Child Care Options for March Break

Your kids are probably already talking about March break; they can’t wait to be on vacation from school. You, on the other hand, might not be quite as excited. March break can be a stressful time for busy and working parents. Working parents usually don’t get as much vacation time from work as their kids get from school, so you may need some extra support. Since most kids are off at the same time, the sooner you make your child care arrangements for March break, the better. But what are your options?

Take time off
If you can swing it, working from home or taking the time off is a great way to take a break from your normal routine and make March break special for you and your kids. Visit the aquarium or catch a matinee of that new animated film – or just stay up past bedtime eating pancakes in your PJs. You can do fun activities, go on outings, and spend quality time together making memories. Since you’re already taking the time off work, it could be opportunity to plan a family vacation. This option may not be feasible for all parents, but perhaps you and your partner can split the time, each taking off half the week or alternating days.

Family and friends
If you’re lucky enough to have friends or relatives willing to help you out, you might as well take advantage. So you don’t feel guilty, offer to reciprocate playdates with a stay-at-home friend or neighbour by watching their kids on the weekend. You can also check if your kids’ grandparents are available. They’ll be thrilled to spend time with their grandkids, and might even let them stay the night. It can be difficult to depend on the kindness of others for a whole week, so make sure you have a solid plan B in case these arrangements fall through.

Hire a caregiver
For a dependable, convenient and personalized child care option, use BookJane to help you find a qualified child care provider in your area. The benefits? They’ll come right to your home and give your children their undivided attention. Plus, you only have to book them (and pay them) for the hours they’re needed, which works well if you don’t need child care full-time for the whole week. Having a babysitter at home is a fun break from your kids’ usual routine, and you get the peace of mind knowing your kids are in good hands while you’re at work. If your kids really hit it off with their Jane, you can use them to watch the kids on future date nights!

Child care centres
Many daycares, child care centres, and before-and-after school programs that you might already use regularly offer extended services to coincide with school holidays like March break. While this may seem like an obvious choice, getting ready and going to a child care centre feels a lot like the same old routine of going to school, not like a break for your kids. However, it is a fun, safe place your child can spend the day. Spots fill up fast and priority is usually given to parents who use their services year-round, so reserve your spot as soon as possible.

March break camps
Many community centres, YMCAs, museums, and after-school classes offer week-long programs during March break. They cool thing about these is they’re interest-based, with camps focused on everything from sports to science to art. This will be a similar routine for you, with packing a lunch and doing drop-off/pick-up, but it’s a blast for the kids, who’ll get to learn new skills in subjects that interest them, participate in awesome activities, and make new friends. Book your spot early; programs like these also fill up fast, and some can be quite pricey.


10 Brain-Boosting Foods for Seniors

We all know how important nutrition is to our health, especially as we age. Certain foods, rich in vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory oils, can help keep your brain happy and healthy as you age. Make sure the seniors in your life are eating these foods that help boost the brain and fight memory loss – and they’re pretty delicious too.

Fatty fish
Did you know the brain is the fattiest organ? It can be up to 60% fat! So it’s no surprise that healthy fats are the best fuel for your brain – and fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines are full of them! These oily fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Having low levels of DHA can increase your risk for memory loss and Alzheimer’s, but having healthy levels of both helps improve memory, preserve brain function, and even manage stress and boost your mood. To get these benefits, opt for wild-caught fish; farm-raised can have mercury and other toxins.

All nuts are good for the noggin, but with their vitamin E, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties, Walnuts are brain-food superstars. Emerging research suggests that vitamin E might help ward off Alzheimer’s and prevent cognitive decline, particularly in the elderly. Eating walnuts can also improve mental alertness, reaction time, and memory recall.

Dark Chocolate
Just in case you needed an excuse to eat chocolate, here it is. Dark chocolate is a good source of antioxidants, particularly flavonoids. Since flavonoids stimulate blood flow to the brain, they have a number of brain-boosting benefits, like helping your memory, attention span, reaction time, and problem solving. In seniors, chocolate can help with short-term memory loss and lower their risk of dementia. So go ahead and get your chocolate fix, but skip the Kit Kat. Have some dark chocolate instead – the darker, the better.

We’re not yolking around here. Eggs may have gotten a bad nutritional rap in the past, but studies now show that eggs have no effect on cholesterol levels, but they do have brain-boosting power. One of the best-known sources of choline, a nutrient vital in fetal brain development, eggs support memory, brain health, and cognition. If you want to keep your memory sharp as you age, get cracking.

These little blue bundles of deliciousness pack a huge punch of memory-enhancing antioxidants, including vitamin C. Research shows that blueberries can forestall and improve age-related mental decline, like short-term memory loss. Because these powerhouse fruits help clear the brain of toxins, they can also protect against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. For similar benefits, look for other dark-skinned fruits, like blackberries, raspberries, and plums.                                      

As mentioned above, our brains feed on fat, and avocados have lots of mono-saturated fat – the good kind of fat. Avocados are also high in vitamin K and folic acid. These nutrients can prevent blood clots (protecting against stroke) and boost memory and concentration. Avocados help your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins, giving them the name “nutrient boosters.” That’s reason enough to order that side of guacamole, even if it costs extra.

Leafy green vegetables
A study on older adults found that those who ate a servings of leafy green veggies – like kale, spinach, and broccoli – once or twice a day experienced slower mental deterioration than those who ate no veggies. That’s because leafy greens are nutrient-dense, with vitamin K, B vitamins, folic acid, and antioxidants – all brain superfoods. They help keep your memory sharp, ward off brain aging, and improve brain function. Vitamin K is especially known to help with verbal memory, helping to prevent you from forgetting words as you get older. Like your mother always said, eat your greens!

Coconut oil
Coconut oil seems to have a million health benefits – including benefits for your brain. In addition to acting as an anti-inflammatory, coconut oil has a high concentration of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs, found in breast milk and essential for babies’ developing brains, feed the brain directly, improving memory and delaying brain aging.

This spice gets is bright yellow colour from curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Not only does curcumin reduce brain inflammation, but it also breaks up and prevents the formation of brain plaques that clog neural pathways in the brain and might cause Alzheimer’s. In fact, elderly villagers in India who regularly have turmeric as part of their diet have the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s in the world.

Extra virgin olive oil                                                                                                       You made have heard of the Mediterranean diet, considered one of the healthiest ways to eat. It consists of lots of fruit and veggies, fish rather than red meat, and – you guessed it – extra virgin olive oil. The Mediterranean diet is said to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by 40%, since EVOO helps fight against brain toxins that induce the disease. Plus, the antioxidants called polyphenols in EVOO boost learning and memory. Greek salad, anyone?


6 Apps That Make Being a Parent Easier

Parenting can be tough. But just like most things in our lives, technology can make it a whole lot easier. From finding you a babysitter on the fly to helping your child get to bed, downloadable apps like these can help relieve some of the difficulties and stress of parenting.

When should you introduce formula? How do you get a fussy kid to eat their veggies? What’s the best baby monitor? Get answers to pressing parenting questions like these, quick. StartMom is an online forum that helps parents get advice from other parents – and not snarky, talking-down-to-you advice either. The SmartMom community is helpful and supportive, sharing insight on everything from breastfeeding to discipline. And you can win awesome prizes, like toys and strollers, for sharing advice. Bonus!

Out of Milk
Ever returned home from the grocery store only to find that you totally forgot the one thing you really needed? Or sent your partner to get milk and they come home with 2% instead of skim? These problems are a thing of the past with Out of Milk. This app helps you create, organize, track, and share your grocery list. You’ll never forget your shopping list again!

When something comes up and you need a babysitter fast, BookJane is there for you. BookJane helps you find qualified nearby child caregivers on demand – which really comes in handy when you need someone to watch your kids at a moment’s notice. The app lets you search through caregivers that have all gone through a rigorous screening process, so you know they’re trusted and reliable. You can even look at their qualifications and reviews to find one that suits your needs. Once you’ve found a caregiver, booking and even paying them through the app is easy!

PBS Parents Play and Learn
No need to feel guilty entertaining your kids with apps when they’re educational too, like this award-winning one from PBS Kids. It’s built for parents to enjoy with their children, playing, talking, and learning together. Its fun, interactive games and hands-on activities set in familiar places, like the garden and grocery store, help little ones learn basic math and literacy skills. Each game also has a tip for parents on a teachable moment.

Baby Tracker
Baby Tracker helps new parents track their baby’s health, daily habits, and exciting milestones. Use it to keep a comprehensive record of feedings, diaper changes, and sleep patterns. Baby Tracker will show you your child’s patterns, so you can plan your schedule around theirs, and share it with caregivers or health care providers – great for those suffering from baby brain!

This app creates a bedtime ritual that will have toddlers and preschoolers getting into bed – and staying in bed – with the help of an adorable dino friend. Sleepasaurus lets kids choose a dinosaur sleeping buddy. After they sprinkle some magic dust, the dinosaur goes to sleep and won’t wake up until morning (whatever time you set). When your child wakes up and sees the dinosaur still snoozing, they’ll know it’s not time to get up yet – helping you catch some extra Z’s in the morning.

Fun Outings for Seniors

As our senior loved ones age, they spend less time out and about, and more time at home alone. This can take a toll on them physically and mentally, and lead to isolation and depression. Outings help seniors get exercise, be social, and have fun. And since it might be hard for them to get around on their own – and having company makes an outing even better – you should join them! Here are some ideas for entertaining outings you can go on with seniors.

If the weather is nice, a picnic is a great opportunity to share a nutritious meal and experience the outdoors with senior loved ones. You can bring a blanket and sit in the backyard, or find a picnic table at a local park. Choose a park with a playground – older adults get a real kick out of watching young children playing and laughing.

Ceramics class
Ceramics is a great outlet for artistic expression, whether molding a vase or painting a bowl. Not only is it a blast, but your senior loved one will get to take home a finished piece they can proudly display and use.

Library     There’s much more for seniors to discover at the library than just a selection large-print books! In addition to books, magazines and Internet access, many libraries offer class, book clubs, lectures, and author readings. Check out your local library’s upcoming events!

The mall                                                                                                                                An afternoon at the mall is a nice way for seniors to do some people watching, buy anything they might need, and get a change of scenery. Have lunch in the food court or see a movie. This will help them stay in the loop on pop culture too.

Nature walk                                                                                                                      This low-intensity exercise can be altered based on ability from a stroll down the street to a hike on a nature trail. Even people in wheelchairs can partake with a little assistance. Don’t forget to bring a hat, sunscreen, water, and binoculars – you might even spot a bird or two!

Taking a senior to a favourite restaurant they’ve had for many years can be a special, nostalgic treat. Make your visit at off-peak hours when the restaurant will be less busy and overwhelming, even if it’s just to enjoy a coffee and dessert in the middle of the afternoon.

A relaxing way to get some fresh air. You can chat while you wait for a catch, or just sit quietly and enjoy the tranquil scenery. Seniors with an interest in fishing will love sharing their best fishing tips and stories.

Fitness class
Senior fitness classes get older adults moving and grooving. A popular option is Zumba Gold, a high-energy Latin-inspired dance workout designed specifically for seniors. Water aerobics is better for older adults suffering from arthritis, back problems and osteoporosis, as it’s easier on the joints.

Craft show
With  booths to visit, crafts to look at and artisanal snacks to try, a craft show will keep you and your senior loved one busy all afternoon. You might find a handmade pillow to jazz up the couch, or you might come home with ideas for crafts you’d like to try together – maybe even a new hobby!

This outing isn’t very physically demanding and can be very therapeutic. Music stimulates the brain and enhances memory – in addition to getting toes tapping and hips swaying. It’s an especially engaging outing for seniors who don’t have great eyesight. Look out for musical concerts and performances in your community.

Botanical garden
Gardening is a beloved outdoor activity, even for those who might not be able to garden anymore. Enjoy the sights and smells of the blooming flowers at a nearby public garden. You can stroll around or choose a bench near their favourite blossoms to rest on.

You’re never too old to learn new things and enjoy beautiful works of art. Walk around leisurely and admire the paintings and artefacts, then sit down and discuss your favourite ones. Most museums have seniors discounts and evenings with free entry.

A drive
There’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned Sunday drive. Pick up your senior loved one and take them on a tour of your town. Visit their favourite spots and notice how things have changed or stayed the same. Feel free to park and get out of the car if your senior is able to.

How to Keep Your Kids Active This Winter

We all know physical activity is important for kids. It doesn’t just keep them healthy; it helps keep their brain sharp too. Don’t let the cold winter weather stop your kids from getting the activity they need. Whether you choose to stay indoors or brave the cold, here are some ways to keep your kids active in sub-zero weather.

Indoor activities

Not everyone likes to brave the cold, but there are plenty of ways to get physical activity inside during the winter. Local community rec centres are a great place to start. Most have weekly after-school classes and sports teams you can sign your kids up for, like floor hockey, basketball, volleyball, and gymnastics. Some have indoor swimming lessons as well! On the weekends, you can take your kids to awesome indoor activities that let them have a blast and get moving, like bowling, laser tag, trampolining, roller skating, rock climbing, and mini golf. Museums also offer kids a chance to get some exercise and participate in fun activities.

Play outside

No need to stay cooped up just because temperatures fall below zero. Get your scarf, hat, and gloves, and head outside for some classic wintertime fun. Outdoor activities, like building a snowman, making snow angels, and winter hikes, can really work up a sweat. Take the kids tobogganing – they’ll have to run back up the hill with the sled. Buy a mini shovel – they can help clear the walkway. Heck, even getting long underwear, a snowsuit, and boots on and off can be a workout on its own!

Winter sports

Just because soccer season is over, doesn’t mean the sports stop. Bundle up, get outside, and enjoy the fresh air by taking up a winter sport! Hit the slopes for some skiing or snowboarding lessons. If there aren’t any mountains around, grab some skates and head to the local outdoor rink. For these activities, make sure your youngsters are dressed warmly and have proper safety equipment – and have a hot chocolate waiting for them when they get inside.

Move around at home

If you get snowed in or feel like hibernating, you can still get the kids active at home, even if you don’t have a lot of space. Bust a move with a dance party or play balloon volleyball or Simon Says. You can create a hopscotch board on the floor using masking tape or an obstacle course in the hallway. Video games, like Wii Fit and Dance Dance Revolution, combine gaming with physical fitness. If you’re looking for inspiration, you can always find exercise videos geared towards kids on YouTube and Netflix.


How to Prevent Elder Abuse

Older adults, who are physically frail and don’t see, think, or speak as well as they used to, are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment. Whether in their own home or at a long-term care facility, it’s easy for seniors to be taken advantage of. Elder abuse can take many different forms, including physical abuse, verbal abuse, financial abuse, and neglect. Here are some tips on how to spot and prevent elder abuse, so you can help your senior loved ones age safely and happily with dignity and respect.

Get them a professional care provide

As mature adults age, they may require someone to help them with daily tasks and to provide companionship – and it’s common for a relative (like an adult child or spouse) to step in to help. But did you know that seniors are more likely to suffer abuse from a family member than a paid caregiver? While relatives who take on caregiving responsibilities surely have good intentions, they may be unaware or in denial of how much care the senior actually needs. This could result in unintentional neglect. The responsibilities of caregiving can be demanding and stressful, which could cause someone who isn’t properly trained to become frustrated, verbally or physically abusive, or increasingly neglectful. On the other hand, professional caregivers, like those on BookJane, are certified, have had a vulnerable sector screening, and are properly trained to deal with caregiving responsibilities.

Help them stay connected

Seniors who are depressed and lonely are more likely to suffer from elder abuse, so make sure the seniors in your life have a strong support system and enough companionship. Call and visit on a regular basis. Suggest community activities they can get involved in. Make sure they feel loved and respected. And finally, help them feel comfortable confiding in you.

Look for physical and psychological warning signs

Signs of physical abuse are easy to spot: unexplained injuries, bruises, scars, and broken bones and eyeglasses. Also keep an eye out for suspicious behaviour. Does the senior seem afraid of the caregiver? Have you noticed any changes in personality, such as nervousness or lack of interest in things they used to enjoy? Behaviour similar to dementia, such as rocking or mumbling, could also be a sign of abuse. If you suspect elder abuse, report it.

Watch out for neglect

Neglect, the most common type of elder abuse, may be intentional or unintentional. This could take the form of isolation from friends and family, poor hygiene, malnutrition, dehydration, undermedication, bed sores, unsanitary living conditions, and inappropriate clothing for the weather. If a senior does not have a care provider, self-neglect could become an issue. Make sure that if your senior loved one is no longer able to care for themself, they have a qualified caregiver to help them.

Keep an eye on their finances

Another form of elder abuse, financial abuse, occurs when a senior is being taken advantage of for their money. It is not uncommon for older adults to be the victims of scams and theft. Ask to see the elder’s bank account and credit card statements. Check for unauthorized transactions, unnecessary or inappropriate purchases, significant withdrawals, bills going unpaid, and changes in spending habits. If your senior loved one suddenly has a “new best friend” who is accepting “gifts” from the senior, or if a caregiver is volunteering or working for very little money, this may be a sign of financial abuse.

Observe caregivers

If a caregiver is abusive, there will be warning signs in their behaviour. If you witness the caregiver belittling or controlling the senior, or if they see the senior as a burden, there is cause for concern. Caregivers should never isolate a senior or keep them from friends, family, and activities they enjoy. Look for signs that the caregiver is depressed, stressed, or burnt out – these feelings make them more likely to commit elder abuse. Visit often and give caregivers a break, so they can get some relief before becoming overwhelmed and lashing out.