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
4 Grad Gift Ideas They'll Love Whether your son or daughter is graduating from high school or university/college, you'll want to mark and celebrate the occasion with the perfect gift! Since we’re all staying close to home these days, here are some great grad gift ideas that your teen and young adult will love and enjoy while at home. 55-inch TCL Roku TV If there’s anything we’re all doing these days, it’s binge-watching our favourite shows. I think your graduate would be thrilled with their own 55-inch TCL Roku TV! It’s super easy to set up. You just create a Roku account and set it up with your Internet and then you have all the popular streaming apps like Netflix, Prime, Disney+ and Crave, etc at your fingertips. It’s powered by the Roku OS system and actually provides access to more than 150,000 movies and TV shows from top free and paid channels, so it is easier than ever to binge-watch your favourites! And, if they’re night owls, they can watch without disturbing you because the Roku mobile app enables you to use private listening when you connect a pair of headphones to your phone! The picture itself is 4K so it’s very crisp and clear and makes binge-watching a picture-perfect experience! $400, roku.com Hamilton Beach DrinkMaster While you’re watching your favourite show, why not enjoy a homemade milkshake?! This DrinkMaster Chrome Classic from Hamilton Beach has a cool, 50s diner vibe that I love and it whips up serious delicious drinks in no time flat. You can make your favourite milkshake, but you can also make smoothies or malts too! It has two speeds and comes with this 28-ounce mixing up, which gives you plenty of room without worrying about it spilling all over. And it looks neat on your counter too! $70, hamiltonbeach.ca 10.2-inch iPad An iPad is always a great gift, especially for graduates. This is the 10.2-inch iPad and it’s a great way to stay in touch with friends and family with Facetime and now, of course, Zoom. They can also use it to download their favourite apps, watch TV and movies, listen to music, and even use it as a portable tablet if they’re planning on continuing their studies in the fall. It’s great because you can easily add a Smart Keyboard, Apple Pencil and use your iCloud account to transfer work between a student’s Mac and iPhone. $429+, apple.ca The Knot Dr.
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
Top Chef Canada's Contestants on Cooking Up Their Careers If life in quarantine has you flipping channels in a neverending search to find something suitable to watch with your teen, you can now put the remote safely down for at least an hour a week. Food Network Canada's Top Chef Canada Season 8 has just started wherein 12 chefs from every corner of the country compete in the most prestigious cooking competition in the country, battling it out for the biggest prize in Top Chef Canada history and the coveted title of Canada’s Top Chef. Yes, they're in for a wild ride but we wanted to talk to the competitors about their lives BEFORE Top Chef. They were open and honest about their journeys that led them to the kitchen (they weren't all as smooth as butter), the importance of family support (one contestant's father STILL won't tell people his son is a chef) and their advice for teens looking to start a life in the kitchen. Adrian Forte When did you know you wanted to be a chef? I was always cooking as a teenager, but I decided to pursue cooking professionally the summer before Grade 12. I had realized I wasn’t going to be a professional athlete and I was already extremely passionate about all things food. I enjoyed being in the kitchen, so I thought to myself, “why wouldn’t I want to do this all the time?” What did your family say when you chose a career in the culinary arts, which can mean a lot of long nights and tough work? I come from a whole bloodline of chefs. My mother, grandmother, aunts and uncles all spent some time in the kitchen. My grandmother had seven children and it was a rite of passage in our household for every one of her kids to learn the craft. The tradition has been passed down for generations, so when I decided to pursue cooking professionally, my entire family was ecstatic about my career choice and they continue to support me. What do you wish you knew back then that you know now? Nothing. I believe life is a lesson and experience is the teacher (it’s sort of my mantra). I’ve always learned from my failures and mistakes, and I apply what I’ve learned to the next situation, endeavor or business venture. I’m a firm believer in trial by fire or sink or swim. Trials and tribulations develop
Real Talk with ABC's A Million Little Things' star Lizzy Greene By Rachel Naud Lizzy Greene, 16, plays Sophie on the ABC hit show, A Million Little Things. The show, currently in its second season, deals with some very grown-up themes including suicide and depression. We sat down with Greene to talk about her character, Sophie, and why she thinks A Million Little Things is a show every parent should watch with their teen. A Million Little Things has quickly become a fan favourite! Did you expect the show to take off like it did? Yes and no! I definitely thought it was a super special show because of how it tackled such harsh and difficult topics with so much humanity and respect, but I also didn't expect to get such amazing fan feedback. It makes me and the entire cast and crew so happy to read stories from viewers about how our show has helped them overcome and gather strength to talk about their own struggles. How do you like filming in Vancouver? Have you found some cool spots you like to visit in the city? Most definitely. The city is filled with beautiful attractions and many cute little nooks to relax in during off days. I really love to go to the Vancouver Art Museum, and look at the new exhibits every few months. And I also love to study in one of my favourite spots, The Wedgewood Hotel restaurant. The piano is always playing, and the entire environment makes you feel like you've gone back in time. It’s very relaxing, and an easy place to relax and work on scenes. Why do you think A Million Little Things is so important today, as it openly talks about depression and suicide? I think it’s really important because any talk about mental illness helps break the stigma. Our show is a story of a modern family of friends who is hit with a bombshell they never saw coming, the suicide of one of their close friends. This story is really important because it shows just how common it is for the signs of depression to go unnoticed — until it’s too late. What else I think is really incredible is we have had two stories of suicide on the show thus far, one that was too late, and one that was caught just in time. It shows that not everything is inevitable, all you have to do
How to Create Consequences with Your Teen By Delaney Ruston, MD Originally appeared on Screenagers Tech Talk Tuesday blog In a recent blog, I wrote about how to effectively say “no” around screen time and I promised to write more about accountability and consequences when rules are broken. Enforcing rules is by far one of the hardest things we do as parents, especially with teens. There is so little written that gives example consequences and yet getting ideas is so important as a parent. So, after you read this, share what you do in the comments section below — that would be a real gift. Knowing I would write this tonight, I decided to clarify with my daughter, Tessa (who is in Screenagers — and now in 11th grade), the consequences regarding the rules (that she helped create) around screen time at night. Sunday through Thursday night, at a time we agreed upon she hands my husband or me her phone, or she or she plugs it in to charge in the corner of my bedroom. The rule includes not using her computer for socializing after that time as well — i.e. no instant messaging or Instagram on the computer. I asked her for ideas for consequences if she did not turn in the phone at the agreed upon time. Her first one was that if she breaks the rule, she would not have access to her phone for the entire following day. I responded “really?” — with a tone that implied that maybe that would be too harsh. And then, she quickly came up with something a little less harsh, “I can’t bring it to school the next day.” We agreed that made sense. Next, we started brainstorming ways she would succeed with the rule. I asked if she thought it would help her to put an alarm on her phone for the time that she is supposed to put it in my room. She said, “Yep, that makes sense, I will set it for five minutes before to help remind me.” Setting fair consequences, that our youth help set (when possible), is a gift we give our children. It is a lot easier to “check out” and just let kids and teens sort out for themselves what, when and how long they want to use screens. But, of course, that is not the solution. Frankly, that approach would prevent many kids from reaching short- and
4 Reasons to Take Your Teen to FAN EXPO in Toronto The Family Zone. This year, FAN EXPO is featuring its Family Zone, which offers the FAN EXPO experience to people of all ages. There is something the whole family can enjoy this year from August 22-25—taking part in the sorting hat ceremony, playing Quidditch, or watching a Knight Fight! The Zone will occupy 10,000 square feet of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and will be packed full of activities the entire family can enjoy. For a full list of activities, click here. The celebrity guests. John Travolta (Grease), Brendan Fraser (The Mummy), Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park), and Zachary Levi (Shazam!) will be among the guests at FAN EXPO this year. Meet and take a picture with your favourite star during their scheduled Photo Booth times! The shopping. Tons of retailers from all over pack into over 400,000 square feet for the ultimate shopping experience. Specializing in everything gaming, comics, anime, fantasy and horror, these vendors will have exactly what you’re looking for, whether it be DVDs, games, memorabilia or branded merchandise from your favourite series. The Artist Alley. A must-see at FAN EXPO, the Artist Alley showcases the people behind the scenes of your favourite comics and shows. Here you’ll find original art, up-and-coming comics and graphic novels, and limited edition prints! You can find new talent and seasoned pros in Artist Alley, so take your time going through the booths. There is something here for everyone and you never know what you might find.