Kawartha North Family Health Team

What to do to fill in for school hours….

Wow, yet another school year over, ready for summer break? If you are lucky enough to have vacation plans or are heading to the cottage, keeping the kids busy should be a cinch. Unfortunately, you may face heading to work most days or enjoying a “staycation” in which case, keeping your kids busy can pose a challenge.

Funnily enough, it has become easier than ever to have them entertain themselves, “play a video game, watch a movie, text a friend”….unfortunately all the new technologies, while a treat for babysitting, come with their own set of challenges. So what are good guidelines for screen time and how do you enforce them without a power struggle this summer?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, school age children should have no more than two hours of screen time per day, while preschoolers should be limited to less than one. Of course, if you are heading to the office in the morning and leaving your children alone or in the care of a sitter, this can be easier said than done.

Generally, experts agree that you should set consistent guidelines and explain these to your children up front. Nothing derails a plan more than inconsistency. It becomes difficult to say why they will only be allowed two hours today when they had six yesterday. If possible, involve your sitter in the plan, but if your kids will be unattended or you are not sure the sitter is mature enough to enforce such guidelines, you may choose one of the technological options such as Luma to curb extra access.

Additionally, ensure that there are other activities planned as an alternative to screen time. These don’t always have to be all fun either. Perhaps you make an agreement that they need to wash the dishes and read two chapters before they are able to access their screen of choice. Of course, fun time is also important.

So be prepared this summer and agree to set up healthy guidelines to keep everyone happy.

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

Coming clean about cleaning

Based on our recent weather, let’s assume that spring has finally sprung, so aside from starting my seeds, the thing that comes to mind is spring cleaning.

I hate to admit it, but housework rates pretty low on my priority list; that being said, I recognize the joy of seeing a job done so there is always a part of me that looks forward to a good day of cleaning. I think there is a certain mental catharsis to looking around after a long day and noting how beautiful your space is.

But don’t just wash dishes for your mental health, and yes, there are actually studies that show doing dishes reduces anxiety; instead, recognize that doing household chores has been found as effective as going to the gym according to researchers following 130,000 people in 17 countries. Performing 30 minutes of any kind of physical activity five days a week could slash your risk of death from any cause by 28 percent and your rate of heart disease by 20 percent – and yes, that includes mopping floors and vacuuming. Of course both the benefit and the fun increase exponentially if you add some of your favourite music.

Personally, my favourite part of spring cleaning is finally getting out into my garden and preparing the beds for the new season, although I do have to admit that I may be tempted to neglect the floors in favour of the flowers.

So feel good about clearing some of the chores of your list and get your exercise at the same time.

Don’t sweat the small stuff….

Did you accomplish everything you wanted to this winter? Are you constantly feeling guilty about not calling your – mother, brother, sister, friend? How about fretting about your child’s last semester? We have all felt stress and while it can be a positive motivating factor, don’t let it become a negative force in your life.

Stress is a normal response to “dangerous” situations, but unlike our ancestors, we do not often face wild animals to trigger the fight or flight response. Today it is more likely to be that commute from the city, a nagging deadline or our internal guilt that is causing this and it could trigger our natural instincts to be stuck in the on position for extended periods.

Chronic stress can begin to interfere with our ability to live a normal, healthy life, causing loss of sleep, abnormal eating habits, exacerbating chronic diseases and leading to depression. Often the causes are a culmination of small factors that in of themselves are easily overcome.

So if you are feeling stressed, take a step back to identify the causes and list them individually to enable you to break them down into smaller, more manageable tasks. Take a moment to walk away from a stressor that seems outside of your control right now, this is obviously not the approach to take for the commute home. Let go of issues that are simply “not worth the battle”. Exercise and cut back on caffeine and alcohol to try and maintain good sleeping habits and if all else fails – recognize if and when you need help to address these issues.

Recognizing that stress is negatively impacting your life is the first step in the battle, don’t let it rule your life.

Your friends at Kawartha North FHT

Take some time to be creative

Too many things on your to-do list and your hobbies are falling by the wayside?  Don’t be too quick to dismiss your creative endeavours as frivilous.

According to the American Public Health Association,  while chronic disease is a national burden, they are also often associated with negative psychosocial impacts such as depression which tend to increase negative impacts of such conditions.  Health psychologists have found that art provides an opportunity for self-reflection alters both behaviour and thinking patterns resulting in a reduction of symptoms.

Additionally, art fills the void often occupied by distracted thoughts of illness and reduces the associated stress and anxiety.  But if you are thinking the benefits are all “in your head”, think again.  An article in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine used writing as a treatment for HIV patients and found that it impacted the cells inside the body, leading to improved immune systems.

So don’t dismiss that hobby, whether you write, paint, sing or knit – it is good for you.  The physical and psychological benefits of being creative are expressed in tangible ways making it worth to set aside the time.

So do something creative and be kind do yourself at the same time.

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT


Help us help you!

We are looking at expanding our walk-in clinic services to serve you better.  Please take a moment to complete our short survey so we know what you would like.  A link to the survey can be found here.

Thank you!

Another thing to add to the list….

Do you ever turn on the radio and hear that it is “National __________ Day” and think to yourself – do we have a day / week / month for everything? If you said yes, you are not alone and like myself, you have likely also thought – WHY do we have a day for that?

Well as I listened to CBC the other day, it was brought to my attention that November is “Make a Will month” and I had those very thoughts. Later on, I reflected on the fact that I was thinking about my will, something that like many Canadians, I try to avoid considering for obvious reasons and it dawned on me that without that notice I would likely not be pondering this necessity.

So, I use this opportunity to spark a difficult conversation. I hope that you have heeded our advice over the years and consequently are living a healthy and long life, but some things remain inevitable despite our best efforts. I trust we all know the reason to have a will so I would like to take this one step further and say – do you also have a Power of Attorney for your Personal Care? If, heaven forbid, you become unable to make decisions about your health or your housing, is someone in a position to do so on your behalf? If you have answered yes, you are already ahead of many Canadians. If you have discussed your wishes with your Power of Attorney to ensure that they will be able to speak effectively on your behalf and have advised your Health Care Provider who this person will be, you have tackled one of the most difficult subjects and we commend you. If not, why not take Make a Will month as an opportunity to start a difficult conversation?

So be healthy, but also be prepared.


Effective January 2, 2018 we will change our lab hours to Monday and Tuesday 8:00am – 3:00pm, CLOSED FOR LUNCH 11:30-12:30.  Please note that we will no longer be open on Wednesdays unless Monday is a holiday.

Happy New Year.

Important holiday hours!

There will be no lab services over Christmas and our walk in will run Dec 28 noon-2 in Bobcaygeon and Dec. 29 9-noon in Fenelon Falls.  happy holidays

Bone health


We have all heard that women over a certain age are at an increased risk of Osteoporosis, but that is where our knowledge often ends.  Did you know that both men and women typically reach their peak bone mass in their early twenties?  How about the fact that while one in four women in Canada over age 50 has Osteoporosis, according to McLeod Medical, one in eight men do as well.

So what can you do to halt the development of osteoporosis and improve your overall bone health?  First and foremost of course is nutrition.   Bone is a living tissue which constantly renews itself and therefore we need to provide the basic building blocks.  For persons over 50, Canada’s Food Guide recommends three servings of milk and alternatives (including yogurt and cheese) per day.  If you are lactose intolerant, remember that goats’ milk is lactose free, many of the soy and almond beverages are calcium fortified and canned salmon with bones is not only high in calcium but also Omega fatty acids.

In addition to calcium, bones are also made up of protein which gives bones their strength and flexibility.  Again, Canada’s Food Guide recommends 2-3 servings of meat or alternatives per day for adults over 50.  These include the obvious (beef, pork and chicken), but also beans, lentils, kale, nuts, tofu and egg whites.  Not only does lack of protein lead to weakened bones, but also to weaker muscles and increased falls.

Of course simply feeding your muscles and bones won’t do it, we also have to exercise to keep them strong, prevent falls and slow bone loss.  Combining strength training, and no you don’t have to lift your own body weight at the gym – the weight of a soup can will do it, with weight bearing aerobic exercise such as walking or Tai Chi is the perfect bone building combination.

So stay healthy and don’t forget about your bones when considering your healthy body.

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT