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.

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/

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

QUARANTINE TIPS: Work From Home Edition

Hey All You Cool Cats and Kittens

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

Ok, but for real tho..

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

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


Don’t fight it.

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

Develop a New Routine

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

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


Productivity

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

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


Time Management

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

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


Have Some Fun

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

Be Kind To Yourself

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


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

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

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

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

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

Hey mama,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

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

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

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

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