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Nov 30

5 Ideas for Non-Taxable Gifts for your Sitter or Nanny!

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Need more ideas? Check out the list our friends at Nanny Tax Canada have put together!

Nov 23

The Tooth Fairy’s Rate Card

So what is the going rate for a tooth these days? Kids lose their 20 baby teeth over a period of five to six years, usually starting around age five to seven but sometimes as young as four.

If you have children in this age range then you have likely added “tooth fairy” to the many roles you play. But like Tooth Fairymany things in our busy lives today, we follow the rituals without actually pausing to think why we are doing things and the best way to achieve the desired result.

Losing teeth has the potential to be unsettling for children; the tooth fairy and the gift of money for lost teeth is meant to make the experience more palatable. And frankly, it is such a well-known tradition now that honouring it is part of giving your children shared experiences with other kids. It helps them fit in.

But who invented the tooth fairy? The tooth fairy likely evolved from similar traditions around the world – although more common than the “fairy” is the tooth mouse or rat (called Ratoncito Perez in Spanish speaking countries). 

Okay – so we understand the purpose and background of the tooth fairy but the real question is how to do it well. “How much should I put under the pillow?” is likely the first question that comes to mind. According to several studies (Visa and Delta Dental as shared on Kiplinger.com), the most common amount is $1. Remember that the point of the tooth fairy is not to help your child build his or her net worth.

And money is not everything nor should it be made to be! Get creative in how you mark these milestones. Making a special pillow to fairy dust on the window ledge or tooth fairy certificates are just a few ideas. Get your creative juices flowing and start your own traditions!

If your kids are afraid of the dentist, we have tips here to help you with that!

 

Nov 16

Allowances – The Do’s and Don’ts

Need advice on the do’s and don’ts of dolling out cash to the kids? You have come to the right place. Here is your saving moneyguide to getting started:

Should I give an allowance? Yes. Learning to manage money is a critical life skill. The best way to learn to manage money is by having money. You want to teach them from an early age that they should be saving (between 10 and 20%). Depending on your views, their savings should be for a rainy day as well as putting aside money to help others.

When should I start an allowance? There are different views on this with some parents starting as early as three year old kids but the average is about six years old.

How much to give? The rule of thumb is to give $1 x the age of the kid per week. So a six year old would get $6 per week. But it also depends on where you live and your circumstances. You want to give them enough money so they actually buy things and therefore make decisions.

Should I tie it to chores or behaviour? Again, there are different views on this but many would say that you should not use allowance to punish kids for bad behaviour. Many also believe that allowances should not be tied to chores as kids such contribute to family chores (without payment). Further, you will quickly find that each additional thing you ask them will become a negotiation over cash.

Should there be rules to spending the allowance? Probably. If you have rules about what games kids are allowed to play, music they are allowed to listen and movies they are allowed to see, these should not be thrown out the window now that your kids can pay themselves. But this should be balanced by giving kids some control over how they spend as making bad decisions on poor purchases is an important part of the learning process.

And remember, for all your home support needs – pet sitters, caregivers (for seniors and for family members with special needs), nannies, babysitters, housekeepers and more – please visit us at www.sossitter.ca.

Nov 10

Lest We Forget

One day of the year, the country comes together to remember our fallen members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Remembrance Day

We, at SOSsitter.ca, want to share in remembering the sacrifices that soldiers and their families make, past, present and future. We are wearing our poppies and we are taking time at the 11th hour of the 11th day to pay homage to the fallen.

It’s our honour to provide Canadian Forces families with a 20% discount on all our memberships, not just one day of the year, but all 365 days. It’s a little thing we can do to help members of our armed forces and their families cope with their everyday reality. What will you do?

Nov 2

Birthdays Without Breaking the Bank

Want to celebrate your kids birthday in a big way, but without breaking the bank or your and your housekeeper’s back? Sound impossible? Never fear, budget birthday advice is here!

Plan in advance

As true with everything in life, things left to the last minute cost more. For two reasons: (1) no time to shop for deals child birthday partyand (2) stress to deliver leads to poor decisions and over spending. So plan far in advance! You can even get a lot done in the “off hours” by doing jobs online.

Invitations

Go digital. Not only are they fast, fun and free (!!!) – they can help the other parents by easily going straight into the calendar.

Venue

Search Google for lots of ideas on unusual and affordable venues near you. Your housekeeper will thank you for having the party outside the house because the prep and clean-up of a kid’s party can be a lot of work! If you cannot find something that matches your need, look closer to home. More specifically, look out the back window to your back yard. The price is right and cleaning up outdoors is much easier than indoors.

Activities

Ask a friend or relative who is good with kids or even a coach to organise and lead on games – which are best kept simple such as tag. Kids just want to have fun; they don’t need pomp and circumstance.

Cake

This one is easy; bake your own! You can even enlist the help of your kids to get this one done. Cupcakes are also a great option! Better yet, have cupcakes and let the kids decorate their own with gummies, candies and so on!

Decorations and goodie bags

Goodie bags are pretty standard fare but are not a must. If you do decide to do bags, set a budget and stick to it. Decorations make the party festive. Look online for deals and for easy deliver to your front door.

Hopefully this will give you a good start. If you are stuck for ideas, there are lots of ideas online! And don’t forget that if your child’s birthday falls on a school day, they might want to celebrate a little with their friends, in a fun and healthy way!

And don’t forget the most important ingredient for a great birthday party: Fun, fun, fun! Smile and the whole world will smile with you.

 

Oct 26

Talking about Stranger Danger

When we were kids, talking about “stranger danger” was as simple as “Don’t accept candy from strangers”.

The world has changed. Statistics show that the cases of child abductions by strangers are relatively rare, rather children are harmed by those known (or at least familiar) to them. There is also a school of thought that suggests developing a fear of strangers in children stops them from developing skills needed to navigate life effectively. And finally some think talking “stranger danger” simply frightens kids unnecessarily.Untitled design

Recognising these good arguments, we suggest it still important to work with your kids on the basics of engaging safely with the world outside of their home. The difference today is that the topic is likely to me more nuanced.

Some of the basics follow:

—> Safety in Numbers  – Encourage your kid to be a “loaner” in the safety of your own home. When out in the world, they should play with others.

—> Confidence to Say No – Teach your children how to be assertive and respectful of adults at the same time.

—> Don’t advertise – Monograms are fun and labelling is just sensible but try to keep your kids names in discrete places.

—> Safe Places and Action Plans Give your kids tips about who and where is safe and develop action plans in case you get separated.

—> Family Passwords – Some families have a secret password for cases when someone other than Mom or Dad or Nanny is picking up kids.

—> Gut instincts Teach your kids to trust their instincts. This is a skill that will serve them well throughout life.

There are a lot of good resources online on how to talk to your kids about this topic.

And please do not forget to consider the virtual world as well as the physical world. Set rules for using the internet, including talking with strangers.

Are you looking for additional support in caring for your family – pet sitters, caregivers (for seniors and for family members with special needs), nannies, babysitters, housekeepers and more – Keep Safe!

Oct 19

Helping with Homework

Helping with homework. This is different from doing the homework! Parents and caregivers should be willing and able to help kids with their school work and special projects, but should also recognise that if they do the work themselves, then the kids have not learned anything! Oh – and the teachers and other parents can totally tell when your young child brings in a project that clearly has been completed by an adult!

Confused studentThe first way to help with homework is to make sure that there is a standard time and good environment for studying. See our recent blog post on school success  for more information on how to do this.

The next way to help with homework is to make sure your kids know how to study well. It seems self-evident but like anything else in life, how would a kid know until you tell them! We also posted a recent blog post and links for further reading on this topic. Although it is aimed at older kids, the basic premises can be good for younger kids as well.

Some tips for when you are actually sitting down next to your kid and are in the thick of it, include:

 –> If your kids is struggling to get an answer, help them work their way to the answer instead of giving them the answer. If there are relatively complex subjects your kid is struggling to understand, spend the extra time talking it through to make it become clearer for your kid.

–> For big creative projects, you can certainly help plan and collect the needed supplies, but you should help your kids develop their ideas versus giving all your own and the kids should do the lion share of the execution with your supervision and support.

–> Consider asking your kids for a summary of the concepts they are learning / practising at the end of each homework session will help your kids become more conscious of the work they are doing. Explaining concepts will also help consolidate their thinking in their heads.

–> Making flashcards and testing knowledge in advance of quizzes and tests is a very valid means to support your kids. You can do this during scheduled study time or during an evening walk or as a game at dinner!

And find out more about caregivers who can help you in your home(work) (see what we did there?)

Oct 13

Downtime!

By Michelle Little

I feel like I should be doing more for my children.

Have you ever thought that? It seems to be the hot question of the moment and I feel like all my friends are asking themselves this question too. It doesn’t matter if they are working, staying at home, working part time or whatever their situation. They always feel like they can and should do more. And I do too.

My friends are by and large busy people. They take their kids on activities, restrict TV time and cook their food from scratch. They play with them in the park, go swimming with them and go on play dates. Try and arrange a dinner with these people. You better look at your calendar months ahead.

So why do these women, because let’s face it, it’s usually women thinking this, feel this way? Why do we always feel this guilt that we should be doing more, contributing more or somehow trying to be a better parent?

Why do I feel this way? I’m a busy mom with two kids. I try my best to make healthy meals, play with them and generally enrich their lives. Why do I always feel like I have to be doing more?

Perhaps it stems from being a teenager and being seen as uncool if I didn’t have any plans for a Saturday night. Maybe it’s today’s digital age where everyone around us seems to be having a blast all the time. What I know for sure is that society today is caught up with the latest, the greatest and always being on the go. Lazing around not only makes me feel guilty (I could be meal planning! Baking bread! Reading Japanese to my kids!), it also makes me feel that I am missing out on some great adventure. So I hop on the treadmill of life and fill my days. I also run myself ragged and stress myself out. It makes me wonder if there’s a better way.downtime

A friend of mine recently said that she make sure she has downtime everyday for her kids. I was surprised. I always thought of downtime as that time in between activities and not as the activity. Her approach offered a completely different mindset.

I thought about it for a while and realized all the benefits this slow time could offer. This is time to recharge and refresh. It is when our children can come up with new ideas and stretch their imagination. Boredom can be productive time.

And I realized that not everything has to be instantly gratifying. Not every day has to be scheduled. That slow time can be used to come up with ideas, explore, and create.

I am working on my downtime little bits at a time. I love to sit back and watch my youngest son crawl around, often without him noticing me. I love the way he makes little noises as he pushes a truck or raises both hands in the air when he’s excited.

And I love seeing my oldest come up with imaginative stories and ideas that are usually pretty hilarious. Although a day spent doing activities like swimming or running around the park with friends is full of fun, it doesn’t offer the same quiet time for reflection.

And me? I’m trying to enjoy just being. I’m still busy and that’s inevitable. But I am learning to take snippets of time for myself to just sit and recharge even if it’s a couple minutes here and there. It’s a little gift I give to myself. I take a little breath, refocus and reflect.

Michelle Little is the blogger behind Montreal-based blog Roasted . Originally from the prairies, she lived all over the world before settling in Montreal. She loves adventure, cake and pretty paper goods. 

There are lots of ways mom can take time for herself!

 

Oct 5

Beating the Lunch Crunch

How to get ahead in making the school lunches

And you thought it was a challenge making sure your kids were on top of their homework, had all their “bits of paper” required each day in the back pack and packed the right equipment for sports and after school activities. You also have to have yummy lunches ready at the crack of dawn!

Did you know that in some cultures, the packed lunch can get quite competitive? In Japan for instance, mothers Child making his lunchspend hours making wonderful creatures and creations with their kids lunch foods. Even if your school is not that competitive, you still want to ensure your kids have a good lunch each day.

If lunch is not provided by the school, the challenge of a good lunch comes down directly to Mom, Dad or the Nanny. Here are some ways to beat the lunch crunch:

Know your formula: What are the components you want to put in the lunch bag (such as a sandwich, a salty side, a piece of fruit, and a drink). Knowing what your building blocks are helps you be clear and fast in planning and assembling the lunches.

Plan ahead: Create a list of all the types of lunch sandwiches might make and then plan to out across a period of time say four weeks. If you have been sticking mainly to jam or creamed cheese sandwiches, there are plenty of other variations

Produce ahead: Make multiple sandwiches at a time and store them in the fridge. Yep – you can do that! For example, you could make sandwiches for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday on Monday morning (or Sunday night!) and put them in the fridge.

Purchase ahead: Go to the large discount stores and buy the non-perishables in bulk (drinks, canned fruit, granola bars, etc.)

Enlist your kids: Teach your kids to assemble their lunches themselves which is easy if you follow the system above!

Bon Aptit!

The caregiver who is right for your family is only a click away. 

Sep 28

Craving Some “Adults Only” Time on Vacation? 6 Ways to Find a Trustworthy Babysitter

By Celine Brewer of BabyCanTravel.com

We truly believe the benefits of taking your children along on vacations are worth the effort, but that doesn’t mean you won’t want some well-deserved adults only time. It can be hard enough to find a reliable babysitter in your hometown, and it can be even harder when you go on holidays. With a little preplanning and research, you will be able to find a suitable option that will give you the comfort to take time away from your little one for a romantic childcare while on vacation with the familydinner. Here are our tips to finding a sitter to watch the children, leaving you to reconnect with your significant other:

Who do you know?

Personal references are best. If you know someone in the city you are visiting, can they watch your children? If not, can they refer someone trustworthy that can?

Ask Google.

Many metropolitan areas will have a professional babysitting service. Not only will they have a pool of caregivers that you can choose from, but often they will have already completed reference and background checks. They may also provide reviews.

Are babysitting services already available?

Family friendly cruise ships and all-inclusive resorts typically offer babysitting services.

Check to see if the service has a minimum age requirement.

Inquire about their facilities and training requirements for their staff.

Read the experiences from others families on TripAdvisor.

Find families that could share their experience. Most families are approachable and would be happy to talk about their experience.

Hang out in the play area and quietly observe how they treat the children in their care. Check out their facilities – do they look safe?

Research hotels.

Many hotels offer babysitting services or the concierge can recommend one. It’s important to contact the hotel directly to understand what type of services they offer. Do they have an onsite daycare facility or do they offer in-room babysitting with a licenced child care provider?

Bring a babysitter with you.

If existing child care providers are not available or you are not comfortable with leaving your children with someone you don’t know, you still have some options:

Consider bringing a grandparent along with you. The additional cost may be worth the peace of mind.

Talk to your friends to see if anyone is interested in travelling with you. Not only can you swap babysitting, your children will have friends to play with.

A final option.

It may not be exactly how you envisioned your holidays, but each parent could get some alone time by taking turns staying back during naps. That gives each parent a chance to go exploring on their own. It may not be ideal, but it might help each parent feel more refreshed at the end of the vacation.

Depending on which option you choose, you will want to use a similar screening process as you do at home by checking credentials and licenses, if there are any. If you will be dropping your child off at a daycare type facility, you will want to understand what activities are provided and what the ratio of staff to children will be. Also understand the safety and medical procedures that are in place, as required.

Celine is the better half of the husband and wife team who created Baby Can Travel. Baby Can Travel is your trusted resource for travelling with an infant. In addition to their blog, they have also written travel guides focused on travelling with an infant to some of the world’s top destinations.