A newcomers guide to Oakville.

(Written by a Torontonian who moved to Oakville)

 

My family and I moved to this beautiful town a year and a half ago from Toronto. These are my top observations.

First of all, it’s a Town not a City. Which basically means you just put Town in front of everything instead of City. Example: Town Hall vs City Hall. Town Councillors vs City Councillors. The advantage; smaller population, higher potential for your voice to be heard and stronger sense of community.

Driving. When driving in Downtown Oakville, beware of people crossing the street at any given time. Here in Oakville people just pop out of nowhere to cross the street. And I don’t mean jaywalking, they just walk out and stroll across the street at their own pace. So, slow down and let them cross. Speeding up only makes them walk slower. And when you feel like crossing, don’t worry about walking to the light, just stick your stroller out and walk. (Carefully of course)

Neighbours. Be prepared to have the nicest neighbours ever. I had cookies delivered, Christmas gifts given, party invites and many well wishers when we moved in.

The lake. In my opinion, one of the best parts to living here. I’ve written about the benefits before, but I’ll say it again, living by the water is known to have health benefits and also reduces stress!

The people. They say “Hello!” All the time! Everyday! So join in, say hello to everyone you pass on the sidewalk, it’s really wonderful.

A sense of community. I have never experienced such a sense of community as I have since I moved here. The community has open arms so embrace it! For such a large town, it’s amazing how everyone knows everyone.

The Mall. It’s getting better. Pusateri’s is coming soon so….. it must be getting better. Right?

Burlington. Our neighbours to the West. My suggestion, give them a chance. My first instinct when I moved here was to always run back to Toronto. (Which I mostly still do) But it’s not always the best option. Burlington has tons of great stuff to offer so check them out. Is everyone aware that there is a MEC in Burlington?! No more driving all the way downtown to King Street and getting stuck in traffic?! Amazing.

The Highway. This far west the Gardiner is actually called the QEW. (I still call it the Gardiner)

Toronto. From Trafalgar and the “QEW” Sherway Mall is only a 15 minute drive. If you are trying to decide whether or not to leave Toronto and move here, just know that Toronto is only a hop, skip and a highway drive away.

Niagara. Also just a hop, skip and a highway drive away, Niagara. So take advantage! Niagara-On-The-Lake is a lovely place to visit in the summer. And bring a picnic! A relaxing and “easy” option with kids.
Cheers to Oakville!

Heather
ps. Don’t forget to say “hi” if you see me around town!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about first time moms. I was recently at a baby shower for my lovely cousin, who is having her first baby this April.

When asked to write down some advice for the new parents, my card was handed in last. I probably over thought it, but I had so many things to say and only one little card to write on. But I also didn’t want to give “unsolicited advice” because no one likes that. So I wrote something from the heart instead.

But it got me thinking about what I could share with new parents that I wish someone had shared with me when I became a mom for the first time.

Speaking of my first time as a mom, I was so scared of giving birth that I didn’t give much thought to what would happen after. My son Nathaniel, was the first baby I ever held. The first baby I ever changed or fed or cared for. I was learning as I went and asking a lot of questions along the way. Here are a few things I wish someone had told me before I had him.

Allow yourself to heal. First and foremost, allow yourself some at home healing time. Hibernate, stay in bed, rest, eat, and sleep when you can. Not only do you have a little tiny baby to care for, you have just been through a huge life event and a trauma to your body and the only thing that can heal your body is time and rest. Expect some tears. I was super teary for the first two weeks postpartum after all of my children. It’s totally normal and can be blamed on hormones and sleep deprivation.

Visitors. It’s ok to say no to visitors if you need to. Put yourself and your families needs first. Your friends and family will understand. There will be lots of time for visiting when your up to it. And if anyone asks what they can do for you, ask for freezer meals. They are a life saver. My mother in law made a batch of stew and chill and put them in ziplocs for our freezer and we lived on them for weeks. The best.

Trust your instincts. This sounds really easy and straight forward until you are totally sleep deprived and trying to make decisions. Maybe it’s because I’m a Libra but I always question and second guess everything. But in the end, my first thoughts and instincts are usually right. You will get to know your baby like nobody else does. You will know what each different cry means, what they can and cannot eat, how to make them laugh and how to comfort them. So it’s true that you will know what’s best for them.

Parenting is a learned experience. Parenting, like everything else in life is learned. Sure we have instincts to guide us. But changing diapers and choosing which solids are best to feed our babies are things we learn. We read and watch and ask questions. So if you don’t know something, ask. Don’t feel that you are expected to know everything. We tend to have such high expectations of ourselves when we become parents and it’s hard to keep up with it all. When in doubt, ask another mom or dad.

It’s a phase. I so wish someone would have said this to me all of those times when I was freaking out about a new bad habit that my child had picked up. Now, I just let these things roll off my back. “Oh my daughter learned the word stupid and is saying it every 5 seconds.” Don’t freak out.  Because tomorrow she will probably have forgotten all about it. This also applies to babies. Teething for example, comes and goes. Sleep regression, it will pass. The witching hour…. well that one might take a while.

Everyday is a new day. Some days the schedule is bang on. Other days, it’s a little off. Which can be frustrating to us parents who love schedules. But the good news is – you can start fresh tomorrow! It’s a powerful thought. Some days are hard and you start to think; this is the new “norm” they will be doing this everyday now. But it’s not true, just remember that you can always start fresh the next day.

I hope all these tips were helpful!

Good luck to all the new mama’s out there – your doing a great job!

Heather

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