Tag Archives: parents

7 resources to help kids Learn to Code this summer

apple 2014 retail_learn_youth_camp

The case for why kids need to understand tech as an important 21st century skill has been made (see awesome code.org video on this here), but it’s not yet a core concept taught as part of the basic school curriculum.

So here are few options for parents interested in helping their kids develop tech skills this summer:

1. FREE – Virtual Google “Maker” camps – “Building, Tinkering and Exploring” 6 weeks starting July 7th 11 a.m. PST 

Google is offering six weeks of fun things to make and do for kids – all they need is a Google+ account and access to a PC, smartphone or tablet (if they are younger than 13, they will need to use the account of a parent).  The Maker Camps will have a weekly structure. In the morning, kids will complete a creative DIY project (for example a toy rocket) and in the afternoon they will also use Google Hangouts to talk to expert artists, makers and inventors as well as do virtual field trips to locations including Legoland in Denmark and Jim Henson’s Creature Workshop. See more here.

2. FREE – Sign up for a class at an Apple store – Various locations – local schedule 

At the Apple Store, you will find a variety of programs tailored just for kids, no purchase required. Youth Workshops, Field Trips, and Apple Camp are great ways to get kids thinking, learning, and creating — all while having fun. See more here.

3. $45: Learn to Code for Girls in Vancouver – Be like Ada – Sat, July 19th

Ada Lovelace, the beautiful black and white movie star and also a prolific tech inventor is the inspiration behind this one day bootcamp is for high-school girls only. They can learn to code and meet other girls just like them and hear from superhero women who have cool jobs because they code. To register, go to:www.belikeada.com

4. Code Kids Canada

See this CBC documentary for how and why kids are learning to code in the Maritimes. Inspirational videos galore you can show your kids to get them motivated. Motivation is then often enough to get them interested in using the many online and apps available to learn tech (see esp choice 1 above and 8 below).

5. Coder Dojo – Weekend Learn to Code for kids

CoderDojo is a global movement about providing free and open learning to youth, with an emphasis on computer programming. There are Coder Dojos in Toronto and Calgary, and one is being set up here in Vancouver.

6. Digital Media Academy – Summer Camps – $900+

This amazing opportunity to get top notch exposure to all aspects related to technology creation and use does not come cheap – but is now an option available across Canada. Week long summer camp classes for kids aged 8 to 12 and 13 and older covering a multitude of topics (film creating, game design, iPhone programming, robotics, app development etc) can cost around $900 each – sign up here for the few spots left. They have been doign in since 2002 and apparently, it is a life changing experience.

7. Apps and Games – Learn as You Play (ok for kids 8+)

 My Robot Friend allows kids to program the path of a funny robot and follow it’s adventures – hilarious and educational. Download here.

 The concept is simple — direct a robotic arm to move crates to a designated spot — but Cargo-Bot creates young programmers as it encourages the kind of innovative thinking necessary to learn programming skills. Download it here.

Hopscotch, is a simpler version of MIT’s scratch, and is AWESOME. It allows kids to quickly create games and animations by simple drag and drop of different commands. Kids can modify everything from size to speed to color – and see the results fast which is something that gets them hooked. Download it here.

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, mom, geek, CEO co-founder myBestHelper


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


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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A Letter from a Working Mother to a Stay-At-Home Mother, and vice versa by Dr. Carolyn Ee

Great motherhood quote by Elizabeth Stone
Note from Dr. Alex: The post below originally appeared on The Healthy Doctor blog Feb 8th, 2014. I really like it as it shows that there are various options that work better for various parents and we should not judge, just seek to understand. A survey I found very interesting showed that when given a choice, while 2/3 moms would prefer staying at home, a full 1/3 would actually prefer find a great child care solution and go work on whatever they are passionate about. And we need to remember all the parents for whom working is not a choice, but a necessity. In any case, being a parent is not easy, but the moments of pure joy make it all worthwhile. Read on…
Dear Stay-At-Home Mum

Some people have been questioning what you do at home all day. I know what you do. I know because I’m a mum and for a while I did it too.

I know you do unpaid work, often thankless work, which starts the moment you wake up, and doesn’t even end when you go to sleep. I know you work weekends and nights, with no discernible end to your day or working week. I know the rewards are joyous but few.

I know that you seldom have a hot cup of coffee or tea. I know that your attention is always divided, often diverted from a moment to moment basis, and you cannot ever count on completing a task in the one go. I know that you probably don’t get any down time when you’re on your own at home, unless you have a single child who still naps in the daytime.

I know the challenges you deal with daily, usually with no peer support or backup. The toddler tantrums, the toilet training accidents, the food battles, the food on the floor, the crayons on the wall, the sibling rivalry, the baby that never seems to stop crying. I know how the work seems incessant, like an endless cycle – you shop for food, prepare it, cook it, attempt to feed it to your children, clean it off the floor, wash the dishes, and repeat in three hours.

I know you fantasize about having an hour to yourself to eat your lunch in peace, or about having an afternoon nap. I know you sometimes wonder if it’s all worth it, and feel envious of your friends who are having coffee breaks at work. I know that sometimes when your partner gets home in the evening after his work is done, he wants to put his feet up exactly when you need a break the most, and this can bring you to tears.

I know that you are misunderstood by so many who do not appreciate the difficulties of caring for small children on your own, all day, and refer to you as joining the “latte set.” They imagine you spend your day sipping coffee while your children play quietly. I know you miss your financial independence. I know you feel amused and sometimes annoyed when others proclaim “TGIF!” because to you every day is the same – there is no Friday, no break from your job. I know that many people do not understand that you work – you simply work an unpaid job at home.

SAHM, I don’t know how you do it. I admire your infinite patience, your ability to face each day cheerfully and bring joy into your children’s lives even when they wear you down. I admire your dedication to being a constant presence in your children’s lives even if it isn’t always easy. I admire the way you work without expecting any reward – no promotions, no fame, no salary. I know you want your children to feel important and loved, and SAHM, you do this the best.

I just wanted you to know that I understand. We’re both mothers. And I know.

Love from the trenches

Working Mum

Dear Working Mum

I know you sometimes get judged by others for leaving your children in the care of others to work. Some people imply that you don’t love your children as much as us SAHMs do, and that it’s best for children to be at home with their mothers.

How can they say this about you? I know you love your children just as much as any other mother. I know that going back to work was no easy decision. You weighed up the pros and cons, long before you conceived a baby. It has always been one of the most important decisions of your life. You thought about this even while you were in high school and were choosing subjects for Grade 11.

I see you everywhere. You are the doctor I take my children to when they are sick. You’re my child’s allergist, the one who diagnosed her peanut allergy. You’re the physiotherapist who treated my husband’s back. You’re the accountant who does our tax returns. My son’s primary school teacher. The director of our childcare centre. My daughter’s gymnastics teacher. The real estate agent who sold our house. What sort of world would it be if you hadn’t been there for us? If you had succumbed to the pressures of those who insisted a mother’s place had to be in the home?

I know you weigh up every job to see if it will suit your family. I know you wake up an hour before everyone else does, just so you can get some exercise done or some quiet time. I know that you have attended meetings after being up all night with your toddler. I know that when you come home in the evening, your “second shift” begins. The nay-sayers don’t understand that you run a household AND hold a job. You come home, cook dinner, bath your children and read them stories. You tuck them in and kiss them goodnight. You pay the bills, do the grocery shopping, the laundry, the dishes, just like every other mother does.

I know that you often feel guilty about having any more time away from your children so you sacrifice your leisure time. I know you can’t bring yourself to take a “day off” for yourself when your children are at daycare. I know you accept that work is your “time off” for now. I know that when you are at work you don’t waste a single minute. I know you eat your lunch at your desk, you don’t go out for coffee, and you show complete dedication and concentration to your job. You chose to be there after all. You want to be there.

I know how discerning you are about who is looking after your children, and that many long daycare centres offer excellent care. I know you only leave your children in a place where you confident they are loved and well looked after. I know that you spend many days caring for your children at home when they are sick, and sacrifice your pay. I know that you secretly enjoy these days, and revel in being able to be with your children.

I know that sometimes you feel guilty about not being there all the time. But WM, I know this. You are setting a wonderful example to your children. You are showing them that a woman can have a career, contribute in some way outside the home, and still be a loving mother. You are showing your daughters that they can do anything they want to do in life. You are displaying strength, endurance, dedication, tenacity, and you do it with so much joy and love.

I just wanted you to know I understand. Because we’re both mothers.

Love from the trenches

Stay-At-Home Mum

Taking Oprah’s advice… #wisdom


Over the last year, we have been incredibly lucky to have been surrounded by great people who have indeed helped us lift our service higher and higher. Together, we have created something truly impressive, that is already making a huge difference in the lives of almost 5000 families and helpers.

So – taking Oprah’s advice, we want to make this idea foundational to how we work and better recognize the contributions of so many people who have helped us and continue to do so. Thus we are creating a Family Advisory Panel – essentially surrounding ourselves with innovative parents who want to help make it super easy for families to find great childcare through online and mobile.

What will the Advisory Panel do? First and foremost, it will help ensure our work remains user driven – we listen to what you think of new designs and on what other things we can offer to make families’ and helpers’ lives better. You would get to directly influence how the service evolves.

All we ask for is on occasion 5-10 minutes of your time. Please email us at support@mybesthelper.com to add your name to our Family Advisory Panel. We really need and appreciate your advice.

And thank you again for all who have provided us with insights and support to date. Good Karma to all!

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, MOM of three and co-founder CEO of myBestHelper

10 Life Lessons to Teach Your Kids – from Joel Peterson, CEO of JetBlue

You know that feeling you get when your son or daughter is heading into something new. They’re excited, and you’re a little nervous, maybe a little scared for them. You walk down memory lane, remembering the good times, but also the mistakes you made, and the embarrassment/pain/stress that came with them. And you want to share every lesson you learned, small or big, that helped you get where you are today. Fast-track them past the tough stuff.

But as Joel Peterson, Chairman of JetBlue Airways, reminds us, the best way to help them isn’t give a summary of all the mistakes you’ve made. It’s to teach them lessons they can use to cope when they make their own mistakes.

These are Joel Peterson’s 10 Life Lessons to teach your kids before they leave  home (read full LinkedIn article here.)

  1. Don’t be afraid to fail
  2. Find the good in yourself.
  3. And see the good in others, too.
  4. There’s no substitute for hard work.
  5. Building great habits is critical.
  6. Don’t expect fairness – at least in the short run.
  7. Be kind – it has more power than you think. 
  8. Take yourself out of the center.
  9. Embrace reality.
  10. “Solve” for the long term. 

Do you agree with these? Like to let us know, or share a comment about what life lessons you’d add or change.

Stephanie Phillips, Community Manager, myBestHelper

The 3 most important coping skills for parents

"Tenderness" by Paul Lancz, Montreal

“Tenderness” by Paul Lancz, Montreal

When we become parents, we become over-anxious. Watching the questions parents were asking at the (very successful) Bellies to Babies Celebration and trade show today in Vancouver, there are so many unknowns one has to prepare for and so much knowledge to absorb! Yes, there is the excellent “What to expect when you are expecting” series, but it’s really not enough compared to the complexity of the task.

So over the last decade, I have come to realize that there are 3 core coping skills parents can adopt to make life better:

  1. Ask for advice. While there is much variability between our situations, personalities and needs, there are some “life hacks” – tips on how to cope with different situations that others have come up usually through trial and error. And today it’s even more accessible, with the wealth of information available on parenting forums, magazines like Parenting and Parents, but also websites like Quora, a place to ask questions and get people’s answers. Any way you want to do it – just do it. There are also innovative resources like “7 cups of tea“, a new site where you can connect anonymously with a listener, a person who loves to help others and want to do something meaningful in their free time.  Ask how others handle the issue you are curious about or struggling with. We asked everyone we knew on advice on what to buy, how to travel with a baby, how to best introduce a baby to an older sibling – and it saved us so much time, money and effort!
  2. Aim for “good enough” parenting – not perfect. I already explained in another post the importance of not aiming for excellence in parenting and all the evidence that the “good enough” mother leads to happier and more successful kids.
  3. Learn to say “Yes!” when offered help. Too many parents act on a mistaken belief that only they can provide the kind of care and experiences that their child needs, and thus end up exhausted or sacrifice their own activities and happiness. My default answer to offers of help is “Yes, please!” – and through that my children have been enriched with experiences with other adults / families that I would not have come up with, while I was given the gift of time to be able to focus on my own needs and priorities. Too many parents as well are firmly in belief that reciprocity must occur, but sometimes, there are situations where you might need more help, but can’t immediately return the favor. As a doctor, I have seen many a family struggle with one child’s illness, yet refuse all help with the other healthy siblings. Why? Because they felt a need to immediately repay the kind gesture. Most of us would agree that especially in hard circumstances it’s not required nor is it expected, yet the self-imposed pressure is hard to break through.

Parenting is stressful enough – let’s make it easier 😉

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, mother of three CEO and Co-founder myBestHelper