Tag: Tips

3 Ways to Save on Family Spends

We all know that having children can be expensive! The thing is, these kids, they just keep on growing so they need new clothes, they switch their interests, they move onto different toys and books and they like to get out and about. This is without even factoring in the roof over their heads and food in their tummies. This being the case, we are often looking at ways to reduce costs, so we thought that today we would share 3 ways to save on family spends.

Reduce the entertainment budget

There are so many things that you can do with your children that don’t cost the earth. You might take them out exploring in the great outdoors, taking a picnic with you and embarking on a nature hunt. Or perhaps you will make it even more exciting and get out there at night time, under the stars with a campfire and a little star gazing. Adventures outside are often either free or inexpensive and they will probably form the very best childhood memories.

If the weather isn’t being kind to you, then you could go to the library, build a den with sheets and cushions, have friends over to play, snuggle down with a movie afternoon (complete with popcorn, of course) or get a crafting and junk modelling session on the go.

Image Pixabay

Reduce the clothes budget

Whether you are looking to buy girls swimwear, active wear or casual winter clothes, try to buy out of season.

Plan ahead with your children’s wardrobes and always buy the clothes sizes that they will move into the following year, this year. By doing it this way, you will buy their summer wear at the end of the summer when it is all reduced, ready for next year, and the same with winter.

You can also arrange to pass clothes on between friends, which is the perfect arrangement as you won’t ever feel like any of the clothes are going to waste when your children have grown out of them.

Reduce the gifts budget

Your children are likely to get invited to children’s parties, seemingly all of the time when they first start going to school. Which means that you will find yourself trying to buy cards and gifts practically every other week. In this case, when you see a brilliant toy sale on, grab a few appropriate gifts. Aim to buy things that you feel will make lovely presents, but will have cost you a fraction of the normal price. Set them aside, ready for that party invite to come through.

It can be trickier to do this with your own children’s gifts as they often change their minds over the specific items that they want over the course of a few months, sometimes over the course of a day! The best way to tackle this is to buy them their smaller items as and when you see great deals on, and then save a portion of your budget for that main gift or two that they will have their hearts set on.

 

Advertisements

The Mama Coach: Making Motherhood Easier

Motherhood is no walk in the park and any new mom past or present can agree to that. There is so much to learn and do that sometimes you feel that your village may not even be enough.

Well, we have just discovered an amazing place that offers that support that many new moms may need and that is The Mama Coach in Toronto.

The Mama Coach is a team of Registered Nurses and Nurse Practitioners who are committed to making motherhood easier. Their programs are based on science, empathy, and support. It is that extra village that every new mom should have by her side.

We got to interview Yvonne who leads the Mama Coach in Toronto to get more info on this prestigious organization.

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

My name is Yvonne Chan and I am the owner of The Mama Coach in Toronto. I am a prenatal educator, sleep consultant, lactation counselor, HSF certified CPR instructor, a Registered Nurse and a mom of two happy little ones!

I love staying active by playing in various sports, traveling the world with my family, and raising my kids to be kind and happy people.

Tell me a little about the Mama Coach. Why did you start it?

I love teaching, helping others, and have always wanted to be an entrepreneur. Becoming a Mama Coach gives me a unique opportunity that allows me to do something I am really passionate about: helping new moms be the best they can be while leveraging my nursing degree and experience as a mom. Additionally, being a business owner allows me the flexibility to optimize my work and family life.

There are so many reasons I wanted to bring The Mama Coach to Toronto. The thing that excites me the most about being a Mama Coach is being part of a group that is the best of the best in the field. I found my values and way of thinking aligned very accurately with the philosophy of the Founder of The Mama Coach, Carrie Bruno. The Mama Coach is a nationwide group of Registered Nurses who work independently with families to provide support through education. Our mission is to make motherhood easier!

Could you provide a quick breakdown of some of the services you offer?

We offer sleep consultation packages, lactation support packages, prenatal classes, and CPR workshops and certification classes. All services are done in the privacy of your home! We come to you!

More than sleep packages include:

  • 1.5 hours of in-home visit by a Registered Nurse with a complete head to toe assessment on baby to make sure there is no underlying medical issue that is affecting sleep or feeds. All visits also include feeding assessment (breast feeding, bottle feeling, or solid foods feeding).
  • Customized sleep plan.
  • Unlimited support from a Registered Nurse for two weeks from the day the sleep plan is implemented. You will have an RN available daily to answer any questions and to provide guidance via email and 4 scheduled phone calls throughout the two weeks.
  • The Mama Coach eBook for sleep.
  • Add on services: Bedtime support (3 hours in person support at bedtime), a half-night support (in person support from bedtime to midnight), full night support (bedtime to 7 am).

Lactation and feeding support packages include:

  • 1 in home visit and 1 week of unlimited email support.
  • The Mama Coach eBook on feeding

Infant and Child CPR and Choking workshops include:

  • 60 to 80 minutes in-home CPR and Choking workshop.
  • The Mama Coach eBook on Infant and Child CPR and safety.

Prenatal classes include:

  • 3 hours in-home session.
  • Email support until birth.
  • The Mama Coach prenatal guide.
  • Add-on: Total Support Package (1 postpartum in-home visit and 1 in-home visit at 5 weeks, 8 phone calls and 8 weeks of email support after birth).

Everyone says that some babies are just bad sleepers. Is that a myth? How can a parent really know that there might be a sleeping problem?

I believe that is a myth because sleep is a learned skill. We can’t just lay our babies down and expect them to know what to do. Parents can “teach” babies how to sleep with our gentle programs and guide them in learning a healthy life skill.

We believe that a baby’s sleep patterns are not a problem unless it’s a problem for you. We have a no judgement zone at The Mama Coach.

We love how your services are tailored to each specific child as we all know each child is different. Are there any general tips you can offer to parents who are struggling to get their child to sleep through the night?

The Mama Coach 5 Sleep Tips eBook has some general tips to parents who are struggling to get their child to sleep.

  • Sleep environment: Melatonin plays a key role in keeping our babies asleep and a dark sleep environment leads to more production of this amazing hormone.
  • Awake times:
    1. Birth to 10 weeks (45 – 60 mins)
    2. 11 weeks to 3.5 months (2 – 2.5 hrs) – 4 to 5 naps
    3. 5 to 5 months (2 – 2.5 hrs) – 4 naps
    4. 5 to 7 months (2.5 – 3 hrs) – 3 naps
    5. 8 to 13 months (3 – 4 hrs) – 2 naps
    6. 14 months to 3 years (4 – 5 hrs) – 1 nap
  • The golden ticket always lies with bedtime. Night sleep and day sleep are governed by different parts of your babies’ brain. Create a consistent bedtime routine.
  • Eliminating sleep props for night wake-ups: infants and children rouse on average four to six times per night, with brief awakenings at the end of each sleep cycle. Teaching babies to fall back to sleep on their own without a sleep prop they will be able to fall right into their next stage of sleep.
  • Milestones and regressions: Developmental milestones can interfere with sleep. We recommend lots of skill practice during non-sleep times.

Send me an email at yvonne@themamamcoach.ca to get your FREE copy of The Mama Coach 5 sleep tips eBook!

Since you have started The Mama Coach what has been your most memorable success story?

I find everyone of my client’s success story to be unique and memorable. The story that stands out the most to me is with a second time mom who contacted me for help with her five-month old baby. This mom has a three-year-old and a five-month old. Mom used one of the many sleep plans that were available on the internet with her first baby and that baby slept and fed beautifully. She tried to implement the same strategies with her second baby to get this baby to feed and sleep but this baby just wasn’t having it. Baby had reflux (feeds would take 40+ minutes plus 20 minutes keeping baby upright). Baby was waking up frequently at night for feeds, and was hard to settle during the day. Mom was feeling anxious and a bit deflated that her strategy for the 1st wasn’t working for the 2nd.

I built a customized plan for this family, gave the baby a head to toe nursing assessment, assessed a feed, showed and educated mom on improving the latch and positioning of the baby during feeds to improve reflux during my in-home visit. Once we improved feeds, we worked on sleep and by the 3rd night of starting the plan, baby was feeding and sleeping well. We made some tweaks along the way but by the end of our two weeks together, this baby was taking three solid naps, dropped the night feeds on her own and everybody got the sleep they so well deserved. By the end of our time together – mom felt confident, rested, and happy!

This success story demonstrates that every baby is different. We look at the whole picture to come up with an individualized plan that works for you and your baby! The start and finish line (goal) are set but the journey will be different for everyone. I know where we are starting, I know where we are going to finish but I don’t know what is going to happen in-between. We don’t use a cookie cutter method. We are nurses and use our assessment skills throughout the process.

What we tell parents is not a secret. Anyone can read books, find plans on the internet, etc. What I give parents is support all the way through and I give Moms in-person feeding support which they won’t be able to get from a book.

I am so thankful for all the opportunities to be part of so many families success story.

Where would you like to see The Mama Coach in the next five years?

I would like to see The Mama Coach be the go-to-choice for making motherhood easier and baby sleep throughout Toronto and the GTA!

If someone is interested in utilizing your services, how can they go about accessing them?

They can book their initial free phone call online.

Additionally, all our services are available virtually on a video HIPAA-compliant Telehealth platform.

Thank you for taking the time to provide us with some great insight on The Mama Coach. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thank you, Momma Braga, for this opportunity to share information about The Mama Coach. Finding sleep for our babies can be so challenging. I believe in finding a solution that works for the entire family. If you are ready to make change for better sleep, let’s set up a time to chat! Please go to this link to book a time that works for you. The sooner we get started, the sooner we can get your sweet baby sleeping and feeding great!

Thinking back to five years ago when I had my daughter, Nikki, I could have truly benefited from these services. Unfortunately, I did not know about them and this is why it is important that I share these amazing resources with my wonderful readers.

When I had the opportunity to interview The Mama Coach, I knew I had to jump on it! A place that offers sleep tips is a superb place to me as a happy baby is definitely a happy mommy!

We hope we will feature more on The Mama Coach and if you have any questions, feel free to comment below or send us an email at mommabraga@gmail.com as we would love to hear from you. You can stay anonymous too! 😊

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

 

 

One Life Lost is Too Many: National Drowning Prevention Week

“Drowning is the #1 cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 1 to 4 and the #2 cause for children up to 14.”

– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

In Ontario alone, there has been 43 drowning deaths from January to July 15, 2019. It is a scary statistic and that is why it is important to address water safety all year round.

At Aqua-Tots Swim Schools, their primary purpose is to save lives by teaching children to swim and educating people about how to remain safe in and around the water. Recently, Aqua-Tots Swim Schools in Canada hosted a new event called, Swim with Your Clothes On to kick off National Drowning Prevention Week.

The Swim with Your Clothes On Event was an important and interactive 30-minute lesson for children. In addition, to understanding and practicing water safety, the children had an opportunity to experience what swimming with their clothes on would feel like if ever faced with an emergency. In this event, children were taught the importance of water safety, how to swim with their clothes on, and how to assist others who are in danger.

When we heard about the Swim with Your Clothes On event, we jumped at the opportunity to attend. We want to ensure that we take every step possible in teaching our daughter water safety. What we love about Aqua-Tots Swim Schools is these wonderful events are offered for free for families in the community who are members.

Photo Credit: Natalia from Aqua-Tots Swim Schools Canada

Event Exercises

On top of the wonderful swimming curriculum, there were a few exercises that pertained to water safety that we are honoured to share with our readers.

  • Children were taught to ask an adult for permission before going swimming and knowing the adult should go in first.
  • To turn on their backs/roll over and float on their backs if they fall in to get air, and while resting on their backs in the water call for help.
  • Lastly, “reach, throw and don’t go in” which taught children not to go in after someone has fallen into the water. Instead they were taught to lie on their bellies at the edge of the water (in this position you won’t fall in yourself) and throw a life saving device to the person in need to pull them in (e.g. rope, pool noodle, etc.) back to safety.

These exercises were well thought out and executed at this event and you could tell that the children were grasping the concept of drowning prevention. Nikki truly enjoyed each exercise but I could tell that she enjoyed saving her coach with the pool noodle the best.

Photo Credit: Natalia from Aqua-Tots Swim Schools Canada

On the way home, Nikki turned to me and said, “Mom, I can save you if you ever fall in the water. So, don’t you worry!” That sentence alone means that the event was a raving success in our books. To know that my child is confident enough with what she learned that she could save her mom is just perfect! Thank you, Aqua-Tots Swim Schools.

Aqua-Tots Swim Schools didn’t forget about the parents watching the lesson as they also provided us with a great idea and tip. We were provided with a “Water Watcher” lanyard that we can use when children are in the water. So, what exactly is this lanyard? The lanyard states: “While wearing this tag, I agree to supervise the children in the open water or pool, keeping them in sight at all times. I will not leave the water area without finding an adult to replace me.” Love, Love, Love this! I think everyone should adopt this concept as it could really prevent drownings. Since I have this lanyard, I will be taking it to any pool party that we are invited to – you have been warned family and friends.

Above all, this event was a great way to kick off National Drowning Prevention Week and to make sure that the conversation is happening around water safety.

Photo Credit: Natalia from Aqua-Tots Swim Schools

There are three ways that you can save lives too and these include: Enrolling in Swim Lessons; Supervising children in or around water; and spreading tips related to water safety awareness. This is what we can do as parents and as a community as drowning is silent and preventable.

To learn more about water safety tips and/or to enroll in swim lessons with Aqua-Tots Swim Schools Canada, click here for Mississauga or click here for Burlington.

Let’s stay safe in and around water. Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

 

This article is a paid partnership with Aqua-Tots Swim Schools. Views and opinions expressed here belong to Momma Braga.

Our First School Year Takeaways

Hard to believe that our first school year arrived so quickly and just as quick, it is done. It is hard not to get emotional as we reflect on our daughter’s first school year. I remember dropping her off at the first day of school and her politely asking me to leave while I held onto the lump in my throat. Then releasing all the tears as I entered my car alone and wondered the whole day on how she was doing. To the last day of school where everyone excitedly said good-bye as they get to experience their first official summer holidays.

It has been such a journey and we all grew so much in the time that we call “school year.” There are a few takeaways that I want to share that may help other new parents as they embark on school life for the first time.

High and Low Points

A life lesson that we all know is that there are high and low points in life. This same lesson can be applied to Junior Kindergarten. There will be days that your child will be happy and there will be other days that your child is not happy. This is absolutely normal as the child needs to adjust to school life and some days might be better than others. The most important thing to do with your child is to talk about all the points of the day.

Every day after school, I would ask Nikki how her school day went and I would try to prepare myself in advance of what the responses might be. Some days there were some crying and other days there were smiles. At the end of the day, we both learned together on how to cope with the feelings of the day and how to better express them especially on the bad days.

Germs

They do exist and EVERYWHERE in the classroom! We were told by many other parents that kids get sick often at school, we were just hopeful that it wouldn’t happen to us. Well, that dream bubble broke very quickly in the school year as we battled cold after cold the first four months of the school year. At first we thought there must be something wrong with our child for being sick so often. However, our family doctor reassured us that this is common especially in the first couple of years of school. There are even points throughout the school year that it spikes (After Thanksgiving, Christmas Break and March Break were the most common times). A child’s immune system is being exposed to the world around them and it will take some to adjust.

We felt relieved that it wasn’t just us and we all started to take our vitamins to make sure we all stayed strong while fighting any cold that tried to bring us down. *When your child is sick, many times so do the parents. Don’t forget to take care of yourselves!

Kids Can Be Cruel

We all know that kids are not the nicest of beings and unfortunately we learned that very early on in Nikki’s school life. We had to deal with a child who called our daughter “fat” and it was a shocking experience for us to deal with. We learned a great deal from this experience and we were able to provide tips to help other parents who may encounter themselves in a similar situation.

Kids will be kids is no longer an acceptable term in our home. We feel it is important to stop the cycle instead of encouraging the phrase of “it’s part of being a kid.” Our biggest take away from this experience was to make sure that my child loves herself. If we truly love ourselves, our self-image will always stay true.

Label EVERYTHING

The Lost and Found is a popular area in the school and I understand why. Many kids have the same bags, lunch containers, and even clothes. Therefore, many times the items are taken by accident by another student or the items are lost. This is why we highly recommend to label everything that your child brings to school, including their shoes. We use Mabel’s Labels as they are durable and they have the perfect label for each item you need them for! It was a life saver for us as none of our items were lost or misplaced. That saved us a lot of money by the end of the year. Thank you Mabel’s Labels! 🙂

Be Involved

It is very important to be involved with your child’s educational learning. In Nikki’s class they brought home a communication book every night, this is where we can write notes to the teachers and they would also write notes for us if necessary. We loved this as it got us to be more involved in the classroom by having this form of communication between the teachers.

We do encourage to participate in fundraisers at the school and attend events that are open to parents to join. We did the chocolate fundraiser and it was a great learning experience for our daughter to undertake. It brought out her fundraising skills out and she was one of the top fundraisers in the school (special thank you to our family and friends for buying chocolates in support!). We also attended the Fun Fair that they had at the school which was great to see and interact with our students and parents. It really made us feel like part of the school community.

Any form of involvement that you can do with your child at school will benefit everyone. We know that we truly enjoyed being engaged and involved. I took it one step further and volunteered on their first school field trip and boy was that an experience that I will never forget (article coming soon on this!).

Create A Yearbook

I remember having yearbooks when I was older in school and loved having people sign my yearbooks. I never thought of having my teachers sign it and I wonder what they would have written about me.

This is why when I heard about this idea from my sister’s friend, I just had to incorporate it in our lives. We bought the classic, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss and made it into Nikki’s official yearbook. Every year we will be asking Nikki’s teachers to write in it and this way she can look back and see what her teachers wrote about her. It will be interesting to see what each teacher sees in Nikki and it will be a keepsake for life.

We are truly grateful for the remarkable teachers Nikki had this year as they were very supportive of Nikki and of us as parents. This is why we decided to write a very detailed letter to the principal of the school to show our thanks to each teacher that impacted Nikki’s school year. Written compliments are rare in today’s world as we are all so busy. However, I wanted to make sure that the teachers knew how special they are and how thankful we are that they taught our child this school year. Nikki’s teachers appreciated this gesture by us and one was almost in tears as she was humbly touched by our words.

How Much They Grow

It truly is amazing to see how much your child grows especially in the first year of school. Nikki learned in leaps and we are truly grateful to her teachers who helped her grow as a person and as a student.

On the first day of school, Nikki had the baby face that still made me feel that she was my baby (pictured below).

On the last day of school, she was blooming into a young lady who had a magical first school year (picture below). The change in her appearance, demeanor and knowledge was tremendous that this was the biggest takeaway from the whole year. It is amazing how one school year changes everything.

Now here I am a parent who has fully embarked in school life and it has been a journey. I know there will be other challenges, triumphs and milestones ahead but for now I am going to bask in Junior Kindergarten glory as Nikki passed! There are more smiles, joys and tears to come as I know I have had my fair share of all this first year.

I want to thank my husband, my family and all my friends for all their loving support of Nikki and me as we all go on this crazy journey called parenthood.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. 

Fun Things To Do With Your Kids On A Budget

https://www.pexels.com/photo/silhouette-of-person-standing-near-camping-tent-2398220/

When the summer holidays roll around, chances are you’re going to feel the strain on the purse strings when it comes to trying to keep the kids entertained. We all know how it goes, left unoccupied they’ll constantly be telling you they’re bored, or sit wasting the summer away on their phone or computer screens. However, there are plenty of things to do that are fun for both parent and child, giving you the chance to make fun memories without breaking the bank. As the saying goes, ‘the best things in life are free’, and when you’re watching the pennies, this can be especially true. With the following activities, you will spend more time together and as a parent, you will be glimpsing into that wonderful world of childhood.

The Library 

As strange as it might sound, one thing you might not have considered is taking a trip to the local library, where the kids pick out some books for the week. This may seem like an old fashioned concept, but there are still massive adventures to be had in the thousands of stories in your local library. Unfortunately, many libraries are starting to close down but you can still find them dotted around and they’re so worth a visit. Whether they read themselves or you read to them, the local trip to the library can turn into a trip everyone begins to look forward to. Reading with your kids when you get home can transport you into fairytale worlds of kingdoms and castles, or faraway lands with magical creatures. Each week can become a hunt to find a story as good as the one they have just read. Over time, hopefully, they’ll develop the love of reading which will inspire their creativity and develop their imagination. Libraries also have free activities such as homework help for teenagers, and storytime sessions and even art classes for kids, which will not only keep them entertained but perhaps they’ll make a friend or two. Although it may not be everyone’s first idea of fun, once you delve into the experience the fun to be had will make you smile.

Rainy Days 

It’s tempting for the children to turn to their iPads or computers when the weather isn’t great, so why not introduce them to the world of crafting by starting a new craft project. This will keep them busy and productive without resorting to wasting time on social media and on video games. Plan the craft first, get all the things you need in advance; paper, card, glitter, sequins and high quality glue guns, to stick everything down will give them the potential to make all kinds of pictures and art crafts. You can make personalized gifts for fathers day or for a birthday which the kids will love to create and give, or pen holders and decorations for things like July 4th. There are so many ideas, but if you are struggling then Pinterest is a great place to find great projects and may even give you other ideas on things to do such as baking. You can find cheap craft supplies on eBay for kids, big packs of pipe cleaners, coloured paper and glitter doesn’t cost much and they are bound to be excited waiting for them to be delivered. Baking is a good learning experience, and kids love to eat things they have made themselves. You can have lots of fun decorating little fairy cakes you make, or a full-size cake if you are more ambitious. Another idea for a rainy day is a movie night, all gathered together on the sofa watching a great Disney film will probably have you all singing along. Those home baked cakes could come in handy here or a bag of popcorn to give it that movie night feel.

The Great Outdoors 

The park is always a great choice when you need something inexpensive to do, with lots of fresh air and a chance to run around is always a favorite with kids. Pack a picnic and with sandwiches and any homemade cakes you may have baked together. There is often ice cream on sale in the park, and with a homemade picnic what could be nicer. Make a game of seeing how many birds or trees you can spot, and then ask the children if they can name them and guess their age. Feeding the ducks is a favorite too, and with the sun reflecting off the water on a sunny day, everyone can appreciate the beauty in nature, make sure you don’t forget to take a camera to capture the moment. Family bike rides are a good way to get the whole family exercising, and if you plan your route you can ride safely with plenty of incredible views while the weather is nice. Again you could take a picnic and plenty of water and choose a nice spot to take a rest. Fit a child seat on the back of your bike if you have young children who can’t cycle or will tire easily, they will love the ride and the fresh air will still tire them out. Discovering your local farm could be something different to do, the children get to see the animals up close and that is always a special treat, and it’s also  a chance for you to teach them more about them. Anyone for camping? Always an adventure and what a treat on a clear night looking up at a sky full of stars. Pointing out constellations and looking for shooting stars, or stories around the campfire. Camping is something all families could do and have lots of fun. The beauty with this one is it can be just for one night or as long as you want, and it costs much less than a standard hotel style holiday.

Having fun with the kids can be educational and fun. It builds memories for years to come which everyone can enjoy. Getting them off their technical gadgets and into the world of crafting or outdoors may inspire something they love all their lives. It could even set them on a career path for the future if they find something they enjoy early in life, though you can be sure any path they pick will be a good choice, as you have done quality activities with them when they were young.

 

Little Senses Series

“The Little Senses series, inspired by creator Samantha Cotterill’s own life, illuminates the experience of children on the autism spectrum as they navigate life’s everyday overwhelming moments with the goal of destigmatizing and normalizing their behaviors.”

Synopsis

This Beach Is Loud!

Going to the beach is exciting. But it can also be busy. And loud. Sand can feel hot or itchy or sticky…and it gets everywhere! In This Beach Is Loud!, a sensitive boy gets overwhelmed by all the sights, sounds, and sensations at the beach. Luckily, this kiddo’s dad has a trick up his sleeve to help his son face these unexpected obstacles.

Combining accessible storytelling and playful design, This Beach Is Loud! gently offers practical advice for coping with new experiences to sensitive children on and off the autism spectrum.

Nope. Never. Not for Me!

Children are often picky eaters, but for kids on the autism spectrum or with sensory issues, trying new foods can be especially challenging. In Nope! Never! Not for Me! a young child refuses to try a bite of broccoli — that is, until her mom guides her through a careful exploration of the new food. First she looks, then she sniffs, then touches, and finally takes one tiny bite. What do you know? Broccoli isn’t so overwhelming after all!

With simple, reassuring text and bold illustrations in a limited palette, Nope! Never! Not For Me! espouses a patient approach to picky eating and empowers kids to explore new experiences without stress or pressure.

#MelAndNikkiReview

What an amazing series! We loved both books as they both flowed beautifully and the illustrations compliment the story. Nikki really enjoyed both stories and after I finish reading, she tries to read this series herself. That is usually the sign that she really likes the books.

Love how both books took an everyday situation and showed a positive solution. I think we can all learn from it for every child. However, I do appreciate the fact that this series is tailored to children on the autism spectrum and love the goal of the series – destigmatizing and normalizing behaviors.

Therefore, for this #MelAndNikkiReview we give the series 10 broccolis out of 5! 😉 We recommend the series to children ages three to seven. Also please note that this book is great for all children and not only for children on the autism spectrum. This series is a great way to have children understand how overwhelming some moments could be for some. No harm in learning to be inclusive and understanding. 🙂

To purchase This Beach Is Loud! click here. To purchase Nope. Never. Not for Me! click here.

About the Author

Samantha Cotterill is an illustrator and textile designer. She works and resides with her family in Upstate New York. This series is very near and dear to Samantha’s heart: She herself is on the autism spectrum, and is very close to others on the spectrum as well.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

*These books were provided in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are our own.

When Should You Be Thinking About Retirement?

(Image Source)

 

For a lot of people, thinking about something like retirement will always feel a little silly. Even after working for a couple of decades, it will still feel as though you have plenty of time to think about your escape from work. Of course, though, there is more to retirement than simply finishing your job. You have to prepare your life for this event, and the earlier you get started, the better. To help you out with this, this post will be exploring some of the key areas which you’ll need to consider when you’re thinking about the future.

Your Pension

Being out of work means that you’ll need to have some sort of funding for your retirement. In a lot of cases, people will save a pension for this, and this makes it far easier to have a comfortable life. To build something like this, though, you will need to be saving for at least 40 years. For those who want to retire at 65, they will need to begin the process of saving for a pension as early as 25 years old. A lot of normal jobs will cover this for you, but it’s worth thinking about, as a lot of people find themselves having to work for far longer than they expected when they make a bad move in this area.

Your Home

Along with having money to live on, you will also need to think about your living situation for the future. If you’ve manage to buy your own home, you should have everything you need to cover you, even if you end up selling the place to move somewhere else. Along with this, companies like https://yukana.org.au/ are worth talking to as you reach your later years. You can often plan ahead with a retirement home, booking yourself in to move once your age makes it appropriate. Living in a place like this will usually make your pension go a lot further.

Your Health

It’s a real shame, but a lot of people find themselves unfit to enjoy retirement once the day to leave work finally arrives. Health issues can make living at home into a pain, and there are few ways to make this better once your body has started to deteriorate. The exercise and time you put into fitness in later life can help to balance this out. Those who have spent most of their time nice and fit will have a much better chance of feeling good as they get older, though it isn’t always easy to connect your future body with the one you have today. You will always have the same bones, muscles, and other organs, and this makes it crucial that you look after them.

 

With all of this in mind, you should be feeling ready to take on the challenge of thinking about retirement before the time comes. A lot of people struggle with this, finding it hard to know when they should be starting work on this part of their life. In reality, though, this should start as early as possible, even if you have to put a lot of work into it in the process.

 

Empowering Stay-At-Home Moms Through Job Coaching

Looking for employment is a difficult task to do and, in many cases, it becomes a full-time job in itself. There are many services that are out there that can assist; however, many lack specialized programs for stay-at-home moms in particular.

It’s a group that many forget and luckily one Toronto woman has not forgotten about empowering stay-at-home moms to enter or re-enter the workforce.

It is with great pleasure that I introduce you all to Stephanie from SAHM Coaching who I recently met at a mom market. I had the opportunity to sit down with Stephanie to get the inside scope on SAHM Coaching in this exclusive interview.

Tell me a little bit about yourself

I was born and raised in Toronto and love this city. I have a wonderful husband, who supports me unconditionally and two beautiful children, ages 9 and 11. I try to stay active. I’m doing a 10 KM race this May, I love working out and play baseball. I’ve been playing fast-pitch softball since I was 6 years old. I went to Ryerson University where I completed my degree in Human Resources and went on to get my professional designation from the Human Resources Professionals Associations as a Certified HR Leader. My HR career started in the telecom industry. Then I went on to work for a retail company and I’ve spent the last 14 years in the not for profit sector. I love the field of HR; I’ve been doing this for over 20 years. What I love about it is that I get to work with people. When you do that, you rarely get the same problem twice. Circumstances change and it forces you to really understand the subtle differences of each situation. Working side by side with my clients and helping them find the optimal solution is very satisfying.

What type of services do you offer?

SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) Coaching offers job search assistance exclusively to women who want to go back to work after being at home. This group includes women at various life stages. Some of my clients have been at home for a number of years, while others are coming to the end of their maternity leave and want to change jobs. I help them get their heads back into the game with someone who “gets it.” Working with me, women get tailored, one-on-one, insights and HR expertise into things like:

  • What kind of work can/should I do?
  • How do I search for work; make use of the best resources; etc.
  • How to build/refresh a resume (or cover letter) that gets noticed.
  • How to talk about your time off/gap in your resume in a way that employers will understand.
  • How to prepare for and answer questions during an interview.

What is your goal of the services that you provide and can you give us one success story that you can share?

What I’m offering women is a safe place for them to share their concerns, ask questions and get answers quickly. All with the goal of building their confidence and getting rid of the self-doubt, so they can be successful overcoming whatever obstacle it is that they are facing.

Yes, I’d like to tell you about Katie (not her real name). Katie was struggling with her job search. She previously had run her own business (since it gave her more time with her kids) but she and her partner had a falling out. She decided after running her own business for several years, that she was done. Instead she wanted to find a job where she could work Monday to Friday and not have all the demands of being a business owner. Her kids were older and it was a good time to make the transition. When Katie and I connected she told me she was struggling because she wasn’t having much success with her applications. She wanted to work with me on her resume and cover letter. Her resume needed a complete overhaul, so we redesigned it from scratch. During our session we also talked about how to structure her cover letter. That session was on a Wednesday, the following Thursday I followed up with Katie and she told me she applied for a job and they scheduled her for a phone interview. The company told her they were very impressed with her cover letter!

What made you decide to offer these services?

Because they don’t currently exist; at least not in the way I offer them. Sure, you can go to a Service Canada employment centre, and they will give you a general resume or interview information. Or you can go online and find a TON of info, but then what? Everyone is busy, I don’t think your readers have the time to go through it all. I’ve got 20+ years of recruitment experience and I can give women a direct line to the answers they are looking for. Plus, it’s so important for me to work side by side with my clients. It’s so much more effective. I’m not just telling them what to do, I’m also telling them WHY they need to do it. Why when you write a cover letter you format it a certain way. Why you use specific words in a resume. Why when you answer questions using this format it will resonate with employers. It’s only because I’ve been there, that I can offer this type of service.

If someone is interested in your services, how much and how can they get enrolled?

The first thing is to schedule a FREE consultation call. You can do this via my website, email me, or message me via my Facebook page. During the call I ask what they feel they need the most help with and what it is that each woman wants to accomplish. I also share more info about myself and will answer any question that they may have. In most, but not all cases, I ask to see a copy of their resume. After the call, I prepare a written recommendation outlining how we’d work together. In it I include the number of sessions required. Sessions are 45 minutes. You can purchase sessions individually for $60 each or (to save money) you can buy a package of 4 sessions for $200.

Thank you so much Stephanie for your time. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Sure, since you asked! Any time you are in transition or making a change, it’s bound to feel icky and uncomfortable. I want your readers to know that going back to work after stepping away is possible, you CAN do it, and with SAHM Coaching you don’t have to do it alone.

An inspiring way to end an interview! With the right coaching, inspiration and motivation, it is possible to enter or re-enter the workforce. I am so honoured to have had this opportunity to inform all of you of a service that is available, especially if it can help you succeed.

I use to be in the Employment industry many years ago (feels like a lifetime ago) and I helped many people find work. I know that with the extra support that my clients got, it helped them get their foot back in the door. Every little bit helps.

If you are interested in learning more about SAHM Coaching, make sure to contact her directly as she has a wealth of information and knowledge to offer.

Thank you again Stephanie for your time and empowering women every day!

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

Our First Date Night As Parents

I have read many articles on the importance of date night and always encouraged my family and friends to do them. However, I never took my own advice as where was I going to find the time?!

Well, opportunity knocked on our door as we were invited to a comedy event that was attended for a mature audience (due to explicit language). Now as a parent the first thing I had to do was to make babysitting arrangements for our daughter. Since Nikki is a bit older and loves to spend time with my mom, I asked if she could take care of her. Without hesitation, my mom was excited to spend a Saturday night with her granddaughter. So we were set!

I was very excited as it has been hard to find the time to have a date night since my husband has rotational shifts and Nikki use to not want to stay with anyone but us. Therefore, this was a rare opportunity but one that we were going to embrace.

Before date night I was telling one of my best friends how excited I was and then asked, “Does that mean I need to hold his hand?” She burst into laughter and said, “Yes you should Melanie!” I guess this is part of date night as it seems like forever I have gone on a date (hehe).

Date Night

Date night had finally arrived and Nikki was packed for a night with my mom. We dropped her off and we were on our way to eat some dinner before the show. It was really nice as we got to talk about everything and anything (with no kid interruptions). We had a nice dinner together and even held hands as we walked to our destination (Yes I did hold his hand). 😉

We also had nice weather as Spring decided to finally make a presence. It was just so great and relaxing. I guess since we have been together for almost 19 years, it was easy to go on a date again. You almost forget that before you were a parent, you were partners first.

Now it was time for the main event, Porkchops and Comedy.

Porkchops And Comedy Event

This event was presented by Comedy Portuguese and Melo Out Entertainment. It was a stand-up comedy show with Portuguese Comedians which made sense for us as we both come from Portuguese families. It was a packed house with 200 in attendance. Now when I go to events under the Momma Braga name, I bring my A game. This means I critique every single detail to ensure that if I talk about it, it is worthy of it. 😉

The event started with the debut of Ben Fate who performed for the first time and he did a great job. His rap was relatable to many in the audience. After the performance, comedy night was in full swing with comedians: Joe Botelho, Michelle Furtado, and Jeff E. They were all funny comedians bringing their own experiences for a good laugh by all. The next performance was a special cooking segment with Celebrity Chef Danny Raposo who showed us how to cook infused shrimp which was educational. Then it was the main event, comedian Mike Rita. Now I have seen Mike Rita live and he is funny. He brings his life experiences growing up in a Portuguese home which brings a lot of hilarious stories to share. Coming from a traditional Portuguese home, I know a few personal ones myself.

Now Mike Rita outdid himself on this night as he had both my husband and I laugh to tears. Every joke was done to perfection and the audience of 200 couldn’t get enough. It truly ended date night right for us as it has been so long that we have been able to go out and have a good time as a couple.

Momma Braga Event Rating

This wouldn’t be a Momma Braga piece if I didn’t include a rating for this event which I am delighted to say that it got a 6 stars out of 5! It offered a night full of entertainment with unique aspects and out of the box laughs. Special thank you to Jonathan from Melo Out Entertainment for having us attend as we had an amazing time.

From left to right: Melanie from Momma Braga and Jonathan from Melo Out Entertainment.

What I Learned From Date Night

I love it when we get to learn from our daily experiences in life and date night is no exception. Therefore, I feel like I should share what I have learned from having a date night with my husband.

  1.  I am literally very funny on date nights. Or my husband is just awfully sweet to laugh at all my jokes.
  2.  My husband talks a whole lot when our little one isn’t with us which was nice and it wasn’t just sports or work talk.
  3.  I loved being able to spend this quality time with my husband as it reminded both of us of how special we are to one another (I know sappy but true!).
  4.  We need more date nights!
  5.  I love holding my husband’s hand as he is my partner in this wacky journey called life and parenting.

Those were my takeaways and I am truly grateful to have had this date night, even if it was four years in the making. I guess it is true that good things are worth the wait; however, I know that I am not going to wait another four years for my next date.

I do recommend to try and find the time to reconnect with your spouse after having kids. Life gets busy and we can get overwhelmed with all that we are expected to do. That is why we need to get that time inked in. Also night outs don’t need to cost much as the most important part of date night is to spend time with your loved one. That is what mattered the most to me and my husband, that time together could never be bought.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

 

 

Things Every Child Should Learn

When it comes to teaching our children the skills they need to be the best in life, there are a lot to things to teach and many directions which we can go in this year. If you are looking to teach your child the best skills for their lives this year, here are just some of the ones to consider.

Ride a bike

When we look at some of the most iconic skills to teach to kids, we can’t not mention riding a bike. Riding a bike might just be the most obvious of all of the things to teach our kids and it is a huge challenge every step of the way. When you start off teaching your child to ride a bike you will want to think about using stabilisers and as time goes on you will be able to teach them to balance on just two. It could take a long time to teach this to your child but once they have learnt this skill it will stay with them for life!

Swim

Teaching a child how to swim is so important for you to do, and the earlier you can teach them the better. Choose a good swim school and take your child once or twice a week and let them learn how to keep themselves afloat above the water. Children are very adventurous and curious and they are prone to drowning because of this fact. If you can teach your child this essential skill you can let them into the pool and the sea without too much worry.

Throw a ball

Playing sports and games is one of those things which is great for the development of a child and it can be a wonderful skill for them to learn. Being able to accurately throw a ball and join in with games and open them up to a whole world of different sports and this could even become a hobby or career for them later on in life. It might take them a while to learn but it is the ideal excuse for some garden play dates on sunny days!

Look after animals

Looking after and being responsible for another living thing has to be the best way to prepare a child for their future. If you want to make sure that your child is able to live a great life and look after themselves, teaching them how to look after a pet can be a wonderful thing. You can get a pet hamster, fish or rabbit and let your child be the one responsible for looking after the animal. You can show them the importance of caring for another living thing and this will help them become more independent as they grow older.

Be kind

A smile, a hello, a please and thank you… to teach your child to be kind and respectful to other people is a skill in itself and one which you should definitely consider trying out this year!