Organization Is the Key to Success for Single Parents

Guest Blog: Daniel Sherwin

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Single parents face unique challenges. You have to succeed at work and at raising children without a co-pilot. While it can be difficult, establishing a routine and having good organizing strategies can help keep you sane. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and at your wit’s end, consider the following tips to give your sanity a boost.

Work on the morning rituals first

You can’t be late for work and your kids can’t be late to school or daycare. So morning rituals are important. To stay ahead of the curve, you need to get up at least 30 minutes before the kids. This provides you with enough time to put yourself together and have a few moments to prep for the day ahead.

Make sure each child knows his or her individual drill. This may look like “get dressed, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, grab your bag, and let’s go.” Or it might look like “eat breakfast in your pajamas, shower, dress, brush teeth, and grab your bag.” The important thing is to do it the same way every day so that children know exactly what to expect.

While you are getting into the rhythm of this time-saving routine, post a chart that shows, in pictures, what each child is responsible for doing.

Keeping breakfast simple on weekdays will make it much easier to manage the mornings. Children are capable of getting their own cereal at a young age. Protein bars are even easier. If you’re feeling guilty, you can make it up to them by cooking pancakes and bacon on weekends.

Many parents think that preparing for the morning the night before is the hot ticket. Certainly there’s no harm in having your children pick out their clothes and get their backpacks and coats in order prior to bedtime. And, if you have to make lunches, making them the night before can eliminate a lot of morning stress.

Staying organized

 When you have a hundred things to do in one day, it’s easy to drop a ball or two. And you can’t afford to forget a dentist appointment. Have at least two fully itemized calendars, one on a wall of the home and one on your phone’s calendar program.

To create the wall calendar, get a big chalkboard and put a 31-space grid on it. Chalk in the days of the month for each slot. Make sure there’s enough space in each day’s slot for all family activity. Children over six should be able to post their own activities to the calendar. The chalkboard system allows you to change the schedule as you go along, and it gives you a broad overview so you can easily see a conflict or make changes.

Google’s calendar app, loaded to your smartphone, will be a godsend. Program it to beep at you 15 minutes or more before a scheduled activity. Be sure these reminders give you plenty of travel time to get where you need to go. If your children are old enough to have phones, they should do the same.

It also helps to keep your home as organized as possible, within reason, of course. If you have an organizational system in place for most rooms, and if the entire family sticks to this system, it can make for easier mornings and smoother weekends when it comes time to clean.

Balance children’s needs fairly

 It might be tempting to keep children busy, busy, busy to deter misbehavior. But you need to stay in control of your children’s evening activities, as children need more sleep than adults.

The National Sleep Foundation has a schedule for how much sleep children need at every age. Keeping in mind how early your child has to get up in the morning, make sure no scheduled activities will routinely keep any child up past his or her bedtime.

It’s also important to make sure the family schedule doesn’t play favorites. Just because your daughter shows huge promise as a violinist doesn’t mean the family never goes to your son’s soccer games.

It’s particularly important that no child’s passion gets squashed because of scheduling conflicts. Depending on the size of your family, you may need to limit each child’s after school activities to one or two.

In short, the keys to successful single parenting are organization and balance. Talk to your children about their priorities. Ask them to choose after-school activities and lessons carefully. Make sure they understand your priorities and why getting to bed on time is more important than adding raku classes to the end of the day. And have redundant systems in place for tracking everyone’s day. In the end, a little extra planning and forethought can keep the gears of your household machine running smoothly, and save your sanity to boot.


Daniel is a single dad raising two children. At, he aims to provide other single dads with information and resources to help them better equip themselves on the journey that is parenthood.

Guest Blog: Things to Remember When Baby-proofing Your Home

5 Things to Remember When Baby-proofing Your Home

By: Justin Havre

Babies start crawling between the ages of about 6-10 months. Once your baby is mobile, they will have access to a variety of objects that can cause harm. Baby-proofing the house is the best way to protect your child from household items and surfaces that can cause serious injury.

Stay One Step Ahead of Baby

Babies grow so quickly that it can be hard to keep up. First they roll, then they crawl, finally they start pulling themselves up on the furniture. You may not be with your baby when all of these milestones occur, so you’ll want to be sure your home is ready even before your baby becomes mobile.

Babyproof your house before your baby is able to move on their own. This ensures that your house will be ready when your baby can move independently, and it will also put you in the mindset of baby safety well in advance. By the time that your baby is able to crawl and walk, you’ll be fully ready.

Lay on the Floor for Some Perspective

Babies grab what they can and put everything in their mouths. Pennies, buttons, paper clips and other small objects are all dangerous for babies, and often these items can be found on the floor, under furniture and in corners.

To keep these things out of your child’s arm reach, try lying on the floor and looking at the world from your baby’s perspective. Lay in the places where your baby spends the most time and look at the world as your baby sees it. This is especially important when you’ve just bought a new place with the baby in mind and may not have as deep of an understanding of the nooks and crannies as you would in a home you’ve lived in for years. What do you see under the furniture? What’s in the corners? What can your baby grab from the floor?

It’s Not Just About What Your Baby Can Fit in His Mouth

Babyproofing involves protecting your baby from all dangers in the house, not just the chemicals under the sink. Knowing the full extent of the danger in your house can help you protect your baby more fully. Below are some of the other dangers that babies face in normal households:

  • Sharp corners. Babies can be seriously injured by hitting their head on the corner of the coffee table and on other sharp, low corners in the house. Covering sharp corners with padding can help prevent accidents.
  • Buttons and on/off switches. Toddlers like to turn knobs, turn on and off appliances and so on. For example, when your baby is old enough to reach the knobs on the oven, this could lead to a serious safety hazard. Covering the knobs that turn on accessible appliances is a good way to prevent this from happening.
  • Hot water. Hot water scalds babies every year. To protect your baby from a serious or potentially fatal injury, keep your water heater turned to 120 degrees or lower, and consider installing a safety device on the bathtub knobs that will prevent your child from ever turning on the water.

Don’t Forget the Fireplace

Some parents assume that their children are safe from the fireplace if they close the glass doors, but children who touch the glass can suffer serious burns. The best way to protect your baby from a fireplace is install a baby gate that prevents the baby from accessing the hearth, or to avoid using the fireplace altogether. Parents who do use the fireplace must remember to keep matches, lighters and other accessories away from their children.

Babyproof at the Relative’s House

If your baby spends a lot of time with grandparents, aunts and uncles, or other relatives and friends, these homes must also be baby-proofed. This can be a less burdensome process if your child stays mainly in only one or two rooms of the house when they visit. Work with your relatives and loved ones to develop a baby-proofing plan to make the home safe when baby comes over!

Big Announcement!

Big Announcement!

After half a decade of offering early years programming to infants, children, parents, caregivers, and early childhood staff across Calgary, we decided it was time for us to graduate! In celebration of our Fifth Anniversary we’ll be expanding our learning centre this summer and will open our doors as a full PRESCHOOL in September of 2017!

Provincial Curriculum Framework

The recent roll-out of a new early curriculum framework (the first of it’s kind in the province) has provided such a strong foundation for the care and education of young children that we were inspired to build a new preschool from the ground up.

Our Classroom

Weaving together the best practices and principles available in Early Education (learn more in our Philosophy & Pedagogy Section) we are creating a classroom that will nurture playfulness, inquisitiveness, creativity, persistence, and a deep-seated sense of respect and responsibility for diversity and participation.

We can’t wait to have your children join us in a classroom where we are all co-learners in a world full of information and opportunities for growth!


A Princess’ place in Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month, and we celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8th by bringing in the YYC Princesses to talk about bravery, boldness, kindness, and what it means to be a role model. We talked about books we love that celebrate female authors, illustrators, and characters, and how reading and learning can open up whole new worlds for us! You can catch the whole segment below!

Outside of this though, is a wider question that permeates the culture of childhood. Are princes and princesses good role models?

A lot of questions have been raised about the gendering of books and toys, and it is hard to argue that the sanitation of old classic folk and fairy tales by big corporations like Disney has not had consequences for our cultural conversations. They also tend to romanticize reality and provide unrealistic expectations for anglicized beauty standards and body images, relationship expectations and heteronormativity, and family types and working problem-solving. These are not small issues.

There are some amazing resources available that deal with this topic. Alyse is a big fan of Peggy Orenstein’s work, especially “Cinderella ate my Daughter“, and a quick google search for “Are Princesses Good Role Models?” will turn up an astounding number of results debating this idea. But it does remain a debate, because despite the problematic implications and expectations, Princesses really can teach some valuable life lessons.
Is ‘kind’ the worst thing a person can be? Gentle, caring, compassionate? These ‘princessy traits’ do not necessitate synonymy with ‘silence’, ‘demureness’ and ‘acquiescence’. You can be kind and bold, brave and empathetic — in fact in seems rarer and rarer that acts of kindness and compassion are not also big, bold and brave acts. In rejecting what is, admittedly, a hyper-feminine presentation, are we not rejecting, at least in part, the idea of values traditionally associated with femininity? If princesses are ‘bad’, are girls and women ‘bad’? And what of all the princesses that exist outside the cartoon status quo, that smash standards and use their considerable influence to achieve some amazing results?

It is important that we celebrate all women and the achievements of every girl during this month. Plurality of representation and the moderation with which we encounter it is formative in our children’s self-image forming. We need all types of role models, all types of heroes, all types of characters, so that children can see a variety dispositions, values, ideas, and ways of being, and begin to identify with different aspects and start forming their worldviews.

So rock on, rebels and witches, astronauts and ranchers, princesses and pop stars… this world has more than enough room for every woman, and a huge need for all of them.


Vlog Follow-Up

YouTube wouldn’t let us redirect right to the Dukelow Lab‘s website, so we’ll do that from here, and if you’d like some information on their work with children who have had perinatal strokes, you can check that out there as well!

If you missed the vlog episode “Rhymes & Reasons #12 — The Developing Brain with Mark Piitz” you can view that here:

Rhymes & Reasons #12 — The Developing Brain with Mark Piitz

If you are interested in having your typically developing child participate in current or future research studies, please check out HICCUP Kids through the U of C and Alberta Health Services. Research is essential to improving the health and lives of children and families everywhere, and you can help with just a little time and energy!