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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Ivy Lea KOA provides an enjoyable camping experience for non-campers

I’m not a camper.

Anyone who knows me knows that camping and I — “never the twain shall meet”

Having grown up as a first generation Canadian with parents from the Caribbean, the whole “camping in the woods, getting back to nature, avoiding bears paradigm was lost on me. The few times that I’ve gone camping haven’t turned out particularly well. On one occasion, I froze my tush off when the temperatures dropped to almost 0 degrees Celsius. Not exactly my idea of a good time. Suffice it to say that, following this debacle, the thought of revisiting such fun activities was not the first thing that came to mind.

And then of course, I heard about glamping. Apparently, there’s a movement towards bringing la dolce vita to the great outdoors. You know — a “marshmallows and merlot” sort of vibe. After roasting these sugar bombs on a stick, you, too, can retire to your fully decked-out tent (if you can call it that) that is not only heated and spectacularly furnished, but, in some cases, includes indoor plumbing. This, so you don’t have to relieve yourself in the woods in the middle of the night like the common folk do.

Surely, I thought to myself, there must be a happy medium to each of these extremes. What does one do when they don’t want to wake up aching after spending the night on a cold and bumpy tent floor or they don’t want to spend a pretty penny “glamping up” a fully-furnished, industrial-sized tent just to get a good night’s sleep?
Thankfully, there is an in-between option for camping-shy folks like myself, and it works. Think cottage-meets-camping-meets-nature-meets comfort. Not exactly “glamping” (something I don’t get, really, why not just be inside instead of outfitting a tent?) but not throwing caution to the wind – or sleeping in the wind – either.

This camping middle ground is a great alternative for those of us who aren’t “outdoorsy” enough to rough it like the big kids, or aren’t ready to pop open the Moët & Chandon while moose roam around outside.

Some may call it “Outdoor hospitality” or “Soft rugged.” I, unashamedly, call it “the comfortable and easy way out.”

I recently took the family to this well-needed middle ground at KOA Ivy Lea, located in the Thousand Islands. Having never been to this part of Ontario (heading North to cottage country from Toronto, not East has been the usual route during the summer long weekends), I was eager to check out the scenery and also find out if there really were 1,000 islands embedded in the St. Lawrence River (there are).
To say that there was some trepidation about the accommodations is an understatement – let’s just say that there have been previous experiences where the family and I entered our rented cabin and fear and disgust were just two of the emotions felt upon walking through the door.

Not so with this latest escapade, as the cabin was decked out with all of the advertised amenities with no surprises (thankfully!). Yes, I love nature and the great outdoors, but I also love satellite TV, a fully outfitted kitchen and running water. Oh, and heat, on a cold September night.

“Check” to all three.

Waking up in the morning to a freshly brewed cup of coffee indoors, via a coffee-maker is a really great thing. Yes, I know – it’s all about the fire, right? No worries – that can still be done…and then you can go inside to sleep…on a bed.

The site was nestled in a lovely part of the Thousand Islands, with easy access to the Thousand Island boat tours that are popular with tourists. The family and I took a boat tour with one of the many tour operators that are offered in the region (thanks to KOA Thousand Island owner, Dave, for helping to coordinate and for being a generally amazing host). Check online for a variety of options and cruise providers to suit the tour that will best suit you and the family.

A quick rundown of what made my “camping” trip at KOA Ivy League agreeable (other than the obvious fact that I was not sleeping on the rough or soggy floor of a tent):

The cabin was spotlessly clean and well taken care of – When I walked in with the family, I breathed a sigh of relief that there was not a dust bunny, mouldy smell or grimy appliance to be found.

Main cabin area







There was a reasonably-sized kitchen area with a stove (gas),a full fridge, making cooking for the family a breeze. Bring along some groceries that you can pick up in town and you’re good to go.



No middle-of-the-night trips to the woods to pee here: there was a three-piece bathroom with a shower.



Ever shivered in a sleeping bag while inside a tent when temperatures dip much lower than you planned for? I have. It’s not fun. And for this reason, sleeping inside, where there’s a  fully-functioning furnace for cold nights is appreciated.

Accommodations for our family were great – with the three kids, myself and my husband, we comfortably slept in our own respective spaces. The boys had a small  but cozy room that had a bunk bed – perfect for mischief-heavy evenings when sleep was the last thing that was on their minds.

Boys bunk


Kids in bunk bed


The Master Bedroom was clean, comfortable and large enough to sleep a couple, as it included a Queen-sized bed. It also had generous storage (drawers, wardrobe) for clothes and personal items. Oh – an the view out of the window was great.




In the main living area, the futon is large enough to sleep two adults and one child, or three children, or a combination of all. In other words, the space is generous for anyone who’s looking for a good night’s sleep.


Okay – I’m a bit of a slave to technology and so are my kids. Guilty. I’m also not very good at being creative all of the time, especially when the kids are whining about being bored. For this reason, I’m fully admitting doing whatever is required to keep the children quiet, if only for an hour or so, just for some peace and quiet. Selfish, I know, but so necessary, especially on a family vacation where the weather may disappoint or downright spoil any possibility of enjoying the great outdoors.

This is a very long way of saying that the large TV and satellite service are welcome amenities for those who are traveling with kids to this location.



*Note* The wi-fi was spotty and in the cabin it wasn’t accessible. Apparently it’s under repair so will likely be up and running better than ever by the time you visit!

What I really love about the cabin was the privacy. It was nestled in the woods and a bit off the beaten path, though only steps to all of the outdoor amenities (if that makes any sense), such as the swimming pool, the main building/store, the playground and the hot tub (if you get one of the cabins that have one – make sure to specify this when you book).


The way that the camp is set up is that there are many heavily-treed areas that afford visitors the visual privacy yet are not too far away from the popular features on the campsite grounds. The cabin itself is lovely, with a full deck, outfitted with some Muskoka chairs, a BBQ and a table that can easily fit a family of five. If not enjoying a meal, the deck also provides a great place for reading, relaxing, and socializing, or for the kids – a place to play.





The campground provides a number of amenities, not the least of which were a pool with a slide (the kids love it!).

Kids in the pool

FullSizeRender (2)

There was also a huge trampoline-type thing where one can jump to one’s heart’s desire. Yes – we all got into the groove:




VIDEO: KOA Trampoline Fun

Some things to remember:

  • There are no linens,  so bring your own, as well as towels.
  • Bring groceries with you – there are a few items available in the campsite store, but they’re more expensive than they are at the supermarket and the selection is limited.
  • This location and cabins in particular are very popular so book ahead to make sure you can get exactly the type of accommodations that you want.

All in all, the kids had a blast and the family got some well-needed rest and relaxation with the perfect balance of fun in the great outdoors. If it’s not abundantly clear, we had a fantastic time on our trip and hope to visit again next year.

Verdict? Highly-recommended!fourstars

Finally, for those of you who are confused about the title of this blog post, here’s some ’80’s pop as a hint:

VIDEO: Safety Dance – Men Without Hats

Are you a camper? Do you like roughing it outside, or do you like the “camping lite” type of holiday similar to the one described above? Tell me all about it in the comments section below.


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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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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 backseat –  sounds like heaven, doesn’t it? For those of us who have braved the roads with multiple meltdowns happening just behind the passenger seat and beyond, we anxiously set upon each new family road trip with a silent prayer to the vacation gods that they will keep our kids not only safe but quiet as well.

As one who tempts fate yearly embarks on a road trip annually with the family on what has become a tradition, I’ve learned the hard way about what works – and what doesn’t. For the unprepared, a packed vehicle that includes three children and a lengthy jaunt to distant locales can easily turn into a recipe for disaster. Experience this scenario once and you’ll vow to never put yourself in that position again.

I was recently asked to provide my top tips and advice to the Toronto Star for an article in the newspaper’s Summer Driving Special Section. It was a (pleasant) surprise to see that it ran on the front page of the section as well as with a picture of the family packing up the car (see below).

For the full text of the article, you can read it here: The Toronto Star – Surviving a Family Road Trip

For more tips and advice about how to travel with kids, check out some of my other posts on the topic:

And for those who would rather not go too far afield:

Summer Driving section edited

And if you’re still looking for tips on how to travel with kids, check out my YouTube video on the topic here:

VIDEO: How to Travel With Kids – Top 5 Tips For Parents

So what do you to to keep the kids calm and quiet during your family road trips? Are there any additional tips that you’d add to my list? 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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Pregnancy and Public Transit

by Samantha on June 14, 2015

What has happened to kindness and common courtesy?

Pregnant belly

She was about 8 or 9 months pregnant, belly hanging low, baby about to drop any day. The previous months had clearly taken a toll on her, as her face showed the exhaustion and fatigue required to make a human being. She was physically spent, yet there she stood.

Yes, she was standing. Standing on the 505 streetcar in downtown Toronto, as it abruptly stopped and started in morning rush hour traffic. Had she slept the night before? Unlikely, as anyone who has experienced the final months of pregnancy knows: a good night’s sleep is an ephemeral and fleeting fantasy.

Yet there she stood, while all around her, young, fit and otherwise preoccupied citizens pretended not to see her by burying their heads in their smartphones of choice.

A 20-something man in a crisp suit, clearly headed to his job in the financial sector pretended to sleep, as his eyes closed immediately after viewing the pregnant woman’s swollen belly.

A middle-aged woman played candy crush saga with an intensity and fervour that many of us thought only belonged to a younger generation of gamers, her eyes glued to her retina display screen.

Three teenage girls in private school uniforms giggled amongst themselves, giving nary an eye to the belly that not only protruded into the aisle in front of them, but turgidly languished on the very edges of their personal space. You see, her belly – had it been acknowledged – would have broken up the party, and that wouldn’t have been cool. The latest gossip about that cute guy in class and recap of last night’s TV show was much more important.

This had not been the first time that I had seen such appalling behaviour. Sadly, purposely, ignoring pregnant women while riding public transit has become the norm, not the exception. What has happened to humanity?

I’ve posted many rants and complaints about this on my personal Facebook page and talked to many friends who are mothers themselves. All of them have a similar story to recount about how they have been ignored  while pregnant and riding public transit.

A personal anecdote: during my last and final pregnancy with my twin boys, I could barely walk. I was considered “high-risk” for a few medical reasons which relegated me to bed-rest for most of my pregnancy. On those off days before I was completely immobile, somewhere between my seventh and eighth month of gestation, I needed to use the public transit to get to my doctor’s appointments. Now, let me say that having my third pregnancy and twins, no less, made me huge, much earlier than I would have been, had I been on my first pregnancy. In other words, there was no doubt that I was indeed pregnant.

Yet there I stood.

Their eyes averted, I was ignored, invisible and silently defeated as I struggled to balance so many times on the streetcar, hoping that some kindly person would give me a seat. My elephant-sized ankles continued to swell, my feet ached and my back painfully swayed with each lurch and jolt of the streetcar. Everything hurt, including my feelings.

As the mother of four, and one who has experienced three different pregnancies, I’m sad to say that this experience wasn’t atypical. Sadly, it was the norm, not the exception. And every single woman that I know who has been pregnant has experienced the same. What on earth is going on?

While I don’t profess to have all of the answers, I do believe that our culture of entitlement is a huge factor in this cultural shift. Once upon a time, there was chivalry, then socially accepted norms that included women, about “doing the right thing.” Helping someone who was clearly in need was the norm, not the exception. With the increasing sense of entitlement, exemplified by the “Me Generation” and continuing onward, those in need haven’t had a snowball’s chance in hell of getting a fair shake. Whether they’re seniors who are unstable on their feet, the disabled or the aforementioned pregnant woman just looking for a kind soul who will let her have a well-needed seat, the chances of these folks receiving this small kindness grows smaller every day. The lack of focus on others, supported by the technological tools to “zone out” or feign ignorance wherever and whenever possible makes this willful blindness not only possible but probable as well.

Yet, in spite of this trend towards selfishness, I do believe that change is possible. The change starts now with all of us who are raising children with the values that support kindness and compassion. And while we make efforts to effect our childrens’ behaviours in future there are some adults who are in need of an etiquette refresher now.

I am starting a one-woman public awareness campaign as I feel that it needs to be done. As someone who has endured a very difficult twin pregnancy and was on the verge of begging someone to please give me a seat, the time for greater awareness for this reality is long overdue. Clearly, the assumption that everyone riding on the bus/subway/streetcar/[insert transportation mode here] understands that pregnant women should be given a seat is completely wrong. My assumptions – based on the teachings of my parents (thank-you, Mom and Dad) underscored the importance of kindness, but more specifically the need for those of us who are more able, to extend said kindness – and where appropriate, a seat – to those in need. This includes the elderly, the disabled and, of course, pregnant women.

Whenever and wherever you can, please remind those riding the public transit who seem to have forgotten basic courtesy that pregnancy is challenging, difficult and just plain exhausting. If a pregnant woman is standing while able-bodied people are pretending not to see her, be her advocate and ask them to give her a seat. I’ve done it before and have never been told “no,” probably because the shock of being called on their bad behaviour mixed with their embarrassment makes the culprits stand up quicker than one would imagine.

Perhaps making the subject one that is no longer ignored, one where pregnant women don’t have to suffer in silence, will put an end to it once and for all. If anything, making those who are oblivious more aware of their choices and how these choices affect others will affect change, hopefully for the better.

I’ll be tweeting and sharing the hashtag #StandUpForMom and #giveupyourseat on my social media channels to keep the topic top of mind and hope you’re able to share it as well.

Let’s do this.

To read this article on HUFFINGTON POST, click here.

VIDEO: Stand Up For Mom!

What has been your experience with pregnancy and public transit? Tell me about it in the comments section below.


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It’s About Family, After All

May 30, 2015

Netflix offers a variety of programs that showcase various family relationships 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. —- Play dates, picky eating, trying to teach your child right […]

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Kickstarting My YouTube Channel

May 26, 2015

I’m kickstarting my YouTube channel. No, not that kind of “kickstarting.” After a long hiatus, I’m restarting my video blogging in addition to writing on this blog. Life has been busy and sadly, I’ve neglected the channel for some time now. You know how it goes – life gets in the way, and between work, […]

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Lies, Lies, All Lies

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. We all know that kids lie. Parents have been […]

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March 29, 2015

Parents can enjoy Netflix while also teaching their kids about science 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.  —- But, why, Mom, why?!? If you’re a parent, you’ve heard […]

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VIDEO: Huffington Post Live – Kids and Public Bathrooms

March 27, 2015

How old should a child be before they’re able to go to a public bathroom alone? 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 […]

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