Author Archives: Calgary's Child

Spring Break Event Roundup!

by Calgary’s Child Magazine; photo: fotolia.com

The kids are out of school – and that means they’ll be looking for stuff to do! Fortunately, there are tons of great activities, Easter events and drop-in programs all over the city (and beyond) to keep the little ones entertained! For more events, check out our calendar.

#COREeaster Egg Hunt
March 19 and 31; The Core Shopping Mall
It’s easy to join in the fun; retailers will hide plastic Easter eggs either in their stores or throughout the common areas of the shopping centre for shoppers to find. For all clues on your hunt, follow our Twitter and Instagram accounts on where the eggs are stashed. Clues will be sent out throughout the day, so make sure to check back! Inside each colourful egg you will find a prize voucher for exciting retailer prizes such as gift cards, swag, gift baskets and more that can be claimed either at the participating retailer’s cash register or Guest Services (located on level 3). Website.

Butterfield Acres Easter Hunts
March 24 – 25 and 30 – 31, 10am-3pm; Butterfield Acres
We’ll start off in the Birthday Barn listening to the Legend of the Easter Bunny! Once we hear what the Easter Bunny needs each of the children to do (he really appreciates their help!), then it’s off with our baskets to do his bidding with a special hunt. When the children find the items the Easter Bunny needs, they’ll carry them over in their baskets and send them down the tunnels to help the Easter Bunny get everything sorted to go to his Secret Workshop where they magically turn into Easter Eggs for all the girls and boys in the world. All the ‘kids’ then head in to the Prairie Palace to get their own spring planting underway with an Easter pot to take home, all planted, watered, and put into a plastic bag. Dress warm! Register ahead; this event is popular! Website. 

Easter at Bass Pro Shops 
March 24 – April 1; Bass Pro Shops
Get a free photo with the Easter Bunny and complete fun Easter crafts! On March 31st at 2pm, come and participate in an Easter Egg Hunt! (registration required, starts at 1:30pm!) Website.

Peppa Pig at Northland Village Mall
March 24, 11am-3pm; Northland Village Mall
Peppa Pig & her brother George are coming to Northland and want to meet you! Head to Centre Court to meet your favourite sibling duo. We’ll also have face painting, a balloon artist, colouring pages and more! The event is free, but we encourage you to bring a non-perishable food item for donation to The Calgary Food Bank. Website.

Mad Science Machines – Brixology with Lego Bricks
March 24, 1-2pm; 4807 8 Ave SE
This free class teaches children about the Engineering Design Process and mechanical engineering. Build, test, modify and re-test a drawing machine made with LEGO® bricks. Discover how simple machines including gears, wheels and axles, and levers are useful design tools for mechanical engineers. Limited Spaces. Registration is required. Taught by Mad Science of Southern Alberta. Brought to you by The Calgary Public Library. Website.

Fred Penner is Coming to Bragg Creek
March 24, 2-5pm; Bragg Creek Community Centre
A “must-see” multiple award winner and acclaimed family entertainer! Fred Penner is an icon of Canadian culture. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the website.

Earth Hour 2018: Calgary Unplugged
March 24, 7-9pm; St. Patrick’s Island
Go out and spend a fun off-the-grid evening with lots of other Calgarians! This fun and free evening will feature free hot chocolate, bike-powered music and lights, kids’ nature games, and lots more! Event-goers can bring a light, drum, costume, lantern or decorate their bike and take part in a procession to signal the beginning of Earth Hour. Website.

Come to Glenbow Ranch for a Star Night at the Park
March 24, 8-10pm; 255001 Glenbow Road Cochrane, AB
Do Something Memorable for Earth Hour! Join the Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Calgary Centre for a night of star and planet gazing! Telescopes will be provided for participants’ use, and there is a chance that one or two of Jupiter’s moons will be visible. As this is an outdoor event, don’t forget to layer and dress warmly! Accompanied kids are welcome. For more information, visit the website.

Family Easter Crafts and Cookies at Southland Leisure Centre
March 27, 9:30-11:30am; Southland Leisure Centre
There are two activity times: 9:30 to 11:30am & 6:30 to 8:30pm. Hope on down and make Easter crafts for your family and friends, and enjoy some light refreshments, too! For all ages plus an adult. Website.

Easter Eggstravaganza at the Calgary Zoo!
March 30-31, 9am-2pm; The Calgary Zoo
In partnership with Calgary’s Child Magazine. Enjoy two days of classic springtime fun at the Calgary Zoo. This year, the Zoo decided to spring into action for wildlife conservation! Kids of all ages will love the fun-filled family activities including face painting, sweet treats, bunny races, cookie decorating and more. All activities are free with regular admission. For more details on the egg-stra special family-friendly holiday event, visit the website.

Easter Egg Hunt for Dogs (And Their People!)
March 30, 9-11:30am; Calaway Park
Join in the fun and have your pooch sniff for dog treat filled eggs across Calaway Park’s south lawn at the 7th annual Easter Egg Hunt for Dogs in support of National Service Dogs on Good Friday, March 30. National Service Dogs is a non-profit, registered charity dedicated to enriching the quality of life and enhancing the independence of children and families living with autism and special needs. Website.

Easter at the Market
March 30-31, 10am-2pm; Calgary Farmers’ Market
Put a little spring in your step and join in the Easter festivities at the Calgary Farmers’ Market! Hop on over to the main stage and get your picture taken with the Easter Bunny and decorate an Easter cookie too (while supplies last). Cash or food donations for the Calgary Food Bank will be accepted to snap a bunny photo and to ensure no one goes hungry this Easter. Website.

Easter at Westbrook Mall
March 31, 12-4pm; Westbrook Mall
Come on down to Westbrook Mall and enjoy some Easter fun! Have your picture taken with the Easter Bunny and enjoy our petting zoo! Website.

Cineplex Family Favourites: Hop
March 31, 11am-1pm; Select Cineplex Theatres
Cineplex’s Family Favourites is a great way to enjoy a classic family movie at a great price! Admission is $2.99 per person, making this a great way to spend the weekend with the family crew. Participating Cineplex Theatres are Crowfoot Crossing, Sunridge, Chinook, and CrossIron Mills. Website.

Taste of Jamaica
March 31, 12-8pm; Thorncliffe Greenview Community Centre
Learn more about Jamaican culture at this year’s Taste of Jamaica! Enjoy a tasty serving of authentic Jamaican fare: think ackee and saltfish, fried plantains, jerk chicken and fried dumplings – included with the adult admission price. And check out live performances featuring reggae and gospel music and a children’s area with face painting and games. Adults $15; children $5; families $35. For more information, visit the website.

Easter Fun at Marlborough Mall
March 31, 1-4pm; Marlborough Mall
Hippity Hoppity, the Easter Bunny is on its way! Stop by Marlborough Mall and get a free 5 x 7 picture with the Easter Bunny. While you are there, participate in the Easter Egg Hunt, and don’t forget to stop by and visit all those cute barnyard animals at the Butterfield Acres Easter Petting Zoo! Website.

The Olate Dogs 
April 2, 7pm; Bert Church Live Theatre
The Olate Dogs are the winning participants from Season 7 of America’s Got Talent! Led by Richard Olate and his son Nicholas, the Olate Dogs are a high-energy, fast-paced canine theatrical act filled with amazing dog tricks, human acrobatics and humour. Website.

Vaisakhi Mela 2018
April 7, 1-6pm; #10, 7555 Falconridge Boulevard NE
The mission of this festival is to encourage all recognized multicultural associations representing their country to participate in the event through songs, dances, performances and activities! Bring the family. Website.

24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years

By Heather Cowie, The City of Calgary Recreation

It goes without saying that we want the best for our kids! As parents and caregivers, we try to do our best to navigate the messages, images, pressures, and expectations that come along with caring for a child, but it is not an easy task. As a long-time recreation professional and parent of a 19-year-old, I know how hard parenting is, and I am lucky enough to have help along the way!

These days, one of the messages we often hear is our kids are more sedentary than ever before. What does that mean? Well, can you believe that only 9 per cent of Canadian kids between the ages of 5 to 17 get the recommended 60 minutes of heart-pumping activity recommended each day? Think about that: only 9 per cent. That means that in a group of 10 children, only 1 child is getting enough physical activity each day!

Recently, ParticipACTION came out with the “Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years (0 to 4 Years)” and split them into three important categories: Moving, Sleeping, and Sitting. What if we all started thinking about our days using these three categories? As parents and caregivers, we know that little ones need their sleep, and, let’s face it, so do parents! However, the amount of time spent moving versus sitting is a critical factor in growth and development. All people, of any age, cannot function properly without the right combination of sleeping, moving around, and sitting. It’s critical for us to be mindful of how much time is spent on each of these categories daily, and to teach our children healthy habits early on in life.

Although it can seem challenging, breaking up your child’s day to include more movement and active play is easy! Think about getting outside to your local playground or park, play or create movement-based activities at home, or access the many low cost and/or free activities throughout Calgary, many of which are listed in Calgary’s Child Magazine!

We all want the best for our kids, so let’s get them started on the right foot!

Check out this chart to see what guidelines are recommended for your child’s age:

Infants (less than 1 year old)

MOVE SLEEP SIT
Being physically active several times in a variety of ways, particularly through interactive floor-based play; more is better. For those not yet mobile, this includes at least 30 minutes of tummy time spread throughout the day while awake. 14 to 17 hours for 0 to 3 month olds or

12 to 16 hours for 4 to 11 month olds of good quality sleep including naps.

Not being restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g., in a stroller or high chair).

Screen time is not recommended.

When sedentary, engaging in pursuits such as reading and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged.

Toddlers (1 to 2 years old) 

MOVE SLEEP SIT
At least 180 minutes spent in a variety of physical activities at any intensity, including energetic play, spread throughout the day – more is better! 11 to 14 hours of good quality sleep, including naps, with consistent bedtimes and wake-up times. Not being restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g., in a stroller or high chair) or sitting for extended periods.

For those younger than 2 years, sedentary screen time is not recommended.

For those aged 2 years, sedentary screen time should be no more than 1 hour – less is better.

When sedentary, engaging in pursuits such as reading and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged.

Preschoolers (3 to 4 years old)

MOVE SLEEP SIT
At least 180 minutes spent in a variety of physical activities at any intensity, including energetic play, spread throughout the day – more is better! 10 to 13 hours of good-quality sleep, including naps, with consistent bedtimes and wake-up times.

 

Not being restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g., in a stroller or car seat) or sitting for extended periods.

Sedentary screen time should be no more than 1 hour less is better.

When sedentary, engaging in pursuits such as reading and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged.

Heather proudly works for The City of Calgary Recreation Department and believes that together, we can impact activity levels of kids in this country.

March PSA – Burns & Scalds

From Alberta Health Services EMS

Each year, Alberta Health Services, EMS, continues to respond to emergencies involving young children who have sustained severe burns or scalds. These incidents often occur inside the child’s own home. Common causes include a child accidentally tipping hot liquids onto themselves, touching hot surfaces such as stoves, or making contact with electrical outlets. Fortunately, incidents such as these can be avoided by taking preventative measures.

Degrees of burn

  • : Affects only the top layers of the skin; appears red like a sun burn; discomfort is generally tolerable;
  • : Deeper and much more painful than 1°burns; broken skin or blisters commonly develop;
  • : Severe: the deepest layers of skin and tissue are injured; may appear charred or leathery.

First Aid for burns

  • Skin may continue to burn if not aggressively cooled. Immediately douse burns with large amounts of cold water.
  • Cover the burn with a sterile dressing, or at least clean material to protect infection;
  • Over the counter medications may be used for pain. Adhere to directions given on the label;
  • Seek further medical attention, as required.

Prevention of burns

  • Check the temperature of your hot water tank. Temperatures as high as 60°C / 140°F will scald a child in just seconds;
  • Use placemats instead of tablecloths. Tablecloths can be yanked downward causing hot drinks or food to spill on a child;
  • Turn pot handles to the back of the stove and ensure cords from kettles, slow cookers, and other electrical appliances cannot be reached;
  • Avoid picking up a child while holding any hot liquids;
  • Ensure electrical outlets are made secure by installing commercially available safety devices which prohibit access;
  • Keep children away from areas where appliances are in use (kettles, irons, hot stoves).

If you require immediate medical attention, call 9-1-1

A Fun Getaway without Going Away! Destination: The Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel

by Ellen Percival, Publisher, Calgary’s Child Magazine

Pack your bags – we’re off to the airport! Believe it or not, the Calgary airport is a pretty incredible destination all on its own. Lots of us have kids who are airplane super fans, but it’s hard to find an opportunity to really let them explore that interest. We have an idea for a special escape they’ll never forget.

Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel

The Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel is a unique, boutique-style hotel which has recently opened adjacent to the new international terminal at the Calgary Airport. Full disclosure: Marriott invited us to stay with them for a weekend to sample all of the incredible services it has to offer.

This Marriott is fully-equipped for an inclusive family experience; their indoor pool has a lift for guests with mobility challenges, there’s valet parking, and large family suites are available with a toy box, a king and sofa bed, and two bathrooms.

M Club Lounge

The M Club Lounge on the 7th floor overlooks the terminal and serves free breakfast, evening service with complimentary hors d’oeuvres and 24-hour snacks and drinks – a lifesaver for kids with unusual sleep cycles. The modern, well-appointed rooms have sound-proofed floor to ceiling windows that offer a birds-eye view of the airport’s active arrival and departure gates.  A free, downloadable YYC app will actually tell you where each plane is going or coming from as they take off and land. Rooms are also equipped with telescopes to get a close-up view of the planes. We were pleased to note that the hotel is also very dog-friendly, which is a huge advantage for families needing the assistance of a service or companion animal.

If your ultimate destination is somewhere away from Calgary, the ability to have a good night’s sleep and avoid the struggle of a 4am drive on winter roads was very appealing. A restful night in a hotel next to the airport gives plenty of time to adjust your child to the idea of air travel, as well as allowing hours and hours of exploration of the terminal, shops and play places at the airport without the fear of missing important check-in times. An often-missed but really incredible destination at the airport is SpacePort, a unique space and aeronautics facility with hands-on exhibits and displays – it’s almost impossible to find time to visit when you’re rushing around the airport to catch a plane, but having an extra evening makes all the difference.

Yakima Social Kitchen + Bar

If you have family coming into town, the Calgary Marriott In-Terminal Hotel provides an incredible array of services for adult travelers. The staff at the hotel are proud of their ability to create and customize exclusive experiences for their guests (you wouldn’t think of having a conference, milestone birthday or a wedding at an airport hotel, but trust me when I say their event services are incredible!) The Yakima Social Kitchen + Bar aims for world-class dining and hospitality, and their unique, locally-sourced menu certainly ranks it alongside the very best of what Calgary’s dining scene has to offer.

Whether you’re looking to ease the transition into a family vacation, hoping for a romantic night away (but not too far from the kids), need a place for family to stay when they come visit or are looking for your next business conference venue, the Calgary Marriott In-Terminal Hotel is a great option for lots of different needs. They work hard to accommodate the unique needs of their guests and are happy to work with you to ensure your family has a great time, whatever your reasons for staying. Bon voyage!

Teach Your Baby to Self-Rescue in Water

provided by ISR Self-Rescue®

ISR – or Infant Swimming Resource is a pioneering technique that teaches children hot to survive if they accidentally find themselves alone in the water. Our mission “not one more child drowns” can provide an additional layer of protection for your family and a solution to defeating meaningless and horrible drowning accidents.

ISR’s core conviction is that the child is the most important part of a drowning prevention strategy and with over 260,000 ISR graduates and 800 documented survival stories, it is significant proof that children CAN save themselves if given the opportunity to learn how to ISR Self-Rescue®.

Founded in 1966 by Dr. Harvey Barnett, ISR is the global leader in survival swimming lessons for infants and young children. Highly trained instructors provide safe survival swimming lessons and to date we have delivered more than 7,750,000 ISR Self Rescue® lessons.

The technique teaches a child to quickly get to the surface by rolling over to float until a rescue can be made. This simple technique can be mastered by infants, empowering even a 6-12 month old to self-rescue. Children from 1-6 years learn self –rescue techniques in addition to the swim-float- swim method to get to safety. Undoubtedly, there are several techniques children can learn to self-rescue, and we advise all parents to research thoroughly to find the best suited solution and certified instructor for your family. ISR Self-Rescue® teaches the child to trigger their survival instinct which is something every parent should consider. Lessons are gentle and caring and children are given time to adjust being in the water with their instructor. Parent education on drowning prevention is a very important part of the program also.

During the program, children learn breath control, to float, roll-over and maneuver in the water to get from a face down position into a face up position to sustain life. It is the difference between them surviving and not!

Before graduating, students are tested fully clothed in summer and winter clothes to ensure that they can perform their self-rescue skills.

To say that any aquatic survival program is easy for a parent to watch would not be true, it is hard to watch your child struggle, but the number of parents who lost a child to drowning or experienced their child accidentally falling into the water are just too numerous to count…A crying child is an alive child, so hang in there, the “AH HA” moment will come and everything will fall into place. At the end of the ISR Self-Rescue® Lessons, you will have a child that is SAFE, CONFIDENT and COMPETENT in the aquatic environment!

“While I understand how difficult it is for some people to watch the videos and even to consider putting their child through lessons, I feel this is on the best things we have done for our son. We have invested in him and his safety and to us there is nothing more important than that and I can now confidently say that if for some reason he ended up in the water alone, he could “save himself” and float safely until someone found him.”

Obviously, no child is ever drown-proof and adult supervision is incrediblyimportant. ISR is meant to be a supplemental skill to increase a child’s ability to be safe in the water.

There are two certified instructors in Calgary and area that provide ISR Survival Swimming Lessons:

Melinda Gilroy
Certified ISR Instructor
403-467- 3125
m.gilroy@infantswim.com

Sherri Cebry
Certified ISR Instructor
403-801- 4883
s.cebry@infantswim.com

Yielding to Emergency Vehicles from Calgary EMS

Time is the enemy in an emergency. For everyone’s safety, it is important for motorists to
understand how to correctly yield right of way to emergency vehicles with lights and siren
activated. You can help EMS, police, and fire get to the scene quickly and safely by:

When an emergency vehicle approaches with lights and siren activated:

  • If you’re in the middle of an intersection when an emergency vehicle approaches with lights and siren activated, safely clear the intersection;
  • On a one or two lane road, motorists should move to the right side of the road, slow down, and then stop. Remember to signal;
  • On a road with three or more lanes, motorists should move to the nearest side
    of the road and stop. If driving in the centre lane, move to the right side of the road and stop. Remember to signal;
  • Come to a complete stop and wait for the emergency vehicle to pass. Shoulder check for more emergency vehicles (there is often more than one) before re-entering traffic flow. Remember to signal;
  • Emergency vehicles might use any available road space to maneuver. This could include the shoulders, turning lanes, in order to pass other traffic.

When operating a vehicle:

  • Drive attentively and defensively at all times. Be cognizant to sirens and be prepared to yield the right of way;
  • It is Alberta law for motorists to slow down to at least 60 km/hour (unless a lower speed is posted) when driving past a stopped emergency vehicle. This includes EMS, police, fire, and tow trucks with their lights activated;
  • Do not break the rules of the road in order to give right of way to an emergency vehicle. This could include proceeding through a red light, or making an illegal turn. Actions such as these jeopardize all motorists in the area;
  • Drivers must place their full attention on the roadway and toward the safe operation of their vehicle at all times. The fine for distracted driving in Alberta is $287.00;
  • Always leave plenty of space between your vehicle and an emergency vehicle, should it be required to stop suddenly.

Holiday Shopping Survival Tips

By Ellen Percival, Calgary’s Child Magazine

Holiday shopping is hectic at the best of times, but add a couple of unenthusiastic kids to
the mix and you’ve got the potential for one huge headache. With a little patience (and planning ahead) shopping for the holidays can be a little less frenzied.

  • Make a shopping list, plan your budget and set an itinerary of which stores you want to visit before you go – and stick to it!
  • Set a reasonable length of time for your shopping trip and try to schedule during your
    child’s best part of the day. You’ll find the mall less crowded if you shop during the non-peak hours which are earlier or later in the day – if your child is an early bird or a night owl, use this to your advantage.
  • Be sure to go over expectations of behavior before you leave and reinforce that this trip is about picking up presents for others, not for buying things for ourselves.
  • Involve your kids and let them help plan part of the shopping trip. Would they like to stop in a favorite store or stop at a play place? Set a time limit.
  • Letting them shop for a special gift for a family member will help them feel involved.
    The dollar store works well for this.
  •  Don’t forget to plan regular breaks during the shopping trip, pack along a special snack or make a plan to stop for lunch.
  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes.
  • Try to make the trip enjoyable – after all, this is what the holiday season is really all about! Visit Santa and enjoy all the special Christmas activities throughout the mall you are shopping at.
  • Recruit help. If your spouse or a friend is available, you’ll find it easier to “divide and conquer” or keep your kids on track with help. If you know bringing your child shopping is a bad idea, consider securing babysitting for an hour or two.
  • Stock up on gift cards for those hard-to-buy-for people in your life! You don’t have to get the world’s most creative and thoughtful gift every year and often it’s the thought that counts.
  • Have your gifts wrapped for you – many malls offer this service, some with proceeds going to a charitable cause.
  • Consider shopping online! You may pay extra for rush shipping, but sometimes it’s worth it to avoid repeat visits to the mall through December!

Remember to keep a positive attitude and approach the excursion as a special date and
not an ordeal. Looking at the trip from their perspective and planning for their needs will
help you all get through the outing a little less frenzied.

Ellen is the publisher of Calgary’s Child Magazine.

Sledding Safety from Calgary EMS

Surviving Snow Days_s125Emergency Medical Services (EMS) would like to remind parents and children about some sledding safety tips as the season is just around the corner. Sledding injuries may result from collisions with stationary objects, such as trees and rocks, or with
other people on the hill. Unprotected falls can result in injury if you lose control at
high speeds. Everyone is at risk – especially children. Have a fun and safe trip on
the toboggan hill by following these simple reminders.

Equipment

  • Always ensure your toboggan, or sledding device, is in good repair. Inspect it for any damaged, or missing parts, before each use;
  • Be certain the operator is fully capable of staying in control of the sled at all times;
  • Children should wear a properly fitted helmet designed for other high impact sports such as hockey, cycling, or climbing.

Hazards

  • Avoid hills that are too steep, or too icy;
  • Choose hills free of all obstacles such as trees, rocks, utility poles, or fences;
  • Beware of loose scarves or clothing containing drawstrings which can present a choking hazard if they become caught, or snagged.

Plan ahead

  • Dress warmly in layers and anticipate weather changes;
  • Consider bringing extra sets of gloves and toques to exchange wet garments for dry ones;
  • Take breaks, out of the cold, to warm up;
  • Ensure frostbite hasn’t affected any exposed skin;
  • Even when properly protected from the elements, the finger tips, toes, ears, the tip of the nose, and other high points on the face such as the forehead and cheek bones can be affected by frostbite;
  • If frost bite has occurred, treat it by first removing the individual out of the cold environment; Gently warm the affected skin by placing a warm hand over it, or by placing the affected part in warm, not hot, water, until re- warmed.

Smoother Mornings

by Parenting Power

p80-Annoyingthingstheydo[1]Mornings are a great time to connect with kids! Starting the day without arguments can be a great way to send everyone on their way to get the most out of their day. For many families though, mornings can feel less like a time to connect and more like a time to beg/plead and nag kids out the door and off to school.

The bottom line is, if you are going to be connecting with your kids (talking, sharing a breakfast table, or driving to school,) it works better when the roles and responsibilities are clear.

We hear from so many parents about the daily morning arguments over:

  • breakfast (what to eat, and then actually eating it)
  • getting dressed
  • turning off the screens
  • getting stuff packed up
  • getting out the door

It doesn’t have to be that way! There is room for change. A big part of smooth mornings is preparation and expectation.

Making it easier for parents

Being prepared means setting yourself up for success. You know yourself best: are you a ‘night-before’ planner or do you prefer the early-morning plan? Using non-child time to get organized means that you’ll have more time to be with your kids in the morning and to set them up for success.

Making it easier for kids

You likely know how you want the mornings to look. Now it is time to let them in on the secret without nagging. When our kids were little, one of us was clearly told, “stop telling me what to do all the time! Do you have to be so bossy?” That’s when we changed how we did mornings, and handed over some of the responsibility.

Make some time (on a weekend, or at your regular family meeting,) to clearly outline what’s expected in the mornings. Work with each child to get it on paper along with the times that each task is meant to begin. Once each child knows the plan, your job can become more about encouragement, than about telling kids what to do.

If you need to guide your kids, you can ask, “What’s next in the plan? Where do you need to be now? What does the clock say?”

Part of this morning routine can involve pre-bedtime organizing: planning with your child what clothes will be worn the next day, along with what’s for breakfast, and making sure that homework is back in the backpack and ready to go to school the next day. Do your children make their own lunch? If so, that can happen before bed as well. If you make the lunches, that’s one thing to cross of your own list before bedtime.

Getting up before the kids may be another useful tool to make your mornings easier. This leaves time for you to sit and eat with them. We find that many kids misbehave in order to get their parents’ attention in the mornings. When parents are there, attending to the behaviours we want to see, there is less of a need for misbehaviour and less of an opportunity for things to get out of hand.

Another big morning battle seems to be getting kids off of devices and back to what they need to be doing. One of the easiest ways to avoid this is to leave screens off in the morning, or at the very least, off until your child is ready to go. When that distraction is managed, many other problems fade away.

As you focus in on your family’s mornings this week, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you know the schedule you would like your child to follow in the mornings?
  • Does your child know it? Write it down so that your child can concretely follow the plan.
  • How will you set your family up for morning success by doing things in advance?
  • Do screens need to be present in the morning? Make a plan for when they are turned on and when they are turned off. If they are too much of a distraction for parents or children, turn them off today and try again tomorrow (or next week).

The Family Calendar and You

Revamp Routinesby Parenting Power

Here are just a few of the great things a simple family calendar can do:

  1. Eliminate confusion
  2. Increase individual responsibility
  3. Increase predictability (which means kids feel like they have some control)
  4. Teach numeracy and literacy to our young children

One of the greatest reasons that a family calendar is important, is because it puts all of the information in one place and allows all family members to have the same understanding. One parent doesn’t assume that the rest of the family knows when the dentist appointment is happening. Kids don’t have to guess when their 3 days at dad’s house happens in this 2 week period – they can see it.

Children often feel powerless in a home. This is one of the reasons that they fight for power (defiance, power struggles.) Everyone is telling them what to do and when things are going to happen and they either have to hold it all in their head or just leave it up to the adults. Once we have a place where things are clearly written down (with pictures/words,) kids don’t have to remember everything. They can check the calendar and feel like they know what is happening each day.

We can support children in learning to take responsibility by teaching them to help themselves. When they ask, “when is picture day?” rather than telling them, we can say, “Go and check the calendar and then please let me know what you find out.”

We can also teach our children to put their activities onto the family calendar. This is great preparation for their teenage years as they learn to build habits of organization. Reviewing the week in advance at a family meeting or even after dinner one night a week means that everyone’s up to speed about their own responsibilities: driving, chores, homework, appointments, practices and special events.

Lastly, having everything on the family calendar means that we don’t fall into the trap of not telling our kids about potentially unpleasant things and building up the emotional tension around them. When doctor, dentist, and immunization appointments are clearly marked, kids can prepare themselves rather than being surprised when they are told about them, only moments in advance.

This week, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is our calendar hanging where every family member can clearly see it?
  • Do we need to start using stickers or pictures on the calendar so that all of the kids know what’s happening?
  • How can I get the kids to learn the responsibility of knowing what’s happening in their lives?
  • When will we schedule a weekly opportunity to review what’s on the family calendar?