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Faking It: When Your Kid Pretends to be Sick

by Samantha on November 7, 2015

So you suspect your child isn't really sick? Here are 5 tips for what to do

All of a sudden, your kid is nursing a cold. Then it’s a horrible tummy ache. Then their head hurts.

Trouble is, they were fine just a few minutes ago.

Coincidentally, you find out that one (or more) of the following things is occurring:

  1. Your child has a newfound bully
  2. Your child is struggling with a new subject: math/spelling/reading
  3. Your child dislikes his new teacher or there’s been a change in the curriculum
  4. Your child just wants some extra attention from you, alone
  5. Your child needs a “mental health day” away from school
  6. Your child is officially addicted to video games and would much rather stay home in bed all day playing Minecraft than be at school slugging through  the Three R’s

There are many reasons behind why your child may say that they’re sick when they’re not.

They could be trying to avoid a difficult situation at school. They may be feeling lazy and, like all of us, just need a day off to relax and reboot. Or, sadly an more alarmingly, their feigning illness may be a subtle cry for attention regarding something that’s very wrong at school, or an effort to avoid an uncomfortable or troubling situation that may await.

We’ve all tried this trick as kids – I know I did; my parents still laugh so many years later about the time I faked illness when I heard that they had both taken the day off work to have a movie date, only to be sidetracked by my “mystery illness.”

Indeed, most instances of “faking it” are caused by the usual reasons, most of which are innocuous; it’s the more insidious ones that we, as parents, need to be aware of so that we can address the causes at the basis of why our children are avoiding school.

If you believe your child is faking being sick, here’s what to do:

  1. Get to the root of the problem. Your child’s feigned illness may be caused by a number of things. The desire to stay home may be linked to something minor, like just wanting to have the freedom to play all day or take it easy. Conversely, not wanting to go to school could be the result of something major, like being the victim of bullying. Consider any recent changes to your child’s life – both at school and at home. Remember – even what an adult may consider a minor change or shift in how things are done can have a major effect on kids.
  2. Make sure they really aren’t sick – Look for measurable, physiological symptoms. Take their temperature, gauge their behaviour (sick one moment, happy and laughing the next) and look for other tell-tale signs of real illness (lethargy, no appetite, bathroom frequency, etc.).  Following all of these steps will help you figure out what’s really going on with your child and whether or not you have real cause for concern.
  3. Open the doors of communication – Talk to your child, consistently. Don’t wait until a claim of being sick before asking questions an finding out what’s going on in your son or daughter’s’s life. Discuss their daily activities, specifically what they’re doing in school (academically an socially), as part of your regular conversations. Sometimes it’s hard to do, but by making it easy and safe to talk about difficult topics with your child, the real reasons behind their hesitance to go to school will become apparent.
  4. Line Up Resources – You may have an inkling that your child’s problem is more involved that you originally thought. For this reason alone, it may be time to call in the experts. Start with your in-school resources, including the school counsellor, nurse and of course your child’s teacher(s) and principal. Most educators are happy to help parents and kids resolve any issues that may be occurring.
  5. Bite your tongue – Your first instinct may be to say “You’re fine!” or “No, you’re not sick! You’re going to school.” Often, if a child is indeed faking being sick, there are larger issues at play (see point #1). A gentle touch and gentle prodding will likely garner you much more information than following your first instincts that may stop your child from revealing what’s really going on.

Does your child fake illnesses in order to avoid going to school? What are the reasons for your kids’ behaviour? Are they trivial or more serious? How do you handle these situations? Tell me about it in the comments section below.


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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.


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How to keep the kids busy during the autumn months

Five Fun Family Festivities For Fall

School is well underway and fall is in full swing. No more lazy days of summer; nowadays, the kids are antsy on the weekends after a long week of reading, writing and arithmetic. As a result, when the weekend comes, they’re looking for fun activities that will keep them stimulated and entertained. On the flip side, parents need outlets for their kids that will keep them busy and stop them from saying these dreaded two words: “I’m bored!”

In the spirit of the falling autumn leaves, here are the top five family activities that will keep the younger set occupied and engaged during the autumn months.

1) Get Outside! – There’s nothing better than the cool autumn air to make you feel alive. Now’s the time to get outdoors with the kids and enjoy everything the season has to offer. Raking and playing in the leaves, going on a hike or nature walks with the family to enjoy the fall colours, bike riding through the park and more – these are just some of the things that parents can do during the changing season. Though it may be cool outside, the kids still need to burn off energy. Engage them by encouraging outdoor activity that is both entertaining and engaging. Examples include apple picking, horseback-riding and more.


2) Limit Screen Time – With the fall colours in full view, it seems a shame to have kids staring at screens, whether it’s TV or digital games. During this time of the year, put parameters on how much TV/video game/gadget that your child has, and replace the technology-based activities with more seasonally-friendly items. Getting outside, making plans with friends and family or even participating in old- fashioned board games are ways of engaging your child without pixels of any kind.

no cell phone sign

kids in leaves

3) There’s No Place Like Home – Why does it always seem to be the case that the times that we visit our hometown attractions is usually when we have out of town family or friends in tow? During the fall season, due to the cooler temperatures, it’s a great time to investigate your local museums, galleries, and kid-friendly indoor playgrounds and locales. Check your local listings such as your community paper (print or online) and make a date. Become a tourist in your hometown. It’s fun!

Here’s a picture of a famous landmark in my hometown of Toronto – the CN Tower!


4) Fall-Inspired Cooking – The fall food bounty is in full swing, so why not take advantage of the seasonable fruits and vegetables that are now available? Think apple and pumpkin pies, squash soup, and similar goodies that speak to your kids’ interests – and their tummies. So much good eats to be had – get cracking and get cooking! What kid wouldn’t love to prepare then tuck into this sweet-potato mac and cheese dish? (For the full recipe, visit Yummily’s Fall Recipe page)

Sweet-Potato-and-Spinach-Mac-and-Cheese-from-Naturally-Ella (1)

5) Crafty Kids – With fall colours well underway, it’s also a great time to engage the kids in arts and crafts that have a seasonal flair. As a huge fan of dollar stores, my kids and I love to take a stroll through the aisles to see what items can be found that will add to our artistic pursuits. In addition, engage your kids by letting them help you make their own Halloween costumes with inexpensive dollar or thrift store items, as well as existing items that you already have at home.



What other family activities do you do with your kids during the fall season? Tell me about them in the comments section below!

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

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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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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


IN THE NEWS: Your Baby Monitor Can Be Hacked

August 1, 2015

Who’s listening to your baby? Parents urged to take precautions with monitor technology   Who’s listening to your baby? Are you safe? Is your baby safe? The intersection of technology and parenting continues to expand as we increasingly rely on digital tools to make our roles as parents easier. We use tech more than ever to […]

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VIDEO: How to Save Money Grocery Shopping

July 27, 2015

Here are 10 tips that will help you save money at the supermarket We all know that raising a family on a budget is a challenge, to say the least! With the price of food skyrocketing daily, it’s more important than ever to find ways to stretch our family dollar as much as possible. While […]

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Toronto Star Article – Surviving a Family Road Trip

July 4, 2015

Traveling with kids can be stress free by following these simple tips Us parents are a brave bunch, aren’t we? With the prospect of meltdowns occurring while we hurtle along the highway at rapid speeds, we hope that this year, it will be different. No drama, no stress, no screaming or crying kids in the […]

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How to Save on Your Grocery Bill – Top 10 Tips For Parents

June 22, 2015

Simple money-saving strategies for families “That will be $257.43, please.“ Ouch! That hurt! Grocery shopping for a family of growing kids can be ridiculously expensive, as I’ve painfully found out. With a weekly shop a necessary requirement, a visit to the supermarket can bring on feelings of not only anxiety but downright fear as well. Pockets […]

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VIDEO: The 5 Parenting Secrets You Were Never Told

June 7, 2015

Some basic tips to help parents with common parenting challenges 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 […]

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