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  • Tue, October 17, 2017 1:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Guest blogger: Francesca Brunsden


    How to help someone who’s grieving

    When you don’t ask someone about their miscarriage or child-loss, you make a decision for them. You decide it’s not the right time or the right place. You decide it’s too uncomfortable to discuss. You decide they should be grieving in private. You take away their choice to share their grief.

    I lost my first child at 11 weeks. I lost my second child at 24 weeks. Not many people asked what had happened to me. Most people just avoided the topic altogether. I guess they didn’t know how to react and maybe they didn’t ask because they didn’t want to upset me, but I was upset, so their reactions felt very cold. I probably wanted too much. I wanted someone to ask me about my son. I wanted people to acknowledge that I’d had a baby.

    It’s okay to feel awkward. Just know that no matter what you say, you will never make someone feel worse than they already feel.

    Here are some ways to help:

    • Acknowledge their grief, say: “I’m sorry for your loss.”
    • If you’re at a loss for words, try: “I don’t know what to say.”
    • Offer to listen or tell them you’re there if they want to talk.
    • Send a kind text, a card, or a letter.
    • Give a memento to remember their loss.
    • Cook a special meal to share.
    • Send a gift for one month later or on their one year anniversary.
    • Give them a hug.
    • Follow up and stay in touch.

    During the difficult time that followed my loss, it was the small acts of kindness that got me through. Every day, I was excited to open my mailbox and see what people had sent. It became a ritual that got me out of bed and out of the house. It was the beginning of my healing process.

    When I was grieving, I wanted to talk about my experience. Not everyone does, but I was a proud mother to a baby I loved and lost too soon. My opportunity to open up was so often taken away. If you have the chance, please don’t let that opportunity pass you by.

    - -

    Francesca Brunsden is a transplanted Brit, a hairstylist-turned-entrepreneur, a queen crafter, and one brave mama. After her first miscarriage, her son Phoenix was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder at 24 weeks in utero, a condition that is often "incompatible with life." After 15 hours of labour -- and against all odds -- Phoenix was born alive. Even though his skin was paper thin and his arms and legs were broken in many places, he lived for over 5 hours cradled in his mother's loving arms. That day marked the beginning of a journey through grief that may never be over for Francesca. Phoenix's younger brother, Bodie, was born almost exactly one year after his due date. Bodie's birth was a gift that has helped Francesca find her voice and passion again. Through FRANNIE + LILO, she hopes to fight the taboo of discussing miscarriage and child loss, and raise money to support other mamas faced with this kind of tragedy. Read more about her story on her blog

    - - 

    FRANNIE + LILO make eco-conscious, ethical, and empowering shirts for women, infants, and kids. Co-founders, Lysanne Louter and Francesca Brunsden, bonded over their shared struggles with postpartum anxiety, child loss, and miscarriage. They met in a prenatal class and their sons were born 10 days apart. Up to 25% of mothers experience postpartum mood disorders and 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. A portion of every shirt sold supports miscarriage, child-loss, and postpartum mental health charities

    You can follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram


  • Fri, September 22, 2017 8:09 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Guest Blogger: Sarah Rosensweet


    When we add to our families, part of the reason is usually to give the gift of a sibling to our older child. When we find out our child doesn’t see it that way (at least at first!), it can not only be disappointing but make things at home feel very difficult. The great news is that there is a lot you can do to ease the transition- if you can be empathetic and see it from your older child’s point of view.

    This is very hard for me. I will feel replaced.

    Chances are you are having another baby because you love your child so much and want to give them the gift of a sibling.

    Picture this: Your partner comes home one day and says, “Darling! Guess what? I love you so much I’ve decided to get another wife/husband for us. Aren’t you so happy?” Plus the new partner gets to wear all your clothes, use whatever they want of yours, and everywhere you go people admire the new partner and say how lucky you are. (I borrowed this analogy from the book Siblings Without Rivalry.)

    You might feel really sad and jealous. You might even feel replaced. While most older children are excited to have a sibling, they are also grieving.

    Every older child feels replaced and mourns the loss of your full attention. They might even feel there is something wrong with them if you wanted to get a new baby.

    Expect, recognize, accept your child’s mixed feelings. They love the baby AND they wish the baby were never born. That’s okay! You can help.

    I need help processing my feelings.

    You can help your child process their feelings directly by talking about their mixed feelings or indirectly through lots of tears over seemingly unrelated upsets.

    Your child might be old enough to understand and talk about their feelings. You can say: “I wonder if you miss when it was just the 3 of us. I wonder if you wish YOU were still the baby and we would send your brother back. It’s okay to feel that way. I love you no matter what.”

    Make room for whatever emotional response your child has and welcome it and hold the space for your child. This is how they will get through to the other side. Welcoming feelings helps your child not only process these difficult emotions but builds resilience.

    Your child may be very weepy, whiny, clingy or demanding. This is a sign that they need to cry! Say no to the second cookie and hold them while they cry.

    Be empathetic when they are upset over seemingly ridiculous things and encourage the tears.

    This is good! Children mostly process their feelings through crying. Your child is processing all the fears of being replaced and the grief of having to share you.

    I’m doing the best I can.

    Your child wants to be good. They want to be in the glow of your warm approval. If your child is being difficult, it’s because they actually can’t manage to be better right now. Little children are terrible at figuring out how to get their needs met.

    If your child could figure out how to get your attention by saying, “Mama, I feel really bad. I need some attention,” they would. Instead, they dump their milk in your potted plant.

    If your child is acting out because they need attention, give it to them. If your child was acting out because they were hungry or tired, you would never withhold food or keep them awake. For a small child, attention is as important as food or sleep.

    I might regress.

    Your child might regress. Regression is a response to being overwhelmed. Don’t worry. Your child will get back to where they were before! Don’t make a big deal about it. Support your child however you can in this difficult time. Even if it means helping with things you know they can do themselves.

    I still want to be the baby.

    One of the best things you can do to support your child is to revisit their baby years. Show them pictures and tell stories from when they were a baby.

    You can even pretend they are a baby again and “feed” them and rock them and sing them baby songs. I have lots of pictures of my 3YO son swaddled with a soother in his mouth after his sister was born. Call them “Baby [Your Child’s Name]” and really get into it. Even older children love this.

    Don’t stress “you’re a big kid now” unless you are absolutely sure it’s helpful. Baby your child to help make them feel nurtured and loved (still).

    I need one on one time with you.

    Make sure you are still having one-on-one time with your older child. It can be tempting to have your partner or others take care of your older child while you tend to the baby. Your older child still needs you.

    Put Special Time on your to-do list. Special Time is one-on-one time but super-charged. Call it “Your Child’s Name Time” and make sure you have no distractions for 15 minutes. Join your child in their world of play. No books, screens or structured activities. Play Lego, stuffed animals, roughhouse. What makes it so special is that you are joining your child in play. Set a timer. (The end of Special Time can also be a great opportunity to get some of those tears out!)

    When you consider this transition from your older child’s point of view and bring as much empathy as you can muster for how hard this transition is-you will be making it easier already!

    - -

    Sarah Rosensweet is a peaceful parenting coach. She lives in Toronto with her husband and three big kids (ages 10, 13, and 16). Sarah helps parents become the parents they want to be with a non-punitive, connection-based approach that that feels good and works. Sarah is certified by Dr. Laura Markham as an Aha! Peaceful Parenting Coach. Enjoy your kids again! Find her at sarahrosensweet.com or follow her on Facebook.

    Her upcoming workshops include Introducing a New Baby and Tame Tantrums.



  • Sun, September 17, 2017 10:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Guest Blogger: Seanna Thomas


    Are you SO OVER making school lunches? We all start off happy and optimistic, don’t we? Thinking we’ll become those “Pinterest-Moms”, cutting out fun shapes and writing cute notes…and then reality hits and it’s the same sandwich every day.

    No one wants to send that apple for it’s third round trip to school and back. So, how do we get our kids to actually eat a healthy lunch without losing our minds, and without buying packaged junk that we KNOW is unhealthy? 

    These five must-haves include some tips and tricks to get your kids eating their lunch and making sure it’s healthy. A win-win for both kids and parents!

    Must-Have #1: Vegetables

    Don’t stop reading! I know many of you are probably thinking I’m crazy, but if you pack a vegetable every day, your kids will expect it to be there and are more likely to eat it. If you pop a vegetable in once a week or less, your kids will avoid it because EW (What is THAT doing in my LUNCH??). Choose a vegetable your child likes. Start small – baby carrots, celery, cucumber, peppers, snap peas…whatever vegetable your child will eat, go with it. And if it’s the same one every day, IT DOESN’T MATTER! VEGGIES FOR THE WIN!

    Tip: The easiest way to get kids to eat vegetables is with a dip. Try to avoid the mayonnaise or sour cream based dips and go for hummus or yogurt based dips (like tzatziki).

    Must-Have #2: Fruit

    Fruit seems like a no-brainer but, like I mentioned before, I’ve seen some fruit go for multiple round-trips. Make sure it’s washed and ready to eat so they don’t have any work to do other than pop it in their mouths. I like to switch up the fruit because my kids are fans of berries, melon, grapes, apples, bananas…ok, they pretty much like all fruit. Once again, if your child doesn’t like many kinds of fruit, give them the one they DO like. And “fruit flavoured” snacks and juice don’t count.

    Tip: Put some paper towel in the bottom of the container so the juice doesn’t drip all over their lunchbox. Also, using a popsicle stick, make a fruit kabob! Kids are way more likely to eat something if it’s on a stick (true story). If this is too pinterest-y for you, just add the stick and let them make it. Just be sure it’s not pointed…those can be dangerous for young kids.

    Must-Have #3: Protein

    Protein is important for kids to get a full stomach and remain full throughout the day; otherwise they’ll lose focus. Teachers will thank you for packing a protein-loaded lunch for your kids every day! Protein comes in a variety of foods and doesn’t have to be just meat. Consider dairy items, beans, seeds, fish, quinoa, and many more. Make chili and blend in the beans if your kids are squeamish about them; have them help you make a quinoa salad and add their own toppings. Try something new-you never know what might be their new favourite.

    Tip: Make-Your-Own Lunch Box! If your kids help make their lunch, they are more likely to eat it. If they choose what goes in, they can hardly complain. ALSO, if you include their favourite crackers, some cheese and meat, they can make their own mini sandwiches! Kids love to make their own.

    Must-Have #4: Treats

    Yes! Treats belong in the lunchbox! I’m not suggesting you buy packaged junk and throw it in their lunch every day. We don’t have dessert at lunch every day and kids don’t NEED to have a lot of sugar everyday at lunch. Homemade muffins can be a treat; healthy (nut-free of course) energy balls can be a treat, or even a special yogurt, unsweetened applesauce, or dry cereal. This is where you can switch it up and have fun! Save the really special treats for the occasional lunch.

    Must-Have #5: Water

    Kids need to drink water every day, all day long. They need water for their brains to function, they need water for their bodies to move. Send them to school with a full water bottle and talk to them about how important it is to actually drink it. Sometimes making the investment in a “fun” water bottle is worth it, just to know they’re going to drink it. If it needs to have a cartoon character on the side, so be it. If it needs to have a flippy-lid and swirly straw, okay. Just please make sure your kids are drinking water at school. Juice every day is unnecessary. I’m not evil, sometimes I put juice in my kids lunches-but it’s rare and it’s a treat. Water is the ultimate drink for growing children.

    Tip: Milk programs are wonderful, but please choose white milk. Chocolate milk is full of completely avoidable sugar. At the very least, if they have chocolate milk-consider THAT their treat and make the rest of their lunch 100% healthy.

    I understand that not every day is going to be perfect-it certainly isn’t in my house! To stay sane, you have to be realistic and do what works for your family. If that means ordering lunch from the school once a week, by all means-do it. Every family works differently and I would never pressure any Mom to do something that makes them uncomfortable or stressed. Keep your sanity by planning ahead and doing your best. In my house, that means my kids eat basically the same thing every day. I make a batch of muffins on Sunday night and they eat them all week. Leftovers frequently become lunch, and I have been known to throw in the occasional pancake.

    Switch it up when you can, or keep it the same every day. Do what works. Ask for help when you need it. Support other Moms and never be judgmental. We’re all here, doing what we can, trying to provide the best for our kids. Let’s help each other out!

    - -


    Seanna Thomas is a Holistic Nutritional Consultant, Mom of three, and military wife. She works as a Nutrition Coach, freelance writer, food educator for Moms and families, speaker, and media personality. She is a regular contributor to the Yummy Mummy Club, Triathlon Magazine Canada, as well as multiple other publications. Although Seanna is educated in all aspects of nutrition, she focuses on realistic clean eating with a spotlight on healthy family habits. She is known online as the Nutritionnaire and can also be found on twitter, facebook, and instagram. In her downtime, she enjoys being outdoors with her family and relaxing at home with her husband and a well-deserved glass of wine.

    Sign up for the October Session of her 28-Day Difference program is open now!

    Personalized nutrition coaching, delivered directly to your inbox. Four weeks of simple changes and easy-to- follow tasks. No meal plans to follow, no calories counting. This program is designed to work with what you have, not overwhelm you with drastic changes. Each week you will receive emails with a theme to focus on, and one task to complete. Learn how to manage your pantry, fridge, grocery list, and meals plus have the knowledge to properly read a nutrition label and know what it means FOR YOU. You’ll be empowered with the knowledge of how to elevate meals to make them more nutritious. The 28 Day Difference provides awareness of your food, without it being everything you think about. You’ll be prepared for everything, but able to live your life exactly how you want to-STRESS FREE. Join nutritionist, Seanna Thomas, for a Facebook live video every week-or catch up later on. The 28 Day Difference is meant to do simply that, make a difference in your life. Find out more at: nutritionnaire.com/nutrition-programs/28-day-difference/  


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  • Wed, August 30, 2017 9:33 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Guest Blogger: Sarah Rosensweet

    If your child is starting school for the first time, or starting in a new school or with a new teacher, they might be feeling a bit worried right now. Here are some ideas to make the transition easier (for both of you!)

    If your child is anxious, talk about it. 

    Ask them what their concerns are and really listen. Listen and empathize. Don’t try to talk them out of their feelings. We try so hard to reassure our children when they are anxious, but it often doesn’t work. According to Larry Cohen, author of The Opposite of Worry, if reassurance hasn’t worked in 15 seconds, it’s not going to.

    Why not? When anxious, a child’s brain is an “alarmed” state: being governed by what Dan Siegel, author of The Whole Brain Child, calls the primitive 'downstairs brain.' Your 'upstairs brain' (logical reassurance) won’t get through to your child when they are anxious.

    Skip the reassurance; help your child out of their anxious state.

    “Mom, I’m going to miss you, I’m not going to know ANYONE, and no one is going to play with me on the playground.”

    Don’t say: “Sweetie, you’ll be fine! I’m sure you’ll meet some really nice kids. Of course they will want to play with you!” 

    Trying to talk someone out of their feelings NEVER works.

    What to do instead: Acknowledge their fears and empathize. Normalize their feelings. Connect and comfort and welcome all emotion. Finally, help them make a plan.

    Here's what this looks like in practice:

    Acknowledge and empathize: “Wow. Sounds like you’re really worried, sweetie. You’re worried you’re going to miss me and you won’t know anyone. You wish I could stay with you and that some kids you knew were going to be there. It might be hard to say goodbye to me and meet new friends. I understand, sweetie.”

    Your empathy soothes your child and helps them process their feelings. Your soothing makes the feelings not so overwhelming. You’re not agreeing that they SHOULD be worried, you’re acknowledging the feelings they are actually having. The bonus is that every time you do this with your child, you are building their emotional resilience. You are helping them develop the pathways in their brain that will allow them to get through and recover after difficult emotions.

    Normalize: “That’s totally normal! Everyone gets worried when they are doing something new. When I was your age I ALWAYS felt nervous before the first day of school.”

    Connect: Give your child a big hug and welcome all their feelings. They might feel better at this point because they feel heard and understood.

    They might still feel really worried. If they do, they might need to cry. That’s great! 

    Crying not only helps us process our emotions and heal, but it changes the body’s chemistry. Stress hormones such as cortisol are released through our tears. If your child is resistant to crying? Really get soft and compassionate. When we really put ourselves in our child’s shoes and empathize, they feel safe enough to cry.

    Make a Plan: Often when children are able to process their feelings, they will move into problem solving mode on their own. If they don't, you can say: “I wonder what might help...” If they can't think of anything, you can suggest: 

    • “Let's put a picture of us together in your backpack and, if you are ever missing me, you can look at it and know I am thinking of you and we’ll see each other soon.”;
    • “Let's wear matching bracelets so we know we'll be together in spirit.”; or 
    • “Let's practice introducing ourselves to new people.”

    Make sure you’re not rushing into this step to make your child feel better. You can’t skip the first steps or it doesn’t work.

    Let your child know that even though they are scared, you know they can do this!

    You can also remind your child of times when they have been successful in similar situations. For example: 

    • “Remember when you stayed at Grandma's and you really missed me, but then we saw each other the next day? You were okay! You managed!”; or 
    • “Remember this summer when you went to swimming lessons and you didn’t know anyone, but then you made friends with Michael?”

    If your child’s fears are irrational, ask: “Is that realistic or is that what your worry brain is saying?”

    When you ask a child this question, it forces the more rational part of their brain to come out to answer the question, but it only works if your child is the one who answers!

    Teach your child to hear what worry says, but that they don't have to listen and act on every message that comes their way! (Like you would ignore junk mail or a telemarketer!)

    If your child is still anxious or if they have a tendency toward anxiety in general, get laughing!

    Laughter releases dopamine and endorphins into the body. Dopamine makes us feel good and endorphins are powerful stress fighters. Regular laughter can ‘take the edge off’ for your anxious child and significantly decrease their anxiety. With laughter, you can actually change your child’s body chemistry.

    Spend 15 minutes, twice a day, getting your child laughing. Put it on your to-do list. Not only will you help them with their anxiety, you will be connecting and having so much fun together. Not sure where to get started? Do a quick Google search for 'roughhousing ideas.' 

    You can help your child feel confident about starting school!

    Listen to their concerns. Acknowledge their fears and empathize. Normalize their feelings. Connect and comfort, and welcome all emotion. Help them problem solve and remind them of past successes.

    - - 

    Sarah Rosensweet is a peaceful parenting coach. She lives in Toronto with her husband and three big kids (ages 10, 13, and 16). Sarah helps parents become the parents they want to be with a non-punitive, connection-based approach that that feels good and works. Sarah is certified by Dr. Laura Markham as an Aha! Peaceful Parenting Coach. Enjoy your kids again! Find her at sarahrosensweet.com or follow her on Facebook.

    Sarah also offers a *free* e-course How To Stop Yelling at Your Kids.

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