Long Distance Aunt

Throughout my life, my sisters and I have been very close. Only three years separate my older sister and me, I’m the youngest of three daughters (my poor father). We’ve never lived further than an hour away from each other so being able to meet up on weekends was always easy. That was up until 2 years ago when my sister and her now husband moved to his hometown, Vancouver. Since I live just outside Toronto, this posed a problem for me and my sisters.  I try to visit when I can, I’m not opposed to vacationing in Vancouver –( c’mon that place is gorgeous!) but it’s not like it’s around the corner.

Beautiful British Columbia

Last summer my sister got married and the whole family made the trek across Canada to take part in that very special day, to witness the first daughter get married. When my sister and her husband visited this past Fall, we got a great surprise – she was expecting a baby! Obviously my parents were ecstatic; their first grandchild was on the way.

My sister was due in late June, so of course I had to be there with her to meet this little one who was going to change our lives. I flew to Vancouver on July 1st, knowing that my sister could go into labour at any second hoping that I wouldn’t miss it. Luckily, I made it in time and the baby was still safe and warm in my sister’s belly. We spent the whole next day shopping, hanging out, and laughing, the best thing sisters can do together.  That night, around midnight, my big sister went into labour and 14 hours later, she had a very healthy and handsome bundle of joy, a baby boy. I liked to think I was the catalyst that sent her into labour.  ‘Baby E’. didn’t want to come out until his Zia Sandra (Zia is how us Italians say aunt!) was there – we’re going to be very close, I can already tell!

As I sit here on the plane home (next to a man picking his nose) reminiscing and looking through the hundreds of pictures I took, I’m realizing that being a long distance aunt is going to be very tough. At least as a modern family it is easier to stay in touch. I’ve already informed my sister that I expect regular photos and Skype dates with the both of them. It’s sad to think that I won’t get to be there for his big milestones and won’t get to see him grow, but I know he’ll be overly loved (read spoiled) every time I see him.

Baby E

Do you have family that lives far away? How do you deal with the long distance family relationships?


About the Author:

Sandra Barbera is the Social Media Coordinator at Mabel’s Labels. She is an avid traveler and lover of the internet. You can find her on Twitter @sandrabells


Mommy, There’s A Monster!

One great thing about watching our babies grow is witnessing them become more imaginative. With that overactive imagination though can come fear of boogie monsters, dragons, ghosts, and the like. As parents, how do we deal with this anxiety in children?

Well, we can look to the SARS epidemic as an example of what to do and what not to do when managing fear.

If respected doctors tell you that there is no reason to be afraid of SARS in Toronto, but then cancel their own conference in the same city, the public deduces that if the experts think there is something to fear, then there must be.

To “less knowledgeable” children, you are the “expert” on everything. If you say “there is no such things as monsters” and then promptly check under the bed, you may unintentionally be demonstrating a reason why they should be afraid. “Heck even the experts are checking the beds and closets!”

Diminishing Fears

We cannot control our children’s fears, but how we react to them can work to either support or de-emphasize them. One strategy is to be “unimpressed” (neither dismissive nor all consumed) and talk in a matter of fact fashion. Don’t waver in your conviction that there are no monsters by saying things like, “Really? You saw a monster in your closet. What did he look like?” It is more comforting to say “There are no such things as monsters. You are creating them with your imagination. And what a wonderful imagination it is!”

Coping Strategies For Fear

Teach your children coping techniques to help them work through their fears. Try some of these responses to help them overcome their anxiety:

“I understand that you are afraid, but I know you are safe and I would never let anything harm you, so you need to think happy warm thoughts instead of scary thoughts. That will help you get to sleep.”

“You’ll have to have a little talk with that imagination of yours and let it know that it is getting in the way of sleeping.”

“When you decide it’s bugging you so much that you have to stop thinking those thoughts – I am sure you will!”

“If watching this video or movie before bed makes you imagine scary things, perhaps you would like to watch something else at bedtime.”

Watch For “The Hidden Pay-off”

Don’t give a “hidden pay-off” by giving your child exceptional service such as letting them sleep in your bed, or keeping you hostage in their room until they fall asleep. If you enjoy caring for your child in these loving ways, do it because you want to. Don’t make them create “issues” to mobilize you into this type of affection or they’ll learn to use issues as a technique to get you to care for them.


About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t Misbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com

Surviving Sixteen Years and Six Kids

I recently celebrated my 16th wedding anniversary to Daddy-o. When I say “celebrated,” I actually just mean that we both “remembered.” It has been a busy sixteen years and I’d be lying if I said we’ve actually remembered all of our anniversaries. Usually we are reminded of this special occasion when his mother calls to offer congratulations.

People have asked how we’ve survived 16 years and six kids. I could say all the usual healthy relationship tips: don’t go to bed angry, appreciate each other, say “I love you”, make time for each other, communicate honestly and often, blah, blah, blah. All this marriage advice is useful and we probably do them for the most part.

A little pre-wedding croquet!

What I really think has been useful is some of the advice that was given to me.

Before we were married, Daddy-o’s mother sat us down and said this: “Just so you know, there are not going to be hard days, hard weeks and hard months – there are going to be hard YEARS. If you can just work through them it will all be worth it.”

I also remember what my brother says: “If the grass is looking greener on the other side, try taking better care of your lawn.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t actually think people should be miserable with their spouse for years, and certainly some people take very good care of their lawns and still can’t avoid those poisonous weeds. Ending a marriage can sometimes be the very best thing for a family. Only those in the marriage are qualified to make that call and decide how to fix a relationship. But, I think these messages have been good reminders to me that relationships were never meant to be easy all the time and that part of my responsibility is to work on it.

One thing I do know is that the guy who posted his dissatisfaction with his married sex life online last week should have kept this dissatisfaction to himself. I doubt it helped his marriage and I’m certain it won’t lead to him getting more action in the bedroom. So if nothing else, my relationship advice is DON’T DO WHAT THIS IDIOT DID.

You’re welcome. You can thank me for saving your marriages henceforth.

What keeps your marriage/relationship going strong? Did you get any good dating advice that has helped your partnership?

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