Supplies You Need to Start Homeschooling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the things I considered when weighing my options;

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

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

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

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

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/

2020 Tastemakers You Should Know

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

Ericka Hart

@ihartericka

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

Shayla Bang

@shaylabang1

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

Chidera Eggeru

@theslumflower

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

Jennah Brittany

@missjaydmv

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

Demetria Lucas

@demetriallucas

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

Ellen Ector

@ellenectorfit

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

Cacsmy Brutus

@mamacax

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

It’s a Look

@itsalookwith.us

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

Billy Porter

@theebillyporter

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

India Monae

@_indiamonae

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

Paola Mathé

@findingpaola

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

Destiny Lavonia

@momcrushmonday

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

Sonique Saturday

@soniquesaturday

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

Compton Cowboys

@comptoncowboys

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

Christianee Porter

@thechristishow

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

One Six Eight

@onesixeightpodcast

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

Icon Billingsley

@icontips

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

René Daniella

@ownbyfemme

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

Aerin Creer

@aerincreer

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

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

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

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

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

Kangaroo Care

VIA UNITYPOINT.ORG

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

Infant Massage

VIA MOM365

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

Good Nights

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

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

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

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

There are two parts to the baby spoiling ideology:

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

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

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

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

Hey Mama,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PHOTO VIA RYSELTOYS.COM

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

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

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

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

VIA MARIETTA SPY SHOP

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

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

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

VIA TEACHMAMA.COM

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

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

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

Welcome Home!

We’re so glad you’re finally here!

Welcome to Fake Mom, the online community for the unconventional mom. Click HERE to find out a little bit about where we came from.

We hope that you will make yourself at home here. We want to help you breathe through the stress, laugh through the tears and know that, here, you are most important. You’re doing great, sweetie! And we love you so much.

Each week we will feature new content designed to help you through the real $h!* life throws at you. We’ll talk parenting techniques, childhood trauma, overcoming our unique challenges, how we stay so fly through all the drama and more. Our community will consist of our core writing team, unconventional moms themselves, raising kids and crushing their dreams; our panel of moms, your new go-to for all your mommy questions; and most importantly, YOU! Other unconventional moms looking for a place with real advice, real resources and a real community.

If you have some time, please, look around. Get to know the Mama Knows Best moms, download your free copy of #MomHacks or drop us a line and let us know what kind of content you wanna see in the future, or just say wassup! We can’t wait to hear from you.

The Fakest of Them All…

Hi there! You can call me Jas. I’m from California, and I’m raising a child that is not mine by birth. Stepmom? Not quite. Foster parent? Kinda…

I’ll get into the details of our back story a bit later, once we know each other a little more. But in a nutshell, I have guardianship of my two year old nephew, who has lived with me since just after his first birthday. It’s a jarring adjustment to bring a child into your life, and unlike conventional moms, I did not have months to prepare myself.

If motherhood is the hardest job in the world, unconventional motherhood is like doing that job with a blindfold on. Raising a child encompasses so many emotions; joy, pain, relief, anxiety, fear, power, love, loneliness. When you’re not doing it how everyone else does, all of those emotions are amplified.

And whether you agree or not that motherhood is the hardest job in the world, it is easily the most important. Without a doubt, whether we want to admit or not, the relationship that affects us more than any other relationship we will ever have, is the one we have with our mother. Moms are the foundation, the rocks, the compases, the glue, everything! And No mom, no matter the qualifier – single mom, stepmom, FAKE MOM –  should feel alone in her struggles or unsupported by her community.

And that’s what has brought me here, to Fake Mom. My friends don’t have kids, so I turned to the internet and mom bloggers for help.

There are a million Mom-Blogs out there and they’re great, but looking at a beautiful woman, her spacious home and her impeccably dressed family doesn’t really make me feel great about the fact that sometimes, I just can’t get a shower in, all weekend, no matter how hard I try. Or the fact that my baby is struggling with residual trauma and sometimes he gets so upset, I can’t console him. Or help me to understand why the lack of a ring on my finger is so triggering to strangers.

Fake Mom gets it, girl.

Just to clear the air before it gets clouded, the term FAKE MOM is something I coined to refer to myself, and is in no way meant to demean or ridicule anyone. It’s a reflection of a very personal struggle to make sense of an identity and reality that don’t always make sense together. One that I’m still adjusting to. In that struggle, as I’m sure you can relate, is where the most growth happens.

I won’t talk about myself too much on here, as it’s not meant to be a personal blog. Fake Mom isn’t about me, it’s about us. Thank you for being here.

Now that you know a little bit about me, click HERE to learn a little bit more about Fake Mom.