Lighten the Load for Another Parent
Look for opportunities to lighten the load or advocate on behalf of a parent who is going through a particularly tough time.
If you've been through a tough time in your own life as a parent -- a time when you needed support from the proverbial parenting village in order to get through the most difficult of days -- you know what a difference such support can make.
Why not be that village for another parent?
Posted at 11:55 PM in Autism spectrum disorders, babies, bringing them up ethically, Current Affairs, modern families, navigating the system, parenting, parenting kids with special needs, preschoolers, school-aged kids, sleep, teens, toddlers, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Your Top 10 List Revisited....
Photo Credit: Ann Douglas, 2009.
Dream up some quick and easy summer suppers.
Jot your ideas down before your culinary brilliance is lost forever.
Then share your inspiration with a friend.
Here are some recipes and family food resources to get you started:
Photo Credit: Ann Douglas, 2009.
Keep Dinner Simple
All bets are off when it comes to feeding kids during the summer months: who knows what foods will be appealing on super-hot days and who will even be at the dinner-table at a time of year when schedules tend to get tossed out the window on a regular basis? Here are some suggestions that are high in kid-appeal and ways of taking the stress out of mealtimes during what should be a fun and low-stress time of year.
1. Keep it fresh.
Take advantage of the wide availability of farm-fresh produce while it's in season. Foods like blueberries aren't just delicious: they're also rich in nutrients and high in kid-appeal.
2. Get your kids in on the meal-planning act.
They’ll be less likely to gripe about what shows up on the dinner-table or go into great theatrics about how there’s “nothing to eat” in the house if they had a role to play in planning meals, drawing up the grocery list, or—better yet—helping you choose some fresher-than-fresh produce at the local farmer's market.
3. Stock up.
It can be hard to predict ahead of time how many extra kids will show up at your dinner-table during the summer months. And be sure to stock up on foods that can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere: cheese cubes, hard-boiled eggs, bagels, homemade muffins, and the like.
4. Get ahead of the game.
Do some food preparation ahead of time or look for items in the grocery store that can save you time on the food preparation front (e.g., salad in a bag, mini-carrots, etc.). Prepare foods as soon as possible after arriving home from the grocery store or the farmer's market. That way, your kids will have plenty of healthy foods to snack on when the munchies strike.
5. Plan meals that require minimal preparation and very little clean up.
Think grilled meat or fish or vegetarian protein; a baked potato; some fresh vegetables (grilled, raw, or made into a salad); and some fresh fruit. Hint: If you throw a few extra pieces of meat on the grill, you’ll end up with some tempting leftovers for meals and snacks the next day.
6. Go for quick and easy menus.
Look for websites and cookbooks that feature recipes that can be whipped up quickly and easily. (Ask other parents and your local bookseller to recommend their favorites.)
7. Beat the heat.
Aim for no-cook meals at this time of year or meals that avoid very little oven time preparation (to avoid heating up the kitchen).
8. Batch cook.
Make at least one extra meal on the weekends, either by cooking that meal all by itself and popping in the freezer, or by making “doubles” of one of your family’s weekend meals (e.g., a double batch of spaghetti sauce or lasagna) so that you can have leftovers during the week.
9. Have leftover night or make-your-own-dinner night at least once a week.
It’s a great way to clean out the refrigerator, give yourself a break from cooking, and allow your kids to make themselves something they’ll really enjoy. It’s a win-win situation all around.
10. Schedule family picnics on a regular basis.
Even if your kids try to convince you that they’re too old for picnics, encourage them to join in the fun anyway. Summer tends to whiz by in a flash: who wants to spend it being holed up in a kitchen?
Savor the Ordinary
Savor the magic of an ordinary day - or an ordinary moment.
It's easy to take these moments for granted - to assume that there will be many other days like this - when, in fact, each moment we have with our children is unique and precious.
Buy Yourself Some Free Time
Take Back Your Time: A U.S./Canadian initiative that seeks to "challenge the epidemic of overwork, over-scheduling and time famine that now threatens our health, our families and relationships, our communities and our environment."
Here are a few noteworthy points excerpted from the Take Back Your Time website:
Time stress threatens our marriages, families and relationships as we find less time for each other, less time to care for our children and elders, less time to just hang out.
It weakens our communities. We have less time to know our neighbors, supervise our young people, and volunteer.
It reduces employment as fewer people are hired and then required to work longer hours, or are hired for poor part-time jobs without benefits.
It leaves many of us with little time to vote, much less be informed, active citizens.
It leaves us little time for ourselves, for self-development, or for spiritual growth.
It even contributes to the destruction of our environment. Studies show that lack of time encourages use of convenience and throwaway items and reduces recycling.
Photo Credit: Ann Douglas, 2009.
Take a weekend nap
If you're in the Sandman's good books, the entire family may be able to journey to Napville together.
If you're not, you'll have to travel separately.
Either way, make sure everyone gets a turn catching up on their zzzzz's.
You don't want to set up an in-house battle between the sleep haves and the sleep have-nots.
CanadianFamily.ca: I Need a Nap, Too: Need a nap even more than your kids do? That makes you a perfectly normal parent.
Best Health: 19 Reasons to Take a Nap: Here's ammunition to help you make the case that you don't just want a nap. You need one.
Irritable? Take a Nap: This will help you to convince family members that they really want you to take a nap (e.g., there's nothing they want more).
Naps and Toddlers: Does your toddler still need a nap or is he -- yikes -- getting ready to give it up?
My Newborn Won't Nap: Strategies to help your baby to discover that naps are not the enemy.
Photo Credit: Ann Douglas, 2009.
The parents who showed up at councillor Bill Saundercook’s office on two separate occasions this week to protest the one-year moratorium on day nurseries on High Park Avenue have a message for parents across the city.
This is your issue, too.
“This City decision sets a dangerous precedent for all of Toronto and anyone who needs daycare, or might need daycare in the future, should be angry about the decision,” says High Park constituent and parent Lindsay Viets.
“[What] makes this more than a neighbourhood issue is that council will be unifying all the varying by-laws from when Toronto was five different municipalities and applying them to the entire city,” adds Rebecca Keenan, another High Park resident and parent.
“The old, downtown city has always been more open to a blend of residential and commercial developments. Day nurseries, for example, did not need to go through the same hoops as other businesses, and could open on residential streets. The suburban municipalities, though, enforced by-laws that maintained a greater divide between residential and commercial properties and there is a push to have those suburban by-laws govern the entire city.”
Both Viets and Keenan were shocked by the ease with which City Councillor Bill Saundercook was able to carry forth a complaint from a handful of disgrunted High Park Avenue residents -- and that he chose to do so without consulting other area constituents.
Viets explains: “Saundercook was approached by a handful of homeowners complaining about a new daycare going in on High Park Ave. Saundercook took their complaints to City Hall and pushed through (at the end of the council meeting, on a day when 22 councillors were absent, no less) a decision to impose a one year ban on new [day nurseries] in the High Park area. He did not consult with any of his constituents beyond the original few complainers. I am astounded that a councillor can be so out of touch with his constituency. Ward 13 has one of the highest birthrates in Canada, and accessing daycares spaces is a huge issue for the many many young families in the ward.
Keenan is equally frustrated. In a post published to her blog, PlaygroundConfidential, she reported that she "could barely believe it" when she learned about the moratorium:
Viets feels that the homeowners complaints of daycare-related traffic and noise were overblown.
“The street in question is a grand, wide avenue, the widest and busiest in the neighbourhood. It has a parking lane on either side of the street (an unheard of luxury around here) and nearly every house on the street has a driveway, so residents are not even using the street parking. Additionally, many parents will be dropping their kids off en route to the nearby subway station, and will be walking, biking or taking the bus to the daycare. The noise issue is even more irrelevant. This is a busy street with a bus going by every 20 minutes, and the daycare would only be open during business hours. I doubt that the noise would interfere with anyone's enjoyment of their property.”
Now that the moratorium has passed, Viets, Keenan, and other junction parents are urging parents across the city to take up the issue before they find themselves faced with similar bans in their own backyards.
“Families do not have the time, typically, to keep abreast of these political details, but it is important that our representatives know our need and wishes,” Keenan stresses. “If parents want to affect political change they need to speak up. Write to your councillor to complain about a need for daycare, for example, or stroller access, or better playgrounds.”
Viets agrees. In fact, she has drafted a letter that parents can send as is to Councillor Bill Saundercook, Mayor David Miller, and their own Councillor -- or that they can adapt as they see fit).
One last thing. Don’t underestimate the power of blogs and Facebook and Twitter in coordinating your local political actions. You want to get maximum impact from the time you have to invest in creating a better world for your kids. Perhaps this snippet from PlaygroundConfidential will convince you that the hand that pushes the publish button and the stroller can change the world, starting in your own backyard.