9 must-haves to get through a Canadian winter with baby

Huge thanks to The Baby Show for sponsoring this post and letting me share all my best Canadian baby advice.  And don’t miss the PROMO CODE at the end!

The sun is throwing little slivers of warmth our way, snow banks are shrinking and pedicures are being booked. You can almost smell the spring in the air. Not so fast! This winter might be on it’s way out, but another one will soon be on it’s way in. And your days of breastfeeding on picnic blankets in dappled shade, strolling along city streets for hours on end and changing diapers on park benches will be over.

Getting through a Canadian winter with a baby can be tough. On the one hand, it’s the perfect excuse to hibernate in your warm and cozy home and never, ever face the bitter cold. On the other hand, you will go crazy if you do that. Don’t go crazy.

It’s important to get out of the house, and there are all kinds of brilliant products that will help you do just that. Don’t forget to put these on your “must have” list.

1. Big, fat, snow-climbing stroller tires

If you live in Canada, you really want a stroller with inflatable rubber tires that can ride over the snow fairly easily. (Unless you live in Vancouver, in which case you already know not to talk about your winter weather with other Canadians.) Exactly how heavy-duty your winter stroller has to be depends on how much snow your area gets (and how quickly it gets cleared). Check out a few different models to see which will work best for you.

Image credit via Flickr cc license

2. A stroller cover

For a Canadian winter with baby

Image credit via Flickr cc license

Rain covers for your stroller make equally good windshields and help to keep baby toasty on cold winter walks. If your stroller model has one designed especially to fit, it’s worth getting. Otherwise, a generic, well-ventilated,  stroller cover will also do.

3. An infant car seat cover

Image courtesy well.ca

These are the best. They’re like a winter coat or sleeping bag that fits snuggly over your baby’s car seat, so you don’t have to worry about bundling them up for car trips. Babies are also safer and more secure in their car seats without bulky snowsuits, so win-win.

4. One-piece snow suit or bunting

Image credit via Flickr cc license

But when you do bundle them up for walks, nothing beats a one-snowsuit or bunting bag. Plop ‘em in and zip them up. Yes, I wish they made these for adults, too. (Pro tip: Don’t leave your baby lying in the snow.)

5. Itty bitty hats and mitts

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Not only will these help keep baby toasty warm, they’re also some of the sweetest items ever designed. Go ahead and splurge on pretty knits now while they’re still young enough not to lose them.

6. Something extra for their footsies

Image credit via Flickr cc license

Whether it’s hand-knit baby booties made by great-aunt Jane or commercially made boots or slippers, you will need something extra to keep those itty bitty footsies warm on the coldest days.

7. A big-ass coat for baby wearing

Image courtesy dearbornbaby.com

My all-time favourite method of keeping a newborn warm on a cold winter day is simply to wear them and then zip up a giant, old coat around us both. (Baby will still need a hat, obvi.) There are now maternity coats on the market that are actually designed to accommodate baby wearing as well as a pregnant belly. I wish I’d known about those when I was pregnant the first time! You can also borrow or buy a winter coat a couple sizes larger than you usually wear.

8. Easy on and off boots for mom

 

I know many moms swear by those ultra-warm, fur-topped boots that lace halfway up your shins. They look good and keep you warm, after all. But when I’m trying to get out the door with babies and young children, I am all about warm boots you can step in or that zip up easily. Listen to me.

 9. Warm nursing tops

Layering gets tricky when you’re a nursing mom. Banish all pull-over sweaters to the back of your closet for now and make zip-up sweaters and cardigans your best friends. (It may be cold outside, but many indoor spaces are overheated. So you’ll want to be able to peel off layers as necessary.) There are also special nursing tops that provide easy-access opening for breastfeeding while keeping mom nice and warm.

 10. Tickets to The Baby Show

The Baby Show

Honestly, if you are overwhelmed by all the options on the market, The Baby Show in Toronto or Ottawa is one-stop shopping for all the the stuff you’ll need next winter (and some summer stuff too because they are not cruel.) You’ll get great tips on caring for yourself and your baby while scoring big-time on samples and giveaways from both local and national vendors. There’s a full line-up of expert speakers and you get hands-on demos of all kinds of products before deciding what to buy.

Ottawa dates: March 21 & 22  Tickets are $12 at the door ( and kids under 12 are free). SAVE $2 with promo code PGC2015 when you buy online.

Toronto dates: March 28 & 29 Tickets are $15 at the door ( and kids under 12 are free). SAVE $3 with promo code PGC2015 when you buy online.

Use the promo code for yourself, buy tickets for your sister or share it widely. It’s all good.

What am I missing? I’d love to hear about your wintery baby advice in the comments.

 This post is sponsored by The Baby Show. But I’ll take credit for all of the advice ;)

7 ways you can learn from my Easter hunt mistakes

Thanks to Cadbury for sponsoring this post and reminding me to get my Easter hunt game on.

Believe it or not, we will be emerging from this deep freeze before you know it, ready to celebrate the reawakening of nature and newness of life that is Easter. And we will do that by hiding chocolate eggs that have supposedly been laid by a bunny rabbit all around our homes. It doesn’t have to make sense to be the most fun thing ever! I’ve been at this for nine years now, so learn from my many rookie Easter hunt mistakes and let the games begin.

1. Draw some boundaries.

Image credit via Flickr cc license.

 Remember that the goal of an Easter egg hunt is not to stump your kids and trash your house. Limit the area where the eggs will be hidden to a couple common rooms (we do living room, dining room and front hall) and your life will be vastly improved.

2. Know those suckers can melt.

Image credit via Flickr cc license.

 My favourite childhood memory is when we celebrated Easter morning in a hotel room and then continued on our road trip the next day and left all the chocolate in the car and it all melted into soupy puddles. Wait, no, that was horrible! Chocolate left near the window, heating vents or heat-emitting electronics can also cause melt downs. Be warned.

3. Age appropriate hiding spots are where it’s at.

Beside a chair leg or on a lower shelf is a FANTASTIC hiding spot for a toddler or preschooler. As kids get older, you can put the eggs in harder to find places. (With limits! No rummaging through the china cabinet!) And make sure you tell older kids to leave the easy-to-find eggs for their little sibs.

4. Give them something to put those eggs in.

Image credit via Flickr cc license.
We always leave a mostly empty basket with a chocolate bunny or two and a (gasp) non-chocolate gift from the Easter bunny. This means each kid gets to collect and keep her own eggs and eat them at her own pace. (Note to kids: If you wait too long, your siblings will finish their stash and then turn around on feast on yours too. I promise this will happen.)

5. REMEMBER where you hid them.


Image credit via Flickr cc license.

Don’t outsmart yourselves, parents, or you’ll be feeding Cadbury Dairy Milk to ants and mice and those pests deserve nothing more than old toast crumbs. Do you hear me, ants? No Dairy Milk for you!

6. Don’t wait until the last minute.

Image credit via Flickr cc.

Learn from my mistakes on this one, especially. Last year I had to go to no less than four different stores to find what I needed for Easter chocolate. This also meant I spent WAY more than what I would have otherwise and had to settle for whatever subpar chocolate was left on the shelf. I’m still upset about it.

7. Quality control

easter egg quality control

And, really, this is just another reason to stock up in plenty of time. You know those rumours about how Cadbury changed the Cream Egg recipe? While it’s true that the recipe in Canada didn’t change at all, I wanted to be extra sure. After a *ahem* generous sample size, I can assure you that they are just as good as ever. But you’ll probably want to try for yourself. I get that. Now on to finding out how good the Mini Eggs are this year.

This post was brought to you by Cadbury, however the images selected and opinions are my own. For more information please visit https://www.facebook.com/CadburyCremeEggCanada.

 

 

I had no idea the Ontario College of Teachers was such a great resource for parents

This post is sponsored by the Ontario College of Teachers. Thank you, teachers!

On the first day of school, each September, crowds of parents and children gather in the schoolyard. At our school, they shuffle along, peering at class lists taped to the brick wall until they find their child’s name.

They breathe a collective sigh of relief. They are in the right spot. The child has found her class.

But it only lasts a moment.

“What have you heard about her?” they whisper to one another. Well, Isabella’s sister had her two years ago and there was a lot of homework. But Max’s mom says she heard that the kids really learn their stuff in her class.

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In case you need another reminder of how precious life is. RIP, Adam.

Adam and CherAdam Gilbert, as a groomsman at my wedding in 2002. RIP, you beautiful soul.

I can hear his voice behind me as I’m washing the dishes. “If you put a glass on a tea towel to dry, you know how you get all that condensation,” he said. “That doesn’t happen when you use one of these drying mats.”

It’s like something out of a soap opera. It’s like when a character who has passed away keeps appearing to a living character and passing on important life advice. Except this is no soap opera. And the memories that keep dropping before me are mostly of pleasant chit chat instead of profound admonitions.

My husband’s family unexpectedly lost a wonderful man this weekend far before his time. He left behind two children, a step-daughter, a co-parent, his own parents and step-parents, a sister, many aunts and uncles, like a million cousins, and innumerable friends. Adam radiated strength, love and joy. I never saw him without a huge grin, full of love and laughter, always happy to see you and always the first one to help out wherever he could.

Those few sentiments don’t even begin to describe how much Adam meant to so many people. And this isn’t the space for a proper eulogy anyway. But how can I write about anything else? How can I carry on with the funny little rant about feeding kids that I’d been planning to write? Or should I devise some sort of snarky numbered list designed to elicit the quick laugh, the Facebook like and the social share, but is ultimately completely forgettable? How can I do that when there’s so much to remember?

The truth is that reality hasn’t sunk in yet. I am struck again and again by the suddenness of our loss, almost as though I’m learning about it for the first time. It keeps washing over me when I least expect it: washing the dishes, brushing my teeth, on my way somewhere or during any number of mundane chores. I’m still reeling and I expect we all will be for quite some time.

And it’s not as though we really needed another reminder about how precious life is, but I guess some lessons are harder for some of us to learn. Because, for the first time, I am really feeling my own mortality. I look at my three kids and my home and the life I am still trying to build for myself and realize I need to get on top of shit, like right now. That means preparing for the worst case scenario by making sure things like life insurance and wills are up to snuff, yes.

But it also means remembering that life happens now. Plan for tomorrow, for sure, but live for today. I’ll be trying to fill my days with more love and patience and gratitude. I want to work harder, play harder, give more, love more and laugh more.

At the very least, when I wake up cranky and tired, like I did today, I’m going to try to look out the window and think, “What a beautiful day to be alive.”

But goddamned, fuckity fuck, some shit still isn’t fair.