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Kristi York

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Since everything is more expensive these days, I’m aiming to go smaller (not bigger) this December. Rather than overspend and overdo it, I’m planning to scale things back and focus on the simple pleasures of the season. If you’re also cringing at the high totals on your gas and grocery receipts, here are some fun, low-cost activities to bring your family comfort and joy this holiday season. See the light. This year, my budget won’t have room for tickets to an indoor light festival or drive-through attraction of elaborate LED shapes. Instead, I’ll be taking evening walks to admire the front yard displays in my neighbourhood. Or, when I’m driving at night, I’ll turn on some Christmas music and take an alternate route to admire the twinkling lights and illuminated inflatables. Let it snow. Fresh air is good for the body and mind, so head out into the winter wonderland…

Back-to-school season is a great time to start new routines or tweak existing ones. Maybe you’ve always liked the idea of your kids walking to school, but haven’t been able to do it consistently. To help you hit your stride, here are some common issues and tips to overcome them. “There isn’t enough time in the morning.” In households across the land, the morning rush is a daily struggle. As the new school year begins, some honest reflection might reveal areas for improvement. Could you be more organized? Could you wake up earlier, or pack lunches the night before? Can you minimize or eliminate distractions? You’re likely to have better results (and lower blood pressure at breakfast) if you adopt a structured plan. If your kids are old enough, make it into a mini science experiment. Use technology to record the actual time and distance, then calculate the necessary departure…

It’s that time of year again: activity registration. We all want our kids to be well-rounded individuals, and there is a long list of worthwhile programs available in art, science, sports, technology, music, leadership, aquatics, theatre, fitness and more. While we can agree that’s important to expose our kids to a variety of experiences, we certainly don’t want to overload them to the point where they’re tired, grumpy, unmotivated, or burnt out. It’s a fine line that can be tricky to navigate, but you’re more than qualified to steer this ship. Here are 7 tips to prevent burnout and keep a firm grip on your family’s schedule and prevent things from getting out of hand. Choose carefully. There’s no question that your child will benefit from participating in organized activities, sports teams or community groups. Even so, it’s important to remember that you don’t have unlimited resources when it comes…

I am not usually the weepy type, but the other day, all it took was a small moment at a school bus. It was around 8:45 a.m. and I was driving to the grocery store, taking the “back way” to avoid traffic. As luck would have it, I ended up behind a school bus. I groaned inwardly as I realized I was now the second vehicle in a slow-moving convoy that would be making frequent stops. As I pulled up behind the motionless bus, I looked over and saw a dad dressed in work boots waving dutifully. As the wheels began slowly rolling forward, the dad blew a kiss toward one of the bus’s windows. Once it had moved on, he shyly turned and walked back to the house. Around the corner, we paused at another house, where a mom in slip-on sandals ushered her energetic child toward the bus.…

Sure, sleep-away camp is great with its bunk beds and bonfires, but why should it get all the hype? Day camps can also provide exciting and memorable experiences for your kids this summer. Here are some tips for day camp rookies, and advice from the YMCA camp staff. The benefits Day camps offer a practical solution for working parents, as well as kids who may be prone to boredom at home. Here are a few compelling reasons to register: Close to home. While some kids crave the adventure and independence of overnight camp, others may prefer a familiar environment where they sleep in their own bed. More affordable. A Monday-to-Friday day camp typically costs less than a sleep-away camp that involves extra travel and amenities. High structure. If your child thrives in predictable routines at school, they will likely transition well to the similar format of day camp, with an…

Here’s a sound bite from my house: Me: “Hey kids, let’s go outside!” Kids: “Groannnnnnnnn. No thanks.” I have a theory about this reaction. It’s not that they’re lazy or dislike being outdoors (I know for a fact that they do). It’s just that kids need a compelling reason – even a small one – to step outside. Of course, that reason can’t be: “Well, it’s good for your overall health and mood, plus it gives you a much-needed break from screen time!” No one is leaping out of their seat after that boring sales pitch. It might take a bit of creativity to motivate kids to head outside, but it can be done. The secret? Create a purpose. Invent a task. Introduce a prop or accessory. Add something (anything!) to give the experience a sense of importance or accomplishment. Here are some of my kid-tested ideas to promote outdoor…

Every year, I tell myself that I’m not going to let the holidays stress me out. And every year, despite my best efforts, I end up frazzled and fatigued. Maybe the problem is that I’m setting a random goal but not doing specific things to create a different outcome. This year, that’s going to change. I have compiled a list of 25 small but impactful steps that you (and I) can take to keep things on track and enjoy the season more. That said, I’m guessing you don’t even have time to read this whole list. The tips are organized into 4 categories – prioritizing, shopping, coping and connecting – so feel free to jump to the section that interests you. There, you’ll find some suggested mini tactics to help ease your holiday burden. PRIORITIZING Pause and reflect. Time for some big-picture thinking. Can you clearly identify which holiday traditions…

Holiday cards can present an annual dilemma. Life is crazy-busy in December, and your to-do list is longer than Santa’s beard. But, you also want to send warm holiday wishes to the people you care about – something more meaningful than liking their latest post on Instagram. An old-fashioned holiday card is always a thoughtful gesture, and it might be even more meaningful this year. If you like the idea of sending out cards but aren’t sure where to start, read on for our step-by-step guide. Step 1: Make Your List The goal here is to establish who is on your “snail mail” list, since you’ve got to allow more prep and delivery time for them. You may choose to contact some friends and family by e-mail, text or social media, but you also instinctively know which ones will genuinely enjoy ripping open an envelope and unfolding a classic holiday…