Tag Archives: child

Why Do Birds Fly in a “V” Formation Revealed


birds in a v formationMy 8yo son and I were in the car today when we saw about 300 birds flying overhead.

“BIRDS!!!” he blurted out.

“If we’re lucky, we will see them flying in the “V” formation as they head south for the winter”, I responded in my daddy-teacher voice.

“Why do they fly in a “v”-formation?  Is it because “V” is the only letter they know how to spell?” he asked.

We laughed.

“it’s because the lead bird is the navigator bird, and all the other birds follow the lead bird and are just off to the side so that they can see where the lead bird is going and stay in formation.”

Sounded good, right?

Not so much.

My 8-year-old responded with this;

“Actually… The birds fly in the “V” formation for aerodynamics.  There is less drag on the flock if the fly like that.  The same reason airplanes won’t fly behind one another.  They need to be able to stay up in the air so they would fly off to the side.”

Errr, yeah.  That’s what I meant.

Thursday Thirteen: 13 Things I Need My Children to Remember as they Grow up.


English: Pink colour

English: Pink colour (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Often, I see lists, like the one I am posting today, about things we want our children to know, learn, remember and respect, and these lists are often quite to the point if not a little on the comedic side.  My Thursday Thirteen, however, is a little different from the norm as I have provided thirteen things that I need my children – Linus, Stewie and Boo – to remember as they grow up.  On the bright side, if they ever forget (and I have not completely embarrassed them by the time I cease blogging), they can always find it here.

As parents it is our job to teach and shape our children so that one day when they begin to develop their own opinions they will be able to use what they learned from us to shape their thoughts on things they didn’t know – so they won’t hurt anyone (especially themselves) along the way.   To do otherwise by your children, would – in my opinion – be considered failure as a parent.

Here are the thirteen things I need my kids to remember as they grow up;

13. To my boys: Pink is a colour, much as red, blue, black and green. Liking pink doesn’t mean anything except that you like the colour. If someone tells you otherwise you have to remember that it’s their problem, not yours. At some point in their life, someone tied to colour pink to a negative stereotype which simply does not exist. It’s okay to buy pink items, pink clothes and paint a room pink.

12. All (My 2 boys and my girl): Your nose is NOT an appropriate place to stick your finger – and this rule always stands, whether you are 3, 7, 8 or 38. If you do visit there, in the solitude of your own room, or home, it is NOT okay to them put that finger in your mouth, on your bed, or on your clothes. If, however, you choose to pick your nose, then you must have either a kleenex or square of toilet paper for when you are finished and wash your hands after. Remember that if your hands are dirty and you place a finger in your nose (or mouth) you are putting germs in your body. You will get sick. In addition, people think it’s yucky. Don’t be that yucky kid that turns into the yucky teen, then the creepy booger-eating adult. Please.

11. All: Respect others’ personal space and belongings. There are written rules which need to obeyed when you are in a home and there are some unwritten rules which you must follow so that you will . You need to respect others and their possessions. I know children will be children, but taking, breaking, hiding or damaging something that does not belong to you is not at all what I have in mind when it comes to creating art or playful fun. Neither is it fun to touch, push, trip or get in the face of someone for any reason. In fact, this is a lesson in doing it all WRONG! If you did this to my belongings or got in my face, I would not be happy.

10. Accept others for who they really are.  In an age where bullying has taken centre stage among our youth, I hope I have taught you to see the value in differences. Race, religion, colour, accents, or dress, interests, hair style or colour, ability or disability… It doesn’t matter.  See past it all and realize that we are all humans on this planet.

9. It is okay to cry. Crying is a natural emotional response to feelings. We all do it. Men cry. Women cry. Children cry. If you begin to cry and someone calls you a baby just remember that they learned this at home and they are being taught to hold in their emotions. Feel sorry for them but don’t allow them to change how you act or how you feel.

8. Always be proud of who YOU are. You may not be the tallest kid, or the fastest, or have the best hair, but really now, who cares? As long as you stay true to who you are, everything else will fall into place.

7. Find your passion. Keep looking and searching. Never ever stop.

6. Love this planet we live on called “Earth”. Recycle, reduce, reuse.  Go as “green” as you can by being aware of how you live, shop, and of what you consume (and where that comes from).  Now go join your mother and I hug a tree.

5. Be a brother / sister. Be a friend. Be a protector. Always be good to your family, even when there is conflict. Always remember that you are all that you have. Spouses and friends are great but at the end of the day you should know and have the support of your brother/sister when you need it.  Just don’t take advantage.

4. Smart is cool. Never be ashamed of being smart or nerdy, having freckles or glasses, or loving science and math (or tax). Smart never goes out of style, it stays with you as you grow, and it will lead you down the most successful paths you can imagine.

3. All: Your body is just that, it’s your body. You can keep your hair any way or colour that you want and you can dress any way that you want, but you must remember that others will judge you and it will impact how others treat you. So long as you understand that, you may continue. Don’t let pop culture define you. I don’t know why, but today we let pop culture manipulate our youth and it’s killing them emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. From the early on fascination with princesses, to the ‘need’ for a boyfriend and big boobs, popularity, teen moms, and all the other garbage being thrown in their face – be confident going against the grain or you’ll risk selling yourself out.

2. Maintain your health. It’s life’s greatest asset.  Without good health you have nothing.  A positive approach to health encompasses physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being.  Healthy lifestyle choices we taught you in your youth have already helped to lay a strong foundation for continued wellness throughout your adult life.  In addition, a healthy diet, plenty of exercise, stress management, self-motivation, and remaining positive will have a huge impact on your quality of life, health, and happiness.  Honourable mention: Never be afraid to laugh at yourself. Laughter is humbling. It inspires and motivates.  It keeps you real.

1. Wherever you are in life, you can come home. I will be here – always. ♥ Daddy. Remember children that you will all be my favourite children forever (and equally for your own strengths and inspirations). If you don’t believe me, ask Mummy. She will tell you the same thing.

Active for Life: Great Resource AND Cool Steve Nash Contest. Details Inside


English: Steve Nash at the eTalk Festival Part...

Steve Nash(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently came across a cool contest run by an organization called Active For Life.  Active for Life happens to be a leading promoter of children’s physical literacy to help parents raise active and healthy kids and they are kick-starting their new year to get families thinking about getting active with an exciting contest for a chance to win a Luyou shoe autographed by Steve Nash, himself a Dad and an advocate for physical literacy, and $200 SportChek gift certificate.

This contest is currently running and it’s worth heading over to the site to see some great current articles such as;

Tips to manage your kids handheld media time, which can be found here;

or “Soccer Skills, not Trophies, leads to success” which can be found here.

As a Dad blogger, I hadn’t really heard of physical literacy before seeing this, but I’ve learned an incredible amount over the last few months and this site is great for offering suggestions to keep children active and healthy.

Active for Life is the place where parents go to learn about how to make a difference in the health and happiness of their children. Research shows there’s a right way and a right time to develop the fundamental movement and sport skills that benefit kids for their entire lives. Learning these basic movement and sports skills is known as becoming physical literate.

Being physically literate is the foundation for being successful in sport and in life. Physical literacy gives active kids the best chance at becoming top-level athletes who may someday compete in high-performance sport. It also results in them leading an active life. And as the word “literacy” implies, just like reading, writing and arithmetic, movement skills need to be taught.

The website offers expert advice, inspirational tips and activity ideas which can help us, as parents, make sure our children get their recommended daily amount of physical activity and we all know that active kids become active adults.

Physical literacy, is about giving our kids the physical foundational skills to enable them to stay active for life – able to participate in a range of physical activities.  What I like about this in particular is the down-to-earth information and articles that provide practical direction in how to incorporate physical literacy into family life and some of the do’s and don’ts around it to help us get it right.  Their website is a magazine format that provides a ton of information and a very cool skills-builder tool which helps when we want to look at what skills to work on with kids at a given age.

You can find out more and enter the contest here.

It’s a great cause, and a very cool contest.  Active for Life can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

What can you expect from your nanny: Non-child care responsibilities.


housekeeping

Light housekeeping?!?

Parents hire nannies to take care of their children.  There is also an expectation that there will be some non-child care responsibilities related to the role, such as; taking care of any dishes used, some cooking here and there, some light cleaning associated to the children or family and possibly some laundry. 

From all the emails and comments I have received over the years, it is accurate to say that some parents forget that the primary responsibility for a nanny is child care and there is an expectation that their nannies are able to take care of the children in addition to what they refer to as “light housekeeping” responsibilities, which in reality means nanny and cleaning-lady. 

So what constitutes “light housekeeping?”   

In order to get a clearer idea of what nannies think light housekeeping is and what employers think light housekeeping is, I read an article created for NannyClassifieds.com called; “Is Light Housekeeping a Nanny Responsibility?”  The link to the original article is here;  http://www.nannyclassifieds.com/blog/is-light-housekeeping-is-a-nannys-responsibility/

According to this article, in the nanny world, light housekeeping typically means leaving the home in the same condition it was in when the nanny arrived / started her day there.  If there were no dishes in the sink in the morning, then there should be no dishes in the sink at the end of the day, and if the house was spotless in the morning, it should be the same by nightfall.  It is reasonable to expect your nanny to clean up the mess and restore the house to its original morning condition prior to the end of her workday.

The extras are the other things in addition to childcare which nannies are generally responsible for and are usually agreed upon in a written contract – a written approved contract if gone through the Canadian Live-In Caregiver program.  Some of these items include;

• Do the laundry for the children
• Keep the children’s play area as neat, tidy and organized as possible.
• Prepare breakfast for the children before school, lunch for school and snacks for the kids attending school.
• Prepare the same for any children who are at home or attend school part of the day.  
• Ensure that after meal preparation and after the actual meal the kitchen is clean again.
• Engage the children in activities such as arts and crafts and reading, and ensure once finished the area is tidy
• Pick up after the children
• Ensure the kids rooms, including drawers, bed and closets are clean
• Prepare the same for any children who are at home or attend school part of the day.
• Ensure that after meal preparation and after the actual meal the kitchen is clean again.
• Engage the children in activities such as arts and crafts and reading, and ensure once finished the area is tidy
• Prepare breakfast for the children before school, lunch for school and snacks for the kids attending school.

Some nannies may also take on additional household related tasks provided they have the time and it has been pre-arranged and agreed upon.  They may do the children’s grocery and clothes shopping, as well as purchase the supplies needed to properly stock the nursery.  In some cases, nannies may also be responsible for ordering age-appropriate supplies, toys, and arts and crafts, depending on the arrangement that was made.

According to the article, nannies typically do not:
• Do the parent’s laundry
• Clean the parent’s bathrooms
• Mop the floors
• Dust the furniture
• Prepare family meals regularly.

In each family and nanny work arrangement, light housekeeping should be clearly defined.  What is in the contract dictates what the family’s housekeeping expectations are, and what the nanny’s housekeeping responsibilities are. 

Many nannies do agree to take on additional non-childcare related housekeeping tasks.  They may do this because the children spend mornings in school or they simply enjoy cleaning and would gladly take on the housekeeping tasks in exchange for increased compensation.  If your nanny agrees to take on additional housekeeping tasks, she should be provided additional compensation for them and allowed adequate time to complete them when childcare is not her responsibility.  For these nannies/housekeepers, it should be stressed that when the children are in her care, childcare should be her main responsibility.  I think that is common sense, no?

Often times a nanny will go above and beyond the call of duty simply out of practicality. If a nanny is doing the dishes from lunch and her employer left a knife and dish in the sink after breakfast, for example, she’s likely going to wash them too, rather than simply leave them sitting there in the sink.  If a nanny is preparing one of her favorite homemade pasta recipes for the children’s dinner, she may make enough for the entire family, since it’s easier than tweaking the recipe for smaller portions.  Much in the same way most families when making their dinner will make enough for their nanny and have them eat with them whenever possible.  It’s give and take, and that mutual respect and understanding helps form and build the bond between the nanny and her employer.

Wen these random acts of kindness become expected by employers through, resentment and relationship problems in the nanny relationship can occur.  Light housekeeping is going to mean different things to different people.  Clearly articulating the duties and responsibilities that meet an employer’s definition of light housekeeping will help to prevent job creep and miscommunication over housekeeping related expectations.

How have you divided up responsibilities and how clear were you with your nanny on her duties outside of child care?

It’s amazing to me how many employers post comments in public message boards about how their nannies cook, clean, take care of the kids, and do all these other tasks not related to child care, and then the employer answers questions about wages and working hours, or working conditions which really casts them in a negative light.  Taking advantage of a nannies good will is never cool, and posting that in a public form is even less cool and quite questionable.  Especially in light of the fact that these message boards are trolled by agencies and organizations who protect nannies from being taken advantage of.

So to sum it all up…

Make sure what you are expecting your nanny to do outside of child care is clear and written in the contract.  Also remember that just because they came from worse working conditions in Hong Kong it doesn’t give you the right to treat them in any way that you yourself would not want to be treated in their shoes.

Karma.

Here is a link to the article; http://www.nannyclassifieds.com/blog/is-light-housekeeping-is-a-nannys-responsibility/

TD Canada Trust Panel Discussion: Parental Leave and Finances… Which came first?


Finance

Finance (Photo credit: Tax Credits)

On Wednesday October 17th, I will be joining a select roundtable of fellow bloggers along with financial experts John Tracy and Krystina Fraser from TD Canada Trust to discuss the financial realities of having children. 

As a parent, you already know first hand that having children can be quite expensive, so the purpose of this discussion is to help TD Canada Trust help us, their customers, get a better understanding of the challenges parents face when preparing their personal finances for the arrival of their child(ren) and for parental leaves.

I was fortunate enough to take a paid parental leave to be home with my wife for the birth of our first two children.  I took 9 months off with Linus and then 4 months off when Stewie was born.  Since we planned on both being home we had to ensure our finances remained in order well in advance of their births in order to  maintain our household expenses and current living style in addition to making sure I could continue to take courses when I was off (I completed my MBA). 

Just like the discussion (when) to have children usually happens well in advance of the first child being born, so too should begin the discussion about how to best get your personal finances in order for when the child(ren) arrive and for any parental leave(s).  All it takes to begin the discussion is a budget covering your current financial situation, followed by several mock budgets covering off life and expenses while pregnant, then in preparation for birth when the furniture needs to be purchased or borrowed, the car seat (possibly a new car as we had to do), a stroller, and clothes, etc., and then another budget for after baby comes which covers off the costs of items like diapers, baby toys, bigger clothes, nanny vs day care, programs, then schools…  The budgets must be revisited whenever your financial situation changes in order to make sure everything remains on track.

It absolutely never ends which is why getting your finances in order ahead of time makes the most sense and if you plan really well you might even have some left over pocket change to begin a RESP. 

Prior to the event, I would like to collect questions from you guys which I can table during the discussion and I will share the details after in a post.  Hopefully you will want to also share some insight on how you prepared financially for the arrival of your child(ren), or if you didn’t, how you have handled your finances since the arrival of your child(ren). 

You can also follow along the discussion on Twitter through #TDParentalLeave.

In addition, the great folks at TD Canada Trust have given me a $100.00 Indigo gift card which I will raffle off among those of you who “like” or comment on the post on my blog, Facebook page, LinkedIn, Google + or Twitter.  This contest closes Wednesday at noon, Toronto-time so get moving on it right away.

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