toddlers

How Kijiji Can Help You Budget for Baby

by Samantha on August 16, 2015

Kijiji provides everything new parents need without breaking the bank

DISCLAIMER: This post is written in partnership with Kijiji in support of raising awareness about how the Second-Hand Economy can support new parents who are looking for the best value for their family dollar. As with all content on this blog, opinions are completely my own.

baby pic

Raising kids can be expensive!

Bringing baby home can often be anxiety-inducing for parents who want to know how to get the best value for their hard-earned dollars. With my last pregnancy, thinking about the reality of bringing home TWO babies at once (twin boys) was stressful, to say the least.

With the price of baby-related items, from clothing to car seats and more, the prospect of doubling-down – literally – on expenses was one that made me break out into a cold sweat.

Thankfully, there were options, including the simple ability to log on, search and find exactly what I was looking for.  And I was not alone. The trend towards the reuse and the recycling of gently-used items has increased over the past number of years. With the availability of the Internet and the growing comfort-level with online purchasing, it’s no wonder that budget-conscious parents are heading online and taking advantage of the digital economy to find what they need.

baby reading

According to Kijiji’s Second Hand Economy Index, Baby items were found to be some of the most commonly-exchanged goods by new parents and that the average cost for caring for a baby can increase annual expenses by an estimated $10,000! For this reason alone, it’s not surprising that parents are getting creative when it comes to their baby budgets and spending.
Head on over to “Welcoming Baby on a Budget” where I provide some simple tips for expectant and new parents about how to save money. Scroll down and click through the gallery to see all of the tips.
Here are a few to get you started.
Bringing Home Baby While on a Budget – Top 5 Tips For Parents:
1) Mix the Old With the New – A mix of gently-used and new items is a solution great for parents on a budget. Purchase a few new baby things and visit Kijiji to outfit your layette and home with the items needed.
2) Don’t Spend More Than You Have To – Make a budget and stick to it! There are a number of items in a variety of price ranges online that will fit any budget. Do your research, know what your limits are and start saving.
3) Reuse, Recycle and Relax – Share the love and save the environment at the same time. Reuse, recycle and rotate clothes, toys and other baby items within your circle of friends as well as the community.  The Second-Hand Economy is alive and well and a great place to share, buy, sell and save.
4) Click Here For Community Support – You can also get the help you need online as a new parent. From playgroups to mom and baby lessons, to neighbourhood groups and more, get online, expand your social circle and of course, save.
5) Babysitting Baby –  In the bleary days of new parenthood, a day or night out away from parent-duty is what all moms and dads need. Finding daycare, a nanny or babysitter within your budget is a simple click away. You can search by your specific community and postal code as well.
Watch the video below to see how the Second-Hand Economy is good for everyone!
VIDEO: Why Second-Hand Should Come First

How did you save money when you were expecting, or were in caring for your baby in the first year? What advice do you have for other parents who are looking for ways to save? Leave me your tips and comments in the section below.second hand economy

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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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Image courtesy of www.scrapetv.com

Image courtesy of Oklahoma City Moms Blog

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Top 5 Tips to Help You Send Your Child Off to School For the First Time

first day of school

For parents whose kids are entering Kindergarten for the first time, the stakes are high. Not necessarily for the child but oftentimes more so for the parents. Having been home with their son or daughter for a number of years makes the prospect of sending them off to school particularly anxiety-inducing. Though their kids may have gone to selected preschool classes, play groups or similar social situations, Kindergarten signifies “the big leagues.”

For first-time parents, there is often anxiety, fear and stress felt by the prospect being away from their child and relinquishing responsibility to someone other than themselves. The unknown – in this case a classroom, other kids and a new teacher – can feel particularly daunting.

I’ve written about the first day of school before from the perspective of the child but realize that oftentimes, it’s the parents who need some support and encouragement. Below are some simple tips for those who are facing the prospect of sending their child or children off to school for the first time.

Sending Your Child to School For the First Time – Top 5 Tips For Parents

1) Your Kids Will Be Fine – Kids are a lot more resilient than we think. Surprisingly, they often step up to the challenge and thrive when they’re beyond the protective gaze of their parents. Have faith in both your child and the teachers who understand the anxiety felt by both parents and children. They’ve been there before, and know how to support your child in feeling comfortable, safe and ultimately excited about being in school. By the end of the day, they’ll have stories to tell, artwork to show you and introductions to their new friends (to you!) to make.

2) Tears Are Normal – Yes, they may flow at the prospect of leaving you. Take that as a given. Also realize that the tears will stop as soon as your child enters the classroom and sees the whole new world that is opened up to them at school. Art, reading, writing and toys await and you will be but a distant memory (in a good way of course) while your child ventures into the (relatively) grown-up world of Kindergarten.

3) A Blankie or Teddy Goes a Long Way – Yes, you’ve been your child’s security blanket for so long but when they start school, they’ll need something to keep them going during the day. Don’t underestimate the importance of your child having their favourite special item, whether it’s a blanket, sleep toy or doll. Having such an item with them during their first venture into the school environment will make their day so much easier.

4) Independence is a Good Thing – This is a first step for your child towards independence. And while it may be a difficult one for both of you, it’s an important and positive milestone in their life. Being able to separate from their parents is key to gaining a strong sense of ability as well as self-confidence. And as much as it may be difficult to push them out of the proverbial nest, it’s ultimately in their best interest. Today, Kindergarten, tomorrow – the world!

5) Get Educated – Fear of the unknown often adds to our stress and anxiety and sending our kids off into “The Great Unknown” – in this case, school – is no different. Assuage your fears about the first day of school through your own education of what will occur. Just as your child will be learning in the classroom, you too can learn everything you need to know about your child’s curriculum before they begin the formal learning process. Where possible, contact the school, meet and/or speak with your child’s new teacher(s) and familiarize yourself with the class schedule. You’l feel better and more confident about your child’s new adventure once you have all of your questions answered.

Are you feeling stressed about sending your child to school for the first time? Or, do you have any additional tips that can make the transition smoother? Tell me about them in the comments section below.

 Image courtesy of www.chfi.com

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My Imaginary Friend

by Samantha on January 15, 2014

When I was a little girl, I had an imaginary friend. It’s name was “Haldico.”

I say “it” because Haldico was neither a “he” or a “she.” And I was fine with that.

A strange name for an imaginary friend, I realize this now, but it all seemed so normal at the time. As a matter of fact, I can’t really remember how or where the name came from; all I knew from that time is that it was right, it fit and it stuck.

In my five-year-old brain, Haldico took the heat for all of the things that I couldn’t admit to. Haldico broke the vase. Haldico scribbled on the wall. Haldico stole some chocolate. Yes, Haldico did everything I didn’t do, and he/she did it with gusto. I just stood by in the sidelines, watching it wreak havoc on my household, all the while feigning innocence and being incredulous at the unmitigated gaul of my illusion.

My very exasperated mom would ask me a question, knowing full well that the answer may likely include a reference to my “special” friend. I, of course, knew nothing about the ills that had occurred at my home. All I knew was that Haldico was in the house and that things that were apparently beyond my control were occurring.

The need and ability for children to relinquish their responsibilities, errors and bad choices to a non-living figment of their imaginations is as common as the Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus. Like the latter three fantasy figures, imaginary friends provide not only gifts (chocolate eggs, money and various presents, respectively), but a focal point for all of their fears, their regrets, their anger and their pain. The imaginary friend takes on the lion’s share of the challenging and more difficult parts of childhood, and deals with them with the ease of..well…an imaginary friend. They are all-knowing, fearless and just a little bit bad, and our kids love that about them. Imaginary friends are universal superheroes (regardless of gender, or lack thereof) who thumb their noses at silly little things like “rules.” Imaginary friends are the James Bonds of the preschool set. And then some.

James Stewart With Harvey

Having an alter ego, a “fall guy” if you will, who is the foil for all of one’s transgressions is very appealing, especially if you’re well below the age of majority. When control of one’s whereabouts, environment and life in general is dictated by parental figures who often seem to be big time party-poopers, it should be no surprise that these imaginary friends exist. Relinquishing responsibility to an invisible but culpable allay would be appealing to anyone who has ever had the desire to live out their darker fantasies but has decided against their primal urges because, hey, “what will people think?!” Offloading one’s innate compulsions to a “figment of the imagination” is not only easy, but cathartic as well. Guilt, shame, fear…beogone!

Perhaps we as adults are somewhat envious of the fact that our kids – by virtue of their ages – are able to invoke the likes of a non-existent pal. After all – how many times would we like to step back from reality and blame someone else for our transgressions?

Who got this parking ticket?

My imaginary friend.

Who bombed their big presentation at work this afternoon, in front of a boardroom of executives?

My imaginary friend.

Who yelled at their kids for the third time this morning and questioned their general abilities as a parent afterwards?

My imaginary friend.

You see, the imaginary friend is so much more than a figment of our children’s and, by extension our imaginations. Imaginary friends are us in our rawest form, as spiritually ugly as they may be. What these fantasies do and say are what we really want to do and say. And though the prevalence of fantasy-figure amigos may be more common in the younger set, they do exist in the adult population, if only in our minds. We daydream about stealing money from the till or pilfering supplies from the office. Of course we would never dream of doing such unethical, immoral and illegal acts…but our “imaginary friends” would. It’s so much easier to put the blame on someone else and unburden our consciences in the process.

And this truth has been figured out by our kids. No longer must they bear the brunt of parental discipline when they can easily pass on the responsibility for whatever ills have occurred to an unwitting and non-existent pal. The imaginary friend may have done the deed, but there’s no one really there to punish. From a kid’s perspective, what’s not to like?

As adults, we envy the freedom that kids experience, from their lack of responsibilities to their ability to live in the moment without a care in the world. No concern or fear of what tomorrow will bring and all of their todays are filled with fun and games.

Henry David Thoreau said it succinctly when he uttered “Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.

Something to remember next time our kid invokes the name of their imaginary friend as the culprit.

VIDEO: James Stewart Discusses “Harvey”

Image courtesy of Universal International Pictures/Universal

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Babies Using iPads

by Samantha on November 5, 2013

baby on computer

They can’t talk but they know how to swipe. An iPad, or similar tablet or smartphone, that is.

Perhaps not surprisingly, a recent survey revealed that 30% of children under the age of 2 use some type of a mobile device. Now: understanding that “use” is a relative term, the findings are still shocking, to say the least.

I am the first to say that I’m a tech aficionado and that my kids are fairly tuned into the latest gadgets. Irrespective, the fact that so many children who can’t even speak in full sentences are hitting up the tablet as a method of entertainment does, admittedly, give me pause. Is this a good thing? It depends.

What, exactly, are these babies looking at when they’re trying (often unsuccessfully) to swipe? Is it a primer on how to learn their ABC’s or is it a less-educational option, such as the latest viral video, hit TV show or similar? Therein lies the question.

As parents, we are the ones who should be the gatekeepers regarding what our kids are and are not viewing. No one will argue that young minds are impressionable, and the what goes into them at an early age can leave a lasting effect. This reality, however, is tempered by the fact that there are those times in a parent’s life where you just need something – anything – to keep that kid quiet. You’re frazzled and stressed, trying to get dinner going, laundry done or otherwise and the little one starts screaming. A tablet, smartphone or similar certainly seems tempting at this point because distraction is the name of the game if you want any hope of getting a few seconds of peace and quiet. Unfortunately, it’s a fine balance regarding how much we allow our kids to indulge in technology and where to draw the line and just say “no.” It’s a struggle and somewhat confusing for parents these days because in many instances, the iPad has replaced the book, so shouldn’t it go to follow that it’s okay for our little ones to turn virtual pages and swipe to their heart’s content? They’re learning, after all, right?

Yes; they are learning, if they are indeed reading but oftentimes they’re not. They’re often staring at the latest kiddie movie or show that’s streaming on Netflix or playing a preschool-targeted game. For the latter, it may be educational; many times it’s not.

Problematic? It depends.

No one is going to fault a parent for doing what they need to do to keep a child quiet. We’ve all had those moments where we hope that our little ones would just keep a lid on it for a few moments so that we could get something done. The problem arises when that distraction – in this case an iPad or similar tablet – becomes the norm, not the exception. How much is too much and where do we draw the line?

It’s hard to say these days as our standards have changed and our expectations regarding what’s “normal” has shifted. We’re a digital society; one that views screen interactions and virtual communications as commonplace. We’ve passed our collective love and dependence on technology onto our little ones, oftentimes with little thought. The consequences of doing so have resulted in a new generation of children who are not only dependent upon the digital screen, but who expect and crave it as well.

For today’s child, a book is now seen as an option, whereas just a few years ago it was the only choice. Reading as we know it now, has taken on a whole different form, through one’s ability to easily peruse and download thousands of book titles digitally, within seconds. Similarly, what was once considered the standard form of entertaining a bored baby or toddler – reading them a book, showing them pictures or playing a simple game with them – has, in many cases, been replaced by a screen.

There’s no choice but to accept the reality of our digital world, but let’s not throw in the digital towel and throw out the baby with the bathwater. We as parents still have control over what our kids do, see and how they behave.  Yes – there are more choices now available to them but this fact in and of itself shouldn’t preclude some of the more conventional, tried and true options out there.

It may now seem quaint to do so but curling up with our babies and an enticing picture book still has its merits. There are times when a “swipe” just doesn’t cut it.

VIDEO: A Magazine is an iPad That Doesn’t Work


Image courtesy of http://reneewarren.com/ 

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Multiple Mayhem Mamma on Lifehacker

April 26, 2013

Being a huge fan of Lifehacker, I was thrilled to have one of my more popular posts featured on the site. Meltdown in Aisle Five – Top 6 Tips For Keeping Your Kids Calm at the Supermarket – ran on Lifehacker recently under the site’s Parenting section. Here’s the link: How to Get Your Kids […]

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Top 5 Ways to Deal with Public Bathrooms: Tips for Parents

April 16, 2013

“I have to go pee!” No sooner do those dreaded words leave the lips of your child and you’ve already broken out into a cold sweat. The thought of entering a public bathroom with your kid is more than you can bear. A relative cesspool of germs – literally – thoughts of the Bubonic Plague […]

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Guest Post at What to Expect

April 15, 2013

Toddlers and sleep don’t often go hand-in-hand. Sometimes it’s smooth sailing and everyone in the household gets some well-needed rest. Other times, however, there are apparently monsters, ghosts and other scary things that are frightening our kids, keeping them up at night. A cry in the dark for Mommy or Daddy does not a good […]

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RADIO INTERVIEW: How to Travel With Kids

March 4, 2013

Travel with kids is a hot topic. We all want to know how to get to our desired destination with the family intact, without too much stress along the way. After writing a post on this topic, entitled How to Travel With Kids – Top 5 Tips For Parents, I was asked to provide the […]

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The Top 6 New Years Eve Ideas For Families

December 29, 2012

Top 6 Activities For New Years Eve With The Kids Gone are the days when you waited for New Year’s Eve with excited anticipation. No, you are in a different stage of your life now. You are a parent of children. Young children. Ones that can’t be left alone while you party hardy with your […]

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