WestCoast Families December/January 2022

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Celebrating the modern family lifestyle on the West Coast


DEC/JAN 2022

Mastering Maternity Leave


Discussing Divorce

“I finally feel like I’m not alone. I feel heard, and supported when I speak with a family peer supporter because they “get it” and I don’t have to feel ashamed or alone in my struggles with my child. It is so freeing to speak with someone here. Thank you.”

Foundry Virtual BC Supports for Caregivers Support for your youth and for you Foundry is removing barriers and increasing access to health and wellness services for young people ages 12–24 and their caregivers across British Columbia. Foundry’s provincial virtual services offer counselling, peer support, primary care and employment support services for young people ages 12-24. In addition to support for young people, caregivers of youth ages 12-24 can also access counselling, family peer support, and groups! All services offered are free and confidential. No referrals are required.

To register and make an appointment, download the Foundry BC app or phone 1-833-308-6379. Visit www.foundrybc.ca/virtual for other ways to access our services online. 2  WestCoastFamilies.com

”Supporting a loved one can be challenging- you don’t have to go through it alone” Foundry Family Peer Supporter

Make sure you are a part of Family Support

The WestCoast Families

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Resource Guide

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Resource Guide

Email Info@westcoastfamilies.com for more info NeWParentResouRces DOULAS Victoria Doula Directory

Dandelion Midwifery


VIDA Doulas

Born Healthy

N Sooke Midwifery

Community Midwifery Care


630 2nd Ave, Ladysmith | 250-245-3079 164 Kings Lane, Salt Spring | 250-537-2243

Cook Street Community Midwives 101–1005 Cook St | 250-386-4116 cookstmidwives.com

Cowichan Midwifery Group 164 Station St | 250-709-2040 cowichanmidwifery.ca


2050B Townsend Rd | 778-425-0780 sookemidwifery.com

Victoria Midwifery Group

35 Cambridge St | 250-381-1977

West Coast Midwives

2823 Dysart Rd | 250-384-5940

D Western Communities Midwifery 287 Stewart Ave | 250-589-3417

200–1100 Island Hwy | 250-850-2110 islandhealth.ca

Peninsula Best Babies




Birthright Victoria


Saanich Neighbourhood Place Best Babies

V V Esquimalt


Sooke Family Resource Society Best Babies Program

W Gulf Islands

231 Regina Ave | 250-384-3211

The Midwives Collective

2506 Maxey Rd, Nanaimo | 250-741-1294 or 350 Stewart Ave, Nanaimo | 250-716-1366



515–620 View St | 250-380-0305 V birthrightvictoria.org

V Mid-Island Midwifery

208–2951 Tillicum Rd | 250-380-6329 accessmidwifery.ca

V Campbell River Public Health

Aboriginal Prenatal Support V

107–1120 Yates St | 250-590-7605


Esquimalt Neighbourhood House 250-385-2635 ext. 203


Midwifery Care

V 547 Michigan St | 250-592-5407

250-661-2544 | vidadoulas.ca

Access Midwifery & Family Care


709 Connaught Rd | 250-590-7770 V dandelionmidwifery.com/

PUBLIC HEALTH (Island Health)


675 Canada Ave | 250-709-3050 | islandhealth.ca

250-360-1148 | saanichneighbourhoodplace.com


Camosun College N 250-370-3550 | ce.camosun.ca

2410 Malaview Dr | 250-655-5300

250-642-5152, ext. 237 | sfrs.ca

D Cowichan Valley Craniosacral Maternity, Lactation & Pediatric Clinic

W 250-748-5551

cowichancraniosacral.com Specializing in emotional and physical wellbeing for V both mother and baby during pregnancy, birthing and breastfeeding. Newborn screening includes frenulum assessment V for suspected tongue-tie. Lactation support is multilayered to address emotional and physical health components, as well as treat disruptions to W your infant’s optimal suck, swallow and breathe physiology. This includes treatment of torticollis and faux tongue-ties, aka “posterior” and “submucosal.”

Crossroads Crisis Pregnancy Centre of Nanaimo


Gulf Islands Early Years


Mothering Touch Centre


Victoria Best Babies

1240 Gladstone Ave | 250-381-1552 fernwoodnrg.ca

Victoria Native Friendship Centre 250-384-3211 | vnfc.ca

WestShore Best Babies

250-217-6787 ext. 204 | bgcvic.org

530 Fraser St | 250-519-5311 | islandhealth.ca 250-539-3099 | islandhealth.ca


Parksville/Qualicum Health Unit




Port Alberni Health Unit




Salt Spring Island


249 W. Hirst Ave | 250-947-8242 | islandhealth.ca 2170 Mt. Newton X Rd | 250-544-2400 islandhealth.ca 4201 6th Ave | 250-731-1316 | islandhealth.ca 3995 Quadra St | 250-519-5100 | islandhealth.ca 160 Fulford-Ganges Rd | 250-538-4880

Ladysmith Health Unit

N islandhealth.ca

Lake Cowichan Health Unit

Sooke D 6672 Wadams Way | 250-519-3487

V 224 High St | 250-755-3342 | islandhealth.ca 58 Cowichan Ave | 250-749-6878 V islandhealth.ca

Tofino & Ucluelet Public Health N & Coastal Family Place Nanaimo Health Unit 265 First St | 250-725-4020 | islandhealth.ca W 1665 Grant Ave | 250-755-3342 | islandhealth.ca Nanaimo Princess Royal Family Centre





N Victoria

1947 Cook St | 250-388-2200 | islandhealth.ca

80 Chapel St | 250-739-5845 | islandhealth.ca

1717B Kerrisdale Rd | 250-714-2191

250-653-4465 | giearlyyears@shaw.ca 975 Fort St | 250-595-4905 | motheringtouch.ca Prenatal classes taught by certified childbirth educators. Pre- and post-natal yoga and fitness, breastfeeding education, parenting the newborn, baby groups.

Sooke Family Resource Society Prenatal Program


250-642-5152 | sfrs.ca

V Victoria & Area P Peninsula W Westshore G Gulf Islands


Island Parent Magazine

D Duncan & Area N Nanaimo & Area c Courtenay/Comox



Family Resource Guide 2021


Dec/Jan 2022  3


DEC/JAN 2022


WHAT’S NEW? Jim Schneider Publisher publisher@westcoastfamilies.com Bianca Bujan Editor editor@westcoastfamilies.com







Jodi Iverson Account Manager jodi@westcoastfamilies.com Kristine Wickheim Account Manager kristine@islandparent.ca

For distribution inquiries, please email publisher@westcoastfamilies.com












WestCoast Families, published by Island Parent Group Enterprises Ltd., is a bimonthly publication that honours and supports parents by providing information on resources and businesses for west coast families. Views expressed are not necessarily those of the publisher. No material herein may be reproduced without the permission of the publisher.

Mailing Address 518 Caselton Place Victoria, BC V8Z 7Y5 250 388 6905 A proud member of






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is nearly behind us and a new year is on the horizon. There’s no better time than a new year to plan for new beginnings, however that may look for you and your family. With this in mind, we’re sharing stories to help you adjust to the changes that a new year may bring.

ter fun. The outdoor survival skills shared will help your family to beat the winter blues, while learning important life lessons for safe outdoor play during the winter months.

Becoming a new mother is a new beginning to be celebrated, but what we don’t talk about enough is how the milestone of becoming a parent, also means letting go of some of yourself. Jen Murtagh of Maturn shares tips on how to embrace the expansiveness that motherhood brings, reminding us that it’s alright to feel a sense of loss when you bring a new life into the world, and providing us with tools to address those feelings.

We also explore life with an EV, and how switching from a gas-powered vehicle to an electric family car could impact your family financially. Plus, delicious recipes, study tips, how ro develop a fitness routine that will actually stick, and how to enjoy a solo staycation in the city (cause mom needs a little “me” time after the holidays have come to a close, am I right?).

We also discuss divorce, and with the help of a local divorce lawyer, we share tips on how to make it a smooth separation as your family transitions to a new dynamic. Separations are never easy but approaching the life adjustment with the right tools will make it that much easier. The winter months bring cooler days, and for many, a resistance from kids to play outside. A guest post by Scouts Canada shares tips on how to build outdoor life skills in kids while encouraging them to enjoy win-

Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season. From our family to yours, Bianca Bujan Editor

Dec/Jan 2022  5

WHAT’S NEW? Fresh St. Market becomes first grocer in Canada to partner with zero-waste packaging platform Reusables.com Fresh St. Market has become the first grocer in Canada to offer takeout packaging from Reusables.com (Reusables), the container-sharing platform for zero-waste takeout, at their Vancouver House location. Created specifically for the food industry in response to the rising demand of takeout and food delivery, the aesthetically pleasing stainless-steel containers provide a more sustainable alternative to single-use packaging. At the Vancouver House Fresh St. Market, new and existing Reusables members can order items from the Fork Lift Kitchen & Bar, cafe, grocery, bakery and more without contributing to single-use plastic waste entering the ecosystem. At the time of order, customers state they are a member of the Reusables program and will have their order prepared in a stainless-steel container equipped with a QR code that is scanned and tracked. Reusables’ containers are then required to be returned to any participating store on the platform within 14 days. Learn more: freshstmarket.com and reusables.com

Helicopters Without Borders unites 3 west coast organizations to fight food injustice in rural communities The relationship between some of BC’s most remote Indigenous communities in need and Helicopters Without Borders (HWB), a Canadian charity dedicated to honouring rural Indigenous communities, began earlier this year and as they connected with SPUD.ca, a local online grocer with a deep commitment to their communities, hurdles were overcome and help was on the way. In order to deliver on their first, urgent request to fill some of the gaps created from food insecurity, SPUD.ca worked with BC Fresh to donate 700 pounds of fresh vegetables. With so many remote Indigenous communities in need, the partners have pledged to work together in the coming year to do what they can to help. HWB is in its first year of operation has worked with local First Nations to deliver vaccines, medications, PPE, clinicians, fresh produce, non-perishables and other needed cargo to its partner communities. HWB has a strong belief in building a sustainable future for generations, which is why they are fully carbon neutral for all its flight and does so by carbon offsetting Coastal First Nations(CFN) efforts in the restoration of the Great Bear Rainforest. Learn more: spud.ca/hwb

Love Food Hate Waste Canada campaign encourages Canadians to combat food waste this holiday season The Love Food Hate Waste Canada campaign helps Canadians make the most of the food they love. Delivered by the National Zero Waste Council in collaboration with campaign partners, it is Canada’s leading resource to help people prevent food waste at home. Through the website, consumers can learn helpful tips like how to level up turkey leftovers, and canning creations to save and reuse leftovers. Canada’s 2.2 million tonnes of avoidable household food waste is equivalent to 9.8 million tonnes of CO2 and 2.1 million cars on the road. Research conducted by the National Zero Waste Council found that 63% of the food Canadians throw away at home could have been eaten. Vegetables and fruit top the list – for example, every day in Canada 2,400,000 potatoes and over 1,225,000 apples are wasted. Campaign partners include the City of Toronto, City of Vancouver, City of Winnipeg, RECYC- QUÉBEC, the Capital Regional District, Metro Vancouver, and Walmart Canada. Learn more: lovefoodhatewaste.ca 6  WestCoastFamilies.com

Vancouver Learning Disabilities Society launches new mobile classrooms The Learning Disabilities Society (LDS) has recently announced a new mobile outreach program, LDS Access, intended to work as a ‘classroom on wheels’ which will ensure access to critically needed learning support services in the Greater Vancouver region. The mobile classroom enables access to LDS specialized support for children and youth with diverse abilities, in their own neighbourhood, eliminating barriers such as transportation access or financial circumstances.

THERE’S SO MUCH FUN TO EXPLORE THIS SEASON! Dance • Theatre • Visual Arts Music • Literary Arts visit placedesarts.ca

The mobile classroom, housed in a cleanenergy electric mini-bus, is the first of its kind in BC and its design reflects public health guidelines for the pandemic. Special care has been taken in the mobile classroom design to ensure maximum airflow and compliance with all COVID-19 related safety protocols. Learn more: ldsociety.ca/giving

Encourage your friends and family to explore more of their city, their history and their shared culture this year Enjoy a year of culture, Vancouver style! Book throughvancouverattractions.com and enjoy admission to 7 different museums and galleries for just $70 for an adult ticket package. Vancouver’s Culture Combo combines the best of Vancouver’s art, history, and hands-on experiences that are suitable for all ages and includes a single admission to: • Vancouver Art Gallery • Museum of Vancouver • Museum of Anthropology • Vancouver Maritime Museum • Beaty Biodiversity Museum • BC Sports Hall of Fame • Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Gardens




Learn more: vancouverattractions.com

South Surrey 604.575.1494 205-15149 Hwy 10 Panorama Shopping Village Surrey, British Columbia V3S 9A5, Canada ssurrey@oxfordlearning.com


Join the conversation!

Dec/Jan 2022  7


Fresh Finds DREAM ON Toques

Winter has arrived bringing frosty mornings and fallen snow. It’s time to bundle up friends, cause toque season is here! Created by Jasmine Lorimer, these chunky-knit crocheted toques are 100% acrylic, and 100% cute. Offered in a range of rich hues such as mustard, negroni, moss and creamy, and topped with a pom pom poof, you’re sure to look cute while keeping cozy during the cooler months. In order to avoid excess waste, all apparel is made to order, so be sure to order in advance. dream-on-shop.com | $45

Unwrap Your Dreams Book What will you dream about tonight? You can decide! A children’s book penned by Amy Beeman, Morning Radio Show Producer and Host and mother of three, Unwrap Your Dreams takes you on an imaginary adventure filled with magical animals, underwater experiences, dancing fairies and flights to faraway lands. Through illuminated illustrations and wondrous words, you can drift off to dreamland and let the adventures begin. There’s no limit to the places you’ll go and the sights you’ll see as you unwrap your dreams. amybeeman.ca | $15

Thrive Causemetics Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara Look like you’re styling lash extensions with this lengthening mascara that won’t clump, flake or smudge. The vegan, cruelty-free formula is powered by Flake-Free Tubing Technology™ to create voluminous, show-stopping lashes, while Orchid Stem Cell Complex™ encourages and supports longer, healthier-looking lashes, powered by plant stem cell technology. Plus, a percentage of each purchase goes towards charitable organizations that help women thrive, so you can feel good about your purchase while looking good, too. thrivecausemetics.ca | $32 8  WestCoastFamilies.com

Pudus Creekside Slide Slippers Cute and comfy, these slippers will become your new, everyday indoor shoe, and created by a Vancouverbased brother-sister duo, you’ll feel great about supporting a local company while giving your sore feet the comfort and support they need. Made of a cute, cable-knit fabric exterior available in blush, lavender and grey, your slippers will look stylish as you stroll around the house. Inside, you’ll find extra-plush, faux-fur lining and a layer of memory foam that will make you feel like you’re walking on clouds. ilovemypudus.com | $35

Summer Fresh Products Despite what the name may imply, these dips can be enjoyed all year long. Summer Fresh has been creating healthy hummus flavours for over 25 years with fresh, simple ingredients blended to perfection. Their original hummus is made using six ingredients, most of which can be found in your pantry; chickpeas, tahini, canola oil, lemon juice, sea salt and fresh garlic. Enjoy their dips with veggies, crackers or to bump up the flavours in your sandwich. summerfresh.com | $4

Solo Stove Bonfire The colder winter weather doesn’t mean that you have to hunker down and hibernate indoors. With the Solo Stove Bonfire—now available in Canada— you can warm up by a bonfire without the fuss of dodging campfire smoke, or trying to light a damp kindle. Instead, this portable, smokeless fire pit is easy to light, and leaves virtually no smoke and minimal ash to clean. Set it up in your backyard for a cozy visit by the fire with friends, or pack it in your car for a camping trip or tailgate party! solostove.com | $350

Dec/Jan 2022  9

6 Ways to Help Kids Build Outdoor Skills Through Winter Fun


horter days, fluctuating temperatures, dreary grey skies and unpredictable weather are hallmarks of winter. While the instinct might be to stay indoors, getting outside empowers kids to beat the winter blues. The great outdoors is an incredible environment for learning. Research shows outdoor recreation, a fundamental need for children, not only supports physical development, but also contributes to cognitive functioning, creativity, problem solving, positive self-esteem and more. Whether you’re venturing to a local mountain for time in the snow, or navigating a cold rainy day in the city, developing outdoor winter skills will serve kids well. It can help them prepare for the unexpected, like becoming lost or getting in an accident, and fosters learning that will support them in their everyday lives for years to come. Best of all, it is fun! Fun activities will encourage socialization, exploration, STEM and building skills, culinary abilities, leadership and imagination. To encourage more kids to get outdoors yearround, Scouts Canada is sharing seven fun ways for families to make the most of winter, and learn some important life skills along the way.

1) Become explorers.

Head outdoors for some unstructured playtime and encourage your kids to lead the fun. Giving kids the freedom to explore and discover is an essential part of play that nurtures 10  WestCoastFamilies.com

imagination and creativity, and enables safe risk-taking to test their abilities and limits, decision-making, problem-solving and self-regulation skills.

2) Build a shelter, and develop STEM skills.

Building a shelter from materials only found in nature is a fun way to spend an afternoon, and it also teaches kids about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Follow the method of learning by doing and encourage kids to discover what works, what doesn’t, and find solutions themselves. Offer guidance through questions like, “What can we use to fill the cracks to protect us from the wind?” Younger kids can first try building a tarp shelter using branches, a lightweight tarp and rope. No one plans to get lost when out for a hike, but it happens all too often. Knowing how to build a shelter for protection from inclement weather, wind and the cold can be lifesaving.

3) Practice getting lost and found.

Embark on a nature walk and take steps to prevent getting lost by following a marked trail, or leaving trail markers. Let kids take the lead by practicing navigating a trail, then have them lead the way back. Each time they’re unsure of the way, tell them to hug a tree—it’s the best way for kids who get separated to stay put until someone finds them.

A game of lost and find me takes hide and seek to the next level and puts navigation skills to the test. Obtain (or make) a map of the neighbourhood and split into two teams. The team hiding should leave clues about their location that correspond to the map. The second team can then use a map and the clues to seek.

4) Practice ice safety.

Do you know how to tell if a frozen pond is safe to walk on or what to do if someone falls through? Head to a local park to practice an ice rescue. Lay down a tarp to simulate ice, and do safety drills like crawling with your feet spread wide and using items found nearby like a branch or a hockey stick to assist the person in the “water.”

5) Become an outdoor chef.

The ability to build a campfire to cook a simple meal is an important survival skill. Once kids perfect their fire building skills, try creating a fire with just one match. Be sure to follow fire bylaws and only build a fire if it’s safe to do so. If you don’t have access to a space to safely cook outdoors, try a cooking challenge at home. Create a meal without using power or select five unusual ingredients that must be used

to inspire creativity and problem-solving abilities that could come in handy during a power outage or emergency situation where food is in short supply.

6) Go forest bathing.

We all need time to destress—whether it’s due to anxiety related to the pandemic, school, work or another part of life. Forest bathing is a form of meditation, and studies show that simply spending time in nature can help boost your mood and offer mental health benefits. Head to a local forest for a quiet walk, paying close attention to your surroundings. Perhaps you’ll even spot local wildlife. Prioritizing safety is essential for successful outdoor adventures, especially in winter. Remember to leave no trace— which means to leave nature as you found it to protect and preserve it for generations to come.

Scouts Canada is launching a four-week outdoor winter skills challenge to help boys and girls discover their capabilities, build resiliency and promote positive mental health. Families interested in participating in Scouts Canada’s winter challenge and other programming can sign up at Scouts.ca.

Dec/Jan 2022  11

Maternity Leave

5 ways to embrace the identity shift of motherhood


aternity leave rocked me. At the time, I was 30 years old and I felt like I really knew who I was, and in retrospect, I can see the humour in that. Becoming a mother changed me in ways that I could never have anticipated, and I was vastly unprepared for the parts of me that started unraveling during that time in my life. Becoming a mother is an identity shift, and one of the most significant physical and psychological changes a woman will ever experience. Before I had my first child, no one had told me about this shift. There was no warning that although having a baby and becoming a mother is transformational, it is also a time when you may experience grief. You may even grieve the loss of your life before you became a mother. You may struggle with this new identity that feels so far away from who you were and what defined you before your baby arrived. You may wistfully remember the things you used to do, including if you loved your job and career. Like many new mothers, I struggled with embracing the expanded me. At the time, I didn’t even know what was actually going on inside of me, aside from the hormonal changes, mood swings and sleep deprivation. On my maternity leave, I forgot who I was, what I was good at and what my strengths were. Although I didn’t realize it then, I know now just how much of my self-worth was coming from my career. I remember having feelings like I was “just a mom” and missed my

old life where I could pick up at any point, have dinner with friends and work late rocking a strategic planning meeting. I remember judging myself for feeling that way because having a child was something I had wanted. The identity shift of motherhood is thankfully becoming more normalized and talked about. If you have felt this shift or know someone who is going through it, here are five ways we can embrace the expansiveness that becoming a mother brings.

1. Give yourself permission to sit with your feelings.

So often when we feel like we are hurting or emotionally up and down, we want to get on the other side of it too quickly. It’s important to realize that what you resist, persists. Ask yourself: Can I be ok with feeling this way today? How can I love myself through this challenging time?

2. Claim the parts of you that you want to hold on to.

Making an intentional declaration of who you are and the parts of you that you want to intentionally keep is a powerful exercise. We can often feel as though we’ve “lost ourselves” in motherhood, so we encourage you to be clear about the parts of you that you want to intentionally hold on to as you adapt to your lifestyle changes. Jen Murtagh and Sonja Baikogli Foley, Co-Founders of Maturn

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ceptance and appreciation of who you are, or maybe it’s some patterns that haven’t been serving you. Whatever feels right for you, ultimately it’s about asking yourself: How will you love yourself through this journey?

5. Ask yourself: What would feel good right now at this moment?

When you wake up in the morning, get into a habit of asking yourself what you need (instead of what you need to do today). Remember to come back to yourself, your deeper needs and find small ways to honour those throughout your day.

3. Normalize grief.

You may feel a sense of loss–profound or minimal. We all experience a range of emotions and access to our emotions. You may really miss the time you once had for yourself, the energy you felt, your independence, relationships, career, and freedom. Those things are not gone forever, they’ve just shifted. Let yourself feel the grief and get some support from a friend, counsellor or family member.

4. Enter into a radical new relationship with yourself. Motherhood is an extraordinary journey. Use the time of transition to think about the old parts of you that need to shift in order to move towards the person you are becoming. Ask yourself: What needs to go in order for me to grow? Perhaps it’s a new way of speaking to yourself, further ac-

Jen Murtagh is the Co-Founder of Maturn— Canada’s first comprehensive program supporting mothers throughout their entire maternity leave. Founded by Jen Murtagh and Sonja Baikogli Foley, the program offers the tools, connections and compassionate resources required so mothers can transition back to work with greater ease and support. Maturn works directly with Canadian organizations to close the power gap and increase senior leadership roles held by self-identified women. You can find more information at Maturn.com.

Dec/Jan 2022  13

Discussing Divorce


avigating new beginnings can be challenging, especially when it happens within the family unit. Whether it be a spouse starting a new job, a parent taking time off work, or a child going to school for the first time, all familial changes are difficult to maneuver. And when a family starts to go through big changes, like a divorce or separation, the stakes are much higher. Unfortunately, not all separations are easy. Coquitlambased law firm, Clark Woods LLP, specializes in family law (amongst other areas). To help you navigate the road to divorce, they have shared six ways to help make your marital separation as smooth as possible.

1) Keep your assets and budget in mind.

Be prepared to not only have contention over child custody, but also family assets. Generally, the court will not grant an order for divorce until all issues (such as parenting, child support, spousal support, property division, etc.) have been resolved either through negotiation or litigation. This process can be long and costly, so be prepared to give up the items that don’t truly matter and work within your budget. Find out what you or your partner have to divide, what you can let go versus what is rightfully yours, and make a plan of action with your lawyer. Remember: spending $2,000 in court fighting over a $50 microwave isn’t worth it. For questions regarding divorce or separation, contact Clark Woods LLP by email at info@clarkwoods.ca, or online at clarkwoods.ca. 14  WestCoastFamilies.com

6 tips for a smooth separation 2) Consider mediation.

Divorce doesn’t have to be messy. Not everyone needs to argue, nor do they have assets or children to argue over. Ask your lawyer about alternate routes, such as negotiation or mediation, instead of filing a claim in court right away. You may find that there are other options that are better suited to your specific needs.

3) Have a support strategy.

Both child and spousal support are the critical pieces in divorce and often cause the most fighting and controversy. Child support is generally straightforward, but spousal support can cause many issues (especially if one spouse isn’t employed, is a student, or works part-time earning very little income). The individual that earns little to no income must have a strategy in place for future expenses. In these cases, seeking out a lawyer immediately is imperative. Couples forget that even if they aren’t legally married, both parties can still apply for spousal or child support as long as they are in a marriage-like relationship and have lived together for a minimum of two years, or have a child.

4) Communicate with your soon-to-be ex.

Communicating with your ex-partner is the most important thing when it comes to separation or divorce. Through communication, both parties are more likely to work together and can go through the process cordially. However, this is not always the case. If you can no longer communicate with your ex, do you have someone in your network who can on your

behalf? Seeking legal representation right away is the best thing to do when communication is no longer possible.

5) Hire a professional that’s right for you.

When looking for the right family lawyer to handle your legal matters, search for someone who will be an addition to your support system. Do your research, conduct an interview, and make sure this person is the right fit for you. You may need to find a lawyer who speaks more than one language or has flexible working hours and meeting locations. When going through something as difficult as divorce, you want your lawyer to be a member of your team, with compassion and respect for your situation.

6) Seek a counsellor in addition to a councillor.

Although a lawyer is extremely important when going through a divorce, so is a registered therapist. There are many professionals who are ready to guide you through this new phase of life and are equipped with the tools to do so. Not all law firms know when to draw the line, and some find it hard to separate the councillor from the counsellor. It’s crucial to seek out additional services that will help you and your family seamlessly transition into your new beginning.

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At Rothewood Academy we are dedicated to teaching the whole child – head, hands and heart. Our holistic approach to early learning is what makes Rothewood unique.

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R OT H E WO O D.CO M Our Schools: RICHMOND SOUTH SURREY WHITE ROCK Ages: 0–5 years Dec/Jan 2022  15

5 Ways to Kickstart Your Health Journey—and Make It Stick to. These not only influence how our day begins but also our thoughts, mood and feelings.

2) FOCUS ON ADDING TO YOUR DIET, NOT TAKING AWAY FROM IT. Diet culture has made us believe that we constantly need to be restricting ourselves and avoiding certain foods, but what if we focused more on what we can eat and added more of it to our daily diets? Think about adding more green vegetables to each meal. Having a healthy smoothie first thing in the morning or incorporating more fruits in place of sugary snacks.



ow many times have you told yourself at the beginning of each year that this will be your year to get in shape and eat better? How many of those times did you actually follow through with your goals? You see, we all have good intentions to go after our goals but the reality is that change is hard and change is challenging. But it is in the most challenging moments that we evolve and may have radical breakthroughs in life. Every day we wake up, we have the option to either evolve or remain the same. So many are scared to step into a new journey because they are scared of failure and the unknown. But the more we resist change, the more we continue to hold ourselves back. If you truly want to make changes within your life, health and the way you feel, you

Rather than focusing on the big picture, which can lead you to give up on your goals quickly, try setting mini goals each day that are attainable. For example, commit to 15 must get uncomfortable and release habits that are not shaping your desired life. Right now, become aware of your day-to-day habits and routines. Are they challenging you to become a stronger person? Are your habits benefiting the way your body both feels and functions? If not, it’s time to make some changes. Here are my top five tips on how to kickstart your wellness journey in the new year:


Your morning routine will dictate how the remainder of your day will flow. Be sure to drink water first thing and eat a nutritious breakfast that contains protein. Also, become aware of what you are reading and listening

Andrea Saliba is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, Health Coach and mother of four. She is the creator of an online holistic wellness coaching program, The 30 Day Wellness Journey, where she coaches women on how to ditch dieting and implement a healthy, well-balanced way of eating and living that will last a lifetime. She has been nominated as one of Canada’s Top Health Leaders four years in a row by Optimyz Magazine, spoken publicly many times for various community events and has been a guest on Global TV Vancouver. Andrea is currently writing a cookbook which will be released in Winter 2021. 16  WestCoastFamilies.com

minutes of daily movement each day. Once you have adopted this habit, add another five minutes each week. You will begin to feel like you have accomplished something which will then lead you towards setting more mini goals for yourself. This also boosts your confidence.


Try to find a friend or neighbour who is interested in getting fit and healthy as well.


IG sarah_janepics sarahjanem@me.com sarahjanemphotography.com

Behaviour Support Services

Together, you can hold each other accountable and stay committed to the goals you set for yourselves.


Why is it important for you to get healthy and stay committed to your wellness? What is your motivation? Perhaps you have a very important event coming up and you need a boost of confidence, or maybe your doctor has recently told you that your health is declining. Whatever your reason is, write it down on a sticky note and glance at it each day to remind you why this is important to you. If you are not clear as to what your reason is, it will not feel important to you and therefore, you will be more likely to throw in the towel and give up. Know that making radical changes and setting wellness goals for yourself can be intimidating and scary. The first step is to just start–start anywhere! There will never be the “right” time. Life is so short and each day is truly a gift, that is why it is called the present. It’s not about striving for perfection. It is about being consistent and following through for the most important person of all–you!

Specializes in supporting children with autism, intellectual or developmental disabilities. Contact us to learn more about receiving services and education in English and other languages. Toll Free: 1 (855) 437-7095 | www.laurelbc.ca


Festival of Trees December 1 to 24, 2021

Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site

12138 Fourth Avenue | Steveston Richmond BC 604.664.9009 gulfofgeorgiacannery.org

Dec/Jan 2022  17




hether you’re going out for a romantic date night, or looking for somewhere fun to dine with friends, the biggest question always remains: Where should we go? The nice thing about the food scene in Vancouver is the diverse offerings, with new dining destinations opening up regularly, and ever-changing menus at some of the city’s staple spots. From a high-end Japanese-inspired omakase, to a Jamoneria that takes you on a tasting trip to Spain, to a tasty, award-winning spot that pays homage

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to Italy, these new restaurants and updated offerings will set the scene for a night to remember—with the promise of full bellies.

Tojo’s Restaurant (Vancouver)

If you’re celebrating a special occasion and you love Japanese cuisine, you’ll want to head to Tojo’s for the incomparable, seasonal omakase experience. A seat at the sushi bar means first-class service (often from Chef Tojo himself), where customized dishes made

using the freshest of ingredients are sure to impress. Creator of the California roll, Chef Tojo has pushed culinary boundaries with his unique Japanese-inspired dishes since he first arrived in Canada 50 years ago. Celebrities, CEOs and chefs—from Bono to Bezos to Bourdain—have dined here, and for good reason. When it comes to Japanese food, Chef Tojo is the best of the best. tojos.com

ARC Iberico Imports (Richmond)

Want a taste of Spain in your own backyard? Head to the newly-opened Jamoneria by ARC—the on-site wine and tapas bar found at Richmond’s ARC Iberico Imports. Spanish-style Sundays celebrate the tradition of gathering with friends and family over vermouth and jamon, with menu options such as Bocadillos (Spanish-style toasted sandwiches), and authentic tapas such as Galician Octopus with smoked paprika. Recognized as the producers of the best Spanish ham in the world, Cinco Jotas is the preferred ham of choice by top chefs around the world. ARC Iberico Imports is the only distributor of the world-famous ham in Canada—so tasty you’ll want to bring some home for later. arcimports.ca

Tutto Restaurant & Bar (Vancouver)

Located in an historic brick building in Yaletown, this year-old dining spot brings a refined yet casual Italian dining experience to Vancouver’s culinary scene. With newly-appointed Chef Omar Hadi at the helm (formerly the Executive Chef at Black + Blue), guests can enjoy fresh oyster offerings, decadent pizza and pasta options, and family-style fare such as the must-try Alla Fiorentina (a 50oz Tomahawk steak cooked to perfection, sliced up and served with arugula salad, seasonal vegetables, roasted fingerling potatoes and red wine sauce). Catch up over a glass of Italian wine, selected from an expansive list of offerings and cheers to an unforgettable meal in a vibrant setting. tuttorestaurant.ca

Dec/Jan 2022  19


Get a Fresh Start on Healthy Eating with these Blueberry Recipes


he new year is all about new beginnings. Whether you’re writing a list of resolutions, cleaning out your clutter, or tackling a new goal, 2022 is the perfect year to start fresh. One theme that often crosses our minds at the start of a new year is how to lead healthier and happier lives. Thinking of new nutritious recipes that everyone in the family will love can be overwhelming. To take away some of that stress, BC Blueberries has transformed many of your favourite meals and given them a superfood twist! Starting off the day with a healthy meal is crucial in dictating how your day will go. Just in time for National Blueberry Pancake Day on January 28, these breakfast recipes are all made with frozen BC Blueberries and are a great way to start your day, and the new year, on the right foot!

Berry Blue Smoothie Ingredients 2 cups frozen blueberries 1⁄3 cup yogurt 1 cup pineapple juice 1 tbsp honey (adjust to taste) Ice cubes (as needed) Directions 1) In the container of an electric blender container, place blueberries, yogurt, milk, pineapple juice and honey; whirl until smooth. Add ice cubes, a few at a time, whirl until finely crushed. Serve immediately.

Healthy Vegan Blueberry Pancakes Ingredients 1⁄2 cup oat flour 1 cup almond flour 1 cup blueberries, frozen or fresh (plus lots more for topping) 2 tbsp flaxseed + 5 tbsp water 1⁄4 tsp salt 1 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp baking soda 1 mashed banana (1⁄2 cup) 1 tsp vanilla extract 3⁄4 cup almond milk 2 tbsp maple syrup 1⁄2 tsp apple cider vinegar

For more healthy recipes made with frozen BC Blueberries for the new year, visit bcblueberry.com or @bcblueberries on socials. 20  WestCoastFamilies.com

Directions 1) In a large bowl, mix the oat flour, almond flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda. 2) Mix flaxseed and water and set aside for 5–10 minutes until it forms a gel-like consistency. 3) In a separate bowl, mix mashed banana, almond milk, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, vanilla extract, and flaxseed + water mixture. 4) Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix together, then add the 1 cup of blueberries to the batter. 5) Heat pan or griddle to medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Scoop batter onto pan in small pancake shapes (2–3 small spoonfuls of batter per pancake). Note: smaller pancakes will be much easier to flip. When using almond/oat flour it can be harder to flip pancakes so making them smaller makes it easier to work with (plus you get more pancakes!). 6) Let cook for 5–6 minutes or until bubbles form on the top, and when you can comfortably get a spatula underneath the pancake to flip it without breaking the pancake in half, it is cooked enough to flip. Flip the pancake and let it cook for another 1–2 minutes and then remove from the pan. 7) Top with more blueberries and whatever pancake syrup you like. Maple syrup pairs really nicely with this, as does a drizzle of peanut butter or almond butter.

3⁄4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed

1⁄2 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)

2 large eggs (room temperature) 1⁄2 cup plain 3% yogurt 1 tbsp lemon zest (approximately the zest from 1 large lemon) 2 tbsp lemon juice – fresh

Whole Wheat Blueberry Lemon Tea Loaf Ingredients 11⁄2 cups all-purpose whole wheat flour 11⁄2 tsp baking powder 11⁄2 tsp baking soda 1⁄4 tsp (pinch) salt 13⁄4 cups frozen blueberries – divided in half (mix 1 tbsp of the flour mixture in with the blueberries)

Directions 1) Preheat oven to 350°F. 2) Butter a 9” x 5” x 2.5” non-stick loaf pan. 3) Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl, mix and set aside. 4) Mix 1 tbsp of the flour mixture in with the blueberries until coated, set aside. (If the blueberries are too dry to coat, then add 1⁄2 tsp of lemon juice so the flour adheres to them.) This is to stop the blueberries from sinking to the bottom of the loaf. 5) In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, approximately 1 minute. 6) Beat the eggs in one at a time. 7) On low speed, alternately mix in the flour mixture, yogurt, lemon zest and juice in three intervals. 8) Gently fold in half the amount of blueberries. 9) Pour into the greased loaf pan. 10) Top with the remaining blueberries. 11) Bake in the middle rack of a preheated oven at 350°F for 45–55 minutes or until the cake tester comes out clean. 12) Cool in the loaf pan for a minimum of 30 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack.

Gifted and Bright children learn differently, and have varied educational needs. At Madrona, we work closely with parents to develop personalized learning plans that meet every child’s unique needs.

Dec/Jan 2022  21

PLAY After a busy week of work and school, it’s time to wind down and enjoy some family time, but what can you do that everyone in the family will enjoy? Here’s a list of local activities to consider–whether you’re looking to connect over a new outdoor adventure, or while away a rainy day indoors.


Canyon Lights, Capilano Suspension Bridge November 20, 2021 – January 23, 2022 This holiday season, the Capilano Suspension Bridge shines brighter than ever before with a newly-added, multi-colour light display that runs from end-to-end, lighting up the world-famous bridge. The mesmerizing “Arc de Lumina ‘’ light tunnel wraps its way around a portion of the Cliffwalk, and the Treetops Adventure features eight of the world’s tallest Christmas trees, lit up for all to enjoy as they walk high above the forest floor. Listen to live festive tunes as you explore the park in search of lit snowy owls, a scavenger hunt that grants guests the chance to win a grand prize Canadian Rockies trip. Partial proceeds from admissions are donated to the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund to help support burn survivors and their families, as well as to educate fire and burn awareness in schools throughout the province. capbridge.com


FlyOver Canada Soar With Santa December 9, 2021 – January 3, 2022 This holiday season, a visit to FlyOver Canada should be at the top of everyone’s wish list. Flying with Santa is a big, bold experience that elicits equally as big reactions. Through “Soar With Santa”, guests are invited to fly with Santa across Canada and the North Pole in an immersive, 4D cinematic ride experience. After the show, head to Flying Whale cafe where they will be serving seasonal items such as dipped marshmallows, Christmas loaf, and gingerbread cookies. Peppermint hot chocolate, hazelnut hot chocolate, egg nog lattes, Bailey’s and hot chocolate, Christmas punch, spiced apple cider, and mulled wine will also be available for a post-show warmup before heading outside.

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Your Family-Friendly Adventure Destination! Have tons of fun and create amazing memories with your family at Manning Park Resort. Conveniently located less than three hours from Vancouver, this four-season resort provides an abundance of outdoor experiences to suit your entire family. During the winter season, we’re proud to offer some of the best conditions in BC for alpine skiing and snowboarding. Both snow newbies and experienced outdoor enthusiasts will have a blast because we provide plenty of adventures for all ages, levels, and abilities. We also offer rentals and lessons for every age to build skills in many of our snow sports. Using a blend of play and instruction, our kid-specific lessons will help them gain the important skills and confidence to enjoy the slopes for years to come. Our cross-country Nordic skiing trail is ready for you to take a scenic tour with your entire family and our forested snowshoeing trails allow you to experience the spectacular beauty of the Cascade mountains. The whole family will have a blast at the Polar Coaster Tube Park! With four different runs ranging from beginner to advanced, it’s the perfect place for your family to spend the afternoon riding up the lift and tubing down the runs. After a full day of fresh air fun, your family can return to the cabin for a cozy evening of board games and hot drinks. We provide a wide variety of accommodation choices including our fantastic newly renovated cabins and our brand-new premium cabins, all with different layouts so you can choose the one that best fits the needs of your family. Our cabins are suitable for larger families or a few families travelling together. And we know your dog is an important member of your family who doesn’t want to miss out on the fun so we’re happy to offer some pet-friendly options.

Manning Park Resort Highlights: • Year-round family-friendly resort in the beautiful E.C. Manning Provincial Park, located a short distance from Vancouver, BC. • An abundance of winter activities for all levels on perfectly groomed snow. Choose from Nordic skiing, alpine skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, snowshoeing, or the Polar Coaster Tube Park. • A variety of accommodation options to suit couples, small families, large families, or groups travelling together. Check out our newly renovated cabins and brand-new premium cabins! • Private and semi-private lessons for all ages are available for many activities. • Dining and food choices are conveniently located throughout the resort property to suit any craving. Grab a quick snack while on the slopes, treat your family to an incredible dining experience, or pick up some groceries to prepare a meal in your chalet. • Other onsite amenities include a swimming pool, fitness centre, and outdoor sports courts. • Incredible stargazing opportunities during our Dark Sky Events, as well as several other unique family-friendly events to suit the season. • Limited connectivity to Wi-Fi and cellular service gives you a chance to unwind and make some wonderful memories with your family.

manningpark.com 1-604-668-5922

Dec/Jan 2022  info@manningpark.com  7500 Hwy #3, Manning Park, BC 23


Kick Off 2022 with a Solo Staycation in the City A

s we head into a new year, I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to make a safe return to travel, but personally, I’m not ready to venture abroad just yet. After nearly two years spent hunkered down at home, focusing all of my attention on ensuring that my family’s needs are met, my tasks are checked off my to-do lists, my work is done and my house remains a warm and welcoming space, I’ve realized that I haven’t focused any of my time on meeting my own needs and ensuring my own happiness remains intact. And I know many of you are in the same boat. If you can make it happen, I suggest that you find ways to relax, reset and refocus as we head into 2022. A new year is a great excuse to get a fresh start, and there’s no better way to do so than to take a little “me” time to prepare for what’s to come. To help you get started, here’s how you can enjoy a solo staycation in the city. Treat yourself or add a little getaway to your holiday wish list, and show appreciation for yourself for all that you’ve had to endure in 2021.


There are many hotels found in downtown Vancouver that offer special deals and seasonal promotions for locals. The Westin Bayshore has a “Rest & Reconnect” package 24  WestCoastFamilies.com

on from now until January 15, 2022 which includes a $100 credit for the on-site spa, as well as a “‘Tis The Season for a Resort Retreat” package which includes 25% off your stay until January 31, 2022. I love the Westin Bayshore for its stunning views of Coal Harbour and the snow-capped North Shore mountains, as well as its proximity to downtown. The rooms are quiet, and the beds are pillowy soft, promising a good night’s sleep (a luxury that’s often hard to come by in a house full of kids). If you feel like leaving your room, you have Stanley Park, or some of the city’s best shopping just steps from your door. And if you don’t feel like stepping outside, the hotel has dining options, swimming pools and an on-site spa to keep you busy indoors during your stay. It’s like a mini resort in the city.


The on-site Vida Spa is an urban oasis, offering a range of massage and spa treatments–many of which are based on Ayurveda, an ancient traditional Indian medicine. Robe up and settle in by the fire as you sip on a hot cup of tea before you’re whisked away for your treatment. Then head to a quiet treatment room for a Swedish Restorative & Relaxing Classic massage, or a new Oxygenated

Facial. There’s a wide range of treatments to choose from based on your needs.


Fuel up at one of the on-site restaurants, like the H Tasting lounge which offers a delicious brunch menu, a lovely Afternoon Tea, or if you’re looking for a super luxe dining experience, opt for dinner in a dome. This winter, the restaurant has set up five private domes filled with Nordic-themed decor like sheepskin throws and faux fur pillows, set up inside glass panelled wooden domes, where you can take in incredible views of the city from the comfort of your own cozy space. Invite friends to join you for a meal, or hunker down in your hotel room where you can enjoy their delicious menu offerings from the comfort of your bed.


Stretch your legs with a swim in one of the indoor or outdoor pools on site, or lace up your running shoes and hit the seawall for a scenic run. If biking is more your speed, pick up a free bike rental from the hotel and cruise around the Stanley Park seawall, or simply stroll along the harbour and take in the views while sipping on a hot cup of coffee from one of the nearby cafes.

Dec/Jan 2022  25


How Much Would You Save If You Had an Electric Vehicle for Your Family Car?


ith three kids in a slew of afterschool activities, I do a lot of local, city driving. Some days, I do half a dozen back-and-forth trips to the dance studio, soccer field and swimming pool, and it doesn’t sound like I’ll be hanging up my “taxi driver” hat anytime soon. I’ve been driving the same family car (a 2003 Honda Pilot) for nearly 11 years, and as gas prices continue to rise, I’m definitely starting to feel the drain on my bank account, with fuel-up costs hitting nearly $100 per week. As the kms continue to increase on my well-loved SUV, I’ve been on the hunt for a new family ride, and with more electric vehicles coming to market, I’m strongly considering making the switch. For me, the biggest deterrent so far has been the significant spike in car costs when comparing EV cars to their gas-powered counterparts. Plug-in logistics and accessible charging station locations have also been a concern, as well as space—there are only so many EVs that can accommodate larger families like my family of five. When Porsche Canada invited me to test drive the new Taycan Turbo S Cross Tourismo—Porsche’s first cross-utility vehicle and the latest addition to their e-mobility lineup, I was happy to take it for a spin to see how an

26  WestCoastFamilies.com

electric vehicle would fit in with our family. Sure, the sleek design of the station-wagonlike take on my favourite sports car was an obvious draw, but it was the thought of skipping a stop at a gas station for a week that really sealed the deal for me. After cruising around the city in my “new” car, I realized that bypassing the pump for a few days wasn’t the only perk. With five seats, we could all fit comfortably. It also offers an off-road mode for navigating rougher terrain (perfect for life on the North Shore), and a rear carrier attachment (available for an added fee) that allows for the transporting of two e-bikes, if you really want to rev up your ecofootprint while living the luxe life. This highend option starts at $119,900. Don’t worry though, if an all-electric Porsche is out of your price range, it’s still possible to make the switch to an EV. Last year I took the 2021 Kia Soul EV Premium for a spin as well. With purchase prices starting at $42,895 (far less than the base price for one of the more commonly known EV brands), I realized that there’s more variety (both in pricing and models) in the EV space than I had thought. There’s something for everyone now—from costconscious cars to high-end luxury rides—making the potential switch from gas to electric an even easier endeavor for families like mine.

Are more Canadians switching to EVs?

According to a recent survey conducted by KPMG, 7 in 10 Canadians (68%) who plan to buy a new vehicle within the next five years are hoping to buy an electric vehicle (EV), so the thought is on the minds of many (I’m not alone). Of the respondents located here in BC, 77% said that they were in the market for an EV, many as a result of the tax incentives and “green” rebates available for electric car purchases here in our province. Depending on your chosen make and model, you can receive up to $5,000 through the Government of Canada’s Incentives for Zero-Emission Vehicles program (iZEV), as well as up to $3,000 off the purchase price through the CleanBC Go Electric Vehicle Rebate Program, which encourages the adoption of new ZEVs.

So how much can you potentially save with an EV?

According to Consumer Reports, the overall savings accrued when owning an electric vehicle can more than make up for the higher purchase price of an EV. In their report, the potential savings are broken into three categories:

Fuel savings: A typical EV owner can save an average of $800-$1,000 a year on gas costs when comparing their model to an equivalent gas-powered vehicle. Maintenance and repair: Without the regular fluid changes and mechanical maintenance required by the average gas-powered car, an EV owner can see savings of around $4,600 over a lifetime. Depreciation: The study also found that newer long-range EVs are holding their value as well or longer than their gas-powered counterparts. This of course depends on the class, features and reputation of the vehicle’s manufacturer.

On top of these savings, drivers in BC can enjoy the rebates and tax incentives outlined above.


BC Hydro has created a site that helps potential electric vehicle drivers to directly compare the difference in savings when moving to an EV from a comparable gas-powered

car. By entering a few details, BC Hydro’s site will create a personal estimate for you on the savings you can enjoy, including specific gas savings per EV model and any government rebates available to you. To learn more about available rebates and tax incentives and eligible makes and models, you can also visit the Transport Canada website under zero-emission vehicles.

Bianca Bujan is the editor of WestCoast Families magazine, and an award-winning travel and food writer with bylines in Lonely Planet, Canadian Geographic, Air Canada enRoute and others. She is also a book editor for The Self Publishing Agency.

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Dec/Jan 2022  27


5 G.R.E.A.T. Study Habits Every Kid Should Know


hroughout my career as a teacher, I have taught students from kindergarten to grade 7, and adults as well. Funny, even as a school teacher I taught children the same successful habits that I learned throughout my studies while obtaining two university degrees–habits that seem to work well at any age. Being an educator for over 23 years has taught me a lot about learning–good and bad habits. Whether your child is getting ready for a grade one spelling test, or a first-year university psychology final, here are five great study habits every kid should know–and they all fit perfectly into the acronym: G.R.E.A.T.


Plan it. Schedule it. And start early. Plan a study block of time or study schedule so that you are only studying during those planned blocks and taking breaks when you are not. This helps you to avoid cramming. How: Use a visual schedule to chunk your time into blocks, this gives you the ability to be productive instead of worrying about all the things you need to do. Plus, you know that there is a start and end to each task. It takes away the anxiety and helps you plan out your studying.


When your child sleeps well, it helps them to process the information they learned that day. Studying before going to sleep has been a proven way to retain more information, so the trick is to study before you go to sleep. Research has proven that sleep helps to retain the memories we form throughout the day. And conversely, being awake disrupts the processing of memories and causes us to forget some of what we’ve memorized or learned. Therefore, avoid pulling all-nighters.


When we exercise, it activates our sympathetic nervous system. This is the part of your nervous system or brain that helps your body deal with stress. Your brain in response fills with extra blood, rich in oxygen and nutrients, which then helps you to make big important decisions! Also, the part of your brain called the hippocampus is stimulated during exercise. This part of the brain is important for reasoning and memory. So, exercise helps in the short-term by improving cognition (thinking and memory), and long-term regular exercise can actually slow the aging process (or shrinking) of the hippocampus–hugely important! Exercise is also a great stress-reducer. The bottom line is that exercise increases blood flow in your brain and this directly relates to how well you retain information. The blood flow helps improve concentration and memory is triggered more effectively too.

28  WestCoastFamilies.com

How: Right before a test, take a brisk walk around the block, or do 30 jumping jacks. The blood flow will help your brain to work much better during the test. Studying after sports practice is a good idea too.


Set up a place that is uncluttered, if possible, a regular study spot that has a desk with bright light. Research shows that the brighter it is, the more focused and alert you will be when studying. Have a plant. Studies show that a plant in the room will increase your productivity by 15%.


Have you ever felt like you were reading the same paragraph over and over again but not absorbing what you were reading? We have all done it. When you break up long study sessions you will actually help your focus. Research shows that when people try to focus on a single task for a long period of time, concentration lessens, and minds start to wander. Having a visual reward (a reward like

a treat after each chapter you read) has been proven to increase motivation. How: When you are studying, take short breaks of about 5 minutes. This will help you regain focus and study more effectively. Reward yourself by placing a treat on your desk for when you complete the study block of time. (ie: a piece of dark chocolate or any healthy brain snack). Try one or two or all five of these habits and this year will be a much better learning experience for sure!

Elaine Tan Comeau is a mom of three, and an award-winning entrepreneur and educator. She is the creator of Easy Daysies® Magnetic Schedules for Kids, an author, a Dragons’ Den winner and the 2014 Canadian Mompreneur of the Year.

Dec/Jan 2022  29

Is It OK to Be Angry? I

got so mad last week that I thought my head might explode. I didn’t, however, lose my cool. Instead, I did much worse: I swallowed my anger and apologized. A habit that happens often. I come by this habit honestly, having grown up with a mother who never displayed any hint of displeasure. Unfortunately, I can’t blame her. She is simply a product of a society that seems hell-bent on portraying women as happy and sexy, and anger is seen as a bad emotion. Who among us has not been condescendingly told to “calm down” or had the word “feminist” used as an insult? I used to jump out of my seat at any hint of a sexist opinion or word spoken. I have, after all, a PhD in Literature with a specialization in Women’s Studies. I was a champion for women’s rights. Being repeatedly called strident or ridiculed for my belief in gender equality has taught me, however, to bite my tongue, and only allow my rage to come to the surface when I am alone. It’s been an easier way to live. Recently, however, during another one of those interminable Zoom meetings during which I attempt to stay awake, I felt myself coming out of this trance of repression. I started tracking who talked and who got interrupted. Try it. It will keep you riotously entertained and then, if you are like me, it will conjure up a new feeling: anger. Women continue to be disproportionately the victims of sexual assault and harassment, the clothing industry sells padded bras to prepubescent teens, there has never been an elected female Prime Minister in Canada—these things should make us all, women and men, mad as heck. So why aren’t we? Why do women discreetly roll their eyes when they are interrupted by a man during a meeting instead of calling out their sexist behavior? Probably because to do so makes us vulnerable to the very people who hold much of the power in our society. It takes courage to speak up. 30  WestCoastFamilies.com

Courage would have helped me explain to my former boss that feedback such as, “That colour does nothing for you,” is not useful to my professional development, rather than responding by smiling politely. Now with three daughters of my own, I am increasingly tired of being polite at the detriment of change. What I’ve recently realized is that there is power in numbers. More of us should see our anger against entrenched misogyny as a catalyst for change, rather than something we should repress. But if I, a white, privileged, educated, professional woman, don’t feel safe to express my anger, how is this a reasonable ask for someone who has even fewer privileges and undoubtedly even more reasons to be angry? This makes it even more important for someone like me to speak up after years of shutting up, even if it makes me (and others) uncomfortable. Perhaps being courageous enough to express the rage and indignation I feel every time I witness women being harassed, sexualized, objectified, marginalized, vilified, stereotyped or even interrupted will help us progress towards equality faster than if I simply keep apologizing for or hiding how I really feel. I owe my daughters that. ​​Jeanne Petit-Humphries has advanced degrees from the University of Toronto in French Literature with a specialization in Women and Gender Studies, and is very proud of her three daughters who, despite occasional eye-rolls, are increasingly understanding of the need to be feminist even when it can make you seem “unfashionable.”





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Credit: Kevin Clark

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