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5 Ways Traveling Alone Can Change Your Life For The Better 

Are you looking for a reason to travel alone? Going out to explore the world alone can give you priceless life experiences. Traveling solo can open a whole new world for you of food, culture, independence, and happiness. The world is enormous, and traveling solo can set you on a wonderful journey full of adventure. 

Solo travel can transform your entire life. To name a few; you can unplug from technology, recharge your batteries, give you a chance to celebrate your solo freedom, and so many more. Keep reading to find out 5 ways traveling alone can change your life for the better. 

5 Ways Traveling Alone Can Change Your Life For The Better

1. Traveling alone can improve your quality of life 

Traveling alone allows you to observe. Observing others and how they live can make you humbled about your own life. We can often take little things for granted such as shelter and a warm meal. Your quality of life will improve when you travel alone because you are exposed to new situations and challenges. Traveling solo can also broaden your worldly knowledge of different cultures, food, and different communication styles. Traveling alone can also give you a chance to change your perspective about other people’s circumstances; making you a more compassionate, loving and well-rounded individual. 

2. Recharge your inner batteries 

You are constantly moving in a forward direction in a familiar routine. Your life is fast-paced with very few moments of rest. Family, friends, children, work the list can go on forever. It is hard to find downtime in a chaotic life. Wouldn’t you agree? Your internal light starts to dim and your batteries start to weaken when this happens. You will eventually run on empty. 

Traveling alone allows you time to recoup, recharge, and rekindle that inner joy that has slowly dwindled. Traveling alone gives you a chance to have the downtime your mind, soul, and body so desperately need. 

3. Celebrate being alone 

Solitude is not easy to come by when you have commitments from your everyday life. Traveling alone can give you an unknown freedom of making your plans, exploration on your terms, without time limitations. Doesn’t that sound amazing? You don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself. You can make up the rules as you go. Celebrate being alone by giving yourself the best time ever. Party for one, please!  

4. Unplug from the technological world

In a world where technology is king, wouldn’t it be nice to unplug? Technology is a very influential part of our lives. Computers, phones, tablets, screen time, in general, can take up a big portion of our day. Whether it is personal, work, or a mixture; your devotion to your device can stop when you travel alone. No alarms, meetings, or important affairs are dinging to remind you that you have stuff to do. You can take time to unplug when you travel alone and you will be thankful later. 

5. You will learn your strengths and weaknesses 

When we go through the motions of life we often lose sight of who we are. Traveling alone you will face unknown territory. You are in a strange place with a confrontation of being outside your comfort zone. It may seem scary, but this will give a chance to discover things about yourself you have long forgotten. Traveling alone gives you an opportunity to discover what you are good at, what you are bad at, things you may or may not like. Traveling solo gives you a chance to take a journey to explore your strengths and weaknesses. 

 

How has traveling alone changed your life for the better? 

 

5 Ways Traveling Alone Can Change Your Life for the Better - amotherworld.com

 

Image by skeeze from Pixabay

How Diabetes and Hypos Affects the Entire Family

Since I met my husband in our 20s, he has always been a gym buff, exercising regularly and striving to always be in the best physical shape possible. I’ve always known him to watch his diet as well, eating healthy for the most part, but enjoying fast food and sweet treats in moderation.

In the back of our minds, we knew he would need to watch for signs of diabetes – his father had diabetes, and the risk increases if your parent or sibling is a person living with diabetes. My father-in-law first took prescription pills to manage his diabetes but didn’t turn his unhealthy lifestyle around. Eventually, he was forced to go on insulin to control his high blood sugar levels. Over the years, he developed long-term complications, and eventually suffered irreversible damage to his vital organs. We lost him in 2013.

Seeing his father suffer from complications due to diabetes has fueled my husband to be even more vigilant with diet and exercise. Despite his healthy lifestyle, my husband was recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Even with his diagnosis, he can continue to make healthy lifestyle choices to help prevent complications.

Diabetes is a public health epidemic in Canada. Every 3 minutes a Canadian is diagnosed with diabetes and currently, 11 million are living with diabetes or pre-diabetes. If left untreated or improperly managed, diabetes can lead to a variety of complications, including heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, and amputation.

People living with diabetes are not the only ones impacted by the condition. According to a new international study of 4,300 family members of people with diabetes, worrying about low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia or “hypos”, can place a significant burden on them too. Hypos may result in a variety of symptoms including sweating, feeling hungry and weak, shaking, clumsiness, trouble talking or confusion.

I remember my mother-in-law always worrying about my father-in-law’s blood sugar levels when he was at work because he wouldn’t eat at regular times. It would be frightening when his blood sugar levels would suddenly drop.

When my husband starts to feel weak and shaky, I know his blood sugar must be low; so he’ll have to quickly eat something to get his blood sugars normalized. It’s a scary feeling to suddenly feel like you might faint! It can also be dangerous when blood sugar drops too low – a person can lose consciousness or have a seizure.

Until now, there has been very little research into the impact of low blood sugar on the family members of people with diabetes. The results from this new international TALK-HYPO study, published in Diabetes Therapy, show that up to 64 per cent of family members of people with diabetes are worried or anxious about the risk of low blood sugar, highlighting the significance of this burden for the whole family.

Family members feel the impact that hypos can have on their own lives. Seventy-four per cent of survey participants said they spend less time on, or completely forgo activities such as hobbies, holidays, or being with other friends or family. A majority of the study participants (76%) said they believe that having more conversations about hypos can lead to a positive impact on the life of their relatives living with diabetes.

I know first-hand how frightening diabetes can be and feel it’s crucial to keep the conversation about diabetes and hypo open. A simple conversation about your fears, feelings or experiences related to hypos with your family or with a health care professional can help. TalkAboutHypos.ca has some helpful conversation starters for people with diabetes, family members and health care professionals.

Let’s keep the conversation going.

Hypoglycemia impacts diabetes patients and families

 

Disclosure: This post is proudly sponsored by Novo Nordisk. As always, the opinions written here are my own.

Yes to Me! Feel Your Best at Any Age

This post is proudly sponsored by Allergan Canada. As always, the opinions expressed herein are my own.

No matter how young or old we are, we can agree that we all want to look and feel our best. Luckily with remarkable advances in science and medicine, people are living longer and looking younger in the process.

Thanks to some technological advances in skincare, women can unapologetically achieve a refreshing look on their own terms. Many women want to look and feel their best for their own age. Looking your age is less about trying to be someone younger, and more about being comfortable and confident in your own skin.

Last year, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with Dr. Mauricio de Maio, an internationally renowned facial aesthetics expert, who has pioneered an innovative way to fight aging that focuses on feelings first. De Maio coined the term, MD CodesTM, which considers the full face and recognizes that individual areas of the face are inherently linked to specific emotional attributes.

Now, many dermatologists are using Dr. de Maio’s MD CodesTM in determining the course of treatments with fillers like Juvéderm. The MD CodesTM consider the emotions women would like to achieve:

Dr. de Maio’s MD Codes

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to offer one of my readers a visit with Dr. Julia Carroll of Compass Dermatology, who utilizes Dr. de Maio’s approach. We visited Dr. Carroll’s office for a consultation to discuss the possibility of treatment with fillers like Juvéderm. The goal of fillers is to plump and lift for natural-looking results; you can still look like yourself, but a slightly refreshed version.

Consultation

Lindsay is a mom of two and in her early 40s. She doesn’t like her frown lines and says she doesn’t look happy even when she smiles. She doesn’t want to look angry or unapproachable. Also, she doesn’t like the lines around her eyes, and wears glasses to hide them and how she looks tired.

Dr. Carroll asked Lindsay some questions about her medical history, and lifestyle choices – including whether she ever smoked, if she wears sunscreen or spends a lot of time in the sun, and how her own mom aged. As studies have shown, smoking, sunscreen use, and genetics all play a factor in aging.
Yes to Me Feel Your Best at Any Age | amotherworldYes to Me Feel Your Best at Any Age

Then, Dr. Carroll presented the MD CodesTM to Lindsay, and asked her to choose her top three goals; her reply:

• Less sad
• Look more feminine
• Look less saggy and slimmer

After the consultation, Dr. Carroll proposed a course of treatment that would help achieve Lindsay’s goals. Dr. Carroll suggested using some wrinkle reducing injections to release some of the tension to relax the muscles in between the eyes and muscles. She also suggested using Juvéderm to fill part of the face by Lindsay’s cheeks, temple and jawline to help make her face look slimmer.

Yes to Me Feel Your Best at Any Age | amotherworld.com

Lindsay Dr. Carroll

Dr. Carroll explained what the treatment would entail, how to prepare for the treatment, and disclosed the potential side effects of using fillers. Once Lindsay’s questions were answered, Dr. Carroll’s assistant took her “before” photo, and we booked the treatment visit date!

Yes to Me Feel Your Best at Any Age | amotherworld.com

Treatment

Dr. Carroll first drew out where she would apply treatment. Then, her assistant applied numbing cream to Lindsay’s face to help reduce any discomfort. Dr. Carroll then proceeded with the treatment, which lasted about 30 minutes. Right after the treatment, we could both see some results immediately. We noticed that Lindsay appeared refreshed, and eyes brighter.

Juvederm facial filler treatment Juvederm facial filler treatment preparation Juvederm facial filler treatment Juvederm facial filler treatment

Lindsay felt minimal bruising on one cheek, which went away within a couple of days. Lindsay felt the shape of her face appeared slimmer, and her eyes more widened. Her husband noticed her youthful appearance, saying she looked 10 years younger. Other friends complimented Lindsay on looking great but couldn’t quite pinpoint why! Lindsay’s results were quite subtle and natural-looking; she still looked like herself, but a slightly refreshed version.

We followed up with Dr. Carroll after two weeks when the facial fillers had settled. Dr. Carroll’s assistant also took Lindsay’s “after” photo as a comparison.

Juverderm facial fillers before and after

Juvéderm is a family of facial fillers used by your cosmetic doctor to refresh your appearance by smoothing away unwanted lines and wrinkles bringing back the natural contours of your face. Each product serves its own unique purpose, whether it’s to restore volume for a gentle lifting effect or to reshape and redefine the lips, ultimately hoping for a subtle younger look.1

There is a misconception about this treatment because some people have overdone the use of fillers and end up looking different; but when expertly injected, filler should look natural. The ultimate goal when considering a treatment is not only to look your best but feel your best – at any age.

To learn more about the Juvéderm family of facial fillers, and to find a qualified doctor in your area, visit http://www.juvederm.ca.

 

 

[1] JUVÉDERM.ca. What is JUVÉDERM? https://www.juvederm.ca/en/faqs. Last accessed on January 23, 2019.

Halloween Oreo Pops – Jack O’Lantern and Jack Skellington  

Halloween is one of my favourite holidays. I love decorating the house, figuring out costumes, and seeing all the kids out trick-or-treating. I also enjoy making fun Halloween cookies and cupcakes for the kids. As a Rogers ambassador, Ignite TV has an adorable app for Halloween that includes an Arts & Crafts section featuring some fun and easy recipes. Inspired by the recipe which originally appeared on Delish, I created my own Halloween Oreo Pops.

I had to adjust the recipe slightly as white chocolate doesn’t melt very well. Instead, I opted for melting wafers you can find at a bulk foods store as they are easier to work with (I went to Bulk Barn). Here is my recipe:

Halloween Oreo Pops – Jack O’Lantern and Jack Skellington

Ingredients

1 cup white chocolate melting wafers

1 cup orange chocolate melting wafers

1/4 cup dark chocolate melting wafers

16 Oreo cookies

4-5 spearmint gummy leaves

16 lollipop sticks or paper straws

Toothpick

Halloween Oreo Pops Jack Skellington Jack O'Lantern Cookies

Halloween Oreo Pops Jack Skellington Jack O'Lantern RECIPE ~ amotherworld.com

Method

Fill a pot about 1/4 full with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and fit a stainless steel mixing bowl into the pot. The bottom of the bowl should not reach the water with a few inches in between.

Add the white chocolate wafers and stir until melted.

Take the Oreo cookies and pierce a lollipop stick or paper straw (press flat) into the Oreo cookie filling. Using a spoon, pour melted chocolate over an Oreo pop until covered. Allow excess chocolate to drip off. Place onto a wax-paper lined baking sheet. Continue to dip 7 more cookies.

Cut spearmint gummy leaves into thin slices. Melt the orange chocolate wafers. Before cooling, place a spearmint gummy leave as the pumpkin stump.

Place dipped cookies in the refrigerator to cool for about 10 minutes or until set.

Melt dark chocolate in a bowl. Using a toothpick, design faces on Oreo pops. Place back into the fridge to set.

Use the same idea and use green melting chocolate to make Frankensteins and witches!

Enjoy!

Halloween Jack Skellington Jack O'Lantern Cookies | AMOTHERWORLD

 

How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Moms

Children don’t come with instructions—I wish they did! There is no one-fits-all handbook on the best way to parent, which is why you’ll hear the advice from experienced moms to “trust your own instincts.”  Moms (and dads) have to make decisions about their children every day, and often they question those decisions, wondering whether they made the best choices.

The stress associated with this huge responsibility can be overwhelming at times! The result is that moms feel they have to justify their parenting choices to anyone who questions them.

Why do Moms compare?

When a mom convinces herself that her way is the right or best way, she can then enter competitive territory where she may judge others for their parenting style and their lifestyle choices. Even if you’re not judging another mom in a negative way, you still may find yourself comparing. This happens when we squeeze ourselves into a type of mom category . . . stay-at-home mom, working mom, breastfeeding mom, to name a few. Oh and let’s not forget alpha mom, granola mom, helicopter mom, tiger mom, free-range mom. . .  there are so many labels women have put on themselves, it’s no wonder some of us are feeling overwhelmed!

So what happens when we begin to look at other moms around us, either in our family circle, among friends, or even strangers? It’s human nature to want to fit in somewhere, whether it’s the mainstream norm or another particular group.

When views and choices don’t fit that norm, some women are left feeling discouraged and subpar. How can I measure up to what other moms are doing? Wow, that mom is grocery shopping with her baby in high heels! How does she have time to do her nails and makeup?!  “She looks so good!”

You may be scratching your head wondering how that mom managed to lose all of her baby weight in a month while you’re still struggling seven months later. You may see a mom who seems to be super organized and looks put together; you may then feel worse about yourself because your hair is in a mom bun, you have no makeup on, and you’re still wearing your maternity jeans.

Comparing to moms online

Even online, when you scroll through Facebook or Instagram, you might see other moms who seem to have it all together. Most of the time, social media shows just a snapshot (which is likely staged) of their life. Every day, we see images and read stories that leave us feeling as if every parent is doing it better than we are. If social media is making you feel less confident, stop scrolling.

How to stop comparing yourself to other moms.

You need to ignore how other moms are doing it and focus on what works for YOU. Those picture-perfect moments you see on social media are not reality; they are just an image of a single moment, a carefully-designed instant. Stop yourself from feeling inadequate by comparing your behind-the-scene chaos to someone’s on-camera feature.  If you can remember that behind every seemingly ideal photo is a mom who feels just like you do, you’ll be much better off.

Alternatively, if social media, magazine or images you see in media are causing you unnecessary stress and negative emotions, stop scrolling. Unfollow, unfriend, turn off the TV – remove yourself from the things that are triggering anything that makes you feel bad about yourself. You have the remote control in your hands, so don’t be afraid to use it to shut out things that don’t serve you.

Change your inner dialogue

We all have moments of low self-esteem or insecurity—it’s completely normal. But we can change that inner dialogue to tell ourselves that we ARE good enough. When looking at other moms, it’s important to keep things in perspective and be inspired by differences. Instead of beating yourself up, be grateful for what you have and can do. While you may not be able to do X as well as another mom, you shine at Y!  Focus on the positive things that you can do and offer to your children/family. Sometimes that means giving yourself a pep talk, just as you would to a friend. Even simply telling yourself out loud, “you’re a good mother” can be enough to make you feel better.

Be confident in your way of parenting.

When you become a mother, you don’t become the mother of all children. You don’t suddenly become the ideal of what a mother should be according to everyone else’s standards. You become the mother of your own children, in the manner of your choosing.

Be secure in your own parenting decisions rather than look elsewhere for approval. Trusting your own instincts may come naturally for some but take practice for others on their parenting journey. When we feel good about our own decisions, we feel less of a need to justify our actions.

No one can parent your child the way you can, and no mother can do a better job raising your kids than YOU. Just as you automatically loved your baby as soon as you learned you were carrying him/her, your child loves you too wholeheartedly and unconditionally. YOU are and will always be the best mom for your children.

How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Moms | amotherworld.com

Revised excerpt from Maria Lianos-Carbone’s book, “Oh Baby! A Mom’s Self-Care Survival Guide for the First Year”, available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.  

Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf with Cheese Recipe

Meatloaf is a classic comfort-food staple in our household, especially during fall and winter. But why not kick it up another notch and wrap your meatloaf with bacon and stuff it with cheese? Ah yes! This bacon-wrapped meatloaf with cheese recipe is sure to please. The bacon keeps the meatloaf moist along with the extra ingredients in the meatloaf itself.

Kick it up again by cooking it in a smoker rather than in the oven. My husband did just this for Thanksgiving and the bacon-wrapped meatloaf with cheese was the highlight of our feast. Cut into thick slices and serve on a burger bun with extra cheese and gravy if you like.

Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf with Cheese Recipe

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
1 ½ cups mushrooms, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 egg
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp Worchestershire sauce or Coconut Aminos (soy-free)
2 lbs AAA or prime rib beef
1-2 tbsp breadcrumbs (optional)
1 package bacon
1 cup cheddar, thick slices

Method

In a pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, mushrooms, oregano, marjoram, basil, salt and pepper and saute for about 5 minutes or until soft. Allow to cool.

Once cool, add veggies to the Vitamix and blend until becomes a puree.

 

Venturist V1200

 

In a large bowl, add the beef and add the veggie puree, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce (or Coconut Aminos), and egg. Mix well with wooden spoon or hands. If too sticky, add some breadcrumbs.

Line counter with a large sheet of parchment paper and form a large rectangle evenly. Add cheddar cheese slices in the centre. Take sides of parchment paper and roll meatloaf, pressing down so that ground beef connects.

On another sheet of parchment paper, line about 5-6 slices of bacon horizontally with fatty sides facing one direction. Take another slice of bacon and begin to weave vertically, over and under the horizontal slices. Continue until you create a rectangle about 5-6 slices long and wide to cover the meatloaf.

Then, take the meatloaf and place in basket weave. Wrap the meatloaf from both sides with the bacon, stretching slightly.

Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf with Cheese Recipe Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf with Cheese Recipe

Cook in a smoker according to directions, or bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 F for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until meat thermometer registers at 170 F.Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf with Cheese RecipeBacon-Wrapped Meatloaf with Cheese RecipeBacon-Wrapped Meatloaf with Cheese RecipeCertified Reconditioned Venturist V1200

Disclosure: I am a Vitamix partner as part of their affiliate advertising program. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). This helps support the blog and allows me to continue making free content. I only recommend products that I use and love! Thank you for your support.

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Peach Loaf

It seems rare that locally-grown peaches are still available in farmers markets and grocery stores this time of year! We still have plenty and love a good peach pie or this delicious gluten-free dairy-free peach loaf.  Those of you lucky folks who can still consume wheat and dairy can make this recipe with regular flour and milk.

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Peach Loaf

Ingredients

5-6 peaches, peeled and chopped

1 cup coconut palm sugar

½ cup grapeseed oil

2 eggs

½ cup almond milk  (or regular milk if you’re not dairy-free)

2 cups gluten-free flour (3/4 cups almond flour, ½ cup sorghum flour, ½ cup brown rice flour, ¼ cup tapioca flour) + 1/8th teaspoon xanthan gum  (or 2 cups flour if you’re not gluten-free)

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon of sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Peach Loaf recipe | amotherworld

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
  2. Peel and chop peaches; add to a bowl and sprinkle the cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of the sugar.
  3. In a bowl mix flours, xanthan gum, baking powder and sea salt together; set aside.
  4. In a stand mixer, blend oil and sugar until well blended. Add eggs and mix; then add almond milk and vanilla.
  5. In two parts, add gluten-free flour mix until blended. Remove from the stand mixer, and fold in the peach mixture.
  6. Pour into the parchment-paper-lined loaf pan, and bake for 1 hour.
  7. Once cooled, remove loaf from pan.  Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Peach Loaf recipe | amotherworld.com

How to Deal With Strangers Trying to Touch Your Baby

You’re taking your baby out for a walk in the city. But your plan doesn’t go as well as you thought. As you’re trying to enjoy a stroll, the sidewalks are crowded with people, a few passersby are smoking, and then it suddenly begins to rain. You run into a coffee shop for cover.

But then the baby admirers come over to see your baby. One is sneezing; the other is coughing. Before you know it, a stranger is grabbing hold of your baby’s hands, cheek or head. What do you do? How do you deal with strangers trying to touch your baby?

Once, I took my baby to do some shopping, and an older woman walked up to us and told us how cute my baby was. Before I could even utter a “Thank you,” she had grabbed his hand and started to gently rub his little fingers. I was a little nervous because the only thing I could think of was GERMS! But I know the lady meant well, and seeing my baby probably made her morning a little brighter.

The polite, shy person I once was too embarrassed to say anything, so I let it slide. As soon as she left, I reached into my diaper bag and grabbed a wipe to clean his hands.

Are your hands clean?

Strangers think it’s okay to touch a baby’s hand or even their cheeks! But it’s not cool, even if they mean well.

If strangers are trying to get too close, trying to touch or pick up baby, quickly ask, “Are your hands clean?” or “we shouldn’t be touching him if hands aren’t clean.” That will deter strangers from touching your baby.

Babies can get sick.

If the person insists, be polite and honest. “I’m not comfortable with people touching my child, so please don’t. He can get sick.” You can politely say, “I’m sorry; I know you mean well, but my baby is very young and susceptible to germs.”

If you find it challenging to speak openly, say it with a smile so the stranger realizes you’re being a protective mom and not trying to be rude.

Of course, if you’re not concerned about pleasantries, be matter-of-fact and firm in your reply by simply saying, “Please don’t touch my baby.”

Baby has stranger anxiety.

You can also tell people that your baby doesn’t respond well to strangers and that she has stranger anxiety. “She’ll start crying if anyone she doesn’t know touches her” might work to get people to back off. If the stranger persists, be firm. This is your baby, not a piece of fruit at the grocery store.

Turn the other way.

If you see someone eyeing baby and you’re pretty sure they are about to approach you, run! There were plenty of times that I didn’t have the energy to make small talk (think sleepless nights). Avoid bumping into a chatty Cathy by swiftly swivelling the stroller and darting in the opposite direction.

Cover baby.

You can also place a breathable cover over baby’s stroller—this usually acts as a good deterrent. These breathable covers keep the air circulating but also prevent admirers ogling.  You may have the odd bold person lifting up the netting or cover and still reaching for baby, but this extra layer will give you time to tell the stranger that touching your baby is not okay.

 

Your baby isn’t fair game for strangers to touch or pick up. You’re your child’s advocate so make sure you are comfortable and most importantly, your baby is!

 

How to Deal With Strangers Trying to Touch Your Baby | amotherworld.com

 

Revised excerpt of Maria’s book, “Oh Baby! A Mom’s Self-Care Survival Guide for the First Year“.

 

Want more articles like this? Consider purchasing a copy of “Oh Baby! A Mom’s Self-Care Survival Guide for the First Year” on Amazon.ca.

Why I’m Not Excited About Back to School

The summers seem to pass much quicker as our children grow older. Back to school means we’ll be back to our usual, hectic routines with jam-packed days and evenings and weekends of errands and hockey. And the older your kids get, the busier their days and weekends are with friends and activities.

In past years, I looked forward to the school year because I was exhausted having my boys home all summer. I selfishly wished the time would fast forward to the first day of school so I could have some alone time again. Though I loved having my boys home, keeping them entertained for a part of the day without playing referee constantly became overwhelming. I remember feeling drained by the middle of summer, counting down the days where our regular routine would be restored. I’d have quiet time to focus on work without being interrupted every five minutes, and some “me” time to decompress.

This might be the first summer in years that I wished summer break would last longer so I could spend more time with my boys. I wholeheartedly enjoyed hanging out with them this summer. The usual bickering was bearable, surprisingly. We spent time doing things outdoors. We got our fill of the hot summer sun. We explored parts of Ontario we hadn’t visited before, frolicked on the beach, and circled the grounds of Canada’s Wonderland countless times.

But the difference this summer is that my boys also spent time apart from one another and with their own friends. They’d be out for hours, separately, only calling me to check-in. Instead of the usual questions of summers’ past, “Where are you taking us today?”, they asked, “Mom, I’m going out with my friends now.”

This summer I felt a huge shift and it really hit me – my boys are becoming independent, self-sufficient young men. Gone are the days when I’d have to arrange playdates and meetups. Gone are the days I’d have to plan activities to keep them occupied, and camps to help them burn off their insurmountable energy. Now, they’re scheduling their own plans with friends and don’t need me to organize their social life anymore.

I was their taxi driver, chauffeuring them and their friends to various activities this summer. Some days, they hopped on their bikes and scooters and took off for hours. Other times, the gang would congregate in our garage. My basement turned into the local movie theatre for their friends.

There were days that went by where I hardly saw my boys and needed some extra cuddles by evening because I missed them so. “I haven’t seen you all day!”

That’s the strange dichotomy about parenting – we hang onto every moment we can share with our kids and yet we push them away when we’re overwhelmed.

Time. It’s the only constant in our lives. And the time we have with our children is fleeting.

Balancing that time carefully will allow us to appreciate and fully enjoy the precious time we have together.