5 Reasons Why You Should Consider Joining A Parent Participation Preschool

Guest Post by Brooke Bennett of Happy Corner Preschool

Parents today are faced with big decisions.  For many, it starts early with choosing the right preschool.  When choosing a preschool, today’s savvy parents are looking for small class sizes, top quality programming, and assurances that their child will be kindergarten ready.

Happy Corner Preschool 2

Parent Participation Preschools (PPPs) offer all of these aspects of preschool education, and more.  PPPs have a long and proud history in Metro Vancouver, and have been operating in British Columbia for over 60 years.  Below you’ll find the top 5 benefits of joining a PPP.

1) Parents participate in the classroom experience.

PPPs offer much higher adult/child ratios and small class sizes compared to other preschools. At a PPP, children receive the personalized attention, recognition, and support they deserve to develop their social and emotional skills.

As part of the parent participation aspect, a family member or caregiver volunteers their time in the classroom. After an orientation, the volunteer, along with the teacher and assistant teacher, are available to help and support the students.

By being in the classroom with their child, parents are able to model a lifelong love of learning.  Hands down, the children absolutely love it.

2) Parents can sharpen their parenting skills.

Let’s face it, parenting a preschooler can be trying and emotionally draining.

For the majority of us, their behavior is truly baffling.  Most parents would love to understand the reasons behind their child’s outbursts and mood swings – but where does a busy parent find the time to figure it all out?

PPPs are an amazing parenting resource and offer free monthly parenting seminars by experts in child development.  These speakers’ events provide parents with knowledge to broaden their parenting skills and allow them to share experiences about raising children with other like-minded parents.

Happy Corner 2017-271

3) Children receive high-quality programming.

The quality of preschool education is on every parent’s mind.  Parents need to know that their child will be stimulated, challenged, and supported at an age-appropriate level.

PPPs provide enriched and quality play-based programming.  Child-led play is crucial for children to develop socially, cognitively, physically, and emotionally.  Play is so important to optimal child development that it has been recognized by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child.  PPPs also recognize the importance of play to child development and are committed to providing enhanced play-based environments.

4) Be part of a community.

A sense of community is integral to the development of a child’s feelings of belonging and security.  The “village” parents are so desperately seeking to help raise their children can be found in the community of a PPP. 

PPPs offer the opportunity to build friendships with other parents and children and to feel part of a caring community.  Parents are able to meet others with similar parenting values, work together to support the school, and make life-long friends. The time parents invest in creating this community has an amazing pay-off. 

5) Parents help children learn new skills.

At the core of PPPs are the families.  Parents are directly involved in the classroom and the administration of the school.  PPPs are a wonderful setting for both children and parents to learn new skills, meet new friends, and take the first steps together in a school setting.

Research shows that parent involvement early in a child’s education is a major factor in their success.  Children that are comfortable and feel supported at school tend to do better overall, which means parents have to spend less time dealing with problems later on.  It clearly pays for parents to make an investment with their own time in the early years.    

Happy Corner Preschool 3

PPPs formed out of the need for community and have been treasured in their communities for generations. 

Preschoolers graduating from PPPs have the skills and tools for problem solving, self-regulation and interacting with others.  These children are ready to enter kindergarten with confidence.

Curious about PPPs?  Happy Corner Preschool, one of two PPPs in East Vancouver, is holding its Open House and Registration on Saturday, February 24 from 11am-1pm.  Bring your families for a stay and play, meet the teachers and see the classroom! Learn More

Photos courtesy of Amber Hughes Photography and Jozi Grant Photography 

How To Stay Safe In An Attack: Tips From Vancouver Police Department Women

Women Safety

Imagine you’re walking down the street at dusk. It’s quiet, and feels a bit deserted for a weekday evening. The screen from your phone glows as you check your emails while you stroll. All you can hear is the clicking of your heels on the concrete. Suddenly, you feel like something is a bit off. Did you hear footsteps behind you or was it just your imagination? You start to walk faster, glancing over your shoulder every few steps. From the corner of you eye, you discover that a shadowed, hooded figure is approaching behind you, doubling your steps. Before you can run, you feel a hand grasp firmly on your arm. What do you do?

According to Statistics Canada, women feel less safe than men when walking the streets alone at night, and are therefore more likely to take preventative steps to protect themselves. In a survey that was conducted to examine the perceptions of personal safety and crime in Canada, it was found that “women were more likely than men to say that they regularly take steps to protect themselves from crime, such as checking the back seat of the car for intruders (47%, versus 23% of men), changing their routine or avoiding certain places (31% versus 23%), carrying something to protect themselves or alert others (16% versus 8%), or staying home at night out of fear of going out alone (10% versus 2%).

Yet while women seem to be taking the necessary precautions to avoid dangerous situations, it doesn’t seem as though enough are preparing themselves for what to do if they are actually attacked.

In 2013, a group of female officers from the Vancouver Police Department came together to create a Women’s Personal Safety Team, recognizing a need for the city’s women to be prepared in the case of an attack. Through conducting hands-on workshops, this group of women were on a mission: To educate, inspire, and empower women to take ownership of their personal safety.

VPD Women's Personal Safety Team

VPD Women’s Personal Safety Team

Through their workshops, this team of police officers will provide women in the community with information and training to help improve their personal safety if faced with situations of unavoidable violence. On their site (and below), you can find actionable tips to ensure your personal safety.

Personal Safety Tips:*

    1. Awareness is your first line for personal safety, which begins long before any actual physical contact. Be aware of yourself, your surroundings.An attacker’s primary strategy is to use the advantage of surprise. They are adept at choosing targets who appear to be unaware of what is going on around them. If you are aware of your surroundings, you can spot suspicious circumstances or people. It provides time for you to plan your reaction.
    2. Intuition or “gut instinct” is something everyone has experienced – the feeling that something isn’t quite right, but you’re not sure why. It’s important to pay attention and trust this feeling. Use it to your full advantage and avoid any person or situation which does not “feel” safe. Your instincts are probably right.
    3. Prevention is taking measures to make yourself less of a target. We look both ways before crossing the street because we don’t blindly trust that the drivers will see us and stop. We take ownership of our personal safety by using tactics that will keep us safe, much like ensuring the road way is clear of threats before stepping off the curb. When it comes to avoiding or minimizing situations where we may be subjected to violence, we need to learn and employ tactics that will help keep us safe.
    4. Fighting back may be necessary in situations of unavoidable violence. You have the right to fight back as hard as necessary to protect yourself and get away safely.The important thing about fighting back is that it must be done effectively. Struggling and scratching is fighting back, but it won’t be effective in a violent encounter where the assailant’s primary focus is to seriously hurt you or worse.

*(via VPD Women’s Personal Safety Team Site)

To learn more about these personal safety workshops or to sign up for a sessions, check out their workshop schedule VPD Women’s Personal Safety Team website.

2017 Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

WestCoast Families’ 2017 Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide.

For Someone Special trying to Get HealthyAlyssa

“8 Pillars of Health” An 8-video Series from WCF Contributor and local Holistic Nutritionist, Alyssa Bauman of Nourished.ca, who appears regularly on our pages, on CTV and Roundhouse Radio .  Each video is 5-7 minutes of empowering & easy to implement lifestyle tools. Take back your health and learn how to: incorporate more greens into your diet, nix processed foods and eat a whole food diet, understand what superfoods + seeds are and how to use them, make better Protein Choices and learn what fats we NEED.
We love how it will set you and the whole family up for a healthy and strong New Year!

For the Mom-To-BeMATLETIK-TANK-01_1024x1024

Matletik Activewear for Moms-to-be, created to empower women to continue living an active lifestyle during pregnancy. All styles are proudly made in Canada and are designed to fit great before, during and after pregnancy, at all stages of a mom’s life.
We love the soft fabric and how the cool styles of this Canadian product will make you want to keep working out during and after pregnancy.
From $45-$100.

For the DoodlersNotebook

The Rocketbook Wave Notebook provides a place to work out ideas through drawing and handwriting, while making it dead simple to create and save digital copies of your work. And when all pages have been filled, the entire notebook can be erased in seconds to use it over again. For use exclusively with FriXion® Pens – one comes with the book, and additional pens can be purchased.

We love the paper we’ll save and the kids artwork saved for years to come! Plus the cool-factor can’t be beat.
Notebook + one pen $34.50  Additional 2 pens in different colours $6.75

For the Nut-LoversNutcracker

This nutcracker doesn’t just look different, it works better too! It’s got a  4″ long beech grip so you can exert controlled pressure to crack shells, leaving the meat of the nut – and your fingers – intact. Spring loaded and the special design works for all types of nuts.
We love how easy it is to use, even for littler hands. Perfect for next fall and the walnut trees!

For the Weary Road Travellersseatbelt_pillow_

No more kinks in the neck while they sleep! Let them drift off to dreamland as you travel the long roads to Whistler or Gramma’s house with this super soft micro fleece pillow that attaches easily and securely to the safety belt. The Micro fleece fabric is super soft and ultra comfortable
We love that it goes on and off really easily, and you can throw it in the washing machine for easy clean.

For the Dog LoverDogIamOut

A gorgeous holiday gift that keeps giving! This gorgeous 1′ x 1′ , glossy table book captures the fabulous faces of 60  of the Thank DOG I Am Out Dog Rescue dogs. Nothing but pages of  slick, gorgeous smiles, the dogs names and year rescued.
We love that 100% of the proceeds go to support the on going efforts by Thank DOG I Am Out Dog Rescue Society  to save as many dogs at risk of being euthanized, neglected, abused or surrendered.
$54 (includes shipping within BC) Order by Dec 10 for Christmas delivery.

For the Animal Loving FamilyURbanSaf

Family Pass for one year unlimited visits to Urban Safari – good for up to 2 adults and 4 kids.
Urban Safari Rescue Society is a registered non-profit society that rescues or cares for exotic animals surrendered on a regular basis.  Urban Safari Rescue Society visits schools, day cares, community centers, libraries, and festivals to educate children and the public about animals and the natural world.
We love that this gives the family a pass for unlimited visits to Urban Safari for one whole year at 1395 176th St. Surrey BC, PLUS discounts on camps and other bookings.









Give The Gift of Equality This Holiday Season

“Give equality instead of excess” – a powerful slogan shared to promote One Girl Can‘s holiday card campaign this season, and an important reminder to those of us who want to give back, not just give this Christmas.

Instead of splurging on sillyEcard_Design_Hover_Design_Final holiday socks, tacky Christmas sweaters, or doggy dress-up costumes, your money could be put towards educating girls in Africa. With a small donation, or through the purchase of beautifully-crafted, digital or printed Christmas cards, you can support the efforts of One Girl Can to build new schools, educate girls who are living in poverty, and mentor them to become successful, working women in villages where this is rarely an option.

Educating girls is one of the fastest and most effective ways of promoting global economic development and is the key to ending poverty and injustice towards women.

From an early age, Lotte Davis – Founder of One Girl Can, was exposed to the racial and gender discriminations that were rampant in South Africa where she was born and raised. She made it her mission to make a change and help girls thrive in an environment where they receive little encouragement, funding, or support to help them strive for success.

Through her hands-on support, schools have been built in small communities in both Kenya and Uganda, and over 193 students have been sponsored and mentored through educational Ecard_Design_Hover_Design_Final3programs that drive success for girls who aspire to take on important roles in the workforce – roles that have otherwise been reserved only for their male counterparts.

To learn more about how you can donate or purchase holiday cards to support this important and inspiring initiative, visit the One Girl Can website.

Stay tuned for an inspiring and thought-provoking feature story on One Girl Can Founder, Lotte Davis, in our upcoming January/February “education” issue.

5 Reasons To Check Out This Year’s Private School Expo

Whether children are nearing school age or they’ve already enrolled, parents cross fingers hoping their child’s educational experience will be a positive one. If you are in the midst of pondering your child’s schooling, take time to visit the Private School Expo on November 19th at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre.


Here are 5 reasons why this year’s event will help you find the answers and information you need to make an informed decision about your child’s education:

1) Speak with education/admissions experts face-to-face.
2) Meet leading private and independent schools and their students (list of exhibiting schools here).
3) Learn how to find the right private school for your child (check out the list of information seminars).
4) Find out about the admissions process – when to apply and which school is the best fit for your child.
5) Determine your budget and receive information about scholarships and bursaries.

Finding the best school for your child and family is incredibly important; the school your child attends has a profound impact on his or her success. The Private School Expo brings together education experts and school consultants. Three information packed seminars help you answer the most important questions you have about school options, how to choose the best one, and how to ensure you get accepted. Plus, meet with local top-ranked schools and international boarding schools.

Whether you know 100% that private school is right for your family, or you are merely considering private school as one of many options, you don’t want to miss this informative event.

RSVP now to receive a 50% off your visit to the Private School Expo! Register here: www.ourkids.net/expo

Our Kids Private School Expo & Information Day
November 19, 2017
12pm – 4pm
Sheraton Vancouver Wall
1088 Burrard Street, Vancouver
More Info

How Can Yoga Benefit Your Family?


Learning the principles of yoga, meditation (mindfulness), and pranayama (breath-work) are incredibly beneficial at any age, and even more impactful to learn in your earlier years. Imagine if you had these tools as a child!

With the pressure of media, and the push to constantly do and achieve more, childhood anxiety has dramatically increased. We are stimulated from the time we wake until we go to sleep, not getting the rest outside of sleep to function properly. This results in nervous energy (and a growing need for tools like fidget toys), but what we really need is to be alright with taking a timeout to nourish ourselves…and as adults, we need to lead by example. What if we could teach children a way to minimize their anxiety before it becomes a challenge?

How can meditation help you and your kids?

Simple yoga, meditation, and pranayama techniques help children (and adults) with the following:

  • Focus
  • Communicating dreams & needs, including healthy boundaries
  • Managing stressors in healthy ways, which promotes confidence
  • Strengthening the mind & body connection for better self-awareness
  • Increasing understanding & sensitivity to others
  • De-stressing for healthy hormone balance


Here’s a simple meditation you can do at home with your family:

Begin by laying down or sitting with eyes gently closed. Place one hand on the chest and the other one on the stomach. Taking a deep inhale through the nose, and exhale through the mouth. Repeat ten times. Feel your rib cage and stomach expanding as you inhale, and shoulders relaxing as you exhale. When ready, begin breathing in and out through the nose, with nice long (2-4 second) breaths. Continue as long as you wish.

Yoga for children should be child-appropriate and fun. Yoga, meditation, and pranayama are powerful tools to help nurture ourselves, in order to be more effective, healthier, and happier for ourselves, our families, and our communities.


This was a guest post shared with us by Studio 202 – a community for inspired living, offering space for all ages to share in the arts, music, movement, dance, meditation & inspiration! Their goal is to support the community in wellbeing, and they host classes and events for every stage of life.

For more resources, tips, and stories on how you can achieve better family health, check out our latest issue – available on stands now, or online here.

The Ultimate Guide To Fall Family Fun In Vancouver

With Halloween just around the corner, there are a host of SPOOKTACULAR events and activities fit for families of all ages happening in and around the city! Check out our ultimate guide to family fun this Halloween, and never be haunted again by the wrath of whiny kids who are looking for something to do.

Rocky Mountain Halloween PartyRocky Mountain Halloween
Sunday, October 29, 2017 | 4:30pm – 7:30pm
604-730-0321 (Kits location)
604-566-9779 (Main St. location)
$12.50 per child (plus tax)
More Info

Rocky Mountain Flatbread will be hosting creep crawly Halloween parties for families at both of their Vancouver locations on Sunday, October 29 from 4:30 – 7:30pm. You’ll find tons of spooky fun on the menu, along with artisan pizzas, salads and pastas. They’ll keep the kids busy with Halloween activities while parents kick back with a glass of local wine or craft beer. The party fun includes: a Halloween pizza making station, a creepy crawly candy bar, drinks and potion bar, and face painting. Costumes encouraged!

Halloween at FlyOver Canada Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 1.40.51 PM
October 12 – 31, 2017 | Weekdays 4pm-9pm 
Weekends + Oct 31 10am – 9pm
Buy Tickets Online
Adults: $27.00, Kids: $17.00 (locals receive 20% off!)
More Info

Experience FlyOver Canada with a spooky twist! Broomelda the witch has once again worked her magic to transform FlyOver Canada this Halloween. Aspiring witches and wizards are welcomed into the Haunted Witches Academy before taking off on a spellbinding journey across Canada. This family-friendly tradition has a ‘spook factor’ suitable for those aged 4 years and up. Don’t miss this special seasonal offering at Vancouver’s must-see attraction FlyOver Canada. Bonus: locals save 20% when they book online!

Family Day + Mr. I’s Slightly Spooky Songs & Stories Concert Place des Arts Halloween
Place des Arts
Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017 | 1:30pm – 3:30pm
1120 Brunette Avenue Coquitlam, BC
Buy Tickets Online
Family Day: Free | Mr. I concert: $10
More Info

Tour four exhibitions by local artists at Place des Arts before diving into art activities and creating your own masterpieces. Mr. I’s concert will get wee ones in the mood for haunting (costumes optional, but encouraged). Admission to Family Day is free, and you can reserve your seats for the live concert online.

Halloween Fun at Central CityHalloween Central City
2153 Central City, 10153 King George Boulevard Surrey, BC
October 31, 2017 | 4pm – 6pm
More Info

Families are invited to visit Central City from 4pm to 6pm on October 31st for a spooktacular time at the centre’s free Halloween Fun Event! Kids ages 12 and under dressed in costume can take part in centre-wide trick-or-treating at participating stores (while limited treats last). Plus, families can enjoy Halloween craft activities, face painting, balloon artists, entertainment, story time, and more (located near Winners).

Halloween at Wesbrook VillageWesbrook Halloween
3378 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, BC
All month long!

Halloween in Wesbrook Village has never been sweeter – or more mysterious! Visit the Wesbrook Welcome Centre every Wednesday in October at 4:30pm to watch classic Halloween movies with the family! Back again this year is the frighteningly famous Wesbrook Village trick-or-treating event on October 31, 2017 from 4pm – 6pm. Bring your little ghosts and goblins to participating Wesbrook Village retailers for treats (while quantities last). Don’t forget to vote for the best decorated store/costume for a chance to win a $50 Wesbrook Village Shopping Spree!

For more Fall family fun, check out our complete guide, available in the latest issue of WestCoast Families Magazine. Pick up a copy at a location near you, or read the full guide online here.

5 Reasons To Check Out The 2017 Vancouver Writers Fest With Kids

writers fest

The Vancouver Writers Fest is hitting Granville Island next week, and it promises to unite readers and writers of all ages through the power of storytelling and books, with events featuring both local and international writers that are designed to engage visitors of all ages.

Here are just 5 reasons to make a visit to this year’s Writers Fest a family affair:

1) Discover a diversity of events.

Whether your children are reluctant readers, or read voraciously, the Vancouver Writers Fest has an event that will spark (and fuel) a love of the written word. With 115 authors from Canada and around the world, and 95 panels, discussions and performances on topics as diverse as graphic novels, the refugee crisis, picture books about food, and conversations about the future of the Arctic, they’ve got something to delight you and your family. Check out the full lineup of events here.

2) The events are both educational and entertaining for children.

A little-known fact about the Festival is that one third of events are designed specifically for children, school groups and families. These events feature world-renowned authors who are specifically chosen for their ability to engage children and spark a love of reading. Each year, more than 6,000 students from around the Lower Mainland attend these events – making this one of the largest children’s literary events in BC – and events are also open to individual families and homeschool groups. These events are each designed to align with BC Curriculum goals, meaning they are both entertaining and educational! Check out a list of events geared towards younger audiences here.

Our mission is to bring readers and writers together to reimagine our lives and our world, through story and vibrant dialogue.

3) The festival is attended by world-renowned authors.

In its 30-year history, the Festival has presented luminaries such as: Margaret Atwood, John Irving, and J.K. Rowling, and as North America’s premier literary event, the Writers Fest continues to attract some of the world’s finest authors. Children’s authors for 2017 include multi-award-winning and best-selling author Gordan Korman, “Queen of Plasticine” author Barbara Reid, graphic novelist Cecil Castellucci, acclaimed children’s storyteller Cary Fagan, and Governor General’s Literary Award nominee Cherie Dimaline. See all of the participating authors here.


4) Support the arts.

Words shape our world, and uniting renowned readers and writers with the literary legends of tomorrow will keep the art of writing alive for future generations. The Vancouver Writers Fest is a registered non-profit, charitable organization that operates with the support of public sector funding, ticket sales, advertising revenue, corporate sponsorships and donations.

5) Galavant around Granville Island.

With the festival staged in the cultural oasis of Granville Island, the Vancouver Writers Fest is set in the perfect location for a family outing. After your event is over, you can round out your day by visiting one of the many excellent restaurants and eateries, have a ball at the Kids Market, and go on a wildlife watching excursion along the seawall.


Check out the full schedule of events for this year’s Vancouver Writers Festival, and book your tickets today.

Vancouver Writers Fest
October 16 – 22, 2017
Granville Island (various venues), Vancouver, BC
Buy Tickets

Fact or Fiction: The Weird, and Totally Misunderstood World of Living with Braces

In a province of tall mountains, tall trees, and tall tales,Myths Braces it can be
difficult to discern fact from fiction. Separating myth from reality can be especially difficult when it comes to getting, and wearing, braces which is why we’ve asked an expert. We’ve collected some of the most common, and bizarre myths, and ran them past British Columbia Society of Orthodontist member, Dr. Lucien Bellamy, to either debunk or confirm them.

Myth: If I wear metal braces, I’m more likely to get struck by lightning.
Fact or Fiction: Bizarre fiction

If you know someone with braces, or have ever thought about getting them, you’ve
probably heard that a little extra metal in your mouth makes you a target. The National Weather Service reports that the risk of being struck by lightning in a given year for the average person is 1 in 1,000,000—and that risk isn’t impacted by braces.

Myth: I can see my dentist for my braces.
Fact or Fiction: Common fiction

All orthodontists are dentists, but only 6 percent of dentists are orthodontists. Orthodontics is a specialized branch within dentistry, and orthodontists have attended 2-3 years of additional training beyond dental school to be able to straighten and align your jaw. Only an orthodontist has the training, the experience, and the treatment options to give you your best smile.

Myth: I will always have something stuck in my teeth if I get braces.
Fact or Fiction: Well, that depends

You know how embarrassing it is to have food stuck between your teeth when you’re smiling at the cute girl/boy across the way, or just talking to someone you know. And when you have extra nooks and crannies in your mouth, there could be an increased risk. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Practicing good oral and braces hygiene that you learn from your orthodontic specialist will greatly reduce, and possibly even eliminate, your risk of showing off your lunch when you show off your smile.

Myth: If I kiss another person with braces, they’ll get stuck together.
Fact or Fiction: Bizarre, and funny, fiction—at least, today

You may have heard stories of your parents’  braces getting stuck together, and that’s how they fell in love. But braces, and stories, change over time. Today’s braces—and the brackets and wires used to create them—are too small to turn that story into a reality, unless you try really, really hard.

Myth: I’ll be able to tune the radio with my braces.

Fact or Fiction: Bizarre fiction

When it comes to this myth, you can blame it on the movies. Radio waves, TVsignals, and Wi-Fi require antennas to create signals and your braces are not equipped to act as an antenna.

Myth: Braces will make me look dorky and people will make fun of me.
Fact or Fiction: Mostly fiction

While your orthodontic specialist can’t promise people won’t be mean to you—some people are just that way—they can help you make choices about invisible braces, clear braces, and colored braces that will give you your best smile. A great smile helps you feel better and more confident, and it can literally change how people see you—at work and in your personal life.

life-with-bracesMyth: I won’t be able to play sports or instruments if I have braces
Fact or Fiction: Common fiction

If you think you can’t play sports or a musical instrument when you have braces, you’ve been reading, or listening, to a lot of fiction. Sports players need to wear a mouth guard during contact sports, and your orthodontic specialist can help you get the right one. And if you could play a musical instrument before you got braces, you’ll still be able to do so once they’re on your teeth. It’ll just take a slight adjustment period.

This was a guest post shared by Dr. Bellamy of Bellamy Orthodontics, member of the British Columbia Society of Orthodontists.

How To Enjoy A Fuss-Free Vacation As A Family of Five(+)

Family Travel

When my husband and I first announced that we were having a third child, many of our friends responded with, “Say goodbye to family vacations!”

Most hotel rooms are designed to accommodate a maximum of four occupants, and family deals usually cater to families of four or less, so finding a destination for a relaxing tropical getaway with all three kids in tow seemed like a daunting task. In fact, until our most recent family trip, we avoided travelling as a family of five altogether, opting instead for short local getaways to rental homes or cabins, or trips that involved leaving our youngest at home.

I was thrilled when I discovered that there is a whole world of options for larger families who want to travel abroad – I just hadn’t known where to look! Here are some tips on how to plan a fuss-free family vacation as a family of five.

Check the travel deal sites for all-inclusive family packages.

Nowadays there are many travel deal sites that provide kid-friendly travel options for larger families. Surprisingly, many even offer all-inclusive resort options for both adults and kids. Our family wanted to go to a sunny beach in Mexico, and set our sights on the Riviera Maya region – a beautiful area on the Carribbean coastline of the Yucatan Peninsula. Through Sunwing Vacations, we discovered a fantastic beachfront all-inclusive spot that offered swim-up suites for larger families, a huge range of offerings for kids of all ages, and numerous pools, restaurants and activities to keep our family engaged for our weeklong stay. The package included flights, all-inclusive rates, and added fees so everything was booked and paid in one spot. (Bonus tip: if you can, travel in the off-season months. The weather is usually still warm and dry, but the rates are much lower).

Family Travel

Plan ahead for long flights with little kids.

One of my biggest fears about travelling with our whole family was surviving the long flight with my younger kids. I dreaded being ‘that family’ with the fussy toddler kicking and screaming while in the air, and no escape to calm her down. Fortunately, I arrived totally prepared.

Before we left, I hit the dollar store and purchased a bag full of fun activities for each child – a fresh pack of crayons, stickers, colouring books and miniature toys for the littlest, a fresh pack of Pokemon cards, a new book, and some silly putty for my middle child, and some neon pens, a journal, and some pre-teen magazines for the oldest. I loaded our phones and laptops with pre-downloaded Netflix shows and movies, and we headed out – with full bags and fingers crossed for stress-free travel.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that upon seating, Sunwing Airlines provided my children with activity packs to enjoy during the flight – even better! Our flight went off without a hitch (I even received compliments from fellow passengers on how quiet and well behaved my children were!).

Family Club

Choose a resort that offers kid-friendly amenities.

We stayed in the Family Club at the Grand Riviera Princess All Suites & Spa Resort, a 1,500 room luxury resort tucked along the beach in Playa Del Carmen. Not only did the resort offer a whole separate sprawl designed specifically for families with kids, but it offered large suite-style rooms with a King-sized bed for us parents, and bunk beds with a third slide-out bed in an area for the kids, separated by a curtain. Our room was on the ground floor, and offered a swim-out pool which could be accessed directly from our back door. This was a huge bonus as the kids could enjoy swimming as they wished while we sat back on our patio chairs and sipped on pina coladas.

IMG_1586 copy

Not only were the rooms perfect for large families, but the amenities were on point for kids of all ages. Adjacent to our room was a massive water park and an outdoor playground. While there were 7 themed restaurants and large buffets available to all resort guests, the Family Club offered its own kid-focused pirate-themed buffet, and an exclusive ice cream parlour where kids could order their favourite cones or shakes anytime of the day. The resort also offered a great Kids Club, jam-packed with fun activities for kids from 4-16, a parking lot full of ride-on cars and strollers for infant and toddler guests, and everything you could need for the youngest guests, like baby monitors, cribs, changing tables and more. They also offered great family-friendly entertainment in the evenings, including live performances of both Frozen and Moana – my toddler was in heaven!

IMG_1881 copy

Now that I know that it’s possible to enjoy a laidback tropical vacation with my whole family, this might just become a regular thing. The kids spent their days swimming, splashing and playing together outdoors, and my husband and I were able to sit back, relax, and enjoy some cool tropical cocktails while soaking it all in. Whoever said families of five can’t enjoy luxury travel obviously wasn’t aware of all the great travel options that are out there for large families. Big or small, there are great travel options available for travellers with kids – you just have to know where to look.

Family Travel