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!

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

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. 

Attachment Part I: 25 Reasons to Cuddle your Baby

The Importance of Physical Touch and Affection

Part one in a two part series on the effects of physical touch on your baby's growth and development.

Hey Mama, Happy New Year!

As you probably didn’t know, cause, you know, it’s a made-up holiday, National Cuddle Day (!) was on January 6th this year. With that in mind, and in the spirit of new beginnings and healthy habits, we’re going to be kicking off the New Year with a series on the importance of cuddling! Sounds silly, we know but it’s actually a scientific fact that humans, and especially babies, need physical contact for proper development. 

The following have been found to be direct benefits of physical contact for babies:

  1. Regulated heart rate following birth
  2. Regulated temperature following birth
  3. Regulated breathing following birth
  4. Enhanced awareness following birth
  5. Improved sleep patterns for baby (and you too!)
  6. Improved digestion and elimination for baby
  7. Reduced fussiness in baby and increased comfort in their surroundings
  8. Improved neurological function in babies
  9. Increased weight gain for premature and full term babies
  10. Improved relaxation for you and baby (1)
  11. Lays the foundation for baby to learn empathy (2)
  12. Encourages bonding for both parties
  13. Helps baby associate physical touch with pleasure/love
  14. Helps baby create connections with others later in life (2)
  15. Increased levels of oxytocin, decreased levels of cortisol (3)
  16. Increased self confidence later in life (5)
  17. Greater ability to deal with life’s stressors (5)
  18. Creates a healthy sense of personal boundaries (5)
  19. Improved muscle tone + circulation (5)
  20. Improved pulmonary and immune functions
  21. Reduced discomfort from teething, congestion, colic, and emotional stress (5)
  22. Deeper sleep
  23. Improved milk production for mom
  24. Increased brain function from time spent quiet and alert, rather than crying (5)
  25. Greater self worth 

When physical touch is absent during a child’s early life, it can have devastating repercussions. Babies who aren’t huggled, cuddled or touched enough have been observed to stop growing, and in extreme cases, even when being provided adequate nutrition and care otherwise, they have died (2). This phenomenon was most notably observed in overcrowded, underfunded orphanages in early America, where infant mortality rates hovered around 35% (2). This disturbing trend led reformers to replace orphanages with the modern foster care system, in hopes of providing children with a higher quality of life (4).

The benefits of physical touch affect adults too. From an association between winning NBA teams and their physical contact with each other, to adults whose perception and memory of a given situation is actually changed by physical contact, the results are clear (3). In older children, studies found that children who received a positive, affirming touch on the back or arm from a teacher were twice as likely to be positively engaged than students who did not (3). 

But how does this happen? Does it actually work?

It’s a pretty simple chemical process that happens inside our brains thats causes touch to have such far reaching effects. A warm touch has been shown to cause a spike in levels of oxytocin, a stress relieving hormone that actively reduces levels of the nasty little stress hormone cortisol. When levels are lowered, the prefrontal areas of the brain – the part responsible for regulating our emotions – can relax, allowing it to perform it’s other chief function, problem solving, more easily. Essentially, the body interprets this type of touch as saying, ‘I’m here to help; I can share the load’. For little ones, this is endlessly reassuring and will provide the foundation for how they interact with others for the rest of their lives. 

Come back for Part II next week when we’ll be sharing some easy ways to incorporate meaningful touch into your routine with baby and debunking one of the oldest motherhood myths out there! Have a great week mama!

XO,
FAKE MOM