It’s wrong. Period. And it’s not just something the ‘rich and elite’ would do but the middle class is just as guilty. I am just as guilty (sorta). Not to the extremes of photoshopping my son into Little League Soccer or paying off admissions counsellors (he’s five)…
But several years ago, I jokingly told my husband to get the cheque book out and be prepared to slip a ‘donation’ alongside the preschool application to ‘move CJ to the front of the line’… I was half laughing but bang on serious because I didn’t know what else to do.
Elite mentality? No. Desperate mom? Yes.
In Toronto, child care options for ages 1-3 are scarce. So scarce, that as more young families are choosing to raise their kids downtown, the waitlist could be up to 2+ years for reputable daycares and private schools!
It’s so bad that for new parents living in The 6ix, we can only partially blame sleepless nights on a crying baby. The other contributor is due to this BROKEN SYSTEM where there is a high premium and looooong wait for EVERYTHING that involves children.
So while I didn’t end up having to make that donation — plus it did occur to me that a morally ethical school wouldn’t accept it anyway haha. I ended up applying for 3 schools and landed a spot for my top pick at a wonderful Montessori School by being over-prepared and organized… basically waddling in at 8 months pregnant to meet with the Owner/Director and dropping a large deposit to secure CJ his spot for TWO YEARS LATER! I won the golden ticket.
I made some bold and heart palpitating changes in 2018. Traveling for most of the year and worldschooling CJ then making a giant move from Toronto to the SF Bay Area.
As Facebook Memories pop up and as I flip through my phone photos, I can’t help but feel accomplished and marvel at the big adventures (and risks) our little family took!
So how on earth am I going to top that?!?!
I’ve been asking myself this as I start a new chapter. Things were certainly not stale in my life but the one thing that did need shaking up was my career. Adfluent, our ad agency had been running auto-pilot, the demands of moving, traveling and motherhood had pushed it to the back seat. And part of me no longer had the motivation to move it to the forefront again.
After a few months of introspection and snooping around an incredible Female Founders Facebook community to see what other boss ladies were doing, I decided to stick with marketing. I mean when I get fired up talking about paid search and retargeting, ya know that is where my passion lies. Plus I’m pretty darn great at it haha.
But the new spin is that after marketing other people’s products and services for the past decade and half, it’s really time to have a product of my OWN to market. The ultimate goal is creating and making it myself, but I’m not at that stage yet so for now, I’ve curated it from overseas.
More about the actual product later but I’m staring an e-commerce business and I’m pretty darn excited about it! The niche I decided to focus on is mental health and wellness. A nod to my psychology degree and because I genuinely believe our world needs extra love these days.
CJ started Montessori School in Toronto when he was two. Then at four, he joined Life Project Education for a few weeks while we were digital nomading in Costa Rica. Next month he’ll be entering pre-kindergarten at his new school in the SF Bay Area.
This kid sure gets around! And I was right there with him at every first drop-off… with a big encouraging smile all the while holding back tears behind my extra large sunglasses.
We mark the end of summer (gosh is it really, already?!) with a trip to the CNE, filling our bellies with cinnamon dusted Tiny Tom donuts. Then it’s all about the photos on the first day. Bribing CJ with swedish berries for a snapshot by his locker. At the end of the school year, we ask his teachers to write messages in a copy of Dr. Seuss’ “Oh The Places You’ll Go”… which we plan to give him on his graduation.
Here are a few other fun ideas to kick off your new school year…
Get a large t-shirt made with “class of _____”. How cute would it be to take a photo each year and watch them grow into their grad shirt. (It’s going to be #classof2032 for us!!)
Susan is that woman, that mom. We all know a Susan. She’s an over-achiever, but makes it all look effortless. She only needs three hours of sleep a night. She doesn’t just have a crafting table, she has an entire crafting wing in her house!
Susan has a cookie cutter for every occasion, including Arbor Day and Flag Day. She never misses a volunteer opportunity. She has a freezer full of homemade casseroles and a refrigerator full of pre-prepped nutritional and delicious meals (toddler and adult versions of course).
Susan’s children are never bored. They are always engaged in developmentally appropriate sensory play, thoughtfully running their little hands through moon sand or rainbow oats or feel frames. They don’t watch TV.
Once upon a time, I really tried to be a Susan. I was a high achiever ‘super mom’ for probably a year and half and took mega pride in juggling my career as a marketing exec, blogger, teacher and new mama who shopped all organic and strived for that polished playful Instagram feed.
Well not always… see that photo above? It was taken after I left for two minutes to go pee. That is after holding it in for the last hour to feed, dress and wipe his boo boo’s. Only to come back to every toy taken out including an opened Canada Post parcel. The little monster was supposed to be sick that day and stayed home from school. The struggle is real!
So now I’m just CJ’s mom who goes to bed — yes sometimes at 9pm! with stickers in my dry-shampooed hair, promising myself that I’ll try harder tomorrow. So mamas, even if you are not a Susan, you are still doing great!
Share your Susan moments in the comments section below and follow my less than perfect #momlife on Instagram!
I am so excited to share this post because I can’t speak highly enough about Life Project Education! I discovered it on a worldschooling website and was so intrigued that I emailed the owner and teacher, Alys immediately and enrolled CJ even before booking our flights! I actually never planned to go to Costa Rica haha but ended up making a whole ‘workcation’ out of it.
When it comes to education, I’m a really proactive mom who sits on the PTA and does extensive online research on all the different options so I really respect Alys for operating such a top notch teaching environment and recommend checking out this school yourself. Plus it’s in Costa Rica… beats your kid reading about sloths and macaws in textbooks when they can actually see them IRL!
Life Project is located in the beach town of Manuel Antonio and considers itself a world school. So they accept international students ages 4-12 for a day, a week, a month or annually! Their teaching concept is holistic – inspired by neuroscience, child development and human ethics.
The class sizes are small and mixed age, however CJ received dedicated attention and a custom academic program designed for his level. He came home on day 3 to show me his pencil grip, then I overheard something about quantum physics in the 2nd week and during his 3rd week, his teacher commented that he spent 45 mins looking at a human anatomy book. ‘My child?!?!’ I asked proudly haha!
Now that my son is four I’m constantly being asked if I plan on having more kids. So I’ve come up with a humorous (and very honest) answer… no more, because CJ is like having THREE boys already!
Truth is I wish I could have more. This photo was taken on my birthday a few years ago. Hubby planned a surprise spa day for me at Hockley Valley and CJ was a year and half. Every time I see this my heart strings get tugged because I know it’ll just be him (and his pet rock) forever.
See I’ve always had this ‘two kids or nothing’ rule. But now that I’ve had my first, there are seven very valid reasons why I decided to stop at one…
1) Private school is $24,000 a year. That will jump to $30,000 when we move to California and he enters kindergarten (age 5 in the US). YIKES! We decided to be open to public school options after hearing so many success stories of great schools in the Bay Area. HOWEVER, this (spared) tuition money isn’t going to be automatically plopped into our savings (or raising another child) because it’ll go straight into the over-inflated rent/mortgage we will have to dole out to snag a Peninsula or East Bay address. FML you can never win right?! Simply put, we can do it and have an ‘average’ life as a family of 4 but heck, we work hard so why settle for mediocre?! We love traveling and already have a wonderful and comfortable lifestyle but it’s only meant for 3 people. Now if we won the lottery…
2) We are exhausted AF! CJ has always been a very active boy. In utero he would have dance parties in my tummy! As a baby his feet would always be up in the air kicking away. Every time we had a play date in the park, I was THAT mom wildly chasing after her toddler while the other moms and babes were able to chill and enjoy a picnic. He just cannot stay still (alright he’s a boy) but truth be told… I’m bloody tired and some nights I crash at 9pm in the middle of reading him a bedtime story. Sure we can throw the dice and maybe the next child will be ‘less spirited’ but who knows and at this point, we likely will never find out. (This also ties into #5.)
A friend posted this great article on Facebook “What Should A 4 Year Old Know?” and I’m sharing it here because as parents we always wonder if we are doing ‘enough’.
I was touring a school in the San Francisco Bay Area recently and walked into a very academic looking classroom. At first I thought I mistakenly went to the grade school wing but a teacher confirmed that this indeed was the KINDERGARTEN class!
She then showed me some sample books the kids were reading (they looked like grade 1 level) and over on the bulletin, I saw pages of work — impressive that these 4-5 year olds were writing in full sentences already!
I left feeling a bit discouraged and questioned my own parenting abilities because I long ditched the flash cards and CJ is ‘drawing coconuts’ (a circle with a stick on top haha)… a proud momma moment when he showed me and I thought it was a BIG DEAL! Yet now I felt like he was soooo behind… despite attending a wonderful Montessori School in Toronto (that’s a photo of him in his Casa classroom up on top), I wondered if this was a Silicon Valley ‘norm’ and were we in for a rude awakening?
Let kids be kids at this obstacle course! Now here’s a mindful play space to develop creativity and concentration, and let them hide, run, climb and crawl. 90 min sessions can be pre-booked for $10 every Sunday.
Think a cooler version of Chuck-E-Cheese for kids and grow-up kids! There are lots of redemption and video games for various ages. Grab lunch/dinner or a drink at the bar and make it into a day of family fun. Next door is the aquarium and Steam Whistle train park.
Conveniently located in CityPlace right by the library is a drop-in place for both parents and kids to do arts & crafts and dance. There is a wooden train set to keep babies entertained. Check their schedule because they are only open at certain times.
In anticipation of our jam packed traveling schedule next year, I started dabbling into homeschooling. Once or twice a week, CJ would skip school and we would take the classroom outside. It’s been so easy with this fabulous extended summer but now that fall has rolled around, I’m in panic mode on how I’m going to spark curiosity while keep this super active boy entertained indoors.
It’s been a lot of trial and error and I’ve had to hack a few of these to make it age appropriate for a preschooler but here are some cool STEM toys and activities that gets CJ excited about learning…
Have you seen the Operation Smile commercial on TV? It happened to be airing in the background when CJ (at 1.5 years old) pointed and made a bunch of inquisitive sounds. He watched with fascination as I explained that ‘doctors heal people including sick kids’, and since then he’s been saying he wants to be a doctor when he grows up. (Mom can definitely get on board with that haha!) So even though this Human Body Kit is rated for ages 8+, I bought it anyway and he loves it! One time he even sat for 25 mins as I read him the lab guide!
It includes 12 bones that fit together like a puzzle in a clear skeleton shell and 9 squishy organs that feel like gummies. It’s actually a really cool toy that I enjoy playing with as well. Of course, I’m trying to get him to clean up after each ‘operation’ he performs as the pieces are quite small and it’ll really suck to lose an organ! $30
A math teacher introduced me to Blokus. There is just one rule to this game — each piece you play must touch at least one other piece of the same colour, but only at the corners! . CJ is still too young to understand the concept so we created our own rules. He’s big into mazes so we try to make one on the board. Another way to hack it is to see if you can place all 84 piece on the board. The pieces are small so it’s great for fine tuning those fine motor skills and getting little hands to turn the shapes until they fit. $25