Back to School – The Best Ways to Ensure You’re Prepared!

The beginning of September can be an extremely stressful time for most families. After having two months off school, most children aren’t excited to go back to the routine that is the school week. Children are often stressed about social and academic situations, while parents try hard to ensure they’re children are prepared for school both emotionally and materially. Parents also have the stress of figuring out before and after school care for their younger children. With everything that goes into preparing your child and yourself for back to school, it might seem overwhelming. Here are some tips to make sure everyone is prepared in the most fun and low stress ways possible.

Back to School Shopping

The first thing you need to do when thinking about back to school shopping is to take an inventory of everything you already have. Once you know what you have, its easier to make a list of what you still need. Although sometimes shopping with your kids can be more complicated than doing it on your own, bringing your children will help them to feel more prepared for school. Letting them make choices for the types of notebooks they get or some new outfits will help them to feel more comfortable with going back to school. This way they will feel like they are going back to school they way they want to look and present themselves which can be a big confidence booster.

Meal Prep

One of the most time consuming and stressful tasks for parents and children old enough to make their lunches, is finding the time to prepare all the meals. Luckily, there are many great recipes and tutorials that can now be found online that show you how to create healthy and varied lunches for an entire week. You and your child can work on most of these recipes together and create their lunches. Choose a night once a week like Sunday, to create the five meals your child will bring to school.

Start Your Routine Early

The summer can bring a lot of bad habits like staying up late and sleeping in. Since these bad habits don’t lend themselves to school and learning, help your children by setting a bedtime and acclimatizing them to it before they go back to school. Starting a week before school starts is a good idea to get your children used to going to sleep and waking up at school appropriate times.

Take Some Family Time

Once the kids go back to school, it becomes a lot harder to make time to spend as a family. With after school curricula’s, work and playdates, sometimes it can feel like there is no time to spend together as a family. Before the kids go back to school, make sure to make use of the time you have left. Plan a board game night, or a nice night out for dinner and a movie. This will be nice time together, but may also offer a distraction from the stresses that can come with going back to school.

Seniors and the Risk of Weight Gain

Weight gain can be a serious problem for people of all ages, but for seniors it can pose a particularly dangerous threat. Many of the usual health issues that we associate with aging are also the same issues that we associate with weight gain. The older we get, the more important that exercise and eating correctly becomes. Younger bodies are able to bounce back a lot better than older bodies, especially with the slowing down of our metabolisms. One of the largest health problems that can stem from weight gain is heart failure. Some other health problems that can arise through weight gain with age are diabetes, arthritis, sleep apnea and high blood pressure.

Weight Gain in Seniors

Weight gain in seniors is a common issue. As we age, we tend to gain weight for a multitude of reasons. Lower muscle mass leads to a slower metabolism and the number of calories we lose when we aren’t being physically active decreases. As we grow older, we also tend to be less active in general. Most people work in professions that are considered sedentary and we don’t engage in as many physical activities like we used to. Exercise is usually the first thing that people give up when they find their schedules and other obligations become too time consuming. It is important through any of these lifestyle changes that we keep an eye on our health and weight.

One of the most common reasons for weight gain isn’t necessarily a lack of exercise, but instead an increase of food intake and junk food cravings. High stress levels can cause a lot of issues with us as we age and the more weight we put on at a younger age, the harder it is to lose that weight as we age.

Addressing Weight Gain

Prevention is always the best medicine, so we should always strive to not let weight gain get out of hand. The more we weigh, the higher probability it is that we will encounter severe health issues later in life; however, for those who are overweight and looking to take control of their situation it is important to combine a combination of healthy eating and exercise.

For healthy eating, seniors (or people of any age) should be trying to eat well-balanced meals each day and eliminating junk food from their diets. Learning to ignore food cravings and to listen to your body tell you when it is actually hungry can be a huge factor in keeping your body healthy and avoiding the health issues associated with weight gain.

For exercise, seniors should know the limits of their bodies and not push too far. The first steps are improving mobility, balance and flexibility. At first, it may be enough to go out for a brisk walk, but upon the strengthening of muscles and confidence in your body, picking up weights or participating in fitness classes can help you to either lose the weight that is causing you health problems or prevent them altogether.

Finding Happiness in Caregiving

When considering becoming a caregiver for your parents, most thoughts revolve around concerns such as:

  • Will I be able to provide proper care for my loved one?
  • Am I physically and mentally prepared for the strain of caregiving?
  • Will this affect my relationship with my parent?
  • How stressed will I become?
  • Will I have anytime for myself?

Most of these concerns tend to be on the negative side. Since caregiving is a rigorous job that can be the cause of stress, grief, frustration and depression, it is in our nature to worry about and focus on the negatives. Often regarding caregiving for an elderly loved one, you may feel overwhelmed or like you have no more time for yourself and it is natural to focus on these feelings and share the bad news of the job, rather than focusing on any of the positive feelings you may be having.

In all of these struggles you may be facing it is important to be aware of and take advantage of the benefits that also come with elder care. Oftentimes, these benefits and positives are not fully realized until you are for any given reason no longer your loved one’s caregiver.

Relationship with Your Loved One

Since you’re suddenly spending so much time with and caring for your parent, you will notice the strengthening of your bond with your parents or loved one. As people age, they also usually become more willing to communicate. For someone who may not have a completely open and honest relationship with their parents, spending all of this time together will offer you time to talk about their past and their likes and dislikes. You may find out a lot about your parent that you never knew. These moments and memories that are shared can become invaluable.

Relationship with Yourself

In caregiving for a loved one, you will probably find that you are a lot more capable than you ever imagined. Accomplishing so many tasks (administering medication, cooking and cleaning, driving your parent to the doctor, etc.) will help you to gain time management and organizational skills you may not have ever knew you had the ability to accomplish. You will feel great about yourself realizing just how much you are able to complete in any given day. You will feel stronger and have more self-confidence the more you are able to do when you care for your parents, specifically if you feel something is out of your own particular skill set.

Realizing the Importance of Taking A Break

Nothing will teach about what is really important in life more than caregiving for your loved one. Although the care of your parent is necessary, taking a break and caring for yourself is also important. One of the major causes of caregiver burnout is taking on too much and not taking a break. This is not only a good lesson to learn in caregiving, but it is also a good lesson to learn in life. Taking care of yourself will only make it easier and make you better at taking care of someone else.

How to Help Your Loved One Downsize

Downsizing a lifetime worth of belongings can be an extremely daunting task and for a lot of seniors it can be difficult emotionally as well as physically. Downsizing can happen for many reasons. For some, big family homes may feel too big to deal with all the upkeep now that most of the family has left and for others, an entirely new lifestyle in a smaller space may be desired, but sometimes seniors must downsize because they need to move to an assisted care facility and are unable to live in their homes on their own. No matter the situation, downsizing can be difficult because as people, we often become attached to our belongings and it can be hard to decide what will stay and what will go. As a friend or family member of the senior who is downsizing there are things you can do to help.

Time

One of the biggest things an individual can do to offer their friend or family member help in downsizing their belongings is to offer their time. Whether this time is spent helping to sort, organize or move belongings, this can provide a huge relief to your loved one. It can be hard for seniors to ask their families for help spending time with tasks like this because they don’t want to feel like they are burdening them, so if you know a loved one is looking to downsize, offer your time to come and help to go and sort through their belongings with them.

Support

Another way to help your loved one to downsize is to be there for them. Realizing that downsizing can be an emotionally trying situation, there is nothing more important than supporting your family member. For instance, helping your loved one to look at an item and decide whether it should stay or go can be extremely helpful. Since you don’t have emotional attachments to the belongings, you will be able to offer an unbiased opinion while still being able to stay sensitive to their emotions. Having someone in the room to be a trusted voice of reason can be one of the most helpful parts in downsizing.

Everything Else

Although finances can be an awkward discussion, its important that you make sure that your loved ones are in a good place financially. Downsizing can include the selling of big or antique furniture pieces, or realty costs including closing costs, legal costs, etc. Selling a home can be a large and stressful task. Offering to meet with realtors, or even gifting a cleaner to come in clean up the house to show it to prospective buyers are a few ways to assist in a financial way. You can also be there to help your loved ones to meet with potential movers or be there on moving day to ensure their belongings are being treated with care.

Although downsizing a home full of belongings and memories can be a difficult task, being there for your loved one emotionally and in person can make a world of difference to their downsizing experience.

 

Why It’s Important to Let Your Child Make Mistakes

As a parent, sometimes it can just seem easier to “fix” a problem your child is having by solving any of the issues for them. This could be as simple as fitting a piece into a puzzle they are working on, or it can be a more complicated issue like giving in to what they want while they have a tantrum in a public place. It is important for your child to learn from mistakes or consequences in any given situation. By fixing a problem, solving an issue or giving in to an unnecessary demand, you can harm the development of your child, even though if in the moment it seems like the right thing to do. This can also be the case when your children fight. Although sometimes being a mediator can be helpful, it is best for children to learn as early as possible how to mediate their own issues. This will help them to become more well-rounded adults.

Every Child is Different

This seems obvious, but its important. Just as every child is different, parenting each individual child must also be different. In accepting the person your child is, and not forcing the idea of who you think your child is, you can maintain a much better relationship with your child overall. By knowing or trying to understand who your child is, you will be better able to guide them through situations that may arise.

Actions Have Consequences

Not every outcome of your child’s decisions is going to be a good one, nut it is important that you allow your child to experience both good outcomes and negative consequences. You can tell a young child not too touch the stove because its hot as many times as you want, but if that child comes into contact with the stove, they will suffer the natural consequences and get burned. Although your child burning themselves is not an ideal situation, if it occurs accidentally, that child will learn from their mistake. As a parent, there will be a lot of guilt in this sort of situation, but humans learn through trial and error and it is natural for a child to need this sort of situation to learn what “too hot” means.

Judgement of Others

One of the easiest and most common reasons a parent will give in to their child is because of the judgement of others. Its horrifying to think that other people either think you are a bad mom or dad because your child is misbehaving and if it feels like other people around you are thinking it, or are making comments, it can make you start to think maybe there is truth to their words and opinions, but giving in to your child’s tantrums can instill more bad behaviour. If your child thinks that they get their way by crying or yelling, they will do it more often. By standing your ground in any particularly bad tantrum situations, your children will learn that they aren’t able to get away with that behaviour.

In letting your children have tantrums, make their own mistakes and getting to know who they really are, you are setting them up to be a much more well-rounded adult. It can be hard to watch your children fail, especially when you know the answers or are able to fix their issues, but in the long term, failure will be good for your children and celebrating their failures and being there for them in these situations can teach invaluable lessons.

The Importance of Senior Socialization

Senior isolation is a common problem for many because unfortunately, many seniors live alone. For many isolated seniors, socialization can be extremely daunting, but social relationships can have a positive impact of health during aging. Having a good attitude and lifestyle can make a world of difference throughout the aging process and being social will generally only make seniors feel happier and healthier.

Seniors Living at Home

For seniors living at home, socialization can be a daunting task. Those receiving care at home are in contact with others, but with time constraints on caregivers, these seniors may not be getting to spend as much time with their caregivers as they wish to. This means that these seniors will have to find other means of socialization. Socialization doesn’t have to be a planned activity with a large group of people. It can be as simple as meeting a friend for lunch or spending some quality time with your family members.

Another option for seniors living on their own is to join a club or class where they can not only interact with others, but possibly meet new friends to spend time with. There are many clubs and fitness classes targeted at seniors and these can be a great option to learn a new skill, get fit and meet new people. All these things have great health benefits for seniors who otherwise may have stayed at home on their own.

Volunteering your time to causes can also be a great way to not only socialize with others, but can also be a very healing experience. Looking into local causes and events that need volunteers can be a great way for seniors to interact with others, but also can be a rewarding experience to know that you have helped others.

Seniors in Assisted Living Facilities

Senior homes have a lot of programming availability for their residents, so it is generally easier to get out and meet other people in your community. Socializing can still sometimes be a challenge, but with your caregivers available to you and other seniors also living in the same vicinity as you, joining in activities will be a great way to ensure that you are engaging with others. Physical activities, like fitness classes are especially important because they can have other health benefits as well. Craft and hobby classes as well as excursions can also be great ways to meet other people, learn new skills and gain new experiences. All of this will be beneficial to your health.

Seniors who are out and socializing are happier and healthier because of their lifestyle. The importance of socialization is important to those of all ages, but because a lot of seniors live alone, it is very easy to become isolated. It is important for seniors, and their family members, to ensure that they are making the effort to spend time with others doing activities or even just spending time in the company of others. This time spent with others will ensure everyone’s happiness and health.

Fidget Spinners – Helpful or Harmful?

Fidget spinners are the newest trend for kids everywhere. These little triangular toys are extremely inexpensive and fit in a child’s hand and spin around. You can even learn how to perform tricks with fidget spinners with video streaming services inundated with how-to tutorials. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a kid who doesn’t have, use or want a fidget spinner and because they are relatively cheap, it seems like an easy toy for parents to gift to their children that will keep some of their time preoccupied.

Although, fidget spinners are considered toys, their original use was seemingly more noble. Fidget spinners were originally marketed towards children with ADHD, anxiety, or being on the autism spectrum.

Helpful

Fidget spinners are being marketed at those with challenges concentrating in class. The idea is, if a child with problems concentrating has an outlet, they won’t be as distracted and “fidget” in class. Fidget spinners are small, handheld and because of this are said to be a good tool in schools for children that have challenges concentrating. Instead of moving around in their seats, looking out the window and having a hard time paying attention to their teachers, children can focus their extra energy into this small toy.

One of the biggest pros of fidget spinners is that they have become mainstream. A lot of students who used to feel like tools like this marked their differences and made them stand out as needing extra help in class, now feel as if this standout tool has been normalized. Learning challenges can be stress enough for a lot of children who don’t want to stand out or be different from their peers. Fidget spinners are regular and common and not only do kids with learning challenges have them, but their friends do as well.

Harmful

There has been a huge outbreak lately with classrooms and schools banning fidget spinners and for good reason. This toy which was originally intended as tool for children with specific concentration challenges ahs become “on trend” and now instead of a few kids in class using these toys, it’s most kids. For children who do not have challenges focusing, the fidget spinner has become an extremely large distraction. Teachers are finding that they don’t have the full attention of their students anymore and that fidget spinners have become less of a tool and more of a toy.

Fidget spinners have evolved from just a triangular device on a ball-mechanic system that you spin in your hand to help avoid fidgeting throughout your whole body. With the multitude of available YouTube tutorials teaching children how to do tricks, its no wonder the tool has become more of a toy. Children are using these spinners in class and they have become a massive distraction.

Other Options

Tactile discs, putties, clays, stress balls, or even fidget cubes are all great options as replacements for fidget spinners. These options can all be used as tools for students that need help focusing on class and their teachers and are often used for children with sensory challenges.

 

 

Challenges of Childcare Centers

It’s becoming more rare to find a family that has a “stay at home parent”. Childcare in some way, shape or form has become a large burden on most families as they are outsourcing the job just to make ends meet. There is a vicious cycle of families needing to work to be able to afford life’s expenses and extras like childcare, just to be able to afford things like childcare. Childcare centers are becoming more expensive and it seems, also problematic for a lot of families in the way they are raising their children.

Affordability

Most families aren’t able to afford a single-parent income with all of life’s expenses like food, rent or mortgage payments, transportation, or any other fixed or extra costs. For most families, it makes more sense to have two incomes and hire a childcare service for their children because of all of the other expenses they incur. Most families cannot afford all of their expenses on one income alone and so one parent is unable to stay at home to take care of their children. In Ontario, full day, play-based kindergarten was implemented to try to help offset the costs and stress of childcare for children, but before and after school care can still be extremely expensive.

Different Children Have Different Needs

It’s commonly known that children do not learn or grow at the same pace and that they don’t all have the same preferences or needs. For childcare centers, it’s impossible to program a full day or half day that will meet the needs of each child. Common issues that will arise for children in childcare centers is the food that is offered. Although, healthy meals and snacks are mandated, that does not mean your child will want to eat it, which can be difficult. Naptimes can also cause friction. Some children may not be tired, or they take a nap and then have trouble sleeping later at night. Since every child is different and has varying needs, childcare centers can only really base their programming on the needs of the average child and try to alter and adjust it for children that are exceptions to the general rule.

Homecare

Home care can be a great option for a lot of families. Oftentimes homecare is charged by the hour rather than a fixed price per child, per day. This is also a great option for parents who work part-time. Home care is a great option for children because they don’t have to be uprooted to a new location and instead their caregiver will come to them in a place they are familiar with. Parents will find that instead of having to arrange drop off and pick up times, having a caregiver come to them will help with their overall flexibility. Childcare centers usually have set hours that parents must work around, but by hiring a homecare worker, you get to choose the times that work best for you.

BookJane can help you with all of your childcare homecare needs. We have many highly skilled and qualified caregivers who are just a click away on our app. Each caregiver has undergone thorough background checks and comes with great references and recommendations. You can hire a BookJane caregiver ahead of time, or if something comes up last minute.

Great Children’s Books to Teach and Help Develop Empathy and Acceptance

One of the most important things a child can learn is to empathize and to be accepting of others. Children often see things through a selfish lens because they haven’t yet learned the importance of different perspectives. Its vital for children to learn from an early age that despite our differences, living creatures all have emotions and can feel hurt by the actions of others. When children are exposed to the idea of acceptance and are taught to empathize with the struggles of others, they become more well-rounded adults who can co-exist more peacefully. Here are some books that explore themes of acceptance and empathy that you can read to or with your child to help them to learn a valuable lesson through story as opposed to a lecture.

Picture Books

One by Kathryn Otoshi

One is a story about colours and their differences and the number that comes along to teach them how to come together and count. This story teaches young readers about numbers and counting as well as primary and secondary colours, all the while also how to learn to accept each other’s differences.

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall

This story is about a blue crayon that has been mistakenly labelled red. The blue crayon has an identity crisis when everything he tries to colour doesn’t look the way it should. Red, the blue crayon, must come to terms with his inner self despite what his outsides say. This story will teach children that labels aren’t important and that people aren’t always what they seem on the outside.

The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss

The Sneetches is a classic story by Dr. Seuss about two distinct kinds of Sneetches. The plain-bellied Sneetches and the star-bellied Sneetches and how this physical difference keeps them separated. This story discusses segregation and discrimination in a simple way that really gets the point across and will help children to realize that even if they don’t look like someone else, it doesn’t mean they can’t be friends. We can’t judge others based on physical differences.

Chapter Books

El Deafo by Cece Bell

This is a graphic novel/memoir detailing author Cece Bell’s younger years with severe hearing loss and the Phonic Ear that sets her apart from her classmates. At first, the hearing aid, which is bulky and awkward, prevents Cece from making new friends, but in this funny and truly beautiful graphic novel, Cece is able to learn to control the Phonic Ear and become her own superhero. This is a heartwarming tale that shows its readers that being different isn’t a bad thing.

Charlotte’s Web by E.B White

Charlotte’s Web is a classic and well-beloved tale about a girl named Fern and the love she shares for a pig named Wilbur. This is a must read for all children because of Fern’s true compassion towards animals. Fern looks after Wilbur because he is the runt of his litter and saves him from an awful fate. This is a novel of friendship of a different kind that will teach children the intelligence of animals and that having compassion for all living beings is important.

Wonder by R.J Palacio

This is a book about a young boy with a facial difference that has prevented him from attending regular school. Starting in the 5th grade at a mainstream school, the protagonist, Auggie Pullman, just wants to be treated like a normal kid. Unfortunately, it seems that his classmates have a hard time looking past his facial difference to meet the real Auggie. This is a great book for middle grade kids that tackles feeling different, standing up to your bullies and the struggle of trying to find acceptance.

Each of these stories offer a unique perspective on the differences of those around us that will help your children to learn to find acceptance and be able to empathize with their peers. The younger children are able to learn these lessons, the more tolerant they will be as adults.

Fun Activities for Your Kids This Summer that Still Use Brain Power!

It’s the beginning of June and the end of the school year is quickly approaching. It’s time to start planning some fun summer activities for you and your kids. It’s always good to have a mix of relaxing and stimulating activities. Just because school’s out and your kids are on vacation, doesn’t mean that they have to stop learning. Try to use any opportunity you can to keep their minds curious and exploring.

Here are some ideas for activities for your kids that will keep their minds fresh for school in September:

Attractions to Visit

Zoo’s, museums, science centre’s and other great attractions can be found all around the country. These places offer great resources and learning opportunities. Animals and nature and cultural and scientific experiences all offer learning, but at these establishments, children are interacting with creatures and experiments. They are learning through doing, rather than by listening or watching. Not only will your kids be learning, but they’ll be having fun while doing it. Nothing about going to the zoo or a science centre will feel forced. This will be a fun outing for the whole family that won’t feel like learning. The best part of these types of places is that they often offer group discounts or cheaper tickets for children’s entry. This makes going to these attractions affordable and worthwhile.

Everyday Simple Activities

Oftentimes, we overlook the simple and free activities in local areas. A lot of parks hold free (or donation only) events throughout the summer. These are a great option for you and your kids. Art in the Park is a staple in most towns and cities (or will be in a town nearby) which will allow you and your children to wander through a festival in the summer weather that has lots of ways to get kids involved. Usually there are bouncy castles, face painting and kids crafts stations that your child will love. These days in the park pair perfectly with a picnic lunch. You can also take your children out for hikes, walks and bike rides. These are activities that take up a lot of energy, and are great exercise. These activities can be combined with a beach day.

On Their Own

Do some research to find out about day camps and special programs being run in your area. Many community centres and libraries offer events for children throughout the summer. Summer Reading Challenges are common at local libraries and usually they offer prizes to children who reach certain reading goals. These are great programs to keep your child’s mind sharp throughout the summer. Community centres sometimes offer craft days, dances (for older children), classes and movie nights. All these activities will keep your children entertained with very little parental effort.

Camping/Cottage

Although not all families have access to a cottage each summer, take advantage of the outdoors and try to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and technology. Spending time at a cottage or going camping lets kids spend time outdoors and with their families. Children have to use their imagination and creativity to play games and make the outdoors fun. Plus, nothing beats eating hotdogs and marshmallows roasted by the fire.

If you find you don’t have the time or money to get away to a cottage or on a camping trip, why not choose a night to go camping in the backyard. This will be a great experience for your kids this summer!

Sports & Games

A lot of kids are excited about being active. There are many summer sports leagues that you can enroll your child in. Some of the more popular summer sports are soccer and baseball. There are a lot of kids leagues out their that don’t take up a huge time commitment. Not only is playing a sport great exercise for your child, but team sports will help your them to socialize and learn to be as part of a group.

Alternately, you can take your children to see an amateur or professional sports game. There are a lot of amateur teams playing in the summer. You’ll get to watch a sport together and maybe teach them some of the rules and pique their interest in learning to play.

As a parent, summer can be hard. Even though your kids have two months off, you still have work and other responsibilities. Trying to get your children engaged in activities with others and on their own will keep them entertained, active and still learning.