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Alberta Mamas

In Lifestyle, Parenting on
January 19, 2020

What To Look For When Choosing Activities for Your Child

Choosing activities for your children can not only be overwhelming but frustrating as well. There are SO many options out there now. And when your child is young it is impossible to tell what they’re interested in besides listening to Baby Shark on repeat and asking to watch Paw Patrol for the 10000000000000th time.

Throughout my years of planning events for kids where each month I have 3-5 different groups showcasing their children’s programs I have learnt a lot. I can usually tell within 10 minutes of watching a child whether the program is a good fit or not. And no that doesn’t mean the kid always jump right in and participate. Some kids need time and after having my own shy kid I get it. I’ve summed up my experiences over the past 6 years plus participating in numerous programs with my own kids (8&11) to give you the top things you should look for before signing up for any program. Spoiler – Cost of the program ranks very very low on the priority list.

What You Should Look For When Choosing Activities For Your Child:

  • Your own schedule – I know. You’re signing up your child so a super fun, exciting new experience so it should be all about them right? Nope. It’s still all about you. Especially for kids 5 and under not in school/daycare yet. YOU are the one driving them to class. YOU are the one who has to deal with missed naps if the program runs during nap time. YOU are the one deciding if it is worth driving 45 minutes to get to a certain school of music. So YOU have to choose a program that works with your schedule. Trust me. Take advantage now because as they get older you no longer get to choose when their soccer games are or when their piano recital is. So take advantage of this time to fit the activities around what you want. Maybe you want motivation to get out of the house so you find a morning class. Maybe mornings are spent at home so you find something in the afternoon. Or maybe because of work you want to find something the whole family does on Saturdays. Take this moment in your parenting life to choose what works for your family schedule.
  • Frequency – Until you know you are raising the next Picasso where they just want to paint forever; try to avoid signing up for a class/session that lasts more than 8-12 weeks. This gives you enough time to fully enjoy the class and your child gets to feel comfortable in the space. It also leaves you the chance to choose something else after that session ends, sign up for the next level/different type of class (especially for art, music, swimming lessons etc you may want to switch the type of class but stick with the activity) or take a break for a couple of weeks before committing to something else.
  • Meet the teacher that will ACTUALLY be teaching/coaching your child – I don’t know how many times I’ve heard “We looked online and it seemed like a great program on paper” or “we met the owner of the studio and they were great but our teacher wasn’t so good”. The owner will always be on their A game when you’re signing up for a class. Their business is their baby and they want it to be successful so of course they want you to sign up. But who is really teaching your child? Ask these questions and try to meet them before committing to a class.
  • Does the priority of the class match your expectations – Is play based learning important to you? Or do you want more schedules and structure? Do you want your child to learn a new skill each week? Or become proficient in one thing before moving on? We each have our own parenting philosophy and I am not here to tell you which is right or wrong but if you feel very strongly one way or another make sure to check with the instructor before signing up your child. It will save your frustrations later when it didn’t turn out like you expected.
  • Cost – Just because a program is expensive doesn’t mean it’s the best fit but on the flip side don’t discount a program just because it is cheap or even free. Some of my kid’s favourite programs were library programs or cheaper community ran classes. Do your research and go into things with an open mind. If you are considering a program that costs more ask why. Is the teacher specifically trained in their area of expertise bringing a lot of value to that program? Will your child leave each session with a completed art project? Find out where your money is going so you can make an informed decision.
  • Do a trial class if you can – Watch your child during a trial class. Even if they are sitting on your lap the whole time are they watching the teacher? Do they seem intrigued by what’s going on? Do they talk about it on the drive home or the next day? If they do any of these chances are you’ve found a good fit. And remember especially for shy kids they may not participate at all at first but don’t pull them out of the program right away. Give it time. And even if you think they are getting absolutely nothing out of it they may surprise you. I thought music classes were a complete waste of time for one of my kids. He never participated or showed any interest in class. But after the session was done he would come home and sing all the songs, do all the actions, and could do all the beats they learned. He just wanted to do it on his own terms at home. So even though he sat on my lap for three sessions in a row staring at the teacher with a scowl on his face, he still learnt something and it was worth going.

In the end no matter the program you choose it can be a great bonding time for you and your child. I just hope these tips help make it the best experience possible.

Box Social Event Planning

Deanne Ferguson is the owner of Box Social Event Planning. When she is not planning fun, family, friendly events she is finding the yummiest food for the Edmonton Home and Garden Show Food Stage. She loves her #cocktailMonday dates with her husband and chasing around her two boys. You can find her at @DeanneFerguson on Instagram and @BoxSocialYEG on Twitter.

In Calgary, Edmonton, Explore, Lifestyle, Parenting on
January 4, 2020

Winter Play – Getting the Kids To Play Outside

Whether we like it or not, winter is here for a few more months. Getting the kids to go outside and play seems like way more work in winter especially when they are little. We’ve come up with some tips and tricks to help you get outside and take advantage of the snowy weather. Who knows… Winter may even become your favourite season!

  • Dress for the weather – this means lots of layers especially for little ones. It can also mean spending some extra money on things like really good socks (wool based ones are great for warmth and moisture), boots, and mitts. Yes even for yourself! If you are cold you will not want to be outside. We live in a place where it is winter for half the year – invest in some good winter boots. It is a game changer!
  • Sign up for winter activities if your budget allows – If you have put money down on a class, chances are you will show up no matter the weather. Ski lessons, snowshoeing, winter hike tours, and skating are all things you can do as a family.
  • Enjoy the darkness – With winter comes shorter days but that doesn’t mean you have to stay inside. If you live in the city go for a drive to the country and go star gazing. Elk Island National Park, Kananaskis, or really any country road are all great options for star sighting. Don’t want to leave your backyard? Give the kids flashlights and glow sticks to take outside. You’ll have to drag them back in.
  • Bring treats – Summer adventures mean ice cream and picnics but you can reward yourself for getting outside in winter too! Get a fancy hot chocolate and go for a walk or instead of finding ice cream, find a new bakery to check out.
  • Book a mountain trip – Jasper in January can bring some great hotel deals and if you have a flexible work schedule try booking Jasper or Banff midweek to save some money. Winter doesn’t seem so bad when you are surrounded by Rocky Mountain beauty.
  • Make a playdate – Tell the other parent they will be outside so they are dressed appropriately and let the kids build a fort, have a snowball fight, or build a snowman. Playing is more fun with a friend.
  • Plan a family toboggan date – Get friends and family together to go tobogganing. Everyone brings their sleds and a thermos of hot drinks and you’re ready. If tobogganing isn’t your thing, find an outdoor rink and have a skating party!
  • Use summer toys in winter – Keep the sand toys out to let them build snow-castles and dig with shovels. Bring out bubbles and watch them freeze. Use hula hoops for a winter obstacle course. Just because they are toys marketed to summer activities doesn’t mean they can’t use them year round.

Winter is not going anywhere so you may as well join in. If the kids see you out having fun, they’ll follow suit. And soon enough they will stay outside longer than the time it takes to bundle everyone up. Hopefully.

In Christmas, Lifestyle, Random Thoughts, Recipe on
December 9, 2019

Instant Pot Turkey Buffalo Mac n Cheese – The Perfect Dish For Your Next Potluck Dinner

It’s hard to pick the perfect potluck dish. You want something easy to prep, a dish that will feed a crowd, and something that’s easy to transport.

Don’t worry Mamas, we’ve got you! We’ve partnered with Alberta Turkey and have created the perfect pot luck dish: Turkey Buffalo Mac n Cheese. And the best part? EVERYTHING was made in an Instant Pot because we know you have zero time this time of year. By using the Instant Pot we’ve also cut out on all the dishes you have to do. This is literally a one pot meal!

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In Lifestyle, Recipe on
December 3, 2019

Easy Alberta Turkey Meatball Appetizer AND a Giveaway

It’s Christmas Party Season! We love the holidays and all the opportunities it brings to be with our friends and family and that usually means sharing food together. Although we love attending all the parties we can, sometimes figuring out what dish to bring can be a daunting task especially as our to-do list grows and grows the closer we get to Christmas.

That is why we’re excited to partner with Alberta Turkey to bring you TWO easy, quick and delicious dishes you can enjoy at home or bring as a dish to share with your next party.

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Elf on the Shelf – Love It Or Send Him Back to the North Pole?

Why I Love Elf On The Shelf:

We love when December 1st hits and Elf On The Shelf comes back from the North Pole and here’s why:

  • The magic of it all! They think it is real and I love the Christmas magic that happens when they believe.
  • Let’s be real – it is a parenting too for the whole month of December. The kids definitely act better when “Jingles The Elf” is watching.

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In Lifestyle, Random Thoughts on
November 24, 2019

When to Decorate?

Ok Mamas. I need your help. The Christmas bug got me early this year! I am usually a “week before Christmas” kind of person.

Maybe it is because I usually do so many Christmas events back to back and I am kind of sick of Christmas by the time November hits. But this year it is more spread out with a trip thrown in there to break things up.

Maybe it’s because we get a real tree and I don’t want to pick up needles for 6 weeks so we put our tree up a week before the big day. But this year we’re still getting a real try eventually and in the mean time we have a small, fake tree downstairs. Those twinkling lights are getting to me in a good way.

Maybe it’s because I am low key jealous of the kids’ advent calendars. Who doesn’t like a toy and a chocolate every morning when they wake up! But this year a friend found me a cheese advent calendar so I will be just as excited as the kids every morning.

Something has happened this year. I am more excited this year than I can remember ever being since it was the Christmas I asked for a doll house and not only did Santa deliver – but it was HUGE and pink and had stairs for my Barbies to go up and down. It was a good Christmas.

So. I need some help.

When do I decorate? How long do you leave it up after Christmas? Do you get sick of it and want to rip it all down by December 14th? Do you put it all out at once or slowly?

Tell this Christmas Grinch all your early decorating/celebrating the season tips please!

Box Social Event Planning

In Lifestyle, Parenting, Random Thoughts on
November 10, 2019

Why You Should Be a Plant Mom

We’re done having kids. The boys are now 8 & 11 so we’re out of the baby/toddler/preschooler stage. I have loved every stage but the older they get the more I see a little baby and want to squish their little cheeks and start again. KIDDING. I don’t want to start again. But I need something to keep me company during the day while the boys are in school. Pets are not an option (WAY too much work plus the whole allergy thing) so I’m becoming a Plant Mom.

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In Health, Lifestyle on
October 20, 2019

Cheap Self-Care Ideas and a DIY Sugar Scrub Recipe

When you search “Self-Care” you are inundated with articles encouraging you to take a trip, book a spa day, or buy yourself an expensive gift. Now that all sounds amazing but not in everyone’s budget.

Self-Care doesn’t have to be expensive.

The point of self-care is to take time for yourself and if you’re spending the whole time thinking about your budget OR you come back from your self-care time stressed about how you are now eating KD for the rest of the month to afford your time away it is not going to work.

So what can you do?

We’ve created a list of easy, effective self-care rituals you can do that are cheap or free! As a bonus we’ve also added a recipe for our favourite DIY Sugar Scrub. This easy, cheap scrub will leave your skin feeling amazing and you will probably have all the ingredients in your pantry already.

Inexpensive Self-Care Ideas:

  • Go for a walk and leave your phone at home.
  • Take a bath.
  • Bake cookies and lick the spoon.
  • Pour a glass of wine and binge your favourite Neflix show. We recommend The Good Place for a feel good easy watch.
  • Invite some friends over for a clothing swap. (Learn how to host one here.)
  • Go for a drive blasting your favourite music. The louder the better.
  • Colour.

DIY Sugar Scrub

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Sugar (regular white sugar for face/body, brown sugar for a coarser feet/hand scrub)
  • 1/2 cup oil (Almond, olive, coconut all work)
  • squeeze of a lemon
  • lemon zest
  1. In a mixing bowl combine all the ingredients and mix until combined. Store in a glass container and use within a month.

That’s it. See told you it was easy 😉

 

 

In Lifestyle, Parenting, Random Thoughts on
October 6, 2019

Embrace the Chaos

In our house I am not the fun one. I am the one telling them to get dressed, eat their food, stop farting at the table – The classic broken record of a Mom.

But I am working on it.

Part of this process is talking to my husband about it. I needed him to step in and say no sometimes. After hearing me out about it he has been trying to letting me be the one to say yes. I can tell it is hard for him sometimes but he knows what a difference it makes to me to be able to play “nice guy” every once in a while. He is naturally more easy going than I am for a lot of things and I learn so much watching him with the kids.

So here is my goal:

  • More ice cream.
  • More fort building in the living room.
  • More rough play in the house.
  • More nerf battles in their underwear.
  • Less room cleaning (unless it gets REALLY gross because there’s only so much I can take).
  • More painting and playdoh.
  • More stopping everything to sit and really listen. No distractions.
  • More playing with food and being silly at dinner time.

There’s more to work on but it’s a work in progress. And I can only handle my couch cushions being on the floor more than on the couch for so long.

 

Box Social Event Planning

Deanne Ferguson is the owner of Box Social Event Planning. When she is not planning fun, family, friendly events she is finding the yummiest food for the Edmonton Home and Garden Show Food Stage. She loves her #cocktailMonday dates with her husband and chasing around her two boys. You can find her at @DeanneFerguson on Instagram and @BoxSocialYEG on Twitter.

In Camping, Explore, Rocky Mountains on
September 1, 2019

Kananaskis Elbow Lake Trail Hike

One of the things we wanted to do more this summer was to explore different hiking trails. Our kids are getting a bit older (7&11) so going on adventure walks by the campsite isn’t cutting it anymore.

We were in Kananaskis and one of the very helpful park staff members suggested Elbow Lake. If you’re ever in Kananaskis we highly recommend you stop by the information center. It has a pretty good little (FREE) museum and the staff there are fantastic at suggesting things that suit your family.

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