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

Take the stress out of being sick and see a doctor in your home

I love my doctor but, there are those days where the thought of sitting in a stuffy waiting room at my doctors office is the last place I want to be when baby and I are unwell. I have a lot of worrying thoughts that go through my mind – What if someone in the waiting room passes on a virus to my baby? How uncomfortable will we be if we have to wait two hours to see a doctor?

A baby is examined with a stethoscope

Until recently, I learned that there are doctors available in Durham to visit you in your home, for an appointment. This is a service that you need to bookmark on your phone because it will save you from a lot of worry when either you or your baby is sick and:

  • The weather is too challenging to take baby out
  • You don’t have access to transport during the day
  • Your usual doctor is not available or;
  • Like me, you’re worried about being stuck in a walk in clinic for an unknown amount of time

If this is something you would like to try, you will need to call early as appointments book quickly. To make an appointment, call the Durham Doctors House Call Service on (905) 619-6641. The Durham Doctors House Call Service is available to anyone in the Pickering, Ajax, Brooklin, Whitby, Oshawa, Courtice and Bowmanville areas. Office hours are from 9am to 9pm, Monday to Sunday.

Cost: This service is free with a valid OHIP card.


pic via 3news.co.nz

Donate your unused formula to a local mom in need

Whether it be formula samples that were never tried, formula that revealed a milk allergy, or formula that’s outgrown your baby, you – or at least one of your new mommy friends – will have some baby formula at home that isn’t being used.

A woman sits next to many boxes and tins of baby formula

Ask any mom that feeds their baby formula, and they’ll be the first to tell you that unused formula is better off donated to another mom who can use it. The costs involved with formula add up all too fast, so once you feel that urge to leave unused and unopened formula in the back of a cupboard, consider donating it locally, instead.

All of the following Durham-based organizations are more than happy to accept your unused, unopened, unexpired baby formula and formula coupons to help local moms in need:

  • Herizon House, a shelter for abused women and their children (Ajax).
  • YWCA Durham’s Y’s WISH shelter for women and children (Oshawa).
  • The Rose of Durham, offers programs and services to support young parents in Durham (Ajax, Oshawa and Port Perry).
  • Wings Maternity Home, supports pregnant homeless young women (Ajax).
  • The Refuge, is a drop-in centre that supports youths 24 and under (Oshawa).
  • The Pregnancy Help Centre, a faith-based organization that supports pregnant women and families (Ajax and Oshawa).
  • Bethesda House, an organization that offers services to victims of domestic abuse (Bowmanville).
  • The Denise House, is an emergency shelter for abused women and their children (Oshawa).
  • Feed The Need in Durham, is the food distribution warehouse and hub for Durham Region’s Food Banks, Soup Kitchens, Shelters and other food programs (Oshawa).

pic via winnipegfreepress.com

Where to find support when you’re a parent with vision loss

A woman poses with her baby in a stroller and her guide dog

Quite often when I have my tough days at home with baby, I just want to talk to someone going through the same and that is often enough to make me feel better. This is why meetups are important to join while on mat leave.

Whether you have full vision, partial, or none at all, parenting requires constant adaptation and meetups are usually full of stories of the way we improvise as parents in any number of situations. I recently discovered that CNIB runs a distance support group (or digital meetup, which is how I like to think of it!) for anyone with vision loss who is a parent, expecting parents with vision loss, and even people with vision loss who are thinking about becoming parents. This group meets mostly over the phone and on Skype, so attendees are able to join from the comfort of their home.

To register or find out more, contact CNIB or join the Parenting With Vision Loss Facebook group for more information.

pic via medicaldaily.com

What to do with baby’s old clothes: Mom to Mom Sales

What it is:  A Mom-to-Mom sale is a huge undercover rummage sale held 3-4 times a year by city. Moms bring their gently used items to sell at a pre-designated area within the venue.

Example of a mom to mom sale

How it works: To sell at one of these events, you must register with your local Mom-to-Mom sale organizer for a table for a fee. This is a one-off payment that you make prior to the event when you register. Once this registration fee is paid, all the profit you make from selling your goods on the day is yours!

Pros:  The chance to get your stuff in front of hundreds of moms who are ready, cash in hand, to buy your stuff if they find something that catches their eye. You’re able to get immediate buyer feedback on your items and adjust your pricing strategy accordingly. Also, you’re in an undercover area so, you’re not at the mercy of the weather like you would be at a garage sale.

Cons: Sales can be infrequent, so if you’re looking to offload your stuff in a hurry it won’t be your best option. As these sales are held in large, drafty buildings like school gyms, bringing your little ones along is not a good idea. You will need to organize a baby sitter for the duration of the sale which is usually 3-4 hours in total (plus any set up time).

Value Potential: 3 out of 3. If you price your items well, you can make a good return (in comparison with consignment and resale stores) in a short amount of time because of the large number of buyers that attend these type of events. If you buddy up with another mom, there are plenty of savings to be made in renting the space at the event, too.

Cost: The costs to register for your own table at a Mom to Mom sale are low in relation to the number of buyers that you will have access to. Spaces at Mom to Mom sales can vary between $20-40 + hst in Durham. Additional costs include materials to price your items such as stickers ($1-2 at the Dollar Store) and permanent markers ($2 at the Dollar Store).

pic via Facebook

Helpful tips for attending your first mommy meetup

Mom walks on a footpath with a child in the stroller

To help ease any worries you may have before joining your first meetup, here are some tips that I’ve learned along the way:

  • Find out where the group is meeting in the location that’s listed. e.g. If the meetup is at a playground, where in the playground will all the moms be?
  • Check out the profiles of the other moms that have RSVP’d to the event that you’re attending. Usually moms will include information here about the age of their babies and what they are looking to get out of the group. This is a nice icebreaker for when you arrive and you’re looking for a way to start a conversation.
  • Bring supplies. Having sunscreen or wipes on hand when another mom has been in need has helped me start conversations when I was feeling shy.
  • Take along a carrier or lightweight stroller. Unless you’re part of a mommy stroller group, having lightweight equipment to navigate a new space will help you to focus on spending time with other moms rather than worrying that your stroller is blocking someone’s way.
  • Check in first with the person who organized the event when you arrive. Let them know you’re there and that it’s your first meetup. Meetup organizers are usually passionate about helping other moms get out of the house and will be more than happy to introduce you to others within the group.
  • Give it a chance. Some weeks I went to meetups and I was zombie tired (barely functioning or talking) and other weeks I was buzzing from having such a good day with baby. The same goes for all the other moms there. Give them a chance before you decide if a certain meetup isn’t for you.
  • Lower your expectations. If you expect to come out of one meetup event with a playdate partner you may be disappointed. Focus on using this as an opportunity to get out of the house and be proud when you do it! It’s not easy to get out of the house like we used to when we have baby in tow.

Now that you’ve got an idea of how to get started and what to expect, you’re ready to take the plunge!


pic via pgeveryday.com

What to expect at a mommy meetup

When I first went to a meetup, I felt a little awkward putting myself out there. I desperately wanted to have some other mom friends who were also going through the same thing as me, and I had no idea where to start. For as long as I could remember, friends either just happened or developed through interests that I had outside of work and school. Finding a partner online has become the norm, but finding a friend online? This was a whole new world for me.

A group of moms stand together with their babies in strollers

In my experience attending meetups, I’ve learned that every mom has the same reasons for being there as you do. Many of them are dying to talk with someone who gets what it’s like to be a new mom, but they may not know how to begin a conversation about all that they’re going through.

Meetup groups vary in format because they are organized and hosted by moms who are all as individual as the next. Generally speaking, meetups are very informal. There aren’t name tags or introductions where you have to face the group and find the right words to avoid sounding stir-crazy. Meetups are usually held in public places and from the outside looking in, it can look like a big group of friends getting together. At first it may look like there are some cliques within the group and this is normal. The moms that know each other well are most likely the regulars which is a good sign the meetup is worthwhile. There’s a reason they keep coming along!

If the meetup you choose to go to is held at one location (like a playground, or cafe) then punctuality is not an issue. Being anywhere on time as a mom is tricky enough, so if you are running late, know that no one is judging you for it. There are lots of ways to start conversation but one of the best is to introduce both yourself, your baby and to mention your baby’s age. This often means there are a lot of names to remember at a meetup but, most moms there will do their best to get to know everyone there and learn their name. With conversation, you’re able to talk about anything so long as you reserve any judgement. What may surprise you is how easily you can talk about all the stuff you can’t say in front of your friends without kids. You can talk about diaper blow outs over coffee and most moms wont bat an eyelid. They’ll laugh along with you or nod in understanding.

If you find yourself enjoying spending time with another mom there, take the opportunity to ask her to catch up again. If you know of another mommy meetup, baby program or stroller trail, invite that mom to join you. She will probably appreciate the chance to do something different and get out of the house. Swapping phone numbers and keeping in touch over text is recommended before taking the plunge with a Facebook friend request. Do I almost sound as if I could be talking about dating? Well, it can feel like that. Most new moms will feel that way when they’re making new mommy friends!

If you’re still feeling a little hesitant, in my next post I’ll be giving my tried-and-tested tips for attending your first mommy meetup. Stay tuned for more!


pic via readysteadymums.blogspot.ca

Join a mommy meetup group

What surprised me most about having a baby and being on mat leave is how few people I had to spend time with during the day. When my partner is at work, and most of my friends are working too, it started to make sense why mat leave can sometimes feel so lonely. I was desperately missing adult conversation, and even felt guilty for needing it.

Three moms sit together with their babies

If you’re finding yourself at a similar point in your mat leave, know that every other mom on mat leave is also going through the same. And the crazy thing is, we can forget how to talk about regular adult things because we spend most of our day talking to baby. Interacting with other moms is the best remedy for these feelings and will improve your experience as you learn how to be a mom. If the thought of walking into a group of new people makes you anxious, know this – Having a baby is more than enough subject matter to relate to any new mom that you meet, no matter what your circumstances.

There are many ways to meet moms in the Durham region and these will vary from free groups (like Babyville) to paid groups. After spending the first few months of my mat leave cooped up inside, I joined a mommy meetup group on meetup.com. This website requires you to create an account to join, and once you do, you’re able to join many of the mommy meetup groups that Durham has to offer. Best of all, most of the meetups posted in these groups are free:

Joining these groups is the first step, and it’s a big one! In my next post, I’ll fill you in on what you can expect when you attend your first mommy meetup event.


pic via huggiesmominspired.com