Island Parent Magazine February/March 2022

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FEB/MAR 2022


Vancouver Island’s Parenting Resource for 34 Years



Helping Kids Build Healthy, Happy Relationships

Sparking Spring Break Joy

Victoria Baby & Family Fair March 5 & 6, 2022 Pearkes Rec. Centre

Saturday & Sunday 10am–5pm This year our Victoria Baby & Family Fair is side by side with our Women’s Expo: 2 EVENTS—1 FUN WEEKEND! $5 ADMISSION INCLUDES BOTH EVENTS. KIDS 12 & UNDER FREE


Do you know of a young business person who would like to exhibit? Have them email and in the Subject Line put KIDPRENEUR Booth 2

Island Parent Magazine

Vancouver Island

February/March 2022


In Every Issue



Fast Forward SUE FAST


Need to Know







10 Types of Private Schools


Teaching Kids to Use Inclusive Language

What to know and how to choose.

To each his/her/their own.




How to Help Kids Build Healthy, Happy Relationships

Creating a sense of what healthy relationships look and feel like.




Motherhood Baggage A whole new meaning to “packing light.” JULIA MAIS

Family Calendar


Children & Mental Health A parent’s role in nurturing a child’s mental health.



What’s for Dinner EMILLIE PARRISH


Preschool & Child Care Directory




Neurodiverse Kids & Anxiety


Constant change doesn’t make us better at it. So…what to do?




Cut It Out!



Fun family activities to do this spring.

Businesses You Need to Know


Sparking Spring Break Joy SERENA BECK

On the Cover

FEB/MAR 2022


Vancouver Island’s Parenting Resource for 34 Years

Callum M (5) & Maria M (7) Photo by Ryan MacDonald Photography Instagram: ryanmacdonaldphoto




Helping Kids Build Healthy, Happy Relationships

Sparking Spring Break Joy

Island Parent Magazine

Jim Schneider Publisher Sue Fast Editor Kristine Wickheim Account Manager RaeLeigh Buchanan Account Manager Island Parent Magazine, published by Island Parent Group Enterprises Ltd., is a bimonthly publication that honours and supports parents by providing information on resources and businesses for Vancouver Island families. Views expressed are not necessarily those of the publisher. No material herein may be reproduced without the permission of the publisher. Island Parent is distributed free in selected areas. Annual mail subscriptions (7 issues) are available for $21 (GST included). Canadian Publication Mail Product Sales Agreement 40051398. ISSN 0838-5505.

Island Parent Magazine


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7½ Spring Things to Do T ired of being cooped up? There’s no time like springtime to get outside and shake off the winter blahs. Not only are the days getting longer, with the extra light chasing away the shadows, but there’s lots more to do now that we can get outdoors and explore. So where to start? 1. Get to a Gulf Island. Stop by Saltspring and spend an afternoon at Centennial Park in Ganges. Hop on over to Hornby and dip your toes in the water at Tribune Bay. Going to Galiano? Don’t miss Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park where the white shell beaches beckon. Like any trip, part of the fun is getting there! 2. Go Underground. Choose an individual or private tour and explore Horne Lake Caves with a guide—no self-guiding for now. Start with a basic tour, like the Riverbend Cave Explorer, or kick it up a notch to the Achilles Challenge. 3. Build Sandcastles. Challenge each other to a sandcastle building contest or combine your efforts and build one together. 3½. and/or Fly Kites. Bring a kite in case the wind picks up and you’re ready to switch from sand to sky. The perfect sand-

castle-to-kite-flying spot: Rathtrevor Beach in Parksville, Goose Spit Park in Comox or Wickaninnish Beach in Tofino. 4. Be a Tourist. Buy a wristband and take in some of Victoria’s finest attractions at this week-long event from Mar 7 to 13. For every ticket purchased, Be a Tourist will donate another one to the Cridge Centre for the Family. 5. Watch for Whales. Celebrate marine life on the coast and meet the guest of honour, the Gray Whale, at the Pacific Rim Whale Festival from March 18 to 26. Don’t miss the children’s activities and culinary events, First Nations cultural workshops, inspirational talks, interpretive walks and more. 6. Hang 10. There’s no shortage of surf schools in Tofino with options including private and group lessons, for kids and families. Choose from one lesson to a week’s worth. Wetsuit and surfboard rentals included. 7. Gaze at the Goats. The Old Country Market in Coombs opens in early March and the goats will be in fine form mowing the Market’s grassy roof. Come for the goats, stay for the bustling, brimming market and the ice cream!

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February/March 2022



Hit the Slopes The Canadian Ski Council has resources to keep you skiing and/or snowboarding safely this season. To find out everything you need to know to have the very best experience out on the slopes, visit for information about what to expect, trail markers, chair lift suggestions, beginner tips, all the details to make your first time at a slope a great experience. Use the interactive guides to get comfortable with what you’ll encounter, and how to make it a great day out.

GET EXCITED ABOUT SNOW If you have a child in Grade 4 or 5, the Council offers a Snow Pass to save on skiing or snowboarding across Canada. The Snow Pass is a national program for kids in grades 4 and 5 (nine and 10 years of age) to ski or snowboard at 150+ hills across Canada for only $29.99 plus tax. The goal is to get kids and their families excited about winter and engaged at an early age so they can look forward to fun activities in the winters to come. 6

Island Parent Magazine

Explore Butterfly Gardens What do a fuzzy spider, a poison dart frog and a black butterfly have in common? They’re all part of Butterfly Garden’s Family Day Scavenger Hunt. Explore the Insectarium and the Gardens to complete a scavenger hunt. Finished one? Try another! Between counting the various species

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of butterflies and searching for items on your list, there’s lots here to keep you busy—on Family Day and throughout the year.


February/March 2022


Stop Bullying BullyingCanada is a national anti-bullying charity dedicated to creating a brighter future for bullied youth. What began as a youth-created website to bring together bullied kids and to provide information on—and how to stop!–bullying is now a full 24/7 support service. Youth, parents, coaches, and teachers can phone, text, online chat, and email for help on how to make bullying at

Pink Shirt Day Celebrate our diversity while raising funds to support inclusive anti-bullying programs for kids in our communities. London Drugs will once again be selling Pink Shirt merchandise in their stores during February. Get your Pink Shirt today and stand up to bullying on February 23.


Take advantage of discounts for locals during Be a Tourist, running March 7-13. Tickets cost $11 for youth and seniors, $17 for adults and include 24 deals and five freebies at some of Victoria’s finest attractions. And this year you can pay it forward: for every ticket purchased for donation, Be a Tourist will gift another one to the Cridge Centre for the Family. For information and to buy tickets, visit


Island Parent Magazine

1000X5 Children’s Book Recycling Project How many baby and preschooler books sit on your shelves? More than 50? 100? How many times have you read the same story to your little one? Too many to count? Congratulations—you are building a love. Sadly, many babies and preschoolers in our communities do not have books in their homes and do not build this essential habit in the early years. The “1000 X 5” Children’s Book Recycling Projects are changing that reality, one book at a time. Families at most elementary schools in Victoria, Saanich, and Sooke School districts and seven independent schools donate gently used picture books for babies and preschoolers. Retired teachers and administrators donate time to sort, label, and gift bag those books then deliver them to Strong Start Centres and community agencies where families can take home three books for each child.

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February/March 2022


Neurodiverse Kids & Anxiety W

ith our first Spring Break—à la Covid-19—I remember a lot of pacing. Our niece had to cancel a visit, school didn’t restart, the playgrounds shut down. Each change created anxiety in Colwyn, my teenaged son with the dual diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder and Prader-Willy Syndrome that manifested in skin picking, and nail pulling. But we were together and we nested big time. Colwyn began speaking more so he could really let us know how he felt. Now three years in, we are facing Spring Break with big hope. Constant change does not make us better adapted to it; this is my number one lesson. Years ago, Colwyn’s dad Rupert and I cycled for over three months in Southeast Asia. We loved it, it was amazing, but it was also exhausting. We had to manage long rides, daily changes, new things, new people, new languages, new bike problems all while also getting along. We did this by choice (of course), it was awesome and yet: anxiety. We experienced homesickness, that deep longing for the familiar which many of us, though we may be sick of our homes, are experiencing. We are longing for that time when we could hug a friend or attend an event.


Island Parent Magazine

My son longs to see people and to join the neurotypical kids at school. Anxiety reaches us all. For any kids, “behaviours” can also be signs of medical-related issues. There could be a septic tooth, an ingrown toenail that is getting worse, or undetected ear infection your kid doesn’t know how to tell you about. It is always good to do the things we do to reduce anxiety, but it is also important to check if behaviours are a sign of illness with a visit the doctor or pediatrician. In December while we were visiting my dad in Nanaimo, the snow threw a curve in our plans. Though Colwyn loves being at his papa’s house, he was only prepared to be there for just two sleeps. Then we got snowed in. The problem for Colwyn isn’t so much the change—well yes, it is—but it is also the loss of control over what is going to happen next. Even though we went home the next day, Colwyn was still anxious. He moved to the next worry, and we entered a series of countdowns. Number of sleeps to school, number of sleeps until we’d go back to Nanaimo, number of sleeps until we’d visit with a friend on Zoom. I am relieved when one worry is resolved, but then he finds the next thing to worry over. So…what to do?

1. Write down the day’s plan.

Colwyn has a homemade booklet where each day we write the schedule: 1. get up. 2 make breakfast. 3. get dressed. 4. eat…etcetera. Colwyn then can cross things out as we go and can see that we are following the plan. This is especially helpful on weekends when the days are looser. For school, I write the first few, and his EA and he do the rest of the day together. Once he’s settled back in, we don’t need it, but I will reinstate it right away when Spring Break begins.

2. Go for daily walks.

This helps a lot, for me too as I get quite stressed by his intensity and repetition. A lot of PWS experts say we should limit the number of times he’s allowed to repeat, but I haven’t quite found the perfect way. Usually, we get him to make a full sentence and repeat that. So, instead of “Papa’s house” over and over he says, “I want to go to Papa’s house, but we are going in 16 sleeps.” It works, but then sometimes it doesn’t. My husband Rupert asks, “Are you doing that to bug mom?” and Colwyn always says yes, so my job then is to try not to be driven crazy by it. Sometimes, to give us both a break, we take Mom away.

3. Music or a movie.

Music is nearly guaranteed to give Colwyn a chance to stop being anxious, a movie can do the same. A car ride and music are the perfect combo as he sits back in the car and sinks into the music.

4. Have a plan and do your best to stick with it.

For my kid, Christmas and Spring Breaks are a bit long. Even if we do a lot of fun things, keep busy, see friends and spend time outdoors, Colwyn’s anxiety begins to go up. Camps help thanks to their familiarity, peers, and routines.

5. Keep talking about it.

Colwyn might not add a lot to a conversation, but I find the more we chat, and talk about how things might change the better. If we add this to him making a full sentence about the planned thing he begins to relax. Each time Colwyn’s anxiety comes up hard, the smiling happy kid disappears behind glazed eyes and worry. Each time he comes back again, we celebrate. Even though we don’t always succeed, we try to keep things light, stimulating and fun.

Yvonne Blomer is a Victoria writer and the past Poet Laureate of Victoria. Her most recent books are The Last Show on Earth and Sweet Water: Poems for the Watersheds.

February/March 2022


Sparking Spring Break Joy S

pring means it’s time to play outside—even in the rain! Or, if it’s too blustery, play inside in a small group (while still following the current health order protocols of course). There are many fun family activities that you can do this spring. Hike a new trail and look for rocks, sticks, sea glass or other treasures. Or find something to do indoors. For ideas, read on…

Indoor Adventure Ideas

From arcades to rock climbing or laser tag, Quazar’s Arcade provides something fun and different to do. Game tokens range from 50 cents to $. You can also rent the Gamma Room for groups for 2 hours. Mr. Tubbs Ice Cream Parlor & Family Fun Zone is perfect for younger kids. They serve treats from floats to banana splits and have many flavours of ice cream. Each game costs about a quarter and you receive tickets that you can trade for prizes. On weekends, the BoulderHouse Climbing in Langford offers one-hour drop-in sessions in the TreeHouse area for children aged 4 to 12. The cost is $20 for the first child and $10for each additional child in the same family. This includes shoe rentals too. Parents are allowed to join in the fun for free, but keep in mind that the adult-to-child supervision ratio is one adult to two kids.


Island Parent Magazine

Pre-book a time to visit the LEGO exhibit at the Sidney Museum (before March 31st). Admission to the museum is by donation. While you’re in Sidney, why not make a day of it by shopping or looking for wildlife from the pier. You never know what you’ll spot. The Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea features an octopus plus many other sea creatures such as star fish and anemones in the touch tank. An annual membership for two adults and up to four chil-

dren is $86.50. They have a great gift shop, too. The Royal BC Museum’s feature exhibition Orcas: Our Shared Future will be extended until March 31. Take advantage of the opportunity to take a deep dive into the stories and science surrounding the orca, whether you are seeing the exhibition for the first time or returning to see it again. For the full experience, combine your visit with a viewing of Humpback Whales at IMAX® Victoria—a whale of a time! To purchase combination tickets to the Royal BC Museum and IMAX Victoria, please visit If you’re looking for an indoor workout, why not gather your friends for laser tag at LaserCity Fun Centre. After your games, you can see how you ranked against the other team. It’s $14/person for two games and all the equipment is sanitized between groups. At home, one of my children’s favourite activities is to make food for our dolls and stuffed animals and then have a tea party with them. Bake bite-sized pancakes or cookies and take a photo to commemorate the occasion. Another fun activity is to make bracelets or other jewelry, and then play store

LAST CHANCE with real money and sell your creations. Exchange crafts with your friends or write them a letter and mail them a present.

Outdoor Adventure Ideas

Hike a new trail, pack a picnic, or explore a new beach. It can be fun to bring along dolls, stuffies or cars and have them traverse a mountain or explore logs on the beach. Maybe the dolls want to build a sandcastle. Perhaps the cars need to clear out some sand and rocks and build a new road. My son loves collecting sticks and we have quite the collection in our yard. My daughter loves to look for crystals or rocks that may contain crystals in them such as quartz. She loves making jewelry with crystals and rocks. Driftwood, sea glass and the tops of acorns are great materials for decorating a fairy house or gardens. Puddle jumping is another fun activity. And usually puddles aren’t hard to find! While you’re looking, count how many frogs, slugs, snails or Arbutus trees you see along the way. Create your own outdoor scavenger hunt. Another fun idea is to take a favourite stuffed animal, LEGO figure or other toy outside for a photo shoot. Try posing the toy with different backgrounds and experiment with close ups, lighting and filters. Spring is also a great time to sketch your garden plans and start counting flowers in your neighbourhood. Use chalk to write friendly and positive messages around your neighbourhood. See how many Little Free Libraries you can walk to in your neighbourhood. No matter how you spend this spring, take time to be in nature with your family. Cherish each precious moment as you savour each budding blossom.

Serena Beck works full-time as a Technical Writer. She loves to write, travel and swim at the beach with family and friends.

A WHALE OF A TIME Save when you purchase a combo ticket to experience both the Orcas: Our Shared Future feature exhibition and the IMAX film Humpback Whales


G E T T I C K E T S AT February/March 2022


10 Types of Private Schools T

here is no such thing as a homogenous “private school system.” In reality, the private school world is defined by choice. There are many types of private and independent schools, and they come in many different configurations. Some schools educate children from kindergarten all the way to grade 12, while some start at grades six or eight. Others are high school only. It all depends on what you’re looking for in your child’s education.

for the summer. Boarding school can start in middle school (grades six through eight) or in high school (grades nine through 12). Boarding school is highly structured, with set times for study after school and during examination periods, set “free times” during the week, as well as curfews. Supervision and support are provided by staff such as peer counsellors, residential dons and academic staff, including teachers. Boarding school students are deeply involved in academics

Co-educational school

Often referred to as “co-ed,” this is a school in which the student body is made up of boys and girls attending classes together. It mirrors the real world, where boys and girls, men and women interact and work together all the time. Some believe that going to school together helps girls and boys benefit from the other gender’s learning style, promoting cooperation.

Religious schools

Depending where you live in the country, schools based on world religions can be found: Bahá’í Faith, Christian (specific denominations or non-denominational), Hindu, Islamic, Jewish and Sikh. Faithbased schools offer full academic curricula that adhere to or exceed required provincial standards, but also religious instruction. The faith’s general worldview is reflected in teaching and is part of the life of the school. Parents should learn about a school’s curriculum to ensure that, while it gives students a deeper knowledge of their faith, it also promotes respect for other faiths and worldviews— important for interacting in Canada’s diverse society.

University preparatory

Day schools

This is the traditional model of schooling: a school that students attend from morning until mid-afternoon, returning home afterward and staying home on the weekends. Parents largely take on helping kids develop good schoolwork habits, such as studying for upcoming tests and completing homework thoroughly, especially with younger students.

Boarding schools

At a boarding school, students live at school during the week within the school year calendar. At some schools—and depending how far away students’ family homes are from school—they may live at school on weekends, too. Students go home for breaks, such as the ChristmasNew Year break and spring break, and 14

Island Parent Magazine

and extracurricular activities. This is a highly personal choice for a child and his or her family. Some kids thrive at boarding school, while others are much better suited for day school.

Single-gender school

In single-gender schools, the student body is all boys or all girls. Some believe that boys and girls experience less peer pressure, focus better on learning and operate differently in school without the distraction of the opposite sex. Some studies point to better grades and a higher rate of admission to four-year university programs. Single-gender schools may help break down gender stereotypes— leading to more girls taking maths and sciences, for example.

Also known as a “prep school.” Prep schools focus on preparing students for university and getting them into the programs they want. Academic studies are intense, with courses more advanced than in a typical high school curriculum. Some courses offered later in high school are considered university-level and can be applied as university credits. Some schools offer international curricula, such as IB (International Baccalaureate) and/ or Round Square. University preparation schools tend to have very high rates of university acceptance. While tuition is often expensive, facilities and resources are usually outstanding.


A student-centred, individualized educational approach. The method is named after its founder, Dr. Maria Montessori, in the early 1900s. Montessori became

more popular in North America in the 1960s. It is based on Dr. Montessori’s observations of young children around the world. Classes comprise children of different ages. Students learn at their own pace and choose whether to work alone or in groups. Teachers observe the children and introduce new tasks and opportunities accordingly.

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Waldorf education was founded by Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian scientist and philosopher. It is named after a German factory at which Steiner created a school for the workers’ children in 1919. Steiner insisted on a 12-year school available to all children of both genders, and in which teachers would have great control. Waldorf schools are independently run, but they must be accredited as embodying Waldorf principles and teaching practices. The philosophy emphasizes experiential learning for the whole child (heart, hands and head). Schools provide a calm, homelike setting.

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Sunday, March 6, 2:30 pm Farquhar at UVic MAESTRO JOEY, conductor CLASSICAL KIDS LIVE, performers

Reggio Emilia

An early childhood educational approach founded by Italian teacher Loris Malaguzzi in the city of Emilia Romagna after World War II. It is a complex approach that includes emphasizing independent thinking, cooperation, special layout of schools to encourage learning and discovery, and documenting children’s daily experiences. In this child-led approach, teachers guide students to develop their ideas and express their learning through a wide range of materials and experiences.

Life gets a little noisy and a whole lot more interesting for young Christopher after a crabby, eccentric old man named Beethoven moves in upstairs. Young listeners will be touched by history, drama, music and fun as they come to understand the genius of Beethoven and the beauty of his music. Don’t miss this famous take by the one and only Classical Kids. Tickets can be purchased by calling Farquhar at UVic at 250.721.8480 or online by visiting


Specialty programs

Some schools specialize in meeting unique needs, including programs for children with special needs—such as therapeutic programs. Some schools may specialize in specific interests, such as schools for arts education, nature or sports development. These schools specialize, but still offer full academic curricula.

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Tracy Cooper is a freelance writer and author at Parents Canada. Reprinted with permission from Parents Canada at

February/March 2022


How to Help Kids Build Healthy, Happy Relationships O

ne of the biggest challenges of the pandemic response for many of us, especially our school aged children, was the imposition of limitations to our social networks. As our networks, or “bubbles,” became substantially smaller, many of us transitioned into a virtual space to continue these friendships—cue the zoom playdates, dinner parties and book clubs. And while we are lucky to be living in the screen-age for the opportunities to have virtual hangouts, our children’s ability to develop and maintain healthy in-person relationships with people outside our bubbles may require a bit of refresher from time to time. How can we, as their trusted adults, best set up our children to build new successful, healthy relationships? By hav-


Island Parent Magazine

ing thoughtful dialogue about what healthy relationships look and feel like. My experiences as a sexual health educator have taught me that students of all ages are eager for the chance to discuss healthy relationships more than any other topic. Whether we’re having chats about friend and family relationships in elementary school, talking about powerful crushes with middle school youth or the more sophisticated romantic and potentially sexual relationships with older youth, youth actively listen, question and soak up all of the relevant information. And although the scope and intensity of these relationships differ with their maturity and life experience, they want tangible examples of healthy relationship qualities.

Through the years, we continue to use and adapt the acronym SHARE2 as one of the most effective ways to personalize healthy relationship qualities. As our youth build new relationships, we want to encourage their relationships to be grounded in Safety, Honesty, Action, Respect, Equity and Enjoyment. Safety. People feel both emotionally and physically safe inside the relationship. They are each comfortable to set their own boundaries and expect to have those boundaries respected by others. Honesty. A person in a healthy relationship can openly communicate their thoughts, feelings and expectations with others. Action. Each of you are actively engaging in building the relationship through the acceptance of boundaries, decisions, values and family rules. This is based in communication and agreement which means you practice consent. Respect. Your decisions, values, boundaries, and identity are respected and you offer that in return. You also acknowledge needs for privacy, space and independence in a respectful way. Equity. There is balance in your relationship in the pres-

ence of difference. You do not need to be the same as the other people in your relationships. There’s space to share both similarities and differences. Enjoyment. Our relationships should be enjoyable—they should add to the joy in our lives. We enjoy spending time with the people you are in relationships with but also balance that with time apart. Although it may seem rudimentary, no matter how often we try to move away from this acronym, our discussions with youth and healthy relationships always lead us back to it because in the words of an astute Grade 8 participant “A healthy relationship means caring is SHARE-ing!” Jennifer Gibson, MA, is also known as “The Sex Lady”—officially now for over 17 years in Greater Victoria!—to the thousands of amazing youth and adults she is lucky to educate and learn with through her job as the Coordinator of Community Education at Island Sexual Health. She’s passionate about making sexuality education as positive, fun and non-cringe-able as possible.

February/March 2022



The Gift of Freedom


ell, we sure got worried, didn’t we? By “we” I mean parents, and by “worried” I mean why the heck aren’t there kids playing on the streets anymore? At the risk of sounding A) old as dust and B) ridiculous, I remember being a kid and just being gone for hours at a time, riding my bike—helmet-less, of course...ah, the “good” old days—around the small town I lived in back in the ’80s, searching for tadpoles in ponds, lighting off firecrackers, maybe kicking over the occasional garbage can. Just being a kid. Maybe I’m not puttering around the right neighbourhoods, but I don’t see that as much anymore. I know: everyone’s glued to their screens and everyone’s in after-school care and goes to five different extracurricular activities so no one has time to be a kid anymore, I get that. And I also get this: that sucks. Some of my best childhood memories are of those times roaming the neighbourhood, no parents in sight, no con-


Island Parent Magazine

cept of time, just the open world around me and my bike to take me to wherever we’re going next. No responsibilities. Just figuring out life—on my own time and in my own terms. I value these memories so much. These days, you feel like a neglectful parent if your kid is out of the house unsupervised. Look, I realize downtown Victoria isn’t exactly an oasis of peace and calm, but the outlying neighbourhoods, while not quite small-town-’80s in atmosphere, are still pretty darn safe. I understand the fear, I breathe a small sigh of relief whenever the kids return home, like any parent, but I keep it to myself. That doesn’t mean I keep the offspring within arm’s reach every waking hour. As kids grow up, they need time away from us. They need to figure out what to do when we’re not there when something goes sideways. They need to feel the freedom of the wide-open world, a long summer day, a bike, a couple dollars in their pocket and zero sense of time.

Every parent I mention this to agrees with me, yet it’s so rare to see kids out on their own. I get it. It’s scary. But it’s life. So this year, maybe don’t fill little Johnny’s every waking moment with activities, and shoo him out the door on Saturday mornings. Give him the old “come back when the street lights are on” line if you like (although, wow, you’re harsh: kid’s gotta eat). He’ll be fine. He’ll actually probably have an incredible adventure. I’m pretty sure there are no more boogeymen out there than there were in the ’80s. But I am sure there are way less kids than there were. When they grow up, they’ll never have that chance to experience the feeling of absolute freedom again. You can find kinda-similar things as an adult, but nothing quite recaptures that feeling. This stuff is important, and there’s a fleeting window where they’re old enough to be out of the house alone but young enough to just be a kid.

So this year, let’s let our kids be kids. Let them go explore, buy some candy, maybe get into some mild mischief. If they’re old enough, let them be out on their own, figuring life out, away from our grip, which seems to get more anxiety-ridden and nerve-wracked every year, holding on tighter and tighter, inadvertently strangling that glorious sense of youthful freedom until it’s all but forgotten. Let’s remember to let our kids have their childhood, and all the wonder that comes with it, that comes with a wide open day with no responsibilities, that comes with figuring out the world, on their own.

Greg Pratt is the father of three children and a local journalist and editor. His writing has appeared in, among other places, Today’s Parent, Decibel and Douglas. He is @gregprattwriter on Twitter.

February/March 2022


M O M ’ S P OV

The Mental Load


he most common conversation I have with my friends is about “the mental load” of mothering, by which I mean all of the stuff a parent has crammed in their mind. Things like booking dental appointments, making the meal plan and remembering to add QTips to the shopping list. I think of the mental load as an invisible backpack that holds the details, dates, plans and needs of our family. It’s heavy. It’s exhausting. And because it’s invisible, it’s often ignored until something snaps and mama seriously loses her sh*t. This is exactly what happened in my own family not that long ago. I don’t remember if the last straw was my husband asking if we had run out of peanut butter or his surprise when I told him what day camp the kids were at that week. It might have been his thumbs casually resting in his belt loops while I unloaded the dishwasher. In any case, something inside me snapped. Hot resentment, growing steadily and quietly inside of me, exploded like an erupting volcano and my snarky words spewed out all over my husband. “How should I know if we’re out of peanut butter? Do I look like an inventory list of our pantry?” “If four months ago you had been the one to register them for 10 weeks of summer camps then you would know where the heck they were this week.” “Can you take your damn hands out of your pockets and unload the dishwasher?!” A short walk cooled me down, but I couldn’t stop wondering if I had remembered to defrost the chicken for dinner. That’s when it occurred to me that the reason I was angry was because I was anticipating dinner before I had even had lunch. I was one of two adults in my family and yet somehow I was the only person thinking about dinner. Emboldened, I raced home and began compiling a detailed list of all of the jobs involved in keeping our family operational; buying birthday party gifts, buying new shoes, handing out allowances, registering for activities. By the time I was done, I had identified 18 different catego20

Island Parent Magazine

ries and over 90 specific jobs related to the running of our family. Guess who was lugging most of them around in her invisible backpack? Me. By this point, I was indignant. When and how was it decided that I would be

works hard and is a wonderful father. He is always willing to do anything I ask but that was precisely the problem. I didn’t want to have to ask. If he had to ask how to help it implied two problematic truths: one, he didn’t know what comprised the

the unpaid project manager of our lives? Was there a sign-up sheet that I had forgotten about? I certainly could not recall a conversation with my husband in which I volunteered to be the cook, the cleaning lady and the organizer of all things kid-related. So if it hadn’t been discussed and I hadn’t knowingly agreed to be all of the things, how did I find myself here: perpetually joyless, overwhelmed and full of resentment? I wanted to blame my husband, but the truth is I don’t have a lazy husband. He

list, and, two, that the list was mine. Mine to make. Mine to remember. Mine to complete. So that’s when I decided to take every one of those 90 jobs out of my backpack and make them visible. My husband and I sat down with my master list in front of us, all 18 categories and 90 jobs. I explained that I was feeling overwhelmed and resentful and that moving forward, I wanted to feel more like a team in the running of our home. For dramatic effect, I went through each

job that I was currently doing and highlighted it. In my head, I had built this moment up to angelic proportions, complete with sunshine parting the clouds and organ music engulfing us as my husband turned to me with the glow of enlightenment and with corresponding disbelief of all I had endured and accomplished. Instead, he quietly nodded as he looked over my list. He thanked me for my hard work and acknowledged that he could do more and was ready to redistribute the jobs more equitably. It was exactly what I wanted to hear. But it was so anticlimactic. We then had a helpful and humbling conversation. I admitted that I had taken on some of the jobs because I liked them. There were also a few that I wanted control over because I wasn’t willing to lower my standards. We added a few categories and corresponding jobs to the master list since there were the items my husband was quietly doing without my knowledge (winterizing the trailer, bike maintenance and cleaning the gutters). We created a new list with a few more categories and jobs, each discussed and delegated in a way that we could both live with. We agreed that the kids were old enough to have their name next to a few of the jobs. We now had not one backpack, but two, with fanny packs for the kids. I don’t think there is anything genetic or innate about women taking on the mental load. I wasn’t born with a passion for laundry. I wonder if families with two moms, two dads, single and co-parents, or two non-binary parents have balanced backpacks? Maybe there are plenty of dads out there carrying the mental load as well. What I do know is that if we want to raise children to choose healthy and balanced lives for themselves, then the best way to model that behavior is to share the load today. Sarah Seitz is a working mother, writer and consumer of coffee and books—in that order. She writes about the messy and real parts of parenting and reveals her underbelly in her words. You can read more of Sarah’s writing at

Foster Homes Needed for Children and Youth with Support Needs The need is great, the opportunity to change a life is even greater... All children and youth who come into care need support, compassion, and unconditional acceptance. Some need more. They need physical, emotional, and behavioural support that goes beyond the everyday. They need someone with training in behaviour management, crisis intervention, and/or a medical background. Are you that caregiver? If you have experience with children or youth with complex needs, you can make a difference in a child’s life. Children and youth in care across Vancouver Island need a safe, temporary place to stay while they and their families heal and become strong again. Can you help just one?

Maybe you’ve never thought about fostering. Maybe you’ve thought about it for a long time. Maybe now is the time.

Go to to learn more and to register for a Foster Hope Information Session Or call 1-888-922-8437


JR. KINDERGARTEN An Anglican school welcoming and honouring all backgrounds, faiths, and identities Affordable tuition + financial assistance available Before- and after-school care World-class chorister program


A supportive and connected parent community A new soccer pitch, basketball court and middle school building

Contact us for a personal consultation!

Christ Church Cathedral School MIDDLE SCHOOL GR. 6 – 8 | 250.383.5125

February/March 2022



For more information and calendar updates throughout the month visit

Victoria & Area Peninsula Westshore


Cowichan Valley Nanaimo & Area Comox Valley


Pacific Rim Gulf Islands Online


4 FRIDAY TO 13 SUNDAY Victoria Film Festival


Check out Cinekids, with hands-on, anecdotal, competition, screenings—there are many streams for our guppies to thrive. Winners will be screened during the festival.


Museum Tots

11am-noon, Maritime Museum of BC Weekly program introduces children ages 3–5 to the fun world of museum learning. Each week revolves around a new theme, encouraging children to learn through crafts, play, song and dance. Today’s theme: Sailing.

Learn a new sport or refine your skills: come join our rock climbing teams! Registration for recreational and competitive teams open now. All levels welcome! Ages 6–18.


Family Sunday

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria Family Sunday happens every third Sunday of the month and is an afternoon of exploring hands-on art-making and ideas for all ages. This recurring program often features special guests like storytellers, artists, performers or musicians. Included in admission.

23 WEDNESDAY Butterfly Gardens Scavenger Hunt


Daily, 10am–4pm, 1461 Benvenuto Ave Explore the Insectarium and the Gardens to complete the Hunt. Something with many legs? Check! Something edible? Found it! Find all the items on the list and then try the next one.

Pink Shirt Day

Details and registration at

The Boulders Climbing Gym 1627 Stelly’s Cross Road | Saanichton, BC | 250.544.0310 22

Island Parent Magazine

Celebrate diversity while raising funds to support inclusive anti-bullying programs for kids in our communities by purchasing a Pink Shirt at London Drugs in February. Wear your Pink Shirt on Feb 23 and stand up to bullying.


is celebrating


18 FRIDAY TO 26 SATURDAY Pacific Rim Whale Fest


It’s about gray whales and marine life education, inspirational talks and interpretive walks, children’s fun for the small and culinary events for the tall, First Nations cultural workshops and more— come and experience a coastal tradition.

20 SUNDAY Family Sunday


Art Gallery of Greater Victoria Family Sunday happens every third Sunday of the month and is an afternoon of exploring hands-on art-making and ideas for all ages. This recurring program often features special guests like storytellers, artists, performers or musicians. Included in admission.

Water to Earth 22 Month MARCH - APRIL 22 Activities and events to celebrate both World Water Day and Earth Day!

ONGOING The Let’s Talk Science Challenge


10am–noon, Feb 14–June 10 This free, fully virtual event that encourages creativity and engagement in STEM learning inside and outside the classroom. For 11–13yrs.

Orcas: Our Shared Future


Daily until Mar 31, Royal BC Museum Dive deep into the stories and science that surround the magnificent orca, spirit of BC’s wild coast and apex predator of all oceans. Combine your visit with the IMAX: Humpback Whales.

LEGO Exhibition


Daily until Mar 31, Sidney Museum This annual favourite, by donation with limited admission, will showcase classic sets as well as new show stoppers. With themes ranging from fairy tale castles to 1960s pop culture icons, there’s something for everyone.

Lego Club


Wednesdays 2:30–4:30pm Cowichan Branch Public Library For children 12 and under. Calling all architects! Bring your construction skills and we’ll provide the LEGO. Please call 250-746-7661 to register for any two of the 1-hour sessions available during the month. LEGO will not be shared between children during this event. Free.

Know someone who would want to work in our programs?

February/March 2022



A Season of Fresh Greens


ne of my favourite things about living on the coast is that spring usually comes with an abundance of fresh greens. As a gardener, kale, chard and arugula are easy and reliable crops. They last through the winter and can handle a few heavy snowfalls. Then sprout up and burst with flowers in the spring. We always leave a few plants to self-seed for a never-ending crop. Spring greens are equally versatile in the kitchen. They’re delicious in soup, pasta or salad. Here are three recipes that feature spring greens. They can be made with whatever greens are available in your garden or from your local grocery store. That includes everything from spinach to kale.

Braised French Lentils with Greens (Prep Time 10 minutes, Cook Time 30 minutes)

This simple dish is surprisingly rich and flavourful. Served with a baguette at a table set with candles, it feels fancy in a rustic sort of way. 2 medium carrots 1 medium onion 2 cloves of garlic 2 Tbsp olive oil 1⁄2 cup of broth or red wine 3⁄4 cup of brown or French lentils 2 cups of water A large bunch of greens 1 Tbsp tomato paste 1 tsp Dijon mustard 1 tsp salt and pepper, to taste. 1. Finely chop the carrots and onion. Dice the garlic. 2. Heat the oil in the bottom of a large saucepan. Add the vegetables and saute until the onions are just starting to soften, about 2 minutes. 3. Pour in the broth or wine. Bring to a boil, then add the lentils and 2 cups of water. 4. Reduce the heat and simmer until lentils are soft, but not mushy (about 20 minutes). 5. Meanwhile, wash and chop the greens. 6. When the lentils are soft, stir in the greens, tomato paste and Dijon mustard. Continue to simmer until the greens are just wilted (about 2 minutes). Add the salt and pepper to taste. 7. Serve immediately.


Island Parent Magazine

Spring Greens with Baked Eggs (Prep Time 15 minutes, Cook Time 15 minutes)

This vegetable-packed dish is perfect for breakfast, brunch or dinner! Serve it with a side of toast or oven roasted potatoes. I’ve written the recipe for a family of four. However, it’s an easy way to make a LOT of eggs all at once. So feel free to double or triple the recipe. To bake a larger amount of eggs, move the wilted greens to a glass casserole dish, then bake the eggs in that dish instead. 1 large bunch of spring greens 1 yellow onion 2 cloves of garlic 2 Roma tomatoes 1⁄4 tsp of cumin 2 Tbsp olive oil 1⁄4 tsp salt, to taste 1⁄4 tsp smoked paprika 4 eggs 1⁄4 cup of Parmesa n cheese 1. Preheat the oven to 375˚F. 2. Wash and finely chop the spring greens. Dice the onions and garlic and chop the tomatoes. 3. Heat a large, ovenproof frying pan on medium heat. Add the cumin and toast until fragrant (about 1 minute). 4. Add the olive oil and yellow onion. Cook for 2 minutes, until the onions are starting to soften. 5. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and garlic. Sprinkle on the salt and smoked paprika. Cook for 5 more minutes. 6. Add the greens to the frying pan and cover with a lid until everything is bubbling and the greens are tender, about 5 minutes. There will be quite of bit of liquid in the pan, perfect for poaching eggs. Taste the stew and add more salt as necessary. 7. Push the vegetables aside to create four wells in the frying pan. Crack an egg into each of the wells. Sprinkle each egg with a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Top with grated Parmesan cheese. 8. Place the frying pan in the oven and bake uncovered. The eggs are done when the whites are set, but the yolks are still runny, about 10 minutes. The exact cooking time will depend on your oven, so keep an eye on them.

Garlic Roasted Flowering Shoots (Prep time 10 minutes, Bake time 20 minutes)

In the spring, kale, cabbage and other brassicas send out flowering shoots. On cabbages they form after the main head of cabbage has been removed. With kale, they come as the main stalk shoots up to make little yellow flowers. These flowering shoots are a tender and delicious, yet under-appreciated vegetable. They can be prepared in the same method as asparagus; fried, steamed or sautéed. I like having them oven roasted with garlic, because it is so easy and my kids love it. Flowering shoots are a crop that more local farmers are producing, so you should be able to find them at any market featuring small, local producers. Or, if you are a gardener, simply leave your kale and cabbage in the ground until they naturally send out flowering shoots. You should be able to get several harvests from a single plant, so let them send out flowers several times. I don’t recommend trying this with chard, because it is quite bitter when it flowers.

Preschool to Grade 11…and beyond.

Imagine a School…where music, dance, theatre and visual arts are infused into all aspects of an outstanding curriculum. v Junior K and Half/Full-day Kindergarten options also available v Comprehensive K-11 program consistently exceeds BC Curriculum v Excellent facilities, convenient locations throughout Saanich v Highly qualified, dedicated staff and low student/teacher ratios

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1 bunch of flowering shoots (from cabbage or kale) 2 Tbsp olive oil 3 cloves of garlic 1⁄4 tsp salt, to taste 1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F. 2. Wash the flowering shoots and trim off the cut end. The is only necessary for storebought shoots, which may have dried out a bit. 3. Spread the shoots out on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle them with olive oil and toss to coat. 4. Finely dice the garlic and spread it over the shoots. Then sprinkle on the salt. 5. Bake until the shoots soft enough to easily pierce with a fork, and some of the leaves are browning. It should take between 15 to 20 minutes depending on how thick the shoots are. Cabbage shoots tend to be thicker than kale.

Emillie Parrish writes from Victoria and Saturna Island. She is the author of the Pacific Northwest lifestyle blog

February/March 2022


PRESCHOOL&CHILDCAREDIRECTORY v Comprehensive programs for Preschool through Grade 11 v Delivering academic excellence through music, dance, drama and visual arts v Outstanding educators, locations and facilities


Castleview Child Care........... 250-595-5355 Learning Through Play & Discovery. Licensed non-profit, ECE staff. Since 1958. Morning or full-time care.

Christ Church Cathedral Childcare & Jr. Kindergarten..................250-383-5132 ECE and specialist teachers provide an outstanding all day licensed program for 2.5–5 year olds at our Fairfield and Gordon Head locations.

Emmanuel Baptist Church Child Care We offer all-day Day Care for 3 and 4 year olds. We also offer an After School Care Program for Kindergarten to 12 years old for Campus View and Frank Hobbs.

250 598 0573

La Pré-Maternelle Appletree Preschool................250-479-0292 French immersion preschool. Group child care programs. 30 months to school age. Christian centre.

2121 Cedar Hill X Rd (by entrance to UVic)

Nightingale Preschool & Junior Kindergarten Ltd........ 250-595-7544 We offer education through creativity and play, providing rich learning experiences through a well sourced and stimulating indoor and outdoor environment. Early years reading programme. Arts/Drama programme.

Pre-School Junior Kindergarten 250-479-4532 Educational Excellence to the Glory of God

Rainbows & Dreams Preschool

Offering small classes, creative 3–5 year and kindie programs. Safe, fun, nurturing environment to learn and grow.

250-479-1966 4184 Keewatin Place, Victoria

Island Kids Academy Esquimalt..............................250-381-2929 High quality child care (ages 1-5). Enriched Curriculum. Includes Music Classes and Character Development using the Virtues Project. Wait list being taken.

Ready Set Grow Preschool.....250-472-1530 Join our learning through play preschool located in Hillcrest Elem. Our caring ECEs offer an enriched Program for 3-4 hour, 2-5 days a week and help with kindergarten transition.

St. Margaret’s School Jr. Kindergarten Apply now for our Early Learning (JK and Kindergarten) Programs. Early learning at SMS is a curriculum-based program for 3 and 4 year olds.

St. Margaret’s School 250-479-7171 |

SEEDLINGS Forest Education

Where nature becomes the Teacher! Seedlings Forest Education is a Nature based program that includes After School Care, Nature Preschool, Parent Workshops, Saturday Seedlings, Summer Camps and more!


Sir James Douglas Preschool.............................250-389-0500 Fun, creative and educational ECE program for 3-5 year olds to grow and develop life long skills. Come play and learn in our bright and modern centre in Fairfield. Victoria Montessori.............. 250-380-0534 Unique, innovative learning environment combining the best of Montessori and Learning Through Play. Open year round. 30mths–K.

722 Johnson St,Victoria,BC


We implement a play-based curriculum where our trained professionals develop and adapt individual programs by observing and listening to your child.

Call your local CCRR for free referrals and resources. Victoria & Gulf Islands: 250-382-7000 or 1-800-750-1868 Sooke: 250-642-5152 West Shore: 250-940-4882 Cowichan Valley: 250-746-4135 local 231 PacificCare (Ladysmith north): 250-756-2022 or 1-888-480-2273


Island Parent Magazine

Victoria & Area


Carrot Seed Preschool...........250-658-2331 Where children can discover, imagine, construct and learn through play. Wondrous natural playground.

Island Montessori House....... 250-592-4411 Inclusive, integrated and nurturing Preschool and Before/After School Care programs. Lovely rural setting with a focus on nature and outdoor environmental activities.


Cowichan Valley

Sidney Preschool We are a licensed co-operative preschool with a philosophy of learning through play! Four hour program, four days per week, for children ages 2.5-5 years. Celebrating 49 years!,

wild child

early learning centre

• Licensed program for 3–5 year olds • Nature focused • 3 hour morning classes

Exciting new learn-throughplay program in Saanichton, ideal for Peninsula families

Nanaimo & Area

The first steps in your child’s education Call for more information today: 250.746.3654

Queen Margaret’s School........250-746-4185 Early Childhood Education Program. Co-ed nurturing curriculum to develop the whole child. Healthy snacks and lunch provided.

• Licensed programs, for children 3–5 years • Flexible part-time schedules • Supported spaces available • 3 and 4 hour morning classes Encouraging your child’s development and learning through play and exploration

Sunrise Waldorf School Preschool...............................250-743-7253 In a warm environment, this nature and play-based program enlivens and nurtures the growing child. 250-360-1148 E:

Island Kids Academy View Royal........................... 250-727-2929 High quality child care (ages 1-5). Enriched Curriculum. Includes Music Classes and Character Development using the Virtues Project. Wait list being taken.

Metchosin Co-Op Preschool A Co-operative preschool in the heart of rural Metchosin.

The best place to be. Take a virtual tour today! 250-478-9241

Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12

Learn more today! 250-390-2201 N A N A I M O’ S J K–1 2 I N T E R N AT I O N A L B AC C A L AU R E AT E WO R L D S C H O O L

Little Star Children’s Centre...........250-752-4554 Little Gems Infant & Toddler Care..250-228-5437 Mother, Daughter owned and operated. Earth friendly preschool education inspired by nature. Infused with fun and creative daily yoga practices! Licensed group care. Enthusiastic ECE instructors.

Nestled on 4 acres of lush west coast forest, our Award winning, Nature based program will not disappoint! While firmly embracing the Reggio-Emila (Italy) Philosophy our dedicated team of educators use the environment as the third teacher as we encourage your child throughout their day. Our purpose built facilities have been handmade using the trees from our forest. Come take a virtual tour on our website!

Waitlist: 250-590-3603 Programs for Infants/Toddlers/Pre-school Age. BC Award of Excellence in Childcare & Prime Minister’s Award of Excellence in Early Childhood Education.

February/March 2022


Motherhood Baggage T

he first time I took my daughter to Vancouver for the day, she was five-weeks old, colicky with a severe diaper rash. I packed everything. I brought extra clothes for her, extra clothes for me, diapers, diaper cream, wet wipes, a breast pump, bottles, blankets, a carrier, a stroller…I was so worried that she would start crying and that I would turn around, helpless, for the one thing in my limited arsenal of soothing strategies that would stop those dreaded cries. I wanted to be able to reach for something that would stop the feeling of panic that started in throat and sunk down into my chest until I felt empty and useless as my daughter’s face got redder and redder.

We packed all our supplies our SUV and ventured to the airport to meet my friend. We used some of the things, but not all. I was glad I had them—just in case. They made me feel like I might be able to make it through the day, like I was a good mom, like I had done my best to be there for my baby. At the end of the day, I sat in the car in the ferry line up waiting to go home. It was pouring rain, so much so that I could barely see the headlights of the car in front of me. As it rained, I prayed that my daughter would keep sleeping in the backseat. I tried to picture how I could change her diaper in the pouring rain, the car so full of stuff that there would barely have been room to lay her flat. The stuff I’d brought was no longer helping me to me a good mom, it was getting in the way. Years later, as I took a solo trip to Vancouver, I packed as little as I could—underwear, a charger, a book, a sweater, toothbrush. Even so, as soon as I got to the city, I ditched anything I didn’t need at the hotel. I just wanted to wander around unincumbered. I kept my cell phone, keys and a lip-


Island Parent Magazine

stick in my coat pocket but nothing else. I took this trip to be myself again, to stop thinking about making lunches, booking swim lessons, waking up at 4am to find a stuffy. Just to be free. It was glorious. My urge to wander weightless got me thinking about all the many, many things we carry in motherhood, how they weigh us down or how they can make us feel like good or bad mothers. All the tasks we carry—sorting through hand-me-downs, meal planning, decorating the house for the holidays, creating lists of childcare options, hosting Easter dinner, booking soccer lessons, keeping track of the latest “best friend” at daycare. Then there are all the things feel pressured to do as women—be a certain weight, wear makeup to look less tired, host family dinners, participate in fundraisers, remember birthdays—the list never ends. Somehow the domestic to-do list gets bigger when we become mothers—even for things that are unrelated to motherhood itself. It got me to thinking about which tasks are necessary and which ones we carry anyways, even though they may not help us or our children. What do children need from us? They need a lot—our weary bodies to carry them, our souls to comfort them and hold them through all their many emotions, our finances to provide shelter and food, and our higher selves to show them how to walk through the world with integrity. But they don’t need us to be thin. They don’t need us to be on the PTA. They don’t need every extra-curricular and elf-on-the-shelf and LOL doll and home-made gluten-free spinach muffins. They may want some of those things, or we may want to provide some of those things, but they aren’t actually necessary. The trouble is that without all this mental and emotional and physical labour and the giving-up of ourselves, we often don’t feel like good mothers. We don’t feel like we’re doing everything we can do for our children. We worry that we don’t measure up or that our children won’t feel loved. Yet, children are resilient. Their well-being is often tied to our happiness, not the level of clutter in the house and the frequency at which we serve them Kraft Dinner. I don’t know what the answer is. It’s hard to give up on the image of the mother you thought you’d be. It’s hard to ask others to take some of it on. It’s hard to disappoint our children. It’s hard to disappoint ourselves. Let’s just hope that everything we do—every Pyjama Day we remember and gymnastics lesson we book, and cucumber stick we chop—still leaves us with enough. That at the end of the day, we still have our spiritual necessities—our emotional equivalent of cell phones, keys and lipstick. Nothing more. Nothing less. Julia Mais is a Victoria writer and mom.

We now have two beautiful websites to shop online: WEBSITE 1


Games, Gifts, Indigenous Education, Special Needs

Home School Resources, Books, Teacher Supplies

Victoria Location: 2014 Douglas Street, Victoria, BC, V8T 4L1 Westshore Location: 3251 Walfred Place, Victoria, BC, V9C 4M4

Call us: 250-385-9030 Fax: 250-385-9032 Email us:






CLIMB ZIP JUMP SWING! February/March 2022


Healthy Families, Happy Families

Child, Youth & Family Public Health South Island Health Units

Esquimalt Gulf Islands

250-519-5311 250-539-3099

Peninsula Saanich Saltspring Island Sooke Victoria West Shore

250-544-2400 250-519-5100 250-538-4880 250-519-3487 250-388-2200 250-519-3490

(toll-free number for office in Saanichton)

Central Island Health Units

Duncan Ladysmith Lake Cowichan Nanaimo Nanaimo Princess Royal Parksville/Qualicum Port Alberni Tofino

250-709-3050 250-755-3342 250-749-6878 250-755-3342 250-739-5845 250-947-8242 250-731-1315 250-725-4020

North Island Health Units

Campbell River Courtenay Kyuquot Health Ctr ‘Namgis Health Ctr Port Hardy

250-850-2110 250-331-8520 250-332-5289 250-974-5522 250-902-6071 health-unit-locations Changes with BC Medical Services Plan premiums mean that families eligible for partial payment of some medical services and access to some income-based programs now must apply for Supplementary Benefits through the Government of BC. Applications can be done online and take approximately 15 minutes. Families who previously qualified for MSP Premium Assistance should not need to re-apply if taxes are completed yearly. It is advised to confirm coverage before proceeding with treatment to avoid paying out of pocket.

For more information, visit content/health/health-drug-coverage/msp/ bc-residents/benefits/services-covered-bymsp/supplementary-benefits


Island Parent Magazine

Teaching Kids to Use Inclusive Language L

orie English’s daughter, Jack, was five years old when an older kid on the school playground made fun of her for her clothing: “Why are you wearing pink?” the boy teased. English and her husband knew that Jack, who was assigned male at birth, would face challenges when she started school. “We talked about how gender fluid—that the gender you’re assigned at birth may not be the gender you identify with,” she says. They also made it a priority to equip Jack with responses about her choices, which is why her reply to the bully was so mature: “Clothes are just clothes, and I can wear whatever makes me feel good. And if you don’t want to be my friend because of that, that’s OK.” People are always being introduced to acronyms and identities, says Omid Razavi, director of communications for Pflag Canada, a national charitable organization founded by parents who wished to help themselves and family

members understand and accept their LGBTQ2S children. “The terms aren’t necessarily new—it’s just that society is finally starting to understand. We need to ensure the next generation is comfortable with inclusive language.” It’s also important to create inclusive environments so that all children feel “seen and welcomed exactly as they are, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” says The 519 Glitterbug LGBTQ2S Mobile Program’s Best Practices for Creating LGBTQ2S-affirming Environments. Ultimately, Razavi says, kids look to parents, caregivers and mentors for guidance, so it’s vital that we lead by example. English explained Jack’s transition to her son, Ben, now five, in simple terms: “Jack believes she is a girl, so Jack is going to be your sister.” As soon as they started using she/her pronouns at home, Ben caught on right away. Other than some questions about anatomy (English explained to her kids that “who you

are in terms of your gender comes from inside, not from your body parts,”) the explanation was “literally that simple.” Now, Ben introduces Jack as his sister and will correct others when they make mistakes with Jack’s pronouns. Jack, now seven, can have conversations with adults about pronouns; she understands that some people are he/him, some people are she/her, some people are they/them. She also understands what it means to be two-spirited (a term used by some Indigenous peoples to describe their gender, sexual and spiritual identity). “And none of these were hard conversations,” says English. “Kids are really open to these ideas. As adults, we just have to be willing to have the conversations.” Using non-gendered terms in your everyday communication is one way to begin to normalize inclusive language. Try to avoid using gendered pronouns when asking about siblings, for example. And introduce relatable topics around the dinner table. “Try saying ‘Hey, you’ve heard Sam Smith’s song. Did you know that Sam Smith came out as non-binary? Let’s explain what that means,’” suggests

Razavi. “And talk about how important it is to make sure that everybody is comfortable living as their authentic selves.” Jack’s first grade teacher was very supportive, which makes a huge difference. “She was not afraid to call us at home and say, ‘I noticed Jack seemed put off by being referred to as a boy, should we be making this transition in school?’” English says. Jack’s classmates are adapting well. “They struggle a little bit with pronouns, but not disrespectfully. But we can’t be afraid to make mistakes,” English continues. Razavi agrees. “The LGBTQ2S community is ever-evolving, so there are growing pains and learning curves that come with that,” says Razavi. When children misgender or have a hard time wrapping their brains around any of these conversations, “we just have to try and break it down in simpler terms,” says Razavi. It’s also important not to single out that child in front of a group— the point is to make them feel like they’re able to grow and learn to restructure their language in a safe space. If it turns out a child is purposely avoiding using

someone’s preferred pronouns, or picking on them for their clothing choices, “we have to let them know that words can hurt,” says Razavi. And we need to talk about what it means to be an ally: “It means speaking up in an informative and kind manner when you are seeing injustices happen, or you witness someone misgendering someone else.” English and her husband have given Jack’s school lots of resources for learning how to teach kids to use inclusive language. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, they were in the process of drafting a letter to the parents of the kids in Jack’s class to prepare them for the pronoun switch, and to give them some tips around how to talk to their own kids about it. “Make these conversations fun by celebrating how everybody has the right to live their truth,” says Razavi. “Because when they do, they shine bright.” Lora Grady is a freelance journalist and an author. Reprinted with permission from Parents Canada,

Learn To Skate (Kinderskate) for ages 3–6 Canskate for ages 4 & up

Ongoing registration at

February/March 2022



Choose to Be Kind


ecently I had a conversation with my oldest son about why he was being mean to his younger brother, because, as I told him, he’s not a mean child. He’s a kind, caring, and considerate boy. He tearfully told me that he didn’t mean to be unkind and it was an accident. And so, our conversation changed from why he was being mean to how it got to the point where he was now accidentally being mean. And how in order to change that he needed to start intentionally being kind. And so, with a few more hugs and apologies we came up with a game plan on how he could practice kindness and get to the place where he’s kind by default. Regardless of whether or not your child is the one being hurt or the one doing the hurting, if you would like to start some conversations on kindness, bias, and personality differences, here are a few books that can help set the stage. The first is a fun-to-read textbook for older children called This is Your Brain on Stereotypes: How Science is tackling unconscious bias by Tanya Lloyd Kyi and illustrated by Drew Shannon (Kids Can Press, 2020). And I know “textbook” and “fun” don’t sound like they’d go together, but in this case they do. This book is filled with relatable (and thoughtprovoking or alarming) stories about the ways our brains impact how we interact with others as individuals and as a society. It also has some actionable steps on ways we can rewire our brains so we can start seeing people as individuals instead of stereotypes. For ages 10 to 14. The next book looks at selfishness from the point of view of the selfish person, or rather, the selfish squirrel. In It’s My Tree by Olivier Tallec (Kids Can


Island Parent Magazine

Press, 2020), the squirrel is very possessive about his tree and his nuts. To protect what belongs to him, he builds a wall around the tree so no one else can have any shade or nuts. But once the wall is up, he begins to realize what his selfishness is costing him. This beautifully illustrated story is funny and poignant, and it would be a great conversation

starter about what happens when we go to extremes to avoid helping others. For ages 4 to 7. Another book you can use to start some conversations about kindness and, more specifically, internet safety is On the Internet: Our First Talk about Online Safety by Dr. Jillian Roberts and illustrated by Jane Heinrichs (Orca, 2019).

While this book focuses on the internet, one aspect of the online realm is how people relate to others. The book talks about online bullying, how people can invade your virtual personal bubble, and what to do if something makes your child uncomfortable. For ages 6 to 8. Why Are You So Quiet by Jaclyn Desforges and illustrated by Risa Hugo (Annick Press, 2020) focuses on the individual who is being otherized. Myra Louise loves quiet, and she loves to listen to quiet things. The people around her don’t understand and they are constantly heckling her and trying to get her to change, but she doesn’t want to change. So Myra Louise decides to try and show them why she is quiet and along the way we learn she’s a good thinker, a good observer and a good reader. For ages 4 to 7. Finally, White Raven by Teoni Spathelfer and illustrated by Natassia Davies (Heritage, 2021) looks at what happens when cultures let their biases win. This story is about White Raven, who was one of the young girls sent to St. Michael’s Indian Residential School in Alert Bay. The book describes how she was treated and how she has tried to heal from her experiences. For ages 4 to 8. While these conversations won’t always be fun or easy, they may help you find gentle ways to ease into the difficult topics of bullying, bias, and building better habits. Good luck. Christina Van Starkenburg lives in Victoria with her husband, children and cat. She is the author of One Tiny Turtle: A Story You Can Colour and many articles. To read more of her work and learn about her upcoming books visit Facebook: and Twitter: @Christina_VanS.

February/March 2022



Froggy Quandary


critters beyond just their curious habits and biology. Amphibians have long been considered environmental indicators. The ability of frogs to breathe through their skin is an adaptation that perfectly sets them up for life aquatica, or at least a semiaquatic life. The double edged sword of such absorbent skin is that it does just that: it absorbs everything it is exposed to. Fluctuations in pH, minerals, oxygen and chemicals in an aquatic environment will be felt first by the amphibian community. By monitoring the health of amphibian populations, the health of the entire ecosystem can be observed. For this interaction with amphibian populations and their environment, amphibians are considered indicator species. As the frogs begin their courtship calls in February, relish their presence! If you are feeling as though you would like to contribute to the science surrounding amphibian populations, you are encouraged to familiarize yourself with the calls and appearance of native amphibian species. Try to record the date, time and location, along with the species and the number you saw, or how many egg masses. With that information in your back pocket, you can add your observations to Frogwatch BC! If you are able to take photos without intruding on their space, you can also upload that information to iNaturalist. Citizen science is approachable and

Photo: Robert Fraser

rogs and toads are creatures that we come to recognize from a young age. No one hops like a frog, croaks like a frog or has the huge, bulging eyes of a frog. We even have games named after their leaping ability! They are also creatures that are not so ubiquitously common in our busy city lives that we notice when they aren’t there. We see them, we hear them, we recognize them and once they are out of sight, we tend to forget about them. Frogs and our other amphibian neighbours may not be obvious in our day to day lives, but they are certainly worth our curiosity and attention! Take their winter habits for example. The majority of the winter months, frogs and other amphibians of Vancouver Island will hibernate. Many will find refuge under insulating layers of dead leaves, or under logs. Some will remain burrowed in the debris and mud in the bottom of lakes and ponds. One species of frog, the Wood Frog, is native to British Columbia but not Vancouver Island. This unexpected creature has been found as far north as the Arctic Circle, a seemingly impossible feat made feasible with sugars in their blood preventing it from freezing despite temperatures well below 0 degrees celsius. Essentially, they have an antifreeze kind of blood! There are reasons to care about the success of these mucusy


Island Parent Magazine

accessible for everyone, and you can feel great about ensuring the longevity of amphibian populations in your area. Remember, if you are fortunate enough to come across an amphibian, give it space! Despite perhaps not always feeling so, you are a giant compared to these creatures, and even the best intentions can cause harm to a group of animals that needs support more than anything. Handling these animals for even a brief time can allow for chemicals and other potentially harmful substances on our skin to enter their body through their permeable skin. Not to mention, it is illegal to handle or transport B.C.’s native amphibians! Don’t wait until their absence provides a stark silence on summer evenings. Ensuring these iconic creatures are protected for future generations requires work, but they are more than worth protecting. Photo: Kalene Lillico

Kalene Lillico is a Program Naturalist at Swan Lake Christmas Hill Sanctuary. She encourages you to foster wonderment in your own life by slowing down and asking questions wherever possible, especially questions that don’t have answers yet!


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fuel ignite,

Let’s Go! 1-888-997-9266

February/March 2022


Children & Mental Health M COMMUNITY OPTIONS


supportssupports quality summer programming for families with children quality programming facing disabilities within your community.

for families with children facing DONATE disabilities within your community.


Have you ever wondered about the future and gifts promotes being kids summer! whatYou it might bring tokids families withthis family members with a disability? You can make a difference by designating Community Options for Children and Families as your charity of choice when considering leaving a gift through your will or any other gift planning instrument (gifts of stock). Community Options has supported tens of thousands of families in the community over the past 30+ supports quality summer programming for families withfor children years—supporting a better quality of life facing disabilities within your community. families on Southern Vancouver Island.

supports quality summer programming for families with children disabilities within your supports qualfacing ity summer programmi ng forcommunity. families with children

facing disabilities within your community.


DONATE You gifts promotes kids being kids this summer! TODAY! DONATE

For more information, please contact TODAY! Kathleen Burton, Executive Director 250.380.6363 You gifts promotes kids beingext kids205 this summer!

You gifts promotes kids being kids this summer!


Island Parent Magazine

ental health affects the way people think, feel and act. Taking care of our mental health is just as important as having a healthy body. As a parent, you play an important role in your child’s mental health: • You can promote good mental health by the things you say and do, and through the environment you create at home. • You can also learn about the early signs of mental health problems and know where to go for help.

How can I nurture my child’s mental health?

Help children build strong, caring relationships: • It’s important for children and youth to have strong relationships with family and friends. Spend some time together each night around the dinner table. • A significant person who is consistently present in a child’s life plays a crucial role in helping them develop resilience. This person—often a parent or other family member—is someone your child spends a lot of time with and knows they can turn to when they need help. • Show your children how to solve problems. Help children and youth develop selfesteem, so that they feel good about themselves: • Show lots of love and acceptance. • Praise them when they do well. Recognize their efforts as well as what they achieve. • Ask questions about their activities and interests. • Help them set realistic goals. Create a safe, positive home environment: • Be aware of your child’s media use, both the content and the amount of time spent on screens. This includes TV, movies, Internet and gaming devices. Be aware of who they might be interacting with on social media and online games.

• Be careful about discussing serious family issues—such as finances, marital problems or illness—around your children. Children can worry about these things. • Provide time for physical activity, play and family activities. • Be a role model by taking care of your own mental health: Talk about your feelings. Make time for things you enjoy.

Come on in and see our incredible live animals in this unique mini-zoo. Tour guides are always available to answer questions and show off our adorable critters! Virtual tours and outreach programs are available for larger groups and birthday parties. Masks and vaccines required. Thank you! R O Y A L

How do I know if my child or youth has a mental health problem?

All children and youth are different. If you’re concerned your child may have a problem, look at whether there are changes in the way they think, feel or act. Mental health problems can also lead to physical changes. Ask yourself how your child is doing at home, at school and with friends.

Where do I go for help?

There are many ways to help your child achieve good mental health. Sharing your concerns with the doctor is one of them. Talk to your child’s doctor: • if the behaviours described above last for a while, or if they interfere with your child’s ability to function; • if you have concerns about your child’s emotional and mental health; • about your child’s behavioural development and emotional health at each well-child visit. If your child or teen talks about suicide or harming themselves, call your doctor or local mental health crisis line right away. Learn more about children and mental health.





LEARN TO SAIL THIS SUMMER! We welcome landlubbers, Olympic dreamers and

p: 250 592 6113

everyone in between. RVYC offers adventurous,


inclusive and quality programs for kiddos, youth and adults.

Join us on the water this summer!

w: @rvycsailingprograms

From Canadian Pediatric Society’s Caring for Kids. For more information, visit

February/March 2022



Strategies Not Skills • You react and over-focus on an issue. • If things aren’t improving, agree to • Your conversation picks up speed stop and revisit the issue later. Be carelike a ping-pong game, a rapid fire of ful that you don’t dive back in too soon. words. If you’re still feeling triggered, it won’t • You begin to see the person from a work. critical viewpoint, a caricature of their • Your best clue that you are ready is worst traits; controlling disrespectful, when you start to feel care and concern mean, selfish. about the other person. This means • You lack empathy and find it hard to you’re back to thinking relationally. care about what the other person has to • Be open to hearing the person’s needs say or how they feel. and values, even if it means you have to these times let’s be • You might feel tension in yourThrough body ignore some criticism or attitude. or feel fired up. taking turns at listening careful •&Commit kind to out there • You can’t, let it go. by just hearing to understand until you • The issue becomes magnified and get it right. feels catastrophic. • Stick to the issue and be specific. • You see yourself as the victim of the General terms don’t provide clarity. other person. While this isn’t easy, it is a more ma• You hear what you fear and make ture way of showing love to those who negative assumptions of the other permatter. It feels good when we open our son’s intent. hearts to learning about the other and All of us can go there, especially during about ourselves. If discipline means to stressful times. It’s part of our make-up. teach, perhaps this is the most effective Once we accept this, we can think about form of discipline that there is. Programs bePlanning runningfor(hopefully) in strategies to put inwill place. emotional meltdowns makesor sense. What person, online... could work? Dr. Allison Rees is a • Slow the conversation down. Make it parent educator, counsellor more like a game of catch, breathe, listen, and coach at LIFE Seminars think about Fwhat (Living in Families Effectively), or 3-you are going to say. 5 ye ar ol ds in Mus ical B all Thea tre & et, Jazz, Tap

S TAG E S Summer Programs


ven if you have great communication skills, you will find it hard to use them when you are feeling upset or defensive. We don’t usually notice that we are going there until it is too late. We’ve said that thing, lost our temper or stormed off. It’s valuable to notice the early warning signs: • You find yourself taking things too seriously.

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h si&vinguep Th Ru nnn witis e July & August t n I s d l c e i o t c a s r b n a Da Acro 1 ye es ers 1 ip Hop & FREE services are open to ALL single c n t h e s e t im ses a h d g H u r o , r t o F Th le f ulla&s for , Bal c asr eC er parents in Greater Victoria who are Jazz le t ’ s cbe e merd t hseurm n t e u o h a t d in D k h rs ol caring for children at home ages 0–18 Lirettrulnening tmhoronuthgs to 3 yea • Market Day – Weekly Food Support 8 A Cso e Dance e 1m tho • Free Clothing Room With Us • 1-1 Counselling & Coaching S TAG E S Summer Programs Call (25 Come Dance With 0) 384-3267, Us • Support Groups & Courses Summer Programs


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Island Parent Magazine

Em ail:This Call (250) 384-3267, email:, e sta geJuly sdance Running &@s August, Running Thisus July August tim or visit at& e or visit us at s s the eful & e t im e s h e h m t g u ar l& rough

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Create with us! Join us for classes, workshops, events, rentals, birthdays, camps and much more. Activities for all ages

What is McTavish Academy Of Art? In 2016 our families began repurposing a decommissioned elementary school in North Saanich, as well as the adjacent agricultural land, into a vibrant and inclusive community arts centre. We had a vision to create a place where our community could connect and explore their own creativity, expand on talents, discover new ones and bring cross generational collaboration and learning to life through the arts. We created a place where community could experience art of all kinds such as music, dance, painting and many other performing and visual art forms. We have been growing and evolving ever since we opened our doors and it's been an incredible adventure. As a result of the pandemic, our community lost the ability to visit us in person and so over the past two years we discovered a new avenue to create and connect with everyone through our art kits. These ready to assemble art kits include all the supplies needed to create your own custom work of art. Each kit starts as a drawing, is then digitally formatted, laser cut from wood and packaged in-house. From 3D Whales, Monsters and Lighthouses, to Treehouses, Unicorns and many more. We now have over 25 kits to inspire your creativity! To learn more about McTavish Academy Of Art please visit our website:

Are you an instructor looking for a space to host your classes? Connect with us to find the perfect studio! 778-351-0088 1720 McTavish Rd, North Saanich, BC February/March 2022


Island Catholic Schools Catholic Education on Vancouver Island is a system rich in tradition and history dating back to the mid-nineteenth century. Island Catholic Schools is a dynamic community of schools having a strong reputation for academic excellence, instilling Catholic values and building community. We are committed to educating the “whole” child in a Christ-centered community of learning.

St. Joseph’s

(Pre-K to Grade 7) 757 W Burnside Rd, Victoria 250-479-1232 Email: Tours by appointment February 7–11.

St. Patrick’s School

(K to Grade 7) 2368 Trent St, Victoria 250-592-6713 Email: Tours by appointment February 7–11.

St. Andrew’s Regional High School

(Grade 8–12) 880 McKenzie Ave, Victoria 250-479-1414 Email: Please visit our website for a Virtual Open House.

Queen of Angels

(Pre-K to Grade 9) 2085 Maple Bay Rd, Duncan 250-746-5919 Email: Please contact the school for more information and/or a tour.

St. John Paul II

(Pre-K to Grade 7) 4006 8th Ave, Port Alberni 250-723-0637 Email: Please contact the school for a private tour.

Call today for registration information K to 12, Pre-school, Day Care, Out of School Care for September 2022

250-727-6893 or visit

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