2015 Family Day in Durham: Baby-friendly community events

A mom and baby play together in a pool

Ah, long weekends! While it’s never really time off for mom, the change in pace that a long weekend can bring is always a refreshing change of routine. This Family Day in Durham there are lots of inexpensive activities on offer for you to enjoy with your family:

Watch a live children’s show at Winterfest in Ajax.
Pick up a cup of free hot chocolate while you’re at the Winterfest family event. The children’s live show starts at 2pm, so if baby has just finished their nap, bring them along to watch.
Cost: Free

Take a tour of the Bowmanville Museum.
This building is a restored period home full of information about local history. Perhaps all the walking around you’ll do on your tour will rock baby to sleep?
Cost: Free

Learn about the universe in a planetarium show.
The Ontario Planetarium will be visiting the Bowmanville library branch with their mobile planetarium. Bring along baby for a show of the stars, planets, comets, meteor showers and even, the Northern Lights!
Cost: Free.

To celebrate Family Day, the YMCA in Oshawa will be open.
This location has a heated pool for you to take your little one for a swim. Ask any parent – Babies will always have the deepest naps after playtime in the pool! Well worth the planning to make it there.
Cost: Free. Sign up for the free five visit pass online before you go to save time when you arrive.

Check out the playful, Family Day, science experiments at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery.
The gallery spaces will be converted into a science lab for Family Day so, that means lots of colorful and interesting objects for baby to see.
Cost: Pay by donation. The gallery suggests $5 per family.

Watch the ice skating at the RBC Family Free Skate. 
Better yet, take turns ice skating with a family member. Your baby can watch you skate from the sidelines while in a family member’s arms!
Cost: Free.

Take the family for a free swim at the Anne Ottenbrite Pool. 
A swim in the pool doesn’t just have to be relaxing for baby, it can be for you too. The pool will be open for two hours so you’ll have plenty of time to arrive and get ready.
Cost: Free.

Contribute to a cooperative art project at the Station Gallery. 
After you’ve contributed to the art project, there is lots left in this gallery for baby to look around and see. I like to think that the calm atmosphere at the gallery will also soothe baby!
Cost: Free.



Schedule your first day care tour

Two day care workers interact with small children

For many moms on mat leave, finding daycare can be a confronting time. It can be hard to imagine spending your day without your little one and the process of finding a daycare can bring up mixed feelings. Once you feel like you’ve been going in circles researching online for the kind of care that you’re after, it’s time to take the plunge and book your first tour. Visiting a daycare for a tour is the first step in learning about what suits you and your family. Here’s a list of what you can expect when touring daycare options in the Durham region:

  • Tours are usually scheduled first thing in the morning. Mornings work well because all of the kids will be rested, and the facilities are tidier in the morning than the afternoon. That said, many daycares understand that not everyone has the flexibility to meet in the morning and afternoon appointments can be arranged.
  • On average, tours last 40 minutes to an hour. Expect to spend longer if you have specific questions or if you are visiting at a certain time to watch a program on offer (e.g. music or baby sign language).
  • Centre supervisors usually host the tours if you are visiting a centre however, you will have the opportunity to talk to the childcare staff that would work directly with your child during your visit.
  • Tours are arranged for one family at a time. That is, you will not be part of a bigger group of moms touring the facility at the same time. You can bring along your partner, friend or family member if you want. For any groups larger than two adults, contact the daycare to let them know.
  • Most daycares will provide you with a hard copy of rates and/or policies. If not, request this information from the daycare over email.


photo credit

Find support and meet other local moms with large families

Two parents sit with their four children in a park

There is a group for almost everything and everyone online these days, the key is knowing where to look. The Durham Region Big Happy Families Facebook group is one of those hidden gems. This group was created for moms raising large families in Durham to provide support both online and in-person with meetups. This is a great resource for local information to answer any burning questions that apply to large size families – things like what vehicle to buy to fit the family, how to manage family schedules and more. There are no requirements set by the group for what’s considered a ‘large’ family, so if you feel you fit into this description, I encourage you to join and start meeting some other moms in the area just like you!


photo credit

Save on pre-loved baby items at the Brooklin Mom Sale

There is something for everyone at this weekend’s Brooklin Mom Sale. If you’re a mom that knows how to shop well, you’ll know that these type of Mom to Mom Sale events can be a great opportunity to save money on clothes and especially toys. For the mom who is looking for an inexpensive way to get out of the house with your little one, this event also has a play area provided by Discovery Toys Brooklin, and fresh coffee made on site. Honestly, what more could a mom need?

The flyer for the 2015 Brooklin Mom Sale

In my experience of attending Mom to Mom sales – the prices can be very, very good and many vendors at the Mom Tables are open to negotiating if that’s your kind of thing. Clothing and toys for babies under the age of four months are typically in the best condition and this is where you can really save. For anything past this age group, I’ve found it harder to find clothing that I like that is in great condition and a great price. It’s not impossible – but, it will require some organization to arrive early to get first pick at the good stuff. Regardless of age group, the toys sold at these sales can save you a ton of money. For babies under the age of 12 months, the toys aren’t likely to be damaged so the most you would have to do is clean whatever you buy (rather than repair). Plastic toys and equipment such as activity tables, Exersaucers, walkers and plastic blocks are the best items to look for because they can be cleaned easily.

The Brooklin Mom Sale begins this Saturday, January 24th, at 10am. The event will be held at Sinclair Secondary School (380 Taunton Road East, Whitby).

Cost: Admission is free.


photo credit

Get free advice from a sleep consultant

I had no idea sleep would become so important until I had my baby. Boy, does it make the difference between a good day and a bad one for baby and myself included! Every baby will sleep differently, and their sleep patterns will change as they develop and mature. Baby’s sleep patterns can often set the tone for your day – if you have a baby that will only sleep in their stroller, expect to spend a lot of time outdoors. For the baby that likes brief but frequent naps, it may mean short naps for mom to maintain her energy too.

Good Night Sleep Site for Durham hosts an online sleep clinic every Wednesday from 1-2pm EST on their Facebook page wall

If you have concerns about the way your baby is sleeping, or if you find that these sleeping patterns hold your family back from a good night’s rest, a sleep consultant is an effective resource at your disposal. Every Wednesday afternoon from 1-2pm EST, Erin Oliveira, a Certified Sleep Consultant based in Durham, hosts a Sleep Clinic through her Facebook page. Parents are able to ask their questions relating to baby and toddler sleep on the Facebook wall and Erin responds in real time. If you don’t feel like sharing, there are lots of parents that are sharing their baby sleep struggles that you can read about and learn from. Best of all, you don’t have to leave the comfort of your home to access this wonderful resource!

Cost: The weekly Facebook Sleep Clinic is free to join and there is no cost associated with asking questions. If you would like a more in depth consultation for your sleep concerns, consultation packages listed on the Good Night Sleep Site website range from $150-385 for first time clients.

Draft a legal will with a local lawyer

Writing a will is a tough subject for many new parents to talk about, but often it’s one of the most necessary conversations to have when a baby arrives. I was more emotional than usual for the first few weeks after giving birth, and scenarios of what would happen to my little one if I wasn’t around crossed my mind. This happens to a lot of new parents, and thank goodness it does too – It pushed my husband and I to create a will for that what-if scenario but, it did take a few very uncomfortable conversations to get there.

A woman's hand writes with a pen

If you are still needing that push to write a will, here are some important reasons to start this process legally, with a lawyer:

  1. To decide who your children’s guardian will be
  2. To decide who will get your property
  3. To decide on the way your family receives your property; protect your children
  4. To avoid conflict and burden on your survivors
  5. To reduce or eliminate taxes

There are many estate lawyers throughout Durham that are available to prepare a legal will. Many lawyers will offer discounts on these type of services to their previous clients, so it’s worth investigating if the lawyer who handled the purchase of your home is able to assist you with writing a will.

Cost: Lawyers in Durham charge between $150-600 for an individual, and $575-950 for a couple. When speaking with a lawyer, it’s worth asking if their fee includes the creation of Power of Attorney documents (if this is something that could be important to you) and/or the creation of a simple trust for your child. As a final note, the cost of this service will depend upon how basic your will is. If you have a lot of assets or considerations, expect to find yourself at the top end of the price ranges provided above.


photo credit


Watch and learn about the animals at a pet store

I’ve found that this activity is perfect for those days when restlessness hits and even baby can sense that you’re going stir crazy at home. Visiting a local pet store with small animals, reptiles or fish is a great way to visually engage baby if you’ve ever noticed them take an interest in animals. Best of all, it’s a free outing, and there are numerous places to do this in Durham!

A boy watches birds at a pet store

There are pet stores all throughout Durham, so finding one close to home should be easy. Petsmart is a pet store chain that has stores throughout the Durham region. At various stores they have sections with fish, reptiles, cats and small animals for your little one to see.

Cost: While the opportunity to watch the animals at the pet store is free, consider donating to a pet charity while you’re in store to support animals in need. You can do this by donating cash at donation boxes at select stores or asking a store associate to add any amount to your purchase at the register.

Mark your calendar for these Durham library programs this winter

A mother reads with her baby at the libraryLibrary programs are very popular for moms with infants in Durham, so it’s important to arrive early for drop-in sessions or pre-register as soon as possible once you find a program you like. I’ve heard stories where moms will line up at some branches for at least an hour ahead of registration time just to secure a spot! With that in mind, here is a comprehensive list of all the infant library programs happening in Durham, this winter:

 Ajax Public Library, Main Branch
Program/s available: Books for Babies (0-2 years), Tuesdays at 10.30am.
Family Storytime (All ages), Tuesdays at 1.30pm.
Bouncing Babies (0-1 year), Wednesdays at 2pm and 3.30pm.
Mother Goose (0-1 year), Fridays at 10.15am.
All Programs are drop-in and do not require registration, with the exception of Bouncing Babies and Mother Goose programs, where pre-registration with the Ajax Ontario Early Years Centre (OEYC) is required. The Ajax OEYC can be contacted for registration on 905-619-4565. Programs begin and end at various times. The earliest program begins January 6th and continues until March.

Clarington Public Library, Courtice Branch
Program/s available: Family Storytime (All ages), Tuesdays at 10.30am.
Family Storytime (All ages), Wednesdays at 10.30am.
Baby on Board (0-2 years), Thursdays at 10.30am.
All Programs are drop-in and do not require registration. Programs begin January 6th and continue until March 26th.

Clarington Public Library, Bowmanville Branch
Program/s available: Mother Goose Stories and Songs (0-1 year), Mondays at 1.30pm.
Baby on Board (0-2 years), Tuesdays at 10.30am.
Family Storytime (All ages), Wednesdays at 10.30am.
Family Storytime (All ages), Thursdays at 10.30am.
Shake, Rattle and Roll (All ages), Fridays at 10.30am
Shake, Rattle and Roll (All ages), Saturdays at 10.30am
All Programs are drop-in and do not require registration, with the exception of the Mother Goose Stories and Songs program, where pre-registration with the Ontario Early Years Centre is required. Please call the Bowmanville branch on 905-623-7322 to register. Programs begin and end at various times. Call the Bowmanville branch for details.

Oshawa Public Library, Legends Centre Branch
Program/s available: Books and Bounces (0-11 months), Monday, January 12th at 9.30am
Books and Bounces (0-11 months), Friday, January 16th at 9.30am.
Books and Bounces require pre-registration, which can be completed online with a valid library card for the Oshawa library. Only two sessions have been announced for January, so far.

Oshawa Public Library, McLaughlin Branch
Program/s available: Rise and Shine Family Story Time (0-5 years), Tuesdays at 10am.
Books and Bounces (0-11 months), Thursdays at 11am.
All Programs are drop-in and do not require registration. Programs begin week of January 12th and continue until February 26th.

Oshawa Public Library, Northview Branch
Program/s available: Books and Bounces (0-11 months), Wednesdays at 10.30am.
This program is drop-in and does not require registration. Books and Bounces begins January 14th and continues until February 25th.

Oshawa Public Library, Jess Hann Branch
Program/s available: Baby Sense (0-11 months), Wednesdays at 10.30am.
Rise and Shine Family Story Time (0-5 years), Fridays at 10am.
All Programs are drop-in and do not require registration. Programs begin January 14th and continue until February 27th.

Pickering Public Library, Central Branch
Program/s available: Baby Storytime (0-18 months), Mondays at 11am and Thursdays at 11am.
All Programs are drop-in and do not require registration. Baby Storytime begins January 12th and continues until March 12th.

Pickering Public Library, Petticoat Creek Branch
Program/s available: Baby and Tot Storytime (0-36 months), Mondays at 10am.
All Programs are drop-in and do not require registration. Baby and Tot Storytime begins January 12th and continues until March 9th.

Whitby Public Library, Brooklin Branch
Program/s available: Babytime (0-18 months), Tuesdays 10:30-11:00 am and Wednesdays 10:30-11:00 am.
Registration for winter programs will be held on January 7th, beginning at 10:00 a.m. in-person only. Telephone registration will be accepted after 12:00 noon for any available spaces by calling 905-655-3191.

Whitby Public Library, Central Branch
Program/s available: Mix, Mingle and Make New Friends (0-3 years), Wednesdays at 9:30 a.m.
Babytime (0-18 months), Thursdays at 9:30 a.m.
Family Storytime (All ages), Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. and Fridays at 10:30 a.m
All Programs are drop-in and do not require registration. Programs run for six weeks, beginning the week of January 12th.


photo credit

Connect with a passionate meetup community for Pickering moms

There’s nothing quite like motherhood to bring strangers together! I always considered myself social, but never enough to join a meetup group of strangers. That was, until I had a baby in winter and felt lonely all day inside my house. As soon as any new mom discovers how much of a difference meeting other moms can make, it’s very easy to develop a passion for connecting women on mat leave and beyond.

Mamalicious Mamas is a group that plans events for Mamas-to-Be, Mamas, infants and toddlers.

Mamalicious Mamas is a group of such women who created a not-for-profit social network to provide moms within their community access to peer support and inexpensive events. They host meetups in Pickering that range from playtime groups, trips to the zoo and frozen yogurt dates. With such engaged community managers, it’s well worth checking out for any Pickering mom.


pic via facebook.com

Spend New Years Eve at a community family event

Two small children celebrate New Years Eve together

There are lots of family-based events happening in Durham for New Years Eve (at a reasonable hour!) if you’re looking to do something with your little one. Weather will be chilly at around -6 degrees, so any one of these indoor events will be perfect for the night:

The Town of Pickering is hosting a New Year’s Eve Family Countdown at the Pickering Recreation Complex (1867 Valley Farm Road, Pickering) from 7-9pm. There will be skating, swimming and a countdown and balloon drop in the lobby at 9pm.  This celebration is a free event.

The Town of Ajax is hosting a Family New Year’s Eve Party at The Ajax Community Center (75 Centennial Road, Ajax) from 6-9pm. This event will include children’s games, live entertainment, face painting and ice skating. Children under 3 free, Children/Youth/Seniors $3.00, Adults $4.00.

The Town of Oshawa is hosting Oshawa Celebrates 2015 at the Legends Centre (1661 Harmony Road North, Oshawa) from 6-9pm. This event will include free skates, swims and hot chocolate. Musical entertainment, children’s activities, face painting, crafts and jumping castles! This celebration is a free event.

The Town of Whitby have organized a series of New Years Eve Free Activities at the Iroquois Park Sports Centre (500 Victoria Street West, Whitby) from 6-9pm. These activities include skating, balloon shows, face painting, ice painting and a juggling show. This celebration is a free event.


pic via popsugar.com