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Teach them healthy habits while they are young.

November 16, 2015


7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Kids Can Learn This 


My son and I have started a Sunday morning ritual – cuddle time and the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

It all started because of a conversation I had with him. He had a day off from school and he seemed only interested in two activities – playing with Lego or playing video games. I know he is capable of so much more than that, but he shies away from doing difficult things. We had a conversation about what he wanted to become and what he wanted for his future. Trying to avoid a lecture, I suggested to him that we both work on creating personal mission statements for ourselves. And thus entered the 7 Habits. I had purchased a used copy of this book in the summer and here was the perfect opportunity to immerse myself in it and work on it with a willing adorable person!

I read the book during the week, mark it up, highlight and make notes, and then on Sundays I share with him what I learned. We talk about it and, when needed, work on something until our next 7 Habits discussion and cuddle time. I feel a sense of importance, almost urgency, that we all need to stretch ourselves to become more than we are, and teach our children the same habit of doing new things, expecting more of themselves, and learning what they’re capable of.

I’m highly cognizant of the fact that if I don’t continue what we’ve started I’ll be teaching him that it’s OK to give up, which would be reinforcing what he already struggles with. So preserve we shall!

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” - Maya Angelou

P.S. If you’re thinking that the 7 Habits is too advanced for a 12 year old, think again! He overhead a conversation I was having with my teenage daughter and he was able to define paradigm shift to her and explain that she needed to shift her paradigm in order to change her habits! Huh…!

P.S.S. How is your 72-hour pack coming along? Visit our Facebook page to download your free copy of what to pack!  


November 9, 2015


The Cost of Disunity in Business and Family


As I was reflecting on the similarities between a business organization and a family unit, I began to reflect on companies whose management philosophy is as a taskmaster - to essentially work the employee to “udder” (J) fatigue as if they were cattle, with little to no verbal or monetary acknowledgement for good work, and invoke fear of job loss to reduce errors. This way of managing employees, to put it plainly, really stinks. It creates an atmosphere of discontentment, disloyalty, disengagement, and every other kind of “dis” you can think of. And it’s costly on more levels than just the bottom line.

Let’s compare this method of interaction to a family unit.

Do we often find ourselves pushing our children or spouses/partners to get what we want? Oh, oh. When we do this, we’re essentially saying that our wants and needs are more important than theirs. Family unity cannot have a hope of growth in this kind of an environment. Rather, it would be better to be like a sports team with coaches, cheerleaders, fans and team players where each plays a crucial supportive role for a common goal. And as our seasons of life change so do our roles, but never the common goal.

How about withholding or not expressing gratitude, acknowledgement or affection? Are we trying to establish who’s the boss, who’s the controller of operations? Or maybe we express our love only when the other person does what we want them to. (Ugh. Even typing that sentence was gross.) Selfishness does not breed selflessness. We cannot expect support when the chips are down if we haven’t cultivated family unity.

And finally, do our family members feel that, even if they mess up, they’re still wanted and loved? We all mess up every single day. To expect perfection is like removing the tires on your Lamborghini Huracan Spyder (excuuuuuse me!) and still expecting it to go 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds – no matter what you want it just ain’t gonna happen. So just own up, ‘fess up, hug and make up, and move forward. Why? Because family needs the power of forgiveness in order to be united.

Unity. Unity. Unity.

There is a quote by Winston Churchill that goes: “When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.” I would slightly change the wording to this: “When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot conquer you.”

So whether you’re in the corporate world or in the family world or both, if you want happy, creative, hardworking and loyal members then cultivate unity no matter what.


November 2, 2015


FoodShare: Engaging Youth in Healthy Eating Habits and Self-Reliance


November is CPR (Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation) Awareness month. I wanted to bring attention to a non-profit organization that is doing amazing things for youth, encouraging healthy habits, and the rewards of a job well done.

FoodShare works with communities and schools to deliver healthy food and food education. (Do you see a connection yet to CPR and FoodShare?) One of the ways they accomplish this is with a hands-on approach through a program called School Grown. Through this program, students are able to earn school credits; learn how to grow food for themselves and their families; cook from scratch; and learn about nutrient-dense food choices. By growing the food, they also learn valuable skills that will help them with employment. As youth share in these experiences, they bring healthy food programming home to their families, are making healthier food choices, and this in turn creates a healthier community and society.

To help sustain this program, food is sold at farmers’ markets and restaurants and the revenue is used to hire high school students during the summer and other costs that are not covered by grants.

Now I have tried several times, unsuccessfully mostly, to grow vegetables and fruits, but I keep trying every year. This year I managed to eat a couple of strawberries from my garden! Woo hoo! What an incredible opportunity FoodShare is providing to youth; they won’t have to go through the pangs of shame when their zucchini looks like some weird alien creature from the planet Zorklesaurus, and tell everyone that the dandelions are intentional – you like them in a salad! 

Interested in supporting the program? They sell their food at the Bloor-Borden & East Lynn Park  Farmers’ Markets during the months of June to October. Or you can donate.

Oh, and did you figure out the connection between CPR Awareness month and FoodShare? I knew you would ;)  


October 26, 2015


Emergency Preparedness: Surviving When Things Are Out of Your Control


News reports come in that there was an explosion at a nuclear power plant and you must evacuate your home, or an out of control wildfire threatens your home and you’re forced to leave. Maybe it’s a widespread power outage. Perhaps an earthquake compels you to the streets. Or worse – maybe it’s a zombie apocalypse! Whatever the emergency, there’s very little time, if any, to pack the essentials. Besides, it’s unlikely that you’ll be thinking clearly enough to recall anything more than your name and birthdate. If you don’t have a 72-hour backpack ready by the time the emergency occurs, it’s too late. 

I bring this topic up because we’re in the process of getting our 72-hour packs, or emergency survival kit, ready for the colder weather. We (try to!) rotate the supplies twice a year – once for the warmer seasons and the other for the colder seasons. We just went out today and invested in hardier backpacks. Tonight we’ll be gathering our children together, going through our old packs and restocking with fresh supplies. (By the way, the reason it’s called a 72-hour pack is because that’s about the time it takes for emergency personnel to reach you and get the help you need.) 

It can be daunting to know where to start. First, I would suggest checking to see if your local municipality or government has an emergency preparedness site. They can hold valuable information, such as what natural disasters are more likely to occur in your area, how to prepare for certain situations, how to stay informed of potential disasters, and much more. Having this information can help you modify your backpack according to disasters that are more relevant to the area you live.

Second, start with the basic essentials (see suggestions below).

Third, in the words of Nike, “Just Do It”.


  • Laminated picture of our family with phone numbers of family members and friends and locations of several meeting places in case we get separated 
  • Calling card
  • Rolls of change
  • Copies of legal documents
  • Refillable water bottle that can clean contaminated water
  • Dehydrated food
  • Vitamin C pills
  • Duct tape (which reminded me of) Toilet Paper (and toilet paper reminded me of…) Gloves! 
  • Needle and thread
  • Sunblock
  • Rope
  • Fire starter
  • Scriptures 


  

This link from the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services makes suggestions about what to include in your emergency kit. We include a few more things in our kits:

I have friends that also include things like an axe, machete, ham radio, and tent. They’re ready for anything from a power outage to the Armageddon!

Check out the Wee Wigglers Facebook page on November 1st where we’ll be posting a list of suggestions for your 72-hour pack, meeting place plan, as well as ideas to educate yourself.

In the meantime, don’t delay! Schedule time to work on it and have it completed by a certain day, work on it bit by bit, include your family, and just get it done!  


October 19, 2015


Family Meals: An Easy Place to Start


“Some of the most important conversations I’ve ever had occurred at my family dinner table.” – Bob Ehrlich 

When was the last time you sat at a table, ate a meal with your family and talked with each other? (And just to clarify – by talk, I mean requiring the use of your mouth, not thumbs.) If you’re counting backwards to remember the number of days, then it’s been too long.

At my parents’ home, we always sat at the table together for dinner. I remember many laughs and funny anecdotes being shared over black-eyed bean stew or spinach quiche (neither of which were my favourite dishes – funny how those were the ones that came to mind first!). I also remember learning the Heimlich maneuver when a sibling was choking, being taught political and social views by my father, having discussions about life events, and learning how to cook from my mother. Sunday was the only day of the week that we ate in the living room together to watch the Disney show at 6 o’clock in the evening. I didn’t see the benefits of consistently eating together then, but I understand the importance of it now.


  • Not one of us (and there were 5 children) ever had alcohol or drug problems.
  • We all graduated from high school and did well (or well enough!) academically.
  • None of us had problems with the law.
  • There was no teen pregnancy.
  • We had positive family interactions and still do.


Is it too naïve and misguided to contribute all of this simply to eating meals as a family? Perhaps. It’s difficult to identify, categorize and quantify all aspects of family life. However, there is research that supports benefits to consistent family meal times. 

So if you would like more unity and kindness in your family, the easiest place to start might be making family meals a priority. The family memories waiting to be created could be some of your happiest ones! 

P.S. For meal and activity ideas, as well as conversation starters, check out the Family Dinner Project.org.

P.S.S. Consider becoming a Wee Wigglers coach, especially if you love kids, a healthy lifestyle and would like a flexible schedule around your family time (and family meal time)!

  

October 12, 2015


World Food Day: Teach Them Compassion


World Food Day (WFD) was founded by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization in 1945.  It’s a day to increase awareness about food hunger and poverty and to inspire solutions for world change since 1981. October 16 is the day that Canada recognizes WFD. The Food For Famine Society in Langley, British Columbia organizes the largest WFD event with speakers, exhibitors and education on topics such as breakthroughs in agriculture to addressing world hunger and poverty issues.

The mission of Food For Famine (FFF) Society is to provide ready-to-use therapeutic food for malnourished children in developing countries, more specifically for children under the age of five suffering from severe acute malnourishment. To date, FFF Society has helped over 17,000 children.

At Wee Wigglers Corp., one of our missions is to encourage teaching children healthy habits, including healthy food choices, while they are still young because that’s when it’s easiest to mold them. You might compare instilling good habits in children to a young tree – it’s easier to grow a straight tree by supporting it when it’s young than trying to straighten the trunk when it’s already matured.

We are so fortunate to have an abundant of food choices in Canada. But it’s crazy that in North America we have a growing population of malnourished children. Not because of a lack of food choices, but because of consuming foods that are high in caloric intake and low in nourishment. (Even as I write this blog, I’m munching on the leftovers of Thanksgiving – turkey, fresh veggies and fruit, chocolate, cake and a pop! Wha…?) To get into the whys of our poor food choices is a whole other topic. For the purposes of this blog, let’s agree on this… we clearly have more than enough to eat and many do not.

In addition to teaching children healthy food choices, we can also teach them humanity and compassion.  There is an opportunity to help feed a severely hungry and malnourished child. Food For Famine has a goal of $50,000 for October to fill a shipping container of food to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The campaign ends October 31, 2015.

My “wee” challenge – donate to FFF’s campaign today and involve those you love.

P.S. In support of Walk to School month, we’re at Peel Children’s Safety Village on The Wee Show all this week with Officer Michelle to learn about pedestrian safety!

P.S.S. Visit our Facebook page to see our “wee” challenge to walk, run, or roll to school – download your free copy today!


October 5, 2015


How Often Do You Sincerely Say Thank You? 


With the onset of Thanksgiving approaching, hopefully we’re preparing this coming week to think of our many blessings; people, places, events, and circumstances in our lives that perhaps we’ve forgotten or haven’t really acknowledged. It’s time to dust off those memories and open the gates of gratitude. In the words sung by Josh Groban, “There’s so much to be thankful for”.

As we’re reflecting and expressing gratitude this coming week, we might consider asking ourselves if we have a mindset of thankfulness throughout the year, and if our children also count their blessings on a regular basis. As Andrea Reiser indicated in her article in the Huffington Post, “Gratitude goes beyond good manners – it’s a mindset and a lifestyle.” 

There are physical health benefits to having a grateful attitude, both for children and adults, such as improved immune systems, improved sleep, and increased energy. Additionally, children who have an attitude of gratitude have improved grades, are less likely to make selfish demands, will focus less on what they don’t have and appreciate what they do have, have an increased sense of well-being, and are likely to be a better friend.

Here are a few tips to help instil gratitude in your personal life, as well as in the life of your family:


  • Keep a journal. There are a myriad of gratitude journals on the market. Or get creative and make your own with your children. Write it in once weekly.
  • Thank you notes. Schedule time on your calendar regularly to write thank you notes to people who have blessed your life. Involve your children.
  • Talk about it. At the dinner table, start a discussion about the things you’re grateful for. Or when something pops into your mind, just say it; don’t wait for the “perfect” time to tell someone how you feel.
  • Manners. Make a point of saying thank you to people who serve you – at the checkout, the gas station, the restaurant, the dry cleaners. And when you’re home, thank your spouse and children for their efforts – meals, cleaning, doing homework, or even for sharing a smile.


So share a smile and hug, say thank you, and enjoy your Thanksgiving surrounded by those you love.

P.S. In support of Fire Prevention Week, check out The Wee Show episodes this week with your child to learn about stop, drop and roll, family escape planning, smoke alarms and more.

P.S.S. Interested in getting active with your preschooler? Check out our DVD for only $9.99


September 28, 2015


Do You Want Your Child to Have Your Future? No? Read on…

Just exactly what is needed to so that children, at a very young age, are physically active as they mature into adulthood? Loads of money? No. A huge backyard? No. They need active parents. In fact, according to Designed To Move, which is a community of public, private and civil sector organizations dedicated to ending the growing epidemic of physical inactivity, indicates that children of active moms are twice as likely to be active. And the best time, the “critical window”, is within the first 10 years of their life. Children who are active during those years are more likely to grow up to be active adults.

I’m not going to spew out yet again all the adverse effects of obesity, childhood or otherwise. Instead, let’s look at the compounding benefits over a lifetime of an active lifestyle: 

  • 1/10 as likely to be obese
  • up to 40% higher test scores
  • less likely to smoke, be engaged in drug use or risky sex, and less teen pregnancies
  • 15% more likely to attend college
  • 7-8% higher annual earnings
  • lower health costs 
  • more productive at work
  • reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes
  • improvements in satisfaction, self esteem, self efficacy, body image mood, time management, goal setting, initiative and leadership, enthusiasm, self-discipline, assertiveness, courage, social and life skills, honesty and integrity 


I don’t know about you, but the last point alone motivates me to ensure that I’m setting the example for my kids. I want them to develop those attributes. I want them to have an edge in this ever-growing, fast-paced whirlwind of a world we live in.

So, parents, the buck stops here. If you want a better future for your child, start working on a better future for yourself. Get active and involve your kids.

P.S. Get active with your kids - check out our Family Fun Friday Episodes on The Wee Show and dance along with your young child!

P.S.S. Starting the first week of October new episodes of The Wee Show start! We’ll be at a brand new Brampton Fire Station to support Fire Prevention Week! Learn about fire prevention, fire escape plans, and stop, drop and roll – remember that? Be prepared and teach your child fire safety. “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin  


September 14, 2015