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

Step Mom Acronyms and Their Meanings

We just wanted to share a quick post today about something helpful we recently learned, that has made it easier to move through some of the online communities relating to motherhood.

Motherhood can look very different depending on your situation, but there is a community out there for you, whatever your motherhood looks like. One of the subcultures we relate to the most here at Fake Mom, is the Step Mom community. As with any group, they’ve developed a language that allows them to communicate effectively with each other. As an outsider, some of these words and acronyms can be confusing or hard to decode. It took us a while to wade through alternate definitions before we found the meaning behind the word that helped us to realize that this was actually a community we could relate to. That being said, we want to share with you what we’ve found, so that if this is your community and you just haven’t realized it yet, you can find your village.

TermMeaning
BDBiological Daughter
BSBiological Son
BFBiological/Birth Father
BFBoyfriend (alternate)
BMBiological/Birth Mother
CACustody Agreement
COCourt Order
CPCustodial Parent
CS/CSOChild Support, Child Support Order
CPSChild Protective Services
DDDear Daughter
DHDear Husband
DSDear Son
EoWEvery Other Week
EoWeEvery Other Weekend
FILFather in Law
FHFuture Husband
FWFuture Wife
FSD/FSSFuture Step Daughter, Future Step Son
FSKFuture Step Kids
GALGuardian Ad Litem
GFGirlfriend (alternate)
GF, GM, GPGrandfather, Grandmother, Grandparents
HCBMHigh Conflict Bio/Birth Mother
HCBFHigh Conflict Bio/Birth Father
LGLegal Guardian
MILMother in Law
NCPNon-Custodial Parent
OHOther Half
PPO/PO(Personal) Protective Order
SAHMStay at Home Mom
SDStep Daughter
SK or SKIDSStep Kids
SOSignificant Other
SSStep Son
TFThe/Their Father
TMThe/Their Mother
TOWThe Other Woman
TOMThe Other Mom
XFILEx Father in Law
XMILEx Mother in Law
XHEx Husband
XWEx Wife
#Age of subject (i.e. SD9)

XO, Fake Mom

Sources:

Tips for Boosting You + Your Little One’s Immune Systems

Hey mama,

How are we all doing out there? Are you panic stricken by the CoronaVirus coverage or are you managing to keep it together? Maybe somewhere in between? With all the numbers, speculation and warnings going around, it’s hard to process the information or know what to do next.

Here at Fake Mom, we’re all about being proactive, rather than waiting to be reactive. And the best way to be proactive about contagious viruses or public health outbreaks is to support your immune system so your body is ready should it need to fight off an infection, virus or bacteria. Below are 17 tips for boosting your and your littles one’s immune health along with some tips for sneaking the trickier foods into meals.  

There are few things harder than being sick and trying to care for a little one who’s full of energy, so make sure you’re taking good care of yourself too! Grown ups can incorporate any of the items on the list into their lifestyle, while some tips are not suited for small children. Each tip will denote whether or not it is suitable for children 

Citrus Fruit rich in vitamin c, which is thought to boost white blood cell production. They’re sweet and juicy flavors tend to make them an easy favorite with little ones, but if you have a picky eater who is texture sensitive, using citrus juices is a great substitute. Processed store bought juices have a lot more sugar than the actual fruit, so if you can’t juice yourself, we recommend watering store bought juice down with at least half as much water as juice. You’re little one will still get the vitamin boost they need without the extra sugar. AGE 6 MONTHS +

Spinach is a triple threat; packed with white blood cell boosting vitamin c, regenerative antioxidants and strengthening beta carotene. Use it in smoothies blended with other fruits and veggies as little ones tend to not be super excited but this plain tasting leafy green. AGE 6 MONTHS +

Ginger, a go to for most cold like symptoms, ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory and can help fight nausea. Ginger can be used in your littles ones bath but can be quiete strong when it is cooked with. AGE 6 MONTHS +

Garlic for grown ups it’s known for its heart healthy benefits but garlic also contains compounds such as allicin which is known to have immune boosting properties. Garlic is great to use as a flavor enhancer when cooking and is an easy additive to most recipes. AGE 6 MONTHS +

Turmeric is an old world remedy for inflammation that has gained popularity in recent years among western lifestyle gurus for its anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties. Turmeric is great added to smoothies or blended treats for your little one. The flavor is mild enough to be masked by citrus fruits and the bold color will peak your little one’s curiosity. Turmeric can be used to cook with or as an additive in small amounts to fresh smoothies or juices. AGE 6 MONTHS +

Papaya, often an overlooked superfood, have more vitamin c than oranges, are packed with potassium, b vitamins, folate and an anti-inflammatory enzyme called papain. Because of it’s mild taste, papayas are also great for smoothies or juicing when added with other more flavorful fruits and vegetables. AGE 8 MONTHS +

Kiwi are full of folate, potassium, and vitamins k and c. They can be a little sour so if your little one won’t eat one by itself, try adding it into a smoothie. The flavor is mild enough to blend seamlessly with other fruits and veggies. AGE 10 MONTHS +

Water is the key to life and health! Our bodies are 70% and require that we consume clean fresh water to replenish what our bodies use up throughout the day. Watering down any liquid your baby drinks is any easy way to decrease heir sugar intake and increase their water intake. AGE 6 MONTHS +

Sleep is simultaneously the most important and most neglected aspect of our modern life. Proper sleep is essential to a healthy, balanced life, and sleep deprivation is the natural enemy of our body’s immune system, killing the cells in our bodies designed to track down and attack dangerous microbes and cancer cells. ALL AGES

Local Honey. Honey can be tricky because children under 1 can contract botulism from the bacteria found in honey. But after 12 months, their bodies are able to process these bacteria properly and they can benefit from its many useful properties. Honey is a natural antibacterial and contains powerful antioxidant properties shown to lower LDL (read: bad) cholesterol, blood pressure and triglycerides. In children, honey has been found to be as effective as over the counter cough suppressants. The honey acts a barrier, coating the throat and providing relief without the side effects of over the counter meds, which often keep your little one from getting the quality sleep they need to fight off their illness. Adding a bit of honey and lemon to warm water for baby when they’re not feeling good is especially soothing before bed. AGE 12 MONTHS +

Lay off over the counter meds- it may seem counterintuitive but loading your little one up with drugs every time they get the sniffles will actually make them more sick in the long run. As a result of this over medication, bacteria themselves begin to build up an immunity to the treatment. These new, antibacterial resistant strains are harder to fight and a simple ear infection can snowball into a serious infection. ALL AGES

Yogurt contains thousands of good bacteria to keep you healthy from the inside out. The “live and active cultures” stimulate our immune system, help our digestive system to work more efficiently, and are fortified with vitamin d, which helps regulate our immune system and boost our defenses against disease. Most little ones enjoy yogurt because of its mildly sweet flavor but if you have a child who is averse to foods with a runnier consistency, you can use yogurt as a smoothie base and blend it with fruits and veggies to make a delicious drinkable and nutritious snack for your baby.  AGE 6-8 MONTHS +

Blueberries contain Flavonoids, antioxidants that can repair damaged cells and boost your immune system. They are also rich in vitamins and nutrients including vitamins C and A, potassium, fiber and manganese, an essential nutrient found commonly in nuts and legumes. Little ones tend to like blueberries because it’s a chance to flex their fine motor skills and trying to pick them up is just as fun as eating them. They also blend well into any smoothie. AGE 7 MONTHS +

Green Tea: Green tea is loaded with caffeine, so this one is definitely not for kids. But for grown ups, green tea is somewhat of a superfood. The caffeine boost is a welcome effect for most grown ups but it’s levels of epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, a powerful antioxidant shown to boost immune health. Green tea also contains high levels of L-Theanine, an amino acid that may raise production of germ fighting compounds in your body’s T-cells. ADULTS ONLY

Cruciferous Vegetable: These include cabbage, broccoli, colliflower, kale, brussel sprouts, bok choy, radishes, arugula, collards and watercress: Rich in vitamins and minerals like folate and vitamin K, darker varieties are also rich in vitamins A and C. They’re also packed full of phytonutrients, plant based compounds that benefit our bodies in a number of ways, most notably by acting as anti-inflammatories and reducing our risk for cancer and heart disease. Little ones enjoy cruciferous vegetables the most when they’re cooked a bit and seasoned with aromatic spices like garlic, onion or turmeric, all of which provide their own health benefits. AGE 10 MONTHS +

Mushrooms: They’re usually not popular with kids but adults love them and mushrooms are packed full of nutrients that help keep us strong and healthy. Cooked properly, the varieties that are not poisonous are packed with B vitamins, potassium, copper, antioxidants and beta glucan, a soluble fiber linked to lowering cholesterol and supporting heart health. AGE 12 MONTHS +

Sunflower seeds: This may be a surprising one for most people but sunflower seeds are actually packed with nutrients including phosphorus, magnesium and vitamins B-6 and E, a powerful antioxidant responsible for regulating our immune system. AGE 24 MONTHS +

Sources:

https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/foods-that-boost-the-immune-system#ginger

https://www.parents.com/health/cold-flu/cold/boost-childs-immunity/

https://www.geisinger.org/health-and-wellness/wellness-articles/2018/01/19/14/09/6-foods-to-boost-your-immune-system-through-cold-and-flu-season

https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/nutrient-rich-foods/the-beginners-guide-to-cruciferous-vegetables https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/are-mushrooms-good-for-you

2020 Tastemakers You Should Know

Welcome back, mama! And once again, Happy Black History Month! This week, we want to introduce you to some of our favorite people. You may know these individuals as influencers, but for us, their influence goes way beyond hawking Amazon items on Instagram. These people are free thinkers, movement starters and radical doers. They’re actively working to push the culture forward, everyday. Our list is far from comprehensive but here are some of our favorite tastemakers you should get familiar with in 2020.

Ericka Hart

@ihartericka

Erika is a non binary, black femme educator and cancer survivor and they will school you in the best way. Erika speaks on everything from sexual and social justice to being a plant bae and giving yourself regular breast exams. Plus they’re usually on IG with they’re partner Ebony who is hella funny and insightful. And Eb’s from Oakland so you already how much love we have for one of our own.

Shayla Bang

@shaylabang1

Shayla is one of my favorite people on social media. She is hella funny, hella stylish and hella motivated. She’s building an amazingly authentic brand, SoOakland that focuses on bringing authentic energy and engagement back to her community. She’s easily on the funniest people on the internet, freestyling about what it’s like to date in the Bay Area, or ranting about the struggles of entrepreneurship and encouraging her audience to take time to heal and feed their soul. She’s unapologetic about who she is, and her energy is infectious. BONUS: She’s an avid thrifter and some of her best looks cost less than $20! Do i need to keep going?

Chidera Eggeru

@theslumflower

Chidera is an author and activist who’s movement centers around body acceptance, specifically, with regard to saggy boobs. Chidera’s movement, #SaggyBoobsMatter hopes to end the stigma placed around women’s breasts and the tendency of society to put them into a hierarchy of desirability. She bravely uses her own body as the face for her movement and fearlessly represents. She’s also the author of What a Time to be Alone, a book about the endless joy and possibility of being alone. She encourages her readers to heal themselves, live with purpose and shake off the background noise. A body positive, 21st century guru. 

Jennah Brittany

@missjaydmv

We here at Fake Mom are suckers for a good laugh and Jennah Brittany knows how to make people laugh. Her original sketches are creative, relatable, and often go viral. Her videos vary between hilarious cultural critiques and fully developed characters. Our personal favorite: Victoria Chase the 90’s vocal coach. You heard it here first, there are big things coming for Miss Jay. Saturday Night Live, Nickelodeon, only time will tell, but she is seriously funny and destined for greatness.

Demetria Lucas

@demetriallucas

Demetria is like that good friend that you call when you’re feeling weak and wanting to text that trash dude you know you need to leave alone. She posts videos giving her insight and critique on relatable celebrity situations – cheating, toxic relationships and the like, and answers questions from followers in an advice column format where she tries to help steer women away from self destruction and towards self love. 

Ellen Ector

@ellenectorfit

Ellen Ector has changed the face of fitness in many ways. At 67 years young, Ms. Ector is force behind the fitness movements #BlackGirlsWorkoutToo and Gymnetics Fitness, along with her daughter Lana. Ellen promotes a plant based lifestyle and has encouraged millions of women to achieve their dreams through fitness. A pioneer in fitness representation for women of color and women over 50, Ellen Ector has reshaped the face of fitness and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. 

Cacsmy Brutus

@mamacax

It is with a very heavy heart that we must share the news that Cacsmy Brutus, known online as Mama Cax passed away in the last part of 2019, as this article was being written. Mama Cax was what the world needs more of, beauty with depth. As a cancer survivor and disability activist, Cax was making waves in many different industries, disrupting beauty standards, modeling in major campaigns, and always centering the most vulnerable among us. While she will no longer be physically present with us, her work will transcend time and has helped to redefine our society’s standards of what is beautiful. She will be sorely missed.

It’s a Look

@itsalookwith.us

Podcast creators are clearly creative geniuses. It’s a Look, hosted by @yesfredia and @jena_dominique is a dope podcast thats insightful and funny and touches on a variety of relevant topics for young women. They originally started in the  fashion space but have expanded their universe to event hosting. They’re feed is a mosaic of styled photoshoots, motivation to go after what you want and announcements about their ever expanding brand. They’re poised for continued growth in 2020 and we can’t wait to see what they come with. 

Billy Porter

@theebillyporter

Billy Porter has been turning heads and making statements since 2013 when he won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. But the moment Billy really showed up on our radar was his iconic pink cape moment at the 2019 Golden Globes. Bold fashion choices would become Billy’s hallmark on the red carpet, subsequently stunning in gender bending gowns at the 2019 Met Gala the 2019 Academy Awards and again at the 2020 Golden Globes. Billy has referred to his fashion choices as ‘political art’ and given the cultural conversations that follow his red carpet appearances, we’d have to agree. 

India Monae

@_indiamonae

If you had to choose just one of these people to follow, it should be real estate investor, educator and serial entrepreneur, India Monae. India’s focus is on creating financial literacy for her audience, something she’s extremely passionate about. Her latest venture, Land Over Labels teaches “black millenials how to build wealth from the ground up” and she’s constantly sharing tips and insight on how to make money work for you, instead of the other way around.

Paola Mathé

@findingpaola

Paola is a mom, entrepreneur and creative who shares her insights on living a purposeful life with passion. Her social media posts typically detail the drive it takes to make her busy world spin. Her instagram feed profiles her growing business, her colorful world, love of fashion and dedication to her family. Her brand, Fanm Djanm celebrates sisterhood, self love, strength and freedom. 

Destiny Lavonia

@momcrushmonday

Destiny is so inspiring! She’s the only blogger I’ve ever seen who has been open about their co parenting journey and that shit is really real and more people should be speaking on it. Plus, she’s got amazing style and the aesthetic of her blog is inspiring. 

Sonique Saturday

@soniquesaturday

When we first discovered her, her bio on Instagram read: “Outcast my whole life, so I decided to dress like André” I mean come on, I don’t think you can make much more of a statement. Her online persona has evolved and she runs House of Saturday now but her energy and style are still at the center of her brand.

Compton Cowboys

@comptoncowboys

Using horses as a vehicle for healing, the Compton Cowboys are rewriting several cultural narratives at once. Their team and their mission are unique, inspiring and more than anything, encourage you to live without limiting yourself.

Christianee Porter

@thechristishow

If you’re not familiar with viral sensation, Shirleen, stop what you’re doing and go watch her on Youtube or Instagram. Shirleen is the pios, petty and perpetually outraged church lady. But her creator, Christianee Porter, known online as The Christi Show, has developed several other characters as well. Young Velvetta, Shirleen’s nephew and aspiring rapper; Dr. Jenn, the doctor we all need to gather us; Honesty and Prosperity, best friends who call each other for everything; and Karen Don’t Care, the news anchor with the beat on the street. She began touring comedy clubs around the country and you can catch her performing near you! 

One Six Eight

@onesixeightpodcast

Originally a podcast, we found these lovely ladies on Instagram and we’re so happy we found them! They’re sassy, fun and have a knack for creating really engaging content without making it feel too contenty. Our favorite thing about them? Their motto: Kill the week, bitch! We’re trying, ladies.

Icon Billingsley

@icontips

A style legend. The mastermind behind some of our favorite girls’ most ICONIC looks. Zendaya, Dej Loaf, Megan the Stallion and more. His instagram feed is more inspiring than a lot of fashion magazines. 

René Daniella

@ownbyfemme

A creative who’s passionate about travel, René Daniella showcases her love for fashion, hosts a travel show, and encourages her follows to find their heart’s passion. She shares travel tips and snaps from some of the most beautiful places on earth.  

Aerin Creer

@aerincreer

Aerin is a fashion model who loves to share her love of fashion and style tips. Not only is she major muse material, she’s also become an activist for epilepsy, after a major seizure led to her out-of-the-blue diagnosis, she’s been pretty transparent about her struggles since diagnosis, which is inspiring considering she’s still pretty young. 

Attachment Part 2: Incorporating meaningful touch into your child’s life

Happy Hump Day Mama! You’re halfway there..

We hope the New Year’s been treating you kindly 🙂 Today, we’re jumping right in, with Part Two of our series on the importance of physical touch in your child’s development. If you missed Part One when we discussed 25 benefits that come from positive, affirming physical touch, you can catch up here.

Today, we’re taking it a step further, and looking at what we can actually do to incorporate loving, meaningful touch into our little one’s lives.

Kangaroo Care

VIA UNITYPOINT.ORG

Kangaroo Care gets its name from its similarities to marsupial care. It involves a parent holding their swaddled newborn to their bare chest. For children born preterm or with complications, Kangaroo Care has life altering capabilities (6). In the first hour after birth, skin to skin contact is essential for babies to bond with their parents and regulate their vitals (1). This initial skin to skin time is so important in baby’s growth and development that professionals recommend building time for it into your birthing plan, postponing the normal protocol after birth of washing and weighing baby to prioritize skin to skin time (1).

Infant Massage

VIA MOM365

Infant massage is the next stage of important developmental touch after skin to skin. This type of touch is about bonding, love and respect. It’s important to be read baby’s interactions with you during this time; Trust is a key part of this activity, and it goes without saying that baby needs to trust that you’re not going to hurt them, so pay attention to the physical responses your child may be giving you; whether they are positively engaged or disengaged. Children communicate instinctively from their time they’re born, through physical responses before they can talk so it’s important that you learn to read their cues (1).

Good Nights

Creating positive associations with sleep is a vital part of your child’s development, but it’s also the perfect opportunity to build in positive touch with your little one. Goodnight hugs and kisses are quick and easy ways to increase your physical interactions and massaging their head or back while you read them a goodnight story will help them fall asleep faster and feel more connected to you.

Myth Busters: They Don’t Know What They’re Talking About…

How many times has someone (older than you, most likely) told you that you were gonna spoil your baby picking them up too much? This is one of the most common critiques of moms, most especially from well meaning (?) relatives and family friends, who know that you’re going to regret picking that baby up so much when they won’t leave you alone. Umm, what? Thank you for you concern sir, but we’re not doing that let them cry till they can’t no more, no more.

For generations, the myth that holding a baby too much will ‘spoil them’ has persisted. You’ve likey heard it before, and may have even put some stock in it. Nobody wants a ‘spoiled’ kid and technically, it’s true, they have been raising kids longer than us…

There are two parts to the baby spoiling ideology:

  • You should let your baby cry for a while
  • You’re holding them too much

“Let Them Cry”
When an infant cries, they need something. They’re not crying for your attention (they don’t even understand those concepts yet) and they’re not trying to be difficult. Babies only cry as method of meeting their needs. This means if your child is crying, they need something from you; a meal, a diaper, a measuring hug (7). When you allow your child to cry for extended periods of time, without responding to them, you being to send silent messages that their needs are not a priority, or that you may not even notice them. These messages will compound as the child grows, and one subjected to this kind of treatment for prolonged periods will begin to show effects, like struggling to create bonds with others, that will follow them into adulthood.

Sources:
1. https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2013/09/the-benefits-of-touch-for-babies-parents.html
2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/born-love/201003/touching-empathy
3. https://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/23/health/23mind.html?scp=3&sq=touch&st=cse
4. https://www.americanadoptions.com/adoption/do-orphanages-still-exist 
5. https://www.chla.org/blog/rn-remedies/cuddling-does-kids-and-parents-good 
6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5683265/
7. https://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/features/infants-attention#1

How to Keep Your Kids Entertained Inside (Without Losing It!)

Hey Mama,

For most of us, winter is in full swing. Maybe that means snow days, maybe that means rainstorms but either way, most of your family is likely gonna be stuck indoors for long stretches during this time of year. It can be tough to keep it together during the winter, we get it. So we put together a little Cabin Fever Survival Guide to help you keep your little ones from driving you totally insane.

We broke it down into three parts: your survival kit, activities for little ones, and activities for bigger ones.

Survival Kit
Essential items to have on hand during the winter time. These items are versatile, can be used in a variety of entertaining ways, inexpensive, easy to find, and won't destroy your home. 
  1. Rolls of tape (painter’s or gaffer’s tape are best; they’re sturdy and easily removable)
  2. Toilet paper
  3. Contact paper
  4. Bubbles
  5. Washable markers
  6. Balloons
  7. Rechargeable batteries
Activities for Little Ones
These activities are great for entertaining little ones under the age of 5. They involve games that build on fundamental skills your little ones are still learning and are designed to keep them engaged at their skill level. 

Sensory blankets (LIN/PIC) are great for babies at tummy time but the activities can easily be adjusted to fit your little ones needs. This DIY spin on it, (LINK/INCLUDE PIC) is a great way to adapt your activities and the modular design means you can rearrange the pieces to create sensory trails around your house. BONUS TIPS: If you live in a small space, make this activity a bit more exciting by allowing kids access to normally restricted areas, like the bathroom or kitchen. Giving kids a little more room to run, especially when they’ve been inside for several consecutive days can make the long stretches a little easier for both of you. 

USE OLD NEWSPAPERS TO TURN YOUR KITCHEN FLOOR INTO A GIANT CANVAS. PHOTO VIA JLHEUER.WORDPRESS.COM

‘Indoor Chalk’: Set your little one up with a paper covered floor and a few washable markers and let them go crazy! Giant drawing paper can be expensive but the blank side of wrapping paper works great as a substitute. Tape it to the floor of a whole room for fun that lasts a little longer. If you’re little ones are young enough, you can get away with newspaper rather than wrapping paper. Also, make sure the makers are washable and non-toxic cause it’s inevitable that they will draw on something they’re not supposed to and put the markers in their mouth, so just make it easy on yourself. 

Contact paper: there are tons of activities out there centered around contact paper. Its mild stickiness is great for sensory development and the fact that little things stick to, but easily come off is endlessly entertaining. Tape it to the wall and let baby stick things to it to exercise their fine motor skills, or use it with salt and paint for a messier, but fun experiment with color and texture. 

Color scavenger hunt: This is a great way to help baby learn their colors and have fun at the same time. Use those old paint sample cards we’ve all got stuffed into a drawer somewhere (or grab some from anywhere paint is sold) and use them to do a color scavenger hunt around your house. Stick with primary colors if you’re little one is still learning and add more shades as they get better at color spotting.

Simon Says is a great way to engage with little ones and let them get some energy out! Give them silly commands and watch them giggle endlessly.

Treasure Hunt: hide various toys around your house and have you little one hunt for them. Puzzle pieces, small toys, their favorite stuffed animal. Give them hints to help them if they get frustrated and hide them in silly places to give little ones and extra laugh.

Bubbles! Little ones go crazy over them and big ones will get a kick out of blowing them and driving the little ones mad! Fun for everyone

Youtube is great for little ones too! Instead of complicated dance videos, little ones will love sing alongs! We love to play sing alongs for our little one’s and they’re happy for as long as I let them rock out. They’ll dance and sing along and there are tons of song options out there to keep it educational and fun. ‘Super Simple Espanol’ is our favorite channel.

Activities for Bigger Ones:
These activities are best for children over the age of 5. Some of the games on this list involve critical thinking or controlled motor skills and other advanced stages of development your little one may not have reached yet. If you have children in different age groups, many of these activities can be adapted for both of your children to participate.

Activity dice: these giant dice are super easy to make, and you can customize the activities according to your child’s needs and interests. Make them act like an animal or imitate a superhero, whatever they would engage with best HERE’S a printable template to help you get started with some blank spaces for customization. BONUS ACTIVITY! Let your kids color them + make a few of their own activities of their own. Then play with them! They’ll go crazy over seeing you do whatever silly thing they came up with. 

PHOTO VIA RYSELTOYS.COM

Balloon Games: Balloons are the best! And there’s lots of things you can do with them! Ballon jumpers: tape the balloon to the ceiling, challenge them to reach it, then raise it up a little each time they hit it successfully. 

  • Balloon Volleyball
  • Don’t let the balloon touch the ground 

Color scavenger hunt: This activity is great because it can easily be adapted for older kids. While the little ones work on finding one color, bigger ones can take the whole sheet of shades and match each one. Time them, make it a contest, or offer prizes to help engage more reluctant kids.

Obstacle course crawl: This one takes a bit of setup, but is a great way for older kids to keep busy during those bad weather spells. Using rolls of toilet paper or streamers and tape, create an intricate obstacle course for your kids to find their way through. Use a variety of heights and angles to make it more challenging for bigger ones. 

VIA MARIETTA SPY SHOP

Traditional obstacle course: This is a great way for your bigger ones – and little ones too – to get some energy out. Try to think of higher energy activities if your child needs the run around a bit. If you’re working within a small space, these activities don’t necessarily need a ton of room. Below is a list of obstacle course activities that don’t need as much room.

  • Balancing on one foot
  • Jumping jacks
  • Hula hoops
  • Distance Toss
  • High Jump
  • Knee raisers
  • Indoor Bowling

Charades: There are many versions of this classic game and they’re all tons of fun for all ages! On scraps of paper, write down a bunch of random people, places and things for you and the kids to act out. You can even let them add in a couple for increased engagement. Then, take turns pulling from a hat and acting them out. Make it a competition and add points for bigger-er ones. 

VIA TEACHMAMA.COM

Youtube: This one is a life saver and a huge resources for most adults i know. University of Youtube is also a great way to keep your kids engaged and active. Que up fun workout videos for them, like Billy Blanks classic tye bo tapes, or dance tutorials, but only if you’re prepared for them to bust those moves out every. single. Chance. They. get. For the next 6 months. BONUS: for an added laugh, show them vintage dances like the running man. They’ll think it’s the funniest shit ever. Let’s be real, it is. 

Indoor bowling: this is hours of fun, with very little clean up. Let your bigger ones use red plastic cups to create pins, and a small light ball as the ball. Set your kids u with a score card so they can play a full game and offer a prize to the winner, like choice of dessert or dinner.