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Running for Mamas

Running.

It seems like a simple activity that we should all be able to do right?  It is cheap, can be done at any time, and doesn’t take any equipment other than shoes.  

Most women that I work with feel really frustrated when it comes to running because just doesn’t feel good.  They leak, they have back, hip, pelvic and/or leg pain, or it just feels awful on their bodies.  

Lots of Mamas I meet love running and want to return to running races or plan a getaway for a destination race.  Some just want to get out for a run a couple of times a week for fitness and for the mental break. Many want to run with their kids and not be stuck on the sidelines watching as their kids grow.  

The most common strategy that I see women take with running is to take it slow.  They start with a slow 20-30 minute jog around the block with plans to work their way up to longer or faster runs.  

And I totally understand why!  I made the same mistake myself nearly 9 years ago when I returned to running after my first baby Avery was born.  

This approach misses a few KEY strategies though, which is why many women find it hard to get past this distance or they quit all together.   

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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.

Hustle is Stupid

I’ve been working as an entrepreneur/mompreneur/freelancer/contractor/business owner whatever you want to call it, for over ten years. I’ve had big clients, tiny clients, and big projects and projects from hell and everything in between. I can say, unequivocally, from my 10 years of trying to make money while raising a family and trying to be a regular human that the “hustle” … is stupid.

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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.

4 Truths I Try To Live By

I would not categorize myself as a giver of great advice, a life coach or motivational speaker but I will tell you that over my 39 years I’ve discovered a few great truths to live by.

I’ve not overcome any great challenges, but I have overcome many small ones. Breaking cycles, making choices based not on what I’ve learned early on but what I see makes other people whole, happy and admirable. I thought you might enjoy or maybe even be inspired by My Truths.

1. Hate and anger really are poison.

You don’t hurt anyone but yourself when you hang on to it. The person your anger is aimed at is more than likely not going to change just because you’re mad at them. You on the other hand have a choice not to allow whatever it is to rule your choices because 9 times out of 10 when you make choices based on anger, resentment and vengeance you make the wrong one.

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In Christmas, Parenting, Random Thoughts, Working Mama on
December 8, 2019

Teacher and Caregiver Gift Ideas

Narrowing down the perfect gift for your child’s teacher, coach, tutor, or babysitter can seem overwhelming. We polled a group of moms and teachers and found out some of the best gifts you can give this holiday season that won’t break the bank. 

  1. A thoughtful note is at the top of everyone’s list. A personalized thank-you note for your kid’s teacher to show appreciation for their hard work is sure to be well received.
  2. A favorite for many is sweet treats! Cookies by George or homemade holiday treats; either way, they won’t last until the end of the day. 
  3. A box of quality chocolates or biscuits. A great option if you know of your caregiver’s preferences or dietary restrictions. 
  4. If you’d like to steer away from sweets, fancy crackers with artisanal jams are a great option. You can even pair this gift with a beautiful handcrafted cutting board. 
  5. A Christmas tree ornament. You can get crafty and decorate one with your child or pick one up at most retailers. 
  6. Gift cards are a sure-fire hit! For the coffee lover Tim Hortons, Starbucks, or McDonald’s all offer gift certificate ages of varying denominations. If you’re unsure, we love giving (and receiving!) gift certificates from Chapters Indigo.
  7. It might be tempting to give a bottle of wine; however, we recommend giving a gift certificate to the liquor store instead. The recipient can choose their favourite alcoholic beverage.
  8. A personalized gift basket filled with lip balm, hand moisturizer, and hand soaps is useful for nearly everyone.
  9. Classroom staples such as whiteboard markers, fine writing pens, a beautiful notepad, or colourful sticky notes make great teacher gifts.
  10. A pair of mittens or a warm scarf are perfect for the teacher who works outdoor duty during lunch and recess. 
  11. An insulated travel mug is perfect for those early morning commutes. If you know the recipient’s tastes, you could add packets of handmade or store-bought hot chocolate. 
  12. A framed handwritten poem from your child to their caregiver. This could be an excerpt from your child’s favorite book or poem your child makes up. You can add a hand-painted and decorated frame to make this an extra special gift.

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“These Are a Few of Our Favourite Things”

Tis the season and oh how we love the holiday’s at Alberta Mamas. As the song goes, here are a few of our FAVOURITE things.

“Getting a Christmas Tree

from my parents farm” ~ Mama Deanne

The first house you see

decorated, with their lights all aglow. That feeling!

Spotting the PERFECT gift

Maybe it’s not super big, but you know it’s something they will really love.

Cooking the turkey

Making sure you’ve taken it out to thaw, getting all your fruits and veggies and spices prepped for stuffing. And in our house, we also dress it with a little bacon.

Advent calendars

Wether they are home made, store bought, for you or for the kids, I’m almost as excited as the kids to see what they get!

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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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Five Funk Defying Podcasts

I spend a bit of time in my car, like most moms. Specifically my drive to and from work are my longer jaunts and the perfect opportunity for inspiration. On the way to work, I have my favourite morning show – specifically Crash and Mars on 102.3 Now Radio. On the way home though, I chose from one of my downloaded podcasts. Sometimes I listen while I work out or cleaning around the house. I use Podbean but a lot of people have great podcasts available through their iTunes.

I thought I would share a few of the favourites I’ve listened to lately. They’ve made me feel inspired, teary eyed and/or are just generally uplifting. I’m including the links to the specific podcasts on Apple but you can always just search by the name to find the exact one.

1. Oprah SuperSoul Conversations – Lady Gaga  Heal Through Kindness

Honestly, I had no idea what she’s been through and her approach to life is inspiring.

2. Oprah SuperSoul Conversations – When You Know Better You Do Better

Who hasn’t done something they regret? But this really makes you feel like it’s ok to forgive yourself.

3. Oprah SuperSoul Conversation – Dr. Brené Brown: The Anatomy of Trust

I am still making my way through this one, just started it the other day but you can’t go wrong with Brené!

I am making my way through quite a few of the SuperSoul Conversations cause I just love me some Oprah.

4. Russell Brand Under the Skin VULNERABILITY AND POWER (WITH BRENÉ BROWN)

Yes, yes I do love Brene Brown. And Russell is pretty cool too!

5. RISE Podcase with Rachel Hollis – Making a Big Decision! 

Honestly, when you get to the end of this podcast you’re like – how was something so simple not common sense? Decisions can be stressful and this breaks it down!

Previously I shared podcasts that inspire me as a mom!

I’m always looking for new ways to be inspired or get out of a funk. Have you listened to anything good lately?

Chris is one of the only mama’s with a “day job”. Mom of 2, a 7 & 9 year old, she works as an admin for a locally owned bake shop. She loves cider, hanging out with good people and writing about her feelings. She currently resides in our Capital City, however she grew up on a farm north east of the city and never forgets her farm girl roots.