What We Need to Know About the Sandwich Generation

The Sandwich Generation is just that – a group of people sandwiched between two generations – stuck in the position of caregiver for both their children and their parents. This is a generation that is feeling the pressure to take care of everyone, but are having less help than they once did.

Many in this generation are finding the strain of being a caregiver for both their children and aging parents is causing stress, anxiety and even depression. All of this is due to a general lack of understanding and support. It’s important for everyone to realize who this generation is and how it’s possible that they will become a part of it. Here are some important details about the Sandwich Generation and the struggles they face:

It’s Growing

The amount of people considered a part of the Sandwich generation is increasing. This growth can be attributed in part to a higher mortality rate as well the rising average age before having children. The numbers make sense – we have much better medicine and care and frankly, people are living to an older age. This can put a strain on the children of seniors because they are looking after their loved ones a lot longer than they used to. Family sizes are now also a lot smaller and with less siblings around to shoulder the burden, it can fall to just one or two people who may not have the financial means or time to contribute to their parents well-being. This generation is also having children later in life than they used to which can be attributed to both our longer lifespans as well as post-secondary educations and careers. A single income used to provide for the whole family, but now, most families rely on double income in order to support themselves. All of this leads to a larger gap. The longer a person waits to have children, the older their parents get, which is leading to this overlap in supporting parents in old age and children in their growth.

It Effects Everyone

The problems facing the Sandwich Generation aren’t just effecting its own generation or their parents and children. These issues are also affecting the economy and businesses. Many members of the Sandwich Generation are feeling they have to leave the workforce to provide full time care for their loved ones. This is sometimes one of the best or only options available when considering the financial strain on this generation. If people are having to leave their jobs or consider career changes (to positions that require less time or commitment), businesses are losing highly skilled and qualified employees.

It’s a Financial Strain

A lot of parents would love to help their children with university costs, but also find themselves feeling fiscally responsible for their aging parents who may also require care. Millennials are already facing a turbulent job market right now and once leaving school a large amount are moving back in with their parents, unable to find work in their chosen field. These situations can put a large financial strain on a family who may already not have much extra money to be spending on extra expenses to begin with.

There is also the issue of pensions and retirements savings running out. With the raising levels of higher life expectancy for seniors over the last few years, it seems that seniors are running out of the money that they worked hard to save. This puts additional financial strain on their children who are still able to work, but who will now have to work a lot later into their life before retiring.

Available Transportation for Seniors

Starting in their 80th year, Ontario law requires seniors to renew their G license every two years. For a lot of seniors this causes issues, if they are deemed unable to drive, it becomes difficult for them to get to appointments, run errands, meet with friends or any other activity that requires them to leave the house. For a lot of seniors, losing their license is representative of losing their freedom and independence. It’s important for seniors to do their research and discover what other methods of transportation are available to them. This way they can continue to live their lives in almost the same manner as they are used to.

Friends/Family

It’s nice to be able to rely on friends and often times seniors are going places with their friends or family members. Carpooling is a great way to for seniors to get where they need to go. Although its not always possible to rely on friends and family members for transportation, its important to know that they are always an option in helping the seniors in their lives to get the places they need or want to go.

Public Transport/Shuttle Buses

Its important for seniors to do some research on their local transit systems. In big cities like Toronto, TTC is widely available with buses, streetcars and the subway covering the entire city. Transit systems like this make it very easy for travellers to get to their destinations. Most other smaller cities and towns also have some form of public transit available. For these smaller communities, it is unlikely that transit will allow seniors everywhere they need to go, but should allow them to get to most places. Public Transit companies usually also offer senior discounts, which are helpful to seniors with fixed salaries. For seniors living in assisted living facilities often have access to shuttle buses that are organized by the facility. These shuttles usually bring seniors to places where they can run all their errands.

Taxi’s/Uber

Even though taking taxi’s (or for tech savvy seniors taking an Uber) can be expensive, it’s important for seniors to have these options available to them. For instance, when grocery shopping, taking a taxi home is helpful because groceries can be heavy and trying to take them home on public transit would be difficult. Making sure seniors have access to taxi numbers (or the Uber app) can make a huge difference in their independence and ability to get to the places they want to be.

By Foot/Bicycle

If the location is close enough, it’s good to get a bit of exercise and either walk or bike to your desired destination. For certain errands, this option isn’t the most logical because the destinations are too far, or the errands require a lot of lifting or carrying. The best part about going places on foot or by bicycle, is that it doesn’t cost anything.

Although it can be hard for seniors when they lose their ability to drive themselves, they have many other options available to them to maintain their independence. Its important for them to do the research and find out what their options are.

 

 

How Dance Can Help Seniors to Avoid Dangerous Falls

Dance is often overlooked by many as a sport or as a means of legitimate exercise, but for many seniors it is the perfect way to strengthen the right muscles to help then with balance. Some of the most common injuries in seniors stem from serious falls. Recently Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto live streamed dance classes for elders living in rural areas to advocate this as a integral part of any seniors exercise regime. Dance requires focus and determination and works the parts of the body most important to the development of strength and safety for seniors. Preventing falls is one of the most important aspects of protecting the well being of seniors. A fall can dramatically decrease the quality of life for seniors, sometimes leading to a lack of independence, hospitalization or even chronic pain or issues. Although movement in general is good for seniors, dance can provide an all encompassing exercise that isn’t only good for them, but is also fun and something that can be done as a group activity.

Balance

 One of the largest benefits of dance classes is the general improvement of balance. Usually when seniors fall and injure themselves, the fall has stemmed from a lack of balance. Dance is a very disciplined exercise which includes different positions. For instance in ballet, there is first position (feet together with toes turned out), second position (feet shoulder width apart with toes turned out), etc. These positions along with the other movements that go along with them offer a good base for muscle memory. In a situation where a senior feels they are losing their balance, they’ll have learned these positions and may be able to prevent a fall by trusting this muscle memory.

Strength

Like any form of exercise, movement is important. In dance, strength is gained mostly in your core. This is because all movement in dance stems from the core. This is the perfect strength training for seniors looking to prevent falls because the body’s core is where balance is gained. A dance move that begins in first position will also finish in first position. For instance, if a dancer lifts their leg from first position, they will return it to the ground into that position. This works the core and teaches the body control.

Flexibility

 In general, dance is seen as an extremely flexible form of exercise. Dancers work muscles based on their own body weight and body movements. Often, dancers use stretching of their arms, legs and torsos to move their bodies into certain positions. These stretching movements will help to increase flexibility which in turn will help with overall movement capabilities. The more able a senior is with their movement, the less likely they are to fall.

 Confidence

 A big part of preventing falls and being safe in movements is confidence. Being confident will help seniors to feel in control of their bodies which is a large part of preventing falls. Practicing dance as a form of exercise will enable seniors to feel accomplished, strong and totally in control of their bodies. Like with any type of exercise, it’s important for seniors to not push themselves. Dancing in groups is more fun than it is as a solitary exercise and having an

How to Develop A Child’s Curiosity Through Everyday Situations

Children are at their most malleable in their early years. Even though they all attend school on weekdays and have certified teachers that help them learn to read, write, do math as well as various other subjects, children are likely to do a lot of their learning from their parents in everyday situations. It is important for parents to take an active role in their child’s learning. Juggling work and social obligations might make it seem impossible to find time to teach your children as well, but in using everyday situations as learning tools, you’ll find it doesn’t take much time at all. Here are some ways that you can teach your children and help them to expand their curiosity and learning:

Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping is a great way for parents to use a boring errand as a tool for learning. Ask your children to recognize brand names, for instance, in the cereal aisle, you can ask them to grab you a particular box. See if they are able to recognize it by name, by the colour schemes on the packaging or even the pictures of the cereal on the boxes. Another great thing you can do with your child at the store is have them help you count out the correct change needed to pay for your purchases.

Screen Limitations

 Screens have become an important tool for children’s learning. In schools, tablets have become a part of lessons using educational apps as teaching aids. However, a lot of children have access to tablets, smartphones and other various screens at home and aren’t necessarily using them as learning tools. Of course, its fine for children to watch TV and play games, but its also important to realize when it becomes too much. Limiting screen time will encourage children to find alternative entertainment. This can include playing with physical toys — which can encourage improvement in motor skills—or going outside, which usually involves more active play.

 Going for Walks in Nature/Gardening

 This is an especially great way to get children interested in the environment. Bird’s nests, small animals and bugs are all interesting parts of nature that will get children asking questions about different species and how they differ from us and the importance they have towards the earth. You can also have your child join you while gardening. They will see you caring for and tending to flowers and other plant life. This is also a great way to get your children involved in caring for the environment and helping them to learn from an early age the importance of respecting our planet.

 Read In Front of Your Child

 Your children look up to you and will want to copy what you’re doing. Instead of parking yourself in front of the TV and watching Netflix after dinner, read a book. This will encourage your child to seek out a book to read as well. This is an especially good tactic for reluctant readers. At first they may not actually be reading the books they pick up, but if you persevere, your child is more likely to become a reader which will help them develop.

 Read to Your Child Every Night

 Similarly, it is important to read to your child each night. Make reading a picture book or two a part of their nighttime routine. Try to get them to help you to read these books. If they are engaging with the words while looking at the pictures instead of just listening, they will pick up a lot more. This is great quality time for you to spend with your children and if you start early enough with reading to them every night, when they become older, reading at night before bedtime will be an established part of their routine. This way they are more likely to read independently at an older age.

Seniors Living in Rural Areas

How to Keep in Touch and Make Sure They’re Safe

It’s always hard to live far away from your loved ones, but as they grow older, their health and safety become a large concern. For most, it isn’t always possible to live near and care for their loved ones, but it is important to make sure that they have everything they need. For seniors living in rural areas, these concerns can be even greater. Rural areas– although great for community, larger green spaces and cleaner air—often don’t have the same support systems in place. There are fewer care facilities and often your loved ones must travel much further to access even the most basic necessities. To keep your mind at ease, here are a few suggestions to stay in touch and ensure their safety.

Hire A Care Worker

When you hire a care worker, you can rest assured that someone is with your elderly loved one often. They will be able to update you on your loved one’s health and overall happiness. This will allow you some peace of mind in knowing that your loved one is safe and looked after, but also in knowing that they have a companion. For seniors that may have mobility issues, hiring domestic help will also ensure that their home stays clean and they are having healthy meals prepared.

Check in Often

It’s important to keep in touch. Call your loved one a few times a week to see how they’re doing. This is a nice way to check that they’re okay, but it also allows you to catch up on what’s going on in their daily life and to keep them updated on what you’re doing.

If your elderly loved one is technology savvy, send them an email to let them know you’re thinking about them. There are also many free video chat services like Skype that allow you to see each other. This is a great option if your loved one has a computer with an available webcam.

Have A Communication Plan in Place

At times, life gets busy and its easy to forget to check in on a loved one. By putting a communication plan in place, it’ll be easier to keep track of the last time you spoke and how your loved one is feeling. It will also be a special dedicated time for you and your elderly loved one to be in touch and create memories, even if they aren’t in person. For some, this could be a scheduled call that is set for the same time weekly, making it expected and memorable. For others, based upon their work and social calendars, it may be difficult to set aside a particular time. In this case, plan on a week by week basis and write down the time and make sure it is plainly visible.

Have an Emergency Contact

If you do hire a care worker for your loved one, you have a built-in emergency contact. This will be the person who checks in physically and lets you know if something has happened. If you don’t have a care worker employed, talk to your loved one’s close friends and neighbours. Exchange contact information with them and if at any point you haven’t heard from your loved one, get in touch with that friend or neighbour and have them check in.

Visit

With work, family and your social life, it can sometimes be hard to put aside time to spend time with your elderly loved ones, especially if they live far away in a rural area. Try to schedule a weekend to stay with your loved one, or take a few days off work. The time you spend with them in these visits can create great memories and allow you to feel at ease that they are safe and doing well. You’ll never forget these moments shared and the time spent together.

 

The Best Types of Exercise for Seniors

We all know exercise is important for our health, but did you know that it’s even more important for those over 65? You might worry that your senior loved one will fall or hurt themself, but the benefits of exercise for seniors far outweigh the risks, even for those who are frail or suffering from age-related disease – as long as it’s the right kind of exercise done safely.

Exercise can help extend seniors’ lives and improve their quality of life. It helps seniors prevent falls and injuries, feel strong, and have more energy, so they can remain independent. It can also reduce the risk of developing medical conditions and improve existing ones, including Alzheimer’s and diabetes. It also improves blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.

It’s actually more dangerous for seniors to NOT exercise. When seniors aren’t active, their bodies stop being able to do things they once could. Not only are seniors who aren’t active less independent, but they’re more likely to fall and injure themselves.

Now that we know why exercise is important for seniors, it’s time to help them get active! Find an exercise program your senior loved one will enjoy, so they’ll stick with it. Water aerobics, swing dancing, tai chi, and golf are all excellent exercise opportunities for seniors. Many exercises can also be done at home and don’t require special equipment. On the other hand, seniors’ classes at your local community centre are fun, social, and supervised by a trained professional.

There are four types of exercise seniors should incorporate in their routine for a well-rounded exercise program to help them stay fit, happy, and healthy.

Endurance

Also known as aerobic exercise, endurance exercise gets the heart rate up and gets the respiratory and cardiovascular systems working. Doctors recommend 30 minutes of endurance exercise a day for seniors, which can be broken down into three 10-minute periods for those new to an exercise routine.
The best endurance exercises for seniors are low-impact cardio, like brisk walking, cycling, and dancing. Many community centres offer swimming and water aerobics, which are easier on the joints, and fun classes like tai chi, square dancing, and Zumba Gold, a low-impact dance class designed specifically for older adults. When it’s nice out, take your senior loved one outside for a walk, hike, or even a friendly tennis match to add some vitamin D and socializing to their routine. A senior should notice a difference after a couple weeks of endurance exercise – they’ll be able to work out and perform their day-to-day activities without getting winded or tired.

Strength

Strength and resistance exercises build muscle and strengthen bones. Even small changes to a senior’s strength can have a big impact on their life, by making it easier to do everyday tasks like carrying groceries, getting out of a chair, doing housework, and climbing stairs. Strengthening major muscle groups can also help seniors avoid falls and broken bones and prevent osteoporosis and bone loss.
Doing strength and resistance exercises twice a week is recommended for seniors. They can use one- or two-pound weights or resistance bands, and do 10 to 15 repetitions of exercises like biceps curls and chest presses, progressively increasing the weights as it gets easy for them to build strength. They can also do bodyweight exercises that don’t require equipment. Lunges, leg raises, squats, and modified push-ups on a wall can all help seniors get stronger. Seniors can also sign up at a local gym or community rec centre to use the equipment or attend classes.

Balance

Improving balance is very important for seniors because it improves posture and minimizes the risk of falls, which minimizes the risk of injuries. Yoga and tai chi are great activities that help promote and maintain balance, but there are also simple balance exercises seniors can do at home, like standing on one foot, walking heel to toe, back leg raises, and side raises. Practice doing these while resting a hand on a sturdy chair before reaching the comfort level of doing them freestanding.

Flexibility

Flexibility and stretching exercises help seniors stay limber, prevent injury, and reduce muscle soreness and stiffness. It helps them retain their range of motion, so basic daily tasks, like reaching the top shelf and getting dressed, are easy still easy to do as they age. Simple stretches, like neck and leg stretches, can be done at home to start the day or before other exercises. There are also stretching classes designed specifically for seniors, and yoga and Pilates classes available at many rec centres.

Tips for Choosing an Assisted Living Facility

You’ve decided it’s time to move your parent into an assisted living facility, a happy medium between independent living and a nursing home. They’ll get help with daily activities, be part of a community of peers, and retain some privacy and independence, but they’ll also have peace of mind knowing help is only a call away. It might have been a tough choice to make, but you know it’s the right one.
Now it’s your job to find the perfect place that will ensure your senior loved one is safe, happy, and comfortable. Here are some tips to help you choose the right assisted living facility for the senior in your life.

Involve your senior

It can be tempting to choose the place you like best, but remember, you’re not the one living there. Discuss with your senior loved one their wants, needs, and preferences, and get them involved in the search and decision-making process. It’s important that the assisted living facility feels homey and comfortable to them. It’s all about personal preference. Would they rather be in a large facility with lots of people to socialize with and activities to participate in, or a smaller, cozier environment? If they’re not able to participate in the decision-making process, be sure to consider their personality and preferences instead of your own.

Visit

You won’t be able to find out everything you need to know from a brochure. Plan an in-person visit and tour around lunchtime or for an activity or event. This will allow you to see the culture and community at the facility, when the residents are out and about. While you’re there, pay attention to how well the facility is taken care of. Once you get a sense of the place, it’s easier to go with your intuition about which facility feels right.

Look at the amenities

Laundry, transportation services, 24-hour staff assistance, housekeeping, outdoor spaces, common areas – most assisted living facilities offer these amenities. Instead of looking for the facility with the best or most amenities, look for the one that matches your seniors’ needs. What good is gym if Dad can’t move around so easy anymore? But a library, on the other hand, might be more important to him. Whether there is a shared bathroom or private one in each room, is it handicapped-equipped? Whether rooms are private or shared, is there enough storage space?

Don’t judge a book by its cover

Just because a facility is pricey and fancy doesn’t mean it offers the best care. Yes, you want to get a feel for the cleanliness, atmosphere, and facilities when you take a tour, but don’t get distracted by appearances. The fanciest place doesn’t necessarily mean that’s where your parent will be happiest. It’s more important to pay attention to the people during your visit. Are the staff caring and friendly? Are the residents happy? Do they seem like people your parent would like to get to know?

Check out activities and events

Most assisted living facilities offer activities for their residents to participate in. They are fun, give the residents something to do, and help the community come together and socialize. Have a look at the scheduled activities. Would your loved ones be interested in them? Are there outings? If it’s important to your loved one, are there religious services? Try to schedule your visit to coincide with activities and events, and see if they are well attended.

Try the food

Nutrition is important for health, especially as we age. So if your parent hates the food, that’s a problem. Ask if you can sample a meal at the facility. This will give you a chance to see what mealtime is like and if the other residents seem to enjoy the food. Make sure the food is nutritious and appetizing, and ask all your food-related questions. How many meals a day are provided and at what times? Are there different food options that cater to specific dietary needs? Can residents bring food back to their room or cook their own food if they have a kitchenette? Can visitors join residents for meals or in a private room for family events?

Get reviews and feedback

In addition to talking to the residents and their families when you visit, look online for ratings and reviews. Talk to friends who have already gone through the process. Ask for their honest opinions. You might even consider consulting with a senior advocate or geriatric care manager. This type of experienced professional can make the decision much easier.

Consider the cost

Realistically, money will likely be a determining factor in choosing a facility. However, as we’ve mentioned above, pricier doesn’t mean better. Different facilities have different price structures, and the cost will likely depend on your senior loved one’s personal needs, so it it’s important to get a clear answer from the staff. Make sure you know what’s included and what’s extra. Room and board might be a flat rate, but there might be an additional charge for services like laundry, transportation to appointments, medication management, bathing assistance and meal delivery. Does the price depend on how much care a resident requires? Make sure you understand the billing and payment, and get a sense of how rates have gone up in the past.

Feel confident about the care

To know you’re making the right choice, you need to feel comfortable with the health care provided and know your senior loved one feels safe and secure. How is the care plan developed? Are the staff well trained? How are emergencies handled? Is there 24/7 nurse staff? Be realistic about both current and future health care needs. Make sure the facility you choose is equipped to handle your parent’s needs now and as they age, so they don’t need to move again soon. This will give both you and your senior loved one peace of mind.

Location isn’t everything

Sorry to say it, but convenience for you shouldn’t the top priority when choosing an assisted living facility for your parent. You should choose the facility that best suits their needs, not one that is 10 minutes closer to you. Sure, you may say that if it’s closer you’ll visit more, but that’s usually an unrealistic expectation. Plus, if your parent is happy, has made friends, and is busy doing activities, you won’t need to visit every day.

Struggles of the Sandwich Generation – and How to Overcome Them

What is the sandwich generation?

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you fall into sandwich generation. The sandwich generation describes a generation of people, typically in their 30s, 40s, and 50s, who are sandwiched between two generations. They care for and support their own children and their aging parents – financially, emotionally, physically, or all three.
There are a couple of trends that have led to this phenomenon. On one hand, people are waiting longer to have children, and those children are being cared for even as adults. Think kids moving back home post-college, and adults still living with their parents or getting financial support from them (Sound familiar?). On the other hand, life expectancy has increased and people are living longer. And with smaller family sizes, there are fewer people to share the responsibility of caring for seniors as they age. As a result, there are many people, both men and women, who are the primary caregivers for both their children and their parents.
According to Statistics Canada, the sandwich generation includes over 2 million Canadians. They are usually juggling full-time jobs in addition to supporting three generations at once: their kids, their parents, and themselves.

The challenges

Balancing a job, supporting kids, and caring for elderly parents can be consuming and take a pretty big toll physically, emotionally, and financially. While it’s not all negative, and many senior caregivers find it rewarding to give back and find that is strengthens their relationship, there are many struggles and obstacles that those in the sandwich generation face:
• Mental and emotional fatigue
• Financial burden
• Burnout and exhaustion
• Less time for social activities
• Poor sleep habits
• Stress and frustration
• Less personal time
• Mental health problems (depression and anxiety)
• Less career development
• Difficulty managing their time
• Feelings of isolation and guilt

Tips for the sandwich generation

Yes, it’s difficult. But no, it’s not impossible. Here are some tips to make life easier for those in the sandwich generation:
• Assess your financial resources – re-budget to figure out how you’ll cover the costs and plan ahead for your personal goals, so you don’t get left behind.
• Take advantage of the applicable tax benefits claiming your parent as a dependent and applying for a family caregiver tax credit might be beneficial for you.
• Communicate – get your situation, including financial, out in the open, so the whole family knows where you stand.
• Spread the workload – get your kids to pitch in with household chores and have siblings and other relatives help take care of your parents.
• Consider having your parent move in with you.
• Accept help from others – you don’t have to do everything yourself. When people offer to help, let them!
• Set financial boundaries – determine how much you are willing to spend on each dependent a month, a don’t go above that amount,
• Get professional caregiving assistance – use BookJane to help you find a qualified senior or child care provider for an extra hand when you need it.
• Sleep when you can.
• Look on the bright side – it’s great that you get to spend so much time with loved ones, so try to enjoy it, find humour, and laugh as much as possible.
• Don’t try to control everything – let your children and parents be as independent as they can be.
• Take care of yourself – if you are suffering from medical issues, like anxiety and insomnia, make sure you get proper health care too.
• Help your kids get financially independent as soon as possible – teach financial literacy early on, and keep them informed with your family planning.
• Don’t forget to eat, sleep, and exercise.
• Consider counseling – or online support groups to cope with the stress of caregiving.
• Be kind to yourself – you need to take care of yourself in order to better take care of others. Give yourself a break, go to a yoga class, have a spa day class or an evening out with friends to recharge your batteries.
• Talk to your employer about benefits – many companies offer flexible working hours, telecommuting, and employee assistance programs.
• Get creative with senior care financing – have an estate sale or use your parents’ investments.

Tips for Spring Cleaning with Your Kids

It’s that time of year again. The snow is melting, the birds are chirping, and you’re starting to notice dust in all the nooks and crannies of your home. Time for spring cleaning!

It can be a daunting task to clean your home from top to bottom, especially for a busy parent with a hectic household. But it shouldn’t be a job just for you – the whole family helps contribute to the mess after all! Make the kids part of the solution rather than the problem, and have them help with spring cleaning. Whether you’re scrubbing every inch or focusing on organizing and decluttering, you could use an extra set of helping hands, no matter how little. Here are some tips for getting the kids involved in spring cleaning!

Find the right tasks

This is important, because if you give your child a task they don’t like, they’ll get bored and hate cleaning, and if you give them a task that’s too hard, they’ll get discouraged and hate cleaning. For a toddler, vacuuming the living room is too difficult, but putting away their toys is just right. Not only should the task they’re given match their ability, but they should enjoy it and find it rewarding too. Give them options and let them decide which chore they want to do first. It will be more fun for them (Many kids actually find swiffering and dusting fun!), and they’ll feel in charge, so they’ll take charge.
While you should encourage your kids to help clean the common spaces, it’s also important to get them in the habit of taking responsibility for cleaning their own things, like febreezing their gymnastics bag, for example. Just remember to have realistic expectations here – if you ask a preschooler to make their bed, they probably won’t be able to do it perfectly, but appreciate that they’re trying and let them know what a good job they did.

Be specific

You’ve probably already noticed that when you just ask your child to clean their room, nothing gets done. If you really want your child to get involved, you’ve got to start them off with small, specific tasks. So instead of giving them the general instruction “clean your room,” let them choose a specific task to start with, like cleaning their desk, organizing their book shelf, or putting their clothes away. For older kids, it’s best to give them a specific time frame too. They probably won’t jump at the opportunity to tidy up as soon as you ask them to, but if you ask them to do it by the end of the weekend or before they go to a friend’s house, you’ll have much better luck.

Make it fun

Yes, you read that right; housecleaning can be fun. Try turning it into a game to make it feel less like a chore. Set a timer and have the kids pick up as many toys as they can off the floor before it goes off. Call out a colour and have them pick up and put away everything that’s that colour. Some friendly competition can be a great way to motivate kids. Who can find the most markers with no lids? Who can pull out the most clothes that no longer fit them? When you’re going through the closet, set up baskets labelled “toss,” “save” and “donate,” and have a blast shooting clothes into the right bin like your favourite basketball stars. You’ll have so much fun you’ll forget you’re cleaning!

Play some tunes

Another tried and tested way to make cleaning fun is blasting some beats, so the whole family can disco while they dust and tango while they tidy. For little ones, you can find lots of “clean-up songs” and other great music for kids. Older kids can make a playlist of their favourite songs to crank up while you clean. Challenge your kids to finish a small task by the end of the song, and let them boogie down if they finish early. It’ll make the time go faster, and you’ll burn some extra calories.

Set aside time

Doing a thorough spring cleaning can be a process, so give your family time to work on it with no distractions. Write in the family calendar that Saturday afternoon everyone will be clearing out their closet, or Sunday morning you’re going through the pantry and scrubbing the kitchen together. But be realistic. You can’t expect to get everything done in an afternoon, and you also can’t expect your kids to spend their whole weekend cleaning. Instead of trying to get everything done in one long session, spread the job over a couple of weeks, devoting a couple hours each week to spring cleaning.

Work together

Make spring cleaning a family event, and show your kids how teamwork makes it easier to get a big job done. Not only will working as a group help motivate your kids, but it also makes cleaning more fun! Instead of sending the little ones in to scrub the tub all alone, have Dad join them and polish the fixtures while you shine the mirror. You can get in some good family time and conversation, and your kids will learn cleaning techniques from you and pick up on your positive attitude towards cleaning.

Don’t overdo it

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you definitely won’t be able to make your home spotless in a day either. So don’t push your kids too hard or overwork them, or they’ll put up a fight and resent cleaning. Take breaks, so they don’t get burned out. Break up the cleaning into smaller tasks and more manageable chunks of time. While the kids should be involved where they can be, hire a babysitter to get the kids out of the house while you tackle the more challenging tasks, like cleaning out the garage and attic.

Offer incentives

To motivate your kids and to show your appreciation for a job well done, there’s no shame in giving your kids rewards. They might be sad they’re getting rid of their old things, so get them a new toy they’ve been asking for as a thank-you. They may complain that they have to clean, but they won’t give up if they know an extra hour of screen time is their reward. After spending a Sunday afternoon cleaning, reward the family with a pizza party and movie. This shows that if they are willing to help out, you’re willing to do them a favour.

Do good

While you’re cleaning up, get rid of anything that’s broken, the kids have outgrown, or that hasn’t been used in a year. Not only will you feel cleansed and rejuvenated, but you can do some good with the things you no longer need but are still in good condition. Help show your kids the bigger picture by donating these items to a charity that helps families in need. You could also throw a yard sale, which is a great opportunity to teach kids about money. Ask the kids to make signs, gather supplies, sort the inventory, and even be the cashier. You can keep the profits and donate whatever doesn’t get sold, or give all the proceeds to charity.

5 Things Grandparents Can Learn from Their Grandkids

Grandparents are full of wisdom, so usually we think about how they can bestow knowledge onto the younger generations. But there’s a lot older adults can learn from kids too. Grandparents might have a lot of life experience and know about family history, but kids have a different perspective on the world and know all about the current trends. Here are some things kids can teach their grandparents and some reasons you should make sure they get to spend lots of time together.

Technology
Most grandparents didn’t grow up with a lot of technology, so it might seem complicated to them at first. But once they get the hang of how to use new technologies, with their grandkids’ help of course, they can make their lives a lot easier. They could download Uber app to their iPad, for example, and use it to get lifts to run errands and go to appointments. Technology is also a great way to communicate – whether it’s through email, texting, Skype, or Facebook. Kids have grown up with these gadgets and social media channels, so they can easily teach Grandma and Grandpa the basics. Not only is this an opportunity for them to bond, but it’s also a way for them to stay in touch. You’d be surprised how many seniors use social media to stay close to loved ones and reconnect with friends from the past!

Determination
Kids can be very determined. They are learning how to do things on their own, and they want to be independent and do everything themselves. From tying their shoes to learning to read to riding a bike, they believe in themselves and don’t give up. Seniors can learn a lot from this attitude. It could inspire them to try something new they’ve always wanted to do, like learn how to swing dance or make gnocchi from scratch, and encourage them not to give up with the hobbies and tasks they’re already doing.

Video games
Yes, that’s right! Seniors can get a lot of benefits from video games. Not only are they a fun form of entertainment, but they get seniors up and moving, giving them some exercise and mental stimulation. So the next time Gram and Pap come to visit, why not have your kids teach them how to play Wii tennis and set up a round robin for some friendly competition.

Pop culture and current events
Especially today, kids are plugged into everything that’s going on in the world. Seniors, on the other hand, might start to feel disconnected from the modern world as they age. But kids can keep their grandparents informed and let them in on the latest trends, whether it’s the news, popular musicians, or the latest blockbusters and TV shows. A grandchild might want to share her most recent playlist with Gramps if he loves music. Maybe a grandkid would like to introduce his grandmother to some new TV shows, like Breaking Bad, or take her to the movies to see an Oscar-nominated film. This not only gives grandparents and grandkids something to talk about and do together, but it also helps grandparents feel in touch with the world and gives them some conversation starters.

Living in the moment
Kids know how to have carefree fun. They jump feet first into puddles, not worrying about whether or not they’re wearing rain boots. Where you see a cardboard box, they see a castle. Kids can teach seniors how to look at things with fresh eyes and how to let go and have fun. As people age, they can become cynical, unhappy, and anxious about the future, so spending time with grandkids can help remind grandparents that life is short, and we should enjoy it.