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A Guided Introduction to Re-Parenting Yourself


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.

Supplies You Need to Start Homeschooling

They say the first step is the hardest one. Getting started with homeschooling can be overwhelming, so the first thing I recommend is finding a homeschool planner that works for you. There are tons of them out there. I knew that I was going to need a lot of support for our journey and that it was something new I was going to have to learn a lot about.  So I opted for a robust Montessori planning system. Digital products like these go on sale often, so it doesn’t need to break the bank. I got mine on sale from Lindsay at ModernBirthingMama.com. She’s a stay at home mom who homeschools and creates resources to make the process a little easier. I picked up her Ultimate Montessori Homeschool Binder which came with a bunch of other resources to help me create the foundation for how we homeschool.

I’ll write an itemized list of some of the resources that are essential to getting started. Ours came from a few different sources; Little Bear had been in early intervention programs and they regularly provide resources through their newsletter with helpful information and activity ideas; our team of therapists who provide us with benchmarks to watch for and creative ideas to encourage developmental progress; our pediatrician and other specialists, who help us interpret Little Bear’s needs and limitations. Your child may not be developmentally delayed, but these resources will still be able to help you understand the skills your child should have and tips for teaching them effectively. 

Here’s a full breakdown of what came with ourMontessori Planner and some of the most important resources we used when getting started:

Practical Life Skills and Activities – age appropriate life skills
Developmental Milestones – age appropriate physical/mental/emotional development
Budget Planner
Sample Daily Schedule for Toddlers/Preschoolers
Yearly Goal Setting (reflection for Mom & education)
Student Goal Setting – a breakdown of specific skills you want mastered and steps to get there
Prepared Environment Reflection/Lifestyle – is your home conducive to learning? What can you do to make it more so?
Monthly planning template
Weekly planning template
Daily Hour by Hour Planner
Weekly observations
Field Trip Planner
Weekly Activity planner
Lesson Planner – simple & advanced
Meal Prep Guide
Room/Home planner – for creating a learning environment 
Reading Log
Monthly Calendar 
Goal Trackers

In addition to this list, which will help you organize your curriculum and lesson plans, you’re going to need some actual activities to fill their day with. Thankfully, there are a ton of resources with fun ideas to play and learn with your children in engaging ways, especially since most of us have spent the last 8 months at home with our kids, trying to come up with ways to keep everybody from going crazy.

Instagram is my absolute favorite place to find activities to fill our daily schedule. There are so many amazing creators on Instagram with some really unique, inexpensive and kid friendly activity ideas, and access to Instagram is free. While some creators do peddle high priced products, the vast majority don’t and are just regular people like you and me, trying to have fun, teach their kid, and not break the bank or buy a bunch of stuff. My top 3 Instagram accounts for play and learn activities are:
1. @mothercould
2. @makeitmontessori
3. @bigpictureplay
4. @playlearnthrivekids
5. @napacenter

And That’s really it! This list seems long and maybe overwhelming, but you don’t NEED all of this stuff to get started. Bare minimum, you’ll need a daily schedule and a list of activities. More planning makes controlling your child’s education over the long term much more manageable, but if you’re getting your feet under you and just need to start, you could start today with the resources in this blog post.

Honest Homeschooling: What to Think About if You’re Considering Home Schooling You Child

Today, Little Bear and I start our first official day of homeschool. Our path to homeschooling started waaay before the pandemic. As we’ve shared, Little Bear has Sensory Processing Disorder and some developmental delays, so I’ve been thinking about what his education would look like basically his whole life. I have nothing but love and respect for teachers working in public education. I truly think many of them are doing God’s work. But the education system is tremendously flawed, underfunded, neglected and it can be difficult for them to meet the needs of non traditional students with their limited resources. I always knew I wanted something different for Little Bear, I just wasn’t sure what. 

Initially I leaned towards a Montessori school as my main option, then the pandemic hit and everything changed. I have a strong background in education. In college, I worked as an assistant coordinator for an after school program in the Oakland Unified School District. I’ve written curriculum, attended state sanctioned seminars, worked hands on teaching creative arts to children and providing academic support and tutoring. My time studying and working in the field of education has given me some strong opinions around education and child development. So, in my case, I always had this feeling inside that I had the tools to educate him myself, and give him the education I believed he needed rather than the tired model that leaves so many of us needing more.

But I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that I woke up stoked to basically become a teacher. That’s not my calling or passion, so while I knew the idea felt right, I was still very resistant to the idea of taking on the task of educating my child myself. In all honesty, my road to this point was kind of messy. But the mess helped me see the situation for what it was, and eventually I found my way through.

Here are the things I considered when weighing my options;

  • Your mental health. Homeschooling is not easy, even when it’s easy. And if you know from jump, that this isn’t for you, it’s worth taking the time to process through any resistance you may be feeling about taking the plunge into full time homeschooling. Do you already feel overwhelmed and overworked? Does the idea of even getting started with homeschool stress you out and fry your brain? Do you know patience and helping others work through problems are difficult tasks for you? That’s ok, you’re human. But you do have the responsibility of setting the tone for your child. So take some time to get familiar and comfortable with your new role and the responsibilities that come along with it. Reach out to others for resources and support. You’re not the only person in this situation, and you’re not the only one who needs help. It’s going to be okay. 
  • Consider what is best for your child. How does your child learn best? What kind of activities or toys do they engage with most? How have they been handling virtual learning? For me these answers to these questions seemed a little counter intuitive. For some reason, I felt that my child had made more progress when he wasn’t participating in virtual learning sessions than when he was. This was a key realization for me, because it helped me to understand that the virtual model didn’t work for my child, which is actually pretty normal.
  • Your strengths and weaknesses. No one is good at everything, so have an honest conversation with yourself and take stock of your most valuable skills, and how they will help you in homeschooling. Then, write a list of the areas you struggle in, or would like to improve, and write down how these negatives will also effect your homeschool process. 

Decide your educational core values.
What is the point of education, for you? What kind of environment do you want your child to learn in? What are the concepts that you want to make sure they can grasp to function at their highest level? What was good or bad about your own educational experience and how did it shape you later in life. Answering these questions will help you determine your answer to the next point of consideration. 

  • What is realistic for your lifestyle. there are a lot of factors that go into homeschooling that you might not necessarily think about right away: your budget for supplies and resources, if you have the space in your home to dedicate to education and your ability to modify your space if necessary, how much time you can dedicate to planning and prep and how often you’ll do it.
  • What kind of educational method is right for your child. there are many alternatives to the traditional public education model we’re familiar with. The Montessori education model has been around for over 100 years and has seen ups and downs in it’s popularity with American parents. There are others too: Waldorf, Harkness, Reggio Emilia, each with a unique set of principles, they believe foster the ideal learning environment for kids. We’ll talk more about different educational styles and how their benefits in the next few weeks. 

The good news is, homeschooling is extremely flexible and can be structured in whatever way works best for you and your family. There are a variety of robust tools and resources available to make homeschooling fun, interesting and engaging for you and your child.

End of the Year Check In

Hey Mamas! 

It’s been a little, while am I right? It feels redundant to say but this year has changed our lives forever. 

I’ve shifted careers and have taken the leap into entrepreneurship full time. It’s scary, but it gives me the freedom I need to do the thing that’s most important to me now a days: raising a happy, healthy, KIND human. 

I’ve opted out of virtual school and decided to homeschool full time for the foreseeable future. I knew pre-pandemic that education for Little Bear was going to be a little different. I’ve spent five years working in public schools and know how difficult it is for them to fully meet the needs of their students, especially given the fact that most public schools are heinously underfunded. 

We’re living more simply these days: being stripped of everything you thought you wanted and needed in life has a way of showing you what you really need. We’re making conscious efforts to live a more humble, less wasteful life. Everything from the way we cook to how we sort our trash has changed, to reflect a life of simplicity and resourcefulness. 

I know for many folks, the pandemic hit much harder. Many people lost their jobs, and a fair amount of people lost their homes. Many people lost loved ones, relationships and friendships in the last few months. 

It can be difficult in hard times to stay positive or find the good in things, especially if you feel your life has been destroyed. But try to focus on the positive elements of the year. Focus on your resilience and the things that brought you small, consistent joy. Lean in towards those things. 

One of the biggest changes for our family during the pandemic has been education. We were enrolled in early intervention when the pandemic hit in the United States in March. All schools in our county were shut down until July, when many facilities began the process of reopening. During this time, I struggled with whether or not to send Little Bear back to school. A big part of his developmental deficits has to do with social interaction. He had just started to blossom with his peers when we had to shelter in place. I literally agonized over weather the risk was worth the reward, 

I took some time to think about what was best for Little Bear and for me. I thought about how much he had changed since starting school, then his progress via teletherapy, and finally, how he had advanced since stopping teletherapy. For us, the answer was homeschooling. So as we start our homeschooling journey, we’ll take you with us, sharing what we learn, strategies that work for us and helpful resources to streamline the process.

A Guide to Shopping Small this Holiday Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

featured images courtesy of Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diversify Your Bookshelf

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

Point Out Racism in Movies, TV and Games

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

Watch Hard Stuff

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

Seek Out Media Created by People of Color

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

Broaden Your Own Perspective

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

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

Discuss Hate Speech and Harassment Online

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

Understand the Online Landscape

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

Explore the Power of Tech Tools

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

Build News Literacy

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

Teach Your Kid to be an Ally

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

Protest in Dallas Tx. Photo via LM Otero, AP

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

XO, Fake Mom

5 Movie Night Themes & Activities Your Kids Will Love

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

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

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

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

Hotel Transylvania 3 – Racism & Empathy

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

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

The Activity

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


Spiderman into the Spiderverse – Believe in Yourself

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

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

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

The Activity

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


Frozen 2 – Change, Grief, White Supremacy

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

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

The Activity:

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


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

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

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

The Activity

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


The Secret Life of Pets 2 – The Power of Love

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

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

The Activity

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

5 Easy Activities to Entertain Your Kids

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

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

How to Understand Your Baby’s Sleep Cycles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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