Posts By: Guest Blogger

The Great Baby Dilemma

The PANK Perspective (Professional Aunt, No Kids) – by Diane Morris

I’m almost 32 and am not a Mom.

I’m a proud Aunt of two boys (4 y/o & 5mths), and I love them more than I thought I could ever love anyone. I love them in a way that is different than how I love my boyfriend, my parents, or their father; who is my brother. The unconditional, twinkle in your eye kind of love I have for them makes me question the unbelievable amount of love parents must have for their own children. If I love my nephews the way that I do, why is it then that I wonder…do I or don’t I become a parent?

My Mom was a stay-at-home Mom until I was about 10. I would walk home from school at lunch to a prepared meal. I’d get help with my homework before Dad came home for dinner. We’d sing songs, make crafts and play games. I looked up to my Mom and told myself that I would be just like her when I was grown. I’d be a Mom.

In my mid-twenties, I met a boy, got engaged and bought a house. We set a date for the wedding and I talked about a honeymoon baby. I wanted to have our first child before I was 30. As our engagement progressed, our relationship digressed. We called off the wedding 2 months before the big day.

For 3 years I was on my own. I started a business. I bought a house. I was an independent woman enjoying the freedom that comes with having responsibilities that only pertain to yourself. Then, I met a boy. My boyfriend and I have known each other for 13 years; I was best friends with his sister in High School. We’ve talked about marriage and kids – but in the same way people talk about what they’d do with their lotto winnings. If we had kids, we’d have to do this. If we had kids, we couldn’t do that. If we had kids, our money would go here, not there. If, if, if…

I’m told I’d be a great Mom. I like children, but I also cringe when I hear a baby crying or a toddler yelling while grocery shopping. I like children, but I love being able to sleep in, have mid-afternoon naps and stay up late indulging in bad tv. I like children, but I like my tidy and organized home, the silence that a new day brings and being able to run errands whenever the mood strikes.

So, I ask myself almost on a daily basis…do I or don’t I become a parent? Some people I know tell me they couldn’t wait to have kids, others tell me that they changed the moment they knew they were pregnant and others say they had no purpose in life before becoming a parent. So, is that it then, I have no purpose until I become a Mom?

Having a child will change my life forever. Will it cause me to give up the things I like? Wreak havoc on my relationship? Cause me to regret taking the leap? Sometimes I think that since I’m not 100% sure if I want children, then that should be my warning sign not to. But, then I’m afraid that if I don’t, I’ll miss out on all of the experiences that come from being a parent. Have I become so set in my ways that I have forgotten the image of my happily-ever-after of a husband and kids, or have I simply changed and am no longer that person?

There’s no ‘right time’ to have a baby – this I have heard many, many times. So, how do you know if you should be a parent or not? Do you just do it and plunge head first into the world of diapers, sleeplessness and vomit and hope for the best? How do you know if you should be a Mom?

The Great Baby Dilemma continues.

 

About the Author:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diane Morris is a PANK; Professional Aunt, No Kids and works for Mabel’s Labels as the Sales Coordinator. She’s an Aunt to two boys, and an “Auntie” to her boyfriend’s niece and nephew. She’s a sucker for romance, country music and peanut butter.

Mandatory Volunteer Hours

Guest post by Karen Pearson

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1999, when a mandatory community service program was introduced into the high school curriculum, my heart sank a bit. All students would need to complete 40 hours of public service in order to graduate. That’s a good thing though, right? Why wouldn’t I be 100% onboard?

I started volunteering with the Heart and Stroke Foundation when I was in my twenties, because my dad suffered a massive stroke at a young age and I wanted to do something to help. Later, when I had a young family and wanted to build a sense of community in my neighbourhood, I started an annual street party with a neighbour. I still remember the early years, with our kids running around under foot while we had meetings and figured out the details. It was at one of our street parties that I met someone who introduced me to the Halton Fresh Food Box program, and I’ve been volunteering with them ever since. That involvement lead to a contract position doing community outreach work with the organization. I’ve also worked with Habitat for Humanity, climbing scaffolding and wielding a hammer tacker, (FUN!) and a friend and I are already looking forward to donning green vests and volunteering at the local hospital in our retirement years!

I’m a huge believer in the importance of volunteering but I really felt that making community hours “required” in order to graduate took away a young person’s intrinsic desire to be of service. They’d be doing it just because they HAD to. I always hoped that our kids would see us getting involved and would naturally want to volunteer. We’d be good role models and of course they’d want to be engaged citizens instead of watching TV! Ha!

Maybe the motivation doesn’t matter.  Some kids might need that expectation and structure more than others in order to seek out volunteer opportunities.  As adults, the knowledge of this requirement means it’s on our radar and we may be more apt to brainstorm with our kids about their interests and help them figure out what they’d like to do. It’s an opportunity to open discussions about what they’re passionate about and where that passion might fit in with making the world a better place, even in a small way.

Our 17 year-old, who has an interest in Early Childhood Education, has decorated and chaperoned at elementary school dances, washed dishes at a church Valentine’s Tea, and helped with the kids’ activities at our community street party. Our 16 year-old, who attends an art school, helped curate a photography exhibit and assists me each month with the food box program.  Our 12 year-old, who loves animals and is a bit of an environmentalist, is on the Green Team at school and hopes to volunteer at the animal hospital up the road when he’s old enough.

This week is National Volunteer Week. It’s a chance to recognize the people in your community that are making a difference by being involved.  Maybe it’s the lunchroom monitor or person that comes in to sort the scary Lost and Found at school. What a great time to start a conversation about helping others!

What are your kids interested in? Where do you think they might like to volunteer in the future?


About the Author:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Karen Pearson is one of the friendly voices you’ll hear on the other end of the phone when calling Customer Service at Mabel’s Labels. She enjoys writing about her family, which includes a husband, 3 kids and a rescue dog from Greece.

Avoiding Bedtime Battles

Guest post by Alanna McGinn, Sleep Consultant and founder of Good Night Sleep Site.

Are there bedtime battles around your house? Practicing a consistent bedtime routine with your toddler can be key in making the fights disappear and transitioning your little one to a seamless slumber. It helps them to feel more comfortable in knowing what’s expected of them and what’s happening next, and provides some great one-on-one attachment time with mom and dad.

When you’ve got a toddler, promoting a calming bedtime routine is still important but you may have to shake things up a little bit and include some special tricks of the (sleep) trade!  Getting fun and creative with sleep training a toddler can help make going to bed a lot easier for everyone.

Something I recommend most parents to own with a child 2+ years of age is a toddler alarm clock.  These clocks work great in allowing your child to visually see that it’s night time and time to stay in bed. And for the early risers, it tells them when it’s morning and the right time to get out of bed.

Toddler clock

When introducing a toddler clock try the following:

  • Make it fun! Wrap it up and give it as a gift or have your toddler pick it out at the store.  Communicate how it works and make it an exciting addition to their routine.
  • Set the clock at the appropriate bedtime and sit with your child in excitement while waiting for it to turn on.  Your child will love the build up and the time together and they’ll be excited to follow the bedtime rule of heading under the covers.  In the morning when it’s time to get up, go in their room and if they’ve waited patiently then praise, praise, praise!

The biggest issue at bedtime is the “forever” routine.  “Can I have another glass of water?” “One more kiss!” “I have to go to the bathroom again.” “One more story!” Suddenly, what should be a calming 15-30 minute routine turns into hours of back and forth.  When the toddler clock isn’t enough, why not include a bedtime chart?  It’s a fun and creative way for your child to visually see his routine in steps.

Example of a bedtime chart.

You can involve your child and get them excited about the whole experience by bringing your little one with you to buy the supplies and let them decide how it will look.  After explaining your sleep rules, use the chart to show your child when the step in the routine has been completed.  Now when they pull out the usual excuses to delay bedtime all you have to do is point to their chart and remind them it’s been done.  This is an easy trick with a positive result.  We incorporated Mabel’s Labels “Write Away!” Labels to our chart as an added personalized touch and allows us to change our routine slightly when need be.

Or, instead of a routine chart, try this fun idea!  These personalized door hangers were super fun to make and a great way to cross off the list as you go through the routine.

One of our family’s door hangers.

Some more Good Night Sleep Site tips to help make bedtime less of a battle:

  • Preschoolers up to Grade 2 need 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night.  We want to aim for an earlier bedtime, therefore start your bedtime routine early enough so that you’re able to have a relaxed routine and you’re not rushing through everything.  I always recommend starting at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Children thrive on consistency. Choose your bedtime activities and stick to it for the most part.  Bath, PJs, brushing teeth, drink, potty, and reading a book are all things you can include to help cue your child that bedtime is coming.

 

About the Author:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alanna McGinn is a mother of three (1 + twins!), Sleep Consultant and Founder of Good Night Sleep Site, and Representative and Director for the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants (IACSC).  When she’s not on route to the bus stop or tripping over fire trucks and tea sets, she’s working with families to overcome their sleep challenges. Follow Alanna on Facebook and Twitter for daily sleep tips and advice.

 

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