raising children

VIDEO: Parenting Advice That You Were Never Told

by Samantha on October 9, 2013

parenting advice book

Parenting Advice That You Were Never Told

Let’s face it - parenting advice is a dime a dozen. There are numerous books, videos and TV shows that promise to provide parents with everything they need to know to parent successfully. The truth is, however, that there are some little-known but very effective tips and tricks that parents can do to make their lives with their kids easier. Strangely, these tips aren’t necessarily as well-known as some of the standards that we’ve been told but that doesn’t make them any less effective.

I figured out the real deal some time ago and as with anything parenting-related, felt that it was best to “share the love” and let others in on some of the lesser-known secrets of effective parenting.

With The Top 5 Things About Parenting That You Were Never Told post as the basis to my discussion, I returned to The Morning Show on Global Television to spill the beans. Here’s the full segment:

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Well, the first day of school has come and gone and I’ve already retrieved the requisite crumpled piece of paper (important, apparently) from the bowels of my daughter’s knapsack. The lone form is followed by a pile - 9 pages to be exact - of similar papers, all requiring my completion. As a result, here I sit, filling out mountains of forms - physical forms - that are to be handed in to my daughter’s teacher.


I sure am.

Are we not living in a digital age? Last time I checked, most of us have access in some form, to technology. Email, by most standards, is considered old news. Who doesn’t have an email account? Yet the situation I find myself right now is certainly not unique. For some strange reason, educational facilities, specifically elementary schools, seem to be stubbornly entrenched in a previous era. In certain schools, there exists a mindset  in which reams of paper are the norm, where mimeograph machines are not too distant of a memory and where photocopies are part and parcel of the student’s daily experience.   A disconnect with societal standards and expectations is what is being practiced in schools and all of us as parents have cause for concern.

mimeograph machine

While we digitally communicate, text, broadcast and reach out through the ether, many of our kids are relegated to archaic tools of a bygone era, much to their detriment. No, paper isn’t completely obsolete; we do find use for it every so often. It’s when items such as paper are used with aplomb and abundance, much to the chagrin of many of us who are on the receiving end of the spectrum, that it becomes a problem.

Take a quick survey of most parents and they will tell you that they’d much rather receive communication from their child’s school in a digital format. Email, text, website, whatever - any of these options would be much better received than the rolled up mess that is often found at the bottom of too many kids’ backpacks. Yet the insanity persists.

The question then becomes: why? What is behind this desire to hold on to a communications method that is clearly flawed, to say the least? Paper does have its merits, one can concede, but personal background information, emergency contact numbers and a brief  synopsis of a child’s personality traits could be so  much more easily conveyed via digital means.

Is it that more recent technology has not yet reached the classroom? No - for many classes have computers, Internet access and Google that beckons from behind a flatscreen monitor. Kids - ironically - are able to access digital technology from within their classrooms; they’re just not able to receive any information through the same media from the school that houses the classroom. How odd. While teaching a lifestyle in which digital communication is assumed, the lessons sent home on this very topic are often on a few sheets of paper. The irony is not lost on many of us parents who sit down at the home computer or laptop with our kids, paper assignments in hand, searching Google and other online sites for answers to questions posed in said homework.

Teaching our kids to be technologically adept yet sending them home with a less-than-modern methods of communicating is a great way of giving our children a mixed message. Here we are, simultaneously touting the various advances we’ve made as a society and culture while at the same time showing our dependence on a methodology that requires more work for the user than it has to.

If we want to end the days of “the dog ate my homework” we need to take away the canine’s ability to actually do so. Let’s get our schools into the 21st century and digitize communications so that the days of soggy and crumpled assignments are a thing of the past.

To read this article on HUFFINGTON POST, click here.

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

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How to Clean Your House in 15 Minutes or Less

by Samantha on June 28, 2013


The phone rings or you get a text:

“Hi! I’m in the neighbourhood and I’m coming over. See you soon!”

You freeze.

After all, if your mother-in-law, long-lost friend from grade school or pastor is in the area, it’s really hard to tell them “no,” and that they can’t come over. There are repercussions, you see, that will make things so much more difficult, if you choose to deny them.

Now, all of us who are parents know that it’s virtually impossible to keep a consistently clean house at any given time. We all know that kids, by definition, means chaos, and with chaos comes mess. It’s the natural order of things. On any given day, my home looks like a cross between a war zone where fingerpaints, markers and crayons are the weapon of choice, ground zero of a brazen attack by angry toys and a twisted dystopia of food stuffs, where remnants of last night’s dinner can (embarrassingly) be found in bedrooms, bathrooms and basements. Ugh.

For these reasons alone, the sheer embarrassment of this chaos being revealed to those fortunate souls who are child-free, or have grown children (or perhaps just a housecleaner) is not to be underestimated. No, as much as people say that they understand that the house is a complete disaster, they really don’t and, don’t kid yourselves, they will go away, shaking their heads and wonder incredulously how you, yes you could be such a slob. Oh, yes – you’re a bad parent, to boot.

It’s just plain humiliating and not worth the stress. Accordingly, I’ve come up with some ways to mitigate the madness and make the impromptu visit by unexpected guests occur without you having to crawl into a hole from embarrassment. Following are some simple tips on how to clean your house in 15 minutes or less:

1)   Time Management – You have 15 minutes so make it good. You don’t have a lot of time so here’s what I suggest: three blocks of 5 minutes for each area and no more. It may seem impossible but you can do it. The finite time period will get you going in no time. Nothing like a tight deadline to light a fire under us, right?

2)   Main Area – This is the first thing they’re going to see when they walk in the door so make sure that your guest doesn’t have such a horrifying first impression that they’ll never forget and will, similarly, never stop talking about what a slob you are to anyone who will listen. Kids have toys, and many of these toys have millions of little pieces, much to our irritation. Ditto for Lego which, when stepped on, is a painful reminder of how many little pieces there are on the floor and otherwise. Be prepared and always have a few storage bins or boxes in your main area (living room, dining room, etc.) where you can throw errant toys in a frantic hurry. Chuck them in, and call it a day. If the bin is overflowing and can’t be covered, that’s okay. At least the mess is centralized instead of scattered all over the floor. Give yourself 1 minute to do a really quick sweep and if you’re really on a roll, do a quick Swifter to make the floor look a bit better. Only if you have time, of course.

3)   Kitchen – You have five minutes so do the basics: any dirty dishes need to be put in the sink. Make sure there are none on the counters or tables – it makes everything look a lot messier. If the dish count isn’t too horrendous, take a couple of minutes and power-wash a few dishes. If you’re fortunate enough to have a dishwasher, load it up and close the door. Out of sight and out of mind. The less items that there are piled in the sink the better.

4)   Bathrooms – This is one of the most important areas to focus on and here’s why: it’s really gross to go into someone’s bathroom and it’s kind of unclean. Toothpaste globs in the sink and a toilet that hasn’t been cleaned very recently is nasty, even in your own home. In someone else’s, it’s hard to forget. The plan of attack in the wake of your “15-minute warning” from your guest should be this: one minute to dump some bleach or cleaner in your toilet and to scrub like you mean it, one minute to add spray clean your sink, on the faucets and on any obvious areas of dirt that need to be scrubbed and one minute to do a really quick once-over with a sponge on all of the main counters and walls. Take one to two minutes to sweep and you’re done.

5)   Assign Jobs – Your kids are part of making the mess; why not make them part of the frantic clean-up? As soon as you know that you’ve got 15 minutes, give them a job or two to tackle. Kids who are aged 5 and up love to use a Dustbuster or similar Handy-Vac type vacuum. Get them to do a quick once-over of the stairs or rugs so that there are no dust-bunnies or balls of dust in the corner. Similarly, get them to do some quick dusting of the furniture and areas where dust collects so that your house guests are not horrified by the dust bowl in which you live.

So as you can see, you can get quite a bit done in a short period of time. The key is to get your motor running, get into the cleaning grove and to power clean like there’s no tomorrow  - just for 15 minutes or so.

*To read this article on Huffington Post, CLICK HERE*

Do you have any quick tips about how to get the house clean in a hurry? Leave me your ideas in the comments section below!

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

Image courtesy of www.sheknows.com


Helicopter Parents vs. Free Range Parents.

Elimination Communication vs. conventional potty training.

Tiger Moms vs. Permissive Moms.

Apparently there’s a war of not only words but ways of life and parents are being made to draw a line in the sand…or  sandbox as the case may be.

Depending on your vantage point, you may be in the right or you may be totally wrong. You are likely doing wonderful things for your child or you are ruining them as human beings forevermore. You just can’t win.

Never  has there been a time in our history where there have been so many  different ways of parenting and, more importantly, so many parents arguing, disagreeing and generally condemning those who choose to raise their children in a different way than their own.

Add to this fact the reality that our multi-ethnic, socially-stratified society adds even more variables to the mix, including culture and ethnicity as well as social economic class, to name a few. Is it any wonder that there are almost as many ways of raising your child as there are children in the world (alright, not quite, but it certainly seems that way)?

Yet, although most of us know this, we stick to our guns, insisting that our way is the right way. Perhaps it’s human nature; perhaps it’s our stubborn belief that we’re right and…well…everyone who doesn’t agree with us is wrong. No more so than in the parenting plane are those who continue to bicker and argue about what is the best way to raise a child. If you’re not with us, you’re against us, end of story.

Though intellectually, we know that this type of rigid, black-and-white viewing of the world is wrong, we can’t help ourselves. Somehow it’s not wrong when it comes to us and our choices on how we raise our kids. Again: we’re right, everyone else is wrong…right?

So the question this week is as follows: Do you think that it’s possible for us to finally all get along? Can conflicting and different parenting styles exist? Is there any hope of us finding common ground and celebrating our similarities as parents instead of our differences? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

VIDEO: Can’t We All Just Get Along?

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

Image courtesy of www.sheknows.ca


child on father's shouldersMy Favorite Pet Shop

**You can get the full podcast audio of this blog post at the end of this page**


Parenting advice is a dime a dozen. Everyone has their opinions on what you should and shouldn’t be doing in order to be a great mom or dad. Do this, don’t do that. Is it any wonder that new parents often feel confused and overwhelmed by the information that they receive?

While some nuggets of wisdom are tried and true, there are other truths that are not as well known. In spite of this fact, these lesser-known truths are as equally, if not more important than some of our stand-by rules for parenting well.

Following are the Top 5 Things About Parenting That You Were Never Told:

1) Be nice to those who take care of your kids- Perhaps one of the most important lessons in parenting is the fact that those who watch our children while we’re away deserve exemplary treatment. Think about it: we have relinquished our responsibility of our most precious assets into their hands as we go about our business, whether it’s for work or pleasure (Date Night anyone?). Yet you’d be surprised at how many people ignore this fact and are, if not dismissive, downright rude to their child’s caregivers. Bad idea, folks. These people will be alone with your children. Do you really want someone who’s irritated, mad at you or someone who dislikes you making decisions for your kid? I don’t.

2) Remember the Big 5 - What are The Big 5, you ask? They’re the must-have items that all parents should have on their person at all times, when traveling outside the home with their kids. Always make sure to carry the following: wipes (regardless of whether your child is in diapers or not), scissors, Kleenex, hand sanitizer and children’s medicine with you whenever you go out with your child. You won’t regret it.

3) Swimming is a life skill, not a recreation- Make sure your kids get lessons and are not fearful of the water.I learned this the hard way when my daughter, then aged three,  went under while right beside me and her father. Thankfully she was okay, but very scared. We signed her up for swimming lessons immediately after this close call. Things can happen in an instant, especially when it comes to water. The bottom line is to make sure your children are comfortable with water and can swim.

4) ALWAYS have the following in your home: eggs, milk, cheese, bread, flour, butter and sugar - These are the staples that need to be in the homes of anyone who has kids. Out of these few items you can make so many meals including: Omelets, scrambled, fried, over-easy eggs,  french toast, pancakes, grilled cheese and more. These meals are perfectly healthy for your kids and will tide them over until you’re able to get to the grocery store again. If you’re vegan, make sure to have the plant-based equivalents on hand.

5) Parenting doesn’t really get easier but it does become more rewarding - People will tell you “it gets better” when you’re in the midst of 4am feedings, spit-up and dirty diapers. When your kids are toddlers, you’ll be dealing with potty training, meltdowns and picky eating. Each age and stage of childhood brings its own set of challenges, a truth that doesn’t abate even when your “baby” is in her teens. Yes, parenting is hard and yes - it’s challenging. It doesn’t get easier, it gets different. As your child grows up, you’ll start to find that the lessons that you’ve tried so hard to instill in her are actually setting in, and that your hard work is being recognized. Sure - you may have to deal with waiting up for your teenager while he’s driving home from a late-night party; a task that isn’t particularly fun, particularly for a mother or father who needs their requisite eight hours of shut-eye. No, parenting doesn’t get easier, but the reward and pride that you’ll feel when your child makes the right choices when confronted with a difficult situation makes all of your efforts worth it.

What do you think? Have I missed any lesser-known parenting-related advice topics here? Leave me a comment below and let me know what other ones you’d add.

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

Image courtesy of www.savvymom.ca

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The Top 10 Lies Parents Tell Their Kids

March 25, 2013

All parents lie to their kids. It’s part and parcel of being a parent. The reality of being called “mom” or “dad” means that you’re gonna have to bend the truth somewhat. And often. Sometimes the lie is to get your child to do something, like eat their dinner (yes - it’s magic broccoli!). Sometimes […]

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Monday Musings - What’s the Hardest Part of Being a Parent?

February 11, 2013

What’s the hardest part of being a parent? If you ask this question to anyone who has had the experience of being called “Mom” or “Dad,” you will get a variety of different answers. While many of us revel in the amazing and precious moments that parenting provides to us, we can’t deny that it’s […]

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This is Not My Beautiful House

December 1, 2012

How clean is your house? Could it withstand a visit from an unexpected guest? How clean is your house? Could it pass the test that we all dread: unexpected guests? I pose the question because a friend of mine relayed an irritating scenario to me that I just had to write about. A friend of […]

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Top 10 Classic Parenting Phrases and What They Really Mean

November 13, 2012

We’ve all heard them. Those annoying phrases that our parents said to us growing up and now that we’re parents ourselves, we’ve decided to inflict them our own kids. There must be a gene that is passed on from generation to generation that provides the ability for a parent to realize the most profound of […]

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Courtesy and Kindess Are Currently Unavailable

September 17, 2012

If you have kids and have gone through potty training, then you know that even when they’re more or less on the other side of the Pull-Up spectrum, you’re not completely out of the woods for some time. Kids aged three to five have remarkably small bladders and an even smaller window of time between […]

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