At the baby and toddler age, children learn best in an informal learning environment – meaning children learn by example. They are learning emotional skills, social skills and practical skills like using the hose to water the garden by following our example. They learn the basics of language by taking the lead from the older people around them who model the fluency in that language. Language basics are learned through immersion not through rote teaching. In the informal learning environment, a good role model is key.
We’re not suggesting that you stop paying full price to take your kids to the ballet, theatre or symphony, but many parents feel that artistic pursuits are inaccessible for one reason or another. Excuses for not exposing children to these media range from ‘But the hockey was on’, ‘He will get bored’, ‘My baby cries all the time and she will disrupt things’ …to ‘It is too expensive’. Here are some outside-the-box ways to give it a go and mitigate the reasons for staying home.
At Park Royal in West Vancouver the other day, I offered to hold the elevator door for a group of the most lovely, well-behaved children I had seen in ages. Their three teachers graciously declined my assistance, saying that their safety protocol was to hold the door themselves. Very impressive. Hmmm. Polite uniformed children, good behaviour and professional adults. They had to be.. Yes.. When I asked – all was confirmed. They were from CEFA.
Just don’t do it if you can help it. If you are traveling internationally with kids, don’t choose a route via the US which will require a border crossing. Trust us. Even if you just pop through the States en route back to Canada, you will probably be subjected to a multi-hour wait in one of their hubs, where children, babies and visibly pregnant women are made to wait in a Homeland Security immigration line with hundreds of other able-bodied adults. No water, no chairs, no assistance. I became so irate after my 1 and 3 year old were at risk for dehydration, diaper rash was setting in, and our rancid yogurts were the only grub around (security confiscated my ice packs) that I had to cause a stink.
It’s been almost three years since I started Have Baby Will Travel, and in all this time I’ve been a total cheerleader for family travel. My goal with the site has always been to inspire and motivate new parents to travel with their babies and toddlers, and I think a big part of the motivation comes from hearing stories from other traveling parents.
A lot of moms to be wonder if it’s acceptable to register gifts for their baby shower.
Not only is it acceptable but it is also encouraged. Registering helps your family and friends make sure that they are purchasing what you need. It’s safe to say the last thing you want to deal with after you’ve had your baby is to drive all over your city exchanging your gifts because you’ve received 4 ear thermometers. Register for everything that you want and need, even the big items. It is very common for guests to go in as a group on a present.
Shopping online is an easy way for others to get presents.
Adding a baby is expensive, and doing so while going through emotional and physical change can be even harder. The stress that comes with managing your family finances shouldn’t take away from your memories and bliss. We’re not going to preach about the percentage you should spend on housing or food, just give you a few ideas on how to be fiscally smart and learn some family budgeting basics.
1. Take advantage of Canada’s Benefits. The Canada Child Tax Benefit is based on your family income, and all may apply. Whether you qualify for this or not, the Universal Child Care Benefit, which totals $100 per month, (per child under six) is available to everyone. It is a taxable benefit, but still more than worth the quick application. If you are having a baby in BC, the hospital will provide you with forms upon discharge.
Canada Child Tax Benefit
Universal Child Care Benefit
2. Set up an RESP if you can. Even if you can afford to only deposit their cash birthday and Christmas presents, it will have 18 years to grow, and especially in today’s market climate, by then surely the stock market will be on the upswing… Go into your bank, set up an appointment with a banker, and choose the best options together. The RESP is much more flexible than it used to be, so even if little Aidan chooses a community college over Queen’s University, your money isn’t lost.
3. List what is important to your lifestyle. Is missing date night going to kill your spirit and make you a grumpy parent? Why not cut out the coffee shop and choose a more frugal date option to cover the cost of the sitter?
4. Figure out your unnecessary spending. Could you take a lunch to work? Do your kids really need all of those paid activities? Could you replace one dinner a week with a simple sandwich night?
5. Credit cards. Yikes. If you pay a fee, is it worth it? Do you know what benefits you get from your card and actively use them (or are you one of the people at the car rental counter who still gets the optional insurance because you’re just not sure…)? Just like the gift cards that stores count on people losing, credit card companies know that most consumers won’t take advantage of the purchase protection on that new TV or the double warranty on your precious espresso machine.
6. Know your health benefits. If massage is covered, maybe that is just as good as treating yourself to a pedicure. When traveling, many families will buy extra insurance although the company already covers it.
7. Demand excellence. If your sippy cup’s valve doesn’t work, or the zipper on your baby’s jacket gets stuck, let the company responsible know. You are helping future consumers, and you may get a replacement.
8. Reconsider your relationship to charity. Others always need us. Instead of cutting your charities out of your life as the budget shrinks, why not donate your time? You and your kids may just receive the reality check you’ve been waiting for.
9. Shop smarter. We’re not exactly coupon clippers – who can find them in a full diaper bag? – but shopping at a well-priced store, and buying sales items while there can save you a bundle, plus help to create some variety in your diet.
10. Pay your bills on time. OK. Another one we’re not great on, but many companies offer debit directly out of your bank account or payment to your credit card. Just make sure all of your payments come out or are due around the same day so you can stay organized.
11. Think community. Finding a dentist, doctor and hairdresser in your neighbourhood could not only save time and stress, but also gas and greenhouse emissions.
12. Think big. Don’t blow a gasket about the small stuff. Paying too much for grapes or being a day late on the bills is nothing compared to not doing good research on buying a car, a house, or a new computer. Investigate your options, and in today’s economy, a little negotiation could go far. Getting a slightly better mortgage rate can save you thousands.
For great ways to save on spending, check out some Sample Sales.
Nanny Salaries: Salaries for Live-in Caregivers.
I was recently introduced to the concept of Educational Trips for kids. Mommy or Daddy takes a child away for the weekend, and they get one-on-one time and learn together. What better place than Victoria, at the Fairmont Empress Hotel? I am very much an old Canadian. I appreciate modern, boutique hotels too, but there is nothing quite like the luxury of the old Canadian Pacific chain. Sometimes wallpaper, high ceilings, antiques and superb service are just necessary. On a recent stay at the Fairmont Empress in Victoria, I was reminded why I seek out these fabulous hotels, and what educational opportunities are available in every day life if you take the time to look for them.
It’s a great time to put our kids in cute wool sweaters and take them out to the city park or the woods for a tromp in the leaves. Well, the good and bad news is that you’re not alone in your thinking. At a variety of parks, woods, and beaches you’ll find a lot of people out walking their dogs –– which, for a new parent, or parents of babies and young children without dogs, can be a source of some anxiety. So how do you introduce your kids to dogs while outside?
September brings a flurry of activity for parents in getting children ready for new beginnings: a daycare, school, teacher, and sometimes a change in work activities for parents. You can feel parents collectively holding their breath while waiting to see if the new relationship ‘takes’ between their child and their new caretaker or teacher. What can we do as parents to help our children get ready for the change? There are three things that are helpful for bridging these new beginnings and are based on developmental and attachment science.