All too often, people judge a book by its cover…

My teenage niece Emma just posted something on Facebook (yay! she is old enough to use it!) that got me going… She shared a story about another teenager from the Australian North who upsets all expectations in a singing competition. You have to see the video to understand, as no words can describe what everyone thought would happen and then what actually happened.

It tapped into one of my greatest pet peeves – time and time again, we see examples of “what we see is not what is” and yet, we are all too often guilty of judging a book by its cover and going with our own assumptions.

Her video recalls the story of Susan Boyle, the 47 year old sensational singer that rocketed to international fame on Britain’s Got Talent. If you have seen the upheaval she created, it’s not a surprise that her initial video has 147 millions views on Youtube alone. The judges honestly admitted that their own cynicism colored their expectations, and yet we all go with our assumptions again and again.

We also judge capacity based on gender – study after study shows these biases alive and well… for example, if people can’t see but can only hear the applicants to a job, women stand a better chance at being hired. Similarly, if a person reads a work situation about overcoming an obstacle and the “main character” is described as a woman instead of a man, readers assume the chances of success in the situation are slimmer.

And over 50 years after the “I have a dream” speech by Martin Luther King, we might have a US president of African-American descent, but race remains an issue.

I was actually watching Martin Luther King’s speech with my second daughter, as she is studying human rights in school right now. And I do sincerely share his dream, that people are no longer judged based on their appearance, but rather on the merits of their abilities and the “content of their character”.

We need to help each other recognize when we miss opportunities to be amazed because we are set to assume otherwise. I think sharing these stories and videos that remind us to keep an open mind will help us collectively become better at that. Many children’s stories are also centered on teaching kids that the beautiful prince or princess may be a heartless jerk and happiness lies not in the most perfect offering, but in one’s own preferences – just look at the success of the Shrek and Megamind movies.

myBestHelper is also doing something towards that too - Alongside the profile photos of helpers and families there is a “personal catchphrase” that allows each person to describe in their own words who they are and what matters to them.

I will end this post with my favorite quote on the subject:

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Alexandra T. Greenhill, mom of three, CEO founder of myBestHelper, woman, human

New Information About the Safety of Car Seats for Babies and Kids

Baby on board from

Baby on board. image from here

First, for any of you who are wondering “Do car seats even make a difference?”, consider these statistics:

  • Of the 248,000 US kids that were injured in auto accidents, 1,668 children died and most of those were not properly restrained. Car seats could have prevented many of their deaths.
  • 75% of these car accidents happened within 30 km from home, and 60% of them happened on streets where the speed limit is 40km/hr or less.

So then – we know we need them. But how do we choose the right car seat, especially when budget is an issue?

A. You can get a used one. If you choose this option, no matter if it’s from a friend or from a stranger, have them check the expiry date on the car seat and also check if there has been a recall on the brand and model. Also note that requirements changed on Jan 1, 2012 so any car seats sold before that are not considered safe to resell or pass down – see more in this Transport Canada explanation.

B. You can buy a new oneAll car seats currently on the market do meet the government’s stringent safety standards, so any car seat you buy new is technically safe. However, there are three important things to remember: 1) it must fit your child, 2) it must fit your car and 3) it must be installed and used correctly.

  1. Child fit: Your child’s age matters – less than 2 must face the rear of the car, because even if they are tall and heavy enough for a forward seat, their spine is not. Then look at height and weight independently – if they are too tall for the car seat, which is a common problem, it’s not safe. So how would you know BEFORE you buy? Check growth charts online. Also keep in mind parents’ height – if both parents are taller than average assume that your child will be at the 100th percentile for their age – which for a 2 year-old boy can be as tall as 100 cm.
  2. Car fit: Many of the deluxe models of car seats simply don’t fit a smaller car. They either don’t fit the angle of the backseats or they leave no head or leg room for the child.
  3. Easily adjustable car seat seatbelt/ harness: The biggest issue with car seat safety (once correctly installed of course) is actual correct use of the five point harness. It’s easier to accomplish this when you buy a car seat whose straps can be easily adjustable from the front (without uninstalling the car seat to reach behind). Imagine a fall or spring scenario, where one day the child needs a jacket and one day not – adjusting straps becomes a real issue, trust me.

Once you select your car seat, installation is a key starting point. Car seats should be anchored to the car, with a tightest possible fit and the least amount of “give”. To test whether you’ve installed the car seat correctly, you can take hold of the top of the seat and try to tilt it toward the front and sides of the vehicle. If the seat moves more than an inch in any direction, unbuckle it and try again until you have a tight fit. Some auto dealerships and police stations provide safety checks year-round – call to find out where the closest one is to you.

Every time you drive, make sure that the five point harness is snug on the child’s breast bone and the straps are on the shoulders – this would not allow them to slip from the top of the harness in case of sudden stop.

And last but not least, don’t speed. No matter how well installed and adjusted, any accident is better at a lower speed, and even 10 km/hr makes a huge difference.

Be safe!

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, CEO, Mom – who has treated kids injured in car accidents

What’s the problem with pink and princess? The marketing, not the moms.

mybesthelper:

I totally agree it’s not about pink or princesses… What do you think?

Alexandra T. Greenhill, CEO myBestHelper and mom of three girls

Originally posted on Rebecca Hains:

This week, New York and Slate published pieces asking why so many moms have a problem with pink and with princesses.

“What’s the problem with pink, anyway?” griped Yael Kohen in New York. Then, building upon Kohen’s piece, Slate senior editor Allison Benedikt demanded: “What is it with you moms of girls? I have never met a single one of you who isn’t tortured about pink and princesses.” Her annoyance is palpable.

Both writers proceed to defend all things pink and princess. “We treat pink — and the girls who like it — with [...] condescension,” Kohen states, while Benedikt adds, “Moms of daughters need to chill out.”

Oh… really? Let’s take a step back, please. I am the author of a forthcoming book called The Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls Through the Princess-Obsessed Years, and Kohen and Benedikt’s arguments are wrong on several levels. By pontificating on the subject without actually talking to the moms they’re criticizing, they’ve missed the…

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Finally – the wait is over: Facebook Junior (for kids 2 to 13 years old)

April 1, 2014 - Reblogged from yoyomama.ca (an awesome site for events!)

Squee! It’s about time! Facebook has finally come to its senses with the launch of Facebook Junior, a niche social media sharing platform designed specifically for kids from 2 to 13.

Let’s face it, we mums enjoy our Facebook time so why shouldn’t our kiddos? Honestly, sometimes leaving the house for playdates is too exhausting to consider what with the bags, snacks, spare clothes, toy requests and last-minute bathroom runs. Add in torrential rain and an interminable spring break, and we see this as a great indoor activity. Plus it gives our kids a leg up in the digital sphere, allows them to make new friends, and learn new skills! Talk about a win, win, win!

Facebook Junior makes it easy for the kids to connect online to chat, play interactive games and widen their social circle. Remember pen pals? Writing back and forth with friends in far flung countries and learning about new cultures and traditions was a highlight for us growing up in the pre-digital age. With Facebook Junior and its flexible privacy settings, it’s possible to do it all online. Our kids can now makes friends all over the world without worrying about paper, pens, stamps and that pesky trek to the mailbox.

With easy peasy photo uploads, games that range from ABCs and puzzles to managing your allowance, we can’t wait to “friend” our kiddos on Facebook Junior!

Still reading? Gotcha! Happy April Fools Day!

 

Being a Modern Woman: 5 Best TED Talks Ever

keep calm - change the world

I am a TED talks addict. Here, I have said it and – I know I am not the only one. But at least is for a good cause – I learn something every time!

It’s worse right now because TED talks are being held right now in Vancouver, for the first time away from their usual location in California. Our city has been vibrating welcoming so many interesting people who are interested in what others think – both attendees and presenters. And EVERYONE around me is into sharing what their favorite TED talks are – of all time, on a given topic, by a given presenter…

So – all this made me think to share the TED talks that I have found most interesting lately centered on the theme of being a modern woman and a parent. Here are the 5 most interesting talks, in the order I recommend you view them:

If you have not personally felt the need to consider this entire line of thought, just open any business magazine and count faces – any magazine still contains a ration of 5 to 6 times the smiling men to women, and the Canadian Medical Association just send me a “Future Practice” magazine without a single female physician profiled, referenced or even just photographed.

We need to notice this, gently alert ourselves and our male colleagues and guide society towards a better place where people can do what they are passionate about without gender (or race, age, religion etc) being an obstacle, a deterrent or a challenge.

The trend has been historically to under represent women leadership roles and it’s both pull and push. Many young women opt out when they consider the giant burden of doing it all and being Type E – Everything for Everybody. Only through our own awareness of this remaining a challenge and some firm and gentle action will this situation ever change, as all research shows that the imbalance of genders is created by omission (‘failure to think and/or act”) rather than “commission (“intending to cause”).

We need to notice omissions, consider them and call for action on these “missed opportunities”. Watching these five TED talks is a great way to get up to speed in less than half an hour, and not just for women – I really think change will happen when these TED talks on women become a #mustsee for all.

And yes, I have a line up like that on modern men too… you just need to wait for the blog post!

Alexandra T. Greenhill, mom of three, CEO founder of myBestHelper, woman, human

Kid’s Garden – an awesome how to guide

mybesthelper:

Loved this post from Kid’s Garden on a new practical book on outdoor activities – especially the step-by-step instructions for all of us without a green thumb!

Alexandra T. Greenhill, mom of three, CEO founder of myBestHelper

Originally posted on The Barefoot Gigi:

I’m ready for Spring!

Get outside and grow with some child-friendly fun with gardening! Kids’ Garden includes forty activities and games and an eight-page booklet that contains information on gardening tools, year-round plant care and garden safety. These step-by-step instructions are enhanced by colorful collage artwork on each double-sided card and they create a fun and easy way for budding green-thumbs to plant, investigate, learn and experiment.

Gold IPPY Award Winner
NAPPA Honors Award Winner
Parents’ Choice Gold Award Winner
Tillywig Award Winner, Toys and Games

Kids-Garden

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March Break – a perfect time to get kids to love nature (in 3 easy steps!)

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This new Infographic from the Nature Kids Institute is simply awesome, as it makes it easy to get started and more importantly, to maintain exposure to Nature. 

This is the brainchild of Kenny Ballentine,  a dad of three, award-winning filmmaker, trainer, public speaker and nature guide. In January 2013 he wrapped production on his latest feature-length documentary film, Nature Kids and founded The Nature Kids Institute whose mission to bring the wonders of the natural world into the lives of children everywhere.

So where does one start? You can follow the many great suggestions on their site and also consider our experience:

1. First of all – daily – some time in nature even if it’s 15-30 minutes. Do simple things,like ask kids to find objects that start with each letter of the alphabet or in each color. Get them to really see what is surrounding them.

2. Second, plan a longer outing right now. Not one day, DO IT NOW! Choose a day, do it. If it’s miserable, don’t be surprised – getting going can be a frustrating experience full of forgotten clothing items. “too cold or hot”, “too wet” etc. – even the most prepared parents end up caught into situations you couldn’t have foreseen. Persevering through that is key – as after the second or third outing in a month, the kids start asking for them! Too many families give up too early.

Too many families are also not prepared – good shoes, clothes, gloves, water bottles, snacks etc are all #musthave to avoid preventable (and justified) reasons for unhappiness.

3. Find like-minded families to do these outings with. Bonus: find a dog. It’s several degrees of magnitude better to do these outings when another family with kids and/or dog is involved. EVERYTHING is better – from having company to having an extra pair of hands to help. The kids then usually just excitedly chat or run ahead and fun is more achievable. Even better is to find a family who is experienced at this, as having them coach and role model is key. Where to find them? Go to a nature club event or meet up in your city, or even just the local library section on local nature walks. Ask around. Suggest it to friends who may not do it now, but may end up trying it and liking it.

Alexandra T. Greenhill, mom of three, CEO founder of myBestHelper