Swimming Stress

I posted on our Facebook page the other day, asking parents whether I'm the only one who gets frustrated during swimming registration time. Apparently I'm not alone! We've been kind of lazy when it comes to swimming. I took our oldest for a lesson when she was 4 months old, and then promptly forgot to sign her up for anything after that for a couple of years. In all honesty, I'm not sure that early swimming lessons actually do anything to promote swimming ability. It's kind of like potty training - if they're not ready, then you won't have a lot of success.

However, that's not to say that introduction to the water (and getting wet) isn't a good thing! Our daughter is now 4.5, and making some good progress in her lessons.

But swimming registration? How frustrating!! Our city offers fantastic programming, but trying to register your child for a particular time spot is a nightmare. Online registration opens at 9pm, and the site usually crashes due to overwhelming demand. If you wait even 24 hours, chances are, your preferred spaces are gone. And trying to register more than one child in the same time slot? Forget it!

I completely forgot about winter registration, and ended up getting the last spot available for both my girls - 8:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning. It's been tough, let me tell you. We're usually up by 7am, but by the time we eat and get dressed, we're often rushing out the door (or late for class).

However, we noticed a benefit to early Sunday morning - small class sizes, without having to pay for "low ratio." So when Spring registration began this past Monday, I couldn't believe that I actually chose the 8:30 spot :) This time, though, our 17 month-old won't be taking part. The water is freezing, and she just doesn't enjoy it much at this age. So 8:30 seems more doable with just one child.

Where's your favourite place to swim in Ottawa?

Letters to Santa

Did you know the City of Ottawa Archives has events and workshops for kids?

Most people think of the Archives as a place for adults and academics but the staff at the archives is trying to change that. We want kids and their family to know that we are not just trying to preserve the memories of the City of Ottawa and the broader community, but trying to encourage and teach everyone how to do this for their own families.

In 2011 the archives moved to a brand new building, at 100 Tallwood drive, which provided the space for us to expand our programs and services.

We are now having our first holiday event.  Come to the archives and write your letter to Santa on December 2nd, 2012 from 10 am to 3 pm. The kids can also make crafts, decorate cookies and enjoy some holiday stories.  Bring the entire family. It’s free.

For more information about our programs look us up at ottawa.ca/archives or like us on Facebook.

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Camp Wannahaha!!!

Despite the weather of late, I have been looking into summer activities for the kids.  there is no shortage to choose from, either through the City of Ottawa or local churches and organizations.  This year we chose two from the City and one called "Camp Awesome" through one of our local churches.  I hear it's "awesome"  hee hee. This is all well and good, but summer can be LOOOONG for a mom of two demanding active children.  Last year I came up with a way to make summer both fun for my lovelies as well as easy for me to get things done without being "ON" 24/7.  Summer camp at home!! We did as all good camps would do, we planned out each weeks activities from crafts to excursions.  We came up with a fancy camp name "Wannahaha"  Then we made a flag and a sign which we hung outside the house.  We made up camp rules and chores for cleaning up.  Then we made a camp shirt.  That took care of the first week.  There were also door labels to put up in the house.  The kids thought is was awesome.

I made three jars with labels.  Each morning the children had to pick an activity from each jar.  They were labeled "Chore", "Craft/Science" and "Extra".  The kids had to do the chore first and then we could go onto the other activities.  The "Extra" category is a mixture of things that everyone wanted to do. ie: trip (great for touring the city), cooking, outdoor activity (sprinkler), movie etc...  If the children chose to do more than one chore, they could earn an extra activity a week - although this year I will make a BONUS jar instead. It will have big things in it.  For example - go to a movie, the beach or a big cost item.

For the most part, I tried to keep the activities close to home (or AT home more like) and on the lowest cost side as possible.  it may sound like a daunting task, but in fact we had way more activities to do than we had time.  Here is the list we used last here.

I have also since found new sites that have low or no cost activities at home than can be used.  Like this one.

I almost think this is more fun than going to a camp for younger children since it is tailor made for your individual children and they get to program all their own activities.

With summer fast approaching, what are some ways you're planning to keep your children entertained?

Flashback: Summer Camps with the City of Ottawa

Summer is quickly approaching!  Here is a post by Carly about summer camps through the city. by Carly

I'm a big believer in recreation and the Little Man has enjoyed and benefited from the fantastic and highly-trained staff who look after the City of Ottawa's summer Day Camps.  Every time we drive by the community centre where he first went to a half day camp two years ago, he begs again to go back to "Animal Adventures"!  Whether you're in need of childcare this summer or just want to give the kids (or yourself?) a break for a week here and there, the options abound.  I took a few minutes to go through the City's Summer Activity Guide and picked out a few camps that caught my eye, for kids from 2 years of age and up. 


Fun in the Sun A fun filled, action packed summer with arts and crafts, games, sports, special events, outdoor activities and local trips.  This camp for 4-6 year olds has full or half day options for maximum flexibility and takes place in Orleans, at the brand new AQUAVIEW COMMUNITY BUILDING, 318 Aquaview Drive.  Call 613-580-2782 for more info.

Kinder Korner Community Camps If you live or work in the Nepean area, you’ll find these preschool camps right in your own backyard!  Amazing staff offer camps that are just the right size for your little ones.  Children 2-5 are welcome, camp runs from 9-11:30am from Monday to Thursday at a number of COMMUNITY BUILDINGS throughout Nepean.  Call 613-580-2424 ext. 41238 for more info.

Aqua Preschool Do you have a little swimmer on your hands?  Brewar Pool (613-247-4938), Deborah Anne Kirwan Pool (613-247-4820, Plant Recreation Complex (613- 232-3000) and St. Laurent Complex (613-742-6767) all offer half or full day aquatic camps for kids 3-5 years of age.  Games, crafts, and lots of fun are all on the agenda.


Big Art and Clowning & Cartooning Have a budding artist looking for a creative outlet this summer.  These two camps, taking place at the ROCKCLIFFE PARK RECREATION COMPLEX are just the thing.  Drama, games, animation techniques and the art of clowning are all on the menu.  Call 613-842-8578 for more info.

Drama, Drawing, Photography and Much More The NEPEAN CREATIVE ARTS CENTRE, 35 Stafford Road, offers a multitude of camps on everything from dance to printmaking, music to movie making.  Call 613-596-5783 for more info.

Interior Design, Project Runway & Top Chef Those are just some of the themes offered at AVALON PUBLIC SCHOOL, 2080 Portobello Drive and in French at ÉCOLE ÉLÉMENTAIRE JEANNE SAUVÉ, 1917 Gardenway this summer.  Older kids will love expressing themselves through fashion, design and cooking.  Call 613-580-2782 for info.

Computer Camps Computer camps are offered in partnership with FutureKids of Ottawa right across the City.  Kids will love creating their own animated cartoon, elaborate video games, learning how to make digital movies or exploring the world of robotics.  Check out pages 24-26 of the City of Ottawa Activity Guide (link below) for a location near you, or visit www.futurekidsottawa.ca.

Into the Woods Looking to get your kids out of the house and into the great outdoors this summer?  Get back to nature with this eco-friendly camp and get down and dirty planting gardens, following bugs, exploring forests and going on fun trips.  This camp for kids 4-12 years of age (with full or half day options) takes place at the GENERAL BURNS COMMUNITY BUILDING, 86 Argue Drive in Nepean.  Call 613-580-2424 ext. 41238 for more info.


Leadership The city offers a wide range of Leadership camps for youth 12 years and up, from Orleans to Kanata and many places in between.  Learn communication skills, program planning, team building, child development and camping skills.  Have a teen on your hands who loves working with children in recreation?  These programs are a must prior to working for the City and many offer hands-on learning experiences in camp settings.  Check out pages 38 and 86 of the City of Ottawa’s Recreation Guide for more details.

Equestrian Camps Does your pre-teen or teen dream of spending the summer on horseback?  Both the ST. LAURENT COMPLEX, 525 Coté and the NEPEAN NATIONAL EQUESTRIAN PARK, 401 Corkstown Road offer a wide variety of camps for the horse lover in your family.  For more info on the camps at St. Laurent Complex, call 613-742-6767.  For more details on those offered at the Equestrian Park, call 613-829-6925

Skateboarding, Soccer, Swimming, Hockey, Rope Skipping, Beach Volleyball, Cheerleading & More! Pages 40-47 of the City of Ottawa Recreation Guide are chock full of outstanding sports camps for children and youth.  Pre-teens and teens have their choice of sport and camps are offered throughout the City.

Summer Youth Centres Perhaps your teen just want to get out of the house and hang out with their friends this summer.  Join us for sports, movies, games, special events, camping, outings and more!  TANGLEWOOD COMMUNITY BUILDING, 30 Woodfield Drive and LARKIN HOUSE COMMUNITY BUILDING, 76 Larkin Drive are open Monday to Friday from 3pm to 10pm.  BELLS CORNERS P.S., 3770 Richmond Road and LESLIE PARK P.S., 20 Harrison Drive are open Monday to Friday from 2pm to 9pm.  Call 613-580-2424 ext. 41232 for more info.

More information on any of the camps listed above, as well as many more fantastic options can be found by visiting www.ottawa.ca/recreation. Financial assistance is available to qualified applicants for all recreation programs, including day camps.

Carly has red hair and occasionally the temper to match.  She loves potatoes, rainy nights, photography, her husband and her 4 year old son, Jacob.  Probably in reverse order.   She also blogs.

Swimming Success!

by Amanda Y Well after that teaser week of summer in Ottawa, it has made me start itching for the real thing so we can go swimming regularly up at the cottage.  Since he was 3 (now almost 5) J has regularly been taking swimming lessons through the City of Ottawa.  The first round of lessons was really an adjustment period because he refused to participate for the most of the lessons.  He would get in the water but not cooperate with the instructor.  However, since then he has been quite happy about going, some of the tasks are hit or miss with him, he doesn't love having water in his face or ears, but over time, things have improved.  The spring session started last week and I swear, that was a totally different kid in the water!  He was dunking his head, happily floating on his back, front float has improved drastically, he will actually put his face in the water, tentatively, but he used to outright refuse!  He loves to play the games like "What time is it Mr. Wolf?" and "Red light green light" It's too bad the lessons are only 30 minutes long, I think he would benefit from a longer lesson, even another 15 minutes would be great!

The City of Ottawa's Learn to Swim Program offers the Red Cross swimming levels.  They include Parent and Me classes, Preschool classes, and School-Aged program (up to 12 yrs old).

Not only are swimming lessons fun, but swimming is also a very important skill for a child to have.  Many people have a fear of water and so having lessons in childhood can help to prevent this.  Fear leads to panic and if you panic in the water, the outcome is terrible.  Just knowing how to handle yourself in the water can prevent so many accidental drownings.  Of course, even the best swimmers can drown, and I highly promote the use of life jackets in boats and on inexperienced swimmers in deep water.  Simply knowing how to float and keep your head above water is a critical skill, in my opinion.  I am a strong swimmer, my parents insisted we take swimming lessons and I am doing the same for J.  It is also the kind of class that grows with the child.  They continue to build upon and learn new skills including rescue maneuvers and CPR.  Also something to think about:  teens who become lifeguards and swimming instructors are paid quite well.  They can work at city pools as well as summer camps earning their own money.  The benefits just keep adding up.

For information about how your teen could become a lifeguard visit the National Lifesaving Society's website.

Who knows if J will ever go that far, but what's important to me is that he learn to swim and be comfortable around water.

Amanda was born and raised in Ottawa where she continues to live with her husband and son “J”. Amanda is bilingual and interests include reading, blogging, socializing, and advocacy on children and teen issues.

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