I don’t know about any of you, but i haven’t really been able to get away for some me time since the start of the pandemic. But after two years, I figured I’d better start trying to live again before I completely forget how.
So I decided it was time for a little solo night out.
I always try to prepare my babysitter with any and all information they could possibly need while I’m gone. But to be honest, there’s so much info I need to share, I usually always forget something. Then, a few months ago, while researching for a book I’m working on about making motherhood a little easier, I stumbled across babysitter info sheets; templates that help you organize all the information you need to leave your babysitter. There are tons of different styles, but I customized my own so I could make sure it had all the features we need.
Creating Your Own Babysitter Info Sheet
Creating your own template is pretty simple, even if you’ve never made one before. First, make a list of the important information you want to makes sure your sitter knows; this will vary depending on your family’s individual needs, but some generic things you’ll want to include are:
Your Name and contact Info
Emergency contact Name and Number
Address Where You Can Be Reached
Meal Instructions (Little Bear is very particular about his favorite foods)
Screen Time Allowance + Approved Shows/Movies
Once you’ve figured out all the information you want to include on your sheet, try to think about how much room you want for each item and then use a pencil to sketch out a rough draft of your template layout.
Once you’ve found a layout that works for you, it’s time to start your final template. You can do this step digitally or by hand, whichever works best for you.
Creating a Digital Copy
Open whatever program you use to create printable documents. I use Adobe InDesign, but Pages, Word and Google Sheets will all work as well. Start by using text or image blocks to create outlines for each of the sections on your template. Keep your rough draft next to you so you can arrange your boxes on the page to match your drawing. Add text to each box that describes what information you will write in that section. At this point, your template is ready to be printed and used, but if you want to put some stylish touches, like graphics, colors or unique fonts, now is the time. Add any elements you want, being sure to keep your template clear and easy to read.
Creating a Template By Hand
Creating a copy by hand is even easier. Using a sharpie and a ruler, copy your draft of your template onto another paper. If you can find any, I recommend using card stock or thin white cardboard, to help with durability. Using a smaller permanent marker or pen, label each section of the template so you know what to write where and your sitter can interpret what information she’s reading. To make the template reusable you can frame it or use a page protector and a dry erase marker to write with. You could also make photocopies and keep a few on hand so you’re not scrambling around to find your original or make another one.
If making one yourself is too much for you, leave us a comment with your email and we’ll send you ours!
Any last minute shoppers? Don’t worry, you’ve still got time! And if you’re shopping for a loved one with extra sensory needs, than you’ve come to the right place.
We’ve collected an amazing list of tools, toys and other fun stuff that can serve a variety of sensory needs, no matter your budget, so let’s get right to it!
Ready to invest: you’ve got a bit of extra cash and you’re ready to spend to get what you need and want.
Climbing Triangle: Climbing Triangles are great pieces of equipment that encourage your child’s gross motor skill and motor planning skill development and can grow with them through these changes. AGE 2-16
Love Sac – Love Sac’s are amazing; their textured fabrics are luxurious and they feel like a hug for your whole body. These are amazing, especially for bigger children or adults. There’s even have a testimonial from a mother whose son has extra sensory needs, which you can see here, on the founder’s personal blog. ANY AGE
Gathre Arc Play Set: This set is a worthy investment if you’ve got more than one child, close in age who may be sensory seekers. The playset comes with arches in three sizes which can be used in a variety of engaging ways and are great for days when you can’t get outside and are great for tight spaces, like apartments. UNDER 5
Outdoor Play Structure:If you do have the space and the budget, it’s worth the time and money, especially if you have a child with extra sensory needs, to invest in an outdoor play structure for your child. Kid Craft makes some of the most amazing outdoor play equipment on the market! They’ve got swings, slides, playhouses and tons of options that will fit your little one’s needs. VARIES
Ballin on a Budget: You’re not ready for a big financial commitment, but you’ve got a budget to work within comfortably.
Indoor Rock Wall: If you’re handy with power tools and can find your way around a hardware store, then you can purchase climbing holds online and build your little one their own rock wall in any room of your house! All you need is a few tools, your climbing holds and a weekend’s worth of time. AGES 6+
Target Sensory Friendly Furniture: Target first launched their sensory friendly kids room line a few years ago and it sold out everywhere quickly. They’ve expanded and refined the line since it was first launched to include weighted blankets and a hideout tent as well as updated a variety of features. Their products are quality and less expensive than the market average, which is important for products that are too often priced out of reach for the people who need them. VARIES
Chill Pill Fidget Tool: This magnetic fidget toy is shaped like a large pill capsule, split down the middle and held together with a powerful magnet. When you separate the half, the Chill Pill’s magnets snap it back together again, making it extremely responsive when in use. .
Leedor Bed Tent: Leedor Tents fit right over your standard sized mattress to create an instantly cozy cocoon for bedtime. Thetent features four doors and two windows for easy access, breathable fabric and can also function as a privacy tent during the day. ANY AGE
Warmies: Warmies creates cozy products that provide warm, soothing comfort for all ages. Their product line includes a wide range of stuffed animals, boots, slippers, eye masks, and more, all of it, warming, weighted and infused with French Lavender for an extra level of comfort. ANY AGE
Moonpals: Moon Pals is a line of stuffed animals designed to provide deep pressure therapy in a unique form. Each stuffie’s body, arms and legs are weighted to provide maximum benefits tailored to your loved ones needs. There are 5 Moon Pals to choose from, each with a corresponding backstory and book to inspire a unique aspect of your loved one’s personality.
Wobble Board: Wobble boards are a multifunctional piece of equipment that are great for any child, but especially sensory seekers. They provide several different ways to get proprioceptive input and encourage exploration and imaginative play with their simple sturdy arch design that can be used for anything from racing cars to launching toys through the air, the options are endless. VARIES
Canopy Difuser: Aroma diffusers are an amazing tool for addressing sensory needs. You can create your own scent blends based on the environment you want to create – upbeat in the morning or calm and relaxed at night. Plus the canopy diffuser is waterless and mold resistant so you can use your device without worry. ANY AGE
Enovi ProBalance Yoga Chair: This yoga ball comes with a base and functions perfectly as a chair, great for relieving lower back pain and doubles as a great tool for providing sensory input in a low key, and no obstructive way. AGE 16+
Making Magic From Scratch: You may not have a ton of extra cash but you’ve got a lot of imagination!
Homemade Crash Pad: If you have a sensory seeker in your life, chances are, they will appreciate receiving a crash pad as a gift. They can be pricey, but we found this awesome DIY that’s great for small budgets. ALL AGES
Rainbow Rice + action figures to match: Rainbow Rice is all the rage right now as montessori education is totally having a moment. There are tons of places to purchase it but you can also make your own! All you need is uncooked rice – white rice makes for brighter colors while brown rice makes for more muted earth tones colors. You can follow our tutorial to make your own, Here. Once you’ve got your rice, head to the dollar store to pick up some companion pieces – Animal figures, other sensory toys, anything engaging will work. ANY AGE
Liquid Motion Bubbler: These colorful bubblers have been around since the 1970’s but have gained popularity in recent years as sensory toys, tools for relaxation, or fun for anyone who enjoys rhythmic motion and repetitive movements. ALL AGES
Crayola Bath Drops: Bath time is a fully immersive sensory activity. There are smells and feelings and water and all kind of things that can be new and overwhelming. Using bath drops to tint bath water a preferred color can make reluctant bathers a little more comfortable, and they add a bit of unexpected fun for anyone whose already comfortable with baths. ANY AGE
Yoga Ball: Yoga balls are especially great for sensory seekers living in small places. For little ones, it’s best to find one with a handle. There are a lot of affordable options on Amazon. AGES 3+
Water Beads: Water beads are great for playing and learning; Soak them in water for a few hours and watch them grow! They’re great as a base in sensory boxes, a fun addition to bath time and great for improving fine motor skills as they try to grab the slippery little balls. ANY AGE
We’ve been going strong with home school for two weeks now! Today is our third Monday, and while its been a great experience overall, it has been bringing up some issues for my family, especially around boundary setting. So today, we’re gonna pivot away from homeschooling how-to’s and focus on another key area of development: Boundary Setting
A few months ago, I came across a term that’s been fundamental to my growth as an individual and as a mom. Destiny at MomCrushMonday introduced me to the concept of “Re-Parenting” on her Instagram and it felt like a window to another world had been opened.
The concept of Re-Parenting is rooted in healing. It aims to address and unpack traumas and pain that we may have experienced as children, either directly or indirectly, as a result of our parents or other adults around us. The core idea is that now that we are adults, we can take our power back from the adults who stole it, and overcome the traumas they caused. For me, it was the realization that everything we need exists within us.
Some of my childhood traumas were centered around feeling ignored or forgotten, then having to do more than those around me to receive less attention and validation. This led me down a path of over achievement and people pleasing as an adult, which, many of you I’m sure know first hand, marred my early adulthood with anxiety, depression, feelings of worthlessness and a lack of direction. When you’re living to please others or get their attention, you lose sight really quickly of nearly everything about yourself: what you like, what you want, who you are.
The first few steps were hard – and without going too much into the ugly details, it involved severing what I thought at the time were fundamental relationships, but were really just trauma bonds and spending a lot of time alone. I spent a lot of time outside, walking outside for hours, once even getting lost. This was a key part of my healing process. It showed me I could be without the people I thought defined me, and it helped to clear the fog of opinions that often engulfs people pleasers. After I could hear myself again, things got a lot easier.
Here are some key steps I took that helped me first transform my thinking, and then, pretty easily, transform my life.
Take small steps towards gaining control of your life so you can live with intention instead of just getting through life.
Stop Fixating on the negative things about yourself. And if you really can’t stop fixating, minimum, you have to stop saying those things out loud. Our words are extremely powerful and speaking them out loud brings them to full power.
Accept the limitations and abilities of others & don’t take them personally. We’re all working from places of trauma and hurt and those of us that are most hurt tend to hurt others the most. Meeting these individuals with understanding where they’re at and taking yourself out of their equation frees you up from bearing the burden of their hurt.
Give yourself pep talks. Some people call these affirmations; they’re the same thing. Many of us came from situations where the day to day stress of life forced its way into our homes and suffocated the culture of our families. It’s not my reality, but when I think of how good it must feel for children to feel praised and admired and respected by their parents, openly, it brings me an overwhelming amount of joy. And so does remembering that I can openly praise, admire and respect myself.
Spend time alone. Especially if you’re coming from a place of being very ‘out of touch’ with yourself. A good way to see how in tune you are with yourself is to check in by asking questions that force to be be present and focus on you; How am I feeling right now? If I could do anything I wanted to right now, what would it be? When do I feel my best emotionally and physically?
Explore your spirituality. I’m still exploring mine and it’s a deeply personal journey but I will leave you with this – it is an absolutely essential part of re-parenting, especially if you come from a background where your family culture lacked spirituality. There is likely a lot of healing to do in situations like that. If the idea of talking to God intimidates you or feels like too much, try starting with a loved one that has passed away or an animal you find in nature. Browse the Religion and Spirituality section of the Kindle store and pick up anything that speaks to you. It’s all part of the process. Above all remember this, spirituality is like a muscle; when exercised properly it can grow exponentially strong, but when neglected, it can waste away to nothing.
Write. Writing allows us to access the deepest parts of ourselves. it doesn’t matter what you write or how it sounds, especially if it’s new to you or you’re out of practice. When I started writing, I was in a very angry place. I needed to shift my perspective but was at a loss for how to do that. I decided to write down three things I was grateful for everyday. Then five things. Then 10. Now days, anytime I get upset at a person or situation, I quickly list off 3 reasons I’m grateful for them and it shifts my thinking almost immediately.
Expand your horizons. First things first, this is not an invitation to go culturally appropriate anything that ‘speaks to your soul’ or partake in any exploitative activity that positions you above another person. So let’s just get that straight. But different cultures typical have at least moderately different world views; things they prioritize (family, individuality, community, money), a moral code and other factors that shape the overall culture of society. For example, in the US, one of the first questions we ask a new person is ‘what do you do for a living?’. In some parts of the world, that’s actually an extremely rude question. Not everyone in the world has the luxury to chose their dream job and pursue it endlessly. For most of the world, a job is a means to survival and something you do because you have to, so the question, ‘what do you do for work’ has a completely different meaning.
Just remember this: The mind, once stretched by a new idea, can never go back to it’s old dimensions.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
Original words & links brought to you by Sierra Filucci, Editorial Director at Common Sense Media.
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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.
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.
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.