7 Tips for Successful Birthday Parties

1. Do not make kids’ birthday parties too long. Kids only have a limited amount of energy and attention span before they start to misbehave and things start to fall apart.
2. Be very clear in the invitation as to whether this is a ‘drop-off’ or a ‘parents-stay-behind’ party. If you aren’t prepared to host 7 or 8 extra adults for the duration of the party, be clear up front.
3. Make sure you have enough eyeballs on hand to help you supervise the party. Extra support can come from your partner or a couple of your friends, but you will need help – especially with younger children.
4. Plan some activities. Don’t over-plan and be disappointed when kids aren’t following all of the instructions. Kids need some freedom and free-play. On the same hand, don’t under-plan and give them too much free time where they can get bored.
5. It won’t go perfectly. Just remember, it’s not so much about the game at hand, it is about everyone being together, smiling and having a fun time. So if they don’t want to play Pin-The-Tail-On-The-Donkey or they decide the magician is boring – move it along and go with the energy of the children.
6. Decide in advance if you are going to open presents in front of everyone or if they are going to be put on a table and opened after the guests leave. If you opt to open presents, be sure your child takes the time to personally thank each guest for the gift. If you have decided to open the gifts later, it is important for your child to call or send a thank you note after to acknowledge the gift that they received.

7. For the uninitiated, you might find it easier to host a party outside the home such as at the movie theatre, a gymnastics club or bowling alley. You won’t have to worry about the clean-up and there are extra staff members on hand that are accustomed to the noise and activity level.

Happy Birthday!

About the Author:

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

How to properly clean your kitchen

How long should things last in the fridge? In the cupboard? What about cutting boards and wooden spoons? Do you throw them away? How do you know if they are still safe or if they are bacteria laden?

Here are the things you should do weekly, monthly and yearly to keep your kitchen safe and tidy.

Weekly:
• Clean out the fridge and toss any leftovers that have been there more than 5 days.
• Rotate your vegetable bin and roast whatever is left in there.
• Chop all fruits and either freeze for smoothies, cook for compote or make into a fruit salad. They will be more likely to be consumed and enjoyed.

Monthly:
• Label all containers in the freezer with dates & use up anything that has been there more than 3 months
• Toss anything more than 6 months old or anything that has freezer damage.

Yearly:
• Go through the spice drawer and throw away any that have been there for a year (or more, yikes!)
• And since it is Mabel’s birthday month, March is your “deal with scary dishes” month

Plastic containers
Pull out all your plastics and have the gang match up lids. If they don’t have a cover, toss them. Any with cracks or discolouring should go too.

If you are a yogurt tub re-user, know that the plastics used are not intended to handle the heat of the dishwasher or repeated washings as they can leach toxic substances. Buy decent dishes with lids and label them so they don’t go missing and you will be further ahead.

Water bottles and sippy cups need to be paired and managed just like the other plastics. Then, scrub a sink clean and fill w soapy hot water and a capful of bleach. Soak bottles for 10 min to kill bacteria they may have formed in cracks and let air dry.

Cutting boards
Wooden cutting boards can harbour bacteria and mold. They shouldn’t go in the dishwasher as that can cause splintering and drying. Instead, wipe down with vinegar after each use, rub with cooking oil and get a new one if you start to see black spots of rot or mold.

Plastic cutting boards can go in the dishwasher and, even though, they can look rough and discolored, they should be soaked in a sink of hot water with a cap of bleach on occasion.

I am not a big fan of anti-bacterial washes, soaps and sprays, they tend to do more toxic harm than good but a good old fashioned annual rotation of attention to a kitchen is in order.

 

About the Author

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com

The Birth of a Superstar

In celebration of Mabel’s birthday, Julie Cole reflects on a birthday post about one of her favourite people – her very special Aunt Joan. Do you celebrate someone special in your family?

50 years ago my Aunt Joan was born. Hers has not been an average life. She arrived prematurely, possibly having an unfortunate run-in with the umbilical cord on the way out. Regardless of the cause, she has had a special place in our family because she did not develop in a typical manner.

From all accounts, it was not easy in those early years. The doctors made grim predictions about Joan’s future based on what they thought her IQ was. Grandma once threw a social worker out of her house for suggesting that Joan should be removed from the family and raised elsewhere.

She was the seventh born in a big Irish family and everyone rallied around their baby Joan, sharing feeding responsibilities and surrounding her with love and support. Joan was a part of that family and although it was a family forever changed, from their enlightened perspective, they were better for it. To this very day she lives with my grandparents who are in their mid-nineties.

Joan is a remarkable person. Embraced by a supportive school and staff, she has spent the last 25 years working as a classroom helper in a centre for children with special needs and who are medically fragile. Joan has a special place at Mabel’s Labels as well. She helps out when brochures need to be stickered, she decorates posters and cards for special events and contributes her famous brownies for staff functions. Most of all, she is our biggest fan. If you’ve ever been on a city bus and had the woman next to you ask if you have Mabel’s Labels, chances are it was Aunt Joan. She hands out her Mabel’s Labels business card to anyone and everyone – a business card which appropriately lists her job title as “Superstar”.

To get the full picture of the positive impact Joan has on those around her, let me tell you how her 50th birthday was celebrated:

- The school board threw a surprise party for her. 50 staff members and retired staff were in attendance to celebrate;
- Our family had a surprise dance party/open house. More people than I could count were in attendance;
- Of those people at the dance party, a ridiculous number of us were wearing t-shirts featuring Joan’s picture and the words ‘Joan is a Superstar’;
- Even the babies in the family got involved. They all wore custom-made shirts that said “Great-Aunt Joan is a Superstar”.

I know when we all have babies we want them to be perfect in every way. However, Joan has taught me that sometimes it’s only when they are not “perfect” that they are able to become Superstars.

 

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

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