Top 10

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!

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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


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

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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

by Samantha on 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 live our daily lives, from watching our babies to entertaining them; from reading to our kids to monitoring them (texting and cell phones). It all seems great, right? Granted, the convenience provided by technology can’t be denied, but there is a dark side to its usage as well.

As hacking becomes more commonplace in our daily lives, the instances of our digital tools being compromised will also increase. We’ve seen a rise of incidents where personal information has been hacked via email, cell phones and cloud accounts, but did anyone really anticipate that baby monitors would be a target too?

It’s scary to think that our most precious assets could be open to being spied on, secretly viewed, spoken to by strangers, or worse.

I recently provided my thoughts on this disturbing trend in an interview on Global News. You can watch the full segment below. There are also some simple tips that parents can follow to make sure that their babies remain safe and secure.

What you do to avoid hacking via baby monitors or similar devices:

1) Educate Yourself – Make sure that you fully understand the technology that you’re using, especially in their children’s rooms.

2) Err on the Side of CautionWhen in doubt, don’t. If you have any concerns or misgivings about the technology behind any particular device, don’t use it until you are sure about it’s security, or chose another option altogether.

3) Choose a Secure Password – Don’t make the password for your device too easy. Remember to use a login that is not easily-guessed, that is changed frequently, and that includes a non-sensical string of letters (both upper and lower case) and numbers. For more information on how to choose a secure password, visit this page: How to Create a Secure Password.

4) Limit the Use of Devices – The less amount of devices used to monitor our kids, the less likely hackers will be able to successfully gain access where they don’t belong.

Global News Segment – Baby Monitor Hacked!


What other tips do you have for parents who are concerned about being hacked? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.


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VIDEO: How to Save Money Grocery Shopping

by Samantha on July 27, 2015

Here are 10 tips that will help you save money at the supermarket

vintage grocery

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 the prospect of going to the supermarket and stocking up every week is daunting for most of us, there are some simple tips that parents can follow to decrease the amount of money spent on groceries.

Whether you’re dealing with spending too much money at the grocery store, or managing a meltdown in the cereal aisle, there are options that can make parents breathe easier while at the supermarket, with or without the kids. And speaking of kids, this is what I deal with when shopping with the children. Fun? You betcha! 😉

kids in cart

As a follow up to this post – How to Save Money on Your Grocery Bill – Top 10 Tips For Parents – I’ve provided tips via YouTube video as well, for those of you who may not have the time to read the full post.

Check it out the video below and let me know what you think about the tips (either in the comments section below or via YouTube comments). Feel free to add some additional tips as well! If there are enough, I’ll include them in an updated follow-up post. And while you’re there, don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel to make sure that you receive the most recent video tips and advice!
VIDEO: How to Save Money Grocery Shopping – Top 10 Tips For Parents


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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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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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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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