Buy More Time With This New Service

zenGOT Photo - Woman

You’re busy getting dinner ready and you’ve just stepped on the same LEGO brick for the fourth time. The sharp pain jolts you back to the reality that, amongst all the shopping trips, house cleaning, meal prepping, and helping with schoolwork, you haven’t actually had any time to sit down and connect with your kids, let alone fit in a workout. 

Whether you’re the parent of an infant, toddler, tween, teen or adult, being a parent is demanding. The daily demands of parenting can make it difficult to find time to do other things that you enjoy.

Enter, a new website dedicated to helping you buy time for yourself or others by providing on-demand home services by trusted, qualified and affordable home service providers (“zenGivers”).

zenGOT is the brainchild of Catherine Goulet, Vancouver-based entrepreneur and mother to two teenage boys and a special needs daughter. With such a busy life, Catherine wasn’t finding time for some of the other activities that brought her joy.

Says Catherine, “I knew there had to be a better way and that I wasn’t the only one experiencing a shortage of time. I wanted more freedom to do what I enjoy with the people I love.”

In fact, Catherine was speaking to a phenomenon that scientists have labeled “time famine”. A 2017 study, led by Harvard Business School researcher Dr. Ashley Whillans, found that people who are time stressed can feel less happy, be more anxious, experience poor sleep, and even suffer obesity. Conversely, people who spent money on time-saving services experienced greater happiness.

To help combat the time crunch, zenGOT, using a business model akin to those of Airbnb and Uber, offers busy people a range of services, including errand running, cleaning, handy person work, yard work, pet services, organizing, elder assistance, and more.

Says Catherine, “It’s so gratifying! Everyone gets to enjoy a better quality of life, whether it’s the customer, the zenGiver or the recipient of a virtual zenGOT Gift Card that can be purchased online instantly and sent virtually to friends and loved ones.”

Life is too short to not spend quality time with your kids. Why not buy yourself a few hours and let someone else clean up the LEGO toys?

zenGOT Photo - FamilyzenGOT has launched in Vancouver and Calgary, and is onboarding zenGivers (service providers) in Toronto and Edmonton. Ready to send you Helping Hands, On-Demand!


The Health Benefits of Screen-Free Family Time

If you’ve ever scoffed at a family sitting at a table in a restaurant, hunched over their devices while waiting for their dishes to arrive instead of interacting with each other, you’re not alone. In fact, you’ve likely been in their shoes too!

The reality is, 85 percent of Canadian children under 5 spend more time on devices than the suggested guidelines. We’ve become a screen-dependent society, and it’s starting to take a toll on the cognitive development of our children.

kids on devices

In honour of Speech and Hearing month this May, a province-wide campaign has been launched by Speech and Hearing BC, to encourage more face-to-face interactions between parent and child.

Talk Spot, the name of the campaign, aims to decrease the cognitive development risks associated with screen use by young children, by encouraging parents to enjoy more screen-free family time. This not only strengthens the parent-child relationship, but there are health benefits associated with in-person conversations with your kids too.

“In-person conversations have immensely positive effects on a child’s cognitive development, increasing their vocabulary and language understanding up to six times more than passive communication alone. [1] 

Some of the benefits of scheduled screen-free family time include:

  • Immense positive effects on a child’s cognitive development, increasing their vocabulary and language understanding up to six times more than passive communication alone.
  • Children who experience consistent and diverse communication can perform more than two years ahead of their peers in verbal and memory skills by the age of five.
  • A healthy and loving connection between parent and child is reinforced through eye contact and face-time.

A Talk Spot is anywhere people can communicate face-to-face with someone they love. This could be in the car, at the dinner table, in the community centre, at the mall, in the park: anywhere that facilitates discussion unhindered by the distraction of a screen. Parents, caregivers and communities are encouraged to create their own Talk Spots throughout the month – and beyond.


With the tech-takeover of today, this initiative has become necessary, and in recognition of the importance of early childhood development, The City of Vancouver has announced Monday, May 21 as the inaugural Talk Spot Day.

Here are some ways that you can support this important month-long initiative:
  • Join the Thunderclap campaign. Thunderclap is a platform that allows a large group of people to share one, simple message at the same time, across social media. This will help Talk Spot gain instant visibility on May 1, and it only takes a couple of seconds to set up.
  • Follow Speech and Hearing BC on Facebook or Twitter. Sharing or retweeting the Talk Spot message throughout May will help to reach a larger audience.
  • Share the campaign posts and graphics with conversation starters, tips, and quick facts across social media.
  • Share your own photos! Share photos of Talk Spots in your community using #talkspot, and be part of the conversation.

Speech and Hearing BCAbout Speech and Hearing BC
Speech and Hearing BC is a not-for-profit of more than 1,200 licensed speech-language pathologists and audiologists committed to improving communication health for British Columbians. They provide information resources, advocacy, and professional support for people of all ages. Members provide assessment and treatment to individuals who are experiencing problems with their speech, language, hearing, voice, swallowing, fluency, or social communication. They are almost entirely volunteer run.

Does My Child Have A Food Allergy, Or A Food Sensitivity?

Guest Post by Dr. Allana Polo, Polo Health + Longevity Centre

From the moment our kids are conceived, we become preoccupied with keeping them safe and well. This includes, of course, their first taste of liquid nutrition and the journey to becoming good eaters of solid foods. As we introduce a new food to our babies, we look for any sign of it ‘not sitting well’ – from a rash to a gassy tummy.


Many parents worry about food allergies and sensitivities as they appear to become more and more common; most of us have a niece, nephew, or neighbour that has a life-threatening food allergy, or has some kind of reaction to a particular food. A question that many of us are used to asking when other children come over to play is, “Does your child have any food allergies?”

It’s good that we are aware of the different types of reactions, but with the overlap of some of the symptoms, things get a little confusing. One of the biggest questions I get from my patients who are parents is: How do we know if our child has an actual food allergy, or if they are just sensitive to a particular food?

Food Allergies

A food allergy is when the body’s immune system reacts as though it needs to fight off disease. The first exposure to the offending food has no outward effect on the body. But on the inside, an antibody called IgE is created against that particular food. The next time that food is ingested, it binds to the antibodies that are now floating around in the system and triggers an overt reaction like cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, gas, hives and even difficulties breathing.

How do we know if our child has an actual food allergy, or if they are just sensitive to a particular food?

An allergic reaction takes place immediately after eating or can take up to several hours to manifest. If the reaction is going to be as severe as an anaphylactic shock, it will usually occur within the first hour after ingestion. Anaphylactic shock is deadly and requires immediate medical attention. The symptoms are wheezing, difficulty breathing, swelling of the tongue and throat, and fainting. Usually if someone knows they have an anaphylactic reaction to a certain food they will carry an auto-injector of epinephrine with them to counteract the reaction.

Some of the more common food allergies in children include peanuts, soy, milk, wheat and eggs.


Food Sensitivities or Intolerance

Generally, the words sensitivity and intolerance are used interchangeably. A sensitivity actually has nothing to do with the immune system. The symptoms in this case stem from an inability to digest the food. Symptoms (commonly nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea and bloating) usually appear about half an hour after ingestion but can also take up to 48 hours to really show themselves. Heartburn and headaches are also indications of food sensitivity or intolerance.

Two of the most common food intolerances are dairy and gluten. Dairy and gluten are two substances many naturopaths ask their patients to eliminate when we are testing to see how their body responds on and off these foods. Not everyone who has sensitivity to gluten has Celiac disease. The latter is completely different, where any gluten consumed actually damages the intestinal lining.

Some Key Differences Between Food Allergies And Sensitivities

An allergic reaction can occur even when only a tiny amount of the allergen is present. For a sensitivity to be detected, generally a normal portion size needs to be consumed.

An allergic reaction happens more immediately, whereas a sensitivity can make itself known days later.

An allergic reaction can be life-threatening but a sensitivity is not.

Allergies 2 (CNN)

How A Naturopath Can Help With Food Sensitivities

You can work with your naturopathic doctor to determine what your child is sensitive to and even the extent to which the food needs to be avoided. It’s also important to ensure that the gut remains healthy through the use of probiotics and/or digestion is aided with digestive enzymes. You and your naturopath can work together on your goals to keep your child safe and well.

Want to learn more? Visit Dr. Allana Polo at the Polo Health + Longevity Centrea wellness clinic with a multi-disciplinary, integrative and holistic approach to preventative health care.

[VIDEO] Style Tips: How To Get Your Teen To Dress Up

For tweens/teens, wearing leggings, tattered tees and huge hoodies is on-trend, but sometimes as parents, we want our kids to spruce up their style for dressier occasions! So how can you convince your kids to dress up without ditching their personal style or making a fuss?

In her latest style video, celebrity stylist Kim Appelt (and her stylish sidekick Aspen) share tips on how to dress fancy as a teen, including three cute, classy and comfortable looks that are simple, yet stylish.

Check it out here:

About Kim:

Kim Appelt (of Style by Kim xo) is one of Canada’s top stylists. Along with dressing hip personal clients (both men and women), she also dresses local television personalities, musicians, and A-list celebrities for the red carpet.

Kim is a style contributor for many publications, including national style columns, radio and TV shows. Kim sits on the nominating committee for the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards, and is committed to helping new artists. Kim’s work has been seen on the red carpet, everywhere from the CAFA awards to The Daytime Emmy Awards.

Kim creates weekly Secrets of a Stylist videos on her YouTube channel, providing must-know style tips for adults, teens, and now kids too! Check it out and be sure to subscribe to her channel.

Website | Instagram | Facebook

Tips For Solo Parents Travelling With Kids

Guest post by Michelle Kooy, Lawyer, Henderson Heinrichs LLP

Solo Travel With Kids

I’m travelling out of the country with my child during the summer holidays. Is there anything I need to do? 

If you’ve recently had an argument with your ex-spouse about travelling with the kids during spring break, you will appreciate the benefits of dealing with the summer arrangements now.  It’s never too early to deal with travel arrangements, and sooner is better when it comes to planning travel with your minor child.

Solo parents should have a planned travel consent form signed by the other parent, or a court order signed that confirms that they have the right to leave the country without the consent of the other parent. Make sure any requests for authorization to travel are made well in advance to avoid stress.

The Government of Canada website recommends that you have the following documents on hand when travelling with minor children:

1) A copy of the child’s birth certificate.

2) A letter of authorization signed by the parent who is not travelling, containing their address and telephone number.

3) A photocopy of the non-accompanying parent’s signed passport or national identity card.

While a consent letter and photocopy of the non-accompanying parent’s signed passport or national identity card is not a legal requirement for children who are travelling outside of Canada, it may be requested by immigration authorities when entering or leaving a foreign country, or by an airline agent or Canadian official when re-entering Canada.

If parents are separated or divorced and they share custody of the children, the parent travelling with the children should carry copies of the legal custody documents, such as court orders dealing with the children. 

If the parents are separated or divorced and one of them has sole custody of the child, the letter of authorization may be signed by that sole-custodial parent only and the travelling parent should bring a copy of the custody papers along on the trip.

Finally, if one of the child’s parents is deceased, the travelling parent should bring a copy of the death certificate.

Unfortunately, if a travelling parent cannot produce these documents,  he or she may face delays or even a refusal to enter or exit a country.

The best source of information on the consent letter and other documents required can be found on the Government of Canada website.

What happens when the other parent refuses to sign the travel documents?

When travelling outside of Canada, children require their own passports. A parent can apply for a passport for their children if they have custody or are the legal guardian of the children. The parent will need to have documentation such as a birth certificate or an adoption order in order to complete the application.  If the children have another guardian, that guardian will have to sign the application as well.

If the other parent refuses to sign the application, a judge can make a court order that the travelling parent be able to sign the passport application alone and/or give you a court order stating that you may travel with the child without the other parent’s authorization. Keep in mind that the courts are very busy during holiday seasons, including the time leading up to summer holidays, therefore applications for travel should be made as far in advance as is possible.

How can a lawyer help?

If you have questions or need assistance with your holiday travel documents for the summer holidays but don’t know where to start, a family lawyer can help you through the process.

To find out how one of our family lawyers could assist you, contact us.

*Please note, if you are the non-travelling parent and you are concerned that your children won’t be returned, you should seek legal help immediately. You can apply to the courts to have your child’s passport taken away from the other guardian. See our blog post, “What parents should know about the Hague Convention on the civil aspects of International child abduction.” for more information.


5 Ways To Bask In The Blooms At The Abbotsford Tulip Festival

Spring has sprung and the tulips are finally beginning to bloom! The highly-anticipated Abbotsford Tulip Festival has just announced April 9, 2018 as their soft opening date, and this year’s event promises to be better than ever! Here are 5 ways you can tiptoe through the tulips this Spring.


5 things to do at the Abbotsford Tulip Festival with kids:

1) Stroll through the well-groomed crops of tulips, daffodils, gladiolus and peonies, and snap swoon-worthy photos on the colourful benches, or behind the playful cut-out photo boards.

2) Head to the u-pick field and hand-select your own beautiful bouquet of rainbow-coloured blooms. You can take home your own bundle of freshly-picked flowers to enjoy post-visit.


Related: 9 Fabulous Field Trip Ideas For Kids in Vancouver

3) Not interested in picking your own bouquet? Browse the blooms at the on-site flower market, and take home a carefully-created bouquet.

4) Lunch at a selection of on-site food trucks, or pack a tasty picnic basket and enjoy an outdoor meal while gazing at the florals and the spectacular views of Mount Baker.

5) Take a break from the tulips and enjoy a play at the hay bale playground, or engage in sandbox or lawn games.


How to get your tickets?

Due to overwhelming crowds, the Abbotsford Tulip Festival has revised their ticket purchasing process. This year, tickets will be released online every Tuesday at 12:01 am for that week Saturday – Friday. Be sure to check their website often for current conditions, and ticket updates.
Check out the March/April 2018 issue of WestCoast Families Magazine for more family-friendly activities, available on stands at a location near you, or online here.

[Video] Style Tips For Kids: How To Style Your Vegan Leather Jacket

Whether real or faux, the leather jacket trend doesn’t seem to be disappearing anytime soon. Leather jackets are a great staple piece, wearable year-round, and complementary to any look. And the cool trend isn’t just for adults, kids are loving the look too!

In this adorable video, celebrity stylist Kim Appelt (and her stylish sidekick Brielle) share tips on how to style your vegan leather jacket, including three cool looks for kids – styled from a kid’s point of view! Check it out:

About Kim:

Kim Appelt (of Style by Kim xo) is one of Canada’s top stylists. Along with dressing hip personal clients (both men and women), she also dresses local television personalities, musicians, and A-list celebrities for the red carpet.

Kim is a style contributor for many publications, including national style columns, radio and TV shows. Kim sits on the nominating committee for the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards, and is committed to helping new artists. Kim’s work has been seen on the red carpet, everywhere from the CAFA awards to The Daytime Emmy Awards.

Kim creates weekly Secrets of a Stylist videos on her YouTube channel, providing must-know style tips for adults, teens, and now kids too! Check it out and be sure to subscribe to her channel.

Website | Instagram | Facebook

Her Health Matters: Local Businesses Step Up & Show Support

Did you know that until 1998, women weren’t included in most research and medical trials in Canada? 1998 – that was only 20 years ago! This means that when drugs were created and put into the market to help with women’s health issues, many hadn’t even been tested on the female body before becoming available for sale.  Even today, women’s health research is still vastly underfunded, and as a result, women remain unaware of many of the unique health risks that exist.

Her Health Matters Campaign New Format

Here are just some of the mind-blowing women’s health care facts that you should know:

  1. Prior to the 1990’s women were not included in most medical research studies.
  2. Each year in Canada, heart disease kills more women than men. It is the leading cause of death for women over 55, and the second most common cause of death for women under 55.
  3. Women experience depression twice as often as men and yet are three times more likely than men to experience barriers to accessing mental health care.

There is a gender bias that exists in the healthcare system, and BC Women’s hospital – in partnership with some fantastic local businesses, is taking a stand against this bias and the lack of resources available in women’s health, with a new initiative that has launched called Her Health Matters.

Yyoga – 15% off 5 Class Passes using a special promo code. Her Health Matters

WithinUs – 10% off using a special promo code.

BRUNETTE The Label – donating a percentage of sales on the BABES SUPPORTING BABES sweatshirts to BC Women’s.

The Juice Truck – donating partial sales to BC Women’s.

For more information on the special offers available through participating businesses, or to donate directly to this important cause, please visit BC Women’s – Her Health Matters.

Our Jan/Feb issue features some great stories on how we can support the leaders of tomorrow, pick up our latest issue, available at a location near you, or online here.

5 Fun Ways To Enjoy Family Day With Kids In Vancouver

Family Day

Family Day is still a fairly new holiday for BC locals, only in its fifth year since it was first officially observed in February of 2013. After a post-holiday lull, the second Monday in February is the perfect time for families to take a much-needed break and enjoy each other’s company, and thanks to a city filled with fun activities for the whole family, there’s lots to choose from when it comes to finding ways to celebrate this special day. Here are some ways that you can enjoy the Family Day festivities in and around Vancouver.

Adventure’s Aplenty at the Sea to Sky Gondola

From February 10th – February 12th, families can enjoy 50% off day tickets to enjoy the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish. Head to the peak for a packed list of family-friendly fun, including:

  • Snowshoe rentals and tours
  • Old-fashioned snow tubing
  • S’mores around the outdoor bonfire
  • An old-fashioned Canadian Sugar Shack
  • Featured family meals
  • Face-painting
  • Live music (Sunday only)
  • Retail discounts on The North Face children’s clothing
  • Plus much more!

Learn More

Enjoy Fun and Fins With Your Favourite Aquatic Family

It’s all fun and fins at Vancouver Aquarium this Family Day weekend! From February 10th – February 12th, visitors can get to know Vancouver Aquarium’s aquatic family though special activities and programs, including:

  • Bubble over with laughter (and learning) during the Puppet Show at 10:45 a.m. It’s perfect for gills and buoys of all ages.
  • Get up close with intriguing snakes or fascinating tortoises during the Meet a Snake or Meet a Tortoise program at 11:30 a.m.
  • Satisfy curiosities during the Meet a Penguin program at 1:30 p.m. and get to know these loveable little birds.
  •  Take an imaginary underwater journey during Story Time at 3:45 p.m. Wetsuit not required.
  • Enjoy face painting and represent your favourite sea creature on your cheek!

Guests can also receive 25% off Aquarium membership during Family Day weekend; this limited offer is available from February 10th – February 12th only.

Learn More

Cavort Through The Lonsdale Quay

The Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver loves to celebrate little ones! Each year they host a series of events and activities that the whole family can enjoy. Here’s a list of just some of the things you can expect during your visit:

10:00am: The Lonsdale Artisan Farmer’s Market will kick start the day with a delicious pancake breakfast on the South Plaza.

10:00am – 11:30pm: The Quay be hosting an interactive petting zoo for kids on the East Plaza. There will be a mini horse, goats, chickens and more! Face painting and balloon twisting vendors will also be set up on the East Plaza.($)

10:00am – 1:00pm: Kids’ Valentine card making will be held on the upstairs level, by the ball pit area. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, you can create your own cards and decorate them with glitter, hearts, stickers and more!

12:00pm – 1:00pm:  The day will end with an exciting and engaging puppet show that will entertain children of all ages. The show will begin at noon, next to Olde World Confections, on the Market Level.

Learn More

Find Family Fun in the Fraser Valley

Last year’s Family Day festivities were such a hit, that the Family Day organizers have decided to take it up a notch, making this year’s event even bigger and better than ever! On Monday, February 12th, families can visit the Langley Events Centre Arena for a fun-filled day, including an hour-and-a-half public skate, exhibits and interactive booths, visits with athletes, and more!

Plus, the Giants will be on the ice practicing and hosting a skills competition from noon-1pm, followed by an autograph session upstairs afterwards. Members of the Vancouver Stealth lacrosse team and the Langley Rams Football Club will be present too.

Learn More

Take A Hike!

The snow is starting to melt and the walkways are clearing up, just in time to enjoy a family stroll in the wintery woods. Head to the Seymour Demonstration Forest and enjoy a brisk walk around Rice Lake, or stroll through the trails of Cates Park in North Vancouver for a breath of fresh air and breathtaking scenery. For a list of other places to stroll, check out our post – Stroll Into 2018 With These 5 Family-Friendly Hikes.

For more family-friendly activities, check out our latest issue, available at a location near you, or online here.

Are Your Kids Too Young For Chores? (Spoiler Alert: Nope!)

Everyone in the family contributes to creating the mess, so why are we as parents so quick to take on the task of tidying it all up on our own? From washing the dishes, to folding the laundry, to vacuuming and sweeping the floors, the household chores should be shared, and if you think your child may be too young to chip in – think again.

Kids Chores

While it may seem easier to do it yourself than to encourage your children to help out around the house, there are actually many benefits associated with giving your children chores. It teaches them accountability, responsibility, and independence. It teaches them how to cooperate, participate as a family, and it equips them with important life skills that will help them to succeed in the future. Plus, more helping hands equals a cleaner house – quicker!

To help you get started, here are some chores you can assign to your children based on age:*

Chores for children ages 2 to 3:

  • Put toys away
  • Fill pet’s food dish
  • Put clothes in hamper
  • Wipe up spills
  • Dust
  • Pile books and magazines

Related: How To Encourage Your Kids To Enjoy Reading

Chores for children ages 4 to 5:

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Make their bed
  • Empty wastebaskets
  • Bring in mail or newspaper
  • Clear table
  • Pull weeds, if you have a garden
  • Use hand-held vacuum to pick up crumbs
  • Water flowers
  • Unload utensils from dishwasher
  • Wash plastic dishes at sink
  • Fix bowl of cereal

Chores for children ages 6 to 7:

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Sort laundry
  • Sweep floors
  • Set and clear table
  • Help make and pack lunch
  • Weed and rake leaves
  • Keep bedroom tidy

Kids Chores

Chores for children ages 8 to 9:

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Load dishwasher
  • Put away groceries
  • Vacuum
  • Help make dinner
  • Make own snacks
  • Wash table after meals
  • Put away own laundry
  • Sew buttons
  • Make own breakfast
  • Peel vegetables
  • Cook simple foods, such as toast
  • Mop floor
  • Take pet for a walk

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Unload dishwasher
  • Fold laundry
  • Clean bathroom
  • Wash windows
  • Wash car
  • Cook simple meal with supervision
  • Iron clothes
  • Do laundry
  • Baby-sit younger siblings (with adult in the home)
  • Clean kitchen
  • Change their bed sheets

* Source: WebMD Divide and Conquer Household Chores

Some parents choose to reward their children with an allowance for completing their chores, while others make chores mandatory for every member of the family. Regardless of how you choose to do it, it’s time to start getting them to chip in now,  so cleaning can become less of a one-person chore, and your family can enjoy the benefits of a cleaner, happier home.

Our latest issue is all about education, including stories on how to beat the homework battle with your kids featuring some great tips from contributor Michele Kambolis. Pick up a copy at a location near you, or read the full issue online now!