Tag Archives: advice

What Freakonomics author Steven Levitt thinks is important for parents to do


I read with great interest an interview of Steven Levitt by Christopher Kompanek published in the Financial Times. I have loved each edition in the Freakonomics franchise not necessarily because I agree with all the conclusions, but because it’s a great way to be reminded to think differently, to tackle an issue from an unexpected angle, to question assumptions and commonly held beliefs…

His views on parenting in particular caught my attention. His belief is that passion and curiosity are two most important qualities he hopes to instill in his own children, currently ages from 10 to 14. He is quoted to say:

“A lot of parents emphasize achievement, but I think that’s the wrong approach. Almost every kid knows how to read and do math, but when I look at my students, what separates the truly exceptional ones is a combination of creativity and excitement for life. Very early on I made my goal not to have my kids be really good readers or really good at math but instead to try to instill in them this idea of thinking and excitement of pursuing what they love.”

This closely aligns with my own perspective on what is important to get our kids to understand, now that there is more and more evidence that EQ is a stronger predictor of success than IQ.

Would love to get more perspectives on this, and other things you consider as the most important things to teach our children.

Alexandra T. Greenhill, CEO cofounder myBestHelper, raising three kids that we hope will be at least passionate and curious


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


The best Mother’s Day gift ever….


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

Date Night for parents… what’s that? {Giveaway}

Loved the blog post Kelly Krol, Raincity Mama did on the importance of dating as a parent! Like if you agree it is core to keeping love going well past wedding vows…

Raincity Parent

Every parent needs a Date Night once in awhile.

Unless…you have no child care options available.

Five ways date nights may strengthen couples.

(1) A date night is an opportunity to communicate.
(2) Date nights are valuable for their novelty.
(3) Date nights may strengthen or rekindle that romantic spark that can be helpful in sustaining the fires of love over the long haul.
(4) Date nights may strengthen a couple’s sense of commitment to one another.
(5) Date nights are a way to relieve stress.

The American Red Cross did a poll in 2012 that found that 55% of parents surveyed decided to stay home in the past 24 months, because they couldn’t find a babysitter.

I am totally guilty of this!
20140420-223505.jpg If you are lacking in the child care department, you should check out myBestHelper.
What they do? They make it easy and fast for families to…

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New Information About the Safety of Car Seats for Babies and Kids

Baby on board from

Baby on board. image from here

First, for any of you who are wondering “Do car seats even make a difference?”, consider these statistics:

  • Of the 248,000 US kids that were injured in auto accidents, 1,668 children died and most of those were not properly restrained. Car seats could have prevented many of their deaths.
  • 75% of these car accidents happened within 30 km from home, and 60% of them happened on streets where the speed limit is 40km/hr or less.

So then – we know we need them. But how do we choose the right car seat, especially when budget is an issue?

A. You can get a used one. If you choose this option, no matter if it’s from a friend or from a stranger, have them check the expiry date on the car seat and also check if there has been a recall on the brand and model. Also note that requirements changed on Jan 1, 2012 so any car seats sold before that are not considered safe to resell or pass down – see more in this Transport Canada explanation.

B. You can buy a new oneAll car seats currently on the market do meet the government’s stringent safety standards, so any car seat you buy new is technically safe. However, there are three important things to remember: 1) it must fit your child, 2) it must fit your car and 3) it must be installed and used correctly.

  1. Child fit: Your child’s age matters – less than 2 must face the rear of the car, because even if they are tall and heavy enough for a forward seat, their spine is not. Then look at height and weight independently – if they are too tall for the car seat, which is a common problem, it’s not safe. So how would you know BEFORE you buy? Check growth charts online. Also keep in mind parents’ height — if both parents are taller than average assume that your child will be at the 100th percentile for their age – which for a 2 year-old boy can be as tall as 100 cm.
  2. Car fit: Many of the deluxe models of car seats simply don’t fit a smaller car. They either don’t fit the angle of the backseats or they leave no head or leg room for the child.
  3. Easily adjustable car seat seatbelt/ harness: The biggest issue with car seat safety (once correctly installed of course) is actual correct use of the five point harness. It’s easier to accomplish this when you buy a car seat whose straps can be easily adjustable from the front (without uninstalling the car seat to reach behind). Imagine a fall or spring scenario, where one day the child needs a jacket and one day not – adjusting straps becomes a real issue, trust me.

Once you select your car seat, installation is a key starting point. Car seats should be anchored to the car, with a tightest possible fit and the least amount of “give”. To test whether you’ve installed the car seat correctly, you can take hold of the top of the seat and try to tilt it toward the front and sides of the vehicle. If the seat moves more than an inch in any direction, unbuckle it and try again until you have a tight fit. Some auto dealerships and police stations provide safety checks year-round – call to find out where the closest one is to you.

Every time you drive, make sure that the five point harness is snug on the child’s breast bone and the straps are on the shoulders – this would not allow them to slip from the top of the harness in case of sudden stop.

And last but not least, don’t speed. No matter how well installed and adjusted, any accident is better at a lower speed, and even 10 km/hr makes a huge difference.

Be safe!

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, CEO, Mom – who has treated kids injured in car accidents

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

Nanny employers – send you T4s – deadline is Friday Feb 28th!


When you are paying your nanny, even if it is for a few days in 2013, you still need to submit a T4 summary. They are easy to fill online, if you keep payroll records so I have been doing mine myself. If you need help, it should take an accountant very little time to help you with these.

All the instructions are available in text and video on the Canada Revenue Agency website section on T4s. The one key requirement that I find is not as clearly explained as it should be is:

You need to give a T4 to your nanny directly AND send a copy to Canada Revenue Agency, otherwise the penalty for filing late is $10/day missed! (Tell your friends – click to tweet here)

Unfortunately Canada Revenue still holds families employing a nanny to the same standard as big corporations with accountants on staff. I have tried to get them to understand that not only is government not helping with how expensive childcare is, but they are also making it unnecessarily complicated to hire the help we need at home. Sigh… No luck so far, but have not given up!

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