How to support the emotional health of your family

By Kaeli

Balancing the emotional health of your self, your children and your family go hand in hand. Thinking about the techniques that you will need to learn and the time this will take may leave you feeling overwhelmed. How on earth is they’re enough time to become skilled in this area, and wait for your child while they do the same.

What if their emotions show up when you’re going to be late for school? What if you have to get to work? There are plans, schedules and responsibilities that make the move towards emotional health difficult to start.

Luckily there are some principles to keep in mind when you are beginning any journey. You don’t have to be a master all of a sudden. Taking small steps is already bringing you benefits and setting a strong intention so all you have to do is continue to move forward.

Looking at where you place priority in your life is a good practice and ensures that you are living a life that can bring your family fulfillment. Having the ability to honour each person will bring your family the feelings of success and give you the momentum to continue towards the quality of life you desire.

With this in mind you can begin to explore a path towards balancing life with your family.

Find out where you can find more space in your life. How can you avoid rushing and racing around? Try strategies like adding more time for transitions and being selective in the activities you choose.

  • Decide on the qualities of interactions you would like to have with your family. They might be freedom, calm or connectedness. Then take steps to relate with these qualities.
  • Give yourself compassion when learning new skills.
  • Give yourself permission to make choices for your family based on what you value.
  • Honour you child’s emotions. You can help them identify their emotions, by witnessing them and allow them the full experience of their feelings. 
  • Begin teaching them emotional skills by: helping them identify their emotions, teaching them effective ways to express their emotions, and guiding them to regulate their emotions.
  • Help your child by practicing to listen without judgment and by avoiding giving advice. 

When you make your families emotional health a priority a harmonious family life begins to fall into place. Once a person has these skills the time that it takes to implement them is reduced because they gain a sense of control for themselves. This gets you to the heart of the matter. You will have time to be present with your family and everyone will have time to go at their own pace and enjoy life.

Kaeli Van Regan is the founder of Living Inside Out. She combines her love of life and nature with education in Child and Youth Work, Life Coaching and Energy Healing to provide coaching to expand and uplift the family unit. Check her out on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Also check out a free discussion seminar for parents with the launch of Kaeli's new book Parenting Your Way! 

This will be a great opportunity for parents to discuss how to bring in the quality of life that they desire for their families, ask any questions about conscious parenting and even get a book signed!

Details: Wednesday June 1st (book signing starts at 6pm, with discussion at 7:30pm) at Singing Pebble Books - 202a Main Street in Ottawa

Family Friendly Fiddleheads

One of my favourite things about spring is the gradual addition of fresh, local fruits and vegetables to our daily meal plan. One of the spring vegetables I particularly get excited about are fiddleheads.  If you have never eaten fiddleheads before or if you have seen them while strolling through the produce section at your local supermarket but hesitated to pick them up, you are in for a pleasant surprise!

Fiddleheads

Fiddleheads may look funny, but they taste good!

Despite this vegetable’s unusual curly appearance, fiddleheads are actually quite delicious. Their mild taste has been likened to that of asparagus or spinach, and cooked correctly their texture is crunchy, with a wee bit of leafy chewiness.  If your kids like their green vegetables then they should like fiddleheads.

Storing, preparing & cooking fiddleheads

Fiddleheads should be stored in the fridge and only stay fresh for a few days (I like to buy them the same day as I cook them). They are easy to prepare and cook.

Preparing fiddleheads:

1.      Fill your sink or a bowl with fresh, cold water

2.     Remove any brown outer scales with your hand or by using a cloth

3.     Trim or snap off the ends of the stems

4.     Rinse them again in cold water

Cooking fiddleheads:

Fiddleheads can be steamed, sautéed, stir-fried or (my favourite) barbecued.

How to BBQ fiddleheads

Simply put the washed and trimmed fiddleheads in a bowl and mix with a desired amount of olive oil (not too much, just a tbsp. or two depending how many fiddleheads you have), freshly squeezed lemon juice, minced garlic, and salt and pepper.

Stir until the fiddleheads are fully covered with the oily sauce then place them in tinfoil and fold until just a small portion of the fiddleheads can be seen (to let the steam out).  

Place on the BBQ at about 400 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the fiddleheads are bright green and soft in texture (a fork will easily pierce them). Be careful not to overcook them or they will become mushy.

PreparingFiddleheads

Fiddleheads facts

Fiddleheads are high in omega 3 fatty acids, fibre, vitamins A and C as well as potassium, iron, manganese and Vitamin B Complex. They are also a great antioxidant food.

Fiddleheads are grown mainly in the east coast of Canada from ostrich ferns, so although there are several different varieties of ferns, including some grown in the woods or even in your garden they should not be consumed. Only expert harvesters can safely identify edible fiddleheads, so don’t just pick any old fern head and cook it up or you risk getting very ill! 

The fiddlehead season is very short – usually a month maximum (around April and May) and unlike some fruits and vegetables that gets imported you generally won’t see fiddleheads in stores if they are not in season. They grow quickly and must be picked the day they sprout – before they turn into full out ferns!

Fiddleheads are a delicious seasonal treat and I like to think of them as the kick off to local produce season! So, have are you a fiddlehead loving family like we are? I’d love to know your recipe! And if you haven't tried them yet - NOW is your chance!

Go on...get your feet wet at Calypso Waterpark!

Last year the Kids in the Capital team got a rare chance to spend the day together! When we are invited to check out an activity or an event, it's often something we do alone or with one of our kids. But this time, Calyspo Theme Waterpark sent us on our merry way with 8 tickets for both our families! 

Neither Lara or I had visited Calypso before, so we were curious to experience Canada's leading waterpark.

Safety

Before I go on, let's just talk about the elephant in the room. When Lara and I posted about the trip on our personal Facebook pages, some of our parent friends were concerned about safety at Calypso, especially given the media attention they've been given over the past several years..

Lara and I can honestly say we felt the park was very safe. There are over 120 certified lifeguards throughout the park, as well as other well-trained staff. During our time in the wave pool, lifeguards were quick to point out to us a safer place to sit with our little ones once the waves got too big. As well, during our time at the Jungle Challenge (an obstacle course featuring walk-on logs, crocodiles and water lilies), a lifeguard offered to stand with my youngest while I helped my oldest navigate the ropes.

Life jackets are available for free if you leave a piece of Photo ID with the staff. I made sure both my girls were wearing life jackets so that if I lost hold of them, I would at least have a back-up in place. As parents, we also need to be responsible for our own children. Choosing play areas/rides that are age appropriate (and skill-level appropriate!) is the best way to go.

Fun Stuff

So what is there to do? Lara and I have children under the age of 8, so the giant waterslides were out of the question.

My girls and I spent most of our time in the Zoo Lagoon - a large kiddie pool with baby slides and smaller gentle slides. There was lots of sliding, splashing, spraying and climbing, and both kids were happy.

A couple of Lara's kids also enjoyed the Pirate's Aquaplay, which seemed great for ages 6+. My girls watched on as a GIANT bucket of water would fill and then dump over the entire pirate ship, soaking the people below. It looked like a blast. Her kids also enjoyed several of the slides at the park, which were appropriate for children as young as 5.

We did try the lazy Jungle Run river, although my girls were frightened by the animal noises coming from the speakers and the waterfalls that we had to navigate.

Food

There are many restaurants on site, and I saw a lot of families with lunches packed in coolers. There was ample picnic space, shaded by beautiful coniferous trees. And of course, the highlight of the girls' lunch was their Chapman's ice cream.

Extras

We'll definitely be going back, and I think next time we'll make sure to bring:

  • A wagon to carry towels, shoes etc. Everyone leaves their stuff by the chairs and picnic tables, and I didn't feel worried about things going missing.
  • A lock for valuables - locks can be rented, although I saw some people had brought their own. The lockers can hold your wallet, phone etc.
  • A nice picnic lunch
  • Our own life jackets
  • Water shoes

Disclaimer: Lara and I received day passes to Calypso for ourselves and our families. All of our opinions are our own, and we have to admit, we're quite opinionated ;)

 Have you been to Calypso? What did you think?

Kindness Matters: Why Kindness Became a Priority in our House

As a new parent I had countless conversations with other new parents who would fondly remember their childhood as one where kids roamed the neighbourhood. Where kids went out after dinner to play and headed home when the street lights came on. Where kids knew all the adults in the neighbourhood, and therefore could ask at nearly every house if they needed help. Where kids did not have extra-curricular activities planned for every waking moment, which require driving to various locations around the city. They spent their free time in backyards or at the park, where they had to create their own games and they were allowed to get bored.

At the end of these conversations, the new parent would sigh and resign themselves to the fact that their children’s childhood could not possibly have these great features of their own childhood.

But I always replied with, “why not?” We have the power to create the type of childhood we want our children to have. And I think that it starts with getting to know our neighbours and building a strong community. And you get to know your neighbours by being out in your community.  

So I decided to write down 75 Acts of Kindness for Children in order to help families get started building their friendly community. Then I started working through them with my own kids.  Here are a few ideas of the things that we did that you can try with your kids. Simple, easy, and so gratifying, and great way to build community spirit!

Clean Your Park

Pick a day to go out and clean up your neighbourhood park or school playground. Bring rubber gloves for you and your adults to use when picking up garbage.

Make a Card for your Waste Collection Operator

Draw a thank you card for the Waste Collection Operator who collects your garbage each week. You can tape it to the outside of your garbage bin. This is the driver of the garbage truck in our neighbourhood, his name is Douglas.

Leaf Jumping Party

Pick a nice, sunny fall day and have a leaf-jumping party in your yard. Ask your adults to rake all the leaves into a big pile and then invite a few neighbourhood friends over to play.

Skating Rink

Use your community skating rink at least once each winter. Bring some extra kid-size hockey sticks to share with the other kids skating there. Ask your adults to help you organize a game of tag.

And the best part about doing Acts of Kindness is that it makes you feel good too! By doing Acts of Kindness with your children, they will see that you value kindness, empathy and compassion. And because I believe that all children start out wanting to make the adults in their lives proud of them, your kids will start to look for more ways to be kind and helpful. As they keep receiving positive reinforcement for completing Acts of Kindness, they will start to internalize the fact that they feel happier too. And then completing Acts of Kindness will start to become a habit.  

If we raise a generation of happy kids who regularly complete Acts of Kindness and who are constantly looking for ways to help other people, imagine what they will be able to do when they are the decision makers. Imagine how they will be able to make the world a better place.

The acts of kindness were so successful and popular. Friends and neighbours kept talking about how they would love to have something to help them do the same with their families. So I put together a book of 75 different ideas.  It’s called, Plant a Garden of Kindness, A Child's Guide to Filling a Year with Weekly Acts of Kindness. If you’re looking to try this with your family, check out the book – it’s written in journal format so you can track all the amazing things you’re doing in your community and have a record of it to boot. 

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Lindsey Barr is the founder of World-Changing Kids (WCK), a community of friends where everyone is invited to create, inspire, teach, learn and support one another. A community where everyone feels loved, included and safe. 

WCK's mission is to bring people together to work on amazing projects that will make the world a better place. The ultimate goal is to raise as many children as possible within this beautiful community and then set them loose to see what they can do, to see how they will change the world.

For more information on Plant a Garden of Kindness, A Child's Guide to Filling a Year with Weekly Acts of Kindness check out WCK’s website and visit WCK on Facebook  and on Instagram.

Five reasons to love spring in Ottawa

There are many reasons to love Ottawa every time of year, but there is something magical about this time of year that puts a little extra 'spring' in my step. So, with that in mind, here are five reasons to love spring in Ottawa: 

1)   Sugar Bushes

Maple Syrup Season

Maple syrup season is pretty much over, but this spring was one of the best I can remember with an overabundance of sap and maple syrup – yum! Packing up the family and heading to various sugar bushes in the Ottawa region for pancake breakfasts and wagon rides is a tradition in our house and is a favourite early spring time activity. Some of our favourite sugar bushes within the Ottawa area include: Fulton’s Pancake House, Proulx Maple & Berry Farm and Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm. We never leave for home without at least one litre of fresh local maple syrup. 

2)   Baby Animals

Back before my daughter frequented the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum on school trips, we would make a point to visit the working farm every spring to visit the barns to see lambs, calves, piglets and ducklings. The farm is oozing with cuteness in the springtime and is a great place to educate your child on Canadian agriculture and farming. And if you are lucky enough to visit on a warm day there are plenty of areas for family picnics and the onsite playground is always a hit with the kids.

3)   Canadian Tulip Festival

Tulip Festival

The Tulip Festival takes place May 12-23rd this year, and runs annually for about two weeks. It’s your chance to snap some gorgeous photos of your little ones smelling some of the more than one million tulips in bloom. The best spots to see the tulips are along the Rideau Canal, Dow’s Lake and Commissioner’s Park. Ottawa Tourism has a handy “Tulip Map,” which is great for planning your trip.

4)   Parks reopen

We love to ski and snowshoe, but there is nothing more fun for my daughter than heading to the neighbourhood park with friends after school for a little fresh air and fun. Kids in the Capital has written about many great Ottawa parks in the past (you can find those posts by clicking here), but we’re always looking for updated information or information on new neighbourhood parks, so if you have a favourite park let us know!

sunrise

5)   Longer Days

The earlier sun rise means I am more inclined to get my morning jog in before noon and the longer evenings mean we all have more energy and desire to not only do our chores, homework, etc. but we also have time to get outside and have fun before the sun sets.


What are some of your favourite things about spring in Ottawa? To be honest, my absolute favourite thing is sitting in the backyard on a warm spring evening chatting with my husband over a glass of red wine… and I love hearing the bird chirping outside my window at 4:30 in the morning (my husband, however, does not). ;)