Parenting Experience

10 Things to do with Your Teens this Family Day Weekend   By Julyanna Trickey Stuck on what to do this Family Day weekend? Whether you’re looking for some outdoor activities or indoor fun, we have ideas to keep the family busy and entertained, while staying safe from Covid-19. Bundle Up and Hit the Trails Enjoy some outside winter activity in your local provincial parks and conservation areas that offer snowshoeing and hiking trails! Snowshoeing is a safe and inclusive activity for all ages and skill levels, plus it’s fun to do as a family! Get some fresh air and maybe even work up a sweat trying something new this weekend! Check out some of these great Ontario Parks that offer snowshoeing: Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area – Kingston, ON Guindon Park - Cornwall, ON Summerstown Trails- Stormont, Dundas, & Glengarry Counties, ON Quinte Conservation Area- Bay of Quinte, ON Get the Skates Out! Take advantage of the outdoor rinks and skating trails! Lace up the skates and meander through forested skate trails or head over to the nearest skating rink. Many venues require you to book ahead to control the number of guests, so make sure you don’t miss out! If you live in Southern Ontario – check out some of the following places: Rideau Canal – the world’s largest skating rink at 7.8km long Countryside Adventures – a family-friendly winter destination with a 3km skating trail located 45 minutes outside of Ottawa and 30 minutes from Cornwall RiverOak Skating Trail – a three-km skating trail through the forest located 30 minutes outside of Ottawa Arrowhead Provincial Park – a 1.3 km skating path through the forest in Huntsville Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh Skating Trail – a 1.2 km loop around 12 acres of cranberries in the Muskoka Lakes region See Some Family and Friends (safely of course) Well, it is called Family Day weekend after all so why not enjoy some family or friend time with a socially distanced walk or a group Zoom call. A friendly face may be just what we need this weekend to chase away those winter (and pandemic) blues! Make Brunch Since we can’t go out to have brunch this weekend, plan your own at home! Get the whole family involved by giving everyone a task, like flipping the pancakes or cutting up the strawberries. You can make it as simple or as fancy as you like! Stay in to Get Out If you like puzzles, mysteries and problem-solving,

3 Holiday Traditions to Connect with Your Teen   By Bernardo Salcido Starting this year as a new principal at middle school has been a wild ride to say the least. I think a coworker of mine said it best though, “The days are long, and the weeks are short.” Christmas sneaks up fast every year and it is my favourite time of year. It’s a time to reflect, connect, and take care of what matters most — family. Despite all the craziness 2020 has brought, we still have an opportunity to love the ones around us. These three strategies are excellent ways to dive deeper into your relationship with your teen and enjoy some time together. Holiday lights and hot cocoa This has been a favourite tradition ever since my children were little, and it still continues to deliver smiles even now that my kids are teenagers. Make a cup of cocoa in a travel mug for each family member, drive to where you know some good light displays are located and crank the Christmas music. Bake and decorate some cookies Finding a simple sugar cookie recipe and giving it a try definitely will lead to time together and enjoyment. The act of completing a task like baking helps a teenager let down their guard and open up. Make sure to prepare some frosting in a Ziploc bag so everyone can have fun making Christmas trees and Snowflakes on the cookies. Decorate and chill Decking your place out with Christmas décor — both new and old will get everyone in the holiday spirit! Break out your decorations from years’ past and get the entire family involved. Once the decorating is finished, break out the holiday snacks and sweet treats and turn on a holiday classic like Charlie Brown or The Grinch. This will surely bring out the kid that still lives in all of us — teens and parents alike. Parent mentor, middle school principal, and author, Bernardo Salcido assists parents with strategies to connect with teenagers. Follow Bernardo’s parenting advice on these social platforms: YOUTUBE - Connecting_with_teens INSTAGRAM - @connecting_with_teens BUY BOOK - https://www.iuniverse.com/en/bookstore/bookdetails/807601-connecteen

6 Ways to Have Fun During the Holidays on a Budget By Olha Vovk It’s official. According to a survey by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies, half of Canadians view 2020 as the worst year ever. It’s a small wonder since according to Statistics Canada, 12.4 per cent of local paid workers aged 15 to 64 were laid-off monthly since February. And, as we’re in the thick of the second wave of Covid-19, the situation does not seem to be getting any better. But there’s good news! You can still have a festive, fun holiday season with your teens, even if you’re on a budget. Educator and counselor, Sarah Fewson, recommends focusing on balance and positive well-being during the winter holidays. “Attempt to engage in outdoor activities, fit in exercise, and do not forget to spend a few minutes a day in mindful silence to remain connected to your thoughts and feelings.” Need more ideas to spread the Christmas cheer? Cultural and developmental service worker, Diana Prokofieva offers up these tips on how you can still enjoy the festivities of the holidays on the cheap. Bring in the New Year in the Backyard If you have an adventurous nature and are not afraid of the cold, welcome New Year’s Eve outdoors. Gather your family around a bonfire in your backyard, decorate your trees and spend time roasting marshmallows, sipping hot cocoa and singing Auld Lang Side at midnight. Start a family potluck challenge Parties may be out this year, so why not try a family potluck challenge instead? Each day a new family member can prepare a dish. Zoom your extended family members, exchange recipes with your friends and post your Insta-worthy pictures of your masterpieces on the Gram. Deck Your Halls Instead of buying a Christmas tree, incorporate home plants and decorate them with decor from a dollar store or Christmas ornaments you already have at home. Before you know it, the Santa hats, twinkle lights and Christmas stockings will fill your home with festive flair. Play The “Elephant” Game The “elephant game” is another way to save money on presents. Instead of buying gifts for the whole family, consider preparing one present per person, nicely wrapped. A host puts pieces of paper with numbers into a hat and gets every participant to pull a piece from the hat to determine their order of turn. Each player then chooses whether to open a new present from the bunch or steal the gift

5 Tips to Help Kids Find Inner Peace During the Pandemic This school year looks like nothing we’ve seen before. Among the many challenges teenagers and young adults are facing in their life, a global pandemic is sure to add some stress! Conversations with your child about mindfulness will have immediate benefits to their mental well-being. It will not only help them navigate the unprecedented school year ahead, but it will also introduce healthy habits they can build on for a lifetime of inner peace. Of all the ancient and modern practices designed to wake us up, the simple practice of mindfulness has arrived at the forefront of our cultural sensibility. Over 30 years ago, when Jon Kabat-Zinn began sitting and adapting Zen Buddhist mindfulness practices to the healthcare arena at UMass Medical Center and writing Full Catastrophe Living, no one and certainly not he, could have predicted the Mindful Revolution. While so much is out of our control right now during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more vital than ever to focus on taking care of our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. This must begin with the personal responsibility of mindful living. Here are some proactive everyday tips to help your child maintain his/her mental health and find inner peace during times of unrest and uncertainty: Stay Balanced and Grounded through Self-Care Remember you’re not alone if you’re worried or anxious. Schedule self-care into your day and do at least one thing for yourself. Go for a walk, enjoy a quiet cup of coffee or tea, take a long shower or bath, etc. Tune into your breath and body regularly Simply bring your attention to your breath, noticing each inhale and exhale. At the same time, feel both feet grounded to the earth. Your breath becomes an anchor in the body to the present moment. Bringing our attention to the present helps relax the body and mind and lessen any worried or anxious thoughts you have. Express your feelings to close friends and family, don’t keep them inside Worries or anxious thoughts can seem more difficult if we keep them inside. It helps to share and express your feelings to someone you trust. Make human connection a priority for your mental health several times a week and you’ll feel less alone. Consider limiting time on social media and watching the news You’ve probably heard this before but make some positive choices for yourself about how much time you look at social media

3 Simple Money-Saving Hacks for Families with Teens Raising a teenager while also keeping an eye on your family’s finances can be a tricky balancing act. All parents want to provide their teens with the best possible opportunities and preparation for adulthood, but this can be an expensive undertaking, especially when you’re readying your young adult for college or university. Here are some easy ways for your family to get the most out of your hard-earned money and spend quality time enjoying those unique teenage years. Make higher education more affordable by applying to these easy scholarships It’s one of life’s eternal truths that higher education is expensive — really expensive. And while responsible saving and budgeting can help reduce the costs of tuition, textbooks (see below), and room and board, going to college or university is always going to be a costly decision. Although having a student loan may be inevitable, scholarships are a great way to reduce the cost of higher education. Unfortunately, many students are daunted by the idea of applying for scholarships, especially when there are long application forms and multiple essays involved. However, there are a number of excellent scholarship platforms that offer young people access to thousands of funding opportunities, no matter where they are in their education or what they hope to accomplish. There are numerous little-known scholarships that are just waiting to be awarded to the right applicant. Not only are scholarships available for academic excellence, but there are also scholarships that recognize athletic achievement, extracurricular involvement, community service, hobbies, career interests, family background and much more. Finding these scholarships might sound difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Platforms such as Bold.org have helped a growing number of students locate and apply for funding. Bold.org uses comprehensive student profiles to match applicants with the scholarships that are most relevant to them, and that they are most likely to get. Notably, Bold.org boasts a wide variety of scholarships that aren't found on any other platform. These scholarships have been donated by philanthropists and organizations focused on everything from mental health and chemical engineering to female entrepreneurs and African-American journalists. Bold.org also has a lengthy, frequently-updated list of no-essay scholarships that high school and university students can apply for in a matter of minutes, thus increasing their chances of receiving a scholarship and making their education more affordable. Save hundreds of dollars every semester by renting textbooks Textbooks are a huge expense that

iPhone SE a smart phone for back to school I held out for as long as I could, but I finally got my son his very own cellphone. Sure, he’s had hand-me-downs with no sim card, which was only good for at-home use or places where he could mooch off someone else’s wi-fi. But, until now, he’s not had his very own brand-new phone, complete with his own phone number and data plan. I admit I was worried when hearing friends talk about how their teenagers spent hundreds of dollars a month in data overages or how their kids’ faces were always buried in their phones. Was my son going to ring up a huge bill, while ignoring my pleas to watch Fuller House? Maybe. But now that he’s had a phone for a few months now, I have to admit, I wish I had done it sooner. Once we established some ground rules: no phone in the bedroom on school nights, he always has to pick it up when we call and no going over his data plan, it’s been nice to be able to contact him when he’s out of the house without relying on his friends’ phones. Choosing the right phone There’s no shortage of smartphones on the market, but after careful consideration and research, we chose the new iPhone SE for my son. Because my son is obsessed with Instagram and TikTok, a good camera was a must and the iPhone SE has the same camera as the iPhone 11. The camera includes portrait mode with all of the studio-style lighting effects, next-generation smart HDR and optical image stabilization.  It also takes amazing videos with its cinematic video stabilization in the front and rear cameras, 4K at 60fps video quality (which is broadcast quality) on the rear camera. Basically, this means his TikToks will be lit. In addition to a great camera, this phone also has the same A13 Bionic chip as the iPhone 11. This is the fastest chip in a smartphone and means the iPhone SE will be really fast and will feel fluid, whether he is launching apps, playing graphics-intensive games, or trying new augmented reality experiences. Other perks As a parent on a limited budget, the iPhone SE is one of the most reasonable smartphones on the market, starting at $599 CAD. For that price, you also get access to the Apple ecosystem (family sharing, App Store, security and privacy features, Screen Time). In addition, you’ll get a free

Life Behind the Ring Light   The Morning Show’s Carolyn Mackenzie on hosting a national show while raising tweens…. all from home By Rachel Naud Pre-pandemic, minutes before the cameras would start rolling on Global’s The Morning Show, Carolyn Mackenzie would surround herself with her team and her co-host, Jeff McArthur, in an energetic pre-show pick-me-up ritual. “Have a great show!” the team would sing together, just moments before the spotlight would shine on Mackenzie and McArthur as they would bring entertainment and news to Canadians from coast-to-coast. Now, most days Mackenzie, 45, broadcasts from her home, alone. There’s no more team to rally behind her, there’s no more makeup artist or hairstylist or pre-show cheer huddle to get those last-minute butterflies stirring. There’s just her, her ring light and a prayer that her two tweens will stay occupied and quiet so she can make it through the one-hour broadcast interruption-free. “I still do my own chant,” says Mackenzie over a phone interview from her home in Toronto. “I pump myself up. I say, ‘Ok, Carolyn. Have a good show!’” Life in the Spotlight More than 20 years ago when Mackenzie started her career as a journalist and a broadcaster, she could never imagine she would end up hosting a national show from her living room. Since graduating with honours from Carleton University and becoming a journalist, she has been awarded accolades for her work as a storyteller and a reporter. In fact, in 2005 she won an Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in journalism for her coverage on transit inaccessibility. Today, as co-host of The Morning Show, Mackenzie produces segments, interviews celebrities, authors and lifestyle experts. She shares good news with Canadians nation-wide and has the tough job of bringing bad news to audiences. Before the pandemic, her and McArthur’s chemistry would orchestrate to create fun and informative segments, whether they were sharing fun stories about their personal life, doing a cooking demo with Chef Massimo, or sitting down for a powerful two-on-one interview with a guest tackling tough topics about racism or abuse. They competed with one another in fun quizzes; their work wife/husband rivalry leading to more laughs than questions. On Fridays, she and McArthur celebrated the end-of-week with a well-timed high five. “There actually is nothing I do not like about being a part of this show,” says Mackenzie. “It is fun. It’s creative. I love the process from beginning to end. In all my years

How to Teach Your Teen the Art of Face-to-Face Connections   Here’s a question for you to ponder:  Are we as parents doing all we can to prepare our teens for high school, college or the workplace? Are we doing all we can to best support the next generation so they can function in the best way possible in the real world?  Are we supporting the next generation by way of offering them pivotal life skills?  What I’m talking about is developing face-to-face communication skills, in an age where it is becoming a lost art. We are all experiencing a unique time in history, no doubt about it. We are also searching to create a new sense of normalcy as well.  It’s more about physical distancing than social distancing.  We need to connect and interact socially now more than ever. And when it’s safe to connect face-to-face, that’s even better! Here are some tips on how to teach your teens the art of face-to-face interaction and become better communicators. Have mutually beneficial conversations I will make a basic assumption that we all like to be understood.  One main factor to really understanding someone is by listening.  Some quick tips on how to fully engage are to ask clarifying questions.  It is always OK to ask questions of anyone you are talking with, such as, “I really want to understand your point, would you mind saying it again for me?”  Or perhaps you can ask them to rephrase it in a different way so that you understand.  Instead of offering (pretend) nods of understanding, ask for clarity!  Don’t interrupt, listen more and talk less.  It’s easy to talk. When we talk, we are sharing what we already know, but when you truly listen, you may learn something. One quick tip I’ve used with teens to work on listening skills is creating a for-fun mock TV or radio interview.  I have my clients create a short list of three questions to ask, but I always stress one key point to them.  I emphasize for them to listen to the answers very carefully instead of thinking about the next question to ask on their list.  This small adjustment tends to bring big results.  By doing this, you truly put a focus on actively listening to someone and this small habit can be applied to real-life job interviews. How to have hard conversations Most of us, not just today’s youth, will inevitably need to

5 Tips to Help Your Teen Learn at Home The shift to remote learning has been a challenge for everyone – teachers, parents and students, alike. No one has mastered it, so don’t be too hard on yourself and expect that you should have this figured out. This might be helpful advice to share with your teen too. Here are five tips to make the transition a little easier on you and your teen: Set a routine and create a plan for success together. It’s important that you and your teen sit down and map out a schedule and goals for learning. Make sure to get their input rather than impose a schedule on them. They are likely already feeling anxious, so this is an opportunity to give them a sense of control over something. Your teen will feel empowered and motivated when they feel they have a voice in the decision-making. Be clear that the schedule can be changed in the future as you both learn more about their school’s approach to remote learning. The environment at home is very different than school, so it may be hard for your teen to get motivated. Help your teen set up a space at home to mimic the school day. Setting up a designated area for learning will help them transition into a mindset for learning. Using a timer like the bell at school can help your teen know when to move on to a different subject or assignment. If your teen struggles with attention, try setting a timer for 15-minute increments (to start) to help them focus. Teach your child how to be an independent learner. Staying focused, organized and on-task are skills that are crucial to be a successful learner remotely. Look at the assignments and schedule online (if their school has switched to distance education) and show them how to create a weekly or monthly calendar for any upcoming deadlines. Discuss how they can break each project down and plan their time accordingly. The calendar is a great guide to create daily to-do lists as well. Encourage your teen to reach out to their teacher if/when they have questions versus you doing it for them. Connect your teen with a tutor online. If the change from parent/child to teacher/student is causing any stress or frustration, sometimes it’s best to call in a third party to support your child with their