Deb Lowther spent her honeymoon at the Mt. Everest Base Camp; she completed an Ironman Triathlon at 45; and her favourite hobby is trail running. As her pastimes suggest, she is always seeking adventure, and she is on a never-ending one.
A mother of three, Deb is also an expert at finding ways to make the mundane day-to-day fresh and fun for her family.
As a parenting and lifestyle blogger, Deb guides families in living their healthiest lives. She is someone who strives for balance, and works to help family members strike harmony in their own lives, too. This involves eating healthy, physical activity and working hard. In her family, this also includes emotional and social wellness, which relies heavily on raising compassionate children. In other words, learning to give back.
This means, when birthdays and holidays roll around, the family looks at what others need, rather than focusing on what they want. This observation translates into donating gifts—and their time—to charity organizations such as Painted Rock Animal Rescue Farm and CityKidz’s Hamilton branch, which helps youth from low income communities. Traditions like this are the norm all year round in Deb’s home. She shares one other such custom, “We have a fall tradition where we pick apples in September and make three Apple Pies: one for Thanksgiving, one to freeze for Christmas and one to give away to a family we are thankful for.”
Now, Deb and the kids are gearing up for back-to-school—transitioning back into an early morning routine, getting haircuts and checking shoe sizes—and it’s time to think about what lessons she needs to pass on to her daughters before the new semester begins.
Above all, this mom recommends seizing the new school year as an opportunity to branch out and give back “Every student and child has unique interests and abilities, and there is always an area of the school that could use their help. We encourage our kids to join difference groups, try different sports, and join committees,” she says. “As a parent, I have modelled this by getting involved myself.”
Preparing the kids is forefront, but Deb is also prepping herself for the school year ahead. Read on to learn what Deb advises when it comes to welcoming the new year of school into a busy household.
Tip 1: A little organization goes a long way.
Giving back and helping others begins at home by helping the family run smoother during a hectic school year.
We start by re-evaluating our family responsibilities. Based on school hours and activities, we decide who will be doing what. The kids are responsible for making their own breakfast and lunches for school, while they share emptying the dishwasher and walking and feeding the dog.
Tip 2: Make space for compassion through cleansing and recycling.
We try to limit the amount of supplies we buy each year.
We clean out closets and pass down or give away clothes we can no longer use to other families. We recycle all the kids’ school supplies—re-sharpen pencils and pencil crayons, check which markers still have life left and re-label dividers and Duo-Tangs that can be re used from the previous year.
Tip 3: Encourage smart food choices with “wish list” flexibility.
We review healthy options for breakfast and lunch with a list of what each wishes to have available to help them make good choices when they make breakfast and pack their lunches.
Tip 4: Teach them the value of respect and leadership through experience.
My kids are at an age where this is more important than ever. Respect is required at home and extends to friends, teachers and students at school.
They all have attended the Ontario Education Leadership Center, which has taught them leadership skills, how to be inclusive and the importance of kindness. As a result, they have become excellent role models at school by leading assemblies, joining the ME to WE Club and Make a Difference Club and running lunch hour intramurals for younger students.
Tip 5: Preparing them means preparing you; be ready for the tough conversations.
We are fortunate their school is very active in anti-bullying assemblies, and in the Clubs, our kids are exposed to many conversations about how to treat others.
At home, we ensure to keep the conversation going. We regularly check in with how classmates are doing. We also host “full grade” events at our house for our daughter’s female classmates, leaving no one out. Twice during the school year, everyone is invited to make holiday crafts and to attend a year-end pool party.