About eringirouard

Erin is the Director of Mommy Connections Ottawa and mom to a beautiful daughter, Finley. After joining a Mommy Connections class in 2017, it became clear that offering that same support to other moms in the city she calls home, is what she's meant to be doing.

The Unconventional Way I Weaned My Toddler

Those who know me, know that the nursing relationship I shared with my daughter, was something incredibly dear to my heart. After she was born, I became a ferocious advocate for normalizing breastfeeding, opting never to use a cover and to nurse wherever and whenever I pleased. If my baby was hungry, I didn’t care what your level of comfort was, I was feeding her!  Although  nursing wasn’t something that came super easily to us in the beginning, once we established healthy breastfeeding, I thought I would nurse her forever! My nieces once even bought me a picture of a bare-breasted mermaid holding her baby nursling mermaid and said “Look Auntie Erin it’s you!” As they knew, my two favourite things in the world were the water, and nursing my sweet baby girl. But as we crept closer to my daughters second birthday, those joyful feelings slowly began to morph into what’s known as nursing aversion and I knew, in order to preserve my sanity, something was going to have to shift.

The very first latch!

I had heard about nursing aversion before. In fact, my former partner in Mommy Connections had experienced it while pregnant with her third baby. But like so many aspects of motherhood, it’s not something that I think anyone can fully grasp until they’re in that position. With every latch, I began feeling sick to my stomach. Previously, my child twiddling my free nipple while nursing from the other one was something that I wouldn’t even notice, but it now felt similar to that feeling in the back of your neck when you hear nails on a chalk board. Worst of all, in all of this discomfort, my child began to nurse more frequently; it’s like she knew I was thinking of calling “LAST CALL!”, and she had to get her money’s worth.

Finley had always nursed on demand. To be clear, she’d nurse when she was thirsty, hungry, needed comfort, was injured, sick, or really whenever the mood struck her. As a parent, I had never been huge on setting a particular feeding schedule and because we bed-share, nursing has also always been my tactic to get her to sleep. So when I made the decision to start cutting her off, I knew it had to be slow and gentle. The first thing I tried was distraction. She’d come asking for it and I’d point to something amazing at the other end of the room, or ask her to play a game with me. This would usually work for about one minute until my headstrong lady would remember her mission for milk, and come marching back. Simply denying her would usually result a red-faced, on-the-ground, arched back meltdown, that my heart just couldn’t handle. Because we weren’t on any kind of schedule, dropping a feed  (as the experts suggest) was also out of the question. I started to lose faith and thought “maybe I should just suck it up and be uncomfortable for the sake of keeping the peace”. But then I remembered what I preach to the moms in our programs. We as moms are important too. We matter and so often we lose sight of ourselves as we mother these amazing little people, and it’s important to teach boundaries, respect and self worth. Most of all, I was desperate to not want to look back on my nursing journey with resentment.

One year anniversary!

Two weeks before W Day (weaning day), I started to tell Finley that Mommy’s Milk was getting OLD. She had tasted sour milk from a cup once and knew exactly what this meant. I explained daily that when we turn two, the milk gets old and no longer tastes good. This was usually met with a “ya ya, give me the goods” type response. We celebrated Finley’s second birthday with family and friends and because I knew what was coming, the day was filled with mixed emotions for me.

Tear stained face after her first nap without nursing. Have you experienced mom guilt? It’s awful.

One week later, after a particularly long and painful morning nursing session, I pulled the shoot. I walked downstairs by myself and rubbed Apple Cider Vinegar and Lemon Juice on my nipples, and then I waited. A few minutes later, Finley came over and asked for boobies and after explaining the milk was old, I allowed her to latch on. After not even two seconds, she JUMPED back with the most disgusted look on her face and yelled “MAMA’S RIGHT IT’S OLD! YUCK!” and simply walked away and carried on with her business. “Ok” I thought, “That was too easy. How is this going to look when it’s nap time and there’s nothing for me to offer other than a sippy cup?” An hour later, we laid down in bed and wrapped our arms around each other. I whispered in her ear how strong, smart and brave she is and she simply rolled over and went to bed. For the first time in two years of being on this earth, my little one did not nurse to sleep! Though she was content, I was A MESS! Did I make a mistake? Am I a terrible mother for denying her something so simple? Am I selfish? Maybe my discomfort wasn’t as bad as I made it out to be! Am I truly ready for this to be over? All I can say is that mom guilt is a very real thing, and in that very moment it hit me…hard!

Over the course of the next few days, I continued to apply my vinegar and lemon juice concoction to my breasts, on the off chance that she wanted to give it another go, but she never did. We talked about the old milk, what this meant for her and how proud I was of her being such a big girl. She cried and during those gut wrenching moments, I had to navigate tears sans breastmilk. But just like every other parenting challenge, it came and went and we figured out our new normal. I continued to reassure her that she was loved and valued and that this was all simply a part of growing up.

I had some criticisms for taking this route but I know in my heart that it was the only thing that was going to work for us. She is such a strong-willed individual, that I needed it to ultimately be her decision to wean. There were no melt downs. No denying her. No leaving her side to let someone else put her to bed. In this circumstance, SHE simply decided that she no longer liked the taste, and was ready to move on. I am confident in my decision and know without a shadow of a doubt, that it was what was best for me, her and our family.

The weeks that followed were not easy on me, but I’ll save that for another post. For the mama out there that’s thinking she’s ready to have her body back, you do what you need to do, when you’re ready to do it. Don’t let society tell you what’s right, even if your methods look a bit different. I had never imagined that lemon juice and vinegar would be my chosen path, but at one point I also never imagined feeding my daughter sugar… as we all know, plans change 😉

If you had told me before I became a mom, that my child would be eating a lollypop the size of their head, I’d have said you were nuts!

 

Review – SPLAT Children’s Art Studio

A creative new way for little ones to have fun has just opened up in St Laurent shopping centre, and we could not be more excited! SPLAT is a locally owned Art Studio and Play Centre for all ages, that focuses on allowing children to develop and explore all forms of Art (Music, Theatre, Crafting and more! ) This week our Orléans Traveling Tots had the opportunity to visit SPLAT for the first of 6 field trips, and the place delighted both the children and mamas alike.

I turned my head for one second! Good thing they had a washing station!

We were greeted by their senior staff member Marie, who is warm, kind and has a genuine love of children. She walked me through the various sensory stations throughout the studio and explained the purpose behind each one. The stations included a sand table, an immediate favourite of all the little ones who entered. A sensory bin station complete with bins of buttons, feathers, beads and a unique colour sorting bin where children are given the task of colour coding fluffy balls. There’s a water station that was a personal favourite of my little one. Here she was given the chance to paint a baby doll, and wash off the paint using various tools — nail brushes, sponges, toothbrushes and different toys. They have painting tables, craft tables, a chalk board wall, and a percussion wall, where the children are invited to make as much noise as they please. They also have a beautiful play kitchen area complete with every dish, pot or pan a child could imagine. Finally, there’s a stage with a real microphone for karaoke, and a dress up area with costumes your little one can try on.

Sand tables were a huge hit!

If felt great to see our kids let loose, get messy, and explore in such a clean, safe and unique environment. Here they could be as loud as they wanted, as creative as they wanted and ultimately, spend hours in the same place and never get bored! The major BONUS was never having to worry about cleaning up their mess when they were all done!

To say this place is clean and tidy is an understatement. With so much going on you would assume there would be a mess everywhere, but their staff have an incredible way of keeping up with it, so much so that when the 14 children left, it didn’t even look like they’d been there. 

Although SPLAT is open to all ages, I would recommend that the ultimate fans would be children six and under. The team comes up with unique crafts of the week, which would mostly appeal to kindergarten ages and beyond. Our Tot group are all below 3 years of age and most opted out of sitting for a craft and just engaged in free play. 

SPLAT is now offering a loyalty card that gives parents five visits for $60 — that’s $40 in savings! They also offer Birthday parties, that will tailor a craft specifically for your little ones special day! Such a great thing for parents to consider as you can walk away, mess free!

We loved every minute of our experience at SPLAT and are so pleased that something so fun, creative and educational is available to our children. We know that by providing opportunities for children to actively use their senses as they explore their world through ‘sensory play’ is crucial to brain development. So we now have a place that our children LOVE and are learning valuable tools for navigating the world at the same time!

I can’t wait to put my loyalty card to good use!

Washing babies was such a hit!

Traveling With Our Kids – What do we ACTUALLY need?

I have always been an over packer. An over-night or weekend trip can very quickly turn into looking like I’m leaving for a several month long expedition. I’m the one at the airport who’s emptying the contents of one bag into the other, trying to even out the weight distribution, as an attempt to avoid having to pay for heavy baggage. Then I had a child and it got way worse….

Since the birth of my daughter our family has been lucky enough to do our fair share of traveling, and with each trip I’m left wracking my  brain trying to figure out the absolute essentials. Do I bring a high chair? Pack a car seat or rent one? How many outfit changes could she possibly need every day? Pack diapers or buy them when I get there? I usually just succumb to the fact that at any given time, a massive blizzard could hit in the dead of Spring, in the tropical destination we’ve traveled to, and bring her ALL the options.

What we had for 2 weeks in Florida (plus my diaper bag)

This March, my little one and I eagerly set off on a two week holiday to Florida. Impressed with the fact that I only had one, 50 pound bag for the two of us, I arrived to the airport with only an hour to spare, to find out the worst had happened!!!! The latch on our pickup trucks trunk had opened, and somewhere between Orléans and the Ottawa airport, my bag had rolled out. I was left having to decide whether to cancel the trip altogether, or move on to Florida, with nothing but the clothes on our backs and winter boots on our feet. One hour later we boarded the plane and although the experience of traipsing through two airports in heavy, winter, fur-lined boots was uncomfortable, the amount that I learned about what we and our little ones ACTUALLY need  and don’t need on a holiday, was invaluable.

DON’TS

  1. Don’t pack a highchair – if you are staying at a hotel or resort, check ahead with the staff because almost every establishment will have one that you can keep in your room for the duration of your stay. Furthermore, if you dine on the resort grounds or in any restaurant, there will be one you can use. I had the Summer Infant travel highchair that I LOVED, but it added a lot of extra weight to the luggage, and took up tons of room.
  2. Don’t worry about too many pairs of pyjamas –  At home, I like my daughter to wear a different pair of pj’s every night, but if you’re looking to travel light, you do not need a nightly wardrobe change. Many places will have laundry on site, but if you’re only gone for one week, they won’t get dirty enough to warrant bringing too many pairs. When we arrived in Florida, I bought Finley one really cute and special set of jammies (that she picked out) and I washed it intermittently throughout our stay.
  3. If you’re bringing your iPhones and/tablets, you may want to skip the baby monitors – I am certain you won’t leave home without your phone, so if space it what you’re hoping to save, you can download many different Baby Monitor Apps that serve as a monitor. We set my phone up in her room as the base and used the iPad as the camera. It worked perfectly and I now know that I don’t have to risk our expensive monitor getting broken in our luggage.
  4. Shoes – one for travel, one for leisure. Unless you’re going on an adventure-packed trip by day, glamorous gala-filled trip by night, you don’t need too many different pairs of shoes. I bought Finley a comfortable pair that she could wear on the beach, in the water, or when walking around shops and restaurants, and of course she had her boots with us to come home in. In the past I packed her flip flops, dressy sandals, water shoes, and runners. One pair of shoes that double as water/leisure shoes is all that’s necessary. For me, one pair of flip flops was fine for two weeks in the sun.

These Natives are a great choice for the “everything” shoe

5. You don’t need to pack all the toys – If your child has a lovey or special toy that they don’t like to be without, pack it in your carry-on so no matter what luggage situation you get into, they’ll have it with them. Another local mama I know says she allows each child to pack their own tiny backpack full of toys from home. “It makes them feel special and included in the process of getting ready for the trip”. You can also pick up a couple of cheap toys at a local dollar store once you arrive at your destination (sand toys etc), but most little ones will be so occupied by their new surroundings, that they won’t be overly interested in the toys that came from home. We were also recently gifted a Moonlight, that attaches to your phone to illuminate your child’s favourite books on the ceiling. It weighs nothing and is a super fun alternative to actual books.

Dollar store sand toys were a big hit! And we just left them behind for another little one to enjoy when we were leaving.

Moonlight attaches to your phone and plays books on the ceiling

6. Share one toiletry bag for everyone – I am usually a notorious toiletry-over-packer. I bring big bottles of shampoo, conditioner and soap and giant bottles of my favourite body wash. Not to mention all the lotions and washes that my little one uses. Losing my luggage made me realize that this was unnecessary and a massive waste of space. Upon arrival in Florida, I purchased a travel sized bottle of body wash that was safe for both me and my two year old and doubled as shampoo for her. I picked us up toothbrushes and a travel sized toothpaste and a small bottle of shampoo for myself and that was all I needed.  It was refreshing not to worry about styling my hair or wearing makeup for the two weeks. That being said, leave the blowdryer at home. If your natural air-dried hair is a bit out of control like mine, there will be one you can use in almost any rental unit or hotel room.

7. Blackout curtains are great, but tinfoil and garbage bags work just as well – I know I know. It sounds funny and may not be the Pinterest worthy look that you were aiming for, but the Gro Blinds are huge, take up tons of space and aren’t cheap. You can just as easily cover any window with tin foil and black garbage bags. Those two items can be purchased anywhere you go and can ensure your little will have successful sleeps!

8. Don’t bring your most expensive stroller – If you are going on a holiday where you’ll be cruising rugged terrain with your littles in tow, it might make sense to pack it. Otherwise, an easy folding umbrella stroller does the trick. I packed my UppaBaby Vista on one of our first overseas trips, and it was severely damaged while stowed with the baggage. I now have a cheap and light Maclaren Umbrella stroller that is more than sufficient. If you’re a baby-wearer, you might even think about renting a stroller once you arrive at your destination. This is a surefire way to not cause any damage to the ones you like to use at home.

9. Cribs are available to rent/borrow at so many hotels – It may be worthwhile leaving the pack & play at home, especially if you’re traveling by yourself. We have had great luck with hotels having clean and nice cribs available for rent. Pack & plays are great if you’re driving somewhere, but to fly with them can be difficult and unnecessary. Call ahead where you’re going and ask what their crib situation is.

DO’s

  1. Car seats ARE needed, and you should bring one that you’re used to installing –  One mistake that I didn’t make was strapping my little one into her travel carseat before leaving our house. Because I was traveling alone, I made sure that I was comfortable with installing it and knew how to use it. It is recommended that when your child turns two and has their own airplane seat, you strap them into a carseat. I cannot express how vital I feel this is. Not only is if safer in the event of turbulence or that the plane stops fast. Not only is it also a comfortable and familiar setting to that your toddler is used to. But, it also comes in extremely handy when your little one can’t get out of their seat and run around on the airplane! Yes, you can rent them upon your arrival, but you will never be sure that they have not been previously damaged, nor will they come with a manual on installation. It may be bulky to lug through the airport, but you can buy inexpensive, lightweight ones such as the Cosco Scenera Next, recommended by Ottawa’s very own carseat and safety experts). 

    This lightweight car seat works great for travel

  2. Pack any/all medicine in your carry on –< This includes any pain/fever relief medicine that you and your children might need, prescription drugs, Epi pens, Benadryl, Pepto Bismol; anything really, that you might need in the event that something happens and you or your little one isn't feeling well. If you lose your luggage, at least you'll have peace of mind knowing that stuff is near.
  3. Pack a change of clothes in your carry on – Even when your kids are over the diaper blow out phase, I can’t stress enough how happy I was that I had a pair of backup clothes when we were five minutes into the flight and my child spilled freezing water all down her front. You never know what the kids can get in to so it’s best to have clean, dry clothes they can easily change into.
  4. Stock up on snacks – This probably should have been point #1 as I feel it is the most crucial way to ensure you have a bit of sanity on your flight. This is the time where I stop being the health conscious mom, and worry about what will make her happy in the event that a full blown in-flight meltdown occurs. Snacks. They are the way to go. Even if it means an extra 10 pounds in your diaper bag, pack them all! Also, you never know what kind of delays you’ll encounter while traveling, or when the next full meal will be. So let me reiterate one last time, PACK ALL THE SNACKS!!!

The bottom line is, if you’re happy, your kids will be happy. I had the choice to panic, cancel our vacation and cry over it, or suck it up and remember that it’s only “stuff” and she and I are capable of having fun no matter what.

I am so happy to report that thanks to the wonderful powers of Facebook, my bag was located and returned to us safely. Although I was beyond grateful to have the contents back in my possession, I’m even more grateful for having had the experience of winging it with my little one. I now feel I have a much stronger grasp on what the ACTUAL essentials are, and know this will save me time, money and sanity moving forward.

So grateful to the man who found it and for the amazing powers of social media!

The Loneliness Of A Miscarriage

On November 13th late at night, I found out I was pregnant with my second baby. After a somewhat long period of trying to conceive, I was beyond elated. Our little Family was growing and my sweet girl was going to be a big sister! That bond that you feel in pregnancy sparked instantly and we were over the moon. On December 21st, it was taken away from us when we found out that our tiny little heart had stopped beating.

It’s so exciting to see a positive result!

 

I began showing signs of a miscarriage on the Wednesday morning before Christmas, which was also only one day after we shared the good news with our parents. It began as mild spotting and slowly increased to become the colour red that every woman fears terribly during pregnancy. We waited a long and painful two days for a very unsympathetic doctor to tell us that the little flicker of a heartbeat that we’d come to know and love, was no longer viable. The doctors instructions for what was to follow felt so clinical and cold; as if he was sharing directions to the nearest gas station, not something devastating. We all of a sudden felt like we were being ushered out of the bed we were occupying in the ER.

 

Although I knew inside that we had experienced a loss, my brain began to try and rationalize how the ultrasound could have been wrong; it started to play tricks on me and tell me that someone somewhere, had made a critical mistake. Denial. Next came the guilt. What did I do that caused this? Was that steak I ate too pink? I know I avoided lunch meat but am I sure that goat cheese was pasteurized? Maybe it’s because I drank coffee or took that Zantac when my heartburn was so bad…I never took Zantac in my first pregnancy. It has to be because I’m still breast feeding my toddler. Didn’t I read somewhere that breastfeeding can cause miscarriage? The walls felt like they were closing in on me and as I was rapidly transitioning through the different stages of grief, my heart quite literally, felt like it was breaking.

 

Some doctors say 50% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Some say 25% and some say one in five. I have personally known six women in the month of December who’ve gone through it, so why did it feel like the loneliest thing on the planet to experience? Perhaps it’s because it all happened before I had the chance to publicly announce it, so the masses didn’t know what we’d lost. Maybe it’s because it felt like in some way, my body had failed me. Maybe it’s because there’s a certain level of guilt associated with the experience, that no one else could possibly understand. Whatever the case, it felt like my life paused and I was totally unsure of which direction to turn. So many medical professional made feeble attempts at support by using the common dictums such as “Its Gods will” or “Everything happens for a reason” or “you already have one child so at least you know you can have another”, but none of these added any comfort or made any sense, in fact, it was probably the opposite. I just wanted to be left alone as I knew that the only person who could understand my grief, was myself.  While I now realize they all had good intentions, there was nothing that anyone could say, to make any sense of why this was happening to me.

 

If it had been any other time of year, I would have been granted the opportunity to grieve quietly and for as long as I wanted, but it was three days before Christmas, and I’m a mom to a toddler which for me meant that I had to try my best for “the show to go on”. But how do you celebrate what’s supposed to be the happiest time of year, when you have a broken heart? The traditions and events that can add so much joy and meaning to the season were punctuated with painful reminders that the tiny person we loved will never be here with us. In so many ways I wished that I could find a quiet place to hide until January 2nd.

 

Despite everything, I ended up having a wonderful Christmas Day surrounded by my loving family and for the first time since we received our news, I actually felt happy again (which unfortunately brought back the guilt). I want other mamas to know, that it’s always ok not to be OK. But just as it’s OK to grieve for as long as you want, it is also OK to smile and enjoy the good things happening in your life. It doesn’t mean that you’re not mindful of the baby you lost. If this should ever be you, please try not to let yourself feel guilty for taking your mind off things and living your life. Grief comes in waves and when you experience any kind of loss, although it may feel like you’ll never smile again, happiness WILL slowly make its way back into your life. There will be moments where the grief feels overwhelming, almost like an actual wave washes over you and you’re fighting to stay above the water, but that wave passes and you can and will once again see the beauty in all that’s around you.

Real smiles on Christmas night… something I didn’t think would be possible

 

Miscarriage can be an amazingly difficult thing to talk about, but the more I have shared my story, the more other women are beginning to admit (almost shyly) that they too, have experienced this type of loss. The common denominator between them all is that after the ice is broken, each woman almost seems relieved to talk about it. I want you, my friends and family to know that I am someone you can talk to if you lose a baby or know someone who does. I am an open book with the details of my story and I never want any woman to feel ashamed in asking me about it, or sharing their story with me. Imagine a world in which there was only understanding and support, where a woman didn’t have to feel ashamed and she could grieve for her baby with the love and support she needed instead of suffering in silence. A world where people don’t feel that they need to make an excuse for terrible things. Sometimes, things are just really shitty, and we should be able to hold someone’s hand and simply say “I’m here for you, in any way you need. And when you’re ready to talk about this, I’ll be here to listen”.
To my sisters (and brothers) out there, I am always here to listen to your story. Thank you for reading mine.

After 17 days of my body trying to go through the process “naturally” I ended up in the hospital where the doctors had to perform a Dilation and Curettage. It was the last thing in the world that I wanted, but I was so relieved for it all to be over.  Doctor McCoubrey and the team at the Montfort were extremely kind, compassionate and wonderful.

Edit to add: There were so many people who were so supportive, kind, thoughtful and helpful during this process. Those who sent flowers, brought gifts, helped with Finley, called, texted and sat and let me cry. You know who you are and I want to be sure that you know how very much I appreciate you and how grateful I am to have been blessed with your friendship. I will never forget those acts of kindness during such a dark period. It also so happens, that in the 17 days I was going through this, I became even closer with my spouse.  In my experience, there was a little bit of sunshine at the end of the storm.

If you have suffered a loss, or know someone who has, I can always be reached by email at ering@mommyconnections.ca for support and am also a proud distributer of the Butterfly Box. Please feel free to message me any time.

Play, Learn and Explore At My Gym Ottawa

This Fall our six week Mini Movers group was incredibly fortunate to be hosted by My Gym Ottawa. Nestled in the suburbs of Barrhaven sits this amazing space where babies, toddlers and children alike can run, play, learn and explore. Recently, a friend and I were invited to bring our daughters (18 & 20 months) to sample their Tiny Tykes/Waddlers class and I am so glad we did! Not only is this a great place for drop in free-play, but the classes offer educational components in a safe and exciting setting, perfect for curious little ones and parents alike.

The Space

My Gym features a soft, padded floor which makes learning basic gymnastics skills that much safer for your little one. The first thing I noticed upon entering the facility was the cleanliness. The play structures are made of wood and you can tell by looking at them that they’re impeccably maintained; all of the high quality equipment looks brand new. 

Their play structures are also taken apart and redesigned every two weeks which promises a unique experience for the child that visits often. This is a feature that can also be customizable to those renting the space for a birthday party.

The space features a rock climbing wall, play structure and slide, ball pit, various gymnastics obstacles, an area that features six detachable swings, specifically for babies and toddlers; a feature that my little one was thrilled about! It also boasts a very clean restroom facility complete with complimentary diapers, wipes and a diaper genie (if you’re anything like me and always forget to restock your diaper bag, this feature comes in VERY handy).

My Gym is bright, spacious and clean. It is the perfect size for children to run around and burn off some steam, while not being so big that the parent can lose sight of their little one.

The Classes

My Gym engages infants 6 weeks of age to children 11 years of age with fun and captivating physical/cognitive activities, music, songs and free play. Their classes are designed to help your child grow confidence and strength in a non-competitive and supportive atmosphere.

The teachers create a fun filled hour full of age appropriate activities where children will learn new skills, make new friends and have an amazing experience each week.

The (Tiny Tykes) class we participated in began with circle time and songs to get the little ones up and energized. Throughout the hour the little ones stretched, danced, and exercised their problem solving skills. After the opening circle time, we were sent for some free-play as the teacher set up various obstacles. When we regrouped, the first skill was to have our toddler do a supported back flip. My little one wasn’t overly keen on trying this and I loved the way the teacher both encouraged her, but also accepted that she wasn’t into it and supported her by offering a modified skill to try. Other skills included climbing through the different levels of a flat ladder, into a foam circle in the middle and jumping from a mat into a hula hoop — all the skills promoted strength building, coordination and spacial awareness.

My Gym classes are curriculum based, but do not have a set beginning and ending point so children are welcome to join at any time.

Membership

In order to take advantage of My Gym Ottawa, families must purchase a lifetime membership for a one-time fee of $75. This gives you access to the classes and drop in play as well as special discounts on Birthday Parties and special events. The membership can also travel with you as My Gym is a Global franchise.

Special Events

In addition to My Gym’s classes, they also offer Birthday Parties, Practice and Play (drop-in play), Summer, March Break and PD Day camps.They also offer the unique Parent’s Night Out, where Friday nights from 5:30-8:30 pm, parents can enjoy a night out while their children are having a great time running, climbing, playing and eating pizza! Finally, My Gym also offers their Mobile Program where they bring the gym to you! This is a great feature if you are a day care/child care provider looking for something new.

I feel very fortunate to have partnered with such a supportive establishment whose goal is To create an environment where all children of all abilities feel loved and supported so that their self-esteem and confidence can flourish.

If you’re in the Barrhaven area (or not), this place is a must on your list of activities with the little ones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Guide To Ottawa’s Holiday Events!

If you’re anything like me, the second Halloween is over, you have Christmas on the brain. The lights, the treats, the shopping, the decorating…even the snow (although the second Christmas is over I’d be happy for it to melt).

The holidays have taken on a completely new meaning now that there’s a toddler running around our home and seeing the magic of the season through her eyes makes it even more special to our family. Just last night we took her to Lowes to see the Christmas display and watching her eyes light up as she saw the trees, the Santa’s and the lights, made me realize exactly what the “magic of the season” is that people always talk about.

We are so lucky to live in a city that has an endless list of holiday festivities for children and families, as well as countless opportunities for your little ones to cozy up to Santa for a once-a-year magical encounter.

Below is a list of family friendly holiday events happening around the city of Ottawa!

Santa at the Shopping Malls

Carlingwood Shopping Centre

November 17th – Santa’s Arrival Parade.

He leaves from Centre Court at 1pm to tour the Mall and arrive at his chair.

Santa Arrival PARADE

Rideau Centre

November 17th – December 24th

Hurry! This mall is offering a one of a kind Santa experience offering zero lines or waiting (making your child’s visit that much smoother).  Book your reservation now! Only a limited number of reservations are available.

Santa’s workshop will be located on Level 3, Freiman Bridge. Walk-ups will be accommodated as time allows

St Laurent Shopping Centre 

November 17th 11am-5pm

Located on the first floor of the shopping centre. Your little one will be able to meet Santa (or send him a letter!) and take a picture with him.

Place D’Orléans

November 24 – December 24th

Located on the first floor in the BMO court. Your little one will be able to meet Santa (or send him a letter!) and take a picture with him.

Digital Photos With Santa

Bayshore 

Saturday, November 17th: 10:00AM – 7:00PM (Santa’s arrival)

Click to be directed to a full list of times to visit!

Visit  Santa’s Village, located on 1st level. Your little one will be able to meet Santa (or send him a letter!) and take a picture with him.

Holiday Snow Globe (also available at Bayshore shopping centre) 

From November 17th, 2018 to January 6th, 2019.

Step inside the Snow Globe in Crystal hall, 3rd level, for an immersive Holiday experience! The life-size structured will allow you to immerse into a wonderland with cascading snow and a themed décor. All proceeds and donations will be donated to the Sentors Foundation. 

Parades

 Help Santa Toy Parade – Central Ottawa

http://toyparade.ca

November 17, 2018 @ 11:00am

Starts at Ottawa City Hall – Finishes at TD Place)

Every year since 1969, the Ottawa Professional Fire Fighters’ Association has been organizing the Help Santa Toy Parade and collecting toys along the parade route for distribution to the less fortunate children in Ottawa-Carleton.

The parade has evolved into a significant event drawing tens-of-thousands of people who line the Parade route and share their generosity. Participants are entertained to the sights and sounds of floats, bands and clowns produced locally and from around the Province.

Fire fighters will collect new toys and cash donations along the route. Due to the fact of the numerous amount of unsuitable used toys that have been dropped off over the years we will no longer accept used toys of any kind. New toys can be dropped off at any of the Salvation Army Thrift Stores.

Kanata Santa Claus Parade
https://www.facebook.com/events/683364755381229/
November 17, 2018

The Kanata parade (a.k.a the Hazeldean Mall Santa Claus Parade) is presented by the Kanata-Hazeldean Lions Club in cooperation with the Kanata Sports Club. The parade starts at Terry Fox and Castlefrank, moves along Castlefrank to Abbeyhill and then on to the Hazeldean Mall. Nonperishable food donations to the Kanata Food Cupboard are appreciated.

Barrhaven Lions Santa Parade
santaclausbarrhaven.com
Sunday, November 18th at 5:30 p.m.

The annual Barrhaven Lions Club Santa Claus Parade runs down Strandherd Drive, west. Tim Hortons will be providing hot chocolate at various spots along the parade route.

Image result for barrhaven lions santa claus parade


Arnprior Santa Claus Parade
https://www.facebook.com/events/917184025147270/

November 24, 2018 at 6 pm

Carleton Place Santa Claus Parade
http://downtowncarletonplace.com/christmas-parade/
Saturday, November 24, 2018 at 5 p.m.

Santa’s Parade of Lights – Orléans 
paradeoflights.org
Saturday, November 24th @ 6:00pm 

Image result for santa's parade of lights

Also hosted by the Ottawa Professional Firefighters Association, this parade takes place on St-Joseph, Blvd. in Orleans. Toys and cash donations will be collected by firefighters along the route.

Stittsville Parade of Lights 
stittsvilleva.com
Saturday, December 1, 2018

This parade is a favourite community event. The parade proceeds south down Main Street to Village Square. Parade goers are welcome to stay for the lighting of Village Square Park and to warm up with some hot chocolate.

Carp Santa Claus Parade
December 8, 2018 12 pm

Image result for carp santa claus parade 2018

Parade route starts at The Diefenbunker, 3911 Carp Road and follows Carp Road. 

 

Other Holidays Activities in Ottawa and the Surrounding Areas.

Breakfast With Santa – Barrhaven

Sunday, November 18th @ 8:00am

Head over to The Breakfast with Santa in Barrhaven at 8 am or 9:30 am (tickets MUST be purchased in advance) and stay for some free family fun with Santa! Do some crafts with our student elves, listen to your favourite holiday songs and have some festive fun with your family and friends. They will be collecting food and cash donations for the Barrhaven Food Cupboard at the front of the school all morning. Drop yours off or bring them to the parade that evening.

Breakfast includes; pancakes, sausages, juice, coffee. Limited seating. Pre-purchased tickets only!

Tickets can be purchased here

Alight the Night

www.uppercanadavillage.com/events/alight-at-night/
November 30th to January 5th
Upper Canada Village

Step back in time while walking around the beautifully lit heritage buildings, trees and fences of Upper Canada Village. There are festive activities and a chance to meet Santa Claus all throughout the month of December leading up to Christmas.

Cumberland Heritage Village Museum Vintage Village of Lights

ottawa.ca/en/liveculture/museums/cumberlandmuseum

November 30th – December 23rd 

30,000 Christmas lights, decorations everywhere, a gigantic reindeer and sleigh and – of course – a visit with Santa Claus in his workshop! Kids will have fun sledding, playing broomball or street hockey, making a snow globe, decorating gingerbread, and sending your Christmas wish list to Santa via telegram. Regular admission applies. 

Manotick – Olde Fashioned Christmas
http://manotickvillage.com/event/olde-fashioned-christmas/
Saturday, December 1st and Sunday, December 2nd

Manotick’s annual Olde Fashioned Christmas celebration. From horse drawn wagon rides with Father and Mary Christmas to sunset carolling, this wonderful weekend is full of traditional events not to be missed. Refreshments and music everywhere! The Village is transformed into a Christmas of  yester-year. Wreaths are hung on lampposts, trees are lit and the Village shines brightly all season long.

This is one wonderful weekend full of small town tradition you and your family will not want to miss!

Almonte’s Light Up the Night!
lightupthenightalmonte.com
Friday, December 7th at 7 p.m.

Bundle up, this is an open-air concert and fireworks display on Main Street in Almonte. Now in its 28th year this night is full of music and memorable outdoor festivities.

Holidays at The Parks 2018

http://wesleycloverparks.com/events/holidays-at-the-parks-2018/
Sunday, December 9, 2018 from 12:00PM – 4:00PM

A great family friendly event, Holidays at The Parks will feature activities for everyone including a vendor’s row, kids craft station, horse-drawn wagon rides, opportunity to meet Zack the donkey, and more! All activities will take place in the Wesley Clover Parks’ heated indoor arena. Meet and take a picture with Santa! Admission by donation.

Magic of Lights: Nov. 17, 2017 – Jan. 6, 2018

http://magicoflights.com/

Wesley Clover Park

Now in its third year, Magic of Lights Ottawa is returning to the Wesley Clover Parks Campground for the 2018 holiday season! This magical event, that has quickly become a holiday tradition for many Ottawa residents, is comprised of festive lighted displays celebrating the joy of the holidays. A “drive through” experience from the comfort of your own car, at every turn and in every direction the magical route is overflowing with spectacular light displays and animations. New attractions in 2018 will include “Candy Cane Lane”, a 200-foot animated Candy Cane celebration, as well as a twinkling “Snowflake Forest” winter spectacle.

Head just west of Ottawa’s downtown core to Wesley Clover Parks for this one of a kind drive-through experience. Nearly one million LED lights are spread over two kilometres, including a 200-foot light tunnel and large LED displays of your favourite winter characters like snowmen, elves and more. Select proceeds from each carload admission benefit the Ottawa Senator’s Foundation.

Nepean Christmas – Nepean Sportsplex, 1701 Woodroofe Ave. 

November 1st – 4th
https://ottawa.ca/en/residents/arts-heritage-and-culture/museums-and-historic-sites/nepean-museum#upcoming-events-and-programs

Bring the whole family and get into the Christmas spirit by coming to the museum for a Nepean Christmas Celebration!  There will be Christmas crafts, treats, and of course Santa! 

Chanukah Gift Fair – SJCC

November 18th @ 10:00am-4:00pm

https://jewishottawa.com/community-calendar

PJL Chanukah Event

November 18th @ 10:00am – 12:00pm

http://canada.jewishfederation.org/site/Calendar?id=101461&view=Detail

PJ’s Annual Chanukah Party. Join your PJ Library friends for story time, crafts, sufganyot, dreidels and a special Junkyard Symphony performance.

All are welcome. You do not have to be a PJL subscriber to attend.

Goulbourn Museum Olde Fashioned Christmas
Sunday, November 18th from 10 am to 3 pm
http://goulbournmuseum.ca/event/old-fashioned-christmas-outdoor-artisan-market-4/

Get a head start on your shopping at this holiday celebration and Christmas market that features activities for the whole family. Write letters to Santa and pose for a photo with the jolly old soul, enjoy free hot chocolate and apple cider and buy one-of-a-kind handmade gifts from local artisans. Free admission.

20th Annual Trees of Hope for CHEO:

Nov. 27, 2017 – Jan. 8, 2018


Image result for trees of hope chateau laurier

Head to the historic Fairmont Château Laurier hotel to see several beautifully decorated Christmas trees throughout the holiday season during Trees of Hope! Opt to enjoy Afternoon Tea or a meal at the hotel followed by a stroll through the lovely trees located throughout their storied halls. This is a holiday season tradition for many.

The Museum of History’s Christmas Market

Nov. 30 – Dec. 3, 2017

This four-day Christmas market brings over 80 exhibitors to the Canadian Museum of History‘s Grand Hall. Choose from gourmet foods, artisanal spirits, handcrafted jewellery and many other unique handmade gifts. Free admission.

On Nov. 30 at 6:00 p.m., the Canadian Museum of History will also light its giant outdoor Christmas tree. Enjoy Christmas carols, hot chocolate and Beaver Bites.

The Ottawa Little Theatre Presents- It’s a Wonderful Life

November 28 – December 15th

Based on the most beloved holiday classic of all time, this is the story of George Bailey who on Christmas Eve, convinced that his life has been a failure, wants to end it all. Clarence Oddbody, Angel Second Class who has been trying for 200 years to earn his wings, is sent to the rescue.

Tickets can be purchased here

 

 

Christmas Lights Across Canada

Dec. 7, 2017 – Jan. 7, 2018

Join the fun Dec. 7, 2017 on Parliament Hill for the Christmas Lights Across Canada illumination ceremony, complete with carollers and hot chocolate. From then until Jan. 7, 2018, Ottawa’s downtown streets and several monument sites are lit up with hundreds of thousands of dazzling coloured lights. Plus, don’t miss the magical Winter Lightscapes show projected on Parliament’s Centre Block!

Barrhaven: Winter Wonderland
Saturday, December 8th from 10 am to 12 pm
https://www.facebook.com/events/1219112084895128

Presented by the Minto Recreation Complex, this festive event will include pictures with Santa, crafts, games and cookie decorating. Admission is free!

Taffy Lane in Orleans

https://www.facebook.com/Taffy-Lane-586502018033800/

This street has a well-deserved reputation across Ottawa as having the best neighbourhood light display. There is a (Santa) clause in every agreement of purchase and sale that home owners must put up an elaborate light display

There are also several houses that are over the top only a few minutes away from Taffy Lane, just South of St. Joseph.

5 questions to ask before hiring a real estate professional

So you’re ready to buy or sell your home, and you want the guidance of a real estate professional to help you with the process. But how do you pick the one that is right for you?

“It’s always a good idea to meet with at least a few different real estate professionals before selecting the one you’d like to work with,” says Joseph Richer, registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario. “You should also consider asking friends or family to recommend someone they’ve recently worked with.”

When you’re ready to meet with a few representatives, consider asking these questions:

  1. What is your experience? Experience is about more than how many years someone has been in business. Take the time to learn about the types of properties they typically work with, which cities or areas they work in, and how many homes they helped buy or sell in the past year.
  2. What is your approach to the buying or selling process? If you’re buying, how will the representative search for suitable properties and what is their approach to negotiations? If you’re selling, how will your home be marketed to help attract prospective buyers? By understanding their approach, you’ll know what to expect and will be able to determine which representative’s philosophy and methods align with your preferences.
  3. What services will be included? Discuss your particular needs and expectations with prospective representatives to ensure they are able to provide the services you expect. For example, when selling, will the representative have professional photos taken of your home? Will they host open houses? What about advertising? Understanding exactly what services will be provided, and later documenting them in your written contract, will help avoid misunderstandings later on.
  4. What are the commissions or fees that I will need to pay? Commissions and fees can vary between brokerages and for the services provided, so be sure to understand what will be provided, and what it will cost. Keep in mind that, as with most things, the cheapest deal is not necessarily the best one.
  5. Do you have references? As with most job interviews, getting in touch with references is an important step before hiring someone. So, speaking with past clients is a great way to learn more. Were past clients pleased with their experience? Was the representative responsive and easy to get in touch with? Would they recommend them to others?

“Buying or selling a home is a major decision, so it’s important to take the time to find the right representative for you,” says Richer.

Use the ‘real estate professional search’ feature to ensure your representative is registered.

There’s a lot of information out there about market trends and how to get the best price, but you also need to know about your rights and responsibilities as a home buyer or seller.  The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) can help you with that.

When it comes to real estate transactions, the more you know, the better you’re protected. Visit RECO’s website to learn more.

Check out some helpful advice about whether to buy first or sell first as well as the 4 must-do tips before you start the home buying process.

Kids & Company

In our programs, the topic of finding childcare is among one of the most popular discussions. Where to begin the search? Home vs centre? How do I know if it’s the right fit? What types of questions do I ask? The search can be overwhelming and in Ottawa, not always easy. This summer we were fortunate to have Kids & Company in Kanata, act as our host venue for the 6 week, Mom and Baby program.

Summer Mom and Baby Program

The centre is located in the booming area of Kanata South. Upon my arrival to tour their facility, I was immediately greeted by a team of incredibly friendly individuals. Their Director, Erin Savard, was welcoming, warm and professional while being extremely relatable as a mother.

The centre features floor to ceiling windows  throughout each classroom, that offer natural light and creates a bright and cheerful environment. What struck me first was that even in the midst of their daily activities, the centre remained so clean, a feature that I know is incredibly important to moms and families.

Another aspect that struck me as unique, was that each staff member adorned navy blue scrubs with the Kids & Company logo displayed on their shirt. I had never before witnessed this in a daycare facility and loved that I could tell exactly who was an employee of the centre. I felt this feature not only added to their professionalism, but helped me feel at ease as I could clearly define who was a teacher, vs who was a parent picking up their child.

Kids and Company Uniform

Kids & Company offers programs for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and school aged children. Being a mom of an infant, I was eager to explore their baby room and sleeping quarters. At the time of my arrival, they were in the process of deep cleaning the cribs and mattresses and I was impressed at how thorough of a process this was; everything was deconstructed and sanitized. The babies were in the process of being served their lunch, which tickled my curiosity to inquire about their menu.

I was blown away not only by the KidCo menu, but their philosophy on nutrition. They have a full sized, professional kitchen on site where they cook all the food from scratch. Their menu is created by executive chef and Mother, Lisa Ruscica, who understands the importance of nutrition and goes above and beyond in creating an eclectic, child friendly menu with an understanding for allergies and intolerances. Never before had I considered dishes like “Chicken Pad Thai” or “fish tacos” to be served to children, but they do so in a way that inspires curiosity with food. A local mom who’s son attends day care at the centre explained that through his exposure to new foods at Kids & Company, he is no longer a picky eater and now has new favourites such as Buttered Chicken and Korean Bibimbap ( you can view the Kids & Company menu as well as featured recipes here.)

Dinning; Family Style

While continuing my tour we stopped in to the preschool room where I was able to observe the little ones in the middle of a craft that was designed to encourage sensory motor play. It was explained that the entire Kids & Company curriculum is centred around play based learning and that they feature different sensory building skills daily. Each activity serves a purpose has research behind it to support growth and development. Best of all, the kids seemed to LOVE what they were doing and each individual in these small class groups seemed to be getting ample focus and attention from their teachers.

At Mommy Connections we have worked with so many moms who have enrolled their children in one of the four Ottawa Kids & Company locations and each one has their own set of unique, positive reviews, from the centres ability to accommodate Nursing/ shift work schedules, to severe allergies, to their incredible Baby Signing program. After my initial tour, I felt confident that I would in fact enrol my own children in their program, but after having spent six weeks in the centre, I had zero doubts.

One Woman’s Breastfeeding Journey

Before the birth of my first child, I felt a lot of pressure to breastfeed. Every woman in my family had done it with ease and more than a few were vocal about how it was just expected of me. In fact, when I announced I was expecting, I was met several times with “you will be nursing right?” Although I had always dreamed of having a nursing relationship with all of my kids, once she was born, like so many women, I felt the immense pressure to be good at it.

I remember laying in the hospital room on that first night, repeatedly pressing the call button for a nurse to appear. I could sense their frustration at me but I needed to know: Was she latched okay? Was she getting enough? What happens if she falls asleep while eating? Do I wake her up to feed her? How do I know when to switch sides? 

First Latch. Feb 22, 2017

The World Health Organization recommends that women breastfeed exclusively for six months and beyond two years (WHO, 2017), so if this is the case, where was the nurse and why wasn’t someone assigned to be at my side to teach me to do the thing that society deems as so important? Where was all my support? Surely I thought, this doesn’t just come naturally to everyone. Then they send you home…

As my milk came in and throughout the following few weeks, I was met with cluster feeding, insane engorgement, a baby who on some days, just didn’t feel like eating all that much and chapped nipples to the point of toe curling pain upon her latch (if this ever occurs, get a prescription for Doctor Newman’s APNO ointment; you will be so thankful you did). I  remember having to set myself up for success upon each feed that included: getting in a comfortable position complete with my nursing pillow, burp cloth and glass of water to hydrate the mouth that would instantly feel like I had spent the day eating sand. I marvelled at the women that could nurse in public with ease, those who could carry on conversations with people while their little ones effortlessly latched on. When was that going to be me?

Before I knew it, two months had passed! The whirlwind that is cluster feeding started to subside, my breasts had established a healthy milk supply, baby had begun developing a routine and without even realizing it had happened, my nipples no longer hurt at all. Through a chance and very lucky encounter with a Lactation Consultant, I had discovered the side-lying feeding position and through that, coupled with bed-sharing, baby and I blissfully began sleeping through the night. She would get hungry and latch on without my even realizing. I also began being able to comfortably nurse in public and was even surprised at how often I was met with encouragement from total strangers; whether it be a smile and nod or someone outright telling me I was doing a great job.

Side lying position. May 2017

It has now been 17 glorious months since I began my breastfeeding journey and I’m proud to say that we are still going strong! Our nursing relationship is something that I value tremendously and although we did have a rocky start, I would take years of those cracked nipples if it meant I got to feel the joy just once, of staring into her eyes as she looks up at me and smiles with a boobie in her mouth. We’ve nursed through sicknesses, bumps, falls and bruises, toddler tantrums, sleepless nights and moments of comfort, joy and bliss. 

One Year Anniversary. Feb 22, 2018

In short, I wholeheartedly believe there is a lack of breastfeeding support to new moms after they leave the hospital. Health care providers need to increase their breastfeeding support and every woman should have access to an IBCLC Lactation Consultant. These specialists are highly trained individuals that should be readily available and covered by health insurance for all new moms and babies. They have a wealth of knowledge about breastfeeding that few others in the healthcare system have.

If you are or know of a mom who could use some extra breastfeeding support, you can:

Authors Note:

While this is my journey, I want to express that I understand every woman’s story is different and unique. I fully support any decision a mother makes regarding feeding her baby.

What I Learned From Three Weeks Of Being Active

When I became pregnant with my daughter, I was immediately told not to do any physical fitness activities, due to possible complications with my pregnancy. Although on one hand, I was extremely happy for the excuse to stop working out, on the other hand, I grew tired, lazy and far less healthy than I could have otherwise been during my pregnancy.

Flash forward nearly two years later and with a busy toddler, I had not restarted any kind of fitness routine. Sure I’d take stroller walks several times a week, but that was as far as it got. Like so many busy moms, I just couldn’t find a way to make it a priority. Furthermore, my targeted ads all over Facebook and Google were screaming slanderous slogans like “Bounce Back After Baby!” and “Find Your Body Again!” I couldn’t help but think, I never lost my body…it has been right here with me all along. I also began thinking about how all of the postpartum programs I’d been a part of had been geared towards weight loss; which was something that I was never that I was interested in. I was however, on board with getting healthy and feeling strong.

I decided to plan three weeks of Mom and Baby Active camps for the month of June. I made the commitment to facilitate each one, beginning in Orléans then heading to Barrhaven and finishing in Kanata. In addition to starting the summer off on a healthy note, and jump starting a healthier body and mind lifestyle, I was eager to meet and connect with other moms who were in similar positions to my own. I wanted to hear their stories, know their goals and share in each others strengths and weaknesses.

Here is what I learned:

    • Working out is WAY more fun in a group – Every morning of the three weeks began with a check-in about how we were feeling. I loved hearing all of the mixed emotions about how the moms were doing. “My legs and butt are in so much pain”, “I’m so not in the mood to work out today” and “I feel better than I’ve felt in years” were all things that were said by each one of us at some point throughout the camps. I can’t begin to tell you how nice it was to know I was not in it by myself. When we had a particularly hard workout, all it would take would be a look of “you got this” from a mom across the room to perfectly motivate the tired. Or while we were dancing to the Spice Girls with Emilie of Esther America Dance, we were laughing so hard at ourselves and each other, that we had forgotten we were even working out. The women in the group helped make the exercises fun!

 

    • If you’re going to succeed in being healthy as a busy mom, you have to plan your meals – As part of the program, we would end the day having lunch with one another while talking about some assigned journalling topics that promoted feelings of empowerment, confidence and self love. We all committed to bringing healthy lunches and snacks. Now, I don’t know about you, but I have found it almost impossible to prepare myself delicious, healthy meals while raising a baby. My daughter will have the most delicious, organic, nutrient packed spread laid out for her and I’m eating a box of mac n cheese because it’s fast and easy; so things had to change. At the start of each week, I would do my groceries and in addition to a lot more fruits and vegetables, I would buy things that I knew were protein packed and easy to make. One great option was to grab a Farm Boy Rotisserie Chicken and their pre-made Kale salad. This was good for at least 3 lunches and if I added a hardboiled egg and some avocado, it would fill me up for most of the day. We were also visited by Karen Seath Smith, R.H.N. to discuss Nutrition For Busy Moms. She provided us with tips on how to make meal prep easier on ourselves such as, roasting veggies in the oven while you’re playing with the little one. Filling your fridge with energy balls or hard boiled eggs so you have something quick and easy to grab while you’re on the go. Sharing the cooking/prep load with your partner. And finally, pre-making delicious smoothies the night before and storing them in the fridge.

 

    • There will be good days and hard days – We are only human. Although every day that I was with the moms I had FUN, there are certain days that exercise is just downright HARD and unpleasant. Maybe you overdid it the day before. Maybe you were up all night with a sleepless baby. Maybe you’d just rather be on the couch watching Netflix in your sweats. It will not always be amazing, but you WILL always be thankful you did it when it’s over.        

 

    • You have to love the workout you’re doing – This is kind of contradictory to the above point, but enjoying what you’re doing is a surefire way to continuing to do it. I am not a gym person; I never have been and the thought of fitting my postpartum body into spandexy clothes that are going to reveal my insane postpartum sweat stains, causes me an intense amount of anxiety. So it was vital that I find workouts that I did enjoy! Some that’ll have you grinning ear-to-ear include: Fitness with Jules – not only is she insanely relatable as a mom and person, she will have you laughing so hard, you’ll forget that you’re doing an insane workout. Salsa Babies – Doing anything with an extra 20+ pounds strapped to your chest is HARD! But dancing to Latin music with other smiling women, while snuggling with your baby, makes it easy and fun! Babywearing Street Dance – Instructor Emilie Phaneuf is the perfect mix of encouraging, hilarious, kind and energetic. Just being in her presence makes you feel cool, even though you have a baby strapped to your front! Best of all, she takes requests so in our group it was essentially 90’s central (Spice Girls/No Diggity). Sweaty Betty’s Fitness – The postpartum fitness of the West and South End! I loved that almost all of her exercises incorporated baby. Greco Kanata South – these guys must pump something into the air of the place because the second you walk in, you just feel GREAT! We were welcomed there on a “field trip” and had an amazing instructor Matt, lead us on an 8 station, circuit workout. It was probably the hardest thing we did that week, but the playlist, combined with Matt’s energy and the Greco vibe, made for such a fun time. Bottom line, you’ll enjoy the experience of working out FAR more if you can laugh your way through it. 

 

    • It’s easiest to get it over with early It turns out, I actually CAN work out in the morning. I have always been amazing at making excuses for why this is impossible but the truth is, I loved waking up early and getting a one hour workout and one hour walk over with first thing, so I had the rest of the day to do all the other things a busy mom needs to do (or nap). I know that this isn’t always doable, especially as multiple kids come into the mix, but it felt really great to know I could carry on with my day and the hardest part was over. Plus, I had more energy for the rest of the day.

 

    • Working out DOES make you happier – By the end of the first week, I was not only feeling happier, but things that normally got on my nerves, started not to matter as much! I found I felt happier towards my partner, laughed more, felt more inclined to socialize and had a lot more patience. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. The last time I felt this way was when I was hot yoga obsessed while preparing for my wedding and maybe I equated the happy feeling to my upcoming nuptials more than the physical activity I was doing.

 

    • No matter the shape, size or weight of a person, we all have our own challenges – Do I need to say more? As each woman shared their story it became blatantly clear to me that just because someone may look otherwise “perfect” doesn’t mean they feel good, strong, or confident. Many women find it incredibly difficult to recognize (or like) their new bodies, however remarkable it may be. Even those who appear to have “bounced back” can be left with negative feelings towards their new shape.

 

    • Stretching is important –  I’d always be the one sneaking out quietly during the cool-down portion of any workout. I always thought the importance of stretching was a myth that the gym teacher told us to get five minutes of quiet.  I’m joking of course, but honestly, I didn’t know just how great it could feel until we were visited by Olga of Olga’s Way in Orleans, and Claudia Hoyos of My Yoga At Home, in Kanata and Barrhaven. Each instructor guided us through a deep, cleansing stretch that worked our tired and aching muscles. It felt great and we all took home valuable tips on how to relieve common “new mom aches and pains”.

 

  • Your confidence CAN reach new heights – Along with the happiness factor, when I realized that I actually could take control of my lifestyle and be healthier, I started to feel more in control, which lead to an increase in confidence. Coupled with the fact that I spent three weeks talking about how amazing the female body is, I began to look at my body in an entirely new light. Gone were the negative thoughts of cellulite and stretch marks and what replaced them were thoughts of kindness and self love and appreciation. Our final task of the week was to write a letter to our body, personifying it. If you’re still reading this, I challenge you,  to sit down, pen to paper and write your body a thank you note for all of the amazing things it has done. Once you actually think about it, you’ll realize that your body never left you and in fact, has been there creating miracles all along.

The following poem was written by Chelsey Paton Stewart; Mom of beautiful Sara and my friend <3

Body, Oh Body, Where have you gone,

I don’t know you anymore, You have me feeling glum.

I hate you for the way you look, My eyes they do not lie,

For when I take the time to look at you, I always want to cry.

Routines don’t feel right anymore, Running, walking, it just isn’t the same,

The pounds are weighing down on me, My Body, my mind, my soul are in pain.

Even after all that you’ve put me through, I’ll tell you from my heart,

You’ve given me a new life, a new start,

My little smiley, cuddly, all around sweetheart.

I feel it is important to be sincere,

You’ve made my life complete,

Allowing me to carry, grow, and feel, Her little kicks, hiccups and heartbeat.

Although it wasn’t easy, They cut me pretty deep,

You’ve been mostly strong all along, Holding me up on my feet.

So even though I have some doubts, Of ever seeing the old you again,

The new you isn’t so bad, I’m glad to call you a friend.

Special THANKS to all the amazing businesses that worked with us over the three weeks!

  1. Karen Seath Smith’s Facebook group for the empowerment of women, recipes and health tips 
  2. Iron North Studios 
  3. EVX Bootcamp
  4. Fitness With Jules 
  5. Sweaty Betty 
  6. Salsa Babies Ottawa 
  7. Emilie Phaneuf of Esther America Dance
  8. Olga’s Way
  9. My Yoga At Home
  10. Karyn Jacobsen Hughes, Belly Dance 
  11. Greco Kanata South