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A Guide to Shopping Small this Holiday Season

Hello All and welcome back! We took some time this year for a hard reset, and to focus on creating new routines for the new world we’re living in. But we’re back and feeling better than ever! and so glad that you’re still here with us.

This year has put a lot into perspective for me, namely, that we as people need to take a more proactive role in shaping not just the life we want for ourselves, but the future we want for the world. In 2020, money is power and we should all be yielding it wisely.

But what does that look like? Pretty simply, it means keeping the money in your community. Shopping small builds a stronger more diverse economy and society than bulk buying from Walmart or Amazon. Don’t get me wrong, I get it and I do it too when need be. Nobody is shading you for that. We all have to survive. But what we can do, is think and act more consciously about where we spend our money when we do have flexibility with our purchase options.

We wanted to show you some of the amazing small businesses out there who would benefit tremendously from your business this holiday season and some of the beautiful products they create.

Originally, the list was composed of just Mom-Owned businesses, then just women, but with so many brilliant ideas, we had to open it all the way up. Communities prosper more when everyone is offered a seat at the table, so we decided to be inclusive of some of the impressive individuals on this list.

  1. Fe Noel / www.fenoel.com: it’s hard to put this brands effortless ethereal modernism into words. The brand is light and airy without being overly feminine. It plays with chic minimalism and unique silhouettes. It’s creator has a knack for building transcendent color palettes that form the foundation of this luxe brand, designed for ‘the Leading Women”.
  2. Garner’s Garden / http://www.garnersgarden.com:  Garner’s Garden is natural health and beauty company with a line of over 70 products, 90% of which are certified vegan. Garner’s Garden first got out attention with their flouride free toothpastes. Because the Health and Beauty industry is not highly regulated, many products on the market contain chemicals and additives that are harmful to your health. Garner’s Garden aims to close the gap in accessibility to natural products for consumers, pledging to always provide the highest quality product at the most affordable price point they can offer because, “everyone deserves the opportunity to live a natural and healthy lifestyle.”
  3. Sia collective / https://siacollective.com: This designers’ not a mom, but he’s a committed dad and we love that just as much! Based out of the Bay Area, SIA – Somewhere in America, was inspired by its creator, Devlin Carter’s time serving in the armed forces. His time abroad and his years of service have helped him to develop his product line, designed for the modern traveler who almost always mixes business and pleasure.  
  4. Sizije Travel Co. / http://www.sizije.com: Providing immersive travel experiences, the Sizije Travel Company curates culturally conscious itineraries that empower the modern traveler. With trips slated for Cuba, Thailand and Columbia in 2020, Sizije Travel is an exciting, immersive, and safe way to see the world. 
  5. Super Social / www.super.social: Created by 23 year old(!) Brianna Bradford, Super Social allows users to create highly customizable ‘micro webpages’ for their social media channels that effectively link any products or services they offer across 18 different platforms. This allows potential customers to access a landing page for your brand that can offer much more than a traditional web link. Where a standard site asks its users to scroll and navigate, Super Social presents links, visuals, maps and more to quickly pinpoint information they’d otherwise have to search your site for. If you share content, make money, or are building a brand online, check out Super Social and see if their services are right for you. 
  6. Jctn / https://jnct.co: This brand is especially close to our hearts. Graphic Designer Jonnell Chavez created the brand in 2018 as a place to showcase her growing love for product design. In her career as a brand architect, Jonnell experimented with a variety of creative techniques, including painting pouring, gardening and water color. JNCTN is the place where her designs meet real life and she applies her learned techniques to create beautiful products for our everyday lives. Her personal instagram is a huge source of inspiration for us at Fake Mom and her brand is sure to continue expanding.    
  7. Matte brand / https://shopmatte.com:  This line is probably the boldest on our list. They create lewks, not clothes, for the baddest of bitches, who feel their best when their dressed to kill. Their garmets fit like a second skin, highlighting your assets and draping them in bold prints, slick blacks, and barely there bikinis. Worn be certified badasses like Adriana Sahar and Melii, Matte Brand is for the bold, the brash, the girls that just don’t give a F*%k. 
  8. True Laundry Detergent IG / This laundry soap, developed in the United States by a group of Veterans, is gentle on sensitive skin, biodegradable, not tested on animals, and concentrated to save customers money. True products, developed in Atlanta Georgia boasts an impressive clientele who praise the soaps ability to pass both smell tests and skin tests. True products are sold in 18 different states across 25 retailers and distributors and is available online and for  auto delivery. 
  9. Local European / https://localeuropean.com: Self described as “elegantly street essentials” Local European creates minimalist essentials with a trendy twist. The brand takes its lead from the clothes it creates, focusing on quality essentials and preferring to let the refined boldness of their pieces speak for themselves. Their pieces go effortlessly from day to night to resort and back again without trying too hard.  
  10. Random and chic / https://www.randomandchic.com This is another of the companies on this list that holds a very special place in Fake Mom’s heart. Random and Chic caters to the woman who loves to stand out and sells an eclectic collection of vintage pieces with something for every aesthetic. We stan companies who make resourcefulness a tenant of their brand, especially within fashion, one of the slowest industries to address their incredibly negative environmental impact.  
  11. Hanifa official / https://hanifa.co Hanifa is another brand who create what I’m going to call statement staples. Basics that integrate well with any wardrobe but are still eye catching. Using color, texture and unique silhouettes, Hanifa takes traditional garments and pushes their evolution forward, introducing us to new classics. 
  12. Clionadh Cosmetics Inc / https://clionadh-cosmetics.myshopify.com: Pronouced Klee-Oh-nah, this native owned cosmetics company specializes in highly chromatic pigments and is handmade. They’re relaunching in December 18 so be sure to stay tuned for their exciting release!
  13. Gilded grotto / https://www.gildedgrotto.com: A Compton, California based jewelry brand, Gilded Grotto creates unique one of a kind jewelry with natural elements, blending style and spirituality. Created for the individual who lives – and dresses – with intention, Gilded Grotto encourages you to harness the universe’s power and elevate your spiritual vibrations. 
  14. Land Over Labels / http://www.land-over-labels.com: Land Over Labels is an educational resource that focuses on, “developing financial literacy to secure the tools needed in sustaining generational wealth and legacy building”. Created by India Monae, Land Over Labels offers a variety of resources including online courses, networking events, and mentorship and coaching opportunities to help black millenials develop the skills needed to build generational wealth. 
  15. Ta Meu Bem / http://tameubem.com: A stunning collection of beaded heirloom jewelry with traditional influences from across the diaspora. The artist’s focus is harnessing and transmitting the power within. In her own words, “I create amulets, talisman, and adornments for the crystal lover, healer and diviner.”
  16.  MA Lifestyle / Founded by Marcia Anderson, MA Lifestyle is a collection of products created by it’s multi talented creative director and namesake, intended to bring peace and serenity into their customers everyday lives through healing crystals and essential oils.  
  17.  Crochet by K / https://www.smudgeknicole.com: SCAD graduate Kori Nicole is the visionary behind this strikingly simple but endlessly luxurious brand. All Kori’s pieces are crocheted by her, by hand, which makes them even more enviable. Her standout design is a shag coat she created, by hand of course! Her bold color choices compliment her eye catching style perfectly. She’s still building her brand but she’s been ramping up for 2020 to be a standout year for the up and coming fashion house. 
  18. Beautiful me campaign + children’s book / http://www.watermeloneggrolls.com/beautiful-me-campaign : Beautiful, Beautiful Me is a children’s book written by Ashley Sirah and illustrated by Vanessa Newton, the first in the Beautiful Me series. Beautiful Beautiful Me explores themes around self love and diversity, encouraging children to love themselves while celebrating others through a series of short stories and poems, designed to relay complex concepts to young children in digestible chunks. The creators plan to expand the series, adding more books and touching on all “categories of diversity, including skin color, religion, family dynamic, physical limitation and more.” These brilliant ladies have taken their vision a step further, expanding the Beautiful Me series into a campaign for children, traveling to schools with programs tailored around self love and celebrating diversity. We can’t wait to see what’s coming next from these talented women. 
  19. Pear nova nail lacquer / https://www.pearnova.com: Founded by Rachel James in Chicago in 2012, there’s only one word that can truly describe Pear Nova nail lacquer: quality. Rachel took her time building this brand, from her brand styling to the nearly two years she spent developing her cutting edge formula – that is PETA certified cruelty free – Pear Nova oozes luxury. With unique, rich colors, collections created for every aesthetic and a cutting edge formula that eliminates 5 of the most harmful ingredients found in nail polish, Pear Nova is poised to be one of the leading luxury cosmetic brands in the world. 
  20. My Purple Pineapple / https://www.purplepineappleco.com: We love brands by creatives! Purple Pineapple Co was created by graphic artist and illustrator, Devin Blow and sells items adorned with her adorable illustrations. Devin’s art is smart, empowering and representative; Her website and online store carry everything from sassy greeting cards to candles and enamel pins. Her art encourages self love and being yourself. Her standout items: her La Petty enamel pin, Gangsta Wrap Greeting Card and ‘Self Care for Homegirls’. 
  21. Abi Barras / www.etsy.com/shop/abibarrasembroiders: I stumbled across their instagram where they showcase some of their uniques embroidery designs. Their designs are hand embroidered and reflect the time and detailing to create such intricate masterpieces. They embroider original designs as well as customize pieces, making for some really unique items you definitely won’t see anywhere else.
  22. Running Fox Beads / www.runningfoxbeads.com: Running Fox is a Canadian based First Nations bead artist who makes amazing creations. They create various beaded accessories that are breathtaking.
  23. Day One Shop / www.dayoneshop.com: Day One Shop is an adorable earring shop operated by a high school art teacher. Her pieces are unique, modern and eye-catching, without being too over the top.
  24. Victoria’s Magic Art / www.etsy.com/shop/VictoriasMagicArt: Victoria is a Native artist and illustrator based in LA. She creates beautiful fashion style illustrations, using color to emphasize the energy of her art. Her work is also versatile, from peices inspired by hr heritage to landscape paintings and celebrity portraits, there’s something for everyone in her shop.
  25. Nizhoni Diosa Spirit / www.nizhonidiosaspirit.com / Nizhoni Diosa Spirit creates The. Most. Gorgeous. Candles. Ever. They are literally breathtaking and they look like you could smell them through the screen. She’s based out of Florida and creates her candles using natural ingredients and rituals of intention, which amplify the spiritual power of the candles. They’re honestly so pretty, you may not want to burn them.
  26. Copper Canoe Woman / www.coppercanoewomen.com: Copper Canoe Woman creates breathtakingly luxurious jewelry inspired by her native heritage and the magic of mother earth. She uses natural elements in her pieces like ivory and polished abalone and each and every piece is absolutely stunning. Heirloom jewelry at it’s finest.
  27. Hebe Studio / www.hebe.studio: This bright and cheerful illustration studio creates breathtakingly detailed paintings that draw you into their colorful world. Their strong use of color and uniques shapes gives each piece a fun and whimsical feel and kind of makes you want to live in the world their creating.
  28. Bella Doña LA / www.bella-dona.com: Bella Doña is a Latina owned LA based brand that is a love letter to East LA culture. Low riders, sharp eyeliner, and dice in the mirror are the vibe over here and we love how bold we feel in their stuff.

If this list has peaked your interest, check out WeBuyBlack.com and follow them on social media for updates and tips on how you can engage with black business in a positive way. Their campaign provides followers with black owned alternatives to the products consumers use everyday. The idea is to get consumers to switch one item a month, permanently, to an alternative product developed by a black owned business, with the hope of creating more successful black entrepreneurs in 2020.

featured images courtesy of Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

5 Movie Night Themes & Activities Your Kids Will Love

Last week we gave you five easy activities ideas to keep your kids entertained now that it’s summer and distance learning is over. Today, we want to revisit that list and expand on some of the ideas to give you more fun family activities for summer. 

If you missed the list, and want to catch up with the full countdown, click here

Items 2 & 3 on our list of Easy Activities to Keep Kids Entertained This Summer talked about how watching movies together (#2) and then doing a corresponding activity (#3) are great ways to not just entertain your kids, but bond with them too. Today, we’re going to explore how to make those activities educational too!

Below are 5 Movie Night themes and activities to do with your family.

Hotel Transylvania 3 – Racism & Empathy

Hotel Transylvania 3 features our favorite monster gang as they take their families on a getaway for a little R&R. The only problem is, their whole vacation is an elaborate plot by an evil human and his granddaughter, who hate all monsters for basically no reason. The cruise sails the group right into the Bermuda Triangle and the hands of a giant sea monster controlled by the insidious humans who want to destroy them all. The day is only saved when one of the indivuals exercising control and violence over the monsters, realizes the error of their ways. 

Talking Points:
The film’s villain is an egotistical, hypocritical human whose views on monsters echo of racism. His delusional persona is capped off by the fact that, despite his hatred for monsters, his quest to destroy them has inadvertently turned him into one. Lots to unpack there.
Sample Questions:
Do we know anyone like that in real life, who dislikes people for no reason?
Has anyone ever treated you badly for no reason?
How did it make us feel? How do we think this makes others feel?
Why do we think Vanhelsing wants to hurt the monsters? 

The Activity

Gather an assortment of random craft items you have around the house: pompoms, googley eyes, yarm, pipe cleaner, paint, markers, glue, pipe cleaners, dried pasta, beads, whatever you have! Use empty boxes or a paper bag as a body and have fun creating your own monsters inspired by the ones in the movie. The conversations around this movie are kinda heavy, so balance it with a fun activity that doesn’t require too much thinking on their part. The key is to facilitate a casual and open conversation, so a free flowing activity like building a monster is a great way to get conversation flowing. 


Spiderman into the Spiderverse – Believe in Yourself

This movie is so good. Like sooooo good. It features an Afro-Latinx main character, Miles, who stumbles upon an evil billionaire’s dimension destroying super collider. He’s bitten by a radioactive spider, then is mentored by 4 other spider…people brought to his dimension when the billionaire turns on his machine for the first time. The group works together to destroy the collider and coax Miles into his new role while trying to not be destroyed themselves. 

The Talking Points:
One of the central themes of this movie is the power of believing in yourself. Our main character Miles is mild mannered and struggles to gain confidence in every aspect of his life.
Sample Questions:
What does it mean to believe in yourself?
When was a time that you didn’t know if you’d be good at something but you tried anyways?

What happened after you tried?
Were you happy you did it or did you wish you hadn’t done it?

The Activity

Look up a few beginner parkour videos on youtube, then help your kids et up their own course outside or inside where it’s safe. 


Frozen 2 – Change, Grief, White Supremacy

Frozen 2 has some pretty mature themes for a kids movie, but it’s still a great watch. This time around the sisters and their friends are on a quest to undo a great wrong in their family’s past that has had an enormous effect on their entire community. When they realize their kingdom was founded on lies and betrayal, they have to make it right if they have any hope of survival.

The Talking Points:
The most prevalent theme in this movie is the idea of change. Relationships have changed, season’s have changed, all the people we knew, have all changed since we last saw them. And there is still more change to come. Older children may be able to tackle the more mature sub themes, like exploitation, betrayal and misuse of power and how these things create generational disenfranchisement. (Don’t fight me on this one guys, the messages are clear. Disney knows going on, and they’ve been trying to break it down for kids for several films now.)
Sample Questions:
What was different in this movie from the first one?
How were the characters different?
Why do you think they were different? What was Elsa doing at Atuhala?
What was she there to find out?
What did she find out?
Who did a bad thing in the past?
What was the bad thing they did?
Who made it right?
Why is it important to fix it if we do something bad or wrong? 

The Activity:

Element Scavenger Hunt is easy, fun and educational. Explain each of the earth elements to your child, then time them in 4 rounds to see how many household items they can find associated with each element. The person with the most finds in each round wins.


How to Train Your Dragon 3 – Letting go, The Complexity of Loss 

The third film in this trilogy wraps up the characters story and teaches us some painfully valuable life lessons. How to Train your Dragon 3 explores what it means to accept change, even when it’s painful for us.

The Talking Points:
This film deals a lot with the complexity of change. Hiccup has come to realize that the friend he loves will never be safe in his world, and he must come to terms with the difficult reality this leaves him with. If we love someone, we must always do right be them, even, and especially when it is difficult for us.
Sample Questions:
What was something sad that happened in this movie?
What was something happy?
What was something that was both happy and sad?
Have you ever had a time in your life that was both happy and sad?
How did you feel?
What helped you to feel better?

The Activity

Help your little one improve their hand eye coordination and have some fun with the a dragon egg toss! Decorate some eggs with dye or glitter (hard boil them first if you want to avoid the mess) then get in teams of two to see who the best dragon egg tosser in the family is! The winner is the last one to drop or crack their egg.


The Secret Life of Pets 2 – The Power of Love

Pets 2 is a lighthearted comedy that explores the power of love through our pets. We watch as 3 furry friends are driven outside their comfort zone by the power of love for their friends and family. 

The Talking Points.
Why do you think the Max can’t stop scratching?
Why was he so worried about Liam, the little boy?
What happens to you when you get nervous or worried?
Why did Daisy go back to save the tiger? 
Why was Daisy willing to do something scary to save the tiger?
Who is someone you would do something scary for?

The Activity

Pet Charades Write the name of a few different characters from the movie and different pets, then put them in a hat and take turns pulling a paper, then acting it out. Remember, no talking!

5 Easy Activities to Entertain Your Kids

It’s summer now. The days are longer, the nights are hotter, and there is even less to occupy your child’s day than there has been for the past few months. It looking a little rough for a lot of us oms out there. Thankfully, kids are pretty low maintenance compared with us and it doesn’t take much to distract them. Here are 5 easy to facilitate activities to help our family get through the never ending summer.

Photo by Georgia Maciel on Pexels.com
  1. Take a day time baths. No pool? No problem! Set your little one up for a splashy soak in the tub! Use bubbles, bath bombs, tons of toys, or bath crayons to make it a more engaging activity. Plus, kiddos are pretty happy to splash around in here for while, so bring a book or tablet with you or catch up on your shows while they splash the day away.
  2. Watch a movie together. Go all out! Make pop corn (cooking is another great activity idea), turn the lights off, snuggle on the couch. For this one tho, you’ve actually got to watch with them. Kids can tell pretty easily if we’re engaged or not, and when we disengage, it becomes easier for them to do the same. Watching movies with your kids may seem basic, but it gives you unique insight on their sense of humor, their cognitive abilities, and laughing together helps strengthen your bond. Plus, kids movies are pretty funny these days! Most animators bear in mind that adults will be watching with their kids, and they try to sneak some stuff in their for us too,
  3. Do a movie-related activity. Use the movie you watched together as the jumping off point for another activity. Just watch spiderman? Introduce your little one to Parkour on youtube and create your own parkour obstacle course at home! Watching a movie with monsters or creepy creatures? Make monster masks, then play Monster Tag! You can take any element from the movie and expand on it, as long as your little one is engaged.
  4. Build a fort. Then hang out inside of it! I don’t know what it is about small, dark, enclosed spaces but kids seem to love them! Build a fort with whatever you have, then stock it with snacks, books and toys and hang out for a while.
  5. Use empty boxes to create life size blocks. It seems almost too simple but your kids will be entertained for hours! Just collect a couple empty delivery boxes, fold them closed and show your kids how high they can stack with just a few boxes. Make room for them to crash their towers without hurting themselves or anything else, and watch them laugh
img via https://www.honestlymodern.com/5-ways-to-reuse-your-amazon-cardboard-boxes/

How to Understand Your Baby’s Sleep Cycles

How are you all doing? Feeling overwhelmed? Angry? Tired? Feeling uncomfortable? That’s ok, you’re not alone. 2020 has been deeply turbulent. But if we can all stay steadfast in our commitment to do better, live better and BE better (READ: NOT RACIST), hopefully we’ll come out on the other side of this thing in one piece.

With uncertainty all around us, we have to take care of ourselves. Like GOOD care of ourselves. When stress is heightened, a goodnight’s sleep can mean the difference between a stable healthy mom and complete mental or emotional instability. And if anybody knows a thing or two about needing good sleep, it’s moms.

But did you know, sleep is even more important for your little ones?

Before they’re born, babies spend as much as 95% of their time in the womb sleeping. After birth, the average newborn will spend about 60% of their time sleeping, about 14-18 hours a day. During that time, your little one’s mind and body are busy at work: storing memories, forming new synapses, or brain communication pathways, and recharging and restoring energy (2). While all of these sleep functions are essential, it’s the creation of new synapses that is most crucial. Synapses are the pathways information uses to travel around our brain for processing. The more synapses a person has, the more easily information can be passed and processed in their brain, essentially making them smarter. This means that while your baby is sleeping, their brain is growing exponentially and they are literally getting smarter. Babies will form as many as 1,000,000 new neural connections a SECOND for the first three years of their lives, twice as many as the average adult (2). 

Like adults, sleep affects your babies mood too! If you ever experienced the unpleasantness of an overtired baby, you know what we’re talking about here. Babies who are properly rested tend to be better eaters, more agreeable, easier to soothe and more responsive (2).

What happens if a baby doesn’t get proper rest?

It’s in your child’s best interest to establish a regular bedtime routine early. Studies have found that children who regularly get less than 10 hours of sleep before the age of three are more likely to have difficulties with reading and language and are at an increased risk for ADHD. A more recent study found that children with irregular bedtimes before the age of three experience difficulties in reading, math and spatial awareness when compared to children with consistent bedtimes.

So how Do I know if my baby is getting enough rest?

The first step in making sure your little one is getting the proper amount of sleep, is to understand your baby’s sleep cycle. Sleep cycles are the stages of sleep that our bodies cycle through when we’re sleeping. While children and adults experience the same four stages of sleep, our cycle patterns look very different. For newborns, the first stage, actually falling asleep, can take much longer than it can for an adult. Immediately after falling asleep, both adults and babies alternate between cycles of deep sleep and lighter REM sleep. An adult may stay in a state of deep sleep for up to 90 minutes, while for a newborn, this will never last longer than an hour. The diagrams below illustrate the differences between adult and infant sleep cycles. The key to making sure your child is getting enough rest is understanding the sleep cycles. That’s where Nanit comes in.

Nanit helps you understand your baby’s sleep activity like never before! A revolution in baby monitor technology, Nanit has several key features that set it apart from nearly everything else available out there. Nanit mounts easily to the wall alongside their crib to provide an unobstructed bird’s eye view of your sleeping baby. The ingenious cable management system ensures baby won’t get entangled in the cords or accidentally pull the device down on top of them. A two-way audio speaker allows you to hear and speak to your little one no matter where you are in your home; Smart sensors detect motion and sound, and send you real time alerts about your sleeping baby’s activity. Connect your Nanit Plus with Nanit’s Breathable Wear, designed to monitor your baby’s breathing movements through pattern identification and without any sensors or electronics touching your little one.

The Nanit Plus has a bunch of other cool features that make it a fun interactive device, beyond just a baby monitor. It’s Alexa enabled, works if wifi goes down, saves the memories it captures, tracks your baby’s sleep metrics, and the background noise feature of the Nanit Plus app allows you to hear your baby at all times, even when using other apps or when your phone is locked. 

Check out Nanit’s full product line and start sleeping better today!

10 Ways White Parents Can Talk About Race & Racism With Their Kids

Race has been a point of contention in the U.S. since its inception. Parents of black and brown children already understand the importance of instilling a sense of racial identity in their children, and discussing how racism will inevitably affect them, are essential tools for survival in America. White parents and children on the other hand, have a more disconnected relationship with race that often allows them to ignore the harsh realities of how racism lives and thrives here in the U.S. 

But as racist violence and the fight to combat it continues to dominate our daily lives, the necessity that white parents discuss racism with their children has reached a tipping point. As a white passing Latina, I can attest to the fact that unpacking these issues and our role in them, both conscious and subconscious, is tough stuff. But this work is ESSENTIAL. We have to recognize the ways in which we participate in these structures and how we benefit from keeping them in place. We’ve got to teach our children about race and what racism looks like so they can recognize it and learn to stand against it from a young age.

Common Sense Media, an excellent resource for parents to review the media their kids are consuming, has put together a list of ways we can discuss race and racism with our children. Television, books, movies and other media can be powerful tools in starting meaningful conversations that kids can understand. 

Below are 10 suggestions for how white parents can use media to start talking to their kids about racism, via Common Sense Media.

Protests in Painesville, OH. Photo via John Kuntz, clevland.com

Diversify Your Bookshelf

If you grew up reading Little House on the Prairie, you can still share these stories with your kids. But don’t stop there! Look for stories featuring and written by people of color. Here are some places to start:

Point Out Racism in Movies, TV and Games

It can be easy to let stereotypes fly by when watching the minstrel-show crows in Dumbo or exaggerated accents in The Goonies. But by pointing out when something is racist, you’re helping your kid develop critical thinking skills. These skills will allow conversations about race and stereotypes to deepen as kids get older.

Watch Hard Stuff

As kids get older, expose them to the harsh realities of racism throughout history and through the current day. That doesn’t mean nonstop cable news replaying gruesome details of violence but carefully chosen films like The 13th or McFarland, USA. You can also watch footage of protests to kick off conversations about anger, fear, oppression, and power. Be explicit about racism and discrimination being hurtful, damaging, and wrong.

Seek Out Media Created by People of Color

As you choose your family movie night pick or browse for books online, specifically look for authors and directors of color in lead roles or as fully developed characters. With older kids, take an audit of how many movies or books you’ve recently watched or read that were created by people of color. Discuss the reasons for any imbalance and the importance of a variety of perspectives.

Broaden Your Own Perspective

Follow and read black and brown voices and media outlets. Use what you learn to inform conversations with your kids. Some places to start –  but by no means a complete list:

Protests in Mt. Pleasant, MI. Photo via Eric Baerren

Discuss Hate Speech and Harassment Online

Ask kids if they’ve seen racist language in YouTube videos or comments. For social-media using kids, talk about racist memes. Ask them to show you examples  and aim to develop empathy without shaming them. Help them understand how following or sharing racist accounts helps spread hate. Brainstorm ways they can safely and responsibly speak out against racist imagery and messages online. Adapt this lesson on countering hate speech for your conversations.

Understand the Online Landscape

Read this account of a white mom parenting through her son’s exposure to online white supremacy. And read the son’s perspective. Learn more about places where white racist groups congregate and how they recruit, and keep discussions open and honest with kids who socialize on sites like Discord and Reddit.

Explore the Power of Tech Tools

Use recent examples of how phones, video recordings, and editing tools effect our understanding of race and racism. Discuss how the release of video evidence can spur action, like in the case of Ahmaud Arbery. Explore together how photos and videos can both reveal truth and hide it – especially when context is edited out. 

Build News Literacy

Besides sharing news articles from different perspectives with your kids, use opportunities like protests in Minneapolis to discuss how news is presented. What kinds of stories get the most attention? How are language and images used differently to depict people and incidents depending on the news outlet, the people involved, and the topic? Look at news coverage of incidents where white people commit acts of violence and compare to when people of color do. Identify the differences and explore the realities of why the same situation is presented so differently.

Teach Your Kid to be an Ally

Learn how white people can support people of color by being allies and then integrate these ideas into your conversations and actions with your kids. Talk through scenarios your kid might encounter online and discuss (and model) when it might be best to just listen, to call someone out, to amplify someone’s voice, to share resources, etc. Share mistakes you’ve made around race and racism – in person or online – with your kids so they know it’s ok to not be perfect and that we can correct our behavior and do better in the future. 

Protest in Dallas Tx. Photo via LM Otero, AP

Original words & links brought to you by Sierra Filucci, Editorial Director at Common Sense Media.

XO, Fake Mom

6 Essentials Tips to Eliminate Stress + Live a Happier Life

The word stress is practically synonymous with the title of mom. There are memes about it, character tropes based on it, even entire companies who make their living, on the backs of stressed moms. 

Everyone reacts differently to stress and feel it manifest in different ways. Some people’s responses are more extreme than others. Some of us are predisposed to be more susceptible to the effects of stress depending on our genetics and the environment we grew up in. But no matter how severe our stress and anxiety, there are resources out there to help us cope and not let stress take over our lives. 

In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re living in pretty stressful times. But we’re in this fight together and we’re stronger when we band together for support! So to help as many of our fellow mama’s out as we can, we’ve curated a list of items, activities and ideas to help you fight back against stress and anxiety.

Create a Soundtrack for Your Life
Music is a fast and easy way to distract our minds from the onslaught of stressors coming at us from all sides. A good playlist can help you forget about almost anything, at least for a little while. And that little brain break will help you think clearer, feel better, and gives your frazzled brain a second to cool off, which could help you to make better decisions or find solutions to the issue that is causing you stress.

Move Your Body
We don’t advocate for movement for the sake of weight loss, or even for physical health, although it’s obviously great for that too. For us, the real power in movement comes from the effect it has on our brains. Moving our bodies has some serious mood boosting power; it releases endorphins, helps us think more clearly and thus problem solve better, and perhaps most effectively, it can help release some of the tension that gets stored in our bodies and muscles when we’re in a state of heightened stress. If we don’t find outlets for that tension causing energy, our bodies become a manifestation of our mental struggle, with an increase in muscle fatigue and joint soreness (3).

Create a Sacred Ritual
This one definitely reads a little kitschy, we get that, but it’s vitally important in maintaining sanity. Often as moms our mental and physical needs are pushed to the perimeter to make space for the needs and desires of our families. Obviously, we’re not going to have time for ourselves the way we did before we had kids, but we still need to be making time for ourselves, even if all we can find is 10 or 15 minutes at the beginning or end of the day, make a point to take some time back. What you do with that time is up to your specific needs, but carve out a niche of time and commit to making your needs a priority, just for that chunk of time. 10 minutes to do a face mask or read a book, a 15 minute shower, a quiet cup of coffee in the morning, any activity that brings you joy and fulfils an unmet need – no matter how serious or mundane – those are the only requirements!

Focus on Joy
There is an old adage that says, whatever you focus on, grows. Even if you’re new to the ideas and practices of mindfulness, it’s likely that you’ve experienced this process and can vouch for its truth. Like that feeling after a big fight with someone you care about, when you can’t stop thinking about what was said or unsaid and your feelings of anger or regret just keep bubbling up to the surface. Or the excitement after you meet someone new, and can’t stop thinking about them. So much that you build up an image or expectation of them, based more on your ideas and feelings, than on who they actually are. The point is, our minds get carried away, so it’s important that we give them a direction to wander. Focusing on the joy you feel throughout the day helps you to find more of it. The feeling after the kids are asleep and you can finally relax; the joy you get watching your child laugh uncontrollably or discover something new. There is no joy too small, so say out loud the things you’re grateful for, that make you smile, that you love about your life! And see how much easier it becomes to spark joy.

Play More!
Ever wonder how kids seem to be so worry free? They spend most of their day playing! As we grow up, playing becomes almost taboo for adults. We look down on other adults who play video games or participate in activities like cosplay or role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons. But the benefits of regular playtime are well documented and become more valuable as we get older. Playing, or engaging in an activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than practical purposes, is known to stimulate the creative centers in our brains, releasing endorphins that help us cope with our emotions and the world around us (1). When we play, we smile more, which triggers our internal alert system (read: fight or flight) to turn off, allowing us to relax at a deeper level. And the opportunity to decide for yourself how you will spend your time resonates deeply within us and when done regularly, can help us feel more in control of our lives (2). We obviously can’t spend our days playing anymore, but engaging in playful activities for even 20 minutes ca have a major effect or your mood and your psyche and the awesome thing about playing is that it can be anything we want it to be! Organized sports, board games, puzzles, sewing, baking, photography and painting are just a handful of examples of perfect playtime activities for adults. 

Stress Toys
Manipulative toys like zen gardens and stress balls have been around for years before the fidget spinner craze of 2015. Fidget spinners brought this product category to mainstream markets where they had previously been tools for therapists and their patients. These toys aim to eliminate stress by creating a physical distraction for our bodies, allowing our minds to relax and stress or anxiety to melt away. There are tons of toys on the market, but there are also many options for stress toys that you can create with what you have at home! Rainbow Rice and Cloud Putty are some of our favorites! Check out this recipe for Lavander Cloud Putty via Hello Giggles.

Stress Toys
Manipulative toys like zen gardens and stress balls have been around for years before the fidget spinner craze of 2015. Fidget spinners brought this product category to mainstream markets where they had previously been tools for therapists and their patients. These toys aim to eliminate stress by creating a physical distraction for our bodies, allowing our minds to relax and stress or anxiety to melt away. There are tons of toys on the market, but there are also many options for stress toys that you can create with what you have at home! Rainbow Rice and Cloud Putty are some of our favorites! Check out this recipe for Lavander Cloud Putty via Hello Giggles.

Ingredients:

  1. Conditioner
  2. Corn starch
  3. Flour
  4. Lavender essential oil
  5. Food coloring

Directions

  1. Mix desired food coloring together in a bowl with the conditioner. Stir until mixture is thoroughly blended.
  2. Combine conditioner mixture with the rest of ingredient and mix together until soldiified. 
  3. If your mixture is too runny, corn starch will help to solidify the mixture and make it less sticky. 

XO, Fake Mom

Sources:
1/Definitions from Oxford Languages
2/https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/the-chronicles-infertility/201908/the-importance-playing-and-relaxing
3/https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=Hhe1-tgUBNwC&oi=fnd&pg=PR11&dq=mental+health+and+exercise&ots=BFpZh24X0Y&sig=R7A6n719_exeUiVrH9FWV9frH2I#v=onepage&q=mental%20health%20and%20exercise&f=false
4/ image via https://www.afloral.com/products/french-lavender-dried-flower-bundle-11-15-long?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIweO6-__Z6QIVnB-tBh2vLg9BEAQYBiABEgJGuPD_BwE

How To Make Your Baby Smarter with Rainbow Rice

You may have seen this colorful sensory activity on instagram or Pinterest; buckets full of bright blue rice and aquatic toys. Or bright green rice with tiny plants and jungle creatures. These fun and whimsical worlds are actually extremely educational and beneficial to your little one’s development! Their base is made of dyed rice and provides unlimited opportunities for your little one to develop their fine motor skills as well as engage in sensory play. And we’re gonna show you how easy and fun it is to make! Skip to the end to find out how sensory rice may be beneficial to you too, mama!

But first, what is sensory play and why is it important?
Great question! Our senses are how we intake information about the world around us and learn to navigate it. We are born with these senses, but we must learn how they work and how to use them. Sensory play involves activities that stimulate your little one’s senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, smell and movement) and increase their threshold for sensory stimulation, essentially making their senses sharper. Sensory play encourages exploration and that exploration helps build nerve connections throughout the brain. These new connections allow your little one to take on more complex tasks and promote cognitive, motor skill, language and problem solving development, which is another way of saying this type of play actually makes your baby smarter (1).

Ok, now it’s time for the fun part. This process is super simple and all the ingredients are probably already in your cupboard somewhere.

What You Need:

  • Dry rice
  • Food coloring
  • Vinegar
  • Sandwich bags

What You Do:

  1. Fill your bag with ½ – 1 full cup of rice
  2. In a separate cup, pour in ½ tablespoon or less of vinegar
  3. Add a few drops of food coloring to your cup of vinegar
  4. Swirl the dye mixture around to make sure the vinegar and food coloring fully mix together
  5. Dump your dye mixture into the bag of rice
  6. Now the fun part! Zip your bag closed and squish it up. Make sure the dye works its way through the bag and touches all the rice. It will pool in the bottom of the bag and form pockets so make sure you mix and squish it enough to cover all the rice in dye.
  7. Let the dye soaked rice sit in the bag for a little bit, rotating it every 20 minutes or so to make sure the rice is evenly colored.
  8. After an hour or two, most of the food coloring mix will have been soaked up or evaporated off. Pour the now brightly colored rice into a bowl and place it in the refrigerator to dry the left over vinegar and get rid of the strong smell.

Helpful Hints

  • You don’t actually have to measure any of the ingredients, eyeballing everything works just as well.
  • A lot of rice + a little dye = lighter colored rice
  • A lot of rice + a lot of dye = brighter colored rice
  • A little rice + a little dye = brightly colored rice
  • A little rice + a lot of dye = darker colored rice
  • You can mix food coloring to create new colors just like with paint. If you’re mixing colors, you will need to pay attention to ratios and eyeball your measurements carefully. A bad ratio of colors can turn your rice dark and muddy.
  • The good news is that, like with paint, you can continue to add one color or another to lighten, darken, or tone your dye mixture. For example, when we made our first batch of purple, we used entirely too much blue. The mixture turned a blue tinted black color, but was able to be toned back down to purple by adding in more red. 
  • When mixing a new color, start with a base of the lighter color and add in the darker color one drop at a time. Colors with deeper pigments will absorb and darken higher concentrations of lighter colors. Think of what happens when you add white to any color of paint. The mixture may lighten slightly, but the white will be completely consumed by the pigment of the original color. The principle applies to food coloring as well.
  • Brown rice can also be dyed, but produces more jewel toned colors compared to the bright colors created using white rice.

You’ll Love It Too!

If you enjoy working with your hands, and don’t mind a little mess, you’ll probably have some fun making this rice, and might want to consider making an extra batch for yourself!

Remember in inside out, when we’re meeting Riley’s emotions? Joy, ever the optimist, describes Anger as someone who ‘really cares a lot about things being fair’ right before he blows his top over not being able to have dessert. If you, as a mom have never had a moment like this, we…well we wanna know your secret! But if you’re like us, and blow your top from time to time consider keeping a small stash of this pretty rice to play with when you’re feeling agitated. Just a few minutes of ‘playing’ with a manipulative, like a stress ball, zen garden, or a handful or rice, can have intensely calming effects. The process by which we find relief from objects like this, called fidget widgets, is mostly psychological. Our brains intake information in two ways: physically, through our senses, and cognitively, with our mind. Sometimes, when we’re stressed or overwhelmed, it becomes difficult for us to process all the information our bodies are taking in, and we become distracted or unable to focus. When we play with a stress ball the physical distraction allows our brains to slow down and relax, and thus refocus on processing cognitive information or problem solving (2). 

These devices can help address anger in a way that is similar to how they address stress. As with any emotion, our bodies produce a cognitive and a physical response. Often, our physical responses are more extreme than our cognitive responses and we have much less control over our physical responses than we do our cognitive, making it reletively easy for our bodies to overpower our minds. Fidget widgets use the same power of distraction, or redirection, to distract our minds from the physical manifestations of anger: sweating, increased heart rate, muscle tension, and shortness of breath (3).

Not only is this colorful rice a fun activity for you and your little one, but it can atually make your little one smarter, and help you be a more relaxed and focused mama! what could be better? Please share with us if you’ve made this fun rice, and tag us on Instagram so we can see all the lovely colors you make!

XO, Fake Mom

Sources:
1/ https://www.educationalplaycare.com/blog/sensory-play-important-development/ 
2/ https://ardesign.us/2016/01/the-bouncing-science-behind-stress-balls/ 
3/ https://www.sharecare.com/health/anger-management/what-physical-effects-of-anger

Guilt Free Screen Time

Welcome! We’re so glad you’re here, and we hope you’re hanging in there. We’re rooting for you!

These days, odds are, your kids probably getting more screen time per day than they normally would. You’re working from home, they may be doing teleschool via zoom, then zoning out afterward so you can get some work done. We get it! As long as you’re mindful about what your little ones are actually watching, screen time can be an awesome way for kids to learn, explore new ideas, gain a little independence, and give you some time to get sh!t done. Here are a list of some of our favorite ways to use screen time:

Wild Kratts

Why we Love It: Some millennial moms and dads may remember the spunky original that took kids all over the world, exposing them to new environments and amazing animals all from the comfort of their own homes. The reboot is actually better, with a plotline that carries the show and creates the framework for exploring how and why animals are so important. The cast is decently diverse for a seven character crew, with two women of color, Aviva and Koki holding down key roles as the group’s inventor and computer scientist/mechanic, respectively. The ladies are often called to the rescue of the bumbling but well meaning Kratts brothers. The show focuses on themes of animal activism and environmentalism, but leans heavily on concepts of teamwork, perseverance and doing the right thing.
Ages: 6+     Network: PBS Kids


Garage Band

Why We Love It: Great for older kids who enjoy music and don’t mind the challenge of a complex user interface. The app is similar to the Mac version and allows users to create and save high quality audio recordings., this app lets users create and save original melodies and music.
Age: 10+     Network: iOS


Sesame Street

Why We Love It: The Sesame Street many millennials grew up with has undergone a mild facelift. Despite the changes, the core values are the same; acceptance, kindness, community, self love, and a love for learning. Each episode features a mix of educational elements and social development tools to help your little one get ready for school. Creators have never been afraid to push the envelope, despite their tender audience, with landmark storylines and characters addressing death, marriage, world hunger, incarceration, military deployment, and even a character who is HIV positive (4). In recent years, the American cast of characters has expanded to include the Spanish speaking Zoe and Julia, a little girl with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
Ages: 3+     Network: PBS Kids


Mighty Mike

Why We Love It: Mighty Mike is a great choice for breaking up content heavy educational programming for your kids. The show follows the antics of an overzealous but well meaning animated pug as he tries to defend his home from troublesome critters (namely, raccoons) and win the affections of his next door neighbor-dog. The show relies heavily on physical comedy as it has very little dialogue, so things do get a little wreckless for Mike sometimes, but issues are usually resolved and everyone is safe by the end of the episode. The lack of speaking characters is a source of comfort, as parents won’t have to worry about inappropriate themes or questionable commentary aimed at more mature viewers. In addition, the show helps strengthen your child’s social development skills, as they rely on social cues from the characters to follow the story (5).
Ages: 7+      Network: Universal Kids


Motown Magic

Why We Love It: A charming and upbeat tv show set in the pretend city of Motown, an obvious nod to Detroit, the follows it’s protagonist Ben, a helpful and creative boy who loves music and doing the right thing. Using classic Motown tracks to arc it’s stories, the show has entertainment for parents too, who won’t be able to stop from singing along. The characters throughout the series have surprising depth for a kids show, overcoming some serious challenges and maintaining a strong sense of both self and right and wrong through it all. Motown Magic encourages positive development, through themes of self esteem, creativity and community. As if that wasn’t enough, the show gets an A+ for diversity both in casting and representation, obvious homage to the rich cultural diversity of Motown’s Detroit.
Ages: 4+     Network: Netflix


Breathe, Think, Do With Sesame

Why We Love It: This delightful, and meaningful app from the makers of Sesame Street helps little ones to understand and work through their frustrations. The game guides players through five everyday situations that can cause them to get upset. Children help their monster avatar to calm down by taking deep breaths and selecting a solution to their problem, before moving on to the next scenario. As a bonus, the app is full of resources for parents to help their little one’s develop coping skills and cultivate mindfulness.
Ages: 2+     Network: IOS + Android


How It’s Made

Why we love it: How It’s made is a show on the science channel that follows the production of different everyday items we all use everyday. The show is filmed and narrated with a rhythmic quality that is both soothing and captivating to young children. The abstract nature of the show means that you don’t have to worry about mature themes or images popping up unexpectedly. Seeing the visual process of assembling the items will peak your child’s interest and help with the development of their hand eye coordination, creativity and problem solving skills (2).
Ages: All Ages     Network: Science Channel


Super Simple Español

Why We Love It: Studies show that it is easiest for a child to learn a second language before the age of ten (3). Children under ten can absorb information much easier than teenagers and adults. Super Simple Español is a youtube channel that features popular nursery rhymes and other educational songs to help children learn Spanish while also learning about the world around them.
Ages: All Ages     Network: Youtube


Super Simple Songs

Why We Love It: Super Simple Songs is just as good as Super Simple Español, but in English! Help your little one learn colors, animals, letters and numbers, foods and more, all while developing a love for music and dancing. They even create convenient video playlists that you can put on for your little one without worrying about weird commercials or queuing up the next video.
Ages: All Ages     Network: Youtube


Disney Music Videos

Why We Love It: Music videos are much shorter, tell a more condensed story and provide your child with more sensory stimulation than traditional tv shows or movies. The musical element stimulates their language, motor skill and social-emotional development (1). Plus you can sing a long too, which your little one will love.
Ages: All Ages     Network: Youtube


PBS Kids

Why We Love It: PBS Kids is focused on creating quality educational entertainment for children. In addition to their programming, they have a website full of videos, games, songs and more fun activities to help your kids learn while they play. Unlike other online programs, PBS Kids is free to access and create an account, as are most of their apps. Most shows on their network have a corresponding app, each with unique themes and activities, most of which are free to download and use.
Ages: 4+     Network: Online, Free to Access


ABC Mouse

Why We Love It: ABC Mouse built its reputation on the claim that they can accelerate your child’s learning by unprecedented margins and those claims are backed up by teachers and educators who use ABC Mouse in their classrooms and as a resource library. It’s a paid service, but at $60 for the year, it’s easily worth the price, if your child engages with the program willingly. You can set learning goals, track your child’s progress, and focus on areas of improvement with a paid subscription and you can start them with a free 30 day trial to make sure the platform fits their needs.
Ages: 3+     Network: Online, Paid Subscription


Workout Videos

Why We Love It: workout videos are an often overlooked #momhack, especially if you’ve got children who require high levels of physical activity. Workout videos allow your kids to move their bodies in fun new ways, follow along with a group, and relieve some of that boundless energy. Youtube has tons of great options to fit every age and skill level and there are channels tailored for little ones, if the adult version is too intense. (Although, the idea is not really to get a proper workout, and more so to get some energy out and have some fun). A word of advice: set them up to do this activity in your backyard if you can, or make some room if they’ll be doing this inside. It’s a silly activity and can get kids worked up, so accidents may happen from time to time when we’re kicking too hard or not watching where we swing our arms, for example.
Ages: All Ages     Network: Youtube


Mega Machines

Why We Love It: This engineering and mechanics docuseries details the inner workings and day to day jobs of some iconic and monster sized machines.  Viewers get an inside look at how many different machines are built and how they run, including helicopters, boats, planes, trains, roller coasters, and other futuristic feats of engineering. This show appeals specifically to viewers interested in building or things that go vroom, but appeals to viewers of all ages, genders and backgrounds, making it a great option for the whole family (5).
Ages: 8+     Network: Science Channel


Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth

Why We Love It: Here We Are… is a short animated movie from AppleTV based on the book of the same name by Oliver Jeffers. The story follows a family as they celebrate Earth Day at a museum and learn more about the Earth than they ever dreamed, exploring far off places and learning about the wonders of our world. Themes include environmentalism, conservation, the bonds between families and the importance of instilling a love of learning in children,
Ages: 5+     Network: AppleTV


The Magic School Bus Rides Again

Why We Love It: Another updated classic many millennials will remember fondly, The Magic School Bus rides again follows the next generation of Frizzle as she leads the next generation of young scientists and explorers! The crew rides their magic bus all over the universe exploring the world through broad scientific ideas. The show emphasizes the importance of curiosity, taking chances and trying new things, and addresses social themes like honesty and taking responsibility for your actions. Science concepts are explored in broad terms so as not to overwhelm younger viewers, while still getting them excited about learning.
Age: 5+    Network: Netflix


BORD, Drawing Pad, Procreate

Why We Love It: If your child is a budding artist, consider allowing them to explore the world of digital art. Art is therapeutic and educational and can be a window for expression and exploration. There are options available for all age ranges, with BORD, imitating a classroom chalkboard, all the way to procreate for more advanced artists. 
Age: 2+    Network: iOS + Android

We used Common Sense Media’s comprehensive reviews to help us curate our list. They’re an amazing resource for parents to get detailed reviews on the media their children are consuming. Age recommendations for each activity reflect Common Sense’s recommendations.

What are some of your favorite screen time activities? Share them with us in the comments, and check out Common Sense Media for important information on what you’re child is watching. Looking for more ways to keep your kids entertained inside? You need our Indoor Survival Guide, packed full of games, activities and supplies you’ll need to keep full of activities for all ages and supply lists for kids of all ages!

SOURCES:
1/ https://www.brighthorizons.com/family-resources/music-and-children-rhythm-meets-child-development
2/ Construction Play – Benefits For Children & Early Yearsnewbyleisure.com › blog › 2018-09-06-construction-play-benefits-fo…
3/ What’s The Best Age For Learning A New Language? | Tech …www.techtimes.com › Home › Science
4/ https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/team-sesame-street-created-character-autism-180967218/
5/ https://www.commonsensemedia.org
6/ FEATURED IMAGE VIA KIDSSCREEN

QUARANTINE TIPS: Work From Home Edition

Hey All You Cool Cats and Kittens

LOL. Have you seen it yet? We’re obsessed. Please message, comment, email text or call us anytime, day or night if you wanna dig into to this hot mess.

Ok, but for real tho..

One of the most difficult adjustments for some parents during the covid-19 outbreak has been learning to work from home. For many people, working from home is a dream life, but if you have children, and don’t have help or a designated work space, this can seem like an impossible request. Work, from home? Yea right.. 

Don’t worry, we got you. We’ve been working from home to some degree since college, with anything but a designated work space, and we’ve gathered some essential tips to help you be your most productive while you work from home.


Don’t fight it.

This is the most important tip, but also the most nuanced. You don’t really have to do much physically, but there is a lot of mental work involved in this step. Especially as moms, we are conditioned to push through, to go after, to fight for what we want for our families. Pursue your goals, please, and don’t ever stop! But get it out of your head that you have to fight for things. When we fight, there can only be one winner, and inevitably, a loser. But that doesn’t have to be the narrative here. Consider shifting your perspective from one of fear and fighting to one of perseverance. We will overcome this obstacle as a nation and world, and you will overcome the obstacles it’s bringing to your day to day life. Some days will be better than others. We will fall, but we will get back up. Each day that passes we are one day further from where we started and one day closer to the end of this pandemic. Learn to accept the realities of working from home: you’re not going to get 8 hours of undisturbed time to work. You’re not even going to get four. You’ll be lucky if you get two. But you may get 30 minutes here and there. Use it! Try not to fight your reality too hard right now, it’s only going to burn you out and make you feel more out of control.

Develop a New Routine

Children need routines, and adults can benefit from them also. Obviously, our lives have changed drastically, and our routines will too. Once you feel you’ve adjusted, start by carving out a general routine. You can keep it loose, you don’t need to have every second planned out. With my little one, I try to leave room for flexibility. Things happen. They’re tired, they feel grumpy, they take their nap a little later. The more rigid you are in your routine, the harder it is when you hit a speed bump. Below is a sample of our daily routine to give you an idea of where to get started

I leave big parts of our day flexible. For example, some days, we skip our bath and watch a movie instead. Sometimes we’ll play outside a little longer if we didn’t get enough physical activity for the day. It’s a lot easier on your mental and your family if you allow for flexibility in what you expect. The general boundaries of your routine will help things from feeling out of control when you decide to go with the flow, if thats a struggle for you. Your kids may have been rowdy today, but because you allowed it, they were able to get their energy out, and are ready and waiting for bed when it’s that time.


Productivity

Break big tasks up into smaller chunks: Because you’re not going to get the time you’re used to to work, you’re going to need to find a way to get things done with the small chunks of time you find throughout the day. One way to do this, is by breaking larger projects or tasks up into smaller more actionable steps you can complete in a shorter time frame. This will keep you meaningfully productive which will help reduce your overall stress.

Learn to be ok with distractions. This can be a very tough adjustment to make. For some of us, being called from one complex task to deal with something unrelated can be one of the most mentally challenging parts of working from home. But it’s going to happen, without a doubt, so the best plan of action is to figure out a way to make peace with this inevitable occurrence and learn to work with it. Writing an email and the kids start going at it? Let them go for a minute and finish your thought. If you already know what you want to say, get your thoughts out of your head and into your email, even if it’s just quick notes. Then, when you step out to play referee, you’re not distracted trying to remember what you were writing, and you’re not lashing out with aggressive punishments because you’re irritated for the 18978423 time today. The kids are still going to be there, probably still screaming at each other, whether you run to them immediately or make them wait 90 seconds. You may even find that giving kids a little more time and space to work out their issues by themselves results in increased independence, problem solving and communication. Big wins.


Time Management

Block out time in your day to focus on your kids: As working moms, this is one of the biggest hurdles we face: feeling like we’re not giving our little ones the attention they need and deserve. It’s tough to find extra time when you work full time, commute to and from the office and have daily chores to complete. But working from home can give us a unique opportunity to control our schedules and prioritize what’s really important to us. Studies have found that children need as little as 15 minutes of focused one on one time to feel happy and secure, and research suggests that a child’s attention span is only about one minute long for every year they’ve been alive (1). This means your two year old only really needs your attention for a minute or two before they run off to something else (1). Once you have a solid understanding of your child’s realistic needs, it’s easier to build time for them into your day. According to parenting expert Annie Pleshette Murphy, it’s the first few minutes we spend with our little ones that really mean the most (1). The first few minutes in the morning, after school or when you get home from work are crucial to building strong connections with loved ones. The more days you spend working from home, the more you’ll grow to understand your child’s specific needs. Your kids need way less one on one time than you may think, so even if all you have is five minutes at a time, rest assured that’s enough to start building strong and meaningful connections with your little one.

Use Your Time Wisely: This may seem like a no brainer but chances are, even the hyper productive mom who always gets through her to do list, could be using her time more wisely. This looks different for every mom and every family, so only you know what’s best. But in a time when essentials are our focus, it could pay to simplify your home life down to just the essentials as well. What does this mean? In a nutshell, it means simplifying your life. Eliminate tasks that stress or drain you and aren’t life or death; declutter your home; spend less time on social media and dead end activities on your phone; take advantage of downtime like naps and bedtimes, block out time for yourself for things like exercise and reading, and invite your little ones to participate (bonus points for bonding + modeling self care); consume less media, spend more time outdoors. Focus only on the things that matter; your family, your work and setting the tone for how your family will overcome these challenging times.


Have Some Fun

When we get too caught up in all the ‘work’ we have to do, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Work from home. Home school our kids. Don’t leave our house!! But guess what, we’re not the only ones who are overwhelmed right now. We have it good because we have the skills to express ourselves and some measure of control over our life. Our children are lacking both of those things. They’re also not able to see their friends, play with their peers, move their bodies or do many of the things they loved before. Be gentle with them, and try not to direct your existential frustrations at them. They’re just as scared as you, and it’s got to be scary to see all the grown ups around you panicking and acting weird. Liven up their days any time you can! Can you get away for a few hours in the outdoors away from people? Do you have a yard to play in? Use it to create an inviting and interactive space for them. Build a fort in their rooms that they can keep up until things go back to normal. Adding elements of fun will bring a spark of magic to both of your lives. There is still lots of magic left in the world, we just have to learn to bring it out.

Be Kind To Yourself

Don’t beat yourself up! This rule is a really important one, because it can take a huge toll on your mental health and will most definitely affect the rest of your family. It’s important, everyday, but especially when we are being pushed to our limits, to remember to give ourselves grace and space. Grace to bend where we need to under all this pressure and space to reset when we need to. If you’re kid watching a little more tv than they normally would, that’s ok! It doesn’t make you a bad mom or your child a bad kid to watch television. T.V. can be a source of comfort, bonding, education and entertainment and who doesn’t need a little more of that these days? Maybe your house isn’t kept the way you would like it. Well I wouldn’t be surprised we literally haven’t been allowed to leave them since March! The point being, if you’re doing your best, and your family is getting their needs met, it’s ok if things get a little wild in the meantime.


If you read this far, you may have noticed that most of the tips are about how you relate to your new reality. Keep your head clear, focus on one thing at a time, don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go exactly as you thought they would. Reconnect with your family, keep some sort of structure to protect your sanity, and try to have a little fun. For some fun ways to entertain your family indoors, check out our Indoor Activity Playbook!

Are you working from home right now? How has your experience been? Please share any productivity tips for mams working from home!

And stay tuned for our round up of Guilt Free Screen Time Activities. For those times when you just need to get some work done, we got you.

Sources:
1/ https://www.mother.ly/child/connecting-with-your-kids-why-the-first-5-minutes-matter-mama
2/ featured image via M_A_Y_A via Getty Images via Women’s Day

Beginning Vocabulary for Sensory Processing Disorders

Hello and Good morning! 

I hope you’re all ready to talk about something other than coronavirus and quarantine, cause we sure are! Today, we’re going to begin exploring the world of neurodiversity.

Nuerodiversity is a word that has been around since the late 90’s but really gained traction in the last 3 to 5 years. It refers to “the range of differences in individual brain function and behavioral traits, regarded as part of normal variation in the human population (used especially in the context of autistic spectrum disorders)” (23).

If you’re new to the journey of nuerodiversity, it can be extremely overwhelming, especially if you’re struggling to get a grasp on what your little one may be struggling with. So we’ve compiled a beginner’s vocabulary list with the intention of helping you better understand the needs and challenges of a child with sensory processing disorder. We believe that understanding is the foundation for strong connections and proper care, the cornerstones of a healthy and balanced life.

This list and the words on it can be difficult to wrap your head around, so we divided it into three categories, each dealing with different concepts relating to sensory processing and Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD). We’ll circle back to this list and expand on these concepts and ways to address them at home in the coming weeks.

The Basics: What is sensory processing?

Sensory Processing: refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into responses in our bodies. (1)

Nervous System: A complex collection of nerves and specialized cells called neurons that send and receive signals to different parts of the body. The nervous system can be compared to a home’s electrical system, carrying ‘messages’ of electricity all over the house. (3)

Senses: Senses are the ways in which our bodies take in information about the world around us. There are actually 8 senses, not 5, that help us navigate the world: visual (sight), auditory (sound), tactile (touch), olfactory (smell), gustatory (taste), vestibular, proprioception, and interoception (14, 15).

Vestibular Sensory System: The vestibular system is a complex system of structures located in the inner ear and is responsible for providing our brain with information about motion, head position, spatial orientation, and helps us to keep our balance, stabilize our head and body during movement, maintain our posture and control our eye movement (15, 16). It is an essential part of movement and equilibrium.

Proprioception: The proprioception sensory system is the sense that lets our brains perceive the position, location, orientation and movement of our muscles and joints. It provides us with a sense of the relative position of neighboring body parts and the effort needed to move those body parts. The proprioception system runs throughout the body with receptors in the inner ear, joints and muscles. There are two kinds of proprioception, conscious and unconscious, each with its own distinct pathway of communication to the brain (15, 17).

Interoception: The sensory system that relays information to our brains about the physical or physiological condition of our bodies. Sensations of hunger and thirst are examples of the interoception system at work. This system’s primary function is to guide the regulation of our bodies through heart rate, respiration, hunger and elimination. Interoception tells us what our bodies are feeling by creating feelings like pain, temperature and itch, among others. There is some evidence to suggest that our feelings of energy, stress and well-being are based on sensations received from our interoception systems and interpreted by our brains (15).

Photo via Healthline Parenthood

Foundational Concepts

Bilateral Coordination: the ability to use both sides of the body at the same time in a controlled and organized manner. This can look one of three ways: both sides doing the same motions, alternating motions, or different motions on each side (11). Bilateral coordination is key to the development of gross motor skills (12).

Motor planning: the ability to conceive, plan and carry out a non-habitual motor task in the correct sequence from beginning to end (10).

Occupational Therapy (OT): a form of therapy that works with patients throughout the lifespan, to help them develop the skills necessary to complete tasks or activities of daily living (ADL) through the therapeutic use of daily activities. Some of the most common occupational therapy interventions include working with children with disabilities, helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing support to older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes (19, 20).

Praxis: The complex, multi step neurological process where cognition (thinking) directs motor action (movement) in our bodies (7). The process that is praxis is made of three distinct parts; ideation or the ability to conceptualize an activity, motor planning or the brain’s ability to organize and sequence novel (or unfamiliar) motor actions, and finally, execution, performing the motor action (8).

Sensory Inputs: The stimuli that is perceived by the systems of sensory receptors located throughout our bodies. Each system responds to different inputs or forms of stimuli. Anything that you perceive with your senses can be called sensory input.

Sensory Perceptual Disorders: Cognitive disorders characterized by an impaired ability to perceive the nature of objects, concepts or environments through use of the sensory organs throughout the body. (21)

Stimulation/Stimuli: Relative to Sensory Processing, stimuli is an object or event that is perceived by the senses and elicits a response from the body. The stimulus can be from light, heat, smell, taste or any form of information perceived by our eight senses (18).

Sensory Processing Disorder Patterns and Subtypes

Sensory Processing Disorder or SPD: A complex set of conditions that involve an inability to accurately intake and correctly process sensory stimulation, or information(13). Current research suggests that there are six subtypes of SPD that fall into three major patterns, each describing a different way sensory perception is affected (13). A child with SPD will perceive and respond to stimuli differently than a child without it (2). The brain misinterprets the incoming signals, causing it to misfire and give an inappropriate response (4). Imagine a child with poor eyesight trying to play baseball without their glasses. When the ball is thrown, their brain misinterprets it’s location, causing them to react too early, too late or maybe not at all. It can cause a great deal of frustration for the child and eventually lead to a meltdown. Sensory processing is just like this, except that it involves multiple senses at once, instead of just one (4). The three main patterns are Sensory Modulation Disorder, Sensory Based Motor Disorder and Sensory Discrimination Disorder.

Photo via spdstar.org

Sensory Modulation Disorder: a pattern of sensory processing disorder where a chronic and severe problem involves the ability to turn sensory information into behaviors that match the nature and intensity of the sensation. Children with Sensory Modulation disorder fall into three subcategories: Sensory Over Responsive, Sensory Under Responsive, and Sensory Craving, or can display a mixture of the three. Sensory modulation difficulties can affect all eight senses and can cause disruptions to more than one sensory system at a time (5). 

Sensory Over Responsive / Sensory Defensive: Children who are sensory defensive experience an over response from their body to sensory stimulation. These children experience sensory messages more intensely, more quickly and/or for a longer period of time than a child with typical sensory perception. As a result, they are in a heightened state of arousal more often than a typically developing child. This means that sensations that are harmless and even pleasant for you or me, can be overwhelming and even painful to a person who is sensory defensive, or over-responsive. This can cause children to become anxious in environments and situations with too many sensory stimulants at one time, like a graduation ceremony or airport, for example (5).

Sensory Under Responsive/Lethargic: Children who are under responsive to sensory stimulation have less of a response to stimulation than what is required. They may take longer to react, or require longer or more intense forms of sensory stimulation before their body can produce a response. Sometimes called sensory seekers, individuals who are under responsive may fail to notice activity going on around them, people speaking to them, something touching them, or even their own body sensations like being too hot or too cold. Sensory seekers may display an insatiable desire for sensory stimulation and will require guidance about appropriate ways to get what they need (5). 

Sensory Craving: Sensory Craving is a subtype of SPD that falls into the pattern of Sensory Modulation Disorder. Children who are sensory craving actively seek out sensory stimuli and can display an unquenchable desire for sensory input. Unfortunately, the input often results in disorganization and does not satisfy their need for more (13).

Sensory Based Motor Disorder: a pattern of sensory processing disorder where a child has difficulty with balance, motor coordination, and the performance of skilled non-habitual and/or habitual motor tasks (13). There are two subcategories of Sensory Based Motor Disorder: Postural Disorder and Dyspraxia.

Postural Disorder: Impaired perception of body position, poorly developed movement patterns that depend on core stability, thus making the individual weak and/or low endurance. A child with Postural Disorder has difficulty stabilizing their body during movement or while at rest in order to meet the demands of a given motor task or environment. When a child has strong postural control they can reach, push and pull with the appropriate amount of resistant force. When postural control is weak, a child may not have the body control to maintain a proper standing or sitting position (13).

Dyspraxia: a condition where an individual has difficulty with the praxis process, most often in the motor planning stage. The underlying disruption is usually caused by a deficit in tactile, proprioceptive and vestibular sensory processing. These three senses are the foundation for developing a body percept, an essential – and unconscious – part of understanding how our bodies work and their physical limitations (8,9).

Sensory Discrimination Disorder: A pattern of sensory processing disorder where a child has difficulty accurately precieving the qualities and/or characteristics of sensory stimuli they recive (13). This manifests as difficulties discerning what they are seeing, hearing, feeling and even what they are doing with their bodies, and creates perceptual questions like, “Do I hear ‘cap’ or ‘cat’?, Is that a quarter or a dime in my pocket?, and Am I falling backwards or to the side?” Sensory Discrimination Disorder can interfere with processing information from any of the eight sensory systems (13).

Photo via ParentMap.com

Still with us? That was a lot, we know! Feel free to bookmark this page, and use it to refer back to as you begin your journey with nuerodiversity. It’s a lot of information to take in, so don’t beat yourself up if after a once over, you still feel overwhelmed. That’s why we broke it up for you. Start with The Basics, and don’t move to the next section until you feel like you really understand those concepts. Take it a day at a time, a section at a time, or even a word at a time, if you need to. We’ll be here waiting for you.

SOURCES:
Featured photo via Today’s Parent

  1. https://www.spdstar.org/basic/understanding-sensory-processing-disorder 
  2. https://childmind.org/article/sensory-processing-faq/ 
  3. https://www.livescience.com/22665-nervous-system.html 
  4. https://www.artcsandiego.org/blog/the-difference-between-sensory-processing-disorder-and-autism?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI5bbSmuzM6AIViP5kCh3R8wXzEAAYASAAEgI1_vD_BwE 
  5. https://www.irvinetherapyservices.com/resources/sensory-modulation-disorder/ 
  6. https://www.webmd.com/children/sensory-processing-disorder#1 
  7. https://occupationaltherapychildren.com.au/praxis-its-not-just-motor-planning/ 
  8. https://www.irvinetherapyservices.com/resources/praxis/ 
  9. What is BODY PERCEPT? definition of BODY PERCEPT …psychologydictionary.org › body-percept 
  10. Motor Planning Definition & Disorders | NSPTwww.nspt4kids.com › Health Topics and Conditions Database 
  11. http://therapystreetforkids.com/BilateralCoord.html 
  12. https://www.yourtherapysource.com/blog1/2017/10/01/bilateral-coordination-skills/ 
  13. https://www.spdstar.org/basic/subtypes-of-spd 
  14. https://www.spdstar.org/basic/understanding-sensory-processing-disorder 
  15. https://www.spdstar.org/basic/your-8-senses 
  16. https://www.neuroscientificallychallenged.com/blog/know-your-brain-vestibular-system 
  17. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/proprioception 
  18. Sensory Stimuli | SpringerLinklink.springer.com › … 
  19. https://www.aota.org/Conference-Events/OTMonth/what-is-OT.aspx 
  20. OT vs PT: The Difference Between Fields of Occupational …otaonline.stkate.edu › Blog › OT Explained › OT vs PT
  21. Perceptual Disorders – MeSH – NCBIwww.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov › NCBI › Literature 
  22. Sensory Input definition | Psychology Glossary | alleydog.comwww.alleydog.com › glossary › definition › term=Sensory+Input 
  23. Dictionary.com