I’m going on a vacation this month…alone, well, not alone, but without my spouse or kids. It’s a week in an all-inclusive resort in Mexico. The type of vacation that you dream of. No cooking, no yelling at (your own) children, margaritas by the pool, real heat and no snow and did I mention, margaritas by the pool.
Before I share my greatest parenting hack –I need to share some experiences I’ve had, that I believe are experienced by many parents.
I have a bookshelf filled with texts from doctors and nurses, parenting experts, sleep consultants, nutrition gurus and everything in between. I have read through all of these books as well as countless blogs, websites, lists, brochures – you name it. For more than a year I read these at all hours of the day and night – and I continue to do so every time I feel a little lost (which happens quite a bit as a new parent).
I used to go BIG for birthdays. That is actually one of the things Box Social Event Planning did when I started the business. We planned parties for parents that wanted that “Pinterest” party but didn’t have time. We would do such elaborate parties that one time we brought 8 foot trees into a play place to create a perfect Woodland Theme.
But then I stopped. Because I didn’t understand why I was throwing all this time and energy into one day for a little human that wouldn’t even remember it. I still love scrolling through Pinterest and Instagram and seeing beautiful, well curated parties but it just doesn’t work for our family anymore.
I wanted my kids to still have memorable birthdays though. Not something that just blipped by. And then we got the Birthday Banner.
I am not sure when it started but it has become a tradition in our house to hang the Birthday Banner. I remember picking it up at Target (sigh I miss Target even though the Canadian one wasn’t as good as the American one) and hanging it up for one of my kids’ birthdays. It was a September birthday and it was a very busy time for our family between school starting (being married to a teacher in September is not fun) and a busy event schedule for myself. So we threw up the banner and sang Happy Birthday to my youngest around Eggo Waffles topped with whipped cream from a can. Then I brought it out for the next one. Now a few years later it is something my kids love waking up to. It is made out of felt and gets hung in the same spot every time. Sometimes it gets fancy 3M hooks, other times it is held up by green painters tape.
But it is always there.
It took me a while but I have realized that the kids do not care about all the decorations, the cake, the late night party planning. They don’t care whether they have Pinterest worthy handmade cupcakes or a cake bought on the way home from work with a generic “Happy Birthday” on it. They want you to be there. To be present. To sing “Happy Birthday” and watch them blow the candles out not be worried about all the other stuff.
So from now on that is my goal. To be present. And hang the banner every birthday.
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 #cocktailsMonday dates with her husband and chasing around her two boys. You can find her at @DeanneFerguson on Instagram and @BoxSocialYEG on Twitter.
By Rob Burtt
I will never forget the birth of my first child. It’s not that the latter two births were less significant, it’s just that the first was such a surreal and sobering experience. I remember this 6 lb. 3 oz. little girl meeting the world for the first time. I recall having her bundled up little body placed into my arms and thinking “Wow, I’m a Dad.”
By Mara Needham
I love cooking and baking. I love being in my kitchen. One of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten is the stand mixer my husband got me when we first started dating. My favorite channel is the Food Network. But I am not an overly adventurous chef, I’m a mom-chef. I feel like the one recipe every mom should have is a super yummy chocolate cookie recipe. My go to recipes are my family recipes. Nothing super fancy, or extravagant, just home cookin’.
I’ve made these cookies so many times, I can make them from memory. They are the only cookies my 6-year-old son will eat and one of my best friends who is a guy who says he “just doesn’t like sweets” will often say that as he’s grabbing 3 or 4 of these cookies.
Try them. You’ll love them. Guaranteed.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup softened butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups milk (key word being milk) chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375.
Mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In mixer bowl, cream sugars, butter and vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs. Gradually add in flour mixture and beat until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop by teaspoonfuls on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 7-9 min (depending on your size of cookie) at 375.
From our family to yours. Enjoy!
Alright people. Mother’s Day is coming May 13th 2018. You are getting your fair warning.
On top of this warning, I’m going to help you out. This is what your wife/partner/spouse REALLY wants for Mother’s Day. I asked my mama friends on Facebook, our contributors and friends in person. ( I happen to also be a Mother of course).
And the theme I have concluded is, we want to feel appreciated and cared for. The way we appreciate and care for others. I don’t need to tell you how hard Moms work. The mental workload, physical workload and social pressures can be seen on our faces most of the time, if not found in multiple blog posts and sappy commercials.
In honesty, we just wanted it to stop. For one hour, one spa treatment, one day or weekend. Many moms joked about just “wanting to be alone” or “doing whatever I want”. And it’s not because we don’t love motherhood. It’s the opposite in fact. We love it so much we give it our all. We worry, cry, hold strong, kiss boo boos, console, laugh and are squishy because we love it just so much.
All we ask, is that we feel someone is doing the same for us. For one hour, one spa treatment, one day or one weekend.
We are all for cute hand made mugs (actually I would really love another) and flowers (they Do brighten the days following our “one special day”), but we NEED time to fill our cups again. Recharge. THAT is what we are really asking for.
A clean house, that we didn’t clean, hear complaining about or have to clean up after tomorrow.
Time alone in the bath without hearing “mommy what are you doing?” through the door.
A trip with or without us planned for something fun with the kids. That we had no hand in figuring out. Then joy of our kids having fun. Without us planning it.
Take the mental workload for a day. We want to step outside of our very big roles and feel safe to unload it onto you.
The mundane tasks, the grand tasks and everything in between.
We don’t need fancy gifts as reminders we are good mothers. We want you to show us that you KNOW we are good mothers. Show us by walking in our shoes.
Here are what a few Mom’s have said:
Andrea – “I would love to have my whole house purged and cleaned. And the support to do so.” Kids aged 12, 9, 7, 4.
Allison – “I’d love for my husband and kids to acknowledge the fact that they understand that I am the only reason the house is not falling apart.” Kids aged 9, 7, 4.
Patricia– “Time. Time with my children” 28, 25, 23.
Holly– “I’d like a day where I could do whatever I want. Show up for a homemade meal with cake that I didn’t make.”
Erin – “Hot Coffee and no obligations time to do what I want before family time.” Kids aged 11, 10, 8, 5, 2.
Poom – “To pee in peace. Without interruption.” Kids aged 7, 5, 2.
Alli – “I’d love a day to myself, no kids needing me for something. A day where I could go get pampered and then enjoy a quiet meal that I didn’t have to cook.” Kids aged 2 and 1.
Jenn– “Time alone! An overnight stay in a hotel, spa day, just some me time!” Kid aged 4.
Among these requests a lot of Moms asked for family photos, family rings, family necklaces. So all these request to me say. “I want some time to myself, reminders of my family, because this is the best job in the world and it will all make me better at it.”
And ahem, in case anyone is wondering. My ideal day would go as follows:
Wake up whenever I want. (which is usually before anyone else). Have coffee. When the kids wake up they wake up my husband before even coming downstairs.
Breakfast is made for me. Pancakes or french toast.
House is cleaned while I bathe.
My husband takes the kids out for lunch and something fun all afternoon. While I literally do whatever I want.
Meet them at families hosue or restaurant for dinner with all family to celebrate our mom and all moms in the family.
Family snuggle time on the couch.
Watch a sappy movie with wine after the kids are in bed. Sleep. The end.
We all just wanted to feel fulfilled, appreciated and respected. That’s it.
Save your money.
Give us time.
In today’s new economic world where there are more and more people working from home, doing contract work and basically overall entrepreneurs, work health benefits is the one thing I’ve noticed a lot of people talking about lately. So we teamed up with Alberta Blue Cross to chat about the benefits of benefits and shopping for them.
2.5 years ago my husband lost his long time stable job. A story many of us went through this past recession. Many people lost their jobs and in turn lost their benefits. Some maybe even noticed, but personally I used them a lot! I got massages and saw my chiropractor regularly. As well as saw a physiotherapist after injuring my shoulder! My kids went through a few month spurt there of sickness after sickness requiring antibiotics and other medicines as well.
Since then, my husband went back to work after 9 months of being off, for about 4 months. The business we had created in the time he was off from his job had started to take off and our family made the decision that entrepreneurship would be our full time life.
Between his business and my contract work, we no longer had any employer health benefits.
We saught out some advice from Blue Cross under their Individuals and Families plan. We were able to pick out a plan that worked for our budgets and projected needs.
Getting benefits was really important to me, not only to get some help with dental cost, but as an assurance that I needed to take care of myself.
If you’ve read any of my other posts or know me, you will know that I am all about self care. Taking care of ourselves, helps us take care of others (family, friends and so on), but also keeps us healthy in more ways than one. When we take the time to make sure we are healthy we are:
- More efficient
- Boosting energy
- Helping with sleep
- Combating and preventing future disease
- and my personal favourite, we are generally happier!
If you are shopping around for benefits for your entrepreneur/working from home/contract life, or maybe you need top up from a spouses plan you can Contact Blue Cross and they will get back to you pretty quickly!
My daughter has seen her share of bullies and she’s only in Grade 2. From preschool on there’s always been that one child. She has been the child who runs to the teacher immediately so has been a “bully” target because of it. My initial reaction is Mama Bear but almost always secondary I wonder about the child. We know that kids who bully are sometimes modelling behavior they’ve seen or as the Have You Filled a Bucket book says, they have an empty bucket and don’t understand that hurting others won’t fill theirs.
Honestly, I’ve thrown my Judgy Jessie hat on more times than I care to admit when watching said children’s interaction with their parents. Saying to myself, “Ah, now it makes sense”. Does it though? Do I know the back ground of what’s going on with that family? No, I don’t and I hate judgment. I feel guilty every time I think back to any time I decided to do that to another human being.
Let me tell you why this has suddenly become so clear to me that it’s the wrong thing to do. Because recently, it was MY daughter that was the bully.
And I am sort of ashamed it came to that. I’m not going to get in to great detail but she made some bad choices, along with some other kids that were making bad choices. The only reason I know is because her little bro ended up being involved.
When she finally opened up and let me know what was going on I was in shock. It was like the first time you realize your parents aren’t perfect. MY DAUGHTER? The “tattle tale”, help everyone who’s in trouble, compassionate, smart, funny little girl had made the CHOICE to treat others badly. Needless to say it was a very long conversation. Followed by further conversations with her AMAZING teacher, and at least one apology letter being written.
In the end, I feel like the whole situation was one of the best things that could have happened to our family. They say kids teach you more than you teach them. Truth. I had to hold in my reactions and think a lot about how to make this a teachable time. I also took this as an opportunity to remind her that I’m here to help her get through mistakes like these. She learned from this, showed remorse and even now, weeks later, we discuss it as a cautionary tale.
Cause kids make mistakes. Our kids make them, other kids make them and we make them too. Our job as adults is to help them through, learn as we go and withhold the judgment against other adults who are maybe just doing the best they can.
I know that’s what I am hoping for the next time either of my kids decide to dabble in bad choices. I’d love to say they’ll never do anything like this again, but if I thought that, then this situation would have taught me nothing.
It was a normal Saturday morning, kids were just getting up and I went for the morning pee. I was on the toilet (door open of course, because with a 6 year old and a 3.5 year old I forfeited peeing privacy a long time ago) and two little arms snaked around my waist and the cutest little voice said “I love you mommy”. Tears sprang to my eyes. Three and a half years. It took my sweet little girl three and a half years to say those words to me and I often wondered if I would ever hear them.
My three-and-a-half-year-old daughter Madeleine has a severe speech and language delay. She has always found ways of communicating with me and telling me what she wants…lots of jibber jabber, half words only I could understand, pointing and physically showing me and her dad. I always spoke to her as if she could understand what I was saying, even though I wasn’t always sure she could. There was just always a wall between us. So, we had her assessed by a speech pathologist. She said it perfectly: ”Madeleine has lots to say, but only she knows what she’s saying”. She recommended we enroll Maddie in an early entrance program that specializes in children with delays, so we did. They began working with her 3 mornings a week.
It’s a long process…her learning words and forming sentences. Her understanding what you’re saying to her or asking her. One that some days can be very frustrating and simple processes turn into full on meltdowns- sometimes for her, sometimes for me. It’s hard seeing friends with kids her age or younger saying and doing things she’s nowhere near. It’s hard when strangers ask her questions and she looks at them blankly and then they look at me like “what’s wrong with her”. On good days I tell myself, “all kids develop differently” and “she will get there”. On bad days I have to fight the mom guilt. The “I did something wrong” and “this is somehow my fault” and “I should have done ____ differently”.
But on that Saturday morning, even though it wasn’t an ideal location, when she looked at me with her big blue eyes and said “I love you mommy” it all became worth it. “I love you too baby girl” I whispered back. And in that moment I knew that we got this and it’s all gonna be ok.
My name is Mara Needham. I am 32 year old stay at home mom to Grayson (6) and Madeleine (3.5) in Peace River, AB. I have been married to my husband Sean for almost 8 years. I have never written a blog of any kind before, but up until I became a mom I wrote commercials for the local radio station. Find me on Facebook , Twitter , & Instagram
By Nadia Goodhart
“I am just one person, how can I make a difference?”
I used to ask myself this question all the time. Then I started volunteering. I couldn’t believe how many organizations run on volunteer manpower. From boards to soup kitchens, they all relied on the generosity of individuals to get them through the year.
Why should you volunteer?
- Volunteers live longer and are healthier.
- Volunteering establishes strong relationships.
- Volunteering is good for your career.
- Volunteering is good for society.
- Volunteering gives you a sense of purpose.
Volunteering exercises your mind and your body. Some organizations need physical man-power like sorting food to fighting fires while others need critical thinking skills like on sitting on a board to translating services into another language.
You can volunteer with friends, neighbors, co-workers or family. You will meet people outside your social circle that want to give back to their community. You will also meet friendly faces (the do-gooders of the world) and may make lifelong friends.
If you are a stay at home parent, unemployed and looking to get back into the workforce, or looking to get into another position at your current job, volunteering is a great asset for your resume. You will learn skills or build on experience that you can take with you into your next job. You can also get references from the volunteer coordinator or supervisor to take to your interview.
There are so many organizations that run on volunteer hours. Volunteers bring diversity, new skill sets and a sense of purpose. Organizations that have a strong volunteer base are usually more successful, have a strong community bond and are more likely to make you feel valued and part of a team. You may work for the less fortunate to gain a better understanding of their situation. You may be able to lend a voice, be an advocate for the vulnerable and show that you care for those who need help. It will also get you aware of your local community’s needs.
Who can volunteer?
There are organizations that require you to be 16 years or older but there are some that welcome kids to volunteer with their parents. The organization would be able to provide you with guidelines of who they need and what duties are involved.
Where can I volunteer?
Some of the organizations that need volunteers year-round are local festivals, community boards, sports teams, religious institutions, charities, Food Bank, vulnerable sector groups just to name a few. Talk to your friends or co-workers and get an idea or where they have volunteered or would like to. Look at social media to see what organizations are doing call out for volunteers.
Do you have a skill that you think others may benefit from? Do you want to work with like-minded individuals? Do you want to grow your network? There is probably an organization that is looking right now for you to apply. You are just one person, but mama YOU will be making a difference when you volunteer.
“Volunteering ignites positive changes on so many levels. It provides much-needed resources to people in need, your community, and worthwhile causes. It also has so many personal benefits. Volunteering helps me feel connected to my community, inspires kindness, and keeps me mentally and physically active. It’s the kind of activity that keeps you coming back for more!” – Jody Spencer – founder of Because Edmonton Cares
Nadia volunteers for a variety of organizations throughout the year. This year, she organized a campaign at her workplace to get people to volunteer 150 hours for Canada’s 150th birthday. Her goal is to seek ways to help her community be a better place. Nadia lives in Edmonton and is a mama to 3.