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Don't worry about losing your kids when you go out by following these simple tips


 

If you’re afraid that you’ll lose your kid while out in a public place, here’s what to do.

Lost girl in mall

If you’re a parent, you’ve worried.

  • Worried about whether your child is eating properly.
  • Worried about whether your child is sick.
  • Worried about the horrible prospect of losing your child in a public place.

This last fear is perhaps the most palpable, as it speaks to our core as parents. As a mother, I can say that it’s almost primal - that innate urge to protect our children from harm - which is impossible to do if said child has wandered off in the midst of your local mega-mall.

“The urge to protect our children from harm is primal and innate.”

We’ve all experienced that sickening feeling, however fleeting, where you’ve momentarily lost sight of your child and in an instant your world feels like it’s falling down around you. It may have only lasted for a mere few seconds until you see your little one steps away, but for any of us who have experienced this, you know that it’s not a feeling that you’ll ever want to live through again.

To combat the possibility of losing your child, there are things that can be done. In this day and age, there are indeed options, however controversial. Sure, you can tether yourself to your child via leash, but be prepared to face the scorn and judgement of others - parents and non-parents alike.

You can engage a high-tech solution for your kid, however, there’s always the expense to consider, as well as the very real possibility that a four-year-old child can and will lose the electronic tracking device or smartphone that you’ve affixed to them (and don’t think that sewing it into a coat, attaching it to a place where they can’t get at it, like a knapsack compartment or otherwise will work: kids are notorious for leaving/losing their clothes, bags, and everything else they’re not supposed to. Wristband and watch-type GPS systems have also been known to have been yanked off by irritated children).

For these reasons and many more, parents need simple, easy-to-follow and effective strategies in the event that our precious children do go missing during the course of a day or evening out.

Following are six simple tips for parents just in case the little one wanders off while in your care:

1) A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words - Before you even venture out of the safety of your home, take a picture of your child. The purpose is to have a clear photo of exactly what they’re wearing, what they look like, etc. as recently as possible. In the unfortunate event that they do get lost, you’ll be able to very quickly transmit their appearance to those who can help.

2) Do You Know Who I Am? - A piece of paper in your child’s pocket with your full name, phone numbers, address, their full name, age and important particulars may be all that’s needed if your child gets lost. Before you leave the house, tell your little one that it’s a special piece of paper and is only to be shown to the nice police officer or grown-up who works at the store if you get separated.

3) Name, Rank and Serial Number, Please - If they’re old enough, teach them to memorize your phone number (cell and/or home), address and their parents’ names. If they do become separated from you, they can quickly tell a responsible adult how to get in contact with you so that both worried mom/dad and child can be reunited in a timely manner.

4) A Meet-up Location - If they are old enough, determine a specific place to meet up with your child as soon as you arrive at your location. This place should be somewhere easy to find, easily recognizeable and not too far from where you’re originally going. Tell your son or daughter the following:  “If we get separated, this is where I’ll be, waiting for you.” Even if they can’t find their way back, they can tell the responsible adult who finds them where you’ll be, e.g “The main entrance with the fountain,” or “Right outside of McDonalds.” Along with their particulars outlined in tips #2 and 3, you’ll be reunited with your child in no time.

5) Better Safe Than Sorry -  Teach them about “safe people” - Police men or women, store clerks (behind the register), etc. Teach them to never go with a stranger who is not one of these people and never get into a car or vehicle unless it’s a nice policeman (in uniform, in a police car) who is trying to help. We always tell our kids not to talk to strangers but the reality is, sometimes they may have to. Make sure that they speak to the right strangers, when they do.

6) Colour My World - Bright colours are a way of making your kids stand out from the crowd. When you’re going out with the little ones to a location that is densely crowded, plan ahead by dressing them in distinguishing clothing. This could include bright colours, noticeable patterns or designs, or a unique hat or jacket. In the event of them becoming separated from you, they’ll be much easier to spot by both you and those who are helping you find them.

So you see, venturing outside of the security of your home with your child in tow doesn’t have to be an anxiety-ridden exercise. With the right preparation, a few simple tactics and assurance that you’ve put the right contingencies in place in case your little one does venture out of your sight, you’re good to go!

What do you do as precautions to keep your kids safe when you’re out with them in a public place? How do you prepare them and yourself in the event that they get lost? Tell me about it in the comments section below.

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This One Question Stopped Me in My Tracks

by Samantha on November 29, 2015

Having a doppelgänger as a sibling presents unexpected and surprising challenges

Boys pic

My son Erik and I were looking at pictures of him and his brother recently. With my laptop cracked open, he had peered over my shoulder as I was idly going through my ever-growing iPhoto library in an effort to determine which photos were going to be moved to make more room for, well, more photos.

We came across a picture of him and his identical twin brother, Aubrey. As the mother of identical twin boys, it had been years since I had finally figured out how to tell them apart, an ability that I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to master when they were babies.

“Which one is me?”

His question hit me like a ton of bricks.

All at once, it occurred to me that he - unlike most of us singletons - was not able to immediately discern his likeness in a picture, at least not in a picture that also featured his identical twin brother. By virtue of the fact that they share the exact same DNA and very similar looks (by most accounts), their ability to distinguish themselves from each other is not an easy task. That sense of “self” that we all take for granted? Well, it’s a bit more complicated for identical twins.

Our capacity to recognize ourselves is something that most of us take for granted. And yet, for identical twins, it is something that is learned, something that needs to be practiced until the subtleties that indicate difference become irrefutably clear.

With identical twins,  the mere act of looking at each other is, in essence, the same as looking into a mirror. To this end, understanding that their twin looks just like them to most people, they are no different from any other person in not being able to discern the physical difference between themselves and their siblings. A unique problem indeed.

With identical twins, the mere act of looking at each other is, in essence, the same as looking into a mirror.

How disturbing this must be for both people whose doppelgänger presents themselves to the other with startling frequency (at least in the case of young siblings growing up in the same  household). With less instances of looking at themselves in the mirror and more of looking at each other, is it any wonder that discernment of self is a challenge, to say the least?

And let’s not forget the inevitable effects on the injured parties (the twins) in these situations:

  • A confused sense of self leading to frustration and insecurity
  • An overwhelming desire by each twin to individuate themselves from each other
  • Resentment at having to try harder than most to carve out a persona that is discernibly separate and different from their twin

While it’s certainly disconcerting to say the least for each twin in these equations, it’s equally distressing to loved ones who - despite their best efforts - are not able to tell the twins apart, adding to each twins’ frustration. We all have a journey towards our sense of self; for identical twins, the road to self-awareness both literally and figuratively, is particularly challenging. In the case of my kids and so many other identical twins:

  • They sleep together in the same room; bunk-beds, yes, however they are together.
  • They’re in the same class at school and look at each other’s likeness daily; oftentimes, their teacher and classmates cannot tell them apart
  • They are siblings - and with that designation, act out their respective roles accordingly, both within the family structure an outside of it (“The Quiet One,” The Outgoing One,” “The Sensitive One,” etc.)

Our capacity to recognize ourselves is something that most of us take for granted.

Where does it end, they must think? And for those of us who love and care for them, how do we modify our behaviour to support their individuality as well as their similarities?

FullSizeRender

I’ve previously written about this topic, and you can read some of my suggestions here:

How to Foster Individuality in Twins

In addition to these five points outlined in the article, consider the following:

1)Avoid referring to your twins as a single unit - Instead of saying “The Twins” or “The Girls,” refer to them instead by their unique names: “Sarah and Emily,” and other times “Emily and Sarah.” The key is to always reference them as individuals as well as to not always have one child as the first name that is called or referenced, so that no preference is conveyed.

2)Support individual pursuits for each twin - Though it’s much easier to put your twins into the same classes and extra curricular lessons (from a logistics standpoint alone), encourage them to pursue separate interests. Not only will it help them to form their own strengths, but it will underscore the differences from their sibling that makes them unique.

3)Make “one-on-one” time a priority - Each child needs to feel that they are valued as an individual. As their parents, it’s important that we support them through special times spent with each of them, alone. It doesn’t have to be a long period of time, but should be consistent and frequent.

4)Discourage comparisons or competitions between twins - They are individuals and are likely compared to each other by the outside world on a regular basis. Make their lives with the family different by discouraging competition or comparisons between them. They will appreciate not having to live up to expectations that are hard to achieve.

5)Create separate memories - Along with the one-on-one time with each twin, curate special memories through keepsakes for each of your children. Instead of grouping them both together in a memory box or photo album (digital or physical), keep separate items and photos labelled for both of your individual children. Show them by your actions that you recognize and love their uniqueness.

To read this article on Huffington Post, click here.

How do you deal with the unique challenges of parenting identical twins? What can parents of identical twins do to help their children develop individuality and a positive sense of self?

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An Absolutely Brilliant Cure For the Bedtime Stalls

by Samantha on November 25, 2015

Netflix and Dreamworks offers parents a five-minute solution to bedtime stalling tactics

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.

Ummm….this isn’t my first rodeo. Really.

Yet my twin boys seem to think that it’s a free-for-all when it comes to bedtime. Yes, they think that their various “reasons” (read: excuses) will prolong the inevitable just a few precious moments longer.

Here are some beauties:

  • “I’m not tired!” (usually stated when their eyeballs are almost rolling back in their heads and the distinctly shrill, whiny tone of exhaustion has taken hold)
  • “I’m thirsty/hungry!”
  • “My head/foot/eyeball hurts!”

Get the picture?

It’s pretty clear that anything and everything is fair game in the quest to extend bedtime for even five minutes longer. “Desperate times call for desperate measures,” a wise man once said. He must have had kids.

Not surprisingly, bedtime excuses are universal. According to a global poll by Netflix, a full 61 per cent of parents have the pleasure of listening to the various excuses and bedtime stalling tactics provided by their kids. To this end, it’s probably no surprise then that 79 per cent of parents worldwide are willing to make compromises with their kids at bedtime, spending an average of 20 minutes per night negotiating with them to go to bed. That’s a lot of lost sleep, frustration and tears for all involved.

In an effort to support exasperated parents and wily children, Netflix has come up with the brilliant idea of how to give in to your child’s demand of “five more minutes” by giving them…well…five more minutes!

In partnership with DreamWorks Animation, Netflix has launched the new Dinotrux 5 Minute ‘Favorites,’ the perfect solution for parents who are at the end of their collective ropes.

Because of this option, bedtime now looks like this (at least it does in my house):

Me: “Time for bed. Let’s brush your teeth then get tucked in.”

Boy #1/Boy #2 or both: “My leg hurts!” “I’m thirsty!” “I’m not tired!”

Me: “Okay - how about I give you a very special treat: time to watch a whole Dinotrux show on Netflix and then right when it’s done, you go right into bed. Deal?”

Boy #1/Boy #2 or both: “Okay! Thanks, Mommy!!” (both boys walk away and park themselves in front of the TV, thinking they’ve won the bedtime battle, laughing to themselves; I sit tight for a mere 300 seconds, knowing that the bedtime follies will be ending momentarily).

At this point, there may actually be time for some adult Netflix time once the kids are in bed. What could be better than that?

Here’s a short video clip to show you what to expect from these five-minute shows:

And in case you’re not sure which bedtime staller category your child falls into, here’s a handy-dandy chart, based on Netflix show characters to help you successfully pinpoint your little darling’s style (These shows are great entertainment for the whole family when there’s more time to be had watching shows. Maybe a Friday or Saturday night movie night?):

5 more minutes

If it’s not immediately clear, I think that these mini-shows are a stroke of genius and a huge help to all of us parents who have struggled to get our kids into bed every night. Check them out and let me know what you think!

#5MoreMinutes

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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).

Highs:

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

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



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Image courtesy of www.huffingtonpost.ca

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You Can Camp if You Want To, You Can Leave Your Fears Behind

November 6, 2015

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 […]

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TORONTO LIFE FEATURE: Experiencing Motherhood at a Later Age

November 1, 2015

Article outlines the personal stories of moms who became parents over the age of 40 On family, over the ages. The November, 2015 edition of Toronto Life magazine peers into the lives of women who have bucked convention and have gone on to become moms at the ripe old age of 40+. Who are these […]

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PODCAST: Parenting in Four Decades!

October 29, 2015

What’s it like to raise kids in very different times? Listen to The New Family podcast and find out What’s it like to parent kids in four decades? Sounds like a strange question, but it’s one that I can answer. You see, I’ve done it - and continue to do it with my four children, […]

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Keeping Up With the Kids - Top 5 Tips For Tired or Older Parents

October 11, 2015

How to have fun and stay active with the kids in spite of your exhaustion 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! […]

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There’s No Place Like Home For a Family Movie Night

September 29, 2015

Stay in and make family movie night a tradition, with Netflix 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. Remember the days when a “night out at the movies” was […]

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