I'm Going Back to School...with Kidville!

Welcoming A Brand New Kid-Centred Space To Toronto's Yonge-Lawrence Hood

I'm Going Back to School...with Kidville!

This time of year I always get nostalgic for the days when I was a student. I loved back-to-school season. Loved shopping for school supplies and new clothes. Loved anticipating what my classes would be like, who my teachers would be, and who I'd meet and become friends with during the year. I loved the 'newness' of this time of year and the energy that came with the changing seasons.

Having babies and working from home hasn't really afforded me the opportunity to get into the back-to-school spirit. When August ends and September begins, things typically stay the same around here. Which is why I got so excited when I found out that Kidville was opening in Toronto at the start of September—with an incredible roster of mom-and-baby classes that would be perfect for me! Uh...I mean....for Fiona. 

Not only do we actually get to go back to 'school' this fall, we also get to hang out with other moms and babies, and experience what I've heard are fantastic programs for little ones.

Since Fiona has spent most of the summer either hanging out on her play mat while I'm working or being dragged along on adventures with her big sister—I think she'll be thrilled to have something that's geared specifically toward her age group with the focus and attention solely on her.

While it's new to Canada, Kidville is already big in the US. In 2007 it was named Best Tot Hot Spot by New York Magazine. Its Upper East Side location has been frequented by the likes of Brad and Angelina and their many kids, while its location in LA's Brentwood neighborhood was home to Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck's daughter Seraphina's fourth birthday party.

About a year ago, I was participating another mom-and-tot class in the city when one of the moms (who had lived in the US for a while) said to me: "Have you heard of Kidville? They're opening in Toronto at Yonge and Lawrence! It's an amazing place with fantastic kids'll have to watch out for it."

Since then, I've literally been driving by the Yonge and Lawrence location on a weekly basis, looking out for any indication that the centre would be opening.

When I got this card in the mail...

I quickly went online to see what type of classes they'd be offering that would be age-appropriate for Fiona.

I found a bunch that I wanted to try. I had participated in so many programs with Willow, from new-mom-and-baby groups, to music classes, to gym classes, to Sportball, and swimming, that I was so happy to find something different—that would be exciting and new for both me and Fiona.

Then, I got some even more exciting news. I was being offered the opportunity to sample the Kidville class offering this fall.

I was over the moon!

I know. I know. I can just see the 20-year-old student me rolling her eyes at the 32-year-old mommy me who gets all excited about baby classes. But, hey, this is exciting stuff for a work-at-home-mom of two.

This fall, Fiona and I will be singing, dancing, learning, and growing with Kidville's Rockin' Railroad: Unplugged™ and Wee Wiggle classes.

We can hardly wait.

Last week Cathy, the president of Kidville Canada, invited Fiona and me in for a tour of the space...before it opened to the public.

And, it totally blew me away. I was so used to taking kids classes in churches, synagogues, community centres, and other spaces that were converted for the purpose of the program. This two-storey building, on the other hand, has been completely retrofitted for kids and kids activities. The decor is modern and bright and the rooms are spacious and filled with awesome equipment.

You can click here for a virtual tour of one of the US Kidville locations...or, you can stop by 3420 Yonge Street this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, from 11 am to 3 pm and join in Kidville's Grand Opening Celebration. There will be arts and crafts, musical performances, face-painting, open playspace, and more.

Free trial classes are being held the week of August 26 to September 6 and with the coupon code GO24 you'll get $50 off your first Kidville class plus a complimentary Gold Membership upgrade.

Sounds pretty good eh?! Perhaps Fiona and I will see you there.

Note: While Kidville has graciously offered me free classes in exchange for helping them create some buzz around their first season in Canada, all opinions expressed here are 100% my own. I'm truly excited to welcome Kidville to Toronto and can't wait to share with you what their classes are all about.


Practical Advice From a Second-Time Mummy

From Diaper Disposal To Bottles

Practical Advice From a Second-Time Mummy

Practical Advice From a Second-Time Mummy

When I gave birth to my first daughter in 2010, I felt totally overwhelmed. None of my friends had babies yet, so I was navigating the waters of motherhood on my own. I relied on blogs, books, experts, and my own mom for advice, and I spent hours in new-mom-and-baby classes in search of answers to all my questions. Much to my husband's dismay, I spent hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on baby products—toys, gadgets, carriers, sleep-aids, bottles, pacifiers, teethers, and anything else I was told would make life with baby easier.

When I became a second-time mom this past March, I pledged to do things differently: I would be wiser when it came to spending money, more confident when it came to sourcing information, and more trusting of my own intuition when it came to making decisions. While there are countless things I'm doing differently this time around, these are just a few that are currently top of mind.

Get boob and bottle working in harmony

For me, this one was key to my happiness and sanity! The first time around, I was totally anxious when it came to introducing a bottle. I had hired a lactation consultant early-on to ensure breast feeding was successful, and I was terrified of messing things up. I waited more than six weeks in hopes of preventing "nipple confusion" and then paced the hallway upstairs with tears in my eyes while my husband tried desperately to get our baby to take a bottle. Though we bought many types of bottles and nipples, all promising great things, most of the time my daughter wanted nothing but my boob. When she did take a bottle, I felt sad (worrying she wouldn't need me any longer) and when she refused the bottle, I felt sad (worrying I'd never have freedom again).

This time around, the breast-to-bottle transition was quite different. When baby #2 was three weeks old, I pumped some milk, eagerly handed it over to my husband, and walked out of the room. I wanted the freedom that bottle feeding would allow and I wasn't willing to wait six weeks and risk not getting it. When I tried the Playtex Nurser bottles with Drop-Ins Liners I was pleasantly surprised. Unlike the first brand of bottle I bought for her, which range in at $20 per bottle, these were less than $10 for two, and super easy to use. Another practical feature is that when baby is fussy or over-hungry, you can push a little bit of milk into her mouth by pressing on the liner, prompting her to start sucking.

It didn't take much convincing to get this baby on board...

To help prevent nipple confusion and ensure that she will keep coming back to the boob, these nipples have a raised texture that mimics the breast and helps baby to latch-on.

Ahhh, sweet freedom. Now that she can be fed by her daddy, I can catch up on some work...or even sneak out to get a pedicure! (Sssh!)

  Shopping tip: Once you introduce baby to bottles, you'll want to be sure to buy a good bottle-cleaning brush and a little portable cooler (like the Playtex SmartCool Bottle Tote) for easy transport.

Trust Your Gut

As a writer and journalist, I'm a huge proponent of gathering information before drawing conclusions or making decisions. Sites like the recently re-launched Playtex are perfect for reading up on tips, reviews, and advice from experts and other moms before you go shopping. But, what I learned the first time around is that too much information can be overwhelming and lead to heightened anxiety and stress. It can also get really expensive as you continue to spend money on books and products that promise to solve all your problems, but rarely do.

This time around, I've made a promise to myself that while I'll continue doing my research, above all else I'll trust my own intuition and make decisions that are right for me and my baby. This means not over-thinking certain purchases (i.e., the huge double stroller I just knew we'd need), while avoiding others altogether (do I really need a state-of-the-art baby monitor just because the technology has changed in the past three years?).

  Shopping tip: Just because another mommy swears by a particular product doesn't mean it will work for your baby. Know that all babies are different and be prepared to adjust your shopping list based on your baby's preferences.

Sometimes it's worth being ELITE

I can't begin to tell you how excited I was when I finally got my toddler toilet trained...just in time to welcome our new baby and another two-plus years of diaper changing. When my first was born, we bought the Playtex Diaper Genie Essentials Pail and placed it in her nursery. We changed dozens of diapers a week, filled hundreds of Diaper Genie refill bags, and counted down the days until our little one would learn to use the potty! When baby #2 was born we dusted off our old Diaper Genie bins. But something had changed...

I began to notice diapers scattered on the floor every time I walked by the Diaper Genie. It seems my husband had become lazy when it came to disposing of dirty diapers. It was at this moment I realized that it might be time to “step it up” and spring for the Diaper Genie Elite pail. The suped-up elite Diaper Genie with a convenient foot pedal (that does the dirty work for you) seemed like the perfect solution. All he would have to do is step on the pedal, throw the diaper in, and voila! it would disappear.  And so, as seasoned second-time parents, we decided it was time to treat ourselves to the Diaper Genie Elite.

Now we have the elite Diaper Genie in the baby's room, where most diaper changing takes place, plus two Playtex Diaper Genie Essentials Pails, one on the third floor in our bedroom and one in my older daughter's bathroom for her night-time 'sleep diapers'. With all these Diaper Genie pails working for us, we've managed to maintain a home free from diapers on the floor.

  Shopping tip: Diaper Genie 3 Pack Refills are available at Walmart for around $23. These are something you'll want to buy in bulk!

Embrace the Pacifier if your babe will allow

While convincing my 3-year-old to give up her pacifier was a major challenge that required great creativity, bribery, and lots of patience (think: a Fairy who came in the middle of the night and took away all of her soothers to give to babies who needed them more than she did); it was still totally worth it given the years of magic that it worked. When she was over-tired or moody, or we needed her to nap on the go, we'd pop the pacifier into her mouth and voila! It had an instant calming effect. It took a few tries to get it right, but the money spent on finding the right pacifier was totally worth it.

I'm almost ready to introduce the new baby to the Playtex Pacifier. I know what this means. I'll need to have one in every room (not to mention my purse, the car, and the diaper bag—because soothers seriously do have a tendency of disappearing into thin air). I'll need to get a good pacifier clip, like the Playtex pacifier holder, so I don't spend my life picking these goobery gadgets up off the floor. And, I'll likely be woken in the night to pop it back in baby's mouth. But, if I have to go through one more evening of screaming baby and around-the-clock nursing, I'm sure I will cave. Sometimes you just need a moment of peace!