Category Archives: Parenting tips

Costume Swapping for Halloween

by Laura

October 9th is National Costume Swap Day in the United States.  This green event is promoted by Kiwi Magazine, Green Halloween, and  It is a simple idea to save money and the environment too.  Children are encouraged to swap costumes and keep old ones out of the landfill. 

Some children lose interest in dressing like Luke Skywalker or Cinderella.   My kids are happy to reuse costumes but this year they have both outgrown their outfits.  I am not handy with a sewing machine or a glue gun and have purchased costumes in the past.  Instead of spending money or trying to create something in the wee hours of October 30th, simply trade/borrow costumes with fellow trick-or-treaters.  
According to the National Costume Swap website, “swapping half the costumes kids wear on Halloween would reduce the annual landfill waste by 6,250 tons, equal to the weight of 2500 mid-sized cars”.   In addition, swapping reduces packaging, transportation, and manufacturing impacts too.  
A costume swap can be as simple as sending an email to friends/classmates, or organizing something larger at a brownie/cubs meeting, local library or recreation facility.  I imagine that even folks with little interest in eco-friendly ideas might be keen to save a few dollars.  It is a win/win idea. 
Why limit it to children’s costumes?  Adults attend Halloween parties and dress up to hand out treats at the door.  I wonder if my pal Kelly is growing tired of her pink pig costume and would like to dress this year as a defeated Leafs fan?  Perhaps our neighbour Steve wants to swap his vampire cape with my husband and dress as scary mask guy.   Oh, the possibilities are endless.

Although it is not a national event in Canada, a costume swap puts a fresh spin on an old tradition.   It is an opportunity to make a difference, save money and enjoy some holiday fun.   Happy Halloween!

Laura is a wife and Mother to beautiful 8 and 10 year old girls.  She describes herself as an eco-advocate and moderate neat freak with a recessive frugal gene.  Laura provides light-hearted commentary for every day, practical green living on her blog the Mindful Merchant.

My Kids Funky Closet
Sunday October 17th 10am- 3pm
The Glebe Community Center
175 Third Ave @ Lyon St in The Glebe


Filed under Activities for kids, Events, Free, Parenting tips

Noodle Box

by Sara

On February 14, 2008 I bought a Rubbermaid container and 4 bags of alphabet pasta.  It was our Valentine’s day present for the, then almost-two-year-old, firefighter.  We filled the container with the noodles and several of his favourite construction vehicles and voila, our very own construction site!  Two years ago the total cost for everything was less than $20.

The firefighter, on Valentine’s day, loving the  noodle box.

Two years later we still have the same box and the same noodles.  Although many have been sacrificed to the dog and vacuum. 

The noodle box is a toy that is kept behind closed doors.  I bring it out for the firefighter when I am working.  He will put the lid beside him and take out all the toys he doesn’t want to use.  He will play happily for 30-45 minutes.

The monkey also loves the noodle box but he needs be supervised as noodles usually end up spread far and wide.  I find the fewer toys I leave in the box, the more creative (and less disastrously messy) the play is.

It makes for a great rainy day or “I need 15 minutes to get dinner ready” activity).  We also have a rubbermaid container filled with Moon sand and assorted scooping and digging toys.

Do you have any sensory box activities at your house?

Sara is mom to 4-year-old ” firefighter” and 2-year-old “monkey”.  You can find her at her blog, My Points of View.

Trick or Treat to a Wicked Beat


Filed under Activities for kids, Parenting tips

Question of the month #5: Favorite books

Kids in the Capital is all about parents in Ottawa helping each other out by sharing tips and advice. Each month we ask a parenting question and we want to hear all the gems of advice you have to share. Just leave your answers in the comments! And if you have a question you’d like to see be a future question, leave it in the comments too!

Question of the month #5: Favorite books

Now that kids are back in school it is all about reading, writing and arithmetic! As a family that loves to read, our house is filled with books. Some we’ve bought, some are gifts, some I need to return to the library before I get a fine. Despite all the books we have I am always on the look out for a great new book.

Do you have a favorite kids book? Do your kids have a favorite book that they want you to read over and over? We want to hear your recommendations for great books for kids of all ages!


Filed under Parenting tips, Question of the month

Salon Mom: Cutting your own kids hair

by Brie

It was time. I really couldn’t put it off any longer. I needed to face facts. My son needed a haircut.

My two-year boy’s long white blond hair was cute. He looks like a little surfer one of the moms’ at the park told me. It was true. He did. But he also was starting to have trouble seeing with his bangs covering his eyes. This was great for playing hide-and-seek but not so great for walking.

Why yes that discolouration on his neck is a large dolphin tatto. What else could it be?

I tried to put off the haircut. I brushed his hair to the side. I grabbed the hair at the front of his head and pulled it up into a top ponytail. Now he looked like a rocker dude. A cute rocker dude, but still, I wondered how long it was going to be before people asked me if he was a girl.

He really does rock this look!

Still I resisted. The first and only time I took him and his sister to the hairdressers was not a success. We drove all the way out to Melonhead in Orleans and I had to watch while he sobbed the entire haircut. He even sobbed while clutching a lollipop.

One day a friend suggested I cut his hair myself. I agreed, while still trying hard to think of a place I could take him for a hair cut that wouldn’t result in tears. Then one day when we were over visiting she told me she had bought me a nice pair of scissors for $2 at the grocery. Sized by what I can only describe as some force beyond my control, I decided then and there to cut the boy’s hair.

I sat him in his friend’s booster seat and started to cut. I will admit to being a little nervous. I was worried that he would end up looking stupid, but I figured if it turned out badly I could always take him to a real hairdresser to have it fixed. Plus, once I started I just couldn’t stop. I was having too much fun! It was like playing with the Barbie hair salon set I had as a kid. But with real hair!

So I cut and cut and it turned out great. I gave him a “boy cut”, which involved holding up pieces of hair and cutting it diagonally. Halfway through I was tempted to just leave him with the mullet I had unintentionally created, but then decided against it. In the end the haircut turned about great, I saved $20 and, best of all, no tears.

Proof that I should be allowed to cut hair again

The girl noticed her brother’s haircut as soon as she got home from school and asked me to cut her hair too. Salon Mom is open for business!

What about you? Have you ever cut your kid’s hair? Do you run a Salon Mom? Any tips and tricks to share for giving a great haircut?

Brie is the mom of a 4-year-old daughter “the girl” and 2 old son “the boy”. You can read her blog at Capital Mom.


Filed under Free, Parenting tips

Why I love Chapters. And it’s not for the books.

by Zach

I’ve always liked Chapters bookstores. They have books, places to sit, and the staff leaves me alone when I read stuff and then put it back on the shelves.
Since I’ve had kids, I’ve come to appreciate Chapters even more. Big, reasonably clean, air-conditioned, and no sharp tools for the kids to injure themselves (or anyone else) with.
However, the Chapters Rideau (47 Rideau Street, right downtown at Sussex & Rideau) has a particularly fond place in my heart, for one reason: Thomas the Tank Engine. They have what is, by my standards, a huge Thomas playset in the kids area, on the 2nd floor. I’m not familiar with the whole collection of Thomas toys, but it seems to me they must have all the trains, plus a ton of tracks, bridges, a roundhouse, and so on. There’s plenty of pieces to play with, and lots of space around the play table for more than one kid at a time to get in there and start moving things around.
The tracks are all glued together, and onto the table. This may discourage creativity in designing new railway tracks, but I imagine helps keep things from wandering out of the store, or from falling over and thereby requiring parental hands to put everything back together.
Sometime in the relatively recent past they re-designed the kids area slightly, opening the space by, I think, removing some shelving. There’s now a few extra kid-sized, colourful tables and chairs next to the train set, and, to my delight, some grownup sized chairs. If you’re lucky, you can read something while the kids move Thomas and his friends and frenemies around. There are also bathrooms relatively nearby. I strongly recommend scrubbing everyone’s hands after going anywhere within six feet of the Thomas playset.
But wait, that’s not all! When I used to take my daughter, when she was around a year and a half or so, she greatly enjoyed the escalators in the middle of the store. We would go up, and then down, over and over. They’re got wide steps, and she could navigate them pretty well, including doing the walking-up-the-down-escalator routine. If possible, I suggest going early in the morning before you really have to start dodging people who are actually trying to use the escalators to get to the books.
A little while ago, they added boxes and boxes of scooters and wagons to the kids area. A few are unpacked and available for use. I feel a bit anxious about kids speeding around in a relatively small area, on the 2nd floor, close to the escalators, but, if it buys a few more minutes of relative calm …
Needless to say, there’s books, too. We tend to use the library more than we buy new books (all our bookcases at home are overflowing, anyhow), but it’s a great place to pick up a birthday or baby shower present. Who doesn’t like books? At least, if you have the space for them…

Zach is a dad to a four-year old girl and a two-year old boy. He doesn’t blog but he is married to Capital Mom who does.

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Filed under Activities for kids, Books, Free, Parenting tips

Driving around in my automobile

by Lara

I have a friend whose baby slept through the night – 7pm to 7am – from the time he was 6 weeks old. And he was all happy all the time during the day. I hated her.

Ok, I didn’t, but I was a wee bit jealous seeing as how I have had three babies and none of them slept more than about 1.5 hours at a time for the first three months and did A LOT of crying and not sleeping during the days too.

I had to come up with a lot of strategies to not lose my mind and to make sure my babies got some sleep.

Obviously every baby is different but I thought I would share some of what I did :

1) Baby wear.

This was more difficult to do with twins (although I did it and still do it a lot when they are fussy).  I have many types of carriers.  I really liked my long stretchywrap when they were little, and as they got older I really liked my mei teis.  I have a Kozy and a more structured carrier that I found easier to use to get babies up onto my back on my own called a Beco. I HIGHLY recommend just putting your baby on and bouncing around the house (or go for a walk) when they won’t sleep. SO effective!

Lara & Kiernan

2. White noise

White noise reminds babies of being in the womb. It calms them, it seemingly drugs them into a state of calm.  It was my saviour.

Some people use the kitchen fan, some the bathroom fan, some the vacuum – I used my hairdryer. For about a year both times, my hairdryer lived on the floor in the nursery set on cold.  In really trying moments it would be run on full blast and babies almost always calmed right down, often falling asleep. For us, only REALLY powerful hairdryers worked so it can’t be a cheapo low voltage one.

We still have a white noise machine going almost constantly in my daughter’s room.  Graco makes  a great one that is also a nightlight and you can plug an MP3 player into for other uses.

3. The car

Do you get drowsy in the car? I know that if I’m not driving I almost always start to pass out on long car rides. I think my parents programmed me for it, and I’m FINE with that.  I have attempted to do the same with my kids 🙂

When my babies wouldn’t sleep I often would say “fine, let’s go for a drive!” – with Kiernan it was often one of the few ways I could get a decent length nap.  Not eco-friendly, I know, but driving up and down the highway for an hour sometimes gave me the break we both so desperately needed.

With the twins, I explored back country roads and my husband and I are still known, on occasion, to take a REALLY fussy baby for a drive at night to get them to sleep when nothing else will work.

And I’ve seen a lot of the city and countryside during my drives!
90 : 365
32 : 365
25 : 365

Oh, and also a lot of this:

Tim Horton's

What do you do to get through the fussy crying periods?

Lara is mom to 3.5 year old Kiernan and 1 year old twins Quinn and Juliette. You can read her blog at Gliding Through Motherhood.


Filed under infants, Parenting tips

Hockey Girls

by Laura

I never thought having daughters, I would be hanging out in hockey arenas lacing skates and breathing in change room aromas.  Growing up in Toronto (back in the day), girls did not play hockey…that was a “boy” sport. Moving to Ottawa I discovered times have changed and this city offers wonderful hockey programs for girls.

The number of females playing hockey is rapidly growing according to the Hockey Canada  website.  In 1999 there were 43,421 females registered compared to 2009 when the number almost doubled at 85,624.

I remember the day our 5 year old daughter asked if she could play hockey.  Hockey??? She informed us that girls could play hockey, you know, and her friends were registered in Fundamentals learn to play program.

I did some research and spoke to parents. Different associations offer programs for girls depending where you live in the city.  People shared with me the pros and cons, so I will mention both.  Let’s start with some negatives because they might discourage parents from considering the sport.

It is an expensive sport. Compared to others it can be, but keep in mind the season is long and runs from September to the end of March.  Being a frugal Mama, there are ways to offset the costs. We swap or borrow used equipment with friends and neighbours.  You can also buy and sell used equipment at stores likeTim’s or Play it Again Sports. Individual teams also fundraise and secure sponsorship to help with other costs like tournaments.

It is a big commitment.  Our experience in house league is a game or practice Saturday and Sundays.  I have heard, as the kids get older the times shift from games on the weekend to mid-week but we haven’t seen much of that.  Yes, our weekends are busier, but only during the day.

Now for the good points. Great exercise benefits and skills learned like co-ordination, teamwork, patience and perseverance – all acquired with big emphasis on fun. Every Coach must complete courses on how to coach in a positive, fun way.  The local league measures success not by wins/losses or championship trophies, but by girls wanting to participate again next season.  I believe the other hockey leagues have similar philosophies.  This strategy seems to be working because six years later our girls and their friends continue to play.

For our girls, hockey is social, chatting on the bench, helping each other, making new friends. We like that they have friends outside of school. We notice our youngest daughter grew more confident after her first year. As long as they continue to enjoy the sport, we will be schlepping hockey bags to arenas.

You are never too old to learn hockey. Our daughter’s 11-year-old friend M tried a week of hockey camp to figure out if she would like to play this winter.  Tomorrow M is starting her first hockey season.  Every year there are girls that never played before and are encouraged to participate.  I have 40-year-old girlfriends that are learning to play. Seriously!

Hockey is not for every child, but having two completely different spirited children I can tell you it is a sport that accommodates even the girliest girls.  Unbelievably, we have found pink hockey tape, pink sticks, pink skate laces and pink hockey bags.  Wayne Gretzky may not know it, but hockey is girlified.  Our daughters taught us to open our minds to the sport.  Their group of hockey pals demonstrate that girls can get out there and own the good ‘ol hockey game.

Hope to see you in the stands. 🙂

Laura is a wife and Mother to beautiful 8 and 10 year old girls.  She describes herself as an eco-advocate and moderate neat freak with a recessive frugal gene.  Laura provides light-hearted commentary for every day, practical green living on her blog the Mindful Merchant.


Filed under Activities for kids, Parenting tips, Services