Category Archives: advice

Do You Have a Picky Eater in the House? Read On!

 

Getting to yum by Karen LeBillon

image from gettingtoyum.com

  • Do you have a five or six-year-old who refuses to eat certain foods?
  • Is the dinner table becoming a battle of wills instead of a family gathering?
  • Is the worry about your picky eater causing stress for your family?

No worries – now there is help!

Karen LeBillon is the author of award winning best seller “French Kids Eat Everything“. Her 2nd book “Getting to Yum: Curing and preventing picky eating”, endorsed by a Harvard Medical School pediatrician, helps with taste training for kids and is being adapted to the TV screen. A new TV series produced by LaDiDa Media aims to help you and the picky eater in your family.

Karen wants to meet your family, and share her simple steps for turning even the most picky eater, into a fan of healthy and diverse foods. If you live in the lower mainland of British Columbia and would like your family to be a part of this new TV series, read on:

  • Looking for families with one picky eater of around 6 years old, who are available to film in their home for one day on the weekend of June 7th and 8th, and for one day of the weekend of June 14th and 15th.
  • Hoping to film a follow up to check back with your family in July or August.
  • Send a little information about your family, plus a photo or two to the following address: gettingtoyum@ladidamedia.com. They are looking forward to helping you!

Otherwise – the book is now available in all major bookstores and features practical advice, an easy to follow approach and LOTS of recipes the whole family can enjoy. You can download here the FREE fruit and veggies poster to help teach kids about different foods. You can also print it in black and white and give it to your kids to color.

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, Mom of three and CEO cofounder myBestHelper

 

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The best Mother’s Day gift ever….

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I am a mom. Mother’s Day is coming up, but this is also Mental Health Week, so I am getting lots of media and social media info focused on that. It’s been interesting reading what is said on these topics seemingly on different tracks, yet linked in so many ways.

It got me thinking (yes, I know – dangerous!). Let’s consider for a moment something that the organisers of Mental Health Week say about mental health, but from the perspective of a busy mom:

“We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health. Mental health is more than the absence of mental illness. It’s a state of well-being.”

As a mom, I wonder… I am not alone when I describe parenting not as a state, but rather as constant change. Raising children, how can I achieve that sense of well-being when everything is so topsy-turvy unpredictable and rapidly changing? Every parent has experienced at least a few days of being overwhelmed, out of balance, anxious and stressed, and those who say otherwise are just not owning up to the truth.

It has always been tough being a parent, but the pressures now seem ever higher, as both expectations on what parents do and kids need to achieve keep rising. As well, with all the easily available information, there are no excuses such as “I didn’t know”.

The sense of well-being dies through a thousand paper cuts caused by thoughts and moments of avoidable imperfection.

So, the best Mother’s day gift ever for me would not be chocolate, flowers or presents.

What I really want is a helping hand when I am carrying groceries out of store with a toddler on my hip, someone to hold the door as I push a stroller into a building, a supportive smile when my angelic child decides to throw a huge temper tantrum in the candy isle.

What I really want is people being really ok with me being late a few minutes to a meeting as the morning to school routine had some snag that led to a domino chain of delays. What I really want is a hug at the time I least expect it, a note from friends who still care about me even if we have not met in ages, a simple text to say “You are doing great job. It can’t always be easy, but keep at it – you ROCK!”

I am lucky, because many of these things happen to me and I am surrounded by people who are generous and kind and helping. None of what I do would be possible without the moral and tangible support of a huge number of people who have my back. Thank you.

And so, for Mother’s Day – which happens to be during Mental Health Week – let’s give each other some love – and some leeway. Life is not perfect and that is awesome. And moms need to be reminded of that.

The best gift possible to any and all Mothers that you know would be to give them some love and kindness, give them support and encouragement, give them a break and a hand if you can. On Mothers’ Day and any day.

Alexandra T. Greenhill, mom and CEO, myBestHelper

Simple ways to teach kids about Earth Week

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It’s Earth Week and to get your kids to be more Earth-friendly, I think it really starts with us setting an example. The best statement I saw on what WE can individually do to help the world be a better place was from Wilcox as quoted in the National Geographic blog:

When you think about climate change, it’s hard to reduce our carbon footprint, because we have to go through a fundamental shift in our economies. With plastic, when you’re throwing a bottle cap on the ground, that should be an easy impact to get rid of.” 

Simple, yet so powerful! Here are 10 other simple ways we can teach our kids about this compiled by Cher from Eco-Bravo, as a guest post on a blog that I really like “The Right Balance” by Salma, a writer and a mom of two:

“Children are great imitators, so give something great to imitate” We can use these early years to reinforce good habits and create the “normals” of their lives. For my family, it’s “normal” to recycle, compost, walk in the forest, ride bikes, use natural cleaners, bring our own bags for groceries, use cloth napkins for mealtimes and reusable lunch and drink containers.

The absolute best and lifelong gift we can give our children is a connection to nature. If you want to raise kids who will turn into teens and adults who want to protect the earth, give them a love and understanding of nature, make it part of who they are.

Here are 10 ways you can begin earth-inspired norms in your own family:

1. Go for nature walks. Learn the names of trees, flowers, birds, bugs and teach your children to look, listen and touch.
2. Plant a garden. Kids love peas picking and carrots! Growing and eating food that your kids helped plant and pick will give them valuable knowledge and understanding of where food comes from.
3. Teach your children the names (and tastes) of all fruits and vegetables.
4. Eat whole foods that kids can recognize and bake/cook with your kids. This is essential to the deeper connection of how the earth feeds us.
5. Make yearly visits to a working farm, where kids can meet hens, goats and sheep and try to pick some eggs; and visit organic farms to pick berries in the summer.
6. Take nighttime walks or go camping (even in the backyard) and look at the stars.
7. Swim in lakes, not just pools :)
8. Attract birds to your yard with a bird feeder or a birdbath.9.
9. Teach your child to turn off lights when not in a room, turn off water while brushing teeth and put paper in the recycling or apple cores in the compost, instead of just using the garbage.
10. Play outside. Simply spend time outdoors: riding bikes, going to parks, having a picnic, going to the beach, kicking a ball.

See original article.

Alexandra T. Greenhill, Earth inhabitant, mom of three, CEO founder of myBestHelper

 

 

All too often, people judge a book by its cover…

My teenage niece Emma just posted something on Facebook (yay! she is old enough to use it!) that got me going… She shared a story about another teenager from the Australian North who upsets all expectations in a singing competition. You have to see the video to understand, as no words can describe what everyone thought would happen and then what actually happened.

It tapped into one of my greatest pet peeves – time and time again, we see examples of “what we see is not what is” and yet, we are all too often guilty of judging a book by its cover and going with our own assumptions.

Her video recalls the story of Susan Boyle, the 47 year old sensational singer that rocketed to international fame on Britain’s Got Talent. If you have seen the upheaval she created, it’s not a surprise that her initial video has 147 millions views on Youtube alone. The judges honestly admitted that their own cynicism colored their expectations, and yet we all go with our assumptions again and again.

We also judge capacity based on gender – study after study shows these biases alive and well… for example, if people can’t see but can only hear the applicants to a job, women stand a better chance at being hired. Similarly, if a person reads a work situation about overcoming an obstacle and the “main character” is described as a woman instead of a man, readers assume the chances of success in the situation are slimmer.

And over 50 years after the “I have a dream” speech by Martin Luther King, we might have a US president of African-American descent, but race remains an issue.

I was actually watching Martin Luther King’s speech with my second daughter, as she is studying human rights in school right now. And I do sincerely share his dream, that people are no longer judged based on their appearance, but rather on the merits of their abilities and the “content of their character”.

We need to help each other recognize when we miss opportunities to be amazed because we are set to assume otherwise. I think sharing these stories and videos that remind us to keep an open mind will help us collectively become better at that. Many children’s stories are also centered on teaching kids that the beautiful prince or princess may be a heartless jerk and happiness lies not in the most perfect offering, but in one’s own preferences – just look at the success of the Shrek and Megamind movies.

myBestHelper is also doing something towards that too – Alongside the profile photos of helpers and families there is a “personal catchphrase” that allows each person to describe in their own words who they are and what matters to them.

I will end this post with my favorite quote on the subject:

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Alexandra T. Greenhill, mom of three, CEO founder of myBestHelper, woman, human

Kid’s Garden – an awesome how to guide

Loved this post from Kid’s Garden on a new practical book on outdoor activities – especially the step-by-step instructions for all of us without a green thumb!

Alexandra T. Greenhill, mom of three, CEO founder of myBestHelper

Olympic athletes, dedicated parents and helping kids enjoy sports

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After three weeks of watching the world celebrate the achievements of the Olympic athletes, all I can think is: “Wow to all these dedicated parents who spend the time, effort and money required to set their kids on the path to this success.” Of course, being a successful athlete takes much more than just that, but the support of parents is a key starting point.

I say this because I watch parents around me take their kids to soccer, ski, piano and dance lessons  weekly, then increasing over the years to a daily commitment, all while unfazed by showing up to swimming practice at 5am or staying for hockey games at 11pm. Many parents also take up the sport’s cause, doing fundraisers, volunteering as coaches and organizers and bringing potlucks (and cheer) to team celebrations.

It can seem an easy path. When a child tries a sport and loves it, all the parents have to do is support their child’s passion. It’s been interesting to me to think about all the times where it hasn’t been so smooth – for all the accomplished athletes who didn’t immediately love the sport, but were helped by their parents to get through the initial hardships of learning.

So what is helpful encouragement vs harassing over-parenting when it comes to sports?  Here are 3 tips valuable tips that have helped my family.

1. I learned the answer from a parent on how she managed her child and this has hugely helped our family over the years:

Parenting tip: “When a kid wants to register for a sport, make it clear they have to complete the season and then decide if they want to stop”. (Click to tweet this tip)

2. This tip that has helped us comes from basketball’s great Michael Jordan:

Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game. (Click to tweet this tip)

3. Last but not least, it has been helpful to bring nannies into our family that were strong at the sports that we weren’t great at. They helped the kids practice and go to practices. Most importantly, they helped them learn to love the sport. Supplementing our own skills has been a great way to give our kids more options.

If you have other tips leave a comment. In the meantime, I want to salute all of these dedicated families that help produce adults who love sports, who learn dedication and hard work and, sometimes, even end up as Olympians proudly representing their countries and inspiring countless of kids to do sports and be active.

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, Mother of three, CEO myBestHelper

How much do nannies make? Going pay rates and 10 important things to consider

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We often get asked about how much to pay a nanny. Full time live out nanny rates in urban areas in Canada and the US are surprisingly similar. In the greater Vancouver area go from minimum wage to up to $25/hr, with a usual of $12-15/hr for one to three kids depending on the duties, nanny’s experience and on the neighbourhood’s going rate. There are usually legal provisions for live-in caregivers where a set amount for lodging and food is deducted from the salary, making it much more affordable if you have the extra room. Most of our jobs in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto are listed with rates of $12-15/hr for childcare and $12-20/hr for house cleaning.

Of course, many factors are to be considered when agreeing on the pay rate:

  1. What is the neighborhood’s going rate? There are more similarities between neighborhoods than within a city!
  2. Location and how hard is it to get there (if accessible by public transit, there are usually more candidates to choose from)
  3. Number and age of the children
  4. The level of experience of the helper
  5. Expected duties – such as childcare or more (clean and cook).
  6. Other activities – tutoring, music etc.
  7. Is driving required and if yes, will the nanny have to use her own car?
  8. How quickly does the family need the help and the timing in the year (some peak times in the year are tougher to fill)
  9. The expected duration of the commitment
  10. Is care to be provided within usual or unusual hours, and is there an expectation of additional on-call.

In addition, I encourage both families and helpers to consider the overall revenue and benefit package:

  • Total amount of compensation (food included? transit? medical care? gym? activities?)
  • Flexibility and hours
  • Time to get there vs. length of time at work
  • How much of a fit between personalities and needs there is

So for example, lets say helper Linda has the choice between:

– Family A, offering $15/hr and requiring 8:30am to 3:30pm four days a week. It takes Linda 45 min to get there from her home and they are located far from parks or public transit making it more difficult to find things to do with the toddler she will be in charge of. She would be working for 28 hrs/week, travelling to/from job for 6hrs/week. She would gross $1680/month, but when you include the travelling, she is effectively paid $12.35/hr. That family however is willing to make at least a year commitment.

– Family B is offering $12/hr, but need someone 8:30am to 5:30pm, which means 1hr of overtime a day at 1.5 pay rate, so $18/hr. They are offering a transit pass $91/month and will cover her medical plan fees of $81/month. She would be in charge of two kids, and the house is located near lots of activities she can easily take the kids to. And the big bonus is that is takes her 15 min a day to get there by bus. In this scenario, she would be working for 45 hrs/week, but travelling to/from job for only 2.5hrs/week. She would gross $3220/month, and while she does work longer hours, when you include the travelling time, transit pass and medical fees, she is effectively paid $15.9/hr. This family however will need her for only 6 months until the summer months when mom is on holidays because she is a teacher.

Linda’s choice isn’t simply based on which family will pay more. What Linda chooses will depend on so many personal factors: Does she need the extra money or the free time? Does she need a longer commitment? Does she prefer one child or is she comfortable with more than one? Is she someone who is happy to play with the child on her own or does she prefer to head outside all day to do activities? Which family did she like better? People are willing to accept a lower pay if they really enjoy the job.

It’s a personal choice for sure. And to add to the mix, there are often considerations such as Family A can hire her immediately, while Family B needs her to start in a month. Interestingly, many helpers don’t see that even in this case, the second scenario stands to leave them with an additional $5K averaged over 6 months.

Families face similar dilemmas – and parents need to consider the pros and cons about what matters to them the most and what works within their overall budget. Sometimes, to keep an awesome nanny, families go out and find another child through a nanny share, to help bump up her pay rate to what the nanny had expected. Sometimes, families reduce or increase the number of hours needed.

The important thing is to arrive at a total compensation where neither helper nor family feel like they went beyond what is fair. I hope this helped. Let me know if there are any questions!

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, Mother of three, CEO myBestHelper