bedtime

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

 

monitor

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 Caution - When 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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Image courtesy of www.foscam.us

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Simple tips to make the morning routine stress-free


morning rush

The Morning Rush: It’s that very stressful period where we have to wake up the kids, get breakfast ready, get them dressed, fed and out the door and deposited to school or daycare - on time. For many of us, it’s a daily struggle. I’ve written about it before and put a humorous spin on in in the image below - you can check out the full post here as well.

Though the morning rush is brief, it’s often intense as time is of the essence and kids are often not the best at following rules, especially when you need really need them to do so. In many cases, stress levels are high - for both children and parents - and tolerance levels are low, often leading to combustable scenarios that include shouting, crying and more. This is far from an ideal way to start the day.

Beginning the day on a negative note is never a good thing as it affects not only one’s mood, but one’s productivity throughout the day as well. This goes for both parents and kids - children are often affected by the events at home and it’s reflected in their behaviour at school. For these and many other reasons, it’s important to alleviate the issues that result in those crazy, stress-filled mornings that leave everyone unhappy.

Following are 10 tips for dealing with the morning rush:

1) Wake Up First - As the parent, you lead the charge. As any leader knows, getting ahead of the game and taking a few solitary moments to breathe, savour the quiet and get your mental battle gear in order is the key to success. Set your alarm to wake up half an hour before the family rises to both mentally prepare yourself and to enjoy the peace and quiet.

2) Prepare the Night Before - Planning is key. To avoid stressful scenarios in the mornings, get organized and plan ahead. Lay out your kids’ clothes, make their lunches, sign all school forms, check homework, pack backpacks, etc. Get your kids into the habit of providing you with their school-related documents when they receive them, not the morning that they’re due.

3) Get Enough Sleep - The importance of a good night’s sleep is grossly underrated. This goes for not only kids but parents as well. Tempers flare and nerves are frayed when people are not well-rested. This goes for not just you but the kids. They’ll be less grumpy and easier to wake up in the mornings if they’ve been able to get enough sleep the night before.

4) Tune Out the Tech - As tempting as it may be to check your email, Facebook or even the morning news online, don’t do it. By its very nature, the Internet is distracting and we all know how quickly we can get pulled in to its vortex. Make a plan to focus on getting the kids dressed, fed and out the door and leave the digital dabbling to later on, when the kids are at school.

5) Get Kids to Help - Why take on all of the responsibility? Kids can learn do do simple tasks at early ages so let them get busy! Have them pack their knapsacks help pick out their clothes (depending on their ages) and help with making their lunches. With even a little bit of responsibility kids will thrive and there will be less for you to do as well.

6) Start Early - If your kids need half an hour to get themselves out of bed, plan to get them up half an hour earlier. The point is to minimize the stress, of which sleep - too much of it - is often a key part. If you’re dealing with a sleepy teenager or tween, or a child who needs a full night’s rest, get them to bed early. They’ll be much easier to wake in the morning and stress levels will be considerably lower for everyone involved.

7) Plan the Breakfast Menu - Breakfast is often a scramble - pun intended. When dealing with kids, there’s the issue of picky eating, whining, complaining and often crying. It doesn’t have to be this way. Get the children involved the day or night before and determine at that point what they’ll be eating for breakfast. Talk it through, get their agreement about what’s going to be on their plate in the morning and rest easy knowing that the breakfast theatrics won’t occur.

8) Put a Time Limit on Tasks - As part of the overall morning plan, give your kids a certain amount of time to eat, get dressed, etc. Left to their own devices, we all know how much longer kids can take getting things done as they often have no sense of urgency. If necessary, use a time or stop-watch - they’ve been known to work with even the slowest of kids.

9) Schedule Bathroom Time - Fighting for the bathroom is yet another morning stressor that doesn’t need to happen. For those of us who don’t have enough bathrooms to support the morning demand, make a schedule. It may sound crazy but planning who is going to go in first, who’s showering at what time, etc. will take the heat of those waiting outside the door. For younger kids, bathe them in the evenings before bed.

10) Check the Weather - Unless you’re blessed with living in a climate where it’s always warm, you will likely have to deal with getting your kids dressed for the season. Whether it’s fall, winter, spring or summer, your child’s outdoor attire can add precious minutes to your morning routine. Check the weather forecast for the coming morning and, where necessary, set out your kids’ rain boots, snow pants, hats, mittens or whatever is required. Doing so will reduce the amount of time and stress looking for the right attire at the last minute.

The Morning Rush from a parent's point-of-view The morning rush is crazy! Getting kids ready for school is often stressful AND funny.

What tips do you have for making the morning routine less stressful? Leave me your thoughts 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!





Image courtesy of http://huffingtonpost.com/

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Guest Post at What to Expect

by Samantha on April 15, 2013

Toddlers and sleep don’t often go hand-in-hand. Sometimes it’s smooth sailing and everyone in the household gets some well-needed rest. Other times, however, there are apparently monsters, ghosts and other scary things that are frightening our kids, keeping them up at night. A cry in the dark for Mommy or Daddy does not a good night’s rest make.

Thankfully there are some simple things that parents can do to calm and soothe their small children when the little ones are experiencing night frights.

In my guest post on What to Expect, I’ve provided some tips and strategies for moms and dads who are dealing with toddler sleep issues. Head on over there and take a look at

Confronting Things That Go Bump in the Night

toddler sleeping

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The Bedtime Follies: A Four-Part Comedy

by Samantha on October 26, 2011

Bedtime is a blast for many of us moms.

Dinner has been eaten (sometimes), baths have been drained and we’re in the home stretch, we tell ourselves.

We’ve had an exhausting day and all we want to do is kiss our little darlings goodnight before hitting the hay ourselves, or perhaps have some “me” time. Except our children often have other ideas. What is that expression about “the best laid plans?”

If you’re like me, you have little patience. After all, patience is supposedly a virtue and virtuousness and exhaustion do not always go hand in hand, I’m sorry to say. By the end of the day, mommy wants sleep - for herself. Having to deal with a four-part comedy is not what the doctor ordered. I use the term “comedy” loosely as the situation is truly funny - if you are not part of it, as I am. If you are the resident mom, it’s not funny at all. As a matter of fact, it’s a nightmare. Except you’re awake to experience it. Not fun.

Image courtesy of http://weekly.blog.gustavus.edu/

I call these precious childhood moments “The Bedtime Follies.” These four-part (daily) comedies go something like this:

Act I
The whining begins. Pre-bath, the complaints (often in an unintelligible toddler language) rise to a fever pitch as nerves are frayed and baths are filled. Avoidance is exerted by those who will fight the horror of personal hygiene. Bribery, negotiation and threats do not work, and the protagonist (mom) is reduced to action via brute force (okay, not “brute” exactly, but physical delivery of said children into said tub - often against their wishes).
Act II

Once immersed, there seems to be a direct correlation between the amount of water that touches the skin and the volume of screaming. Let’s not mention toys that are going astray, water that is soaking the bathroom floor and general mayhem. Soap is a foreign and scary object and, according to the kids, should be treated as such. Soap touching this skin is akin to Superman touching Kryptonite. Except the stakes are apparently higher, if you ask any toddler.

Image courtesy of http://www.sodahead.com
Act III

You’ve managed to get them bathed and clothed in their PJs but you’re not out of the woods yet. The highlight of The Follies is about to begin. People need to go to the bathroom. Repeatedly. People want drinks of juice and water. People want milk. Monsters need to be coaxed from under the bed. This goes on for an indeterminate period of time until mom or dad reaches their limit and shouting commences. Mom and dad are the ones shouting the loudest. 

After much time passing and the inevitability of exhaustion (for all) sleep overtakes all parties and the curtain closes on yet another day - or night of fun and games. 

Act IIII

Like any good play, there is a chance to confer with one’s date (spouse) post-production over a glass of wine (or two) and to discuss the effect of the previous events on one’s psyche. Was it evocative? Was it intense? Did it bring out emotions in you that you didn’t know were possible? If you are the parent of young children, then the answer is “yes” to all three questions.


Do you experience The Bedtime Follies in your home? How do you cope with them? Please provide your tips in the comments below!

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“Hello darkness, my old friend…”
 
Such are the opening words of a classic song by Simon and Garfunkel.
 
“The Sound of Silence,” - this phrase alone is evocative of the mystery and beauty that is found in the far reaches of night.
 
There is a beauty in silence. This is particularly the case when you have many children of a young age. I, like many parents, deal with the constant din of childhood, whether it be via voice or vehicle - the latter a toy version, of course.
 
Being a mom, it becomes a rare occasion where silence is experienced in its entirety, and because of this, it is all the more savoured when it occurs.
 
Like the beauty of a double rainbow, a brilliant sunset or a meteor shower, pure silence is infrequent, evasive and fleeting when it does actually present itself, providing all the more incentive for those experiencing it to cherish those precious moments.  
 
Double rainbow
Image courtesy of www.goldengatephoto.com
In my own experience, even the dead of night does not deliver the silence so desperately craved. There are children to be soothed, monsters to be banished and trips to the bathroom that invariably break the peacefulness of this otherwise quiet time. In an ideal scenario where, perhaps, there are no dead-of-night wake-ups, is it ever really silent, in the true sense of the word? Do any of us really know what true silence sounds like? Because we have become a society that has become numbed to the continual “white noise” that is the background to our lives day and night, many of us haven’t really known the beauty of quiet.
 
The sad reality is that in the 24-hour world in which we now live, rarely do any of us ever experience true silence. The availability of all-night TV, online access that never ceases and constant connectivity via cell phones and otherwise  has further distanced all of us from the possibility of peace. This can’t be good.
 
Sunset on the water
Image courtesy of www.reefnews.com
For those regular occasions where we are awoken by our children in the wee hours of the night, perhaps we should look at the opportunity to cherish those intimate moments as well as stealing a few precious minutes of true peace and quiet (I, for one, should take my own advice). Because like everything else in life, anything worth having, is well worth waiting for - even if it’s delivered at 4:00am.
 
How often do you really experience true silence? When it does occur, do you enjoy it or turn on the TV/radio/ipod?
 
Simon and Garfunkel - The Sound of Silence
 
 
 

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To Pee or Not To Pee: That is the Question

August 15, 2011

My modern-day homage to William Shakespeare. If you are a literary purist, my sincere apologies in advance. Image courtesy of http://shakespeare.mit.edu/ To Pee or Not To Pee: That is the Question To pee, or not to pee, that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The puddles and poops of outrageous fortune, […]

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