Jen Robbins

Sun-kissed kids

By | Community, Jen Robbins

When we were younger, a peeling nose was just another sign of a great and fulfilling childhood spent outside in the fresh air!  (Along with skinned knees and elbows, of course.)

These days the sun is stronger and we are inundated with sun safety (and danger) messages every time we turn around.  Whether your child is newborn or 10, there are a lot of precautions to take when it comes to the sun.  (And it seems they all cost money…)

Direct sunlight is pretty much a no-no.  Stay out of it during the stronger hours.  If you can’t, slap a hat on your child and sun screen is a must.  This could be an entire post on its own because there are as many opinions on sunscreens as there are options for sunscreens!

What else might you need in the sunny weather?

For the little ones you can buy all kinds of sun shade tents.  If you don’t have tinted windows, you’d better get one of those tinted shades for your car so that their little eyes aren’t assaulted by the rays of the sun.  You can also buy the tiniest of sunglasses that have a band so that your baby can’t remove them!  Rashguards today are built with UV protection, so they’re not just for surfers!  That upscale stroller naturally has an attachment for sun protection available for purchase.

Sun protection for children is a huge industry.  And it’s serious, don’t get me wrong!  I definitely slap on the sunscreen (don’t forget their neck!) and have a full array of hats and backup hats… I’m just glad that when my kids were babies there was a little less information overload (and a little less online shopping) – I’d have been broke!

Sleeping “through the night”…

By | Community, Jen Robbins

Everyone warns you that you’ll never get any sleep once your little one comes.   It’s true.  The oddest thing happens – your definition of “sleeping through the night” changes drastically.   I remember thinking how odd it was when people asked if my baby slept through the night.

Well, I  put the baby down at 6:00 PM.  Then he wakes up at 7:30 PM.  Then he goes back to sleep at 8:00 PM.  Then he wakes up at 9:00 PM.  Then he wakes up at 11:00 PM.  And so on, and so on… so you might consider that 3-hour stretch of straight sleep “sleeping through the night”. That period of uninterrupted sleep becomes so elusive that you will come to treasure it like the magic that it is!

“My baby slept through the night!  From 11:30 PM to 4:30 AM!!”  might just be cause for celebration!  Or, unfortunately you might get used to only sleeping for 90 minutes at a time and wake up with insomnia (or moms that are breastfeeding might be woken up by their bodies needs!).

Sleeping is the one struggle that just about every parent has.  There are so many methods to “deal” with sleep.  When one works for you, you swear by it and recommend it to everyone.  Crying it out, co-sleeping, or even getting a “sleep consultant”, in the end we all do what we need to do to get that precious sleep.

Don’t worry parents, that wonderful day will come when your little one will be able to turn on the TV themselves and get themselves some breakfast… it will be a long time coming but it will happen!

Online grocery shopping – Mommy’s Little Helper!

By | Community, Jen Robbins

Of all the blessings of modern technology, one of the most useful has to be ONLINE GROCERY SHOPPING.

This little life hack has only been around for the last few years and from what I hear, there are mixed results, but it does keep improving.  I personally love it!  There are a number of shops offering the service with either pickup or delivery service.  A small fee is charged, generally cheaper at off-peak times.

I choose the pickup service because that’s what’s offered at my store of choice… all the low prices and great selection with NONE of the bag packing!!  Win-win!  When you use a store with a points or rewards card – they KNOW you!  Sure, it could be seen as creepy, but on the bright side, shopping online is even faster and easier because they KNOW you and what you like to buy.

Finding things online is SO much easier because you just punch in whatever it is you need – no wandering the aisles or realizing you’re on the wrong side of the store.  The prices are also very clear and always updated on the app or website.

The ultimate use of this little tool has to be a story I read on a Facebook group – a busy, tired mom put in her online order, told her family she was going grocery shopping and drove to the store parking lot and sat in her car reading a book and eating chips for an hour… then simply picked up the groceries and went home.  SWEET!

Netflix and Oh shoot the 90’s were inappropriate

By | Community, Jen Robbins

With what feels like endless rain, and colds going around, it’s time to settle in and watch some Netflix.

Do you ever feel like you’ve watched just about everything?!    With a 6, 9 and 12 year old it can be difficult to find a show that we can all enjoy, or at least that one won’t have anyone making excuses to leave the room.

Here are just a few of our favourites – keep in mind that some may be slightly inappropriate for younger audiences.  Also, we notice sometimes that some classics can be a little outdated – but it’s a great way to start conversations about the way people used to think wayyyy back in the 80s and 90s!

  • RV
  • 17 Again
  • Harry and the Hendersons
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid
  • Big Daddy (watch out for Hooters jokes!)
  • Click
  • Lion

If you have a hard time figuring out whether something is appropriate for your family from the ratings system (PG, MA, R???) – this website – Common Sense Media – is an amazing resource!  It will tell you exactly what themes are approached and counts the number of curse words and details any violence or nudity.  Put it in your parenting toolbelt!

What to do this weekend?

By | Community, Jen Robbins

Hopefully the rain holds off for the big event in Surrey, Party for the Planet on Saturday!  This event is great for all ages so bring the whole family down to the Civic Plaza.

If you’re looking for a unique shopping experience (it’s never too early to do your end of year gift shopping for teachers and coaches!), check out the Fort Langley Makers’ Market.

If your kid had a growth spurt, you might want to check out some new-to-you clothes at the North Langley Kids Swap Meet!  Tons of deals to be had so check it out!

Growth Spurts and your wallet…

By | Community, Jen Robbins

Growth spurts happen.  It is always somewhat painful when your child moves from the “baby/toddler” section into the “children” section (emotionally AND financially, as those clothes cost WAY more!).  Now you have to get used to learning what clothes at what store work for the shape of your child all over again, whether you have a tall skinny string bean, or a little Buddha!

And what’s with kids’ shoes?  They go up to 12 for kids sizes.  Except some brands that go to 13.  Anyone with me where the 12 is way too small, but either a 13 or a 1 is way too big.  And good luck finding a 12.5 on the sale rack (I never pay full price for anyting).

But it has to be the worst when they start to outgrow “kids” sizes altogether.  Once you’ve bypassed the XXL (14-16) at the Gap, the adult small size should be next, right?  Nope.  Too big in the waist, too short in the legs.

I threw out a Facebook plea for help last fall and got lots of recommendations for “teen” shops that might fit his build.

So we went out to the mall to scout out some new clothes, sent him into the changeroom with a pile of clothing, and … waited.

“Want to come out and show me?” I asked.

“Nope I’m good,” he mumbled from the changing room.  I’m navigating this new world of teen parenting so I wanted to give him space!  Bad move, rookie mom.

Of course after dropping a whole lot of cash on the latest – somehow when we got home none of it fit, because he never tried it on (I suspect he was playing a game on his phone), the whole endeavor was just to pacify me as he doesn’t care too much what he wears…

In the end, he just wore shorts all winter.  Putting mayonnaise on just about everything means that by the time spring rolled around, he can now fit into adult smalls!

I’ll just save that gift card (because these expensive stores NEVER give you cash back!) for one of my more fashion-forward littles when it’s their time…


Where is the paperless society?!

By | Community, Jen Robbins

Better brush up on your handwriting skills when you have kids. You’ll be filling in forms OFTEN. Why is it that we have to fill in a form when we register our children for a program online. Where does that information go? Then on the first day, we have to fill in another form to send back with them.

We all face this issue… when I put in my driver’s license on the passport application form, why doesn’t it ALREADY KNOW my address? And now that I have a bunch of kids, I have to fill this out three times.

Our medical card is now merged with our drivers’ licence or BCID… so doesn’t it already know my address? When I make an appointment at yet another specialist… why do I have to fill in the form allllllll over again?!

And don’t even get me started on the carpal tunnel syndrome suffered at the beginning of every school year!

The Umbrella of Choice…

By | Community, Jen Robbins

No doubt when your child plays soccer on the west coast, you will get wet.  I’ve spent 8 years out here on the sidelines and this is my preferred umbrella!

Here’s why I love this particular umbrella:

  • it’s clear, so you can see all the action from underneath your bubble
  • it comes down lower than most, so it protects your face from the biting winds
  • it’s compact, so you’re not continually whacking others in the face

It’s also great for walking to school for these reasons!  You can get this type of umbrella just about anywhere!  Mine is Joe Fresh from Shoppers (bought with my points, of course).

Spring Cleaning in the Suburbs

By | Community, Jen Robbins

Have you spent a ton of time spring cleaning and decluttering? Kinda had those goals over spring break but let’s face it, those kids aren’t much help.

If you’ve got big, useless items you’re ready to clear out, our cities and municipalities generally can help out with that, providing large item disposal and pickup service.

In Langley and Surrey, your municipal waste service allows you to put out 4 large items per year. This could be all at once or at 4 separate times throughout the calendar year. Just give them a call and they’ll let you know when to put it out for pickup. So easy!

In Delta, you can put your items at the curb in the upcoming week. Check this link for the dates in your area and what is accepted at the curb.

If you’ve got old electronics, you can check if your local Return-It depot accepts the items.  It’s easier than you might think to help keep dangerous items out of the landfill!

Calendar hacks

By | Community, Jen Robbins

Earlier we talked about how many activities work for your family.  So once you’ve got that calendar all set, how do you manage the actual logistics?

There are so many tools for this.  Big old binders, a huge wall calendar, a little daytimer-style book you carry around – these can all work.

Of course there’s an app for that.  In our house we live by the Google calendar.  Each child is colour coded and everything MUST go on the calendar.  Everyone has the calendar on their device and I print it off week by week for the fridge so that I can easily see it at a glance and scribble my to-do’s on it.

The key is consistency, and you know I’m talking about the Mr. here.  Mine plays sports and travels so ideally, he would be slamming that all in the calendar.  It would sure help me become the organized parent I am MEANT to be!  However, if I had a penny for every time I said “Check the calendar” I would have $850 this week alone.   And it’s only Monday.

The nice thing about Google is that it’s here to stay.  So now my son at 12 has his schedule on his iPad as well.  You’re welcome, future daughter-in-law.

I also try to do a little weekly schedule review with the family to give them opportunities to remind me about a birthday party they never told me about or a field trip notice that’s crumpled up on the bottom of their backpack. (It sometimes works).

Every family has a different schedule hack – online or on paper, whatever works!