5 Ways Busy Families Can Benefit From Hosting An Au Pair

When it comes to finding someone suitable to care for your children, it can be challenging to figure out which childcare option will work best for your family. Daycares often have long waiting lists and high fees, and it can be tough to find a long-term nanny who is willing to work around your schedule and offer the flexibility that you may need during the holidays and summer months. One option that is often overlooked is becoming a host family to an out-of-town au pair.

What is an au pair?

‘Au Pair’ is a French term which translates as “equal to”, meaning that the relationship between a family and their au pair is a reciprocal and caring one. Au pairs become a part of the family during their stay, and are usually between the ages of 18 and 30. They tend to be short-term, live-in placements, ranging from 6 months t0 a year.

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Here are 5 ways busy families can benefit from hosting an au pair in their home:

1) Au Pairs provide an affordable childcare option for your family.

Unlike daycare or nanny services which can cost upwards of $2,000 per month, an au pair’s wage tends to be lower, and room and board can be deducted from their fee.

2) They can help with your household chores.

While an au pair’s main responsibility is childcare, she will also assist with child-related household duties. Many will also hold driver’s licences and be able to drive as part of their duties. Au pairs will have undertaken previous childcare work outside of their own family such as babysitting and tutoring.

3) Your children can learn about new cultures.

Not only will be providing an au pair with the opportunity to learn germannannymore about your culture, but hosting an au pair can provide your children with a great opportunity to learn about their culture, their food and even introduce a second language into the home.

4) You can enjoy flexibility to suit your needs.

An Au Pair usually works 25 – 40 hours per week, based on your needs. She does not need to work full-time like a live-in nanny. They live with their Canadian host family and are flexible when it comes to their working hours, able to take care of children on both a full or part-time basis. Typically, an au pair placement will be for a 6-12 month period.

5) You can welcome someone into your family.

Au pairs have a responsibility to care for your children, but they are also in your home to discover Canada and it is their choice to live with a Canadian family to experience Canadian culture first hand. Welcoming an au pair into your home is a great way to share your culture, and connect with someone from another country who may want to share their home with you the next time you visit their country as well.  Host families often make lasting connections with their au pairs, feeling as though they’ve added to their family as a result.

internannie_new_LOGO_08 (2)Interested in learning more about becoming a host family for an au pair? International Nannies and Home Care Ltd. can help! Visit their site for more information and to sign up.

5 Ways To Enjoy The Wesbrook Village Festival On September 9th!

Wesbrook Village Festival
Date: Saturday, September 9, 2017
Time: 11:00am – 4:00pm
Cost: Free
Location: Wesbrook Village (3378 Wesbrook Mall, UBC)

The Wesbrook Village Festival is back, and this year promises to be bigger, better, and more booming than ever! There are so many reasons to head to this free family event and make a day of it.

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Here are just 5 of the family-fun favourites that you can expect from this year’s festival:

1) Free BBQ 

There’s only one thing that’s more rewarding than enjoying a day of fun with your family, and that’s FREE food! Leave the snack packs at home and nosh on some BBQ favourites while you wander through Wesbrook Village!

2) Live Music

Dance and sing along to live music – a fun way to get active outdoors!

3) Kid’s Zone

Kids can enjoy a range of activities, arts and crafts and more in the festival’s action-packed Kids Zone. From balloon-animal twisting, to sports games, to face painting, there’s lots to see and do when you visit with little ones in tow!

4) Entertainers 

Watch in awe as live, wandering entertainers dance, juggle and sing their way through the festival. Kids can giggle as fun characters provide entertainment, and families will love the lineup of singers and dancers that will be hitting the stage and performing around the grounds of the festival.

5) Goodies for sale by local artisans

Browse the goodies that will be available on site, and support local businesses! Peruse the tables set up by various local companies, purchase a range of products to take home with you, and enjoy the farmer’s market style setup!

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For more of what you can expect from this year’s event, check out this video:

Have you seen the PNE lately?

The PNE is an annual tradition in our family. Every year we pick a date in the last two weeks of summer and make the trek to Renfrew and Hastings for our big day. We do it all… rides, barns, shows, corn dogs, cotton candy, and superdogs too. We’ve kinda been on autopilot the last few years, knowing exactly what we want to do and where we’ll go.

Change has been happening every year at the PNE, but this time it really stood out.

 

Walking in the main gates, we found the Hockey Hall of Fame exhibit. With three little hockey players in tow (including two girls), this was our first stop. Even with the excitement of the rides to come, the kids loved it. We saw Wayne Gretzky’s first pair of skates, Hayley Wickenheiser’s uniform, photos of days and games gone by, and lots of trophies and cups too. IMG_1882

As we strolled past the amazing food trucks, we came across a stand that clearly stated “BEER WINE”. Out in the open, without fenced in areas where kids aren’t allowed! I had to stop and clarify that this was actually true. Well, YES it was. You can now purchase a beer or wine to walk around the PNE as you please (exceptions: Marketplace, Coliseum, and Playland ride area). What a fantastic addition for adults visiting!

IMG_1900Before we get too far in, a priority for us is the Guest Services kiosk near the main gate (there’s another at the Playland entrance) where you can register your kids for their “If I am Lost” sticker. Slap it on their back and if they do get lost, they just show it to a PNE employee and they have all your contact information on hand for reuniting. IMG_1891

The barns are the next stop. We can always count on the baby animals for a good hour of entertainment… piglets, chicks just hatching, calfs, bunnies and more. This year there was the local products store, the beehive, and the country farm kids activites. This area never gets old.

The kids were so excited for the rides, so off we went. The Corkscrew, Atmosfear (I can’t watch), 1000 Nachts (one of our favourites), and the new family-friendly rides like Dizzy Drop and FlutterBye.  Saving the rides for later in the day helps in three ways: first, the lineups are IMG_1951significantly shorter after dinner, especially for the kids’ rides. Second, you IMG_1971don’t have the intense heat of summer making you sweat. Third, the rides light up at night with colours and neon, and it’s a whole new experience. Save the daytime for the shows and exhibits where you are in shaded comfort!

Don’t forget to bring your own refillable water bottles. You can stop at any of the food kiosks and they’ll gladly refill for you. We refilled three times, saving us a lot of money and wasted plastic bottles.

The food is exciting at the PNE! There’s the old stand-by’s like cotton candy, corn dogs, and perogies. But some of the newer additions included ANYthing deep-fried, like chicken feet, coffee, cheesecake just to name a few. We love the sweet corn dipped in butter, and the award-winning barbecue trailers in Celebration Plaza, which has become a great gathering spot for music and food lovers.

After the rides, you can take in one of the Summer Night Concerts. This year it was acts like Doobie Brothers, ZZ Top, B-52’s, and Rick Springfield that stole the stage. They’ve made this IMG_2002super easy too: If you haven’t already bought a reserved ticket online, grab a wristband in Playland starting at 2pm, at the red tent near the Revelation ride. The wristband gives you an entry time – they start allowing entry at 6:30pm and times are staggered every half hour. If you still miss out on the wristbands, there are two giant screens to watch: in Celebration Plaza, and at Festival Park near the main entrance.

Tired kids in tow, we finally headed out of the park at 10pm. Exhausted, but with so many stories of laughter, fear, and fun. That is, after all, what the PNE is all about.

Will we see you there next time?!

3 Simple Tips To Get The House Cleaning Help You Need

Great news! You don’t need to be a millionaire in order to have a house cleaning service any more.

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Thanks to the rising trend of outsourcing, hiring a house cleaning service has become more accessible to busy families than ever before, and with just a couple of tweaks, you can get the help you need to maintain your home (and your sanity) at a more affordable price. Here are some simple tips to help you get started:

Reduce the scope. 

Instead of having your entire home cleaned, try hiring someone to clean just the kitchen and bathroom(s) (two of the dirtiest rooms in most houses) for you. This will get the dirty work done, but will also cut the house cleaning costs down significantly for you.

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Share the load.

House cleaning doesn’t have to be an adults-only chore. Get the kids involved in keeping your home clean, and consider divvying up the tasks so the cleaning gets done quickly. Consider making vacuuming and sweeping the chores for the grown ups, and have the kids dust the shelves and fold the laundry.

Having an outside company cover the kitchen and bathroom scrubbing will keep you and your little ones free from inhaling any bathroom or degreasing solutions, yet by getting them involved in the process, you can still teach them the value of maintaining a clean home.

Reduce the frequency.

Depending on your situation, you might be able to get away with less frequent house cleaning appointments.

For example, some families will bring in outside house cleaning help once a month to give their home a proper, thorough deep cleaning, and then for the rest of the month, the home is maintained by the family.

This will create a healthy balance between parents teaching their kids the value of chipping in to maintain the home, and enjoying a hassle-free clean up of the house once a month.

Scrubbi logo 2016Interested in giving house cleaning services a try? Check out Scrubbi, a house cleaning startup that provides professional house cleaning help and friendly customer service for busy families all across Canada. Visit them online and get a quote to see if they’re the right fit for your family.

Take A Hike! Go Wild In Coquitlam This Summer

Whether you’re a hiking newbie or a weekend warrior, Coquitlam’s trails will take you on some wild adventures.  

Interested in trekking some of the trails less travelled? Or are you new to hiking and would like to start slow? From the flat trails of City Centre to the thigh-burning peaks of Burke Mountain, you won’t believe the variety of terrain right here on our doorstep.

Fun fact: Coquitlam is home to more than 115km of well-groomed trails and pathways, all within the city – and that doesn’t even include the trails at Pinecone Burke Provincial Park, Minnekhada Regional Park and Colony Farm Regional Park.

So, where do you start?

Join a Group

If you’re new to hiking or to the Coquitlam area, joining a group is a great way to meet new people and explore the wilderness, whether you’re a beginner interested in short walks, or an adventurer seeking new challenges.

Hiking Ridge Trail | Photo: City of Coquitlam Flickr

Hiking Ridge Trail | Photo: City of Coquitlam Flickr

The City of Coquitlam’s outdoor recreation programs include guided hikes led by experienced leaders. You’ll explore new sights while getting outdoors in safe, organized groups.

For more information on the City of Coquitlam’s group hike programs, visit this link.

Trails to Try

Hoy Creek Trail

Just a short walk from the bustling Lafarge Lake-Douglas SkyTrain station, duck into this peaceful 2.8km gravel trail for a nature reprieve. Keep an eye out for blue heron and listen for the sounds of chickadees and woodpeckers. In the fall, you can spot salmon spawning in the creek. More Info

Minnekhada Regional Park

This 200-hectare park is home to 150 species of birds as well as beavers, black bears and singing bullfrogs. Hiking trails range from a flat path leading throughout the marsh (perfect for younger children) to an uphill climb through old-growth forest to the High Knoll, offering a mind-blowing wilderness view. More Info

Mundy Park

Rated by TripAdvisor as the #1 thing to do in Coquitlam, this park has 16km of trails with varying terrain, ideal for all ages. Mundy is home to the Phoenix Running Club and an annual MEC race, so it’s also a favourite among runners. More Info

Coquitlam Hiking Mundy Park

Hiking in Mundy Park | Photo: City of Coquitlam Flickr

Pinecone Burke Provincial Park

This beautiful wilderness area offers rugged hiking adventures for experienced hikers, with great views from higher elevations. Due to its remote trails, hikers are advised to trek in groups with knowledgeable leaders. More Info

Westwood Plateau Trails

Approximately 23km of trails wind their way through city parks, natural areas and greenways on Eagle Mountain. Ridge Park offers a challenging experience for the hiker who enjoys steep terrain in a dense forest setting. These trails are easily accessible by transit. More Info

Be Bear Aware

While enjoying the outdoors, please remember to respect nature and stay on the trails. Also be aware that Coquitlam is home to bears as well as other urban wildlife. Be alert, listen and watch for bears.

Black Bear | Photo: City of Coquitlam Flickr

Black Bear | Photo: City of Coquitlam Flickr

If you encounter a bear:

  • Stop and remain calm.
  • Do not scream or run.
  • Make yourself look big.
  • Talk in a low and calm voice while backing away slowly.

For more on bear safety, visit this link.

This blog post was shared with us by the City of Coquitlam. For more on Coquitlam’s upcoming festivals, events, and summer activities, visit the City of Coquitlam Explore Coquitlam page.

Share Your BC Farmer’s Market Photos For A Chance To Win!

Freshly-baked bread, an endless assortment of artisanal cheeses, and baskets overflowing with rainbows of fresh fruits and veggies. Food doesn’t get much fresher than the selections available at a local farmer’s market. Strolling from table to table, tasting fresh ingredients, filling your shopping basket with farm-grown foods, and taking home a trinket made by a local artist is a great way to pass the time on a summer afternoon.

Hot Peppers

But shopping fresh, locally-grown ingredients isn’t just a fun weekend pastime, it supports our local economy, and that’s more important than many may realize.

“Supporting BC farmers and sustaining our local food supply means ensuring we have land to farm and fresh food to eat. It’s a way to nurture the places we live and visit.” – BCAFM

The BC Association of Farmer’s Markets (BCAFM) is on a mission to support local food suppliers and raise awareness for the importance of supporting local businesses, and in doing so, they’ve launched a fun summer photo campaign!

From now until August 18, 2017, share a photo you’ve snapped at one of the 145+ local farmer’s markets in and around the province, tag the location, and use the hash tag #BCFarmersMarketRoadTrip for a chance to win a $50 shopping spree at a BC farmer’s market. Each week, a winner will be selected, and they can shop the goods at their favourite farmer’s market – on the BCAFM!

For more on how to enter, check out their contest page, visit the BCAFM website, or click on the image below.

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Theatre Under the Stars – back for the summer!

Theatre Under the Stars presents High-Flying Hilarity with Mary Poppins & The Drowsy Chaperone

For more than 75 years, Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) has brought soaring works of musical theatre to the crown jewel of Vancouver – Stanley Park. So much more than just a night at the theatre, TUTS interweaves a kaleidoscope of elements – setting, scenery, concessions, and quality art – into a fun, encompassing experience that is much greater than the sum of its parts.

This month, TUTS injects a delightful dose of magical entertainment into summer with Mary Poppins and The Drowsy Chaperone, running July 7 to August 19, 2017 at Stanley Park’s picturesque Malkin Bowl. On alternating evenings, audiences can indulge in high-flying adventures with a supercalifragilistic classic and an uproarious ode to golden age glam.

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One of the most popular Disney movies of all time captures hearts in a whole new way! The irresistible story and unforgettable songs are back, as everyone’s favourite nanny swoops in to teach the Banks family a lesson or two about love & imagination.

Practically perfect classics like ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’, ‘Chim Chim Cher-ee’, and ‘Let’s Go Fly a Kite’ come to life in the beloved musical – complete with brand-new dance numbers and spectacular stage-craft.

6.TheDrowsyChaperone_photobyTimMatheson_webThe Drowsy Chaperone

Bursting with show-stopping song and dance – this Canadian musical parody & five-time Tony Award winner whisks audiences away on a Jazz Age journey of love, laughter, and libation.

Alone in his modest, one-bedroom apartment, a musical theatre fan puts on his favourite cast recording. As the record spins, the colourful & chaotic characters of a fictitious 1928 musical spring to life – filling his living room with all manner of movie stars, gangsters, divas, and more.

 

Tickets from $30 to $49 at tuts.ca or 1.877.840.0457.

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What You Need To Know About Sensory Processing Disorder

While approximately 10% of school-aged children experience some form of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) – a condition that was recently diagnosed as a form of autism, SPD has only recently received its own diagnosis. Because many of the symptoms of SPD overlap with those of children who have ADHD or are on the autism spectrum, diagnosis has been challenging for doctors.

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What is Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)?

Sensory processing is the ability to take in sensory information from the world around us and interpret this information effectively so that we may function optimally throughout the day. The brain not only processes information through the senses of touch, taste, smell, sight and sound, but the nervous system also interprets this sensory information and translates it into movement, body position and pressure.

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) occurs when the nervous system has difficulty regulating, processing, and interpreting information from one or more of the senses. This may affect one’s ability to function optimally in all environments, and these difficulties can adversely affect a child’s social skills, academic performance, and motor development.

Different children perceive and process sensory information differently. Some children find loud noises scary, while others search for interesting ways to create noise. Similarly, some children may only tolerate certain fabrics or textures for clothing, while others may enjoy rolling around in grass, sand, or on the carpet. All children and adults have different sensory preferences, and while most adults have learned to adapt to their specific needs, some children need guidance in processing sensory information to reach their full potential.

sensory processing disorder

Are There Treatment Options For SPD?

For many individuals, music or sound therapy is the answer to training the brain to process sensory information correctly. Organizations such as Millennium Learning Advantage recognize that the brain is capable of change, regeneration and growth, and use brain-based learning and cognitive enhancement programs that are specifically designed to fine-tune the brain’s ability to comprehend and manage information to help children with various needs achieve success.

Hear what one mom had to say about The Listening Program – a unique program designed to address auditory processing issues (one of the many programs available at Millennium Learning Advantage):

For more information on sound therapy and sensory processing programs,  visit millenniumlearningadvantage.com.

The WestCoast Families July August issues is full of information and resources for families with special needs. Pick up a copy from a location near you, or read the current issue online here.

10 Tips on How to Book a Last-Minute Campsite in BC This Summer

Wishing you had pre-booked a campsite now that BC has been flooded with weeks of warm sunny weather? Well don’t worry, last-minute decision makers can still find a site that suits their camping needs, thanks to this great list of tips shared by the Camping & RVing BC Coalition.

Camping BC

Joss Penny, Chair of the Camping & RVing BC Coalition shared, “typically we  see an increase of campers during summer weekends and it can be  challenging to secure a spot at your favourite campground. I always  recommend planning ahead and making a reservation, however I understand  human nature.” For those of us who took the risk and waited until the last minute to book summer plans, Joss has got us covered.

Camping BC

For campers  who are looking to book a spot at the eleventh hour, Joss and her team have compiled a list of  over  35 private campgrounds with some July availability throughout the province, as well as this list of 10 tips to help you find a campground and site that meets your needs:

1) Determine how far you want to drive and the direction you wish to go in.
2) Determine what activities you want to do and campground amenities  you are looking for (example: lakefront, boating, hiking, washrooms, or a playground).
3) Visit the Where to Camp page which plots over 1,500 campgrounds (BC Parks, Parks Canada, private RV parks/campgrounds, and front country recreational camping sites) across the province.
4) If there are less than 7 days to plan your summer trip, be prepared  to contact multiple campgrounds to secure your spot and the likelihood that you may have to drive a bit further to get what you want.
5) Finding sites four or less hours from major urban centres is difficult on summer weekends so look to travel 6 – 8 hours out of town.
6) Wet summers create availability so last-minute travellers can often find spaces.
7) Consider camping on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in high demand areas.
8) Travel through the North Cariboo region or Northern BC as many sites are available on a nightly drop-in basis.
9) Arrive at campgrounds mid-week to secure first come, first served sites for the weekend.
10) Piggyback with friends as many campgrounds allow up to four adults per site.

camping BC

For more great resources on where to camp and RV in and around BC, visit Camping & RV in BC.

For more ideas for family-friendly summer fun, check out our latest issue! Pick up a copy at one of these locations, or view the July/August issue here.

Michelle Pockey Leadership Award Accepting Applications!

Are you a female leader? Then listen up!

The Michelle Pockey Leadership Award has been created to recognize Michelle Pockey, an exceptional female leader in our community. As a prominent lawyer and community activist, Michelle dedicated herself to making a positive difference in the world – from energy, mining, environmental, and Indigenous legal issues, to increasing the economic success and impact of women. With her vision, she co-founded the Professional Women’s Network in 1997, and the Professional Aboriginal Women’s Network in 2016. She worked tirelessly for 20 years advocating to advance women in business, law, Indigenous and non-traditional sectors. She was an inspiration for others every day of her life until her passing from cancer in June 2016.

The Michelle Pockey Leadership Award will give first priority to an Indigenous woman, a single mother, or a woman facing economic hardship. Second priority will be given to a woman pursuing law, justice, Indigenous, or environmental studies. The award is intended to support her tuition, housing, or childcare in the pursuit of post-secondary education, which will advance her leadership and long-term career prospects.

You can also support the award through donations, so take part today!

For more information and to download the application form, click HERE