ROUNDUP: Top Back-to-School Tips For Parents

by Samantha on August 31, 2015

A selection of the best strategies for anxious parents about how to manage back-to-school season

back to school image

Anxious about your child’s return to school?

You’re not alone.

This time of the year, parents everywhere are stressed!

Is it any wonder? There are so many things to consider:

  • What new clothes does my child need?
  • What about shoes?
  • How many school supplies are enough? Or too little?
  • What class will my child be in, and will they be with any of their friends?
  • How will my child adjust?
  • Will my child eat his/her lunch when I’m not there?
  • Who is my child’s teacher, and will they like them? Will I like them?
  • What’s on this year’s curriculum?

It’s not surprising that moms and dads everywhere are feeling a tad anxious. After all – whether your child is going to school for the first time, or about to start high school, there are challenges to be dealt with, regardless of grade.

As a parent of four, I’ve been through the back-to-school stresses and am back in the trenches for more. With my twin boys in elementary school and my daughter in the midst of her tween life as she heads into middle school, I’m very familiar with that anxiety-stricken feeling that overcomes parents as they ready themselves for another school term.

Having learned by trial and error, there are a few simple strategies that I’ve found to work when it comes to handling the craziness of back-to-school preparation.

To make it easy, consider this post a “one-stop-shop” of advice and tips on this stress-inducing topic. Follow the links below as you navigate this exciting yet stressful time of the year and take a deep breath…this too shall pass.

How to Prepare Your Child For the First Day of School – Top 7 Tips For Parents

Back to School Shopping on a Budget

Separate But Equal: Should Twins Be Separated at School?

How to Deal With the Morning Rush – Top 10 Tips For Parents

Top 5 Tips For Getting Your Kids To Eat Breakfast

How to Get Your Child to Do Their Homework

How to Get Your Child to Love Reading

Kids, Lice and School – CBC Radio Interview

Back to School Stress – CBC Radio Interview

Parenting in the Digital Age – CBC Radio Interview

Concern About Technology as Kids Head Back to School – CBC Interview 

Your Kid Wants Designer Clothes – What’s a Parent to Do?

I Hate My Child’s New Friend

Picky Eater? Don’t Sweat It – Tips For School Lunches

Helicopter Parenting and Latchkey Kids


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Some basic tips to help parents with common parenting challenges

Top parenting tips

Ever feel like parenting is this big secret that you’re not in on?

It’s no surprise that most of us feel like this at one time or another.

Let’s face it – being a parent is tough, to say the least. What to do and how to do it are on the minds of most parents at any given time.

Some time back, I wrote this post – Parenting Advice That You Were Never Told – and the information included was so basic yet so true, that I thought I’d revisit the topic again, this time via video.

Check out my YouTube channel for the latest clip where I provide some quick and easy parenting tips on this very subject and let me know what you think! If you have any additional tips to add, please do so in the comments section below, or on YouTube.

The Top 5 Parenting Secrets You Were Never Told

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Lies, Lies, All Lies

by Samantha on April 30, 2015

Netflix offers a variety of shows that highlight untruths, tall tales and deceptions

DISCLAIMER: As part of the Netflix #StreamTeam, I will be providing monthly thoughts and suggestions about movies currently showing on Netflix. As with all content on this blog, opinions are completely my own.
Pinocchio's nose

We all know that kids lie.

Parents have been known to tell a little fib now and then, as well.

The question is: what do we do when our kids are less-than-truthful? Especially when we’re not completely on the up-and-up ourselves?

Parenting is a difficult task and it’s no wonder that we struggle with the old “do as I say, not as I do” philosophy because – let’s face it – sometimes it’s easier to tell a lie than to tell the truth.

Why do parents lie to their children? There are many reasons:

  • We’re scared of what telling the truth may do to our kids
  • We’re too tired or short on time and would rather make things easier by fibbing
  • Lying may buy us some time or postpone the inevitable meltdown that may occur by telling the truth
  • Sometimes, lying is fun!

Kids are equally guilty when it comes to the telling of half-truths and out-and-out lies. Remember “the dog ate my homework,” or that perennial classic “I didn’t do it!?

Some reasons behind their telling of tall tales include:

  • Fear of getting into trouble or being punished if they reveal the truth
  • The need for attention that may occur as a result of the lie
  • A method of gauging a parent’s feelings or reactions to a particular topic
  • An active imagination and life of fantasy

If you’re like me, dealing with a lying child is a reality of parenting that stresses you out. Who wants to face the music, confront the child and perhaps deal with the unpleasantness that comes with disciplining your kid? Sometimes it’s easier to just call it a day and watch a movie. Or two.

Enter Netflix.

Fortunately, the movie and TV streaming service has a number of shows that tackle the topic of lying without you, mom or dad, having to say anything about it. Of course, you can always use the shows as the beginnings of a “teachable moment” or discussion for your child or…you can just let them watch it and enjoy the show. Perhaps they’ll pick up the important message from the program of choice, but if they don’t, at least they will have been entertained.

If you’re looking for shows that have a “deceptive” theme, look no further.

For the younger kids:

Chuck and Friends

Chuck and Friends



Curious GeorgeCurious George

Super WhySuper Why

For the older kids:



Mean Girls

Mean Girls

H2O – Just Add WaterH20

Monster HighMonster High

For the parents:

Pretty Little Liars

Pretty Little Liars

Liar, LiarLiar Liar

Just Go With ItJust Go With It


What are your favourite shows about deception and lies? How about your kids’? Tell me about them in the comments section below.

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What's the best course of action for educating twins?

twins in class

There comes a time that, as the parent of twins, one has to make a crucial decision:

Should I keep them together or should I separate them?

This is a particularly pressing decision to be made in the case of identical twins.

Think about it: they share the same DNA, they look exactly alike (to most people outside of the immediate family) and they are, by most accounts, at the same stage of development. The natural course of action that is taken is to keep them together, at least for the early days of preschool and Kindergarten.

My boys are figuratively joined at the hip, doing almost everything together including bathing, playing, sleeping and fighting. They are each other’s best friends and worst enemies, depending on the day and time. They love each other. They despise each other. And if they had the maturity to provide some perspective on their relationship, I have no doubt that they would not have it any other way.

Yet, like most parents of identical twins, I’m acutely aware of the natural inclination to treat the children the same. After all – it’s easy to get lulled into thinking that the kids are two parts of a whole, that they are more or less the same, because of the simple fact that, to the untrained eye, they look the same.

In spite of this fact, they are individuals, reality that becomes increasingly important to them as they navigate the world, correcting those who think that they are their brother – and vice versa. Without being an identical twin, it’s hard to imagine always being mistaken for someone else, or, on the flip side, having someone who looks exactly like you. It must be simultaneously annoying and amazing.

Fraternal twins are often grouped together by outsiders as well, though not as much, especially if the twins don’t look alike, or are of different sexes. While the incidences of comparison are not as high as they are with identical twins, the tendency to do so by outsiders exists nonetheless. Teachers who have a pair of twins in their class – identical or fraternal – often naturally make comparisons between the siblings, as it is human nature to do so.

During the early stages of socialization, e.g. preschool, daycare and Kindergarten, it makes sense to take the simple route and put them together in the same class. This way, there’s no trauma at the prospect of being alone in a new social environment without the comfort of that sibling that will be their guide, confidante and friend, no matter what.

But the time will come where a choice must be made: should they remain together, joined at the proverbial hip to offer support to their sibling, or should they part ways, venture into the world (or classroom) alone and gain their independence?

The right answer is not an easy one, and as a parent having to make this choice, its particularly stress-inducing.

Like any critical decision, the pros and cons must be weighed in order to make the right decision. This is a tricky one, as there good arguments on both sides of the fence – a fact that doesn’t make it easier for the parents in making a decision. As a parent struggling with making a decision about what the right choice is for my kids, I know I’m not alone. Knowing that the choice made will have long-reaching effects on my kids makes the decision to separate the twins – or not – even more daunting. To this end, I thought it would be a good idea to list both the positive and negative implications of separating twins at school. Here’s what I came up with:

Pros and Cons of Separating Twins at School


  1. Each twin is better able to foster a sense of individuality
  2. Dependency on each other is decreased, allowing each twin to gain confidence in their own abilities
  3. The incidences of being compared to or confused with the other twin is eliminated
  4. The absence of the other twin provides an environment where each twin can “grow” into their own personalities and characters
  5. Competition between twins will decrease when they’re not in the same classroom daily
  6. The absence of the other twin as a “built-in” friend and companion will allow each twin to form friendships with other children


  1. The comfort of knowing that their twin is immediately close by is removed, a fact that may increase anxiety amongst some twins
  2. Twins often rely on each other to provide support emotionally; twins who are separated may have increased difficulty relying on others for a certain level of emotional support
  3. The effect of emotional distress and anxiety that some twins may feel being separated from their sibling may affect their academic progress in school
  4. Parents of twins separated at school will have to navigate double the amount of school-related activities on behalf of their kids (two separate parent-teacher interview appointments, two separate parent volunteer days at school, etc.)

Conclusion: While I’d love to say what the definitive answer is to this question, unfortunately the jury is out. While it may appear that solely on the basis of pros and cons, the scale tips on the side of separating the twins, this is not necessarily the case. Each set of twins are individuals and their ability to positively advance in school, separated or not, depends on a number of factors. These include the personalities of each twin, their ability to adapt to change, and the level of mutual reliance on each other. It would be great to have a “one-size fits all” answer but as we all know, most important decisions related to kids are not ever simple.

On a related note, here’s an extreme case of twins being separated at birth with an incredibly positive outcome:

Separated at Birth, Reunited on Facebook

So what are your thoughts and experiences about separating twins at school? Is it a good idea to keep them together or better to separate them? What are your reasons for the choices that you made? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.


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How old should a child be before they're able to go to a public bathroom alone?

public washroom

We’ve all been there.

You’re out with your young child and all of a sudden, he/she announces “I have to go pee!!” You know that this type of warning means that time is of the essence and that a toilet needs to be found, now.

If you’re the parent of a child that is the opposite sex from you, you have a problem, especially if that child is “of a certain age.” In some cases, this can mean over the tender age of six. Yes, six.

Recently, a sign was seen warning parents to leave their boys who were over the age of six out of the women’s bathroom and to let them go alone to the men’s facilities.

To say that this is a problem is an understatement, at least in my opinion, and in the opinion of the many other parents who helped to make this image go viral. Here’s the offending sign:

boys over 6 sign

As a parent of young boys (twins), I know them well and know that my comfort level in allowing them into a public bathroom without me is not there yet. There are the practical problems: they may need help wiping or washing their hands, or even reaching the sink. I want to make sure they don’t touch too many things in the bathroom. They may need me to undo and do up their pants.

Then there are the more disturbing potential problems: what if there is a questionable person or persons in the bathroom who may pose a threat to my son(s)?

As a parent, I can’t help but feel that erring on the side of caution is best in these instances and therefore, my child will stay with me if they need to go to the bathroom, at least until I feel comfortable enough to let them go in on their own. At the end of the day, parents know their kids best and should be the ones making the decision about when their kids are ready to confidently venture into a public bathroom without their parent. An arbitrary age shouldn’t be dictated to determine bathroom abilities or the lack thereof.

On a related note, for those insisting on a specific cutoff age for going into a public bathroom with an opposite-sex parent, I would ask them the following: How do you determine a child’s age? Do you ask for a birth certificate? What about those kids that look older or younger than they really are?

In case it’s not clear, I think that six is much too young to be going into a public bathroom alone. I accompany my kids at this age and will continue to do so until I feel that they can handle things by themselves. As a mother, I will not be told that I  have to leave my children alone in a potentially vulnerable situation. And clearly, based on the response to this topic, I’m not alone in this sentiment.

Check out the Huffington Post Live segment below on the subject where I weigh in and provide my perspective, along with other parents:

VIDEO: The Public Restroom Challenge For Parents

So what do you think? How old should a child be before they can go into a public bathroom alone? Would you feel comfortable letting a six-year-old go into a public bathroom without you? Why or why not? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.


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VIDEO: CBC Marketplace – Checkout Charity Episode

March 2, 2015

CBC investigation reveals more questions than answers on this increasingly popular tactic Hmmm…seems as if I’m not the only one with questions about the charitable donations that are being requested at the checkout. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that the trend towards “checkout charity” is one that gets under my […]

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CBC Marketplace – Checkout Charity

February 16, 2015

CBC program investigates the popular trend of soliciting donations at the checkout “Checkout Charity” is a thing. Love it or hate it, it’s here to stay. I’ve discussed the topic on more than one occasion, both on this blog and in the media. For details, click on the link below. IN THE NEWS: Is “Checkout […]

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When Your Child’s Pet Dies – Top 5 Tips For Parents

February 13, 2015

How to help your child get through the loss of a beloved companion There comes a time when most parents must deal with the inevitable – the death of a beloved family pet. This occurrence is even more painful when the pet is the particular companion of a young child. Your son or daughter likely […]

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Huffington Post Live – Free-Range Parenting vs. Helicopter Parenting

January 24, 2015

How much freedom should a child be given, and at what age? Where do we draw the line? Where do a parent’s right to making a decision about their child or children end and the rest of the world’s responsibilities begin? Working from the assumption that most of us have the best interest of children […]

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Back to Work After Baby – Top 8 Tips For Moms

January 4, 2015

Simple but proven tips for a stress-free return to the workplace The time has come. You’ve spent precious moments with your bundle of joy but like many situations in life, this, too, must come to an end. Work beckons. And as much as you’d like to stay at home just a little while longer, there […]

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