. What this looks like is allowing your pet to take his time to come and go freely into the room you and the child are in without calling him over.

After a few days, allow the pet to get close enough to smell the baby. If you have an adopted child, this length of time is more dependent on the comfort of the child. Most pets adapt easily but some pets require more precautions, such as a leash or muzzle. Never approach the animal with the child, always allow the pet to approach you. This will keep the pet calm and you in the stable seat, able to jump into action if needed.

Give your pet attention when the baby or child is around to prevent them from thinking they are in competition. Also, never scold the dog from touching things that belong to the baby, like toys or food. If you have an adopted child, this also has the additional benefit of teaching the child to share with the pet.

When the new baby starts becoming more mobile, this will be the time for the dog or cat to learn his bed is his refuge. Teach your baby or your adopted child that when the pet is in his bed, he’s tired and does not want to play. This will help your pet relax and prevent potential bites or scratches.

Never leave a pet alone with a baby or small child! Even the most trusted animals that you’ve had for years can be a danger. They are animals!

To learn more, click here.

A Pawsitive Ending

If you find yourself adopting a pet, please be mindful of the feasibility of your family to care for them and consider the wellbeing of your children. Remember that pets do not make good gifts, as they are not toys. They are animals that need the same care and devotion as another child. Also remember that not all families are suited to having pets. If anyone in your family has allergies to pets, it won’t be feasible or fair to either party.

Pets can make wonderful additions for the right families though and can have positive effects! So after careful consideration, take the plunge and enjoy the benefits of a furry or scaly creature! My family and I have a wonderful pet, a dog named Wylie Coyote. She’s been in my children’s entire lives and mine for eight years. She is well loved in this household and properly looked after. We could never imagine such a full, well-rounded family without her – I wish the same applies to you and your family!

We Are Experts

Now that you’ve entered into the parenting realm, it’s a guarantee that you’ve mastered a skill that you never imagined would occupy your time. You’re likely so good at it that it’s a shame to keep it off of your resume. I too came to this realization as I wielded a Q-tip through the slots of a computer modem, removing the remaining remnants of the smoothie that was poured over it. The art of cleaning up after toddlers, now that’s a fine skill to be proud of!

I asked my husband, “Now that you are a parent, you are an expert at (what)?”

My husband claims to be an expert in all things poop. His nose can pick up a whiff of waste from a different household floor. He even claims that each baby facial expression during the act indicates what type of poop he will find in the diaper. A hard one, a soft one, a green one – it’s a practiced art. With having been peed on in the first 24 hours of being a Dad, this parenting scouts badge should not have come as a surprise to me.

My family had some interesting answers too!

My Mom indicated she is “an expert at taking care of my grown children’s pets after they move into a dorm or a boyfriend’s place.” I could hear her grumbling as my sister choked on a nervous laugh! I do remember my Mom also being very practiced at having a split personality (which I have thankfully adopted and hope to perfect soon). She could be furious with one of us one moment, a venomous tone that could freeze and petrify, and then next minute, cool as a cucumber, answer the phone with a calm, collected voice, “Hi Susan, so glad you called!”

My Dad was always skilled at fixing broken toys and electronics. He must have been an expert with patience as well while he removed a grilled cheese sandwich from the VCR. Now that his kids are grown and gone, he claims to be an expert at relaxing but the jury may still be out on that one!

My sister-in-law is an expert in all things baby food! She was always a great chef but now the meals are of a frozen green bean variety. What accompanies this skill is my brother’s ability to Tetris his way through the freezer to get to his meaty portions.

The hilariousness of the answers I came across were so great that I pursued more!

Friends of mine indicated their amusing expertise avenues:

“I’m an expert at finding the bathroom in shopping malls, immediately”

“I’m an expert at sewing a stuffed animal’s ear back on over and over and over”

“I’m an expert at eating cold supper”

“I’m an expert at sharing slobbery sippy cups”

“I’m an expert at memorizing children’s books and spouting them off by heart”

“I’m an expert at contradicting myself.”

“I’m an expert at getting full from imaginary food”

“I’m an expert at wondering why my kids are always talking”

“I’m an expert at turning away from my kids when they are in trouble because I’m silently laughing”

“I’m an expert at having my own temper tantrums”

“I’m an expert at admitting I was clueless before I had kids – a TV is not a babysitter, KD is not food, kids should never backtalk”

“I’m an expert at holding down my child with an arm and leg to give them medicine”

“I’m an expert at ignoring siren imitations while driving”

“I’m an expert at finding terrible hiding places during hide-and-go-seek”

“I’m an expert at deluding myself into thinking I’ll clean the house tomorrow”

I asked my husband, “what am I an expert in?”

He responded, “ you’re an expert in everything other than negotiations. When the kids ask for a cookie and you say you can only have half of a cookie, they are winning, Marn.”

I also pondered what my kids will say when they are older. This evening they likened me to a “Sharptooth,” the Tyrannosaurus Rex from the Land Before Time collection, while running away cackling. Perhaps I’m an expert at non-threatening dinosaur imitations – a truly lost art!

 

If you’re a practised raspberry-belly-blower or invisible-tea-party-host, please share your gifts with us! Who knows, you may be the best favourite-toy-locator in the world and you never knew it!

Bullying

I take my boys to an indoor playground once in a while. A few weeks ago, we were playing in the ball pit when one of my boys, Polar Bear, made a break for it (he’s a bit of a runner). I chase after him and on my way back through the mesh that separates us from my other son, Grizzly Bear, I see another boy push Grizzly Bear down to the ground.

Not only was I upset, but Grizzly Bear was devastated. It was our first negative encounter with another child. I probably reacted a little strongly by lecturing the other child before letting him leave, making him give an apology, but I learned very quickly that my child needed support and love before being able to interact with that child again.

 

Bullying or Dispute

Now, I’ve seen my two youngsters go at it over a toy, and at times, I’ve made an impeccable referee. But there is a difference between a dispute or fight between kids and an act which can be a form of bullying.

You may be thinking that children so young, within the preschool age category, could not possibly be bullies. They are just kids being kids, correct? Sadly, this isn’t the case, and all parents should be aware that kids three years and up have the cognitive ability to feel empathy, meaning they are able to understand another’s point of view, and meaning that they should know better. Please never dismiss an act of bullying as “kids being kids.” Ignoring it will certainly have an effect on the victim, as they are extremely vulnerable to confidence and self-esteem issues, as well as the bully, who will likely develop issues regarding any kind of friendship or relationship in later years. Intervention is required during the smallest of incidents, not only to prevent immediate escalation, but to teach lessons and prevent life-long issues.

So how to recognize bullying? Not all confrontation is a form of bullying. Kids are impulsive and have disputes over objects all of the time. They have wrestling matches and friendship squabbles. My two kids are the best of friends one day and the worst of enemies the next. These forms of disputes make kids stronger, help them learn the ins and outs of relationships, and teach them compromise and forgiveness. However, bullying does the exact opposite. Bullying lowers self-esteem and confidence through systematic acts of aggression such as negative physical or verbal behaviour.

To determine if an action was a form of bullying or not, the best way is to scrutinize the intent of the action. Tug-of-war over a toy is purely for the possession of the toy. Stealing the toy and threatening further harm after possession of the toy implies the child intends harm. If two children are squabbling and both are upset, that is likely conflict. If one child inflicts harm and smiles while doing it, that’s bullying, a very serious kind in fact.

Sneaky or secretive behaviour also implies bullying. This signals that the child knows he is doing something wrong and does not wish to be caught. Recruiting other children to aid in the negative act, such as shunning, is also a sign of bullying.

It’s also hard to recognize bullying if the victim strikes back. If after being taunted, the child retaliates, it is hard to identify if the confrontation was a squabble between the two or a reaction from the victim.

To learn more, click here.

 

Discussing Bullying with Your Child

The ball pit incident was a very minor event in comparison to systematic bullying, but knowing that children are very vulnerable at all ages, I felt setting up a structured course of events expected to occur even after a small event would help him in later situations. Therefore, I showed and completed actions that would follow greater bullying experiences (click here).

The important thing to do after your child experiences any bullying is to listen to him. I witnessed what happened but it was still crucial that Grizzly Bear should talk about what happened and know that I cared about his account of the story. He was given the opportunity to tell me everything that was on his mind, and feel and know that it was okay to show his emotions. I helped him recount the story by trying to summarize the event (as he is still quite young and doesn’t have the vocabulary to identify everything that occurred), praised him for not retaliating, and let him know that I would do everything I could to help and support him.

After he had successfully told me everything he felt he needed to share, and letting him know he did the right things, I proceeded to give him a few other pointers on what he could do the next time it occurred. I told him to stand tall and tell the bully to go away in a loud voice. Just acting brave and drawing attention to the situation is sometimes all it takes to discourage a bully. I even had him practice on me a few times. I also told him to tell an adult right away. It’s the best way to get support and stay safe. Other ideas I will share with him as he grows are to ignore bullies as some bullies only act a certain way to get attention, and to stick with friends to avoid being isolated with a bully.

Grizzly Bear did encounter the same boy again during our playdate together. I did notice his stance seemed stronger and he did stand taller, eyes narrowed in, and the other boy did keep his distance. I admit to being mother vulture hovering over the situation (while Polar Bear made another attempt at freedom), but was endlessly proud of my son, and told him so later in the car.

 

Discussing Bullying with Your Preschool/Dayhome

After discussing bullying with your child, it’s important to bring the situation to the attention of the other adults involved. If that involves an organization, set up a meeting with the teacher or dayhome staff. Calmly present your concerns and be specific about your knowledge of the facts. If the others are unaware of the situation, it’s not necessarily a sign of a bad caregiver, just a good bully. Ask for the caregivers views, the plan going forward, and the organization’s teachings on emotions and treating others. By being assertive, not accusatory, you will likely see the ultimate result, a safe place for your child. Additionally, keep in touch with the caregiver. While picking up your child, ask how everything went that day. This will keep tabs on the situation and let your child know he has your full support.

The child that pushed Grizzly Bear was unaccompanied by an adult in the ball pit. I did watch him for some time move about the jungle gym. He knew I was watching him and deliberately avoided his parents so that I would not know who they were. It was about 25 minutes before he finally made contact with them and I did go over to tell them what I had seen. Fortunately, his mother was a very kind woman, very embarrassed about the situation, and did correct it by having a talk with her son. I could tell my son was watching me and felt better emotionally. He also seemed to understand the consequences of being a bully were negative, which I felt was a fringe benefit of the event.

 

Recognizing the Signs

After reading this blog and you’re not quite sure if this applies to you or your child, here are some things to think about while reminiscing about past conversations you’ve shared. Preschool children can’t quite articulate what they are going through (and older kids just don’t want to for that matter). A few scenarios that may indicate your child is facing bullying outside of the home are: previously liking preschool or dayhome but now he no longer wants to attend, even making excuses not to go; no longer wanting to play with a child he used to; says that a child is bothering him or bugging him; suddenly becomes fearful, clingy, quiet, or depressed; makes negative comments about himself; or, cannot explain bruises or marks on his skin.

Similarly, here are a few scenarios that may indicate your child is being a bully: your child likes feeling powerful and in control of situations, often telling adults what to do; he is quick to resort to anger or aggression; he does not apologize and feels he has not done anything wrong; he shows little empathy for others; or, he has shown aggression towards adults.

If you feel like your child may be a bully, don’t fret. There are methods to improving a child’s behaviour and helping him move away from negative actions. Firstly, talk to him about playtime and continually remind him what it is like to feel someone else’s feelings. Empathy may be a great way to discourage bullying. Discuss consequences such as other children not wanting to play with him and how teachers will view him. Always make your child correct wrong actions. If he stole something, make him give it back and apologize. If he pushed someone, make him give them a hand up and apologize. Always praise his positive actions and encourage new and existing relationships.

 

Moving Forward

I’m sure Grizzly Bear knows his personal vulture won’t be around forever, but I feel he is confident with his new tools to discourage bullies and his support network at home. If your child indicates not liking another child or not liking a certain place, don’t dismiss it, follow up on it. It could be their little kid way of identifying a bullying situation. Give them the tools and support they need to prevent and diffuse negative situations. Then follow up with the other adults involved.

If you need further help to prevent bullying, Alberta has helplines and online chats with trained counsellors. Find them here.

Likewise, call on your social support network. If you are surrounded by love and support, so is your child.

 

 

Parenting Failures

Two days before I was due, still looking like I swallowed a beach ball, my midwife gave me a piece of advice. She started off a friendly chat themed around my readiness to be a parent.

“How are you feeling emotionally,”

“When will you stop working,”

“Do you have everything you need for the baby,”

That sort of thing.

What she was leading up to was how I was going to handle the giant life curveball that is parenthood and what my expectations were. I was so excited and ready to be a mom, and was so certain I had everything under control, that I didn’t take much away from the conversation other than, “Babies don’t know when you haven’t showered.”

 

What Baby Books Don’t Let On

What my midwife was getting at were some of the realities that the mom-to-be books don’t cover. Plenty of parenting books I read were how to do all of the parenting things – and how to do them perfectly. They didn’t embellish on how I was supposed to find time, money, or energy to do them.

I’ll be honest, one baby wasn’t as much of a time vacuum in the hygiene department as my midwife let on, but adding his little brother forced me to come up with alternatives to some things I had taken for granted. Furthermore, it wasn’t until I was pregnant with a third that I actually researched how children changed my life (I certainly felt the change, but didn’t read material on it).

 

What to Expect After Expecting

Here are a few topics that I took notice of after the whirlwind that are the few months (and few years) after having a child: lack of sleep (so much so that my doctor thought I was anemic!); declining personal hygiene (it caught up with me and I eventually had to start wash-training my hair); irrational outbursts (probably due to the lack of sleep and not helped by the crazy Game of Thrones hair); trouble articulating (a no‑brainer with a pun intended!), a loud and messy household (especially if you have older children that are really into helping you “cook”); a car to be embarrassed about (old baby snacks have actually melted to my clothes without me noticing more than once); never-ending laundry (hooray for potty training?); gourmet chef to frozen dinner surprise (sometimes still partly frozen); parents turning from parents into grandparents overnight (green veggies are history at my parents’ house and my kids get presents every other week); and my social life started resembling Cast Away (without Tom Hanks so it was a real bummer).

With all of this going on, only Captain Marvel would be able to replicate the perfect parenting strategies I’ve read so many times in parenting books.

FYI – If you don’t know who Captain Marvel is, I was in the same boat until I had to exchange my son’s birthday gift after he told me it was for girls! I must have missed Parenting Failure 101 class the day they lectured on female superheroes!

 

Parenting Failures Can Benefit Kids

At the end of the day (even if it’s an extremely long and exhausting day), parenting failures like forgetting to buy something your child needed or dropping them off late to a play date, will not affect your children. In fact, according to some parenting experts, some flaws can actually benefit children.

A fixed-mindset empowered by constant praise doesn’t foster room for growth (click here). While it seems logical to protect a child from failure, because it is an unpleasant experience, by doing this, you may be hindering a child’s ability to cope and learn from consequences (click here).

When you have a small outburst or make a terrible meal, you’re sending the message that you aren’t perfect, but that you are still trying and resilient. Seeing this, a child knows that mistakes aren’t the end of the world and, by watching you, will know what the correct steps are after making a mistake.

 

Bouncing Back from Parenting Failures

I once stumbled across a parenting failure on social media. It was titled Toddler Discovers Flour Power.

You probably don’t need to see the photos to envision how dearly that parent paid for their hilarious mistake. Bouncing back from minor, relatable parenting failures is easy though, and it can help your child learn how to cope and be resilient. Here’s how:

  1. Acknowledge the Mistake – even if you are just saying “oops” to yourself in your own head, be sure to admit and accept it was a mistake.
  2. Think Positive – don’t beat yourself up, pick yourself up! Remember, you’re only human (not Captain Marvel that looks remarkably like Captain America – ugh). Everyone makes mistakes and, encouragingly, you can use your mistake to benefit your child.
  3. A Teachable Moment – use the mistake to teach your child. Tell them what the mistake was and how you’re going to sharpen your parenting skills to avoid it in the future. If your child is too young to talk to, say it anyway; it will likely make you feel better.
  4. Apologize – especially if it was an outburst. There have been a few moments in my house where the noise volume got out of hand or mommy didn’t want to share her phone and the result was an apology. Letting the kids know I lost my cool and didn’t mean to have an outburst really helped my kids learn the importance of apologies.
  5. Get Support – seek and find the support you need if you need someone to talk to. Social media and the stranger behind you in the grocery store can be quite cruel to your emotional well-being. Talk to a good friend or relative. Also, KARA’s newest program, Kids Have Stress Too!, can be the place to find a good confidant and learn a thing or two about how to help kids manage mistakes and stress!
  6. Create a Plan – learn from your mistakes and develop a plan to become the parent you want to be! Prep for outings the night before, use child locks on the flour container, put the camera down and catch your child, research superhero attire before purchasing it, and above all, maintain a sense of humour!

 

In Conclusion

“Everyone knows how to raise children, except the people who have them.” – P.J. O’Rourke

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that being the perfect parent is impossible and isn’t beneficial. It’s being the perfect role model that is attainable and valuable. We’re going to mess up, everyone does, and if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be doing our children any favours. Learning to grow from failures is an important life skill, and learning to take responsibility and rise up afterwards, well they learn that from us!

Easter Traditions

I’m a mom to two cunning and adventurous boys, aged almost four and two, and even though I’ve been in the parent role for almost four years, I feel like I’m still fairly new to the family tradition-starting game. I don’t even want to get into my response to my toddler pointing out that Santa did indeed look a lot like Grandpa; I will forever remember not having a clever response to his shocking observation. Therefore, for Easter, I wanted to be on my game, so I asked around my mom-circle of friends for some crafty new-age and old-family Easter traditions. Here were a few egg-tastic ideas I came across!

 

Growing Your Own Egg Grass

Many families, including mine, put together big baskets of goodies and toys for their children. It’s a real treat to follow the trail of Easter eggs to the treasure basket at the end, right? Well for this tradition, instead of using that plastic grass or green paper shreddings for the bottom, it’s a neat idea to grow the grass yourself ahead of time – with your kids! My family purchased wheatgrass from the farmer’s market and are currently taking turns watering it until the big day. I explained to my boys that the Easter Bunny needs to have a place to leave his gifts to us, so we need to grow some grass for him to hide our presents. They really like helping me take care of it; it gives them some responsibility and excites them quite a bit. It’s also cheaper than the plastic grass and will go nicely in our smoothies afterwards. Plus, it won’t end up all over my floor or in the landfill.

 

Planting Magic Beans

This was the cutest tradition I’d ever heard of and I can’t wait to do it with my family! The evening before the Easter Bunny arrives, my family and I will be planting jellybeans in our garden. Yes, that is correct! We will be digging holes in the soil, putting candy jellybeans inside, burying and watering them. The next morning (with a little help from Mom), the jellybeans will have sprouted into large, muti-coloured lollipops (or peeps on sticks, I haven’t decided yet)! This will be the sweetest tradition because any lollipop-shaped treats are my children’s favourite candy and I know I will be catching amazing memories on camera!

 

Visiting a Farm

One of my mom friends told me she takes her kids to a farm once or twice around the Easter holidays. This really makes me think of spring because you’re bound to see bounding lambs, chirping chicks, and porky piglets. I think this is a great idea for a spring outing and is sure to teach young ones about outdoor farm activities. If you’re interested in making this a tradition, I recommend Prairie Gardens just north of Edmonton. They are opening a little later this year than normal (May 1st) but they always have great farm activities, including a petting zoo, and festivals (click here)!

 

Easter Scavenger Hunts – In the Dark

Lots of families do the chocolate and toy scavenger hunts, even personalized ones or ones with riddles and clues! I love the idea of all of them as my parents also did these for us while growing up, but have you ever heard of an Easter egg scavenger hunt at night!? When my tots are a little older, I will certainly be bringing the fun with this game! What you do is get the plastic Easter egg containers, the chocolate eggs or toys, and glow-in-the-dark bracelets – crack the bracelets, add them and the chocolate to the Easter egg containers, turn off all the lights and hide them. I’m certain no child will forget this cool and spooky Easter tradition (beware of terri-fried little chickens)!

 

Rainbow Brunch

Again, many people probably recall the lovely family brunch they grew accustomed to on Easter morning, cracking open and enjoying numerous coloured eggs (after handfuls of chocolate I’m sure). But a few Mom friends of mine have brought the Easter egg coloured breakfast one step further – rainbow pancakes! Just separate your favourite pancake batter into different bowls and add food colouring. Watch the happy faces enjoy their rainbow stack of pancakes with their favorite juice (which you can also add colour to)!

 

Egg Carton Picnic

This one is also really cute – instead of using plates for our Easter picnic at the park, we will be eating out of egg cartons! And I have so many cartons saved up already, it won’t be hard at all. Cut up some cheese, broccoli, carrots celery, nuts, raisins (all of the Easter Bunny’s favourites of course) and add them to their own egg compartment for a portable lunch outdoors! Of course, one of the egg compartments will have chocolate eggs; I’m not a total Momster.

 

Remnants of the Easter Bunny

Lastly, try this one out if you enjoy a goofy way to end the holiday (it’s a total Dad joke but hilarious; I’m a comedi-hen myself). Take those jellybeans you planted in the garden (since no one wants to eat them now) and put them in the toilet bowl. Add a sign from the Easter Bunny to the inside of the toilet lid that reads, “Easter Bunny was here – Sorry I forgot to flush!”

If your kids are old enough to read, they’ll either love it or be disgusted – if this joke is a bad egg, don’t blame me, I only laid the table!

 

Add Your Easter Story

If you have Easter traditions you’d like to share, please feel free to leave a comment or story! I know we’re all funny-side-up yolkers here!

Miscarriage

A few months ago I had a miscarriage. It wasn’t a planned pregnancy and I wasn’t far along so my husband and I weren’t too upset by it. I still wanted to write about it though because I thought it would be helpful to others. If you are going through a miscarriage, perhaps having an idea of what to expect may make you feel a bit better. If you have already gone through a miscarriage, perhaps you may feel comforted by knowing others have gone through the same unfortunate event.

I found out I was pregnant very early on. I kept the secret to myself for quite some time. Like I said, we weren’t trying and didn’t exactly have the funds for another baby at that moment. But I was happy and excited. A few weeks with the secret (six weeks pregnant now) my husband told me he would be getting a better paying job within a month according to his employer. It was this moment that I told him the news. He was a little anxious at first but within a week he had warmed to the idea and kept calling this new baby his sweetie.

Within a couple of days, he and I both told our immediate families. That evening, I started to bleed. It was very light spotting that I wasn’t too concerned about. I had been taken into the care of a midwife only days beforehand, so I texted and told her. She indicated that since I was very early in my pregnancy, nothing could be done but waiting or going for blood tests. It was unlikely that an ultrasound would show us anything. I decided to wait. I knew that blood tests would only tell me what my body was doing, not prevent what was happening. I felt my body knew what it was doing, even if it was a sad outcome.

The bleeding continued and did become heavy over the next few days. I told my midwife and she agreed it was likely a miscarriage. She wanted me to go to a hospital to confirm the pregnancy had passed out of concern for my health. Pregnancies that don’t completely pass naturally require a small surgical procedure or, in rare cases, can be life threatening due to infection from remaining tissue or an undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy. I went to the hospital and told them about my bleeding. I was admitted fairly quickly, as most pregnant women are. As many hospital patients would probably agree, you never want to be the one admitted quickly for fear it means that you are likely in peril. Even though this was a natural miscarriage that had no complications, the hospital staff did their due diligence to ensure that I was safe.

I went through the usual family history questions and vital sign checks with a nurse before I was greeted by two doctors, a physician and a resident. I bled all over their nice hospital bed and sheets, apologizing profusely before being assured it was normal. They were all extremely kind and even joked with me a bit. They increasingly asked me more relatable questions pertaining mostly to
previous pregnancies and this one. They asked about labours, births, and procedures. As I’d had two healthy births at home before this, my answers didn’t seem to give them any clues on what to expect. They drew blood and did an ultrasound on what looked like a laptop (no joke). No heartbeat or gestational sac could be seen but they told me that their equipment wasn’t high tech enough to see a baby this early on anyway. They asked if I had passed anything the size of a fingertip or bigger. I hadn’t. The results of the blood test came back and my HCG levels were 66,000 mIU/ml.

The pregnancy hormone HCG can tell you if you are/were pregnant with two or more blood tests taken over the span of a few days. If your HCG levels rise, the baby is likely to be healthy, if they fall, the baby is likely not viable (cannot live without being within Mom). One HCG level could not tell them anything other than I was pregnant, healthy or not was unknown.

By the way, the nurse with me was kind enough to explain that the phrase “she lost the baby” wasn’t used by most hospital staff anymore because of the negative connotation. It is more appropriate to say the baby wasn’t viable rather than imply it was a fault of the parent. I couldn’t have agreed more with her as I sat in my hospital gown, feeling particularly vulnerable. I agreed I should feel no shame and know that the loss, as unfortunate as it was, was not my own.

Afterwards, I was told that I should come back to the hospital the following day to complete a “real” ultrasound with an ultrasonographer. I did return and I’m glad I did. Unfortunately, she did not see a baby either but she did make me feel better. She was a lovely lady in her 50’s. She had a soft, delicate voice and an even softer bedside manner. She told me all about the women she had seen coming and going from her room where she usually gave them bad news. She told me that I was not alone, that miscarriages were something she had been witnessing throughout her life. She also emphasized that miscarriages were through no fault of the parents, that they were how our body cared for us in a way.

Of course it is much less sad to say goodbye to a seventh week pregnancy than a new baby, so I agreed with her. From the gentle conversation we shared, I knew that I did not have to feel shame and it was okay to be sad. There were other parents like me and my body was taking care of me. It was comforting.
Her ultrasound confirmed that the gestational sac was now located above my cervix and would pass soon. I was not in any danger and my body was healthy. It was a sad day and it was okay to feel sad but I did appreciate my family as I returned home that day.

Two days later, I was requested to come in for the second blood test. This was the last piece to confirm the miscarriage. I knew I had miscarried but doctors are doctors and they have to do their due diligence. Once again, I returned to the hospital. A very high strung doctor talked with me this time. She was adamant on performing another blood test and ultrasound. I assured her I didn’t need another ultrasound but would do the blood test to confirm the miscarriage.

Since I had already missed two half days of work now, I asked if there was any way I could get the results over the phone rather than coming in to see her. She said no but after speaking with her secretary, I learned that I could get the results sent to my family doctor and he could give me the results over the phone. As he was currently on vacation, I would get the results when he got back in two days. This suited me so I was poked one more time and left.

Two days later, my phone rang. It was my family doctor’s secretary. She asked for me and then said, “Congratulations, you’re pregnant!” I knew I wasn’t pregnant so, regrettably and with sympathy for her, I said she had made a mistake and that I had miscarried. I asked what my HCG levels had been during the second blood test. I could tell she was reading them off the doctor’s notes, “HCG 24,000 mIU/ml, call her to congratulate her on her pregnancy.”

I told her about the first blood test’s results. She apologized and said there must have been a mistake and that she would call me back. A couple of hours later, I received another phone call. This time, a lady with more bite than remorse in her voice (I assumed she was the one who made the mistake) told me I had indeed miscarried and hung up. I actually laughed this time. Knowing I’ve made some terrible work-related errors in my career, none of them could compare to mistaking someone for being pregnant. It was a little like being in a comedy movie.

Over the next few days, we slowly told our families the news about the miscarriage. It was kind of pleasant to let everything escape slowly and let the memories pass and rest. Of course, it’s always sad knowing what “could have been” and that we don’t have our “sweetie” but it’s also comforting to know that a third child would make us happy. We cherish our first and second children all the more now as well.

From this experience, I’d like to share with you these messages that I now know: this type of loss is not your own, you are not alone, and your body can protect you from worse pain.
And it’s okay to be sad.

Kids and Colours

A friend of mine recently had his first baby and, in his new excitement of being a father, he introduced me to a phenomenon between children and colours. Until now, I hadn’t heard of the different effects colours had on people and was intrigued when he told me that colours could affect children’s moods, even enough to make them go to sleep on time or eat their broccoli. The book he introduced me to is called Start Smart: Building Brain Power in the Early Years by Pam Schiller.

To sum up, Schiller describes how colours can enhance learning and influence mood; she gives her insight as to which colours can do what to children and how colours can be used in a classroom or at home to build brain power (not to mention help parents out too).

A chart from the book indicates the following colours can have these effects:

Red The colour red can create alertness and excitement. It usually encourages creativity and appetite. This colour can also be disturbing to anxious individuals.

Blue Blue can create a sense of well-being and lower a person’s temperature.

Sky blue is especially tranquilizing. Blue also has the effect of decreasing appetite.

Yellow This colour is the optimal colour for maintaining attention and encouraging creativity. It also creates a positive feeling.

Orange Orange can increase alertness.

Green Green creates a feeling of calmness.

Purple Purple also creates a feeling of calmness.

Brown The colour brown can increase the sense of security and relaxation. It also has the effect of reducing fatigue.

Off-white This colour can create positive feelings and help maintain attention.
Over the last couple of weeks, I decided to implement this new knowledge in the lives of my kids, but before busting out the paint to colour the walls of my boys’ room, I thought it would be best to perform some harmless experiments to see if Schiller’s findings applied to our lives as well.

Red – I started putting red napkins (in lieu of red placemats) under my children’s’ plates during meals. My kids did eat slightly more food without the continual prompting but my youngest son, Polar Bear, did proceed to tear the napkin into shreds and attempt to eat it. I also introduced a red ball into the playroom. Both children love this new ball and it’s the first one they go for when playing catch. It may be that it is the “new toy” and the other balls just don’t cut it anymore.

Blue – This experiment was exercised by taking my boys for walks outside. It is true that we take walks outdoors all the time but this time I monitored the children on clear, sky blue days. They did seem to be calmer during this activity. It could also have been the fresh air, but my children seemed to argue a lot less when they were outside, often sharing toys and throwing less tantrums.

Yellow and off-white – Schiller’s book portrays these colours as being the best for a school classroom as they have properties to increase and maintain attention. I used yellow during book time to help my children keep their little hands and bodies still while I read to them. I chose only books with yellow jackets which seemed to do the trick (although they may have just been used to the routine). I also broke out an off-white colouring book and provided only yellow crayons to my older son, Grizzly Bear. He did spend a little longer working on his colouring than normal which was a breakthrough since he doesn’t enjoy art and crafts that much.

Orange – Like red, this colour did bring a new level of alertness to my children’s lives when I brought home pumpkins this Halloween. They both became enthralled by the activity and had no issues zeroing in on the activity, diving into the fun and destroying the kitchen. Admittedly this could have something to do with children loving messy play, but it may have been the colour orange too.

Green and purple – Admittedly I did not use the colour purple for any experiments, but I did use green. I set up a green coloured canopy in their room and laid them under it for nap and bedtimes. They seemed to enjoy the canopy and stare at it. My Grizzly Bear continually asked what it was and why it was there, but he did fall asleep faster each night the week that it was up. I also put on nature documentaries for my children (this wasn’t an experiment, just something I do regularly). I did take note that my kids (and I) became calmer and happier when rainforests and oceans dominated the scenery.

Brown – I did not introduce this colour to my children as an experiment but I did take a look at my own life and the influence brown has on it. I noticed that many houses on my street are brown and wondered if the colour choice by the developer was intentional. I also noticed that my parents’ vehicle is brown, and I do feel quite safe when in it, although that may be because my Dad is often the driver.

These little activities and experiments were fun to complete and entertaining for my children. While I still don’t know if I’m a believer, I did notice a few times that colours really did have different effects on my children (although hunger and exhaustion did trump most effects). All in all, perhaps I will take the plunge to paint the walls green with a tranquilizing blue ceiling!

Halloween and Safety

“Halloween! Mommy, I love candy and candy is coming soon! Oh, I do love candy.”

A few weeks ago, I took my munchkins out shopping for their costumes and they had a ball checking out different characters, pressing buttons, and generally making a mess of the store. I felt right at home as I followed them around, picking up after them and discouraging my toddler from chewing on tags. We finally settled on matching Buzz Lightyear and Sheriff Woody getups and they looked fantastic!

As I was standing in line to purchase these wonderful (albeit expensive) costumes when I noticed glow stick bracelets. It was then that I recalled the safety prep portion that ties in with this holiday and I started to take note of a few other things I was forgetting that were Halloween related.
Safety was number one. My family and I must take precautions before and during obtaining free candy. It would be a good reminder for my older Grizzly Bear about roads and holding hands and a good introduction for my younger Polar Bear. Number two was getting to know our community. It’s always nice to meet our neighbours, even if it’s in the dead of night and we’re dressed in costumes asking for sweets.

In regard to safety, Health Canada recommends following these tips for this spooky season!

Costumes
 Choose brightly coloured, flame-resistant costumes. Have you ever been driving at night and seen someone dressed in black walking their black Labrador? Now imagine that person is 3 ft tall and on a sugar high; it’s probably a good idea to go with the flamboyant pink wig than a member from KISS (although hilarious)!

 Use makeup rather than a mask. Masks can interfere with vision and even breathing. Our children are likely to be out of breath running from house to house in a mad dash to get the full-size candy bars, so it’s best not to add to the risks associated with the intake of oxygen or falling over the neighbours’ garden ornaments.

 For youngsters such as my Polar Bear who have taken on the personality of a beaver, remove tags right away and choose costumes that don’t have buttons. For children of any age, do not choose costumes with strings. These can tangle easily and pose a big risk to circulation.

Decorating
 Put any jack-o’-lanterns up out of reach if you’ve decided to put real candles in them. Little ones can easily knock them over in their excitement to get to your door and even littler ones can find the flickering flame more irresistible to touch than waiting in line for candy.

 Make sure lawn decorations are clearly visible and not sharp or pointy. Kids have a knack for not watching where they are going, often tripping over their own feet. It’s a shame when they trip over and break your decor but an even bigger shame if they end up hurting themselves.

 Keep your pets behind closed doors. Many disastrous events happen when pets are involved in Halloween. They can harm a child or harm themselves if they get out of the house when the door opens. Pets don’t understand what Halloween is and little strangers dressed in scary costumes could agitate and worry them, causing injuries.

Candy

 Little hands and big eyes can lead to disaster. It’s important to repeat the same motto your parents told you – don’t touch until you get home. Make sure to check your child’s haul thoroughly. Not everyone has your child’s best interest at heart. It’s hard not to get into the spirit of Halloween, especially when it gives you a chance to make memories with your child. My kids love the candy and I love the goofy pictures. I also like the benefit of getting to know my neighbours a bit more. This holiday is a great way to socialize and build strength in your community.

Last year, my family toured the neighbourhood and met most of the lovely folks that lived around us. For the last year, we’ve been able to strengthen those bonds further and it all stemmed from that first awkward conversation where my child asked for free sweets, shaking a brightly coloured bucket on their front doorstep.

Holidays such as Halloween really do have benefits for parents, even the ones that don’t steal their child’s candy after they fall asleep. So get out there and have a fun, safe holiday with your family. And watch out for tummy aches!