Once Upon A Mommy

The Ups, Downs and All Arounds of Raising a Family

Money Skills for Children

Ella had her first paid job! Her task was to help me sort and return all the cans and bottles at the recycling depot. In return, she received half the amount earned, which equated to $15!

She has recently been motivated to start making money because she’s set on buying an Elsa dress and shoes from the Disney Store. We calculated that she would need to earn $80 in order to make her purchase. As a result, she is looking for ways to earn an income. As we brainstorm the ways people make money, she’s settled on completing jobs and selling some of her items. I’m really happy about her selling some of her toys…it supports my goal in teaching her about the values of minimalism.

Since I’ve been meaning to find ways to teach Ella about money, I’ve embraced this opportunity. I’m growing as I learn strategies to teach her and she’s beginning to see the cause and effect of spending money and how to plan for her future.

So far, this is what I’ve decided:

– She will complete a few chores that are just part of being in the family. I haven’t totally decided what these are yet. Probably cleaning her room, putting dirty clothes in her laundry basket and removing dishes from the table. I’m trying to keep it manageable to what I can handle and stay consistent with.

–  In order to earn money, she can complete specific tasks outside of her family responsibilities. I will come up with a list of jobs that need to be complete and determine a dollar value for each.

– It’s important for her to handle cash so she can feel the attachment and understand its finite quality. I can see how me using credit cards all the time is kind of a disservice to teaching her about money. I’m considering what it would look like to start using cash so I can teach her more about money. However, electronic money is part of the future and I really like the credit card rewards I get. Furthermore, there’s value in teacher her about healthy ways to use credit cards. Regardless, she needs to understand that money is tangible and isn’t an endless resource.

– When she makes money, it will be divided 3 ways:

  1. 10% goes to savings. This money will go into a bank account and start compounding for her adult years.
  2. 10% goes to giving. She can decide where this money will be donated. It will most likely go to our church.
  3. 80% goes to spending. This is what she gets to spend on whatever she wants. Currently she wants a Disney Frozen dress and shoes.

Eventually, we will add another jar when she starts getting bills, such as a cell phone. But for now, I want to work within these 3 jars because they mimic the disciplines that I use as an adult.

I’m really excited to watch her savings grow. The sooner she can start taking advantage of compound interest, the better. I can extend the teaching even further by introducing her to a savings account. She can join me at the bank whenever we make a deposit and she can view online her money grow.

The power of compound interest is the most powerful when we start young.

money skills

Image credit: www.moneyunder30.com


Check out this short video by Dave Ramsey on the power of compound interest:

I haven’t yet decided when she is age appropriate for having an allowance. At some point, I want to stop buying her clothes or treats and give her an allowance instead. Then she will need to budget her money in order to buy these extra things. I can foresee giving her a small allowance now that she can use for buying treats since she likes to always ask when we go out. However, I can imagine if she had the money to spend, she’d buy way more treats than what I want her to actually eat. So we’ll see about this one.

I’ve been meaning to start introducing Ella to money in some shape or form but I’ve found it all overwhelming. I’m glad there has been a natural flow and something that we can work towards. I’m curious to see how this will all unfold and I’m excited to set her up well for her future.

Here’s some other Dave Ramsey resources about teaching kids about money that I’m interested in myself:

Article: https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/9-ways-to-teach-your-kids-about-money

Article: https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/why-arent-you-talking-to-your-kids/?ictid=393GO2105

Website: https://www.smartmoneysmartkids.com/

Book: “Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money” by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze

How to Really Love Your Child – Do You Know How?

How to Really Love Your Child

I have a few books on the go right now, all located in different parts of the house.

Right now my “car book” is an amazing read and highly recommended!! A fast and easy read, written by Dr Ross Campbell, it’s called, “How to Really Love Your Child.” It’s an old book that my father-in-law gave it to me a few years ago and it has sat in my car the entire time. A couple months ago, I finally picked it up and started to read it. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I wish I started reading the book when he gave it to me several years ago.

The book teaches parents how to really love their child, in ways that are so simple but a lot of parents miss. He explains that parents genuinely love their children, unfortunately, they don’t know how to express it in a way that their children need. Or they may start loving their children according to his principles when the child is younger, but as the child grows, the parents believe those forms of expression are no longer relevant or appropriate for their age. Boys typically get caught in this trap as they grow older because parents don’t believe that teenage books need physical touch in the same way they do when they were younger. Teenage girls also get caught in this trap when their fathers no longer feel comfortable expressing their physical affection to their developing daughter.

I wish I read this book sooner and applied these 4 basic principles when Ella was younger…it would have helped me attach to her much more easily and would have spared me a lot of difficulty, pain and sadness. I also appreciate the clarity it brings on disciplining my children. Unconditional love is the foundation. When our children have their buckets full of love, they are easier to discipline.

Dr Ross Campbell’s 4 basic principles are:

– unconditional love

– eye contact

– physical touch

– focused attention

I know they are straight forward and a no brainer but they are also profound. Unfortunately, I don’t have the words to express the book’s intelligence and heart accurately. I wish I could be more convincing. However, I am grateful for the shift in my value system and the vision for my children’s teen and adult years. I have a renewed purpose and focus for my everyday life with my children.



Wanna Change the World?

change world

I noticed this quote on a billboard outside of a church building. It really struck a chord with me.

“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family” – Mother Teresa

For the longest time, I’ve been wrestling with my purpose and meaning in life. I’ve been on a leave of absence from my teaching career for the last 2 years and I’ve been staying at home looking after my children in the meantime. I often wonder what the heck I’m supposed to be doing.

I seem to be discontented and unsettled a lot of the time. I feel a constant longing to do something else…something bigger. There’s a large drive in me to contribute and change the world yet I seem to miss the opportunity that is before me. Somehow I believe that taking care of children is not as important or significant (perhaps this is the message our society conveys). I seem perpetually distracted by things that don’t really matter and fail to notice my children as a result. I know I value family but I can’t seem to let go of the nagging in order to focus on what really matters. The by-product is often guilt and torment.

change world

However, I’m beginning to feel a shift. I’m realizing that it’s foolish to help hurting people while simultaneously creating a few more hurting people to add to the mix. In my endeavour to focus on everyone but my family, I will surely end up neglecting the people that are the most important to me.  In the end, I’m not really helping the world, I’m just adding to the pain. It doesn’t matter how many lives I influence. If the 3 people at home don’t feel loved by me, then all my efforts are futile.

Since I’ve already been rumbling around with the tension for a while, you can imagine why this quote stood out to me. Upon reading it, I felt a sense of relief and resolve. I felt permission to allow myself to take care of the seemingly unimportant things instead of striving for something greater. I was reminded that these “seemingly unimportant things” are actually massively important things. They aren’t ordinary or mundane at all. There is so much power and influence in shaping the next generation that will influence the world long after I’m gone. Besides, this is a season of time that is very demanding. Before I know it, my children will be out of the house and my purpose will change accordingly.

Ironically, I’m reminded of the reason why I became a teacher in the first place. I wanted to lead the next generation of politicians, doctors, teachers, parents, etc. Well, it may only be 2 young children instead of a classroom, but they still count. It only takes one person to make a difference.


Photo credit: http://paradiseandpinkflamingos.tumblr.com

Baby Whisperer – Baby Guide for New Parents

I’ve had a change of heart.

In a previous post about baby sleep resources, I shared a few thoughts about the book, “Secrets of the Baby Whisperer” by Tracy Hogg. At the time, I wasn’t particularly fond of the book and had some mixed emotions about it. Nevertheless, I’ve held onto the book for five years, meaning to read it again with my second child. For some reason, it’s had some sort of grip on me that I couldn’t let go.

I originally started reading the book when I had my daughter and dabbled in it briefly. I then put it down because it was causing stress and confusion. My goal was to teach my daughter to sleep and experienced the opposite. I was trying to avoid using crutches like rocking or swinging, which then resulted in no sleep at all. I resolved that I didn’t care how my baby fell asleep, the point was for her to sleep.

After I had my second baby, I started researching sleep again. I was determined to do a better job the second time around. Of all the books I was planning to read, “Secrets of the Baby Whisperer” kept nagging at me. I know I have the tendency to finish a book till completion despite the boredom, disinterest or poor quality. Perhaps this was the dynamic at play. However, the persistence was so compulsive that I decided to pick it up and finally put an end to the curiosity and pestering. I soon realized that my first impressions of the book were inaccurate.

Throughout the book I noticed I common theme of respect for the baby – listening to the baby for clues of unmet needs; asking permission to be in its personal space or touch its body; and talking to it respectfully as a human being instead of an object. Tracy uses the acronym S.L.O.W. to remind parents to slow down and listen to their baby’s language so that they can respond accordingly.

I’ve come to realize that Tracy Hogg has quite the balanced approach despite my first impression. She is realistic with the necessity of respecting the baby while still respecting the family. The baby can’t run the show at the expense of the parents because that isn’t healthy for anyone. Instead of creating a rigid schedule for the baby to follow or the parents allowing the baby to dictate their schedule, Tracy meets in the middle with her E.A.S.Y. routine.

According to Tracy, a routine is more flexible than a schedule but more structured than on demand. The E.A.S.Y. stands for:

E – Eat (feeding breastmilk/formula)

A – Activity (usually just a diaper change in the beginning; more activity as the window of wakefulness grows)

S – Sleep (baby sleeps)

Y – You (do whatever you need to do to care for yourself while the baby is sleeping)

I found her E.A.S.Y. routine super helpful and incredibly valuable. Actually, it was one of my main takeaways from the book when I read it 5 years ago. Since I’ve always kept this structure in the back of my mind, I intuitively started following the plan as soon as I had Jack.

Throughout the day, whenever he would cry for something and I felt unsure of what he needed, I’d go back to the routine. “Ok, he just ate an hour ago and I changed his diaper, he must be tired now.” It created a comfortable rhythm and flow to my day. All day, all I would do is E.A.S.Y. on repeat.

Regarding sleep, Tracy had a lot of good tips, tricks and clues to help know when the baby is tired. However, I didn’t find they particularly worked well for me. I found “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” by Marc Weissbluth to be the most helpful resource coupled with Tracy’s E.A.S.Y. routine and the Dunstan Baby Language.

Upon taking a second look at the book, I see Tracy is a blend between cry it out and no cry strategies. She doesn’t let a bit of crying get in the way of teaching babies how to sleep. Furthermore, she doesn’t encourage props – like rocking, swinging, driving, which I find difficult to not use. To be honest, I have found the swing to be very useful when nothing else seems to work.

Nevertheless, I can appreciate her logic behind this advice. She advises to start as you would finish: if you don’t want to be rocking a 30 pound baby in the future, then don’t start now. I can appreciate what she’s saying, however, at some point you need to do what works. Habits can always be changed, although they can take a lot of time, energy and crying to break.

At the end of the book, she includes a troubleshooting section called “The ABC Cure for Accidental Parenting.” In this chapter she helps parents understand how they have contributed to difficulties and how to change bad patterns into good ones. While it’s obvious that you don’t want to start bad patterns to begin with, it is inevitable. We are all trying to do the best we can with the situations we have. Figuring out babies is hard and they don’t come with a manual. On top of that, we are sleep deprived and depleted. When my storehouse is running low, I’m desperate to do whatever it takes to get the outcome I need.

In conclusion, I found the overall tone of the book gentle and encouraging with respect as a major priority. However, reading the book a second time around hasn’t taught me anything more than I already acquired the first time I read it. Nonetheless, my aversion towards the book had decreased. While the E.A.S.Y. routine is still the biggest thing I take away from the book, I’m fortunate to be reminded of the importance of slowing down and tuning in to my baby. My son is almost a year old and I want to cherish as many moments as I can with him.

Mentrual Pads – Economical, Environmental and Chemically Safe

menstrual pads


Menstrual Pads vs Tampons? Which one are you?

Menstrual cycles are part of being a woman and every month we are continually using products to assist us with this process. Have you ever wondered what those products are made of and what chemicals are being absorbed by one of the most precious vulnerable parts of our body?

I have had these questions in the back of my mind for a while. From my couponing days, I created a large stock pile of pads and tampons – some of which I still have today, 5 years later. I never considered the effects these products could have on my body, constantly in close contact with my skin over several days. I was just proud that I got them for free.

Of course, I’ve come to learn that the products mostly associated with coupons are usually not the best choice for my body or the environment. Of course, low income families are the most vulnerable to unhealthy products because they are the cheapest to buy. It sure is tempting to buy the products to save money even though they can be a danger to our health.

I was fortunate to come across Lunapads at a trade show last year. While I was briefly aware of their products, I was curious to know more. Finally, a solution to menstrual pads that was economical, environmental and chemically free.

Lunapads – Long Menstrual Pad and Insert

I decided to switch over to Lunapads and bought my first supply. They are reusable washable pads that will last over 5 years and save a tonne of money. Furthermore, they are free of chemicals, perfumes and adhesives. Even better, they support education by donating Lunapads to girls in the developing world so they can stay in school rather than missing the days they have their period.

When I received my order, I was given a coupon code. I thought I’d pass it along. It can be used by more than one person and expires March 31st. You get $5 off orders over $35.

Discount code: THANKYOU215

My next plan is to try the Diva Cup. I’ve heard great things about it – once you get used to the feel.

Minimalism – What’s Your Stuff Costing You?


Minimalism – reconsidering the dream

Most of us, when we’re young, we dream of owning a house and having kids one day. Some of us are even bigger dreamers and hope to own a car, boat or even a cabin.

While all these things sound super awesome, I have come to realize that they come with a lot of work. Since owning a house and having kids, I see how much responsibility goes into the care of these possessions.

With our house we have had to replace the windows, redo the drain tile (that was a huge project), renovate the basement, prune the trees, clean the gutters, repaint the fence and deck, etc. Suddenly this nice idea of owning a home one day became an enormous never ending task that consumes the weekends.

An children, well don’t get me started. It isn’t enough to just feed, clothe or bathe them. No, we need to teach them morals, values and character. That’s heavy stuff!

I came across this article from The Minimalists, which sums up the cost of owning things really well. In my journey of minimizing, I am definitely taking into account the true cost of each item. I was finally able to let go of some toy cars Ella had when I considered the need to constantly replace the batteries. I decided I wasn’t willing to do that anymore.



Image courtesy of jk1991 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Television – How Much Are Your Children Watching?


Television…are your children watching too much? It’s so easy to use the modern convenience of the television as a babysitter. I get it, I’ve fallen into this trap. I was ambitious at the beginning, not allowing my daughter to watch TV till the recommended age 2. Not that she is 6, I find it all to easy to give into her requests. I particularly find it helpful in the mornings when I’m trying to get her ready for school or around dinner time.

While trying to be mindful of her TV consumption, I spontaneously thought of a good strategy the other day to get her off fast.

I first decided how much longer I was willing to let her watch. I decided on 10 minutes although I was prepared for a fight to breakout and it actually being 30 minutes.

After I decided on 10 minutes, I told her she could watch for 5 minutes more (way below my predetermined time). Then I said, “actually, you can watch 6 minutes more.” Then I set the timer.

As a result, she thought she was winning because I gave her an extra minute. Whereas I was the one actually winning because I got her off the TV in 6 minutes! Whoo hoo!

Image courtesy of winnond at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Detergent – Natural Laundry Detergent (And Brands to Avoid)



Detergent – The search for natural laundry detergent and which brands to avoid.

It started with diaper wipes (see previous post) and now I’m transitioning to laundry detergent. I have just begun on this progressive journey of trying to cut out chemical products from my home. My main go-to website to help me navigate this confusing world is EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaners. I often find myself popping a brand name in their search bar to see what kind of results it will get. I’ve been really surprised to discover some terrible ratings for some of the companies that I thought would be good alternatives. As I looked closer at their ingredient lists, I was amazed to see some concern for cancer. I definitely want to stay far away from those ones!!

After comparing a variety of brands, I came to a personal standard to help me narrow down my search. I’m chosing to stay close to the products that have an overall grade of A or B, no cancer concerns and certified green for the environment. Below, I’ll share some of my thoughts and findings for some of the common laundry detergent brands.


Tide – GRADE F!

Over five years ago, I used to be an extreme shopper – using coupons to get products for free. I took pride in how many household items I got for free or next to nothing. At the time, I was quite pleased to stock pile several years’ worth of laundry detergent. I’m actually on my last bottle of Purex right now. Over the course of time, I started to notice a pattern. I came to realize that the products that are the worst for us (chemically laden or highly processed junk) were the cheapest to buy because they had the most coupons available. At the time, I thought I was really well for myself. Then I started to stay away from purchasing certain products even if I had a coupon for it and could get it cheap. Knowing what I know now, I had no idea that the product I was using was not only harmful to the environment, but to my health.

Tide coupons are easy to get, but check out the letter grade…a fail!


Tide Detergent


Purex – GRADE D!

I’m currently on my very last bottle of laundry detergent from my stockpile 5 years ago. Because I’m on my last, I’m forced to start considering what new brand I should buy next. Since my values with health and the environment have changed over the last 5 years, I want to be more mindful about what I purchase. Here’s how my current brand rates:


Purex Detergent


Ecos – GRADE C

In my quest to find the next best laundry detergent, my first stop was Costco to see what they offered for natural laundry detergent. The brand, ECOS, was recommended to me as a good choice. I was so close to buying it during my next visit but decided to check it out first. Here’s what I found:


Ecos Detergent

While there is no cancer concern and it is green certified, I decided that a grade C was too low for me. I wanted to see if I could do better.


Nellie’s Laundry Soda – GRADE B

I was at a baby shower a month ago and saw someone give the mother-to-be a tin of Nellie’s Laundry Soda. Out of curiosity, I inquired further and found out that it was a great “natural” product. I was so convinced that I went to the store and bought a can of the laundry soda and stain remover. I’m not sure why I didn’t look up the product first because when I did, I was shocked! I was surprised to find the bar graph for cancer more so than Tide or Purex!


Nellie’s Detergent

To be honest, I was confused why Nellie’s received a B grade, considering their concern for cancer, while ECOS was graded C and had no concern. EWG must take all factors into account when rating the products and determining their grade level. Even though the product is not green certified, I did like the short ingredient list. While the ingredients themselves rated well, the concern for cancer nagged at my conscious. Therefore, I returned the product.

Nellie’s All Natural Laundry Soda -100 Load Tin

Nellie’s All-Natural Oxygen Brightener Tin – 2 lb

Rockin’ Green Soap – GRADE Unknown

I bought a bag of Rockin’ Green Laundry Detergent several years ago since it had a good reputation in the world of cloth diapers. While I can’t find the product on EWG, the label sounds promising. Mind you, I’m weary of whether I should trust its claims because other packages say “all-natural” and then turn out to be graded poorly. According to the label, the product is dye free, naturally scented, no fillers, vegan (I like that), and 100% phosphate free with bio gradable ingredients.

Rockin’ Green Laundry Detergent Classic Rock Unscented


Seventh Generation – GRADED C

I thought I’d add Seventh Generation because I would default this brand to being a good natural option. I think many people consider Seventh Generation to be a safer alternative compared to the array of chemical products on the market. Upon looking at its rating, I must say, I’m actually surprised. I thought it would have done better considering the company promotes itself as a safer choice. Ironically, it is certified as a green product but the bar graph for environmental concern is high. Weird.


Seventh Generation Detergent


Method – GRADED B

When I asked around to see what laundry products friends use, Method came up. I thought I’d show how it rates as well.

I’m happy to see this product rated as grade B. However, I wouldn’t use it because of the cancer concern. I’m also surprised to see some ingredients rated grade D. And the bar graphs don’t look too pretty.


Method Detergent


Green Works – GRADED F!

Green Works is another product that I equate with being a more natural choice. The packaging actually states, “natural laundry detergent.” Well, I guess it just goes to show that we can’t trust the word “natural” from manufactures considering this product was graded F! I guess the “natural” is supposed to refer to the green certification.


Green Works Detergent

Lastly….the one I chose!

Attitude – GRADE A

Attitude Laundry Detergent

Just like my diaper wipes, I chose Attitude for my laundry detergent. Based on their performance so far, I’ll probably end up choosing this brand again as I continue my journey into soaps, cleaners, etc. Actually, when I purchased my laundry detergent, I bought their dishwasher eco pouches at the same time since they were on sale (the couponer is still in me).

Attitude Dishwasher Eco Pouches Phosphate Free Detergent — 40 Pouches

Notice the bar graphs below compared to the other products I showed. I find it so refreshing! This product gives me a piece of mind. Not only is it grade A, it’s green and has no cancer concerns (according to the bar graph). I understand that I’ll be paying more for this product compared to Tide or Purex, but I’m ok with that. Finding the product on sale has been a bonus and I’ve already started my stockpile!


Attitude Detergent

So there you have it…my laundry detergent journey that’s taken me 5 years to conclude. I hope some of the information I’ve presented will help you come to your own conclusions about what detergent is best for your family. You may not have the same convictions as me, and that’s fine.

Lastly, I found this resource that I had tucked away in a drawer. It’s a top ten list prepared from Environmental Defence. You can go through the link to download a pocket guide that you can take with you on the go!

Environmental Defence’s “toxic ten” list

  • 1,4 dioxane
  • Artificial musks
  • Coal tar derived colours
  • BHA and BHT
  • Formaldehyde-releasing agents
  • Petrolatum
  • Parabens
  • Phthalates
  • Silicone chemicals
  • Triclosan

Film Wrap Leeches Chemicals

Film wrap has changed over the years and poses harm to our health. Is there an alternative?

I always love going to Christmas craft fairs. It’s a chance for me to be without the kids and admire the novel, creative ideas of others.

When I was at the Circle Craft Fair the other week, I discovered a natural alternative to film wrap. It’s called Abeego – a reusable beeswax wrap that breathes. The wrap protects food from air and moisture and lets it breathe at the same time. It’s also safer substitute compared to using film wrap.

It seems like I’ve been on a journey of trying to eliminate harmful chemicals from my home. I’ve started with diapers and wipes, and then soap and laundry detergent. When the opportunity for replacing my plastic wrap presented itself, I was curious.

While I’m not familiar with all the ins and outs of plastic wrap, I know enough to speculate that it’s not a healthy idea….especially when heated in the microwave. I can only imagine the chemicals have the potential to leech into my food within the fridge as well. I’m not willing to gamble with that risk.

From my brief research, I’ve discovered that the plastics used to make film wrap have changed over the years. Originally, plastic wrap was made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) due to its flexibility properties. However, PVC contains phthalates which are hormone disruptors and they are chemical leechers.

In 2006, manufactures changed chemicals the to low-density polyethylene (LDPE) or polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC), which are phthalate free. However, they don’t cling as well and they are potentially linked to breast cancer and low sperm count.

Unlike food products, manufactures do not need to include an ingredient list on their products. Therefore, consumers are left vulnerable and at risk.

I was already familiar with the concept of using beeswax to create a version of plastic wrap. My sister-in-law made some for herself. While I like the idea of making it from scratch, I’m realistic enough to know it’s not going to happen anytime soon. Therefore, when I saw the vendor at the craft fair, I snatched up a pack!

Abeego – Set of 3

Film Wrap

I really like the reusable factor – it supports my environmental values and solves the problem of using plastic wrap. I also like the idea of keeping the food alive due to its breathable capabilities. However, to be honest, my only uncertainty towards using the product is my unclear stance on using bee products. I’m not educated enough on the topic and I don’t fully know where I stand yet. In the meantime, this is an appropriate alternative for me.

In the end, I ordered several packages for Christmas gifts. I like the variety pack the best because you get to experiment with 3 sizes. I’m experimenting with the product for now. It definitely doesn’t stick the way plastic wrap does but I’m keeping an open mind. Hopefully, I’ll continue the journey and start moving away from my plastic and Tupperware containers too.

Check out Abeego to see their variety of sizes and demonstration videos.

Brush Your Teeth – Avoiding Power Struggles With Your Children

Brush Your Teeth


Brush your teeth every day, twice a day, for ideal oral hygiene. While this advice may be easy for adults, how do you get your kids to cooperate?

Brushing teeth with children can often resort to power struggles. I’m often at a loss with how to make this routine the least stressful in order to divert aversion. My goal is to make the experience as pleasant as possible in order for my children to have positive associations with teeth brushing.

I’m not going to lie. There are times when the power struggle has been so strong that I resorted to force out of sheer desperation. I’ve been told by dental hygienists to use whatever tactic necessary, including holding their hands down, to get the job done. However, I’m fearful if I force the experience, they will develop a negative association when they are adults. While there have been times that I’ve held my daughter’s hands while she has a hissy fit, it isn’t my preferred way. As a result, I’m left with trying to find creative solutions to make brushing teeth the most pain free as possible.

When my daughter was younger, it was easier to sing songs and use distraction techniques. Sometimes, I’ve counted backwards or come up with silly ideas like “brushing the sparkles off her teeth.” We’ve talked about sugar bugs and what happens if we don’t brush properly. I’ve even pointed out children with silver teeth to show her the consequences of not brushing properly.

I’ve found that that these strategies have worked well for different ages or seasons of time. I have to constantly reinvent myself in order to keep up with my aging child. She is now nearing 6 years old and I’m having to change my approach, yet again.

The other night, I came up with a new strategy for brushing teeth:

I told Ella if she can brush her teeth before the timer beeps, she can get 5 minutes to play before bedtime. I set the oven timer for 3 minutes, giving myself enough time to brush her teeth plus a buffer so she’d be successful, and then pretended to be in a rush to brush her teeth. I brushed for over 2 minutes and still had 11 seconds to spare! It seemed to work. Hopefully I can rely on this tactic to avoid future teeth brushing struggles.

Below are a few other strategies to use to brush your teeth:

Reward Charts: here’s a Printable Toothbrushing Chart from happinessishomemade.net

Brush Your Teeth

Brush Your Teeth Chart

Brushing Teeth Timer: a sand hourglass with a 2 minute timer

Smile Tooth 2 Minute Sand Timer Assorted colors

Songs: the teeth brushing song from Raffi

Education: a kid friendly video on why we brush our teeth

Below are some basic tips and rules for teeth brushing I thought were necessary to share:

  • As soon as your baby has their first tooth appear, you should start brushing. Even before the teeth rupture the gums, you can run a damp cloth along your child’s gums in order to get them use to the sensations and to develop some sort of habit.
  • By the time your child is 1 years old, or 6 months after the first tooth erupts, take your child to see the dentist. Usually the dentist will give your child a ride in the chair and count their teeth. The main point is to intervene for tooth decay and give your child a positive experience with the dentist to avoid future anxieties.
  • Use a child-sized toothbrush with soft bristles. Replace it after 3-4 months or as soon as it shows wear. It is not recommended to share toothbrushes with other people in order to reduce the transferring of germs.
  • Use a small dose of toothpaste, the size of a grain of rice, until age 3. Afterwards, increase to the size of a pea. Brush twice a day in the morning and before bed for at least 2 minutes. The molars should be your biggest priority because this is where cavities are more likely.
  • As soon as two teeth emerge that touch, floss your child’s teeth once a day. I find the floss sticks super helpful for this task.
  • Brush in a gentle circular motion with the brush at a 45 degree angle beside your teeth. The gums are at risk of receding if you brush in a vigorous back and forth motion.
  • At about age 6-7, children have the skills and coordination to brush independently. However, I’d still do a check over to ensure they did a sufficient job.
  • Fluoride can have mixed reviews depending on who you talk to. The American Dental Association recommends it. The Canadian Dental Association “supports the appropriate use of fluoride in dentistry,” which sounds like a broad application. Check out their website for more information.

Here’s some resources from the Canadian Dental Association:

An Egg Experiment – Egg shells and teeth are both made of calcium and are weakened by acid. Try this fun experiment to show your children how fluoride can strengthen your teeth and lock in the calcium.

Canadian Dental Association – information on teeth cleaning, tooth decay, fluoride, Halloween, and pacifiers/thumb sucking



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