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Family Life

Making Baby Car Seats and Installation Stress Free with Baby Car Seat Installers

about-pic

One of the biggest challenges as a new parent is the car seat! We bought a Peg Perego infant seat and took it to a car seat clinic 2 months before our baby was born, just to make sure it was installed correctly. We were like any new overly cautious parent, super ready and excited for our son to arrive! I can then remember when he was only 4 months old and had already reached the height limit on his infant seat. There are so many manufactures and models on the market, how does one choose? We visited the store and tried 4 seats before we settled on the Britax with the cow print fabric, or until I convinced my husband it was the best and worth the extra money. It was what I wanted all along, I just need him to agree!  But the problem was we bought our seat on a Saturday and their installer was only in on Tuesdays, so now what? Everything we read and had been told was that you needed to make sure your seat was installed correctly just like we did with our infant seat. I sat on the computer for a couple of hours searching for car seat clinics in my area and the next one was in a month. That was 9 years ago and lots has changed.

One of the biggest changes are companies like Baby Car Seat Installers. I had to share all about them so that if there is anyone still struggling with installing their car seat like I did 9 years ago, they can rest assured that Mohammad is to the rescue – no need to stress! Read on and learn a little about them, what they do and their advice to anyone purchasing or installing a seat themselves.

1. Please tell us a little about Baby Car Seat Installers.

We install car seats and teach parents how to use their car seats correctly. We also offer free installation inspections for parents who have installed their own child passenger restraint systems. Baby Car Seat Installers was started after I experienced firsthand how difficult it was to install a car seat correctly and how few resources were available. Our child passenger technicians are certified through St. John Ambulance, and we aim to educate and promote the importance of child passenger safety through our services and resources.

2. What areas do you service?

Our drive-in facility is located in Markham. We primarily service the Greater Toronto Area, but our mobile team has visited parents at home, work and even the hospital all over southern Ontario. We do our best to be there—wherever “there” may be—when we’re needed most.

3. Why is it important to make sure that your car seat is installed correctly?

Health Canada indicates car crashes as the leading cause of injury and death among Canadian children. And Transport Canada studies show over 80% of car seats are not used correctly. These two statistics demonstrate a dire need for more child passenger education and services. On the brighter side, St. John ambulance states using a car seat correctly seat can reduce the chance of serious injury by 70% and fatality by 90%. This is why we do what we do. Baby Car Seat Installers is trying to make a difference one car seat installation at a time.

4. Shopping for a new car seat can be very overwhelming. What tips can you recommend to those who are shopping for one?

Rest assured that all new seats sold in Canada meet the Canadian safety standards. That being said, a good place to start is determining what stage car seat your child will need and your budget.

I highly suggest doing some research online first and finding seats you like, and then visiting the store so you can see them. Doing your own research is crucial because the staff at many retailers don’t have the experience to ensure you’re choosing the best seat for your child and vehicle. If you need help in the store, find someone that knows car seats; or visit another time, location, or store. Often seats at different retailers can sometimes look identical but can be different. It is important to pay attention to the seats’ features, weight and height allowances and infant support padding that come with the models.

5. What tips do you have for people who aren’t located in your service area and want to install their seat themselves?

Check with your local health department if there are any community car seat clinics you can attend. Do this well in advance because they are generally held only a few times a year, and they book up extremely fast.  If you are left without an option and have to do it yourself, consider the following guidelines:

1) Set aside time and do it well in advance. Doing it last minute will only increase the likelihood of errors.

2) Check YouTube for reputable installation videos—those that are current and done by technicians—for your exact car seat model. If you can’t find one for your model, watch a similar model seat. This will give you a general idea of pressure needed when installing and how a correct installation should look and feel.  Bear in mind each car and seat is different, therefore, you will have to install your specific seat according to your particular user guide and vehicle manual.

3) Read the manual. Read the entire car seat bible (manual) and the child restraint sections in your vehicle manual. If you skip this step—long as it may be—your chances of winning a lottery are higher than installing the seat correctly. Your time versus your child’s safety, it’s your call.

4) Prepare as much of the seat as possible out of the vehicle with ample space, then take it into your car for installation. Working in the confined back seat can be frustrating.

5) Check your install. Make sure the base or seat doesn’t move from side to side or front to back more than an inch from the belt path. Check to see if the harness system still operates smoothly. For rear facing seats, be sure to check the angle; and for forward facing, ensure the tether strap is secured correctly and is tight.

6. Do you have a favourite seat that you would recommend to new parents?

Some seats are better suited for some children and not for others, so it’s impossible for me to pick a favourite. There are many quality car seats on the Canadian market and all of them meet Canadian safety standards. The manufactures I prefer are Clek, Britax, Diono and Peg Perego because none of their car seat models is substandard. These brands, however, do cost more. There are other quality car seats out there that don’t cost as much as the name brands; nevertheless, I am not a fan of all of their models.

Categories
Family Life

Saving for Your Child’s Education with RESPs Doesn’t Have to be Stressful

I was one of those kids who graduated from high school able to pick any school and not have to worry about how much it would cost, or where the money would come from. My grandfather was a strong believer in education and wanted to make sure that my brother and I could go to school. He knew that my mom wouldn’t have been able to save the money for both of us on her own. So he set up trust funds for our education. I know now that I was very very lucky, and so thankful for him.

Fast forward 7 years and I found out I was expecting my first baby and was going to be a parent. I started stressing about my kids’ education. Remembering how much it cost for me to go to school 20 years ago, sure I didn’t have to pay out of my own pocket, but I still knew exactly what it cost when I made my tuition payments. I couldn’t imagine what the current cost was, let alone in 20 years when my tiny fetus would be ready to leap into the world of post secondary education. Thankfully my family has a background in finances, my Mom was a financial planner and my Dad worked at the bank in loans & mortgages. So you could say I had a pretty good understanding of the world of investments. I started my own RRSP when I was 18 years old, and I withdrew against it under the Home Buyers Plan when I bought my first home. But all of this experience didn’t help relieve the stress, university costs a lot of money!

With my mom to the rescue, we sat down and started discussing a plan. I learned that it really isn’t that overwhelming, especially when you have the right person to educate you. Honestly how many times have you been to a baby show only to have someone jump in your face and pressure you into signing your kids up for one of their savings programs. That is not the way to do it. You want to sit down with someone you trust who will take the time to learn about you and your goals, and set you up with what is best.

We set up a family RESP plan which allowed us to contribute for both kids together. We would do regular contributions that automatically withdrew from my bank account, one less thing for my sleep deprived mommy brain to remember! RBC has their RBC RESP-Matic program to make this easy for you.  One of the main advantages of a family RESP is that the funds in the plan do not have to be shared equally among the your children, giving you more flexibility when it comes to making withdrawals. I knew this was a great plan as my brother and I both had the same sized education trust funds, but I attended a college and had money left over while my brother went to university and had debt at the end.

She taught me that the government gives you free money. Yes, you read that right! The Canada Education Savings Grant will match up to 20% of the first $2,500 contributed annually. That could mean as much as an additional $500 a year, up to a lifetime maximum of $7,200!

It is so nice receiving the yearly statements showing how their RESP is growing, and the government contributions. I am thankful that my mom was there to help me.  Sure there is still some stress, as I worry about having enough for them, but that is where sitting down regularly with your financial planner can help.

There are some really amazing facts that always helped me understand better so I wanted to share with you.

  • Invest $25 a week from the moment that your child is born, by the time they are 18 years old you will have over $50,000?!
  • Get up to $500 a year in government grants for a total of up to $7,200 (the government will match 20% of the first $2,500 contributed each year for eligible children).
  • You can get the right advice by sitting down with a financial advisor (like an RBC® advisor) who will take the time to understand your goals and recommend the best investment strategy.
  • You can invest in funds, savings deposits or Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs).
  • Tax-deferred growth – income earned on investments is not taxed as long as the funds remain in the plan.
  • The flexibility to choose either an individual or family RESP.

Sadly my Mom is now retired and she is no longer my trusty financial planner, so knowing that there are banks like RBC out there to help make this easy for busy parents helps. Why not visit the RBC RESP site for more information on the above facts – I know that sometimes seeing is believing.

Have you started saving for your kids education? Do you have a financial planner?

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Categories
Family Life

Parenting the QBQ Way: Review & Giveaway

QBQ parenting book

Have you ever wondered to yourself why your kids do certain things? Do you find yourself asking questions like “Why is parenting so hard?” or “Why won’t my kids listen?” or “Who made this mess?”on a regular basis? I know I did.

If you answered yes to any of those questions (or many others) then you need to read Parenting the QBQ Way! Did you know that our children are the product of our parenting? GASP I know! Hard to take, isn’t it?

Accountable parents grasp the truth that it is their job to bring their child successfully into adulthood. We live in a society of needing everything now, but we are also the biggest excuse makers and procrastinators out there. We want everything fixed yesterday, but don’t want to do anything to fix it. It is so much easier to place blame on someone or something else.  This comic I saw on Facebook a couple weeks back explains it very well!

Teacher Abuse

When I was growing up and did the above, I was the one that got in trouble for it not my teacher!

So back to the book. The concept behind the QBQ is about personal accountability and asking the question behind the question. I was first introduced to that book through my brother in law and husband. So when I had the opportunity to read the newest book, Parenting the QBQ Way, I jumped at the chance. I have a library of parenting books that I have bought trying to make myself a better mom! This book however was different, this books looks at things in a different way. It teaches us how to be an outstanding parent and raise great kids by using the power of personal accountability. It is a tool that enables parents to practice personal accountability by making better choices in the moment, asking better questions.

QBQs begin with the words “What ” or “How” – not “Why,” “When” or “Who” like I found myself using. When you begin to understand this you learn that the answers are in the question. QBQ parents look at themselves and try to figure out how they can improve and what they can do differently. They let their children fail and instead of making excuses or trying to cover for them they ask what they can do to allow their child to learn from their mistakes.

One part that struck a chord with me is that John shows you how voicing our parental frustrations openly in front of our kids has so many negative consequences. They tear children down, diminish our joy of parenting, and interfere with our desire to learn new skills. We get stuck in the “I am too tired” thought process.

This book is a must read for all parents. It is short and to the point, perfect for any busy mom.

The wonderful people from the QBQ were generous enough to give me 3 copies to giveaway to my readers.