Top Tips Dealing With Anxiety About The Coronavirus – How Not To Scare The Kids


keep calm and parent on


With the rise of incidences of COVID-19, aka the Coronavirus, parents have the tricky task of navigating with their own fears about the global outbreak and also their children’s fears.

How do we walk the fine line between precautionary measures and paranoia? Our kids today, specifically teenagers, are already stressed about many things; the environment, devastating weather like the recent tornado in Tennessee and economic uncertainty. All of this along with the regular stress that hits in the teenage years.

Tweens and teens are trying to gain some element of control from their parents, yet, these kids still want to know that their parents have it all under control. When something like COVID-19 appears on the horizon, it can be a scary and damaging realization that in reality, no one has anything under control.

Our job as parents in today’s world is to provide our children with a sense of balance and control. This responsibility should not be about minimizing their fears but using a strategy that will address the inevitable dive into the rabbit hole of google searches and Tik Tok videos on pandemics that a lot of teens will participate in, and share to their networks. This of course leads to the unintentional spread of misinformation and fear-mongering, like a virus, in fact, it is viral in nature. Round and round we go.

Parents and caregivers can provide kids with the tools they require to navigate news like the spread of COVID-19 instead of burying their heads in the sand and saying, “it will be fine,” or on the other end of the spectrum, scare them into washing their hands and making them wear masks that really don’t work. Only by providing tools, information and strategies can these kids be empowered not by fear, but knowledge. This acquisition of knowledge can lead them to be more confident about the one thing that is within their control, their own actions. The theory is that this approach will hopefully, lessen their anxiety and maybe as a byproduct, our own.

Another question comes up at the same time, what happens when one parenting strategy that is appropriate for a teenager is perhaps, not the same for a nine-year old? As a parent with multiple children in various stages of development, this can be an additional challenge to try and figure out what can be discussed as a family versus individually.

In all honesty, it makes one tired to even consider the best course of these kind of conversations, yet, it is an important one to have with your children in the wake of something like COVID-19.

From the Child Mind Institute, there is a great quote in an article written by Rachel Emkhe titled, “Talking to Kids About the Coronoavirus. The quote is from Dr. Janine Domingues, a child psychologist at the Institute, “You take on the news and you’re the person who filters the news to your kid.”

The quote encompasses exactly what our role is as parents during these times of high stress, we are the filters.

Keeping the above in mind, here are some amalgamated tips to help parents navigate discussions about COVID-19 with their children. Some are from the Child Mind Institute, others derived from an article by June Young (Channel News Asia) and some are my own.

  1. Don’t overwhelm children with too much information. Answer specific questions, especially with regard to younger children.
  2. Take cues from your child. Definitely important in families of three or more kids when considering developmental and age differences. A nine-year old does not need a long discussion about the global impact. A fourteen-year old may have some deeper questions.
  3. Deal with your own anxiety about the issue. Stock piling masks for the doomsday scenario is not ideal.
  4. Be factual in your responses and try to leave your own opinions out of it. If you don’t know something, say so and tell them you will find out and get back to them. Then do exactly that.
  5. Empower your children. Give them specific instructions on how their own actions are important. For example their own personal hygiene and the family’s hygiene habits inside and outside the house.
  6. Acknowledge their fears. It can be scary when everyone is discussing the current death rate or where it has spread. It’s important not to discount that they feel that way instead of ignoring it or pushing it away.
  7. Be available for any follow-up questions or discussions.
  8. Stick to your routines. Life has not changed. We all still have to get up to go to school, do homework and go to bed at a decent time. This can be comforting when anxiety rears its ugly head.
  9. Watch the movie Inside Out with younger kids. This was brought up by June Young in her article and it is a great movie to remind kids that we all have these feelings and it is normal.
  10. Try to encourage tween/teens who are online to avoid the constant stream of information about COVID-19. My daughter put an alert on about any COVID-19 news. I had her remove it explaining this increases fear and anxiety. Although this may be harder to do with older kids, one strategy may be to reassure them that you will share any important or relevant information with them from credible sources. Older kids can sometimes feel we are being too overprotective. By sharing factual, non-alarming, scientific information about the virus, perhaps that alone will have them go back to making silly Tik Tok videos instead or researching pandemics that can destroy the world.

Share your strategies for how you are discussing the spread of COVID-19 with your children. This is something that is affecting everyone, children and adults, all over the world. I do believe the more we acknowledge our anxiety and fears about these things can lead to more level-headed discussions and reasonable action plans that empower instead of panic.


Summer 2019 – All The Feels – Travel Tips

Fitz and Tantrums put out a song recently called, “All The Feels.” The phrase has become used by, pretty much everyone the last couple of years, but especially my kids. I re-listened to the song today and realized why it was an instant hit. It comes at a time when everyone, our kids included, attempt to deal with trying to figure out “all the feels” they have each and every day.

As a parent, trying to navigate “all the feels” can be tiring, exhausting but so important. In fact, dealing with “the feels” is something I navigate daily especially as a parent of three or more children, sometimes those feels come at me all at once, and I forget what kid is feeling what. Thank goodness that two out of three have no issue telling me their feelings.

Our family just got back from our annual summer trip. (More to be written about this later.) There were lots of feels revealed on that trip. After working tirelessly to provide a balanced journey of exploration, rest and fun – as always when we travel with kids – it doesn’t quite work out that way.

This year our family traveled to Italy followed by a cruise on the Mediterranean. Planning a trip this way is the first time we have experienced combining two types of trips – one exploring a new part of the world combined with a place where (we hoped) everyone could relax.

In preparation for our trip, I asked our 8-year-old, 11-year-old and 13-year-old  for input. I tried this tactic and am a firm believer that they should have a say on at least one activity. I got standard answers of, “I don’t know,” or the best response, “I just want gelato.” So most of the details were left mainly to me. (Not to say Mr. L didn’t pitch in – he did on so many logistical levels to flights, hotels, and navigation.) My kids, like so many other kids, even when I emailed the older one’s articles or left out Italy travel books hoping to spark any ideas – had almost zero interest in helping plan a family trip. That is fine, I could do it myself. But I also know how it will go – or should have known.

The feels started the second day. Italy was under an intense heatwave – unfortunate timing, but in reality, nothing to be done. We also rented a house that did not have air conditioning. Now most accommodations in Italy do not have a/c, and I prepped all the family members for when we talked about heading to Italy about this fact, but it was promptly forgotten as the house turned into a sauna during the day.

So, keeping the heatwave in mind, time differences and the ages of my kids – I tried to be patient. I did not, as past experience has taught me, expected full-on enthusiasm for all the details on the trip. After all, traveling with 7 people (my parents came along for the ride) leads to “all the feels.” But the days when the whining would not stop, one kid was crying, or I was lecturing in a rental car on behavioral issues, the thought once again crossed my mind, “Why do I keep doing this? Is it worth it?”

I hope so. I wish on some level the kids take away some good memories, some unique experiences, and eventually, an appreciation for the amount of money and effort parents put in to pull off traveling as a family. This kind of travel isn’t for the faint of heart and not for everyone. I’m not sure it will be for me every year. Patience is an ever-elusive trait I am constantly trying to reach for and thank goodness I had some yoga breathwork in my toolbox to take me through the tough moments.

I also am cognizant that if anyone follows any other social media, I am on – the pictures show only part of the story. They tell the happy moments – the beauty that I cannot capture in words – the full heart I carry home, thankful that travel is a priority in our lives. I have to cling to the belief that for them, the experiences they have had, the parts of the world they have seen and the privilege they have to travel with us nestles itself somewhere in their beings.

But in mulling over “all my feels,” and to sit in reality for a moment – here is a cheat sheet of a few lessons that I learned while on this trip. I take these lessons very seriously and apply as many as make sense for future trips. I have to –  if I ever want to book another family trip again. They keep me going when I think, “what’s the point.”

  1. For each leg of a trip – have each person in the family make at least one decision either on an activity or restaurant to eat at – or not. Sidenote – 11-year-old Audrey wanted to try all the pizza in as many different areas of Umbria as she could. She also asked for a pizza making lesson. This “goal” saved us a few times from her “feels” as we hunted down a pizzeria in medieval villages. She even kept a diary of all the pizza she tried.  This particular child does not do well in humidity/heat and felt the almost forty degrees celsius temperatures the most out of the five of us, leading to more than one breakdown. The pizza-making lesson set up by the owner of the Airbnb and was one of the most pleasant nights during our time in Umbria.
  2. Plan relaxation time – this seems obvious, but sometimes parents forget that everyone needs downtime, especially kids. Less can be more sometimes. I tried my best to do this – we were never out late or all day and I still got complaints. If they wanted it, they had oodles of time to lounge at the house with a book, in a hammock or in the pool.  
  3. If traveling with kids – a pool is a useful distraction. It limited our choices in accommodations in Italy, but being a family of five, hotels are not always set up for our needs.  I did a lot of research to find a house that had a pool. It helped a lot with Jacob – the busy 8-year-old boy as he always had the pool to jump into. I would say either hotel or rental home – if you can – get a pool. 
  4.  Let go of any restrictions, (unless of course an allergen). It was hot and humid. They ate as much gelato and drank cold pop – even (gasp!) coke. My mantra became – will it make you happy and cool? Then eat or drink it. All you want is gelato – fine. I was drinking cold white wine at lunch and sweating it right away – who was I to judge, and it was a trip. Regular monitoring of junk food started again upon our return home. 
  5. Book the Skip The Line tickets with whatever provider you choose – do it early. I had handpicked a few things to see in certain places, but this is most important when traveling with kids. For some reason, during the planning of this trip, I didn’t even think of booking things ahead of time. I had a brain wave at the airport at the start of our journey and I am very, very glad we did it that way. None of us were prepared to wait in a 3-hour line-up, in a heatwave, to see the statue of David in Florence. It wasn’t that expensive and worth the splurge. The tour guides kept the kids entertained, provided some historical context, and we did not wait in any line ups in Florence or Rome. If you have marked something as a must-see – get the tickets and put it in the budget. 

These are the top five that I think are the most important when traveling abroad with three or more little people. The tips from the cruise we jumped on with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines can be put into a few points:

  • Get two rooms. It’s worth it for the bathrooms alone, and if you have a kid that craves a little alone time (Audrey), then they can get it. Our introvert was a much happier camper when I told her she had an entire room to herself for an hour. I realized on this trip that sometimes it’s hard to travel with five other people, even for kids.
  • Kids clubs are places of refuge after coming off a heatwave with three kids and spending a week together. Don’t feel guilty.
  • Get the drink package – you’ll use it.
  • If your kid is too old for the kids club and too young for the teen club – they actually can be fun to hang out with. We took Elizabeth with us to a sushi-making class, Chef’s Table dinner, and she spent time with her grandparents playing bingo and hanging out with us by the main pool. It was nice to have one on one time with her, and the other two were happy in the kids club.
  • Book excursions – but not any that require a considerable amount of walking. They had walked enough the week before through Umbrian medieval villages. Air-conditioned coach buses or tours with boats are always good with kids.

No matter where you travel, be prepared for “all the feels” that comes with traveling with kids. Someone will be sad, happy, excited, angry, and frustrated, including you. Look for those particular special nuggets where everyone smiled for a picture or you think, “well that was a nice hour,” it may be how you get through some of the days. My hope – for anyone who travels and for my family – is the realization that it is worth it. Capture the best moments – learn from the not great ones and plan the next trip.

Where are you traveling to with your family?

Any tips for our next trip? Choices are: Universal Studios, Florida, Vancouver, Hawaii, Israel/Greece – or maybe we’ll be crazy and do all of them next year as different trips. Funnier things have happened.

I Can’t Take Your Call Right Now



Moniack Mhor – A place you really can’t take a call. (Scotland)

The title is a phrase that every parent has uttered to someone on the other end of a phone call or text message. Especially a parent of three or more kids, all who want or need something anytime during the day. Add in a new cell phone for Elizabeth, our almost 13-year old, and the nonstop texts informing me about things, sending Bitcoms or random Tik Tock videos, (I have no idea if I even wrote those out right!) and it never ends. But in actuality, what I mean about the above phrase is using it to those you love the most, your family.

Have you ever thought about going away? Tried and failed? It’s a hard thing to do as a parent because they find you. Any parent, and to be honest, as a mom, they always find you. To be fair, we let them find us too. We check in. We promise ourselves that it’s time to disconnect and that our phones or emails will be off for an hour, a day or gasp – a weekend. Yet, it’s hard to do. We still call or text making sure the cats have been fed, that all the homework is done and answer random questions about where so-and-so’s textbook is or why didn’t we tell someone that the milk was almost gone. It’s almost like it’s programmed in our DNA. Or is it?

It’s a question I certainly have struggled with over the last little while. In a noisy world, one where immediate responses are guaranteed, even expected most of the time, this constant communication has created a sense of panic if someone doesn’t respond right away. Now imagine disappearing for a day, or a weekend for some much-needed self-care. Be it a girls weekend, retreat, or a day at the mall, whatever brings you peace and joy and what is that huge thing standing in our way? Our own incessant need to be connected. To retain a sense of control of a situation, even when we are not there.

It has also created kids that expect an immediate response and then ensuing anxiety if that response isn’t provided. I can already see it, actually this afternoon, with my eldest daughter. I left my phone in the little cottage in the woods, choosing to join the other women on the retreat for a delicious dinner, sharing circle and chocolate tasting. No pictures. No texts home. Just being in the moment. I came back to 16 texts, most of them cute bitcoms showing her waiting and waiting to hear back from me. On one hand, it’s cute she’s thinking of me, and I even apologized for not answering. Apologized? Why? Because I understand that feeling when you are waiting to hear back, we all do and it has created an impatient sensibility at best and at worse, anxiety in a kid waiting to hear back from their mom. Neither good outcomes.

Don’t get me wrong in many, many situations being so accessible is hugely advantageous. It can help communication about a shift in schedules, emergency situations and even to let your partner know you need milk on the way home. But the question is, does the constant contact serve what we need? I guess that’s a personal question each of us has to answer.

Learning to be an advocate for my own self-care and taking the journey to carve out that space we all need to be silent and offline so we can reflect, and rest has enabled me to see in others that this is not just my struggle but a world we all share. The affects of always being available are real and damaging. It’s pressure. An added weight to already complicated lives and a burden we all carry. A burden that our children, no matter how well-intentioned we are or mindful about it, will have to deal with.

The answer may be different for everyone as everyone may have different tolerance levels to the noise of life. As I spend another weekend at a wonderful retreat with limited (not completely offline) access –  I have space to think about other things. Things that I have pushed to the side, unfinished business. I have had time to take a walk through a snowy woods and curl up like a cat near a fireplace with the sun on my face. I have had time to read, to think and to dream. I also know, (Mr. L may not agree), time away allows me to let go of that sense of control we all sometimes carry while, building trust with my partner/support systems that they can handle parts of life. At the very least it reminds me that parts of life can wait until it’s time to return that call.

This retreat, whether guided or self-directed, will not be my last one. Yes, I am very fortunate to be able to go, and yes, I often have other parents, caregivers or anyone, wonder how I can do it. How do I walk away for a day, a weekend or even a week?

Simply put, I choose to say to my partner, friends, family, children, work or whatever is going on in life (and put this onto Text or Voice Mail too), I can’t take your call right now. All of it will be waiting when I return the call, but perhaps, by choosing to disconnect for a morning, a day, a week or a month, I’ll be in a calmer state to deal with what life throws my way. In the process, I hope it teaches my family to be more patient and self-reliant in a world that often revels in and promotes immediate gratification.



An ode to True Love..

True love, unlike what it says in the Princess Bride..

true love

…does not always mean finding that perfect person – the soul mate which you spend the rest of your life. Nice ideals bred out of the romantic illusion sold over the last few hundred years since Prince Charming slipped that slipper on Cinderella’s foot.

For us, Valentine’s Day is a panicked rush where I scrounge to help three children make Valentine’s Day cards for their classes while loading them up with dollar store chocolates hoping most of them are nut free. Valentine’s Day means staying up late to set a table laden with felt hearts and small gifts because a tradition was inadvertently started when your eldest child was four years old and you are now locked into it –  even if all you want to do is get yourself to bed and watch a show on Netflix or read a book. Valentine’s Day means rushing home and not getting any work done because you need to make those chocolate heart cakes for their afternoon snacks – even if it is out of a box.  You do all of these things – even if you don’t want to –  because you’re a parent. If that isn’t true love, then I have no idea what is.

From what I have learned being a parent means living every day for true love.

You know it’s true love when:

  1. Get up early every morning to make sure little people get a half decent breakfast before school.
  2. Become a taxi cab driver who works for free and drives everywhere.
  3. Sleep in your car because you’re too tired to take a walk outside after the morning school drop off and ensuing arguments in the car because a kid forgot something.
  4. Wash and fold clothes non-stop. (Or until you give up and close the door pretending laundry doesn’t exist.)
  5. Give up caring how messy their rooms are because you want them to express themselves – even if it secretly drives you a little crazy.
  6. Still say “I love you” at the end of the day – even if they are being argumentative, moody or downright rude.
  7. Walk away – at any point – without losing your cool and put yourself in a time out.
  8. Try not to cry or make a big deal when they do the dishes for you without asking.
  9. Force yourself away from the playground after you heard someone was bothering them.
  10. Finally – you know it’s true love when you keep waking up each morning and say to yourself – “It’s a new day. Today will be better.” But you secretly know it will be the same and you get up anyway.

For all the tired parents out there who may wonder who are the people who go out for a nice adult dinner on Valentine’s Day – once your kids are off their chocolate highs from the copious amounts of candy they had at school (or brought home) – give yourself a pat on the back. You know what true love really is and you live it each and every day.


When A Carefully Built House Of Cards Collapses – You Build It Again

Yes, yes. It has been a long while since I paid any attention to this little blog. I do have my reasons.

  •  I started a new blog about our move to a rural life at Small Town Gal that I am trying to keep updated.
  • I took on paid writing work.
  • I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo again to flush out a story idea that a few encouraging people told me to finish.
  • I started binge watching Netflix, again.
  • I began excercising more seriously, again.
  • I realized I require more sleep.
  • I have three kids.

Nonetheless, I also wasn’t sure if I had anything of value to share on parenting three or more kids that I haven’t either already wrote about or was written about in the general blog, Facebook, Twitter space. After all, I’m just one mom in a million who have multiple kids and I struggle with time management, to-do lists and priorities just like everyone else.

I also had to take a step back, is it really different having one versus two versus three or more children? I think so, but maybe it’s just because I’m not great at the juggling act as others. Of perhaps it’s because I feel guilty that I find managing three little people at times, challenging and unrewarding. Maybe it’s because I just turned forty and I’m tired. Or finally, is it simply that this is my reality so I think having three kids is unique or different in some ways and I tell myself I deserve a space to vent so I don’t go out of my mind. Who really knows? Not me. It could be all of it or none of it.




But now that I’m here, I have noticed that spending the last few months having little bits of time with one or only two of my adorable munchkins, it seemed, well easier. A breath of fresh air. This small thing along with discussions with others about kids made me realize something. Having kids is hard. Having more than one kid is hard. Having three or more is crazy. Crazy fun sometimes, but crazy.

This fall, I’ve been dealing with a lot of emotional management. Sometimes I do okay and other times I fail, big time. I find having kids that sponge off me physically and emotionally although necessary and wonderfully empowering as a mom who tries to be there for them that they take my advice, hugs and want me there is not so great for me as an individual who requires some personal space and time. The whole thing is sometimes very draining.

But, we have had a lot going on and they have required more attention than normal. We moved. Across the province. Away from our support systems, friends and schools. Big picture it makes sense for us. After all, this was not an easy or whimsical decision but a well thought out, hard one. Regardless, the last few months have been an emotional roller coaster for us and the kids. Happy one minute, enjoying their new home and exploring  the area with unbridled passion all seems wonderful. Then, in a snap they can be in tears. Homesick for what they know, friends they used to see everyday. So much so that it tugs at our heart strings and we wonder if we robbed them of their idyllic childhood.

I almost wonder sometimes as a parent of three or more kids, do they secretly strategize out a plan to keep me on my parenting toes? To see how much I can stretch as a mom?

This past week or so,  just as I finished dispensing hugs and encouragement to my almost eleven year old, told her  that she will indeed find new friends in her new school, the next day my eight year old starts to well up, her eyes full of tears as we leave a playdate back in our old town and wham! I’m back in the therapist chair. The house of cards is starting to fall.

Then, (oh yes..not done), I get her calmed and excited about seeing her new friend at school the next day when the next day wham! My little man, the five year old, breaks my heart when he draws a picture of two very sad stick people, separated by a line. With crocodile tears running down his face he sputtered,

“It’s me and P. Separated forever.” (P was his very good friend from SK last year who we haven’t yet visited since we moved this past summer, although they’ve exchanged a few letters only the way five year old boys can.)

The house of cards is down. Something has been triggered in all three of them. Maybe an unseen hand knocked my thriving kids backwards and I was back to square one. At least it wasn’t all at once, someone had the foresight to only give me as much as I could handle. One emotional tailspin at a time.

I picked Jacob up, he sobbed onto my shoulder and part of me wondered at the sensitive nature of my usually happy-go-lucky man. (I secretly hope he maintains this side of himself and doesn’t hide it away. ) In this moment, although he needed me both physically and emotionally, I had to reach over to stir the taco meat on the stovetop. I rocked him back and forth and told him it was okay to be sad. For on this night, I also have a starving and cranky tween daughter who kept hollering that I can’t expect perfection from her, a reaction because I made her rewrite her messy assignment.  I bit my lip and looked longingly at the glass of untouched red wine on the counter. It had to wait. At least the eight year old seemed content today.

The house of cards is down and I woke up today and started to rebuild. Because that’s what we do. Thankfully, all three of them are seemingly better this morning after a week of roller coaster emotions, the only thing I can think is thank goodness it wasn’t all at the same time.

But it  never ends, not really. There will always be one of them out of sorts. Always. For that is life as we know it and I think I’ve learned to accept that. It’s part of the deal being a parent to three or more kids, the difference if you will between having one or two or three or more kids. You oftentimes will have a fire to put out, a flare-up to manage or a full out storm so intense it takes your breath away, there are no real breaks in between. And perhaps that is what I can offer; how to survive the constant barrage on your own self. I can offer strategies to cope, suggest how to be kind to yourself and most importantly be someone who can empathize when you say, I have three or more kids. For I get it. I really do.

So for today, for all those parents who throw up your hands and ask will I have a day where there isn’t any drama from one of my multiple children? My answer is yes, yes you will. It may not be a whole day, it may be an hour, but take it. Grab tight and do something you love. For me, it was yoga first thing this morning. It calmed me. Maybe I’ll get to do it again this week, maybe, if I’m not busy with the hose.



It’s Complicated




The staircase groans under the thundering steps of my eldest child.

“Mom! Audrey is crying again.”

Sighing, I glance up from the weeklong emails I am trying to answer. “What is it this time?”

She shrugs the way an older sister does with an impatient tap upon the ceramic tile in the foyer.

Moving the cat off my lap and placing the computer back on the desk, I stretch out my stiff back and follow her up the stairs. Sore legs? Her sister called her a name? It could be a number of things. The middle child, Audrey is the most sensitive. She is the one I worry about letting in the joys and sorrows of the world with no idea how to filter them.

Walking into the dimly lit room I am relieved to see the girls have turned off their lamps. The tiny stars on their finely webbed fairy curtains drape each of the beds.

“What is it darling?”

“I lied to you.”

Wondering what crime a six year old believes she committed, I sit on the bed rubbing her back. “Well, tell me about it and you’ll feel better.”

“I tried to do what you said and stay on the blacktop at school but Emily went into the field and I followed her.”

Trying not to smile I nod, “Okay. But why did you tell me you stayed on the blacktop when you got home?”

“Because I didn’t want you to get mad.”

Knowing that sometimes I can be a bit abrupt and stern about rules, I pause.

“I’m not mad. But you have to stay in your line so you don’t miss going into the school. If you want to take the bus you have to do that so I know you’re okay and the teachers know where you are. When you’re older you can play in the field. We talked about this last week, actually I talked to both you, Emily and her mom who agreed.”

After a spontaneous visit to the school playground last week, I was surprised my grade one student and her friend were playing in a restricted area. Taking a “watch and see” approach, they did not hear when the bell rang and were left behind as the lines went inside. Afterwards, I had spoken to both girls about being responsible and staying in their area. Following up with Emily’s mother she agreed that in grade one, they were to stay in place during the chaotic morning drop off. It was too easy for two little girls to go missing.

Audrey’s brown eyes look up at me, “But Mom, Emily’s mom told her it was okay to play in the field.”

Here it was, another conversation about my parenting tactics versus another parent. Did I believe Audrey? Yes. So either her friend Emily was telling a tall tale or her mother contradicted me, again.

Keeping the annoyance out of my voice I parrot my standard phrase, “Well honey, I’m not concerned with what Emily does. You are to follow our rules.”

“Okay Mommy, I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay.” I hug her wiping away the remaining tears. “Now go to sleep. And thank you for telling me the truth.”

As I close the door for the second time, relief washes over me because for now I outrank her friends. At this age what they do is relatively harmless, easily fixed with a hug and repetitive message. Hopefully when the time comes, my voice will be louder than the lure of her peers or other parents.


Playing hooky

“Mom!! When are we going apple picking and pumpkin picking?”

“Soon kids. Soon.”

Time was running out. The last of apple picking season was upon us and I knew that first frost was days away and I had promised the kids we would fit in apple picking this year. But birthday party after birthday party. Family events. Weather. You name it, it probably happened over a four-week period preventing me from taking my three anxious budding apple pickers out to a local farm to participate in an annual event. To be honest, the throughout of facing the crowds, on my own, at one of the few pick-your-own places in our area was more than I could bare on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Then it was pumpkin choosing time. The weekend after Canadian Thanksgiving when the kids start dreaming of Halloween costumes and scary lit jack-o’-lanterns.

“Pumpkins! Mom, we have to get our pumpkins.”

“Soon kids. Soon.”

I started to panic. The clock was ticking and I was about to fail a major parenting moment in front of three increasingly vocal and aware children. No longer could I get away with, “They won’t remember the experience anyway.”

Now don’t get me wrong. I love doing this stuff with my kids. I do not love doing it by myself while dealing with crowds of people losing my voice as I should at Elizabeth to stop touching everything, manage Audrey’s emotional state and pull Jacob down from the fifteenth climb up onto the vintage tractors littering these farms all while trying to carry gear, water bottles, snacks all while trying to snap a few pictures as proof of my supermom powers.

Racking my brain I looked and re-fiddled with our family calendar. If we went this day right after morning activities, got back in time so Audrey could go to her party. Mr. L would be home so he could help. Dammit. Both girls have birthday parties and one is a sleepover. I need to have time to dig out the sleeping bags and help her get packed.

For two weeks these conversations rattled around in my brain as my kids started getting nervous we wouldn’t be going.

One night, after all kids were soundly asleep I beseeched in my sweetest voice to Mr. L., “Please…any possible way there is a date you don’t have to work on a Sunday and we can go together? Or you could come home early and we can go right after school? Rush hour up to the farm will be easier if there is two of us!”

Regretfully he shook his head. I know part of him wants to be at these things but his work is such that meetings, hosting duties and court dates set months ago are not easily changed because his wife wants him to go to the pumpkin patch. I also know how tired he is on the weekends and we try not to schedule too much.

Then it hits me. What’s stopping me from playing hooky with the kids? A weekday trip during school hours would ensure the apple picking farm is not busy, traffic would be better and the kids would get a kick out of being pulled out of school early.

So I plan it praying the weather cooperates. I plan a day where none of them have library, or a test to be missed. I write notes in agendas and pack larger lunches hoping it will buy me some time in the afternoon and remind each of them, “Remember, I’m picking you up right after lunch. Try to eat everything and we can go straight to pick apples and get pumpkins.”

The day arrives with cooler temperatures but sunny skies. I ensured they wore mittens, toque and boots thinking ahead to the damp rows of apple trees. I checked the farm’s website seeing that some apples were still available. Eureka!

Rushing through my morning’s scheduled activities I stopped to pat myself on the back for thinking ahead and packing extra warm clothes in my duffel bag and I  happily arrived at the first school pick-up right on time. Ten minutes later both my daughters sauntered into the school foyer, excited and carrying their lunch boxes.

“Did you eat?” I asked.

Guiltily they looked at each other. “Some.” They answered.

“No problem,” I say intent on keeping a cheery attitude. “We have a half hour drive, you can eat in the van.”

The final pick-up goes well too. Jacob is already outside at recess having ate all his lunch. We drove off to Chudleigh’s Apple Farm, due north away from the breeze of the lake and I noticed the temperatures warmed up slightly. Upon arriving the day was even more idyllic that I had dared hope. Cool but not cold.The last of the buses from the school field trips were leaving and my heart sang, it truly would be only a scattering of people there. No breeze in sight and the warm sun helped the kid’s arguments that mittens were not necessary so we left them in the van. As we plunged into the farm, our first stop was to climb aboard the relatively empty awaiting tractor hay ride to head out to the apple orchard.

“Only Ambrosia’s left.” The farmer said.

Grasping our plastic draw-string bags we didn’t care. We were happy to pick anything and enjoyed the ride around the farm viewing the spectacular picture show of reds, golds and oranges bordering the property. As the tractor jerked to a stop, we ran up and down the aisles finally finding a bountiful crop of delicious red apples. We filled each of our bags to the fullest when I realized. I had to carry four bags of apples. The kids being good sports offered to carry their own and after a bit of fiddling on the best position, we managed to make our way out of the orchard back to the farm to find a large, heavy wagon to carry our load.

From there it was easy. We viewed the petting zoo. Picked our pumpkins. Ran a hay stack maze and then to the kid’s thrill, had the slide areas all to ourselves. The bakery was still open so wanting to celebrate our successes, we ate cookies with chocolate milk with pride.

When you have three or more kids, sometimes the easiest solution is to break the schedule once in a while. Play hooky. Be smart. We had a much more relaxed time going mid-week than we would have fighting the line-ups and crowds on the weekend. Especially if you in the position that there is one caregiver for three children, the rule of the day, make it as stress-free as possible. The kids will have much better memories of a day spent outside with a mom not screeching at them to stay where she can see them and that is what is important.




When the robins say goodbye..

For the first time last week, I felt I could breathe. Although still busy my sense of panic about finishing projects has given way to a confidence it will all get done. I’m still not sure when everything will get done, but I know it will.  My mud room is still in disarray. The winter coats are clean but the mountain still lingers in my basement ready to be put into the closet.  When you have three or more kids, those small piles of clothes get bigger and bigger as the kids get bigger and bigger!

Jacob, my little man still at home with me, is a happy go-lucky type of kid (generally) who will help me clean windows, go grocery shopping or take the dog for a walk. He’s recently dropped his naps and I am happy (cautiously so) that he seems to be pretty  well potty trained, at last! I was not sure how I would feel about him dropping his naps. The hour or so I would get each day was a break for me, a chance to drink a coffee, catch up on  emails or finish some chores. But on the upside, we can take the dog for a proper walk. I can go and get groceries and not worry about rushing home before 1 pm so  he can nap. Maybe I can go to the gym early afternoons while he plays at the daycare. The opportunities are endless!

Last week, on a sunny but cold day, Jacob sat on our bench facing the windows that overlooks our small backyard. Rabbits are constant visitors at breakfast and during the summer months, the songbirds endlessly chirp. Since moving into this house, we are always lucky to have a robin’s nest tucked into one of the floodlights and hatchlings to watch in June. Since the onset of cooler temperatures, the last of the songbirds have vacated our Southwestern Ontario area traveling to warmer climates. Who can blame them as I dig in my massive hat pile to find a clean toque? Yet, last week, as I opened the windows to let in a bit of fresh air, I noticed a couple of red-breasted friends peering at us as they sat perched on the wood fence. Hopping down to our garden they searched for any stirred up worms who had not burrowed themselves deep into the ground or for seeds from the recently trimmed bushes. Jacob got so excited he started jumping up and down,

“Mom! Mom! See! The robins!”


They chirped back at us as if to ask what we were having for lunch. After a half hour of hopping, peeking at us and enjoying the warmth of the late autumn sunshine, they flew off without a sound. It was a reminder that winter will be soon enough and being able to open the windows will be something I dream of when spring comes. However, winter also means more time. More time to spend with the kids inside playing board games, reading or watching a movie. More time to go through the closets and finally attack the cupboard of baby bottles still lingering from two years ago. It is also my last winter with a little one at home. So if I want to take a walk and search for a trace of the robins with the kids so we can say goodbye until spring, that seems more important than if my mud room is perfectly organized.



This past week I have felt the sympathetic looks from many people. Teachers. Friends. Other parents at the bus stop. Random strangers in the stores. These silent pats on the back have kept me going through nearly two weeks of runny noses, coughs, sinus infections, sore throats and a very, very grumpy family. Cold season hit our household like a tsunami. Large waves of kleenex rose up as a tidal wave as the mantra became, “Go get a kleenex to wipe your nose.”   This mom of three is so tired she turned on the television so she could nap for twenty minutes. Soups and chillies were made through a sinus headache in an attempt to battle the colds away. Orange juice and almond milk was poured into glass after glass to lessen the fluids seeping from every nose of nearly every single family member. We have a dad so tired he plods through the house after work still in his untucked button up shirt too exhausted to go upstairs to get changed. 

How do we do it parents? When we are sick ourselves and fighting exhaustion, how do we still manage to put one foot in front of the other to make lunches for the kids (who are lucky that day not to have a fever), go to work, start up a volunteer snack program at an elementary school or simply function when this kind of week hits a household?

We are the soldiers. We may have larangtyis, drink green tea with honey instead of wine (hell, I haven’t even wanted wine for the last two weeks) sit zombie-like under a warm blanket watching whatever is on the television, sleep when we can, pop tylenol to numb the pain of a headache or sore throat, but we get through it. Or so I keep telling myself this week. 

How do I manage when fall colds hit our house? Besides the above already mentioned I try to remember: 

1) At least it’s not the stomach flu. 

2) It’s only 5-10 days. Colds do end. 

3) It is a good excuse to get that hired cleaner in and scrub every surface in the house to get rid of lingering viral intruders. 

4) Water. Water. Water. Make sure everyone is drinking lots of water. Good habit anytime. 

5) The kids think it’s great to get juice every day as it is usually a treat. Super Mom points. 

6) It is kind of nice to sit cuddled with one (or all three kids plus the dog) watching a movie because frankly, we are all too tired to do anything else. 

7) Never run out of kleenexes. Good excuse to hit Costco. 

8) Green tea is better for you than a glass of wine. Instant detox program. 

9) My body needed a break from exercising anyway to heal up from last race. 

10) You can cancel almost everything. No other excuse is needed. Who wants to be around someone with a bad cold anyway? All obligations can be re-scheduled and you actually have free time to write, nap, catch up on tv, read whatever your fancy. 

How do you manage when colds hit an entire household?