Monthly Archives: August 2015

The top tricks and tips for back to school shopping

By stylist and mother of four, Christine Dovey Photo:

P56_spring%20clean[1]With the majority of parents heading out with their children to go back to school shopping this month, there is a lot of added stress in the air. As a mother of four, I know this feeling all too well which is why I made it my mission to find helpful tricks and tips to make this shopping season as seamless as possible.

First, make a list and stick to it. If you head into the mall prepared, you’ll be less likely to feel overwhelmed or make impulse purchases. Over the years I’ve found shopping from a list can ensure a stress-free back to school shopping trip and also be a great lesson in budgeting for your child. A fun tip I like to use to keep everyone happy is to give my children one freebie ticket each to purchase an item they really want.

While planning what to buy, also contact your child’s school and ask for their supply list. With this, you’ll know exactly which school supplies to buy without any unnecessary purchases. It’s likely that at the end of the last school year your child came home with lots of supplies that are still okay to use again. Take inventory of what you have to avoid buying the same thing twice.

Shop the sales and think longevity. If you shop the summer sales, you can often find great styles for even better prices. Pair these items with warm layers to help take your child’s wardrobe through the seasons. I love paring a cute dress with a warm cardigan or a trendy plaid button-down shirt over top of a graphic tee.

Look for key trends that are versatile. It’s important to invest in staple pieces that can be worn in many different ways. Items like a leather jacket or the perfect pair of jeans will never go out of style! These pieces might cost you a bit more upfront, but will get a lot of use.

Shop where there’s variety. Shopping at a shopping centre can save you time and energy – it’s a one-stop-shop! Shopping at the mall allows me to compare prices and styles, get all of my shopping done in one day, and feel inspired by the newest trends. Visit to find a directory of all the stores available at Market Mall and Chinook Centre and download the CF SHOPS! app to bring this information with you while you’re on-the-go.

Finally, let your kids get involved. If your child is invested in their clothing choices, they’ll be more likely to wear what you buy. Getting ready to head back to school is an exciting time for your kids. Let your child’s back to school wardrobe be an extension of who they. Getting everything they need this back to school season will give them the confidence to own their style. #WhoWillYouBe

With the first day of school being just a few short weeks away, now is the perfect time to get organized. Time for a fresh start and a new look! With these tips and tricks to back to school shopping, you can plan ahead and make the experience a positive one for everyone.

About Christine Dovey:
Christine Dovey is a published stylist, decorator, and artist whose signature aesthetic can best be described as a blushy cocktail of delicate pretty mixed with a dash of modern edge. When she’s not immersed in writing her blog, creating design plans, or covered in paint, Christine spends her days in Oakville, Ontario with her husband Ian and children Natasha, Scarlett, Malcolm, and Jasper.


Make Mealtimes Meaningful

by Dr. Susan Bartell; photo:

After the novelty of back-to-school has worn off, the challenge of fitting in car-pools, homework, activities and your own obligations leaves little time for anything-including breathing! You might not realize it, but your child likely feels exactly the same way. In particular, once the hectic school year ensues, many kids feel that they don’t get enough time with their parents. They miss the later bedtimes and slow days at the pool and their free time to read with you or play outside has been replaced with homework.

There are many reasons that eating meals with your kids is important, but for me, spending a slice or your busy days together is one of the most important. Of course, it can be difficult to find the time-especially if you have more than one child whose schedules conflict, or if you work. So, here are FOUR tips to help you find those valuable nuggets of meal time and capture them.

1. Relinquish the rules. It might not be possible to eat dinner together every night, include every member of your family at every meal, or sit for longer than fifteen minutes, but that doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel! Simply do your best. Round up as many family members as you can, or have two meal times-you can eat the main course with one child and dessert with the other. Breakfast, brunch and lunch count too, so on the weekend, pancakes in the kitchen is perfect. Also give yourself a point for five minutes with your child eating frozen yogurt after school, before soccer.

2. Plan ahead. While eating healthily should be a top priority, it is more important to be together than to serve gourmet meals. Keep your home stocked with easy, healthy choices that your kids enjoy. Pizza (frozen fresh from your favorite pizza parlor), cold cuts, and “homemade” chicken nuggets (they don’t have to be made in your home) are all good choices. Spend time sitting together, eating and talking, rather than cooking.

3. Chat with a purpose. Your goal during meals is to learn as much as possible about your child’s daily life. Since many kids don’t open up easily, it can be tricky to extract information from them. You are more likely to be successful if you listen more than you talk. Do your best to refrain from lecturing, opining or judging. Approach conversations seriously, no matter how trivial the topic may seem to you as an adult (“It must have been frustrating when Ben stole the ball from you!”) In addition, don’t ask too many questions, but when you do, instead of asking general questions (“How was school?), ask specific ones (“Was math hard today?” and “Who did you sit with at lunch?”) Finally, tell age-appropriate stories about your day. Your kids will enjoy them and it will encourage a give-and-take conversation.

4. Focus on fun. Resist the urge to use it as a time to teach or discipline. A few basic rules are important (take your plate from the table, and don’t talk over others), but do your best not to focus on this as a time to make too many rules. Also, be in the moment with your child-enjoying your time together without the TV or any electronics, including your cell phone!

Time together as a family is really very precious so make the most of it and don’t waste a single second of the time you have with one another.

Dr Susan Bartell is a nationally recognized child and parenting psychologist and author. You can learn more about her at


Timely Tips for Parents to Help Kids of all Ages Adjust to ‘Back to School Week’

By Revamp RoutinesDr. Adam Moscovitch Photo:

A new school year is only a few sleeps away, and parents everywhere are wondering how their kids will adjust to the new early time schedule after a whole summer of lazy, hazy days, staying up into the wee hours, and sleeping in.

From bedtime battles to the misery of morning wake up call, Dr. Adam Moscovitch, Medical Director of Calgary’s Sleep & Fatigue Institute (and father of four school-aged children), says summertime sleep habits die hard.

“Late summer nights combined with early school start times, and the stresses of just being a kid, deprive our children of essential sleep,” he says. “And sleep deprivation often wreaks havoc with health, academic performance and behaviours. It is an unrecognized epidemic.”

Some compelling facts about sleep disorders and habits in children:
• Two thirds of school aged children have some kind of a sleep problem.
• One third of High School students report to be falling asleep in class at least once a week.
• Insufficient sleep in children is associated with fatigue, dozing off in class, difficulties concentrating, attention deficit, behavioral problems, and lower level social skills.
• Children of any age can snore and have Sleep apnea, a breathing disorder in sleep. Poorly
performing students were two to three times more likely to have frequent and loud snoring.

The endless hours of video games, late night movies, played through the night must come to an end and, unfortunately, switching from a nocturnal schedule can be painful come the first week of school.

Take a look at the following tips to make life a little easier for the dreaded upcoming school mornings:
1. Start early – Don’t wait until school starts to modify your child’s sleep routine. If your child starts adjusting schedule this Labour Day weekend, the first week or two of mornings back to school will be less painful.
2. Make incremental changes – Inch back wake-up times by 15 minutes or so until you reach the ideal time for your child’s particular school schedule. You can’t force children to sleep, but you can enforce wake-up times and adjust the bedtime accordingly.
3. Discourage daytime naps – For a successful night’s sleep, try to avoid naps, limit them to 20-30 minutes.
4. Try to stick to a regular family breakfast and dinner time – Breakfast is important to rev up your child’s day. Be sure children are up in time for a proper and healthy breakfast for successful school performance in morning classes.
5. Limit bedtime television viewing – For children, this also might mean late-night video game time. That can have a negative effect on Melatonin levels, in addition to stimulating the child .
6. Create a restful environment – The darker the room, the better quality of sleep. If your child needs a night light, keep it soft and place it out of direct line of sight.
7. Snack if hungry – If your child is hungry late at night, a light and healthy snack is better than a large meal before bedtime. Choose something low carb and low in sugar such as an apple, cheese or yogurt. This will fit the hungry bill but won’t disrupt a child’s blood sugar or upset their digestive system.
8. Avoid excessive caffeine consumption – For adolescent and older students, heavily caffeinated beverages are now more popular than ever. Their consumption can be the equivalent of amphetamine usage with consequent insomnia. Green and black tea can also contain caffeine, so remember to consume in moderation.
9. Bright light exposure in the morning – Particularly helpful in teenagers and young adults who can’t fall asleep late into the night will find it difficult to wake up on school days, and sleep-in on weekends. They might be having a Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS).
10. Talk about sleep issues – The inability to sleep could be a sign of a bigger issue such as problems with bullies or friendships, stress over a new school, an early or heavy class schedule, new classmates, or a more significant—a sleep disorder that has gone undiagnosed.
With time, patience, and perhaps a little negotiating, parents will be able to navigate their child into a healthy sleep pattern that benefits their brain’s performance (including their critical thinking, gross motor and problem solving skills), as well as their confidence and sociability in school.

If all those simple measures fail, your child might be having a more significant sleep disorder that can benefit from seeing a sleep specialist.

Dr. Adam Moscovitch’s training and practice of Sleep Medicine extend over the last 27 years, initially with Dr. John Remmers at the University of Calgary Sleep Apnea Research Group, followed by two years at Stanford as a visiting scholar and National Institute of Health Fellow. He returned to Calgary initially in 1990, and served the Southern Alberta population for the next two decades, initially at the Foothills Sleep Group, followed by 15 years as the Founder and Medical Director of one of North America’s premier sleep centers. After three years hiatus from Alberta, he has returned to provide his services out of a new facility—The Sleep and Fatigue Institute. He is Diplomate of the American Boards of Sleep Medicine, Psychiatry & Neurology, and Forensic Medicine, and Associate Clinical Professor, Faculty of Medicine the University of Calgary.

Is Naptime Over Forever?

by Elizabeth Pantley 


image: Elizabeth Pantley

Does your preschooler reject the idea of taking a nap? Is it a daily struggle? Are you wondering if naptime is a thing of the past? How can you tell?

Energetic children don’t understand the physical benefits of sleep, they see nap as an unwanted interruption in their day. If kids were given the choice they’d never sleep – day or night – until they simply fell over! Leaving the decision to nap up to your child, then, is like allowing her to choose between vegetables or cookies for dinner. Most children would choose cookies and, in the same way, they would choose to be awake rather than be asleep. Therefore it’s up to you to decide if your child needs a nap or not, so let’s discuss the best way to make that decision.

How Do You Know if Your Child Needs a Nap?

Children send clear signals that tell you if they need to sleep. If you watch them, and if you know what to look for, you will be able to tell if your child is tired.

Here are three lists that will help you make the best napping decision.

Your child still needs a daily nap if he:

  • Wakes up grumpy, or has a hard time waking up in the morning
  • Resists the idea of a nap, but eventually surrenders and sleeps an hour or longer
  • Falls asleep easily at naptime
  • Coordination fades later in the day. (For example, can’t manage a puzzle as well.)
  • Loses energy in the afternoon or early evening, but gets a second wind
  • Has a good disposition in the morning, but gets cranky as the day goes on
  • Is sensitive and cries easily in the evening, more than earlier in the day
  • Gets tired in the afternoon or early evening and shows signs such as yawning, rubbing eyes, or having a vacant look.
  • Frequently falls asleep when watching a movie or when going for a ride in the car

Signs that your child is weaning from daily naps; he needs a nap on some days, but just a rest period on other days:

  • Usually has a consistent personality from morning until bedtime
  • Tends to become fussy in the evening after an active day
  • Seems okay missing one day’s nap, but after a few days of missed naps she starts to become whiny or grumpy
  • Is generally in good spirits, but can become cranky on busy days or days where his routine is upset by visitors, playdates or errands
  • When put in a dark, quiet room for a nap he lies in bed a long time before falling asleep
  • Usually goes to bed at a reasonable time and sleeps well all night long

Signs that your child no longer needs a daily nap, but still might benefit from a daily quiet rest break:

  • Has a consistent personality from morning until bedtime – even on busy days
  • Is generally in good spirits with normal ups and downs throughout the day
  • Learns new things easily and has an appropriate attention span for his age
  • Goes to bed at a reasonable time and sleeps well all night long
  • Rarely falls asleep when she is put to bed for a nap
  • On the days when he naps, it takes a long time for him to fall asleep or he goes to bed much later than usual
  • Is typically healthy and doesn’t suffer from many colds or other ailments
  • Generally wakes up on her own and in a pleasant mood

Transitioning to No Naps

The transition from naps to no naps doesn’t take place suddenly. It is often a transition period of several months where your child may need naps some days but will be fine without a nap on other days. Be sure to follow your child’s cues throughout this process and be willing to be flexible with their needs on any given day.

This article is copyrighted, and taken from for The No-Cry Nap Solution: Guaranteed Gentle Ways to Solve All Your Naptime Problems by Elizabeth Pantley. Here is the link for more excerpts: