Books and beyond: Raising readers

Do you remember your first library card?  I do.  I was so excited to have my very own piece of ID – something I didn’t have to share with my brothers or sister. I used it religiously.  That card opened up a  world of characters, plot and imagination for me that I otherwise wouldn’t have had  access to.  I don’t know if my mom knew how much I loved our trips to the library, or that it would eventually lead to a lifelong love of reading. Maybe she did.

Libraries have come a long way since I was a kid. In the age of the Internet, you don’t even need to set foot in the library to borrow a book. So why bother bringing your child there? It’s simple. Visiting the library is one of the best ways to motivate children to read. Studies have shown that children who visit the library read more. And we know that reading has many benefits, including improved vocabulary and comprehension.

When I had children, I couldn’t wait to take them to the library. Although my kids had stacks of their own books at home, our regular visits involved much more than just pages and chapters. The library offered a space where my kids were free to explore the children’s section, participate in programs, socialize with other kids, and of course, feed the pet guinea pigs! I truly believe that our trips to the library were one of the most important things we did to nurture their love of reading.einstein-2

Here are some great reasons to take your child to the library:

  1. Help your child to love reading. Libraries are a great way to nurture literacy. Let your kids explore the children’s  section and encourage them to pick their own books. Make it fun! Their excitement can foster a true love of reading.
  2. Think beyond books. Libraries offer children’s programs that make stories come to life. My kids loved the songs, puppets and animated storytelling.  As they got older, there were LEGO clubs, writing camps, robotics and book clubs.
  3.  Teach responsibility. A library card gives your children a sense of responsibility and diligence. Knowing how to share, take care of things and protect resources are great values to instill in children. It also teaches them to return books on time!
  4. Read for free. When you visit the library, your child is exposed to a selection of books and magazines that would cost you a fortune to buy (not to mention finding the storage space for everything). Why not use a community resource?
  5. Tap into expertise. Librarians are knowledgeable. I remember my youngest son wasn’t interested in the books his brother and sister had loved.  I asked the librarian for some suggestions. She was able to recommend books I didn’t know existed and he embraced them.
  6. Seek out community hubs. Visiting the library is a great way for your children to meet other children (and for you to meet other parents). They often host book clubs, family movie nights and computer classes. Libraries are also linked to other community services that offer a variety of programs, such as parenting classes.

As parents, we all want to promote literacy in our children. Visiting the library is one of the best ways to make reading fun and stimulating for kids of all ages. Go get your child (and yourself) a library card – it might be the first step in fostering a lifelong love of reading.

Do you remember your first trip to the library?  Share your experience – we’d love to hear about it!

For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.


Posted in Babies, books, early literacy, learning, library programs, literacy, Parenting, Preschool, preschoolers, reading, School, School-aged Children, Toddlers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top five self-care tips for single parents

Parenting can pull you in so many different directions. One second it’s the most wonderful experience ever and the next you are pulling every last hair out of your head! Parenting is tough and, at times, can be all the more challenging when you are doing it alone.

Did you know that in 2011 for the first time in Canadian history there were more single person than couple households with children? And that one in four families is headed by one parent? No matter how you found yourself single – whether by choice or unexpected circumstances – I don’t think many would disagree that being a single parent can sometimes be difficult.

Single parent families have strength but it may also cause additional stress, fatigue and pressure. When you experience this tension, the focus on self-care is so important.  Here are our top five self-care tips:

  1. Create a support system. Reach out to family and friends; don’t be afraid to ask for help. Just because you are a single parent, does not mean you have to do it alone. Build a network of people you can count on. Seek out other single parents. It can be so helpful to have support from those in similar situations, to have that shared understanding and to talk through similar issues.
  2. Find time for yourself. It’s better for you (and your kids) if you recharge your mind and body. You will feel healthier and be a better parent so do it guilt free! Try and get out of the house, and if this is not possible take a long bath, read a book or find a hobby.
  3. Don’t forget to prioritize your health – eating healthy, exercising and getting enough sleep will help you stay strong to deal with the physical and mental demands of being a single parent.
  4. Set boundaries and learn to say no. When you are parenting alone, you may be stretched too thin. Don’t feel bad for saying no sometimes. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do, or what you can and cannot provide. Be kind to yourself and set some realistic expectations.
  5. This may be a good time for self-reflection; think about yourself for a moment. What are you priorities? What would you like to do for yourself? This could ignite a new passion. It may be the perfect time to learn something new or set some new goals for yourself.

Try to keep a positive attitude – new, positive experiences will help you and your kids be strong and independent.

Do you have any additional self care tips to share? We’d love to hear from you.

For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.

Posted in Babies, Mental Health, Parenting, Physical Health, preschoolers, School-aged Children, Teens, Toddlers, Tweens | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Simple ways to get out the door with your new baby

Congratulations on the birth of your new baby! You are finally home and getting used to life as a family.  Now that you’re settled, the itch to venture outside your four walls may have started. But the thought of where to go with baby involves work and may feel overwhelming. Don’t worry, these feelings are common for new parents, so let’s work through it together.

To start, make your early outings short and manageable. Try a walk around your neighbourhood or meet with a friend at the local park or coffee shop.  You may be surprised just how tired you feel after being out.  As a new parent, you are dealing with more changes than you likely realize.  It takes time to adjust to your new role emotionally, socially and even physically as your body heals from pregnancy and birth.  As for baby, each day is a brand new adventure, exciting and tiring all at once.

Mother walking in the city with a baby

When you have mastered  shorter trips, go ahead and plan bigger outings,  keeping your limits in mind.  Another parent friend makes great company and is an extra set of hands!

A few common concerns:

Your baby cries uncontrollably

Newborn baby is crying - selective focus

All babies cry at some point, even if you do your best to make sure they are fed, changed and comfortable.  Try not to personalize it, despite any looks you may get.  People are usually just curious or concerned.

Find a quiet place to connect with your baby and see what’s going on.  Sometimes babies just need a change of scene and pace.

Feeding in a public place

Mother is breast feeding for her baby

Very few new moms have feeding down to a science right away.  Before you head out, think about what feels comfortable for you.

You have the right to breastfeed your baby in any public area.  Nobody should prevent you from breastfeeding your baby, ask you to “cover up” or request you move to another area.

Avoiding “unwanted” touching of your baby

carrying a babyEveryone loves babies.  Unfortunately strangers are not thinking about passing on germs when they are admiring your cutie.

Try babywearing to keep baby close, or place a breathable blanket over the stroller to avoid this dilemma. Your baby’s immune system is getting stronger each day but it’s still best to avoid confined and crowded places.

Helpful tips to consider before you go

  • Pick your destination ahead of time.  Plan the drive, look for easy entry/parking and exits.
  • Check for an online map/webpage of your destination or call ahead with any questions.
  • Pack your diaper bag ahead of time. Keep it simple: diapers, wipes, change pad, hand sanitizer, thin blanket and an extra outfit.
  • Put your stroller in the trunk ahead of time. Practise collapsing and opening it before you go.
  • Think about where you can change your baby,  Is there a clean, accessible area? If not, what are your options?
  • Is there a quiet spot to take a break, such as a bench, chairs or lawn?
  • Feed your baby before you leave, think about where you would feel comfortable feeding your baby, when you are out.
  •  Plan for a dirty diaper as you are walking out the door. Yes, really.
  • Dress in loose light layers, that you can easily remove.  Comfort and ease are important for both you and baby.
  • Nervous? Ask family or a friend to join you.

One thing is certain, each time you get out your trips will become easier and less stressful. Nobody knows your baby better than you do.  You’ve got this, so go enjoy exploring through the eyes of your little one.

As always, feel free to connect with us.

Leave us a comment below:

For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse ( Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) dial 311 or 905-825-6000.

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Returning to work? How to make breastfeeding work for you!

One of the easiest and least stressful ways to return to work if you are breastfeeding is continuing to breastfeed. Breastfeeding as a working mom looks different for every mom and baby. With some trial and error you can find something that works for you. For me and my children, nursing offered us much needed one-on-one time and was a great help when my kids were exhausted and cranky after a long day of child care. It also feels good to know the benefits of breastmilk continue for as long as you are nursing – even if you are only nursing once a day. Continue reading

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My new pup and rabies. What’s the connection?

I really did it… I gave in to two years of persistent requests, power point presentations and pleading by my kids for a dog. Yup, we got a puppy, cutest thing ever. I may be a bit bias.

dog2016_6920This is my first dog ever. I knew nothing of owning a dog –nothing! So our first vet visit was full of questions and more questions about how to care for the pup and about all the vaccines he needed.

My pup needed vaccines at each vet appointment including the rabies vaccine.

Of course I’d heard about rabies, but I didn’t know it is a deadly disease in both humans and animals. And I didn’t know that in Ontario it’s required by law to vaccinate all cats and dogs over three months old and if you don’t you could be fined. Continue reading

Posted in Babies, Environmental, Parenting, Physical Health, preschoolers, Safety, School-aged Children, Teens, Toddlers, Tweens | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Snivy lives upstairs – Making self-regulation your own

When my son faces a stressful or frustrating situation, he uses his self-titled  snivy-power. Yes, just like a lot kids his age (well all ages actually), he loves Pokémon. His favourite is a green grass snake Pokémon named Snivy. Snivy has a calm, collected demeanor and is very intelligent.


So when stressed, my son uses his snivy-power to work through his frustrations and calm his brain.

Snivy-power is his take on what adults call self-regulation. Self-regulation is talked about a lot in parenting circles these days. So what exactly is it?  Dr. Stuart Shanker describes it as responding to life’s stressors, returning to a calm and alert state, ready to deal with new circumstances. Continue reading

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The realities of “bad moms”

I was ready for some much needed routine as this school year starts, but then the reality hit me! The relaxed mode I was in is over and I’m left with an enormous amount of stress. Yes, stress with the demands of being super mom! This includes the never ending demands of motherhood, including balancing work; helping with lunches, homework, after school activities… the list goes on (and on… and on…). Continue reading

Posted in Babies, Mental Health, Parenting, Pregnancy, preschoolers, School-aged Children, Special Needs, Teens, Toddlers | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment