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!

Mini Helpers

This week at KARA you’ll find the guys and gals outside with a Fun In The Sun theme! My little bears love being outdoors and have tremendous fun at spray parks.

The featured photo is of my Polar Bear making his way through a minefield of sprinklers in order to get to me. I feel the right caption to describe the look on his face is “Do I Have a Plan?”

But what if summer days aren’t sunny? We all know The Cat in the Hat children’s classic but do we really want to see our children staring out of windows at the rain in the absence of a large, talking feline? On these kinds of days, I like to get my children involved in something, engaged in what I’m doing, and entertained by simple daily tasks. No, I’m not talking about crafts or building forts out of my freshly laundered towels. We do that often enough during winter months. I’m talking about CLEANING! 􀀀

Cleaning and organizing are what I love to do with my kids and they are young and impressionable enough that they think it’s fun! We put some good, dancing music on, usually a Shania Twain album, and just let loose!
If cleaning, I prep some extra spray bottles of water for my two boys while mine is a combination of water and vinegar. This way, if they pick mine up and spray each other, the worst that happens is that they start to smell like a salad.

Next, I give each of them a scrubby pad and a baby wash cloth. My older Grizzly Bear actually has a fair few muscles now and can actually see the difference when making something clean. We wash floors and mirrors together, after making silly mirror faces of course. My little Polar Bear makes some developmental progress while feeling the different textures of the cloths. The smooth, soft baby cloth versus the rough, bumpy scrubby brush really enthrals him, plus add a bit of water and watch out!

When organizing, I bring my kids into the room that we will be working in and close the door. Clothes, books and long lost forgotten toys move too quickly in the hands of my children and my pulse quickens when watching them cart around dozens of escaping LEGO blocks. I usually only invite my kids to help organize my own room or theirs. They love organizing mommy’s closet and putting on my shoes! When we organize their rooms, I bring down the boxes of toys lingering at the tops of closets. By storing some toys away, it allows me to rotate their toys so old ones become new again, saving a buck, and outdated toys can be sold, making a buck.

There are a few things I’ve learned along the way when it comes to soliciting my children’s help in daily chores, however. Pushing buttons on the laundry machines, using the feather duster, and sweeping dog hair under the rug is all good fun but I’ve learned some areas are just not meant to be cleaned by kids. The dishwasher has led to a few close calls as my little ones are just too little. Likewise, the cleaning of the bathroom isn’t meant for curious little bears. It’s icky enough to clean a toilet as an adult with proper sanitary routines. Add a kid and… well I just don’t want to think about it.

In conclusion, parenthood is a busy time. You’re always doing the right things for your children but the right things often pile up when you add them together. Changing diapers and clothes, potty breaks, brushing hair and teeth, feeding them healthy meals that can take hours to make,
doing arts and crafts, reading to them, taking them to programs, teaching them good manners, and the multitude of other tasks we do for our loved ones add up quick. This is just one way of combining a few tasks together to try and make it easier on yourself as a busy parent. But hopefully our families’ summer continues to be sunny, and if not, at least our houses will be clean!

Summertime Tips

Can you imagine one day without hearing your child laughing? How about imagining a day without spending time outside together? When the warm weather rolls around, I could never live without an abundance of both.

I am a mother of two amazing children (what child isn’t amazing?) and have the time of my life making them smile. Many of those smiles happen when we spend our days at KARA Family Resource Centre. Now, I’ve been with KARA as both a coworker and as a friend; as both a Mom and as a Mom-to-be. I’ve enjoyed all of my moments with my KARA family and know the truth about who I am and who my children are; we would not be the same without KARA (what KARA family would?).

Now for the summer part: when it comes to my children, I’ve come across a few summer related mishaps. By sharing these tips with you, I hope you’ll come out ahead.

Sunscreen. Yes, lather up your little ones (and yourself) with sunscreen SPF 30 of higher. Sun protection factor (SPF) is a rating of how long sunscreen will protect against UVB. Now, the sun emits both UVA and UVB (among other wavelengths) and the higher the SPF factor, the longer the protection against both UVA and UVB. For those of you with kids with an … interesting taste for adventure (pun intended!), make sure to lock up the sunscreen after you’ve used it. My kids don’t have a taste for it but my dog does. It’s best to put it out of harm’s reach either way. For youngsters, and I mean six months or younger, sunscreen is not recommended. Instead, grab a sunshade for the playpen or stroller.

Shades. How many times I’ve tried to convince my baby that sunglasses need to be worn outdoors will astound you. I originally purchased sunglasses without a strap and didn’t have the funds to buy a second pair so I opted to make my purchase work. It took quite some time to wear him (me?) down but this most amazing trick saved us. Every time I put the sunglasses on his face, I’d call him “Cool Dude” and he’d revel in the compliment of being called “Cool”. I learned this trick from a KARA family Dad.  Now, sunglasses should always have 100% UV protection. Choose shades that curve around the face to provide protection from side sunshine. Just like skin, the sun can damage eyes. The damage is worse when you have low levels of vitamin C, so bust out those oranges and strawberries!

Water bottles! Every child enjoys owning their very own accessory, and Mom’s enjoy not sharing the backwash. Get a water bottle that your child finds interesting and easy to use. Write your child’s name on it so it doesn’t go home with a friend. Plastic bottles decompose over time from our own saliva. Heat will also make plastic bottles break down. If you choose plastic, be sure to hand wash it directly after use. Don’t let it end up in the hot dishwasher. You can’t taste plastic but you also can’t digest it. Another, more convenient choice, is a stainless steel kids bottle. A little more expensive but they are relatively indestructible. They normally come with silicone straws (a natural material) so there isn’t anything to worry about when it comes to cleaning.

Lastly, get out there and enjoy summer! Your kids will have a blast at the KARA Summer Program and you’ll have a chance to use these helpful tips! Don’t forget, you’re a “Cool Dude” yourself!