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How to handle March Break on a budget

As parents, we often hear ‘I’m bored mom’ or ‘why do we never do anything fun?’ when the kids are stuck at home. Instead, here is a survival guide to March Break that includes tips on how to entertain kids kids and celebrate the week off school on a budget.

March Break is here and there are many free or discounted events going on around Toronto to entertain kids on their days off from school. Are your kids bouncing off the walls at home? It’s important to get them out of the house and exercising — too much TV will just make them cranky or hyper. The City of Toronto is offering free swimming during March Break and free indoor leisure skating at their facilities. You can also simply go for a walk or a hike in a local ravine or park. My daughter and I like to walk in the ravine near our home and learn about different types of nature in the woods. This promotes a sense of attachment to nature from a young age and also helps us get fresh air.

If you have budgeted for March Break, head to the Ontario Science Centre, which is hosting a special exhibit on the biomechanics of the body, or pay a visit to the Legoland Discovery Centre Toronto. There are many indoor play zones with bouncy castles, tunnels and mini golf located around the city too in case the weather takes a turn and going outside isn’t possible.

Want to try something with a bit more of an end result? Try scheduling some spring clean or bring donations to a Salvation Army. My daughter made special art cards for the kids that would receive her old toys to prepare for our planned donation during March Break, which made her feel included and excited to give her things to kids that need them more!

Finally, put those aprons on and get messy in the kitchen. Baking and cooking healthy snacks always makes for a a fun afternoon or you can break out the arts and crafts after to complete the messy day. Children love art and collaborative projects always turn out to be pretty special bonding experiences.

No matter what, remember to enjoy the time with your kids and don’t feel guilty for not spending thousands of dollars on a luxury March break vacation. Most children just want to hang out with mom and dad and have a good time. Even if you can only take a couple days off work to enjoy quality time with the kids, it will be fun for the whole family to herald in the spring.

Canadian women are taking home all the Olympic medals

Women are dominating at the Olympics in Rio, having won eight medals so far. The Canadian men have yet to take home a medal at all (although Canada is rooting for you!). Five medals were achieved in swimming, one medal in synchronized diving, one medal in lightweight double skulls, and the women’s rugby team took home a bronze. Clearly, Canadian female athletes are a force to be reckoned with and the best part is that the Games aren’t over with. There are still a number of key opportunities for even more Canadian women to bring home medals.

Here is the rundown.

Winners:

Canadian women came out strong in swimming, but there is one woman that is proving to be one of the next great Canadian athletes. Penny Oleksiak,16, won Canada’s first gold medal this year and is bringing a total of four medals home so far from these Olympics. She tied with U.S swimmer, Simone Manuel for gold in the women’s 100m freestyle swim, making her the first Canadian female swimmer to win gold since 1984 in Los Angeles. Oleksiak also obtained silver in the women’s 100m Butterfly and led the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay team to a bronze.  Oleksiak is from Toronto, and was joined on the podium by teammates Katherine Savard of Montreal, Brittany MacLean of Mississauga, and Taylor Ruck of Kelowna. Kylie Masse, 20, from LaSalle also won a bronze medal in women’s 100m backstroke.

Diving in a not-so-green pool on Tuesday, two Canadian divers took home a bronze medal. Hailing from Laval, Meaghan Benfeito, 27, and Roseline Filon, 29, won bronze at women’s synchronized 10m platform. The pair also won bronze at the 2012 London Olympics. They have been diving together for 11 years, and cited their friendship as a part of the reason for their success. Both women demonstrated Canadian pride upon winning their medal, and their humble appreciation for each other reflected the respect and vitality of the Canadian athletic spirit.

Women’s rugby wowed Canadian Olympic fans.. The sevens team took home bronze, beating Great Britain in the final match 33-10 and following New Zealand for Silver and Australia for gold. Canada’s women’s rugby team has dominated the summer Olympics, taking home a medal in every sevens event since its inception. Captain Jen Kish, 27, of Ottawa led her team to victory, along with other strong players Karen Paquin, 29, from Quebec City, Ghislaine Landry, 28, from Toornto, Bianca Farella, 24, of Montreal and Kelly Russell,29, from Bolton who all scored in the final game.

Women also came out on top in rowing, with two Canadian women taking home silver in women’s lightweight double sculls. Both hailing from Victoria, Lindsay Jennerich, 34, from Victoria and Patricia Obee, 24, showed off their impressive abilities to finish quickly. Coming into the 1000 metre mark, it looked as if they weren’t in for a metal, but entering the final 500m they pushed forward into second place.

More to come:

Trampoline Gold-medalist Rosie MacLennan.
Trampoline Gold-medalist Rosie MacLennan.
  1. Rosie MacLennan, Trampoline

The women domination of the Rio Olympics is not expected to slow down either, with more female athletes potentially winning medals over the next 10 days. Trampoline gold-medalist Rosie MacLennan, 27, hailing from Toronto was the only Canadian to obtain a gold in London, and there is a high expectation that another medal is in her future. MacLennan also dominated at the Pan American games in 2011 and 2015, and has won at the world championships. She was the flag-bearer for Canada at the Rio Olympics and big things are expected of her in today’s women’s trampoline event.

Women's soccer team captain, Christine Sinclair.
Women’s soccer team captain, Christine Sinclair.
  1. Christine Sinclair, Soccer

The women’s soccer team recently beat Australia in the tournament and has garnered a change to play for a medal.  Quarter-finals against France is on Friday, August 12 at 6 p.m. Soccer star and captain of the national team Christine Sinclair, 33, from Burnaby is hopefully leading the women’s team to another medal. Sinclair is an Olympic bronze medalist and has competed in three Olympics. Sinclair has scored in both of Canada’s victories so far in Rio and fans are avidly watching which moves she pulls next in the quarter-finals.

Golfer, Brooke Henderson.
Golfer, Brooke Henderson.
  1. Brooke Henderson, Golf

The Canadian professional golfer on the LPGA tour, Brooke Henderson, 18, from Smiths Falls has been dubbed the one to watch at the Olympics this year. Henderson is one of the best female golfers in the world and has been a professional since she was 14. She won the 2016 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, which made her the first Canadian woman to win a golf major since 1968. The sport was removed from the Olympic roster in 1904, and this is the first time golfers have had a chance to compete on this international stage since. Henderson will compete on August 17, and will hopefully bring home another gold medal for Canadian golf in the Olympics.

Basketball guard, Kia Nurse.
Basketball guard, Kia Nurse.
  1. Kia Nurse, Basketball

The women’s basketball team will compete on August 12 against the United States, followed by Spain on August 14. They have won every game they have played so far against China, Serbia, and Senegal. Kia Nurse, 20, from Hamilton is the player to watch and is the top pick for the talent pool of the basketball team this year.  Nurse has previously helped her team win the 2015 Pan American Games and was also the MVP for the 2015 FIBA Americas Women’s Championship. Nurse comes from a strongly athletic family, with father Richard Nurse previously playing in the CFL, and mother Cathy Nurse played basketball at McMaster. Nurse’s brother Darnell Nurse currently plays for the Edmonton Oilers and her older sister, Tamika plays Basketball for Oregon.

The Fab IV. Taken from the Fab_IV twitter.
The Fab IV. Taken from the Fab_IV twitter.
  1. The Fab Four, Divers

Four divers in Montreal spend hours together in the pool and have become Canadian athletic icons. Benfeito, and Roseline Filion have already won bronze in the synchronized 10m dive. The other two contenders of the “Fab IV” on the Canadian diving team are Jennifer Abel, 24, from Montreal and Pamela Ware, 23, of Longueil. Abel and Ware missed a medal by one point at the Aug. 7 in competition, but still have another shot at winning in individuals coming up. The women’s 3m individual synchro final on Aug. 14.

Women are leading the way for Canada and it is exciting to see them continue to win more medals in Rio. By tuning in and showing support for these hard-working athletes, it demonstrates solidarity and passion towards Canadian women dreaming of being on that podium. I wonder, who will win next?