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Here are 7 tips to encourage kids to clean their bedrooms, without raising your voice or losing your mind:

7 Ways to Encourage Kids to Clean their Bedrooms

FAM, kids, LIVE, play By April 19, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , , , 2 Comments

You’ve threatened, cajoled – even begged your kids to tidy up.  But it still seems you’re the one facing the ultimatum: either ignore the mess or do it for them.

Here are 7 tips to encourage kids to clean their bedrooms, without raising your voice or losing your mind:


Gifts that Sparkle

entertain, holidays, Shopping Reviews By November 25, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 8 Comments

It’s Day 6 of our 12 Days of Christmas Gift Guides and with US Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday approaching, our mood is incredibly optimistic!

clothing your kids on any budget

Clothing your Kids on any Budget

FAM, kids By July 2, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

Every parent knows the constant challenge of trying to clothe growing kids – especially as the seasons change.  You finally assemble a basic wardrobe, and suddenly the clothes are too hot or too cold.  Add style-conscious older kids to the mix, and clothing your kids on any budget can seem like an impossible task.

Here are 7 tips for keeping clothing costs down, while opening kids’ minds to a world of clothing possibilities:

Build a basic wardrobe: You don’t need a dozen of everything to make sure kids are covered.  Children shoot up so quickly that most outgrow the clothes long before they wear out.  A few well-made pairs of pants, a few tops, a hoodie or jacket, and you’re set.

Borrow expensive items: Resist buying items like suits, ties, formal shoes, leather belts, dress pants or formal dresses for events like weddings (they often get only one wearing anyway.) Find a family with children the same size, and ask to borrow the item for a day.  The photos will look just as sweet!

Organize a clothes-swap:  Many kids dread hand-me-down bags from their cousins or neighbors, as items are often the wrong size or not to their taste.  But four or five families together can come up with a few things for everyone.

Consider alterations: If you don’t sew, too-big clothing from clothes swaps or hand-me-down bags can be altered at your local dry-cleaners for a fraction of the price of buying the same item new.

Buy second-hand: Most of the children’s clothing in places like Value Village is nearly new, the selection is vast, and the price is a fraction of what you’d spend for retail.  Some stores give you a discount for donating your used clothing before you shop, bringing the cost down further.

Split the difference: Your child may be averse to wearing someone else’s cast-offs, so meet them halfway.  Perhaps you buy that new jacket they’ve been wanting elsewhere, in exchange for second-hand shopping for the rest.

Weave in the learning:  How many pounds of used clothes end up in landfill sites each year?  Do we really know who makes the clothes we buy at the shopping mall, and what conditions they work under?  Kids may be ready to consider second hand once they know (visit to learn more).

Disclosure: This post was made possible through World Vision Canada’s #NoChildforSale campaign.


Building the ‘Gratitude Muscle’ this Canada Day

charity, FAM By June 29, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , , No Comments

Nurturing Gratitude this Canada DayThere are concrete blessings for kids who learn to count their blessings, the Wall Street Journal recently reported.  In one study, high school students with high levels of gratitude reported having stronger marks, less depression and envy, and a more positive outlook than less grateful teens.

But gratitude is like a muscle – it needs regular exercise.  You have to use it regularly if you want to see the benefits.

Canada Day is a great opportunity to nurture gratitude in our teens and younger children. As we prepare to celebrate with parades, fireworks and barbecues, we can also explore with our kids the many reasons why it’s great to live in Canada.

Here are five suggestions for building gratitude muscle this Canada Day:

1)     Compare notes: Spend some time with a friend, acquaintance or neighbour who has immigrated to Canada.  Encourage your kids to ask questions about life elsewhere.  How is life different for kids here?

2)     Dollar a day: Brainstorm over a meal about how living on a dollar a day would look.  What would have to come off the dinner table to make the budget? What else would have had to go that day?

3)     Watch the news: Have each family member recall a news story that makes them feel grateful to live in Canada.  Share stories making the news, such as the war in Syria, or child slavery.

4)     Pick a kids’ issue: Look together at a web site exploring a challenge affecting young people, like or 

5)     Start a tradition: Make an online donation to an organization helping children overseas, as a symbol of your family’s gratitude for life in Canada.


Who’s Making YOUR Breakfast in Bed?

EAT, holidays By June 12, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , , , , No Comments

Breakfast in BedMany parents are wakened on special occasions by an ominous clattering in the kitchen: loving-hearted children preparing to surprise us with coffee or hot chocolate in bed.  There’s also that cinnamon toast or oatmeal positively doused with sugar.

What many parents don’t realize is that such meals usually come courtesy of a whole crew of children.  Chocolate, coffee and sugar are often harvested by kids in developing countries.  Some children are even trafficked – taken from their parents to be sold into slavery – onto plantations far from home.  Others are forced into labour to help put food on the table at home.

Most Canadian parents struggle to keep costs down, yet our lower prices here are made possible by low pay overseas.  Many children are forced to work for no pay, making our price tags even more appealing.  Take cocoa for instance.

“An estimated 1.8 million children work to provide the world with its cocoa, in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana,” says World Vision Canada’s Cheryl Hotchkiss.  Hotchkiss explains that child workers are often trafficked – kidnapped and sold – into labour.  They work in brutally dangerous conditions, with sharp machetes and toxic chemicals.  Many are physically abused so they’ll work harder.  Few are given adequate food or rest.

It’s easier to snuggle down under our covers than admit we live in a world where child labour is still prevalent.  But it’s also pretty simple to do something to help change things.  Fair trade cocoa, coffee, tea and sugar are available in many grocery stories.  While they cost more, the payoff is much greater than a mouthful of sweetness.

“We made it into a field trip,” says Toronto mom Debbie Wolfe, of her first fair trade shopping trip with her two sons. “We stood in the grocery aisle, read the labels, and talked about how we’d be helping a real child and his family.”

“We’ve never enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate so much.”

To learn more ways to help end child slavery, visit

Disclosure: This post was made possible through efforts of World Vision Canada.