When to Seek Support as a Mother – Guest Blogger

Kayla Huszar, Kayla Huszar Expressive Art

It can be hard to know when you need to call in reinforcements or ask for help as a mom.
In today’s modern society moms are told to power through (either from themselves or from someone else). “Powering through” can have lasting effects. I’ve talked to 100’s of moms and the messages are the same:
I really thought I could do it all
I need to do all the things because I’m the one who’s home
But my partner works, why would I get him up.
I’m breastfeeding, so what could someone else do?

The other things I’ve heard from many women is when they finally decide to outsource and they tell someone, the response can be “well I did it without a house cleaner.” Which would make any mom feel like dirt for “not being able to do it all.”

The result of not asking for help or outsourcing is complete burnout, stress, overwhelmed and depression.

Here are some of the tell tale signs you may need to seek some therapeutic services…
When you can’t possibly manage one more task.
When you start yelling at your family.
When you become indifferent to those around you.
When you feel resentful.
When you can no longer find the lighter or funny side of things.
When your self talk is really negative and possibly even harsh or mean.
When nothing you’ve already done seems to help (yoga, alone time, journalling, talking with friends, etc).
When your friends and family are “tired” of listening to you.
When you start overusing something (or someone) to try and alleviate the stress and overwhelm.
When people have asked if you’re ok, or asked if you need to talk to someone.

Do you find yourself in any of those statements? It might be time to seek some therapy. Mama, you don’t have to go it alone.
If after reading this you are considering therapy, you may be thinking about the possible downsides. Expense while on MAT leave (not all that convenient), time (who would or could watch the baby) and previous painful events might stop you from thinking this is a viable option.  Working through your feelings about motherhood won’t be easy (I’m not going to sugar coat it), and sometimes therapy is not a quick fix. But therapy is gratifying, safe, and judgment-free where you can share anything.

BENEFITS OF EXPRESSIVE ART THERAPY

  • Creating something new while receiving hidden messages from your soul
  • Trusting in yourself and the creative process
  • Validation of your feelings, experiences, and story. You are the expert in your own life.
  • Being seen and heard in a powerful way
  • Sitting with your feelings, beginning to know them, learning from them, getting them outside of your body and onto paper
  • Giving permission to your body to speak to you and move as it feels like moving
  • Increasing your sense of self love and self acceptance
  • Moving past distractions and scattered thoughts
  • Giving yourself permission to go into the deepest parts of yourself
  • Moving towards living a more intentional, creative, mindful, and authentic life
  • Realizing the “part you play” in your life and interpersonal communications
  • Accepting what you cannot control (aka. other people)
  • Accessibility to unconscious thoughts, and your ability to alter them (aka. cognitive distortions, “the stories we tell ourselves”)
  • Increasing your blood flow while creating
  • Improving your immune system, blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration

Looking for support in your community, connect with Kayla, she will point you in the right direction.

All About the Beach…’Bout the Beach…All Summer – Mommy Blogger

My name is Andrea. I’m a Mom to two wonderful little boys, Jack is almost three and Dean is five months old! I’m a teacher by trade, but currently tutor, run a small home daycare, and write in my spare time. Originally from Toronto, I moved here with my husband and a young Jack in September 2016 after spending five years teaching in both China and Hong Kong. I speak some Mandarin, even less Cantonese, passable French, and English. I love to travel, attempt pinterest crafts and recipes, workout, and spend time with my boys. My family loves to keep busy, and any chance we get we’re off exploring new places – either within Canada or abroad!

In My Beach Bag:

One of my absolute favourite things to do on a hot summer day is go to the beach. I love the beach! It’s my happy place. I used to like it for relaxing, reading a book, and soaking up the sun. Since having kids, that’s changed a bit, and now I enjoy going simply to watch the enjoyment on my kids’ faces, to play in the sand, and to splash around in the water. We’ve been on quite a few beach trips over the past few years, and I’ve learned the hard way (ie. I forgot a bunch of stuff) what I need in my beach bag.

So here goes:

1. Multiple bathing suits for everyone- if your kids are like my 3-year-old, he’s happy, he’s playing, everything is good. Then suddenly he’s cold and we go from having a blast to freak out in 5 minutes flat. Having a dry bathing suit is a game changer. We simply change him and continue on playing. Now, I say for everyone just in case disaster ensues- spills, bodily fluids, etc. You get the picture, better to be over packed than under!

2. Dry Clothes in a Ziploc (or other sealed) Bag – this way you can throw them in the bag with everything else and you don’t have to worry about them getting wet, or sandy, or dirty, etc.

3. Sand Toys – every time we go to the beach there are kids wandering around scavenging for toys. We usually share- but it’s nice when the kids have their own toys to play with

4. Life Jackets (or whatever the kids use for swimming)

5. Beach Floaties – we have a donut tube, a blow-up ball, and a two-person (kid) boat that the kids can be pulled in. They especially love the boat, as they can sit in it without actually having to be in the water

6. Swim Diapers

7. Potty – with potty training toddlers you never know, so we always have a potty on hand

8. Something for Shade – we have a beach umbrella, but the last couple of times we went to the beach we borrowed a tent shelter and boy was it a life saver. I’m waiting for them to go on sale so I can invest in one next year

9. Cooler w/ Snacks, Drinks, Lunch- I’m cheap, I don’t like spending a fortune on food, especially greasy food. So I always pack enough drinks for the day, snack food, and a smorgous board we can have for lunch

10. Cash – some places near the beach don’t take cards, its easiest to have cash on you

11. Sunscreen and Bug-spray

12. Towels

13. Water Shoes for everyone – especially where the water entry is rocky @ places like Regina Beach

14. A beach blanket for sitting on

15. For baby: a always bring my stroller that has a sun shade that goes all the way down, extra blankets for laying on, a floatie with a sun cover, and some toys to play with in the shelter

16. A blow-up bathtub: I use this for the baby, that way I can fill it with beach water early in the day and it warms up more to a temperature he likes and will sit in and play

17. Chairs (optional – but good if you don’t want to sit on the ground all day)

18. A wagon to haul everything around!

A Couple of My Fav Beaches This Summer…

#1. Regina Beach I’ll admit we’ve lived in Regina for almost three years now, and this summer was the first time we actually made it out to Regina Beach. We went once, lied it, and have gone back a few times! The beach is nice, with shallow entry for the kids, there is a park on site when they tire of the beach, there are bathrooms close by with actual showers and change rooms, and there are plenty of food options within walking distance. Finally, it’s a mere 40 minutes away, easy to find, and parking is close and plentiful if you get there early enough. A couple of things to keep in mind, it is popular, so on weekends it can get very busy. Be sure to get there early to secure both parking and a spot on the beach- especially if you are looking for shade. Also, the beach and water entry are quite rocky so I would suggest packing flip flops you don’t mind swimming in, or water shoes, especially for the kids.

#2. Watrous / Manitou Beach We discovered this little gem two summers ago when I googled places to visit within two hours of Regina. I had never heard of it. We went for a weekend that summer, and have been going back ever since. It is about 1h45min away, so it can be done as a day trip, we just did it last weekend, or could also make a great weekend away. I love this beach because it’s not too big, the water has shallow entry, and there are natural minerals in the water that make you float! It’s super cool- you literally can’t sink. You can walk right out into the lake and just float. Just like at Regina Beach, there are bathrooms and showers on site, a couple of food options (I always pack a cooler for our beach trips- but there are a couple of restaurants). However, because the beach is small there isn’t a ton of space. There also isn’t a ton of shade. I’d suggest bringing a beach shelter or umbrella, especially with littles. As for parking, it gets crowded- but you can park all along the street directly behind the beach, and there is one parking lot as well. So, once again, it’s not too fair if you’re not traveling light!

There are so many more beaches and lakes I want to explore, where should we go next? What’s your favourite beach?

 

 

Mom Approved Summer Reading List – Mommy Blogger

I’m Autumn Wolf, a mom of two boys, Silas and Theo. I have been married for five years and am also a dog mom to my wiener dog, Rigby. I have my Bachelor’s degree in Human Justice and I work for the Ministry of Justice but am currently on maternity leave. I love cooking, wine, sushi and reading. Being a mom is a huge part of who I am and I am grateful to share my thoughts and opinions on all things motherhood with other wonderful moms.

I love reading. Anyone who knows me well knows I read a lot, and I mean, a lot. While my preferred genre is fiction and specifically crime fiction, I’ve compiled a list of books that I not only love but think moms will both enjoy but resonate with. Not all of these books pertain to parenting, but as a mom I definitely found them relatable.

Take some time for yourself and pick up a new book. Head to one of Regina’s great libraries and grab a book for yourself and some for your kids! Here are my top five book recommendations for my fellow moms this summer:

  1. Mom Truths – Catherine Belknap and Natalie Telfer — If you have not read this book (or heard of Cat and Nat) RUN don’t walk to your nearest bookstore or library (there’s a waiting list at the library for it) and start reading this. These moms have been in the trenches of motherhood and they just get it. This book will help you realize that you are not alone as a mom. Do yourself a favour and follow them on social media as well. They are hilarious, honest and real. If you read one book this summer, make it this one. *Some readers may find this book offensive
  2. Girl Wash Your Face – Rachel Hollis —While this book can feel a bit repetitive at times and keeping in mind the author lives a very privileged life, this is a really feel good book that inspires every woman to be the best version of themselves. It also serves as a reminder to moms (and all women) that we all have our faults but we can learn from our mistakes and move on!
  3. Becoming – Michelle Obama — This book is the definition of girl power. Don’t worry, this book doesn’t get too political. Michelle Obama is truly inspiring and it’s fascinating to see just how hard she worked to get where she is today. Women really can do anything, even while maintaining their full time role as mom (although even Michelle Obama can’t do everything either, she needed the “village” of support).
  4. Things My Son Should Know About the World – Frederick Backmann — This book is written from a dads perspective, so as a mom it’s fun to have a different viewpoint. As a boy mom I found this book very funny but also touching. This is a really quick and easy read that you can put down and pick up a lot, you know when your kid keeps asking for another snack.
  5. Life Will Be the Death of Me … and you too! – Chelsea Handler — Ok so to be fair I am a huge fan of Chelsea and have been watching her on TV since about 2010 when she first had her show on E! Her sense of humour can be hit or miss for some people but I adore Chelsea and everything she stands for. I was surprised to find that I learned a lot about myself while reading this, but the book revolves around self awareness. Ultimately, this book reminded me (and hopefully you too) that life is just that, life. Stuff happens, you move forward (sometimes with a lot of help) and you just live your damn life (on your own terms and nobody else’s). *Some readers may find this book offensive

 

Happy reading!

 

Summer in YQR – Parks, Parks, and More Parks!! Fave 5 Parks

My name is Andrea. I’m a Mom to two wonderful little boys, Jack is almost three and Dean is five months old! I’m a teacher by trade, but currently tutor, run a small home daycare, and write in my spare time. Originally from Toronto, I moved here with my husband and a young Jack in September 2016 after spending five years teaching in both China and Hong Kong. I speak some Mandarin, even less Cantonese, passable French, and English. I love to travel, attempt pinterest crafts and recipes, workout, and spend time with my boys. My family loves to keep busy, and any chance we get we’re off exploring new places – either within Canada or abroad!

Fave 5 Parks

Let me preface my park selections with a bit of background information. I have a very active 3 year old boy, an 8 month old boy, and I run a daycare. On any given day, I have anywhere from 2-5 kids aged 8 months through 3 years at home. We take full advantage of our Canadian summers- getting out multiple times a day and usually spending most mornings at a park or splashpad!

I have the bottom of my stroller filled with park accessories. I have buckets and shovels for all, additional “park toys”, bubbles, a picnic blanket, an extra diaper for each kid, wipes, a first aid kit, chalk, water bottles and snacks for all, and a travel potty. The potty has been a life saver, as with potty training toddlers there isn’t enough time to run home and pee. And very few parks we’ve come across, only one on our list, actually have bathrooms.

After having asked my (very opinionated) three year old and our daycare friends, these are the parks they told me were their favourites:

#1. Juniper Park (affectionately named “Rocks Park” by my kiddos)

Location- Edge of the field behind the North Home Depot

This park is our number one favourite because it is a close walk from home- which means we can get out even when we have 5 kids and only a double stroller! My toddlers love it because it has small slides, and a big slide, multiple climbing options, a steering wheel, a long ramp to run down, and fun places to crawl under for shade. As mentioned above, the park is also filled with rocks. Which is a fan favourite for digging in, collecting, and filling buckets with! It is also great because it backs a field- which means we can run around and play games, bring bubbles to play with, toss around a baseball, or play frisbee. Another huge perk- it is always almost empty! On any given day we are the only people there.

#2.  French Park (“Sand Park” if you ask my kids!)

Location-McIntosh Ave. N (between Juniper and Tremaine)

This park is a favourite because of it’s close proximity to our house, the many options for playing, and the huge hill! In the summer this park also boasts a lot of shade- which is great for breaks from playing and picnics. Since this is a bit of a longer walk for my kids, we’ll often bring a cooler bag with us to this park and spend the whole morning there, having a picnic snack or lunch. This park is great because it has a huge play structure with three slides, multiple levels, and many climbing options. In addition there are four swings – two baby swings and two regular swings. The surface area of the park is also large and is filled with sand. Having sand toys on hand can lead to hours of entertainment!! The large hill attached to the park is also a bonus! Good for running up and down, races, scavenger hunts up the hill and surrounding area, and even sledding down in the winter! Similarly, this park is rarely busy.

#3. Hopson Park (Hawkstone Area)

Location: Rochdale Blvd. & McEachern Drive

This park is a favourite because it is different from the parks closer to our house. I personally love this park, I think it’s great. It has two play structures with four slides combined, a rock climbing wall, a climbing net, a balance beam, steering wheels, and several unique climbing options. The swings are a third play structure, and there are two regular swings, a baby swing, and an accessible swing. Different from the other parks, this one is also filled with wood chips. My kiddos love to play in these, and my younger ones are not as tempted to eat them as they are with rocks and sand! I also love that this park backs a huge field! On the weekends you may see sports teams practicing, and the field is great for running games, or tossing around a ball!

#4. Lakeridge Park North “Pirate Park”

Location: 5560 Libel Crescent

As you can guess based on the name, this park is shaped like a Pirate Ship! It’s design alone makes it a huge favourite. My kids love to pretend they are driving a pirate ship, and sailing along the sea. This park has a fun play structure, multiple slides- including a really steep one, and many climbing options. There is also a large swing set off to the side. What I also like about this park, is the walk to get there, through the Lakeridge paths, is very scenic. Coming from Rochdale, you will also pass another park, its black and green, on the way to this one. We will often stop at both places in a morning. This park tends to be busier than the other parks listed above, especially on the weekends, but I’ve never seen it uncomfortably crowded!

#5. Rick Hanson Playground

Location: A.E. Wilson Park (7th Avenue)

Our last favourite (only because we stuck to 5, and in no particular order) is Rick Hanson. This playground is great. I love that the play structure is all connected but there are so many little areas to play in, places to climb up and through, and slides to go down. This park has something for everyone- even older children. In addition to the main structure there are also accessible swings, and a cute little splashpad. I also enjoy that the play structure has astroturf so its not messy and you don’t end up with sand or rocks everywhere! Finally, it is surrounded by a beautiful walking trail, and as a HUGE bonus there are actually bathrooms on site!!

Well, these are 5 of our favourite YQR parks! I’ll admit we are biased as we live Northwest and tend to stay close to this area- as a lot of times we are walking. But, if you’re ever up here and looking for some awesome parks check these ones out!

Let’s Talk About Debt Baby – Mommy Blogger

Anonymous Mommy Blogger

Let’s talk about debt baby

Ok you guys. I’m writing this anonymously. I feel like I can be more honest this way and I really want to pass on what I’ve learned from my situation to whomever can benefit.

This post is for the moms who are out of money before month. This is for people who are of average income and have an average family life and you feel like everyone around you is handling finances so much better. They seem average too. What gives? I haven’t figured that one out yet but my hypothesis is that many more families are struggling than what they let on. It’s stigmatized to talk about, especially if you make fairly decent money and into your 30s it’s just not as funny as it used to be to be broke the day after pay day.

Here are some steps that I’ve researched for how to get out of debt in your 30s…

  1. Save up a rainy day fund. This one is going to seem crazy and might make me seem out of touch. Like seriously if we had a rainy day fund we wouldn’t be reading your shitty blog post. I know, I get it, but here me out… Before you start this process, try saving a few tiny dollars. $200, $500 or $1000 is even better. The old saying “it takes money to make money”. You got it babe. There are several reasons for this. The first reason is psychological. How good would it feel to have $200 left at the end of the month? When you’re used to putting the last grocery haul on your credit card, pretty darn good. How great would it be to know if you needed to call a repair guy for a sewer back up that you could write him a (good) cheque? Plus let’s be honest, you need to take an honest look at your spending anyway (I’ll get more into this later). Find the first $200 by cutting expenses. Cut your cable, reduce cell phone plan, make a grocery budget. Many of you have already done this but if you haven’t, do it now. The third reason is that sometimes, it takes money to change something about your situation. A thousand dollars could buy you a beater you can drive for a few months if you lost your job but still needed wheels. If you change jobs and you’re struggling financially, a few unpaid days can be hard to recover from. Enter rainy day fund. Don’t let a couple hundred bucks hold you back from making needed changes but being literally paralyzed by finances.
  2. Cut variable expenses. I know this one is a given but it’s worth mentioning. Someone once told me “live like no one else today so you can live like no one else tomorrow”. Really evaluate what you NEED for survival vs what is expected of you. The thing I find really hard is fundraisers, lunches out with coworkers and anything where I feel judged if I don’t participate. Say “no” to literally everything except for groceries and utilities. Try staying at work for lunch. Not only is packing a lunch cheaper but if you go out at lunch every day, guess what? You’re doubling your gas bill! Another tip, read every piece of paper that comes your way. New cell phone contract, credit card bills, utility bills. You wouldn’t believe the charges that can appear that no one ever questions. I submitted some receipts to my benefits company. They sent back an explanation of what they would and wouldn’t cover. In tiny writing at the bottom of the page is asks for more information. If I hadn’t have read, I would have assumed they just didn’t cover the whole amount, which they eventually did cover 100%. If you must make a purchase, compare, compare, compare! Do your research. The most mind numbing activity I ever had to do was research winter tires. BORING! But I can now tell you that tires go on sale every April and October and that all weather tires are different than all season. Get familiar with spreadsheets and make one for every financial decision you have in your life. You can’t possibly keep comparables in your head so write them down in excel and when you do research, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. Winter tire quotes – is that installation included, what about recycle fee for the old tires, etc. Get the whole picture. One final note on this is that youtube can teach you anything. Need build a secondary suite in your basement? Youtube! Which leads me to my next point…
  3. Find alternate income. The one I did for years is a basement suite. Use that rainy day fund and invest a bit in a reno that can pay you back in spades. The most important tip about being a landlord is be fully prepared to go without a tenant if you need to to find the right one. Don’t accept just anybody. Do interviews and check references. And go with your gut. Next, after a suite or room rental is to rent out your toys (boat, camper, quad). I imagine that if you’re serious about getting your finances in better shape, you looked at that camper or boat payment and thought ‘surely, we can do without this’. Well, I know from experience that it is very difficult to get out of these types of loans. You can only trade in to a dealership if you buy another unit. They lose their value very quickly. You’ll likely never get back what you paid if you sell privately, yet the bank will expect full payment if you sell and transfer ownership. Also, if you bought newer you probably have a 20-year loan. So selling is sometimes not an option unless you have the cash to pay the balance off to the bank. In this case, I recommend renting it out. People who are smarter than I am are not buying these vehicles or campers to use once or twice a summer and paying to store it the rest of the year. They’re renting from a dummy like me who makes a monthly payment that I can’t get out of! Since this is so trendy, there’s a few websites out there that can help you connect with rentees and give you insurance so that your asset is covered through the process. You can more than make up for the payment in a few months in the summer from rental income.
  4. Cut fixed expenses. Evaluate major monthly payments. Mortgage, truck payments and recreation are likely your largest monthly expenses. This is where you need to really ask yourself how much of a priority is it to you to get out of debt and what are you willing to do to reach that goal? Car payments and mortgages are a necessity in today’s life. But are they? A couple of years ago I lost my job. We had a very nice large house with a basement we rarely used and only for laundry. We took some money we had saved up and converted our basement to a suite. Then we moved out. We moved into a smaller house and rented out the big house as two suites at $2900 a month- the upstairs suite for $1500 and two renters in the basement at $700 each. This more than covered our mortgage and expenses for the house with some left over. Another option is to relocate your family to the basement and rent out your upstairs. Even Scott McGillivray recommends this if it’s feasible. An upstairs suite commands more rent. Or, consider selling your house and moving to an apartment for a year or to a parent’s basement. Anywhere you can save a bit of money on your housing costs. I know it seems extreme but it’s only temporary and the more money you can carve out the quicker this process will go. Next is car payments. Visit a dealership and get some options for consolidating. The salesmen will be experts on how to get you an affordable payment. I know 7 and 8 years is not the ideal but get that monthly payment lowered for some short term gain. Go down to one car if at all possible or take the bus. We sold my husband’s 10 year old truck last month and went down to one car. We were contacted by a man from Saskatoon who said he was a wholesaler and ships pick-ups down to the states. I thought it was a scam no question. Well, the man showed up and met us at our bank to obtain a bank draft for the amount we had negotiated with him to purchase our truck for (which conveniently was the amount we owed on the truck). He took the truck and left us with a check which paid off our truck. I was shocked that it was that easy and not a scam!
  5. Balance transfers and consumer proposals. Balance transfers are really a hidden gem for anyone who has decent credit. I can tell you that I have around $25,000 in credit card debt currently but it all at 0% for the next twelve months. So this is where you open a new credit card (or an existing card you have if they have offered this to you) that offers a low interest rate if you transfer a balance from another higher interest rate card to their card. The best offers out there are 0% interest for 12 months with a fee of 3% of the value of the transfer. With regular credit cards charging 19.99% or higher, you’re really just spinning your wheels making payments on this. It’s very hard to make progress on paying these down unless you’re making very large payments every month. You have to be careful that you’re not looking to make major financial decisions when you open new credit products such as credit cards because this can lower your credit slightly. But keeping high balances on existing cards doesn’t do your credit any favours either. If you’re using more than 80% of a limit on a credit product, your credit downgrades because they expect you will be seeking new credit soon. Try to keep your credit card balances under 80% of the limit. If you google this subject there’s readily available material and instructions on how to manage this and which cards can give you the best offers. You can also keep one card free so that once you reach the end of an offer period and if you haven’t paid off the balance, you have a card free to transfer the balance onto. Likely if their card has been sitting unused for a period of time, they’ll be chomping at the bit to have an offer ready for you! Also one note about this. I don’t know if this is scientific or not but I’ve noticed that my cards seem to have offers for me in the spring. Like March/April-ish. Also, read the fine print. It is to your advantage to only transfer a balance onto a card with $0 balance. When you make a payment, it is allocated to the lowest interest rate balance first. Therefore, if you have $9k at 0% and use the card for $500 purchase, your payments will be allocated to the 0% balance first before it ever touches the $500, leaving that to accumulate interest unless you pay off almost the entire balance. Again, this is where that small but mighty rainy day fund may be of use. If you have paid off a card to let’s say $1000. And you have a great offer that expires next month, it would be great to have the money to pay that off and take advantage of 0% for a whole year. You would probably save that much in interest. You also must make your monthly payment each month (on $15k it might be $120/month). If you miss this payment, even by a day, bye-bye 0%.
    Consumer proposals involve a professional credit counsellor or bankruptcy trustee and are basically one step before bankruptcy. Your credit will take a major hit. But a person who represents you will negotiate with your debtors to lessen the amount you owe and consolidate it into one payment at a reduced interest rate. If you make good money and haven’t defaulted on loans and are not at risk of your possessions being taken away, you really are better off to just pay off your debt. I actually had a credit counsellor say this to me once. Regina has a great free credit counselling service and they offer webinars and brochures targeted at couples. There is nothing to lose by seeking some free advice. Except that you do have to pay for parking…
  6. A few more notes: make sure you claim any additional income on your taxes. If you own a rental property there’s tons of deductions you can write off. But I don’t recommend skipping the tax man in this process at all. Also, cover your butt with insurance. Always make sure before you rent something out or make a change to call you insurance company to see if you need an additional policy. When we converted our house to two suites, we needed a commercial house insurance policy which was quite a bit more expensive but very worth it.

And that’s all I got for now. If you’re in major debt you’ll need to major overhaul your finances. It is uncomfortable at times but you’ll get out of the process what you put into it. This is also a long process. It might take years. But just like stepping on a scale at the beginning of your journey to see how far you’ve come, record all of your debts today and track your progress. Sometimes a big victory is just getting interest rates lowered so that you can coast for a while without racking up interest. If you have a health issue or job loss, this really will take some of the pressure off

I’m happy to take individual questions about personal situations if you want to send them to Jennie, she can get in touch with me!

My Memories of Potty Training – Mommy Blogger

Hi, my name is Shannon Strogal, I am a wife and a mother to four children ages 22, 13, 11 and 8. I work full-time as a strength and conditioning fitness coach in Regina. My passion in supporting women’s health, both mentally and physically, started from my own personal experiences. I hope my blogs inspire and resonate with fellow mothers. I truly believe that behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back.

For parents there’s hardly a more frustrating milestone then potty training. All though we hope that the transition from diapers to underwear will be somewhat smooth, the truth is that it’s a process.

My potty training experience was so vastly different from one child to the next, that after four children potty training is still no picnic in the park.

With our first child, he was literally trained by the baby sitter in like a day. I picked him up at the end of the day and she said, “he had a good day and oh by the way, he’s potty trained”. I had no part in it at all, the sitter was obviously a magical potty training wizard. Fast forward 10 years later to the birth of our second child and the memory of potty training brings me back to enormous amounts of tears and frustration. It all started with family, mainly the grandparents and great grandparents that started questioning why our daughter wasn’t potty trained yet. I don’t recall anymore but I believe she was around the age of two. I started to hear how this person’s child and that person’s child were already trained, and so the pressure began.

We started with timing potty visits, we tried rewards, we tried sticker charts, we tried sitting there until in happened by fluke, we tried no diaper, pull ups, regular underwear, we literally tried everything…..and nothing worked. I was so completely stressed out, feeling like an absolute failure. I remember going out for a family supper and sitting in the parking lot before we were about to enter the restaurant and having a total break down from complete exhaustion from an entire day of potty training madness and cleaning up multiple accidents.

I don’t know when the exact moment was, perhaps it was in the parking lot that day, but I gave in and decided to ignore what everyone else was saying and to just leave it alone for awhile as it was obvious that she just wasn’t ready. 2 months or so later, she actually said to me she had to go potty and that was it, she was ready and it was done, just like that.

By the time our third child was ready I was much wiser, or bull-headed, and there was no way I was going to let anyone tell me when I should be potty training this one. I went with the flow and when our son was ready he let us know, and it was relatively smooth (ok, maybe not the learning to aim down part) but the entire process was fairly non stressful.

Our fourth child is special needs and this has a whole other dynamic when it comes to be able to be toileted but that’s for a whole other discussion.

In the end I’ve learned that no one can tell you when you should potty train your child, and it doesn’t matter if your cousins child was potty trained at 18 months. All children are individuals and will all be ready in their own time. So don’t beat yourself up, if after a few days it just doesn’t seem to be sinking in, they may just need a bit longer, or you may even need to give them a few more months to try again.

 

 

 

The Village – Mommy Blogger

My name is Sally Koepke but I like to go as Sally Kaiser. I am a mom of 3 beautiful children. They are 5 months old – Addison, 3 years old – Benjamin and 5 years old – Hailey ! I’m going to school full time to become an early childhood educator and enjoy life as a single mom! I enjoy working with children and also enjoy police work and am in hopes to become an officer in 18 years ! I am new to blogging and am giving it a try! I know I am not the only single mom trying to make things work in life so hoping that my post will uplift some moms!

As a young mom it becomes hard to find a village. Not may know where to go for that support and become afraid and close up to themselves. I found myself in the same position. Whenever I am at a doctors’ office I get asked “Who do you have for support?” and each time I have to say “Nobody.” Because I don’t have anyone my parents live away in Kipling, my sister in Germany, my only friend in Lethbridge, my kids’ fathers parents are uncommunicative when it comes to help. Part of it is because of the custody battle, so it is just me VS. 3 children daily.

I was rushed to the hospital once and asked again. Which then followed up with Social Services being involved as they were worried about my mental health. I felt fine and strong and felt capable of things of course I felt violated but at the same time I knew my Ego needed to be broken. I allowed a conversation with the worker and I accepted their help to find me a little bit of support.

I found out about Family Catholic Services who will help one on one with families. I then found out about Kids first. As I was put into contact with Kids First I had also found out about some mother groups at the YMCA. I also started to talk more at school as I am becoming an Early Childhood Educator and started to talk to my counselor as well. I am aware that many people hear the word Social Services and think of just the bad. I was one of those people who used to think so but within discovery I learned the service that they help with. And I could not be any more thankful for them giving me the help that I was unaware of knowing I was mentally actually hurting.

With my lesson, I learned do not feel offended if someone asks you, be open – minded and enjoy the help that they are trying to offer. They do not mean harm and many even the ones that are not single lack that extra support.

Mission Im(Possible): Traveling with Toddlers – Mommy Blogger

My name is Andrea. I’m a Mom to two wonderful little boys, Jack is almost three and Dean is five months old! I’m a teacher by trade, but currently tutor, run a small home daycare, and write in my spare time. Originally from Toronto, I moved here with my husband and a young Jack in September 2016 after spending five years teaching in both China and Hong Kong. I speak some Mandarin, even less Cantonese, passable French, and English. I love to travel, attempt pinterest crafts and recipes, workout, and spend time with my boys. My family loves to keep busy, and any chance we get we’re off exploring new places – either within Canada or abroad!

Now I don’t know about you, but when I was pregnant with my first, I was repeatedly warned that travel would be near impossible with children. This stressed me out. After moving overseas in 2011, my husband and I had been traveling consistently and it had become one of our greatest passions. So, I decided I wasn’t going to let the naysayers’ get to me. We wanted to continue traveling, and so we would. So I read all the travel blogs, made all the lists, and tried out countless ideas.

Today my husband and I are go-go-go people – we now have two kids (almost 3, and 5 months), and five jobs in between us. So, whenever we have a break we like to travel. Sometimes these are trips close to home, exploring the prairies, and sometimes these are international trips. Sometimes we plan months in advance (especially for flights), and sometimes we just decide the night before that we’re going to head away for a weekend.

Through over 30 flights with my oldest, and countless car trips, I have learned a few things about travel with little ones. So, I thought I would start with a few of my flying tips. I hope at least some of these are helpful to you, and encourage you that air travel with young ones is indeed completely possible!

  1. Arrive EARLY. And when I say early, I mean EARLY EARLY. Security and customs can be a hassle and take a while with young ones. Larger airports, like Pearson Int’l in Toronto, have family lines for security which tend to make things faster. Just be prepared to have them go through your diaper bag, and test all of your bottles and liquids. Not a big deal – but does add a few minutes to your time!
  2. You are allowed to bring quite a few liquid items through security for little ones. These include: pre-made bottles (formula/breastmilk), bottles with distilled water and formula on the side, sippy cups with milk, juice, or water, baby food jars or pouches, frozen breastmilk, ice packs, and boxed drinks. Don’t stress about bringing any of these items as I’ve never had an issue!
  3. Bring all the food. I like to travel with an assortment of different items and let my toddler choose his snacks. I recently came across a “snackel box” on Pinterest, and I totally ran with this idea (my pic below). My toddler loved it and it kept him happy for quite a while. I also found that putting everything in one snack box was much easier – there were no packages to open, and I didn’t have to worry about him spilling food.
  4. An Air Canada employee once told me to feed my baby during take off and landing (helps with ear popping). It was great advice. I nursed my little one on takeoff and landing on my last flight, and I made sure my toddler was drinking at those times as well. Neither have had ear problems on flights thus far.
  5. Pack toys that aren’t easily lost – no tiny pieces (think possible turbulence, dark planes, squishy seating quarters, etc.), and ones that don’t make noise, your seat mates will thank you!
  6. A lot of planes are getting rid of their TVs, so bring an IPad, DVD player, or computer with shows preloaded, and some headphones if you want your little to be able to watch TV.
  7. Personally, I prefer to fly early in the morning or late at night (also the cheapest flights generally). I find at either of these times my kids sleep for at least a portion of the flight, making things much easier. So find a time that works best for your littles and go with it!
  8. I also find dressing the kids in PJs easiest. That way, if its morning I just grab them from bed and we go. If it’s nighttime we do our baths and get into PJs before we leave. Also- it can sometimes be cold on planes, and sometimes hot, so sleepers, sometimes with a sweater on top, work well for us.
  9. Similarly I bring the kid’s a blanket and stuffy to cuddle with on the plane
  10. Pack extra clothes in your carry-on for you. I learned this one the hard way. When my oldest was about 6 months I was flying solo with him. My brother had bathed and dressed him for me before we left. He put his diaper on backwards (LOL)…and when my son peed it went all over my shirt (he was in the carrier). Luckily, I had two tanks on and was able to take one off. But I have never flown without an extra outfit since!
  11. Don’t travel with more carry-on than you can handle. I know paying for checked luggage is a pain, but I recently flew to Toronto and back for Christmas break with my two boys. We went for 5 weeks so we had tons of stuff. I had a carry-on suitcase, a Lululemon bag, a backpack diaper bag, baby in carrier on my front, and toddler in backpack harness, plus a stroller to gate check. It was too much.
  12. There are so many people who offer their help. I’ve had people offer to carry bags, fold my stroller, even walk my oldest to his seat. So don’t stress!! Nice people are everywhere!! Plus, flight attendants are generally amazing with little ones.
  13. Airplane bathrooms are SMALL…like smaller than small. It can be squishy in there with kids. I’ve always either asked a flight attendant, or found a nice person around me, usually a grandma or fellow Mom will offer, to hold babe while I go. And if you’re not comfortable with that…I have also put babe in my carrier and taken them with me to pee that way. Totally doable!
  14. Always gate check your stroller so you can use it in the airport
  15. Baby carriers are a life saver. I use my stroller for as long as possible, and then before they call us for boarding I load the babe into the carrier to board hands free.
  16. I put my toddler in a backpack harness for boarding. He’s not a runner, but airports are super hectic, and since I had babe in the carrier already, this allowed me to keep ahold of him to.
  17. Anticipate delays and prepare games and activities for the airport and any layovers

In my carry-on: extra clothes for everyone, diapers (like 10 just in case), wipes, diaper cream, a snack bag, juice boxes, an empty sippy cup (for drinks on the plane or in the airport), pacifiers, blankets for kids, a favourite stuffy for each kid, toddler toys, a couple of baby toys, teething rings, medication (Tylenol, Advil, Gravol, gripe water, and allergy medication are my standards), a small first aid kit (you never know), a pen, lip gloss and cream for me, phone, DVD player w/ DVDs or computer with pre-loaded shows, headphones, a travel potty seat, sticky notes (my oldest is scared of self-flushing toilets. If you put a sticky note over the sensor they won’t flush!), disposable diaper bags – for stinky diapers and soiled clothing, my glasses, and books for my toddler.

I’d love to hear of any great tips you have, or anything I might not have thought of! Traveling can be tricky, but with some planning, and a little trust in the kindness of people around you, it’s totally possible, and a whole lot of fun!!

Where are you off to next?

Do you prefer to travel by land or air?

What other travel tips are you looking for?

 

Surprise! ANOTHER Boy! – Mommy Blogger

I’m Autumn Wolf, a mom of two boys, Silas and Theo. I have been married for five years and am also a dog mom to my wiener dog, Rigby. I have my Bachelor’s degree in Human Justice and I work for the Ministry of Justice but am currently on maternity leave. I love cooking, wine, sushi and reading. Being a mom is a huge part of who I am and I am grateful to share my thoughts and opinions on all things motherhood with other wonderful moms.

My husband and I were very surprised the first time I got pregnant. I generally don’t like surprises but for obvious reasons, this was different. We were excited and anxious and panicking all at once. We had been married for almost a year so it was a welcome surprise and something that we discussed often.

The next surprise was finding out what we were having at a small gender reveal with my family. The balloons flew out of a box and surprise! Blue balloons! We were having a boy. I didn’t find this overly surprising because deep down I knew I was carrying a baby boy.

Fast forward two years and surprise! (although less of a surprise the second go around).. I was pregnant again. I wanted to find out the sex of the baby at the twenty-week ultrasound, but my husband (surprisingly) insisted we do another gender reveal. The results were again sealed in an envelope and handed off to a stranger.

This time, we popped a balloon in front of both of our families, and surprise! Blue confetti! ANOTHER boy. Once again, I wasn’t overly surprised, because I had that same gut feeling that I was carrying a baby boy. We were thrilled. My oldest son was getting a baby brother and I couldn’t contain my tears of joy.

Unfortunately, the joy quickly began to fade when people found out we were having another boy. Rather than excitement or congratulations, people began to comment things like “oh another boy, you’ll have to try again for a girl” and there were other comments that hinted that my life just wouldn’t be as great without both a son and a daughter. Co-workers, friends, family and even my OBGYN made a lot of unnecessary comments, as though I actually had some control over whether my child would be born a boy or a girl.

I began to wonder, is there an unwritten rule that having two children of the same sex makes your family less than perfect? I’ve heard the term “million dollar family” before, but why is my family anything less just because my children are the same sex? The sex of your baby is out of your control, so why do people care so much?

Disappointment slowly crept in. I began to feel like I didn’t have the perfect family. I began to feel like my life would be incomplete without a daughter, like there would be something missing from my life. I even had them show me he was a boy at our next ultrasound because I was convinced that maybe we should be having a girl.

When my husband and I first discussed having children we always talked about having sons. I pictured myself as a boy mom. Initially I felt excited when finding out both of our babies were boys so why did I suddenly feel differently?

I had a reality check when a colleague of mine lost her son in a tragic accident. We were talking about how things people say to you can begin to make you feel, act and think a certain way. I had my aha-moment during that discussion. My aha-moment was that I wasn’t even remotely disappointed that I was having another son. I only thought I was disappointed because other people influenced me to feel, act and think that way.

Sure I’ll always wonder what my daughter might have looked like; if she would have followed in my footsteps and been a basketball player or if she would have been the complete opposite of me and had a knack for the arts. But I don’t ever for a second take for granted the fact that I have the privilege of raising two boys into men. And who knows, maybe someday we will grow our family and we will have a daughter. Or maybe we’ll be lucky enough to have ANOTHER boy.

 

Fave 5 Family Friendly Restaurant

I’m Autumn Wolf, a mom of two boys, Silas and Theo. I have been married for five years and am also a dog mom to my wiener dog, Rigby. I have my Bachelor’s degree in Human Justice and I work for the Ministry of Justice but am currently on maternity leave. I love cooking, wine, sushi and reading. Being a mom is a huge part of who I am and I am grateful to share my thoughts and opinions on all things motherhood with other wonderful moms.

Struggling to pick a restaurant that’s family friendly?  I’m here to make your choice a little easier.  I know that dining out with children can cause a lot of anxiety for some parents.  But eating at restaurants can be fun for everyone and it gives parents a break from cooking.  Give yourself a break and take your kids out to one (or all) of my five favourite family restaurants.

Fresh Carnival – 2500 Victoria Ave (McIntyre Entrance) – This spot provides a true carnival like experience (without the rides of course). From the decor to the menu, Fresh Carnival brings out the kid in everyone. The service and food make an overall great experience for everyone, and they even have vegan friendly options. Try their “Freakshakes” (milkshakes), a specialty donut or any of their other carnival themed foods (think hot dogs and funnel cakes) and you won’t be disappointed.

The Mercury Cafe & Grill – 2936 13th Avenue – Take a step back in time and head to this adorable diner for some amazing food, a Coca-Cola in a glass bottle, a milkshake or baking! The laid back atmosphere of “The Merc” makes for an easy going family outing. The menu is small but because it’s filled with classics nobody will be disappointed.

Montana’s – 4442 Rochdale Boulevard or 2655 Gordon Road – While Montana’s is a franchised restaurant and our family tries to support local as much as possible, I just couldn’t leave this off the list. Montana’s is always a popular choice with families because it’s the one place you’re encouraged to colour on the table!  Montana’s also offers a really great experience for those celebrating birthdays, and the large menu means there’s something for everyone, even picky eaters. When we go to Montana’s I know I don’t have to worry about packing items to keep the kids occupied because the restaurant provides everything you need.

Ballers Rec Room – 2044 Dewdney Avenue – This restaurant is suitable for children of all ages, but full disclosure, it is most popular for those with older children.  This restaurant is a game changer for the restaurant scene in Regina. Parents and children alike can have a ton of fun using the batting cages and playing arcade games. The menu is mostly pub style but there is also a kid’s menu.  If you or your children are sports junkies, this is place is a must.

Fuddruckers – 2540 Victoria Avenue East – I couldn’t leave this restaurant off the list because I enjoyed this restaurant when I was little.  While it disappeared from Regina for a while, it’s back and just as fun as I remember.  The burgers are the popular pick at Fuddruckers and picking your own toppings at the topping bar creates a more unique experience than your usual burger joint.  On Monday’s they offer 99 cent kids meals with the purchase of an adult meal.

Hopefully you and your families enjoy these restaurants and have a chance to make new memories while dining out!