This One Question Stopped Me in My Tracks

by Samantha on November 29, 2015

Having a doppelgänger as a sibling presents unexpected and surprising challenges

Boys pic

My son Erik and I were looking at pictures of him and his brother recently. With my laptop cracked open, he had peered over my shoulder as I was idly going through my ever-growing iPhoto library in an effort to determine which photos were going to be moved to make more room for, well, more photos.

We came across a picture of him and his identical twin brother, Aubrey. As the mother of identical twin boys, it had been years since I had finally figured out how to tell them apart, an ability that I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to master when they were babies.

“Which one is me?”

His question hit me like a ton of bricks.

All at once, it occurred to me that he – unlike most of us singletons – was not able to immediately discern his likeness in a picture, at least not in a picture that also featured his identical twin brother. By virtue of the fact that they share the exact same DNA and very similar looks (by most accounts), their ability to distinguish themselves from each other is not an easy task. That sense of “self” that we all take for granted? Well, it’s a bit more complicated for identical twins.

Our capacity to recognize ourselves is something that most of us take for granted. And yet, for identical twins, it is something that is learned, something that needs to be practiced until the subtleties that indicate difference become irrefutably clear.

With identical twins,  the mere act of looking at each other is, in essence, the same as looking into a mirror. To this end, understanding that their twin looks just like them to most people, they are no different from any other person in not being able to discern the physical difference between themselves and their siblings. A unique problem indeed.

How disturbing this must be for both people whose doppelgänger presents themselves to the other with startling frequency (at least in the case of young siblings growing up in the same  household). With less instances of looking at themselves in the mirror and more of looking at each other, is it any wonder that discernment of self is a challenge, to say the least?

Our capacity to recognize ourselves is something that most of us take for granted.

And let’s not forget the inevitable effects on the injured parties (the twins) in these situations:

  • A confused sense of self leading to frustration and insecurity
  • An overwhelming desire by each twin to individuate themselves from each other
  • Resentment at having to try harder than most to carve out a persona that is discernibly separate and different from their twin

While it’s certainly disconcerting to say the least for each twin in these equations, it’s equally distressing to loved ones who – despite their best efforts – are not able to tell the twins apart, adding to each twins’ frustration. We all have a journey towards our sense of self; for identical twins, the road to self-awareness both literally and figuratively, is particularly challenging. In the case of my kids and so many other identical twins:

  • They sleep together in the same room; bunk-beds, yes, however they are together.
  • They’re in the same class at school and look at each other’s likeness daily; oftentimes, their teacher and classmates cannot tell them apart
  • They are siblings – and with that designation, act out their respective roles accordingly, both within the family structure an outside of it (“The Quiet One,” The Outgoing One,” “The Sensitive One,” etc.)

Where does it end, they must think? And for those of us who love and care for them, how do we modify our behaviour to support their individuality as well as their similarities?


I’ve previously written about this topic, and you can read some of my suggestions here:

How to Foster Individuality in Twins

In addition to these five points outlined in the article, consider the following:

    1. Avoid referring to your twins as a single unit – Instead of saying “The Twins” or “The Girls,” refer to them instead by their unique names: “Sarah and Emily,” and other times “Emily and Sarah.” The key is to always reference them as individuals as well as to not always have one child as the first name that is called or referenced, so that no preference is conveyed.

    2. Support individual pursuits for each twin – Though it’s much easier to put your twins into the same classes and extra curricular lessons (from a logistics standpoint alone), encourage them to pursue separate interests. Not only will it help them to form their own strengths, but it will underscore the differences from their sibling that makes them unique.

    3. Make “one-on-one” time a priority – Each child needs to feel that they are valued as an individual. As their parents, it’s important that we support them through special times spent with each of them, alone. It doesn’t have to be a long period of time, but should be consistent and frequent.

    4. Discourage comparisons or competitions between twins – They are individuals and are likely compared to each other by the outside world on a regular basis. Make their lives with the family different by discouraging competition or comparisons between them. They will appreciate not having to live up to expectations that are hard to achieve.

    5. Create separate memories – Along with the one-on-one time with each twin, curate special memories through keepsakes for each of your children. Instead of grouping them both together in a memory box or photo album (digital or physical), keep separate items and photos labelled for both of your individual children. Show them by your actions that you recognize and love their uniqueness.

    6. How do you deal with the unique challenges of parenting identical twins? What can parents of identical twins do to help their children develop individuality and a positive sense of self?


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Panel of older moms discuss their experiences on national television show

Canada AM Panel

Between The New Family, Toronto Life and Canada AM, there’s been a lot of discussion in my world about being an “older mom.”

The reality is, however, that becoming a parent later in life is an increasingly more common occurrence. As women struggle with financial responsibilities, career goals and the inherent challenges of biology and fertility that age brings, the definition of “older mom” will continue to shift. While my personal situation is atypical (having raised a child to adulthood and also raising young children), my experience in being an older mom to elementary-aged children is not.

As a result of the Toronto Life and The New Family articles and podcast, the conversation on this topic continued on Canada AM (You can read the full Toronto Life article here:The Mid-Life Moms Club).

The segment made me reflect upon some of the both positive and negative aspects of parenting at an advanced age. Here’s some of the pros and cons of having children when you’re over 40 (or in your late 30’s).


  • I’m more calm and confident in my abilities
  • I’m more self-assured and less anxious
  • More financially stable/more money available
  • I’ve had the experience of already raising a child so know what to expect and am able to provide advice to first-time parents who are uncertain
  • Life experience has made me wiser and I don’t feel like I have something to prove
  • Career is more established when you’re older with kids
  • People judge me and think I’m crazy
  • Less energy than I had when parenting at a younger age – I get tired more easily
  • Going through menopause and middle-age while dealing with young kids or teen angst can be challenging
  • Generally speaking, older parents will have less time to spend with your kids and may not be able to be an actively-engaged grandparent due to age-related illness
  • Kids may not get to know their grandparents (my younger kids never met their paternal grandparents)

Did I miss any? :)

Watch the full segment here and let me know your thoughts:

Canada AM: Becoming a Mom at 40+

What are your thoughts about becoming a mom later in life? Has this been your experience or do you know someone who has taken this untraditional route? Tell me all about it in the comments section below.


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Article outlines the personal stories of moms who became parents over the age of 40

On family, over the ages.

The November, 2015 edition of Toronto Life magazine peers into the lives of women who have bucked convention and have gone on to become moms at the ripe old age of 40+.

Who are these women and what were they thinking, really?

We may feel that attitudes towards the raising of children have changed drastically over the years, but you’d be surprised at how far we still have to go. Society’s preconceptions about what is an “acceptable” age for becoming a mother hasn’t changed as much as many of us would like. And while medical technology has advanced the cause for those who may have had difficulty conceiving in previous times, attitudes towards older women having children still has a long way to go.

Read the stories of women who have become mothers past the age of 40, along with my own journey to parenting children over four decades in this edition of Toronto Life.

If you’re able, pick up a copy and read the full feature or if you’re not able to, stay tuned to this blog where I’ll update this post with a link to the digital version of the story (which is not online yet, but will be).

**UPDATE** Here’s a link to the full article: “The Mid-Life Mom’s Club



Do you have a unique or unusual journey to parenthood? Tell me about it in the comments section below!


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Family Money: Compare and Save in 3 Easy Steps

by Samantha on October 31, 2015 does the financial leg work so you don't have to

*Sponsored post*

For most busy parents, time is money. We all know that there’s a shortage of free time when you’re trying to navigate the basics of life: working, taking care of kids, shopping and driving children to various lessons via mom’s chauffeur service.

The concept of actually sitting down and planning – whether it’s for the future, for the present or for everything in-between is daunting, to say the least. The big decisions – such as deciding where to invest, how to get the best rate of return on your savings account and figuring out which credit card gives the best perks, rewards or rates – seems too time-consuming to investigate. After all: who has time for spreadsheet comparisons when someone’s having a meltdown in the corner while their sibling is making a huge fuss about the fact that you gave them broccoli with their dinner?

We all know that Professor Google is a great resource when we do finally take the time to try to find out information but, that too can be daunting. Remember what they said about “too much of a good thing?” Therein lies the problem.

Where does a frazzled mom or dad start when they want to get the goods – really get the goods (perhaps at a discount) – and fast?

Furthermore, how does a frazzled parent get dollars to doughnuts comparisons of said products in time to pick up the kids from soccer practice?

Life is expensive, free time is short an nerves are shot. For these reasons alone, parents are stressed.

Stressed that they’re not making the right financial choices for their present and future family lives (think budgeting for tonight’s dinner and planning for next year’s vacation).

Stressed that they’re not getting the best deals, rewards and loyalty points that will make tonight’s dinner and next year’s family vacation palatable – both literally and figuratively.

Stressed that they’ve not save up enough for their kids future education, their own personal retirement or the unexpected financial crises that seem to affect all of us at least once in our lives.

I recently became aware of a website that does just this – it takes the legwork out of the important financial comparisons that frugal families need to do, and does so easily and quickly as well. is a one-stop shop and comparative website for all things money-related, including credit cards (including reward cards and details), banking products, mortgages, insurance (including Life, Travel an Automobile), and more. Think of it as a “virtual financial assistant” who is part bookkeeper, part savvy shopper and a quick an effective study on the best ways to get the most bang for your family buck.

The site is great, as it’s independent – that is – it’s not affiliated with any particular bank, financial institution or lender, so the information provided is completely objective. Free to use, consumers can easily log on and get the most relevant and up-to-date information on the latest personal finance offers, guides, tips and advice that is best suite to the consumer’s particular needs. There is also a vast resource of informative and easy-to-digest and plain-language articles on a variety of related financial topics – a great help for those of us who don’t really like reading the usual dry, boring financial fare found so often online. is simple to use and one of the great things about it is that it continually updates the best rates and offers available in the market so that you don’t have to. That’s right – simply make a few clicks to customize what you’re looking for and the site will return the answers to you in the time it takes you to click a mouse (or touchpad). The site even has mortgage calculators, savings calculators (find out how much you’ll be able to set away for the family by simply plugging in a dollar amount and timeframe) and a single location to compare auto/travel/home/life insurance rates. No more trying to figure it out by hitting numerous sites and opening multiple tabs.

Simply select the financial product that you’d like to compare, refine your search, click “compare” and watch the results table load, showing you a comprehensive comparison of the best rates, perks and offers available. If any or all of the information revealed piques your interest, no worries – you can find out even more information by easily completing a call-back request from the specific company that you’re interested in learning about.

It couldn’t be simpler.

If you’re busy, tired, hesitant or just plain put off by the prospect of having to spend many hours of groundwork gathering information to make the best money-related decisions for your family, check out this site and spend your time – and money – wisely.


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How to have fun and stay active with the kids in spite of your exhaustion

Active Kids

Whew! Just looking at this picture tires me out! How about you?

If you’re like me – or so many other parents out there – the ability to keep up with your kids is a challenge to say the least!

With the trend towards parenting by the over-35 crowd, it’s no wonder that there’s a collective feeling of exhaustion that exists amongst those parents who just want to put their feet up and chill in front of the TV. The stress ratchets up a notch or two when your child insists on a physically-challenging activity that may not only tire you, but injure you as well.

Thankfully, there are options for those who, for whatever reasons, be it age, physical limitations or otherwise, are not able to literally keep up with their kids. Read on for simple solutions that won’t put a damper on the fun.

 Five Tips For Tired or Older Parents

1) Set your own goals – You’re NOT 25 and nor should you behave like you are, or expect to keep up with those 10 or more years younger than you. Yes – the young, energetic moms and dads may be able to physically race after their kids but you, dear parent, are likely more financially stable, more patient and less worried about the minutia of day-to-day life. For these reasons alone, march to the beat of your own drum and leave the (literal) running around to those who have the energy to do so.

“March to the beat of your own drum and leave the (literal) running around to those who have the energy to do so”

2) Get in shape, within reason – Physical fitness has been proven to provide the stamina and energy required for running after active kids. Do something that is healthy but not stressful on your body. Keeping tip number one in mind, set your own goals and make plans to be healthy within the range of your own abilities (not anyone else’s). Consider yoga, walking or low-impact cardio activities that will get your blood pumping without causing any physical pain or damage.

3)Think “quality” not “quantity.” – So, you’re not up for another three hours of touch football following your two-hour hike through the local trail? No worries – it’s not about how much you do with your child, but rather how memorable and fun each activity you do with them becomes. In other words, it’s perfectly fine to hike with your child for half-an hour as opposed to two hours. Similarly, play that game of touch football but end it before you start feeling those physical strains, aches and pains.

4) Encourage non-physical activities – Fun and games doesn’t always have to include running, jumping, climbing or dancing. Make some new memories with your kids that don’t include a physical element. Do what you did when you were a kid: play board games, cards, go for walks or lie down outside and gaze at the stars on a clear night.

5) Meditate and be thankful – You’re in a place where so many would like to be – you’re “mom” or “dad” to a child/children and there’s nothing more amazing than that. It’s all about quality, not quantity. Use mindfulness to help you both appreciate  the positive things in your life (like family) as well as to calm your mind when the stress of parenting gets to be a challenge on various occasions.

And yes – I am both an older and a tired parent. Read all about it here:

What Makes a Family?

What do you do to keep up with your kids? Tell me about it in the comments section below.


Want more parenting advice and tips? Click on the image below to get your copy of my eBook today!

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