Posted in Canada, Community, events, family, health, Life, Parenting, school, sleep, The Urban Daddy

How to Blog During a Pandemic


This blog post will provide some key tips to help you maintain your blog during the pandemic.

The key to doing this involves learning a very important skill; how to repeat posts on a daily basis so you don’t end up filling your draft folder with hundreds and hundreds of posts which you started but never completed.

Take this template, and add your twist to the end.

Blog post #…

Today, I woke up.

Today, I stayed home. Actually, we all stayed home. Today marked the _______ day, that we all stayed home.

Today, we (Insert an activity from the list below);

Browsed social media

Read

Got kids onto their zoom classes

Worked from home / my bed / my dining room table / my home office

Tried to work

Exercised / Tried to Exercise

Browsed Tik Tok (and learned…)

Ordered something online / a package came today which contained…

Optional: Left the house

Not optional: Wore a mask!

Went to sleep

The highlight of my day was…

Posted in Canada, Community, family, health, Life, Parenting, Recommends, school, Toronto

Where is the CoronaVirus Common Sense? Cover up with great local masks!


To all my American friends… You have a choice. You have the same choice that we had in Canada and the same choice that our friends around the world had. Use some common sense, or run the risk of getting COVID-19.

It’s not a difficult choice to make, as far as I can see, it’s about your health, the health of your family, friends, neighbours and strangers. It’s not a hoax, it’s not a scam, and the virus doesn’t care who is running your country.

COVID in Canada doesn’t want Biden over Trump, and protecting yourself from getting sick is a smart idea, not a breach of your constitutional rights.

Enough with the posturing, and let’s get to reality.

I wear a mask. I was apprehensive at first, but less so after seeing how common they are in Asia – where we have traveled as a family, over the past 2 summers. People in Asia wear masks because they don’t want to pass along germs to others. Possibly they have weak immune systems, or maybe they just care about others, and don’t want to be the reason for someone else getting sick.

I wear a mask when I’m in close enough proximity to anyone who isn’t wearing one. These same people who don’t wear one clearly don’t care about their health, and they’re certainly not concerned about mine. They don’t care if they pass along the virus to me, and if I get sick, then I can’t see my kids, and well, that would just suck.

That is why I protect myself… and you.

In fact, I’ve been lucky to find a company that makes masks that fit me, feel good to wear, and don’t pull my ears forward so I look even more like Dumbo.

Two Friends with a Hook, was founded by high-school friends of my sister, and they’ve been producing and selling masks for the better part of 5 months. What started as a way to keep Canadians safe, has turned into a business, because the masks they make are easy to wear, look good and wash well.

Between my sister, my family and myself, we must have bought at least 20 masks thus far, and I’ve used them, and abused them, and they keep coming back for more. I’ve exercised wearing them – long walks, runs, or taken them into busy stores, and have had zero issues. When I’m not wearing the mask, like when I’m outdoors by myself, I can let the mask safely hang around my neck.

I’m not going to lie, I’ve tried plenty of masks, and these are by far the best. If you’re going to have to wear a mask, why not choose a comfortable one, a Canadian one, and keep everyone safe from your germs until we can kick CoronaVirus to the curb.

 

Posted in Canada, Community, Daddy, family, Life, Parenting, school, The Urban Daddy, urbandaddyblog

Tips for Balancing Remote Work and Parenting During Covid


Tips for Balancing Remote Work and Parenting During COVID-19

Written by: Sheyla Scaffo, People Experience Associate & Executive Business Administrator at Bunny Studio

Parents navigating their working from home while taking care of their children is the new norm. As school picks back up and with the uncertainty of what a day at school will look like (home, at school, 50/50, etc.), figuring out how to balance their schedule and a full-time job sometimes feels totally unmanageable.

Most parents have had experience working remotely in one-off, unplanned situations. However, working at home day in and day out for the foreseeable future while also caring for (and in some cases, teaching) kids at home proves to be a major struggle without careful planning where needed and flexibility when possible.

Here are some tips to create better routines and habits that can help parents maintain a healthy work-life integration:

1. When possible, keep things flexible
This is often easier said than done. However, when you do have the ability, consider getting creative with your work schedule to base your hours around your kids’ schedules. Giving yourself the flexibility to work differently during this time is crucial to maintaining work-life balance. 

This can work in a variety of ways. For example, if you’re an early morning person or a night owl, or you are used to commuting a long way, consider working on projects during these times when kids are usually sleeping. Of course, there will always be vital tasks and meetings that require collaboration with your colleagues during regular work hours, but finding ways to give yourself time for small breaks during the day will help you and your kids stay on track.            
 
2. Establish a kid-free zone
There will be times when you need to hunker down and complete work items free from distractions, which is why it is important to establish an area of the house where you can separate yourself from your family. 
 
Not only is it important for this space to be free from other people, but it also needs to be free from other distractions such as dirty laundry and other messes. Keeping the area clean and organized will keep you from wanting to disengage from work to complete other tasks.

3. Clearly communicate with your family
If you have a partner who is also working from home and sharing kid duties with you, it is crucial to communicate the times you can and cannot help out during the day. Setting these expectations will allow for a much smoother daily routine.

It is also important to communicate with your children if they are old enough. Set expectations for when there will be breaks in your day that you can check-in, whether it be a quick snack break, lunch, or even hourly check-ins. 

4. Utilize special toys and screen time during work hours
Set aside designated toys and other gadgets, as well as movies or TV shows, to be used when you need to focus-in during the day. This will give your kids something to look forward to and will allow for some distraction-free work time.
 
5. Don’t overwork
During this time, it can be easy to feel like we need to push ourselves to work extra hours, but the reality is that taking the time to unplug and reset each day is critical to success as a parent and an employee.
 
With schools and offices closed, parents are likely finding themselves faced with a to-do list that has only grown. Although many of us have now had a few months to settle into fully-remote work, that does not mean keeping up with distance-learning while figuring out the best way to accomplish your work has gotten any easier. Designing a schedule that fits your needs is easier said than done, but following the above tips should help ensure you are on the right track.

Should you find yourself out of work during this time, consider that there are other work options out there, such as freelance and contract work, that may help you meet your scheduling and finance needs. Freelancing is also a great source of supplemental income for people while they look for new full-time employment. Just make sure you choose the right platform to help you get the right kind of projects, such as Bunny Studio

Posted in Canada, family, money, Parenting, school

Children’s Drawing Contest: RESP Contribution Prize!


As schools partially reopened in parts of Canada, and as summer vacation closes in, children may (still) have some extra time on their hands.
Square One Insurance – serving BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario – have launched a children’s drawing contest where the winners will receive an RESP contribution of up to $1,500. 
RESP’s are great for many reasons, some being;
  • The federal government adds roughly 20% to RESP savings each year through the Canada Education Savings Grant (up to a lifetime max of $7200)
  • RESP savings grow tax free. You don’t have to pay tax on it
  • EAPs are taxable in the hands of the student – who should have much lower income
  • Friends and family can contribute to the RESP too
 

Contest Details

My Future Home Contest
It goes without saying, our children are the future. So, we’d like to see drawings of their dream future homes. The drawings can be as creative as possible; they don’t need to conform to current home standards.
Here’s how the contest works:
  1. Submit a drawing (with descriptions) to contest@squareoneinsurance.com by July 13th, 2020;
  2. 10 drawings will be selected and converted into professional illustrations by a graphic designer; then,
  3. The public will vote on the 10 drawings to decide the winners

Prizes

The 10 children whose drawings are selected will each receive $100 and a framed copy of their drawing converted into a professional illustration. The top three drawings as voted by the public will receive the following RESP contributions:
  • First place: $1,500
  • Second place: $500
  • Third place: $250
Full contest details can be found here; www.squareoneinsurance.com/my-future-home.
Terms of the contest can be found here, and include some of the following information:
The contest began June 22nd, 2020 and ends on Monday August 17th, 2020 at 11:59pm PST.

No purchase is necessary. Purchasing a home insurance policy from Square One does not increase the chances of winning.

Participants aged thirteen (13) and under on December 31, 2020 are eligible to enter.

The Contest is open to residents of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, or Saskatchewan.

Before being selected as a Finalist, consent by a legal guardian (“Guardian”) is required.

No family member of a Sponsor employee is eligible for entry.

 

Read the rest of the rules and regulations so that you’re child doesn’t submit a drawing which is not eligible for the contest. It’s NEVER too early to get a RESP started.

Get drawing and good luck!

Posted in Canada, disaster, family, health, Parenting, Recommends, school, Toronto, urbandaddyblog

March Break / COVID-19 / CoronaVirus Self-Isolation To Do List


March Break plans ruined? Travel plans cancelled? Activities for the kids also cancelled? COVID-19 has you in self-isolation? Keeping your “Social Distance”? Tired of hearing the “Corona-Time” song from Tik Tok?

If you, like everyone else, are running out of ideas for things to be because everything is closed until mid-April… What could you possibly do with the kids during an extended March Break?

Here at The Urban Daddy, we have some practical suggestions to not only keep your kids entertained, but keep you engaged, while allowing the kids to get a jump on their return to school without them knowing.

Here are our suggestions:

Reconnect with the great outdoors!

Walks, bike-riding, practicing sports, and helping around the house, digging the garden, planting flowers and raking the lawn. Get to know (Reconnect with) your neighbours. Have BBQ’s, do yoga, pick up some garbage in the community… All with lots of soap, hand sanitizer and without electronics.

Electronics – More than just for games!

While I feel that my kids are already in quarantine – they come home from school, head up to their rooms, hit the electronics and show up only for dinner. While Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Tik Tok, YouTube and Snapchat are fun, there is only such much you can do in a day, week, month, so let’s expand the use of computers beyond entertainment, and use it for educational purposes too. Have your kids learn about SEO, how to make websites, teach them to code, while you learn to code too.

The possibilities are endless.

Computers for Education

While the teacher unions here in Ontario might think that online classes are a REALLY bad idea, thankfully they’re not teaching our children, because with schools closing for anywhere from 3-5 weeks, or for the rest of the school year, we are suddenly seeing school boards heading to online classes to salvage the rest of the school year.

It only makes sense, and from what I’ve seen, some schools just needed a couple of days to move to online classes, while other schools were already ramping up.

I’m a huge fan of online classes and courses – I did my MBA online, and in this day and age, all kids should be familiar with online classes and courses not only in case of a global pandemic, but also in case they wanted to advance themselves and take extra or additional courses.

Get a jump on the eLearning train and sign yourself and your kids up for courses. My 13-year-old is currently in grade 8, but is working on his grade 9 math credit at the same time.

I’m working on some courses towards my Google certification and my Quickbooks certification.

Catch up on Family Time – Movies & Board Games

I strongly recommend family movies – stay away from movies called Outbreak, or that deal with the end of the world. Common Sense Media, is a website that rates most TV shows, movies and video games according to age appropriateness to help parents figure out what their kids should be watching.

Some of the games that we’ve played include; Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Monopoly, Cards Against Humanity (not with the kids!!), Rummicube, Exploding Kittens, Risk, Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, Carcassonne, Sushi Go, Chess, Boggle, Yatzee, just to name some more recently played.

Read Books

Nothing says getting a start on learning like developing a love of reading. Reading uses our imagination, helps us to learn new words, see proper punctuation, and spend hours doing something alone.

More importantly, in the event public libraries get shut down, there are plenty of resources available in digital format too.  eBooks, eAudioBooks, Movies, Comics, Music, Magazines and Videos. All you need is a library card!

A few years ago I introduced my eldest to the series of Dan Brown books – The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, Origin, The Lost Symbol, Inferno, Digital Fortress (This one you can skip, Sorry Dan), and Deception Point. I read through those books in records time and so has he. We’re looking forward to reading the newest Dan Brown book Wild Symphony.

In addition to those books, any Star Wars book has also been a wildly popular with my readers – not just the books that the movies are based off of, but all the little series and sub-series.

Spring Cleaning

Nothing says time to re-do the bedroom – change over winter clothes to spring clothes, check sizing, and re-do parts of the house than having the time to do so. If there is a pantry that you wanted to tear apart and re-organize alphabetically, this is your chance! How about cleaning up the kids playroom and donating toys they don’t use anymore? Again, now is the time.

We’re in this for the long haul, folks, so make sure you wash your hands often, keep your hands off of your face and stay away from people if you’re under the weather. Protect yourself and that will protect others.