Category Archives: Family Dynamics

An Insight into Fostering: The Myths and the Truths

foster children There are lots on uncertainties that circulate around foster parenting. It’s widely believed that marital status, age and personal experience are the deciding factors in whether you are allowed to foster a child. We spoke to Lorraine* to gain a better insight into the world of fostering and to have all of the common myths and truths brought to light.

Can I become a foster parent if I’m single?

There are certain qualities that a foster parent must possess, lots of patience, empathy, supportiveness and a big heart, but surprisingly having a partner is not included in the list! Foster children are working through what’s called a transition period when they are placed into care – this is a period where they will be waiting to be either reunited with their birth parents, or placed with the right “forever family”, so it is an extremely difficult time for them that will require the upmost sensitivity – if you can provide a stable and loving environment for the child, that will cause them as little trauma as possible, then you could be the perfect candidate. So it doesn’t matter if you’re single, married, male or female.

Lorraine* is a single mother of 3, who began fostering a little over 7 years ago and hasn’t looked back since.

Can I foster if I have my own children?

One of the most common misconceptions about fostering is that people who have their own children are not suitable foster parent candidates. When speaking to Lorraine, she said “I have experience of being a parent, with 3 sons of my own I believed that I had the experience to benefit a child’s needs”. If you have your own children, it demonstrates that you are able to provide a stable and loving environment that a foster child needs. Also bringing a child into a home that already has children, who they can speak to, play with and learn from, can actually help them to acclimatise to their new home better.

fostering

Am I too old to foster?

If you are 25 years of age or older you can be a suitable candidate to foster. As long as you are of sound health both mentally and physically, then you can foster a child regardless of how old you are. Lorraine* began fostering when she was 48 years old, she is now 55 and is planning to continue to foster.

Do I have to be qualified to become a foster parent?

Before you are allowed to foster a child, there is an extensive process that you have to go through. You will be paired with a social worker who can visit you up to 10 different occasions – in this time they will complete the Form F Report, which is an in depth assessment of your family history, medical records and overall suitability to foster a child. If you pass the initial stages of the fostering process, you will also have to attend a 3-4 day course, which will prepare you for all of the different challenges that being a foster parent will bring. Lorraine* told us that “nothing can fully prepare you for the challenges and difficult times that you will be faced with as a foster parent. I have looked after so many children and teenagers during my time and every experience is different. This is such a rewarding life choice, and as long as you remain patient, open minded and supportive, you can really make an impact on the child’s life”.

Lorraine* fosters through a private fostering agency called Lorimer Fostering, but you can also foster via your local fostering authority.

*Lorraine’s name has been changed to protect her identity and that of the children in her care.

garage door opens, kids, home security

Kids, Residential Garage Doors and Home Security

Sometimes even the most agile Heads-Up Dads discover they can’t have nice things stored out in their garage anymore because with so many kids playing on the property, they can’t keep their storage areas locked and safe from thieves.

the whole family on the driveway

Its a hard decision to tell kids they can’t play with the neighbors on the home property anymore, but a parents’ eyes can’t be everywhere at once. In more urban communities with high pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk,an unattended garage space can get pilfered in less time than it takes to answer a ringing phone.

When the neighbourhood kids run amuck about the property they frequently leave doors and windows wide open, and adolescent teens are especially prone to leaving the garage door open at night.

Prowlers Pounce on Open Garage Doors

Here in Toronto almost half the burglaries that police investigate occur in residential garages, and these numbers are rising. McKee Horrigan garage door installers report a 30% increase in ‘armoured doors’ sold over the last two years. The steel plated garage door is ‘custom build’ with extra metal on the front. Its almost impossible to cut through, and the frame can be additionally reinforced to prevent buckling if rammed by car or truck. Suburban thieves often work in pairs, prowling side streets looking for targets of opportunity. Unsecured or open garage doors rank high on their list. More sophisticated burglars might travel with binoculars in their car to spy valuables inside open garages from a safe distance. They like expensive tools and toys, especially bicycles they can ride away to a nearby rendezvous point.

Any Toronto residents reading this might remember Igor Kenk the local bike shop owner who both stole bicycles and bought hundreds of stolen bikes. The photo below is the grand cache seized by police, many of which were later donated to inner city youth. Not all of these bicycles were stolen while locked to parking stanchions; the most expensive bikes with composite materials in lightweight designer frames were often lifted from inside locked garages where the owner felt safe storing them between rides. .

Bicycles stolen from streets and open garages in Toronto

High tech alarms systems with IP cameras video surveillance are fine, but all too often security protocol starts and ends with the youngest members of the family.

Brian Mcleish the CEO of Guru Security in Toronto has a lot to say on the subject of home security and garage security as an extension of family discipline. He identifies a role for Heads-Up Dads as Security Boss.

Five Ideas To Help Keep The Family Garage More Secure

  1. Install a perimeter alarm system with magnetic contacts on garage side doors and windows that can be ‘armed’ at night at a panel in the house; this display should show open doors and windows at a glance. Most home alarm systems require all windows and doors to be shut and locked before the system will arm – be sure the array includes the garage door.
  2. Install motion sensors tied to flood lights on the outside corners of the garage and where they would be most effective on the property.
  3. Consider a possible security role for the family pet.
  4. Better utilize remote locking systems – most modern home security systems now feature remote locking devices which can give parents added control from inside the dwelling and when they are away from home. Parents can unlock the door for their teen when they arrive home from school. Also, if the child forgets to lock the door, parents can easily secure it, and check to see that its secure from inside their car or office.
  5. Security Protocol – The head of the household should create an easy to follow, easy to remember security protocol for the whole family.. Put a list of to-dos on the fridge and front door of the house. Designate the garage a ‘high security’ zone.

If the garage door doesn’t include an automatic close function, The Autocloser addresses the need to keep your garage door closed by automatically shutting your garage door if you inadvertently leave it open. The device attaches to most residential garage door openers and will automatically close the door after the user specified closing time has elapsed. The times can be set to 2, 5, 10, 15 or 20 minutes. Autocloser comes equipped with a disable button that will allow the door to remain open indefinitely.when required.

Keep Garage Flat Roof Safe From Sneaks With Sawsalls

Brian Mcleish posted a piece on Guru Security blog about keeping flat roofs safe where he showed how easy it is to cut through a modern flat roof with the right equipment. He posted a graphic courtesy of ToughRoof flat roof repair that shows how modern flat roofs are composed of layers of tar, plastic foam insulation and wood like chocolate layer cake, which is not so hard to slice through with a drill and Sawsall.(heavy duty jigsaw). The takeaway is simply ‘don’t forget the flat roof’ and put motion detectors and flood lights up there too if roof access is even remotely possible from the street.

The hardest part about keeping the family garage safe may be the delicate task of informing children that burglaries happen all the time and theft is more likely when bicycles, tools, and expensive toys are left lying about or within easy each inside an unattended open garage.

7-eleven

Five Best Franchises for Familypreneurs

7-elevenA familypreneur is an entrepreneur who runs a business with his family.  This means their business decisions are made while considering their family’s needs, and by considering how their enterprise affects their loved ones. A familypreneurship is born from a deep consideration of the opportunity available, and what limitations or expansion of the family dynamic that such a mercantile operation might impose on their lives. One thing is certain, familypreneurs always put their families first.  This from Top Five Business Models for Entrepreneur Families which was written up in the Toronto Entrepreneur’s Blog in October 2014.

While there are many paths leading to the decision to own a business, and to striking out on one’s own to be an entrepreneur, the path to familyprenuership is always intriguingly different. It usually comes as a solution to a massive life problem, for example, chronic unemployment, a painful divorce, or forced migration to another country etc. But sometimes the business decision is born out of the realization that their lives are not fulfilling, and their careers are not be leading them to where they want to go in life.

Here are the top five familypreneur franchise business models, measured in terms profitability, scalability and quality of life.

Open a Family Owned Retail Store

Buying a retail stores with the intention of providing meaningful employment for everyone in the family is the number one choice of new Canadians who become defacto familypreneurs to better adjust to this society.  In many cases they have just survived a Grape-of-Wrath style life altering journey, and so now the demands of managing a general store in Canada seems easy by comparison.
An increasingly popular choice in franchises are dollar stores, and Canadian dollar stores in particular are popping up more and more which is a sure sign that people are doing well in the model.  Also becoming more and more prominent are Bulk Barns, Party Max, and 7-11 stores. These retail chains all advertise on the internet to find applicants, and in their brochures they stress quality of life and employment for the whole family. The 7/11 store owner program in particular makes it very easy to manage this complicated retail venue by providing  daily, weekly and monthly checklists to follow and phone numbers to call for further guidance.

Become a Compact Refreshment Centre Operator

Compact Refreshment CenterYou’ve seen vending machines that are absolute life savers for hungry people waiting in hospitals, automotive repair centers, airports and shopping malls, have you ever wondered what it might be like to own such a machine? or ten? or two hundred?  Anywhere there’s a safe, sizable, reputable waiting room you’re sure to find a vending machine filled with tasty snacks.  Depending on the branding and the products inside, stocking that machine could be a family business.
The Compact Refreshment Centre vending machine doesn’t look like the big bulky combo snack and drink machines that you usually see. It has been designed to be small and attractive (with no advertising or logos), and fits into almost any office environment.
Families that stock their own compact refreshment centers and who work together every day, enjoy great lives together with lots of personal freedom. They only have to work a few hours a day, and because they work with each other they feel more connected to their families than any of their neighbors do, because of their shared responsibility and social interaction within their circle, sharing their circle’s perspective with the community at large
compact refreshment center family with PepsiThe Compact Refreshment Centre program offers a sensible way to start and grow a business that yourself and your family can enjoy for future decades. Becoming a successful Compact Refreshment Centre Operator will change your life and bring a mental, physical and financial security to decisions – it fuels bigger and even more lucrative daydreams
There are lots of jobs for family members of all ages in a CRC venture, including accounting, buying food (dry goods to stick the machine), the labour of stocking machines, collecting the coins, and sorting the coins and then rolling them up for the bank are all jobs for eager teenagers.  The term “Familypreneuring” has been recently popularized by John and Michelle Humphrey of Familyprenuering.com. Based out of San Diego, CA. the couple have created a webinar and ebook on the subject.

Open a Frozen Yogurt Franchise!

Frozen Yogurt is a dessert made with yogurt and sometimes other dairy products. It’s more tart than ice cream, and is lower in fat content. For whatever reason, North America’s hunger for frozen yogurt has become insatiable, and stores that specialize in serving this food stuff have become very popular in the 21st century shopping mall-scape.
Buying such a franchise, although it does have some seasonal limitations depending on the location, can be a very profitable venture over the long term, simply because the ingredients are so cheap to procure and customer satisfaction is so high. The staff requires very little training, and the stores tend to become social hang-outs for teens with lots of money to spend on other things. And because frozen yogurt products taste delicious. they can become synonymous with ‘good times’ forming very positive brand experiences. The restaurants there’s always a job for everyone in the family; even the youngest children can distribute flyers, prep vegetables and wash kitchen equipment.

Buy a Food Delivery Franchise

Organic food delivery business
In the shadow of bio engineered food, plague and pestilence, the Canadian organic food industry has grown at a rate of 300% since 2006, making it one of the fastest growing segments of the economy. As more people become aware of the dangers of conventional farming practices, the demand for access to clean, safe, chemical free food has absolutely exploded.
A rapidly expanding service sector in the internet age is the grocery delivery business. Lots of consumers find it ultra convenient to be able to go online and customize a grocery order for immediate delivery rather than take two or three hours to go there themselves.

Organic’s Live is an organic food delivery business that was founded by a group of concerned dads who believe communities can eat good food that has been produced with environmental, health and economic stewardship at the fore. They market food that has been grown free of chemicals and in harmony with its surroundings. There are several food delivery food franchises businesses to choose from, but the demand for organic food is higher because obtaining certified organic commodities is usually only possible at organic markets or at traveling farmers’ markets which are hard for working parents to find and effectively access.

Start a Niche Service Business

molly maid franchise logoIf you walk through any residential neighborhood in any city in Canada during business hours, you will spot many different service businesses at work in other people’s homes.  There are various trucks painted different colours with ladders, tools and machines doing eavestrough cleaning, driveway sealing, snow removal, grass cutting etc and these are some of the less imaginative examples. Many different types of  cleaning businesses are available as franchises now, and people specialize in cleaning ventilation ducts, carpets, drains, vegetation, pools … An office cleaning business may not be exactly glamorous, but it can be very profitable.
This quote is from a testimonials on the Molly Maid website’s franchise page“As my children were growing older, I felt it was time to return to the work force. I wasn’t interested in working for someone else, so I started looking at the possibilities of buying a Franchise. I wasn’t interested in working evenings and weekends, and wanted something I could operate out of my house.”
This above quote reads like a textbook example of a familypreneur at the starting point, making a decision to put the people they love foremost in their lives while they work for success.
These are the Top Five Franchises for Familypreneurs and although they are all very different, they are all rather similar in one respect: the founders don’t necessarily want to get rich, but rather they just want to be their own bosses, and savor the thrill of making it, or breaking it in the real world alongside their families, working in business as a team.

Teaching Children about Arthritis in Dogs

Heads up Dad if you have a senior dog in your family’s home, you may wish to read up on these helpful tips to managing arthritis in dogs to make everyone’s lives a little easier. Raising awareness in children for a dog’s deteriorating physical state will help parents explain and hopefully prevent troubling behaviour. It doesn’t take much thought or action to make a big difference in the quality of a senior dog’s day-to-day existence.

Kids Dog Walk 2013

Generally speaking for most young couples the dog is the first family member.
Hip dysplasia with arthritisIt is important to remember that dogs get arthritis same as humans, and its more frequent in big dogs than it is in humans, and its more painful too. In a great many cases the dog’s pain is unmitigated by any medication or treatment. But there are things you can do, including raise awareness in your children for a senior dog’s condition, and affect diet and lifestyle adjustments around the house to improve the quality of life for this animal companion.

Learning Remedies for Dogs with Arthritis
Arthritis is a common health issue with older dogs and esp larger dogs. Although they work on different species, doctors and veterinarians both call arthritis by its technical name: osteoarthritis or its hospital name, degenerative joint disease. This condition is caused by the slippery stuff coming away from the bones in the joints and the wear and tear of bone on bone causes inflammation (as the blood fights to get to the ailment) which causes pain.

Six Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs

1. Reduced Activity, withdrawn from family life
2. Limping after exercise, stiffness after morning walks
3. Difficulty getting up from a lying down position
4. Difficulty climbing up stairs, or jumping into cars
5. Chewing or licking at joints
6. Showing personality changes and being ‘grumpy’

Is your dog wetting its bed?
Fritz in HD, dog wet bed, dog with arthritisOlder pets, often find it hard to get up to follow you outside to relieve themselves. In some cases they just do it right there in bed – that’s why its important to set a routine and make sure that your dog goes outside before bedtime at night whether they want to or not. Often female dogs benefit when given phenylpropanolamine PPA in relation to a medical condition that is related to flabbiness of the sphincter muscles of their lower urinary tract. In other female dogs, chronic urinary tract infections are the cause. Still others are over-drinking due to kidney deterioration. Some are diabetic, and others are simply losing their minds.

How to manage young kids around senior dogs?
Young children will sometime hit dogs thinking they are petting it, and loving hugs can become eternal death squeezes. Senior dogs may snap. Trainers will tell you that young kids and dogs should never be left alone together. Also give the dog a place where they can escape small children. Sometimes dogs need a room of their own and just some cardboard moving boxes behind a living room couch or chair can offer shelter to persecuted animals.

Watch what the kids feed the dog!
Children should be told to never feed the dog strange foods. Never ever feed chocolate or sweets or ice cream, which dogs will eat, and these substances will pass through their bodies, but at some cost to their livers and kidneys.

Feed a Senior Dog Food Brand
Boy and DogAll major pet food manufacturers offer “Senior” brands of food. They tend to be lower in calories, higher in fiber, with added glucosamine. What your pet eats and how much it eats throughout its life will affect arthritis in later years. Is your dog overweight? Reducing your dog’s weight to a healthy level is one of the most important things you can do to reduce its discomfort – same as humans.

Keep Dog Toenails Trim, Walk the Dog on Leash
Keep your senior dog’s toenails clipped properly so it walks and runs normal. Having overgrown toenails is a lot like being forced to wear uncomfortable shoes; extra long toenails place abnormal stress on the joints and ligaments of the feet. But when cutting these toenails be sure never remove too much nail at once; the animal’s toenails should just touch the floor when your pet is standing. When walking the dog be extra careful around traveled surfaces as recent dashcam videos show dogs being hit by hybrid (quieter) cars.

Build ramps around the house to help pets manage inclined surfaces
If you have a set of stairs that the dog must walk everyday consider putting in a ramp, and cover the ramp with carpet. Add more carpets and rugs to the house. Arthritic dogs find it difficult to walk on slippery floors such as tiled or hardwood floors. By placing carpet or rugs on these floors will help secure your dog’s footing and make their lives a little easier.

Don’t be shy about massaging the dog’s muscles in hot water dog baths
In certain special circumstances, if a senior dog had a particularly active day keeping up with younger dogs, then it might be advisable to pour a hot bath and massage its hips and leg muscles. Added heat from heating pads and soaks in heated water relax muscles, increase circulation in the affected areas. We put our dogs’ beds in the sun room which is warmer than the rest of the house during the day, even in the wintertime. but on cold winter nights we do bring them into the living room by the fireplace.
Yogurt dog, what dogs eat affects arthritis

Convenient Dish And Water Bowl Placement
Senior pets are often more comfortable eating and drinking from slightly elevated containers. Older, larger breeds are more susceptible to gastric bloat and the exercise of eating and swallowing upwards doesn’t help the digestive system. So feeding your elderly pet multiple small meals, rather than one or two large ones, is also a wise idea.

Top ‘Companion’ Breeds for Young Families:
American Water Spaniel
Appenzeller Sennenhunde
Basset Hound
Beagle
Berger Picard
Bernese Mountain Dog
Boston Terrier
Boykin Spaniel
Brittany
Brussels Griffon
Bull Terrier
English Setter
Entlebucher Mountain Dog
Flat-Coated Retriever
Golden Retriever
Harrier
Irish Wolfhound
Labrador Retriever
Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen
Pharaoh Hound
Puggle
Pyrenean Shepherd
Pointer
Sussex Spaniel
 

 

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The Perfect Family: A Nanny’s view…

As a nanny, you learn to work in less than perfect conditions. Bratty kids, angry parents, broken homes are all par for the course. But what happens when you finally find that perfect family you’ve been looking for, or, in most cases, they find you? What does a perfect family look like?

A perfect family doesn’t mean just well-behaved kids or parents who give you a raise on a regular basis. It is more than that. Perfect families can come with both parents or single parents. They can come with one child or four children. What sets the perfect family apart is one thing: respect. The children have respect for you and for their parents. The parents have respect for you, their children, and each other.

Strangely enough, you’d think love would be the necessary element for a perfect family, but really it isn’t. Of course, working for a loving family is great, but just love isn’t enough. Without respect, the system falls apart. How many single parents have you seen that love their kids so much, but their children hate them? How many times have you seen a parent give into a child’s tantrum because they love them too much to see them suffer? Love isn’t enough.

Respect is an overused and under-utilized word. Many people talk about respect, usually for authorities like police officers and government officials. But everyday respect is important. By respecting those around you, you create a world where everyone can get along. Sure, you still have disagreements, but they can be worked through calmly instead of being turned into all out wars. There is nothing worse than working for a warring family. Inevitably you are stuck right in the middle of it. Worse yet, the children often are forced to pick a side, or choose to rebel and go off in their own direction.

Parents blame the nanny for a lot of things. Rebellion in their children is one of them. But rebellion in children is often a product of fear, and fear a product of feeling out of control, of not being safe. A parent’s job is to make their child feel secure in a dangerous and unpredictable world. A nanny can only do so much. It is up to the parents to create a safe environment for their children and respect is a huge part of that.

In short, a perfect family is not measured by how many children they have, how much money they have, or how much love they have. A perfect family is one in which everyone, inside and outside of the family, is respected. That is the type of family any nanny would be proud to work for.

Author Bio

Sara is an active nanny as well as an active freelance writer. She also helps in providing information on nanny jobs through her writing. Learn more about her Learn more about her here.