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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Family Halloween-Themed Viewing Ideas From Netflix

by Samantha on October 10, 2014


The one day of the year where kids and parents alike can live out their inner fantasy of being a superhero, ghoul or rock star.

It’s also an opportunity to enjoy some of the creepy day’s more appropriate entertainment fare.

This year, Halloween falls on a Friday, allowing for a full weekend of dress-up, trick-or-treating and movie watching. For those of us with little kids, the big costume parties may take a backseat to some family entertainment such as a movie-night marathon featuring appropriately scary or ghoulish themes.

This year, add to the fun by watching some shows that pay homage to your kids’ costumes.

For the little ones who are burgeoning spies and sleuths in the making, there are The Busytown Mysteries and I Spy and Inspector Gadget Capers among others:

I Spy





For the older kids, Spy Kids is a popular favourite, along with Black Hole High and House of Anubis:

Spy Kids



Dim the lights, add some popcorn and tuck into the treats (of course) and have a ghoulish family movie night with these picks.

Happy Halloween!


What are your favourite Halloween-themed movies or shows that you like to watch with the family? Tell me about them in the comments section below.


VIDEO: Have School Rules Gone Too Far?

by Samantha on November 2, 2013


School’s not so simple anymore.

These days, almost everything is under scrutiny, including some of our most beloved holidays and traditions.

First up? Halloween. I wrote about an Ontario, Canada school that was banning Halloween celebrations in the apparent spirit of “inclusiveness” and not wanting to have certain children apparently feeling left out. You can read the full article here:

A Politically Correct Nightmare: The School That Cancelled Halloween

Following the article’s publication, I was asked to appear on a news program called Square Off to discuss the trend towards banning not only candy and Halloween in some schools, but pictures, video at school concerts and treats in kid’s lunches as well. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll probably guess where I stand on these issues. If not, it’s pretty clear in the video clip below.

VIDEO: Have School Rules Gone Too Far?


Do you think schools have gone too far with their rules and restrictions? Why or why not? Leave me your thoughts in the comments below.

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Spending vacation time in your home city can be both fun and economical

family on bikes

So here’s the scoop:

You’ve got kids, you’re tired and you want a family vacation. The problem is, you don’t have the funds to do it the way you’d like to. As a matter of fact, money’s pretty tight all around and you’re dreading having to tell the kids that their dreams of an unrestrained Disneyland vacation will have to wait until your finances are just a tad healthier.

Instead of feeling guilty followed by sheepishly telling your kids that their fantasies will have to wait, how about putting on your game face and let the family know that you’re going to tear up the town on your staycation?

That’s right - The family’s going to enjoy their respite from their daily routine by looking at their hometown, city, province or state through new eyes. The “staycation” - the vacation that’s just a few steps from home - is an increasingly popular alternative to the expensive and often stressful family vacations that we at once embrace and dread (for financial reasons and more). Surprisingly, there are a number of things that can be found close to home that are both interesting and entertaining.

Following is advice about How to Have a Great Staycation: Top 10 Tips For Parents

1) Do your research - Of course, start with our old standby, Google, but don’t stop there. Ask friends, read local write-ups, review online sites for your destinations and find out what’s on the go. Oftentimes, there are seasonally-focused programs or events occurring which may fit in perfectly with your family staycation. Gather your information together, enter your coupon codes and go!

2) Prime your Kids - It’s important to set the stage and let the kids know that this year’s family holiday is going to be a little different. Get them ready and let them know that this staycation is going to be just as exciting as any trip abroad. Rally the troops and get them primed for their time in their home city.

3) Have and Agenda - Don’t “let the chips fall where they may” and take for granted that you’re in familiar surroundings. Like any other vacation, have a plan of attack, map out your days and have focal points of interest where you’ll be visiting. Make every day of your staycation count by having a full schedule of things to do that will be of interest to both the older and younger members of the family.

4) Mix it up - To keep things interesting, mix up your staycation with days where you’re enjoying culture and other days where you’re having some good, old-fashioned fun. One day could be a day where the destinations are of an educational bent, another could be cultural. The key is to make it interesting by planning a diverse schedule that will keep everybody entertained.

5) Consider a Theme - If you have some extended time off, consider having themes that are followed as part of your staycation. For example, one week could be dedicated to leisure, e.g. a beach visit, the following week could be focused on culture, etc. If you have a shorter period of time, consider daily themes that will change things up and make the kids more engaged.

6) Check Your Finances - Have a budget allocated and stick to it. Most cities have day passes or weekly passes for transit; as well, there are a number of free festivals and events for families. Daily deal websites and group discounts or special offers are there for the taking - just do your research and you’ll find that there are savings to be had. You can also make the most of your budget by limiting your staycation to a finite number of days. For example, why not do a few two or three-day local excursions as part of your vacation? Consider getting a professional to help you plan a local staycation jaunt so that you can get the most “bang” for your buck.

7) Be One With Nature - The “family staycation” is a perfect opportunity to appreciate nature and to get the kids outside. Venture into the great outdoors by visiting parks, going for walks, and if you’re lucky enough to be close to water, enjoying the waterfront. Have a picnic with the family, go bike riding, plan a scenic hike with the kids. The key is to stop and smell the roses in your hometown - literally and figuratively.

8) Have a “Plan B” - Mother Nature can be a real drag sometimes. Because of this, make sure to have a contingency plan. Inclement weather, illness or otherwise could put a damper on your staycation.  For these reasons, make sure that you have a backup plan regarding your itinerary. So, for example, what will you do if it’s pouring rain when you have a walking tour of the city planned? What if one of your kids comes down with a fever or cold? In the first instance, you may want to consider some of your options that are indoor, e.g. museums, galleries, etc. In the latter case, consider splitting up if you can: one parent could take one or two of the kids out for the day while the other is on nursing duty at home. Whatever the case, make sure to be prepared.

9) Act Like a Tourist - You are on vacation after all, so do the things you don’t normally do at home. These include eating at that new popular restaurant in your city, taking a guided tour of some of your town’s landmarks and buying souvenirs. Take pictures of those historical buildings and look at your city through the eyes of a tourist. You’ll be surprised at what you see.

10) Unplug - You’re on vacation, remember? For this reason alone, give technology a break, and other than taking pictures of your good times, forget about email, texting and the computer for a while. Turn off the tech, tell everyone that you’re on holidays and relax.

As Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home!”

Are you going on a staycation with your family? Have you gone on one with the kids? What additional advice and tips would you offer? Answer 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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Mother's Day
I was the in-studio guest for CBC Radio’s Ontario Today program just in advance of Mother’s Day. The topic at hand was Mother’s Day Gifts, specifically the best and worst ever received. Listen to the entire segment below for some interesting stories of Mothers’ Days past. Some of the gifts given as told by the phone-in listeners are pretty incredible to say the least!

Click on the link below to listen to the full interview:

CBC Radio Ontario Today - What Was Your Best and Worst Mother’s Day Gift?

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CBC RADIO INTERVIEW: Getting the Kids Active Over the March Break

March 10, 2013

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Valentine’s With Kids: Top 5 Fun Ideas For Families

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Happy New Year!

January 1, 2013

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VIDEO: Top Tips For Stress-Free Christmas Shopping

December 12, 2012

We all know how crazy it gets during the holiday season. The stress of trying to get everything in order - from the house to the gifts and beyond - is all too much for many of us. The malls are packed, the kids are hoping for a good haul and Santa’s on his way. […]

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The Top 10 Tips For Stress-Free Christmas Shopping

November 21, 2012

Once again it’s that time of the year where those of us who aren’t prepared break out into a cold sweat. Christmas and the requisite shopping strikes fear into the hearts of many. Add kids to the equation - whether you’re shopping for them or planning to take them along for the shopping nightmare - […]

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