Silver Lining: Finding the Good

The Coronavirus has taken its toll on so many things in my life. It’s robbed me of my village, my family, and my friends. It has taken away the remainder of my 6 year old’s first year in School. It has stripped my 1 year old of celebrating his very first birthday without the people who love him, like my parents.

On a global scale, it has ripped apart families through death and separation. It has destroyed economies and killed small businesses. People are trying to survive on their Savings (if they were lucky enough to have one to begin with). Some people aren’t so lucky and have lost everything. This virus does not discriminate. It spreads so quickly and stealthily.

With all of the sadness and uncertainty happening, there has been some positivity. There has been some silver linings throughout this awful nightmare.

My silver lining is that I was able to truly begin writing. I have wanted to start a blog for a while now. However, I didn’t have the motivation or direction. When the Coronavirus forced the shutdown of everything; it also helped give me a purpose. I wanted to bring my words, experience, and love to as many people as possible. I have terrible anxiety; and being able to write my thoughts down has helped keep it in check. Additionally, I have an extensive amount of topics to write about. I’m also able to use those topics to help others.

The global silver lining is that waterways are clearing, the Earth is healing, and animals are given the chance to roam freely in certain areas that they haven’t been able to before. People are finding ways to connect without physically connecting. We are training our brains to think outside of the box. We also have more respect for healthcare workers, teachers, delivery personnel, grocery stores workers, and other Essential workers.

Our eyes and minds are being opened to different possibilities. Some families are connecting in ways that they haven’t been able to in a very long time. They’re taking hikes, playing board games, experiencing nature, and so much more.

Outside dinner and fire pit.
Family nature walk.
Family Board game night.
Dying Easter Eggs
Family hike!

If you look for the good you will find it. I’ve decided that it’s time to look for the good. If you want to find some extra good and funny, check out the TikTok app. I have seen countless teens and their parents dancing together, joking, building things, and so much more.

I’ve witnessed food donations, neighborhood No Contact Easter Bunnies, cloth masks being made and donated to healthcare workers, teachers going above and beyond to make this as normal as possible for their students, and so much more. There is so much good out there. Sometimes we just have to put on our positivity lenses, and look a little harder… but I promise, it’s there.

Drinking with Scissors donated all of these masks that they made for healthcare workers.
Drive by birthday Santa surprise!
Food donation!
No Contact Easter Bunny

Dear Husband, Thank You for Everything You Do

Dear Husband, Thank you! You are always picking up where I left off. Even when you only had two hours of sleep, you still get your work done during the day, do your part around the house, and spend time with the boys. In these uncertain and desperate times, this is the consistency that I need.

I know sometimes I seem agitated, but I promise you it’s not because of you. I’m frustrated with the situation. I miss my family, friends, and normalcy. This has nothing to do with you. If anything, you are my normal; and sometimes because of that you get the brunt of my frustration.

You know when I need more wine, a shower, and a break. You know when I need you to clean up after dinner; and to do the laundry because I honestly have forgotten about it, since we have all been living in our pajamas most of the days.

When we run out of medicine, food, and any other necessities, you just go and get what we need (while wearing the mask I made you). You don’t even question whether it should be me or you who goes. You are perfectly fine with being the one exposed to protect all of us.

You made sure the boys had presents for their birthdays and Easter. I may have set up their birthday celebrations at home, but you did the hard part. On Easter eve, I was stuck in bed under our one year old and my head was pounding. You relieved me so I could get some medicine and feel better. Afterward (with almost no sleep) you finished putting the boys’ Easter baskets together and hiding the eggs.

You are my constant. Are you perfect? Far from it; but you’re my puzzle piece. You fit with me perfectly. We have certainly had our ups and downs, but throughout it all, it’s been you and me. We have been through a lot in the past 10 years together. Our struggles have only made us stronger as a couple and as a team.

It has never been your words that showed me that you love me. It has always been your actions. It’s the little things, like sending me a sweet message, buying my favorite wine so I can relax, and always being my shoulder to cry on. It’s doing what needs to be done when I am completely and utterly burnt out; all without me having to ask. Although this took time for us both to figure out, I believe we have a groove now.

Thank you! Thank you for being YOU. You are exactly who I need right now when everything else is uncertain. I love you.

Love, Your ever so grateful Wife

Mental Health is More Important than Academics

Countless times throughout this pandemic and quarantine I’ve heard “But they will fall behind.” This is in reference to all the kids currently missing physical school. Here’s the thing, the entire World is going through the very same situation. As far as students not being in school, there has been a huge setback for everyone. Therefore, they can’t fall behind if they’re overall on the same playing field as everyone else.

During this time, so many people are either working from home, furloughed, unemployed, and/or are essential workers. Every one of these are consequences to our current situation. Every one of these can and will most likely cause mental health instability. Therefore, imagine what the fragile mind of a child is going through right now.

I did my Master’s Thesis for Elementary Education on how important proper transitions are to children. Extreme change for any child (especially one who already has underlying mental health and/or learning disabilities) can be devastating. It’s difficult for adults; children are exponentially more effected by extreme change. For example: If I tell a child “It’s time to come inside” without any warning, the majority of kids (especially PreSchool and Kindergarten aged children) will not respond well. Some may even throw a tantrum. However, if I start by saying “You have 20 minutes until it’s time to go in… 15 minutes… 10 minutes… 5 minutes… Okay, it’s time to go inside.” The response will be much more favorable. Abrupt change takes us from our safe space and brings us to a place of worry.

I know personally, my 6 year old has had extra behavior issues, more tantrums, and has been giving me a hard time doing physical worksheets for school. My son is anxious, he misses his normal routine, his friends, his teachers, and he misses being able to go places. He misses learning in his school environment. Even though I’m a former teacher; it’s just different at home.

Even though I started out trying to have a “normal routine” (nothing is truly normal during a pandemic), both of my kids (yes, even the 1 year old) didn’t take well to the change. Home is the safe space. Home is meant for exploring, imagination, make believe, testing limits, and comfort. Home is where mommy helps build forts and daddy plays video games. Home is NOT where we normally have “school” all day.

Every day is a new learning experience for me as a mother and former educator. Every child is different and learns differently. My 6 year old son doesn’t like being told (by me) to do worksheets every day. He does however LOVE Science experiments. He does LOVE building things and using his imagination. So, that’s what I’ve decided to run with lately. His behavior is ten times better when we are doing these things. He learns so much better through playing and doing. Worksheets just aren’t going to work for him every single day. I’m so thankful that his School District has provided learning packets. I’m thankful his teacher has provided resources. However, I’m most thankful that no one is requiring anything of him.

Volcano experiment
After the experiment ended

In this time of uncertainty and confusion, what kids need most right now is one constant. They need the parents they have always had. They don’t need parents barking orders to complete assignments. They do need hugs, kisses, playing, movies, coloring, exploring, nature, and overall LOVE. If you do want to focus on something academic besides letting your child/children explore, then read to them. Read them almost anything. The more vocabulary that they hear and/or see, the more they will retain.

I promise you this… a few months of a more relaxed educational experience will not break your child. If anything it will give them a very possible much needed mental break. Let them be kids. As parents, use this opportunity to focus on things that schools can’t. Teach your kids to ride a bike, plant flowers, cook passed-down family recipes, bake chocolate chip cookies, be responsible for their rooms, use their manners, and anything else that is valuable to your family. Best personal benefit of focusing more on your child/children’s mental health, is that you will ultimately and simultaneously be working on your own as well.

Healthcare Workers: I Know it’s Your Job, but Thank You!

Dear Healthcare Workers,

While I’m at home quarantined with my family, you have to leave yours. Some of you have chosen to live somewhere else until this nightmare ends, in order to protect the ones you love the most. You give deep kisses and long warm hugs, not knowing if you’ll be able to do that in person ever again. So many of you FaceTime your family instead of reading them bedtime stories while they lay on your lap; because you want to protect them from this epidemiological disgrace.

You are sacrificing your loved ones time, your health, and possibly your life…for strangers. You are barely sleeping, and then waking up every morning to a never ending nightmare. You do all this with limited protective equipment and a reduced amount of colleagues, to fight this invisible killer. Yet, you persevere through the fear.

You hold the phones of your patients, so they can FaceTime their families (some for the very last time). You comfort those who are rightfully scared, and rejoice with those who are recovering. You give needles, set up I.V. Bags, monitor vitals, set up ventilators, do CPR, call Time of Death, take a breath of relief when the two cold metal defibrillators bring your patient back to a bouncy line on the monitor. You cry. You laugh. You love. You cry again and again. You want to wake up into a different reality. You want your family, your friends, and your more carefree life. You want people to stay home so you can do your job without the extra stress of more diagnoses.

Your heart is gigantic and your mind is empathetic. You show us all what it’s like to be a hero; even though you don’t do it for that title. You don’t do it for the praise. You do it because it is your calling. While you are fearful for your life; you are more fearful that you will not be able to help more people.

I know it’s your job, but Thank you! Thank you for doing so much more than your job. Thank you for holding the hands of your patients, for calming their fears, and for listening. Thank you for being on the frontlines of this war. Thank you for fighting for my family. I will do my part for you. I will stay home. I will be responsible. I will do what I can to make your lives easier. I will advocate for everyone to do just that. I will sacrifice seeing some of my own family members. I will sacrifice seeing my friends. I will do whatever I can to make sure you can focus on getting ahead of this plague.

Nothing will ever be enough to truly show my gratitude. Embrace your hero status, and be the badass rockstars that you are. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Gratefully and Lovingly, A Responsible Human, Mother, Wife, Daughter, Sister, Niece, and Friend

Teachers: Giving Their All Even When the World is Crumbling Around Them

We, as humans, are not meant to do multiple mutually exclusive activities at once. As a mother, I often multitask; but to do a full time job, homeschool, take care of the kids, and take care of the house is a lot more than we all bargained for. Many teachers are currently having to do just that. They are being asked to do something our minds and bodies were not built for.

Recently I interviewed (via FaceBook Messenger) four teachers. Two of the teachers teach Early childhood and Early Elementary. The other two are Middle and High School Special Education teachers. After interviewing these women, I am truly in awe of their ability to give their students the best online education that they can in the short amount of time they were given, in addition to their own familial responsibilities. Some of the participants have decided to remain anonymous. However their input during their interviews were still invaluable.

Pre-K:

My first interviewee was Heather. She teaches Pre-Kindergarten (ages 3 and 4) while also attending to her own two young children (5 and 2 years old). The demographic of her students are mostly Caucasian from the suburbs of Pennsylvania. The school Administration requires that she does a LIVE Zoom lesson from 1-1.5 hours daily. The students are not required to participate. However, the class participation (the children going on Zoom with their family’s help) has been anywhere from fifty to seventy-five percent of Heather’s class.

I asked Heather to give me a rundown of her schedule within that timeframe. She said that she starts at 9:00am. The kids typically talk amongst themselves and then she starts with some songs and exercises. Her pro-tip is to keep the students on mute, until it’s their time to talk. If you have children, then you will know that multiple 3-4 year olds, definitely need to be muted for anything computer related when they don’t really have the same physical structure as typical school.

Overall, Heather has figured out how to keep her own children occupied during the 1-1.5 hours of online teaching. She gives them activities and snacks during that time, but her 2 year old still wants mama as much as possible. While there is definitely a learning curve, Heather seems to be handling the overall stress of the situation very well.

Kindergarten:

I also interviewed a Kindergarten New York City Charter School teacher as well. She wishes to remain anonymous, but has given me great insight. I will be referring to her as L.C. As most of us know, New York State is one of the hardest hit areas for the Coronavirus currently. Therefore, Remote Learning is essential.

L.C. does not have children of her own. She lives alone; which can be extra isolating during this uncertain time. She said (regarding Online Teaching) “It has been actually a good challenge for me to learn a new way of teaching, and since I live alone, it has been a way to connect with people. It has taken the stress and anxiety away from our current reality.” I find this to be very refreshing and honest.

L.C.’s district wants her to be available for her students from 8:30am-3:00pm. She is required to have at least one LIVE video. However, her district would like at least two videos in total (One live and one pre-recorded). The expectations regarding grading as of now, is that there will be no grades counted for the final quarter of school.

Some statistics about L.C.’s students: They are predominantly African-American. The majority of students (26/27) have been involved with Remote Learning. The parents have been extremely involved. They want to learn how to help their children succeed in this new environment.

Something I found inspiring is what L.C. mentioned in the last part of her interview. She stated “I am looking at this as a way to help out our larger community. If I can help by just being available to ‘watch’ your child for an hour then I did something today.” This statement is why teachers are the backbones of our country.

Middle School:

My next interview was with a Middle School Special Education Teacher. She also wants to remain anonymous, therefore I will refer to her as L.T. She teaches grades 6th – 8th. L.T. also has two children of her own (3 year old and a nursing 9 month old). Her husband and her usually take turns throughout the day watching the kids (as he also works from home). Her day is typically supposed to be from 8:00-3:00pm with a one hour break for lunch. However, with lesson planning, and juggling her own kids’ schedules, her work day lasts much longer that.

Small groups of Special Education students (of all ethnicities and socio-economic status) join L.T. in Remote Learning. This allows her to give specific instructions to all of her students. Additionally, parents have reached out for guidance on how to help their children thrive in this new environment. It’s a learning experience for everyone. Her district recommends the slow and steady approach. It can be overwhelming for everyone; therefore slow and steady will help everyone get the best results.

L.T. said something that really struck a chord. She said “It’s important for teachers with young kids to know that it’s okay if I can’t ‘do it all’ right now because while I have a job to do, I also have mom responsibilities that has to take priority. ‘Grace’ is one of my words for 2020 and I think now more than ever I need to manifest that.” This is so imperative for all of us to understand. Yes, most of us have jobs to do while we’re at home, but we have to give ourselves grace and be parents and partners first.

High School:

My last interview was with Erin. She is a High School Special Education teacher for High School students, as well as Post 12 students ages 18-21 in a Pennsylvania suburban school. Her students consist of mixed demographics. They are also all at different learning disability levels.

Erin mentioned that 70-80% of her students have been involved with this new forum. No parents have reached out as of yet, but she is more than happy to help them if they do. The expectations from her School District, is that Remote Learning work will count as 10% of an overall Grade in addition to the other 3 quarters. Therefore, it will count, but not enough to bring down a student’s grade too much.

Additionally, Erin has two small children at home (4 year old and a nursing 1 year old). Both of them require attention and it can definitely take its toll mentally. Due to the obvious change of routine, she has noticed that her 1 year old has wanted to nurse more often. She still is balancing her home life and work life as best as she can given the circumstances.

Erin said that what she started doing to help her with the mental load of everything is Alone Time. What is Alone Time? Between 7:00pm and 8:00pm everyday, everyone does their own thing separately. The 4 year old plays in her room, the baby is asleep, and Erin and her husband do their own separate things as well. She said this has helped her stress and anxiety during this crisis tremendously.

Not All SuperHeroes Wear Capes:

Teachers may not be on the frontlines saving lives; but they are creating material they’ve never created before. They are using their knowledge to figure out how to teach all students of all learning types, genders, race, ethnicity, etc. They are giving parents of younger children (and some older ones) a much needed break. They are engaging students through a screen. They are giving their all when the world is crumbling around them. They are shielding their students from the idea that the last time they’ll be in their class will most likely be through a screen and not face to face. Oh, and most of them are doing this while they also have a family of their own to take care of.

On a personal level, I witnessed my 6 year old sit still and pay attention for 45 minutes during a Zoom meeting with his Kindergarten teacher and his class. I watched in astonishment, as each child waited their turn to speak. They listened to their teacher talk to each one of their friends and them. My son hasn’t sat that still for me… EVER! So, I may just ask his teacher to just leave the Zoom video running for all the kids, and she can go about her day. I mean… it’s kind of a genius idea, right?

Teachers… Thank you! Thank you for sacrificing so gracefully. Thank you for loving your students and your family. Thank you for balancing everything, even though it should be impossible.

Quarantine Family Bucket List

Quarantine 2020 Bucket List

While most adults are working from home and kids are doing schoolwork from their teachers. There is still opportunity to do some things that our normal (non-quarantined) lives don’t always allow. With the extra time in a confined space with your loved ones; why not make and complete a bucket list?

The bucket list I created is a list of activities I want to try to accomplish with my family by the end of this quarantine. Feel free to use mine or create your own to make it fit your family. These are just fun ideas to keep kids and adults occupied. Our daily lives have been disrupted abruptly. Therefore, looking forward to certain activities to complete will help us not to focus on the doom and gloom. At least I know it helps me.

I will not be discussing every single item on my list; just highlighting what I am most excited about doing with my family! Family time was always hard to fit in with my kids constantly catching sicknesses so they were already quarantined at home a good portion of the Winter. When they were healthy we would attend a birthday party almost every weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I miss seeing my friends and my kids’ friends. I miss my family. I miss my parents terribly. However, I’m going to focus on the positive.

The President recently announced that we should continue to Socially Distance until at least the end of April (I’m thinking it will unfortunately be longer). So, I will be using this time to do quality and meaningful activities with my kids and husband. We have been given this extra time, I plan to utilize it as much as possible.

Outdoor Movie Night:

We have a projector that we bought two years ago and never used. With all the movie options (Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime) we can have plenty of these outdoor movie nights. We’re waiting for a day without rain. I want to set up a large white sheet, on either our shed or back wall. I figure we can inflate the inflatable pool and put pillows and blankets inside. We always have popcorn and snacks, so it will be perfect. I’m just hoping the baby will let us watch something other than Mickey, Frozen, and Frozen II. Those are his favorites. We watch them on repeat.

Nature Walk/Hike:

Fortunately we live in an area where there are great trails near by. In fact we can walk to one of the trails from our house. My husband and I try to hike as much as possible, but we rarely do it with the kids because… well, they’re kids. We will have to lower our expectations and make it about them. It will be therapeutic for all! I hope.

Easter Craft:

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love a good craft. I especially love having my kids participate in Holiday crafts. Something about crafting and Holidays mixed together just bring joy. Bonus, Easter colors are bright and welcoming. That is something to help us remember that happier days are coming.

Pillow Fight:

Are your kids driving you nuts? Do you want to get out that aggression without Child Protective Services (CPS) knocking on your door? Then a pillow fight is the way to go. It will allow your children (I don’t recommend this for children under 4) to get out some energy and laugh, while you take your hardest pillow hits directly at their body. It’s all in good fun, and it really does help everyone feel better. Fluff up those pillows.

P.S. I do NOT condone child abuse, I just REALLY love to write with a little bit of sadistic humor. I also really love my kids… Like, I would die for them so they could breath for an extra minute type of love.

Read one Book a Night:

I love reading. I miss reading. However, I can still try to instill that love of reading with my kids. We do try to read books as often as possible, but sometimes other things happen (like sleep regressions and attitudes). I do want to make it more of a priority that we read at least one book per day/night. Also, I’m thinking I should look into an elementary aged chapter book for my six year old. We’ve read the children’s chapter book of the Wizard of Oz several times, and he loved it.

I’m planning to turn this negative situation into a positive one. I know a rainbow will arrive once this storm ends, I just hate waiting. Patience isn’t my strong suit. I mean, at one point it was, but I try to use as much patience as I can with my children. Therefore, the excess is very limited.

What’s on your bucket list?

How to NOT to Lose Your Cool While at Home with Kids

My boys and our pug

The truth is I’m not entirely sure how to NOT lose my cool, but I have some pointers that may help. If I’m being extra honest with myself, I started losing my cool the minute I read the the email saying that my son’s school was closed for two weeks. Then before those two weeks were up, we got another email saying until May 15th. Now, I’m just waiting for the email that the school year is over. Then I will cry copious amounts of times.

Having two very busy bodied boys ages 6 and 1, while my husband works from home, has its challenges. I’m typically a pretty patient parent; but as of late that hasn’t been the case. Since this is all new to us (not being able to really go anywhere except for a walk around the neighborhood) and everyone else, we’re going through the learning curve.

My older son is seeing how far he can push my husband and I to the edge. So far we’re both hanging onto the pointy edge of the cliff by our pinky toes. So, my son’s plan is working. As for the baby; he’s seeing how much sleep he can deprive us of at night by screaming once every hour for several minutes. Teething and him do NOT mix well. In summary, my husband is working full time at home (took over my office), and both of my children are trying to see how far they can push until we break. Oh, and let’s not forget the dog. She has been barking at us for approximately twenty minutes every time we have food. This started the last couple of weeks.

Here are some things that I plan to start doing this week, because losing my ever loving mind is NOT an option right now.

1. Limit Screen Time for Everyone: Yep, everyone. I noticed that when I’m on my phone scrolling through Social Media, I’m often more irritated when my children need me. A friend of mine alerted me to the option of setting a screen time limit on your iPhone. You can do this on iPads as well. Go to Settings, Screen time, Social Media, and then choose which accounts you want to limit and for how many hours per day that you are allowed to be on them. I actually already set this up today for myself. So far it has helped me to be more mindful of my time and focus more on my kids.

2. Plan out your week: This is where I’ve been falling short. It makes a huge difference when things are mostly planned out versus just winging it. I’ve noticed when I have specific activities planned for my kids (moreso for my 6 year old) his behavior tends to be more positive. Whereas, when I just tell him to go play, he ends up bringing me something gross that I have to clean up after. Don’t get me wrong, kids should totally be allowed to be bored and figure things out. However, if your kid is into Science he/she may test the limits along with your nerves. So, have a few tricks up your sleeve just incase.

3. Walk Away: It’s okay to walk away and take a few minutes for yourself. Your little mini spawns will still be there five minutes later. I love my kids more than my own life, but not having a real break from them (whether it be school, grandparents, neighbors, friends, etc.) can be trying on one’s soul.

4. Pick and Choose your Battles: I’m a firm believer in picking and choosing your battles. Some battles are just not worth your energy and time. My basic rules on how to choose are this: Are they hurting anyone else or themselves? Are they saying something hurtful to anyone else or themselves? If the answer is No then be like Elsa and let it go! For some (like my husband) this is easier said than done. Some things just do not have to be dwelled upon, especially during a quarantine. I will add that waking up a napping sibling is punishable by removal of all electronics for an extensive amount of time.

5. Carve out some Real time for YOU: Of course with everything during this time; this is easier said than done. If you have another adult there, play tag you’re it! I do this often with my husband, he doesn’t find it as amusing as I do, but mama needs a break too. Take a shower, color a picture, journal, sleep, and etc. Do what you need to do to feel better. Check out my last post on how to take care of yourself while you’re stuck at home.

I have been a Stay at Home Mom for six years. Before that I was an Elementary School teacher. I swear to you, my students were always well behaved. It’s definitely different when you have your own kids. However, I do use a lot of my techniques from teaching regarding behavior management for my kids. The setting is different, so adjustments need to be made on occasion. This situation is nothing like we’ve every experienced. Be kind to yourselves and as much as it pains us (particularly me) give your kids some slack too. We’re all learning how to adjust together. We’ll find a new normal. We have to.

12 Ways to Take Care of Yourself Physically and Mentally When You’re Stuck at Home

About seventy-five percent of the days (since we’ve been Social Distancing ourselves) I’ve been wearing pajamas. As comfortable as that seems, it can definitely bring on depression and anxiety for me. It makes me feel extra trapped and without any real plans. When I get the opportunity to shower, get dressed (even if it’s only into a bra, tee shirt, and yoga pants), and maybe do a skin care regimen; I tend to feel better. My spirits are lifted and I feel more energized. What we physically do impacts how we feel mentally. Therefore, we need to take care of ourselves! We can’t care for others without caring for ourselves first. I know that’s easier said than done.

There are many ways we can treat ourselves and take care to help lift our spirits and dopamine levels during this time of being socially isolated. I will be listing them below with links and suggestions. Some I have tried, and some I WANT to try or will be trying! My list consists of all ways to treat yo’self at home.

1.Get Dressed and Dressed up: I know it seems silly, but getting dressed, even if it’s just in exercise clothing can boost your mood. If you currently have the means, then order yourself an outfit from a boutique or Amazon to brighten up your wardrobe and your mood! As for getting Dressed up you can have an in home date night with your significant other. Give the kids some snacks and whatever electronic device or movie that will keep them busy. A friend of mine posted on Facebook that she did this and it helped ease her anxieties about what’s happening in the World right now.

2. Skincare and Makeup: Sometimes I feel like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when it comes to my face with skincare/makeup and without. Whenever I am feeling like Mr. Hyde is showing his ugly face, I try out a skincare regimen and put on some new makeup. You DO NOT have to go anywhere to put on makeup. Sometimes it’s just nice to look beautiful and feel beautiful for yourself. Here are two of my favorite skincare and makeup vendors: Laura Tocci with Rodan & Fields https://lauratocci.myrandf.com and Nicki Botsford with Mary Kay
http://www.marykay.com/nbotsford
http://www.facebook.com/groups/nbots Check them out for some great deals, and great ways to take care of your skin.

3. Haircare: Please please please do NOT cut your own hair during Social Distancing! Say NO to bangs! I have several hair stylist friends who cringe when people say they will be cutting their own hair. In the meantime, there are ways to keep your hair healthy and stylish. I personally use and believe in using Monat. Two Market Partners that I know and trust with my haircare are Kelli Yeomans https://www.facebook.com/groups/472897076413480/?ref=share and Kathleen Coll https://www.facebook.com/groups/385405545428019/?ref=share. Both ladies have fun haircare groups for you to join. As far as stylists go Kim Taglienti is amazing with hair. She has a lot of fun styles you can check out, as well as videos to watch. Here’s her Instagram account: http://Www.instagram.com/tagyourhair

4. Vitamins and Essential Oils: I have personally used essential oils for migraines and sleep in the past. They were definitely useful. I can honestly say that I have been slacking on taking Vitamins and probably should get back into taking them. Especially during this pandemic. Christina Blanco http://www.myyl.com/Christina-blanco is a Young Living representative. She even creates her own vitamins and makeup with Essential Oils!

5. Intimacy: While I one hundred percent know that intimacy isn’t always possible when you’re a parent (especially when your children are ALWAYS there because… we’re trapped here); there are ways to build it up until you can make time. Photographer Karen Rainier shoots all types of spectacular photographs, but one of her specialities is Boudoir. In Karen’s private Facebook group. You can go to her website http://www.velvetandsuedeboudoir.com and click the Community tab. In the group Karen will be demonstrating how to take a sexy selfie with your phone. Something my husband and I try to do, is send each other sexy messages and pictures. It helps keep the intimacy alive until we can make it happen (thanks 6 year old and 1 year old). Check out Karen’s Instagram for some sexy inspiration. Also, intimacy doesn’t have to be about your significant other. It can simply be about feeling good in your own skin.

6. Exercise: I know it isn’t what you wanted to read. Well, me either. However, exercise of any kind boosts dopamine levels (like mentioned earlier). Exercise will make you happy and healthy. It’s a two for one deal. My advice. Find something you actually like doing. For example, I really like going on walks with my kids. When the weather is Sunny and the wind is just right, walking is a perfect way to exercise. My sister Georgeen Bevidas is a former health and wellness coach. She has her degree in Psychology, and currently oversees an entire department at the Salvation Army. You can learn more about her and how she lost 60 lbs and beat cancer. Join her motivational waking group https://www.facebook.com/groups/220852365699756/?ref=share and get your mind and body ready to be the best you that you can be.

7. Nail care: I know many of us are missing going to the nail salon. I currently am a nail biter (thanks Anxiety), so my nails are awful. I am starting to train my brain not to do this (especially since we’re supposed to keep our hands out of our mouths). At least I wash my hands countless times per day. Anyway, back to nail care. Give yourself a personal manicure and pedicure the easy way. Rebecca Ashworth is a Color Street representative. There are a multitude of options and they are super easy to apply. The best part, NO DRY TIME! Once they’re on you’re finished! Check out her Facebook group for more information https://www.facebook.com/groups/2336514523042691/?ref=share.

8. Lists and/or Journaling: For me, making lists helps ease my stress. It helps me understand what specifically needs to completed. This way I can stay on task and check off items on my list. Something about putting that slash through a task on the list sends that dopamine straight to my brain! Journaling is something therapists often tell their patients to do in order to get their feelings out of their brain. As a blogger, journaling is one of my favorite pastimes. When I was younger I would journal extensively. Once I had kids it didn’t happen nearly as often. However, now that I found my passion for writing again, I’m back at it full force. Journaling has been keeping my panic attacks at bay. Being able to get my feelings out in the open has helped me take care of myself tremendously.

9. Crafting: One of my other hobbies is crafting. I have a part time at home business https://www.facebook.com/DignenDesigns/ where I make specialized crafts, shirts, etc. However, during the Coronavirus pandemic I’ve taken a little hiatus. One of the reasons is that my husband is using my craft space as his office while he’s working from home. Another reason is that people tend to buy crafts and specialized attire for other people to see them! Currently we’re not supposed to be near other people, so that tends to dampen the business. If you have the materials at home to create something beautiful. Go for it! It will lower your stress levels and help you focus. Bonus! You can do this with your kids! Although, that may make your stress levels rise.

10. Wellness Applications: Calm is a very popular wellness application. It helps you focus on happiness through meditation. Happiness equals healthy. Healthy equals being able to deal with the awful situation that we have been dealt.

11. Girls Night In: Do you like wine? Do you like alcohol? If so, pour yourself a beverage and get on Zoom or Facebook Messenger and have a Girls Night In! Basically, you and some of your favorite girlfriends have a video conference call while having a cocktail. Best part, you don’t have to leave your couch or wear anything fancy. In fact, put on a pore reducing face mask, your most comfy pajamas, and enjoy! With Social Distancing, many of us are missing our friends. This is a great way to safely connect with each other and get some of what we’re missing from socializing.

12. Sleep: Yes, get some Zzzzz’s. Sleep is extremely important to help your brain relax. If you need help getting your body ready for sleep. Check out the Essential Oils portion of the article and contact Christina. If you’re like me, put on any movie at all and within five minutes you’ll be off to snooze land. Either way, sleep will help you feel like a better you.

We live in an era with a whirlwind of technology and knowledge. Let’s embrace what we can when we can. Take advantage of whatever you can to help you feel more like you. We do not have a choice in what is happening around us, but we do have a choice in how we react. Take care of yourself first, so that you can take care of everyone else too.

What to Do with the Kids When You’re Quarantined

Most States have either cancelled school for the remainder of the school year or until the middle of May. There are no tangible clues as to when this Coronavirus nightmare will end. In the meantime, you will need to keep your children occupied or you will be doing your own creative version of social distancing. For example: I may end up locking myself in my bedroom for the foreseeable future. Think my husband can hold down the fort while I bunker down?

Schoolwork should be done at a relaxed pace. Children shouldn’t be stressed, just as adults shouldn’t. We want to keep this time educational, but fun. You should go outside, exercise, be creative, etc. Below I will be listing some services, kits, and activities that several of my mom friends are offering and/or suggesting. Help me support some awesome mamas during this uncertain time and also keep you sane!

The first Mom I’ll be introducing is one of my favorite Usborne Book Ladies, Catherine Arent:

Catherine is an Usborne Book Consultant! She has been sharing a list of daily activities to do with preschool and early elementary aged kids. It’s informal and just meant to be boredom busters. Recently she shared the activity “counting matchbox cars.” This is what they did:

  1. Organized cars by color.
  2. Referred to the color wheel in Usborne’s “The Big Book of Colors” to line the cars up in rainbow order.
  3. Then counted and practiced great one to one association.

She’s will be sharing new activities daily in her Facebook group at https://m.facebook.com/groups/captureeverysecondwithbooks . Additionally, if you’re in need of educational reading materials for your kids. She is extremely knowledgeable, and can help you find the perfect book or books for your kiddos.

Catherine’s adorable son demonstrating the car activity.

The next mom and Entrepreneur I would like to introduce you to is Tasha Sprovtsof:

Tasha has created an art kit for kids.
The kit includes everything needed to make a collage. A canvas board (currently 5×7 inches, she is awaiting 8×10 inch boards) mod podge, a foam brush, and 3 unique gelli printed papers that are wrapped in tissue paper. There is a directional card included and anyone who gets one should follow her Facebook page https://m.facebook.com/sprovtsoffstudios/ for more videos and links on how to create a collage. The Quarantine kits are $20 shipped. Please check out the link for more information.

Tasha’s Quarantine kit

Another Mom who is creating movement through Yoga and incorporating literacy, is Jana Gunby:

When I asked Jana to describe her class to me, this was her description.

“Join us for an engaging yoga class for caregivers and their children, 18 months – 5 years. Each class is based on a children’s book with the themes of the book being woven into playful yoga postures, stories, music, breath work and relaxation techniques.” She also mentioned that a lot of older children have been joining in recently as well.

Jana has a Facebook Live at 11:30am (EST) this Friday March 27th. You can tune in and join her via her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/HeartwellYoga/ . The classes are currently FREE!

Jana’s Cover Photo for her Yoga Facebook page

Another mama friend of mine (who was also a bridesmaid in my wedding) is Kimberly Clements:

Kim is a fourth grade teacher who has three children of her own. Her focus during this time is to help her children give back to the community. Currently they are working on making goody bags and cards for Emergency Room Staff at Crozer Hospital in Pennsylvania. Kim said “Trying to bring some positivity to all of this.” I love that she is focused on the positive and giving back to those who are working extremely hard right now to keep us safe. Making cards and goody bags is a great way to teach your children to take care of the community where they live, while also keeping them occupied.

Here is a cute little thank you gift you can make and distribute to Hospital Staff. https://www.yourdailydance.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Thank-You.jpg I suggest, you drop this off to someone you know who works in the hospital so that you do not have to enter the hospital for any unnecessary reasons. Also, if anyone has any extra N-95 masks and disposable gloves; all hospital staff are currently in desperate need of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).

The last mama friend I’m introducing is Ellie Spinner, she is the owner and Chief Cookie Officer of Pink Skirt Desserts:

Ellie started Pink Skirt Desserts https://www.facebook.com/pinkskirtdesserts/ a few years ago. She makes aesthetically beautiful cookies of all themes for all occasions. They not only look amazing, but they taste absolutely scrumptious too! She currently is selling Quarantine Kits for your kiddos. She is based in Doylestown, PA but she does ship throughout the United States. Here is the direct link to order her kits : https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScpCbDu-1TI_5De3TC2vok3amRdzsKY9Th9JMdHEqroYzsMDQ/viewform

Pink Skirt Desserts Quarantine Kit options

Something else that you can do with your kids is simply just going outside! If it’s raining, put some rain boots and a rain coat on your kids and let’s them jump in the rain puddles. Something we have been doing a lot of is walking. We’ve been enjoying walks around our neighborhood. I am one of the Kid’s Event Chairpersons for our neighborhood, and we decided to have a weekly themed walk. Each week our neighbors put a new picture or cut out in their window. This week the theme is “dinosaurs.” Many of our neighbors colored dinosaur coloring pages and put them in their front windows. Then, we count how many we find on our walk. Get in contact with your neighbors and see if they would be interested in doing this too. My six year old loves counting how many pictures we can find! His one year old brother just likes the fresh air.

My 6 year old finding the jackpot of coloring pages! Lol
I found this on this internet and used it for our neighborhood. Please feel free to do the same.

I hope that you found this information helpful to keep you sane while you’re stuck at home with your kiddos! We’re all in this together. Please comment below if you have any other ideas that you would like to share.

I’m a Stay at Home Mom, and I Did Not Sign up for This

My typical weekday as a Stay at Home Mom starts like this: I wake up with the baby, change him, and then feed him. I feed the dog, let her out, and give her medicine. Then I start to get breakfast ready for both boys and myself. The coffee pot brews, I make my older son lunch to bring to school, get dressed, and bring down clothes for my son to get dressed. Then we all get in the car (minus the dog) and I drop off my oldest to school.

When I get home, I drink my coffee, get my baby ready for his morning nap, and take a breather. Of course there are dishes, laundry, and the usual. However, I also have my village. My neighbors (a mother and daughter with tons of experience in childcare) often take my baby for a couple of hours so I can get some crafting or cleaning done in peace.

I miss my village. My parents would come visit on the weekends and break up the monotony of the week. On days my older son is home from school for a break or holiday, we would meet up with friends and go to the park or museums. We weren’t trapped in our homes or having to stay more than six feet apart from our friends and family.

This Social Distancing (which I am 100% for during this Coronavirus pandemic) is NOT what I signed up for! I didn’t sign up to be my 6 year old’s academic teacher (even though I’m a former teacher), while caring for his baby brother, and keeping the house in order. I didn’t sign up to not be able to take my kids to museums, stores, playgrounds, and/or restaurants. I didn’t sign up to not be able to physically see my parents, sister, nephews, aunts, cousins, friends, etc.

Yes, I’ve been home with both of my kids for extended periods of time during the Summer and Holidays. However, we usually socialize during those times. We have a pool membership during the Summer. We have Zoo and Science museum memberships. Therefore, this is all brand new territory. This is the first time I’ve been quarantined and expected to still make the most of it. I still am trying to make the most of it. I swear. I’m also trying to wrap my head around the situation; and I’m constantly monitoring my Anxiety. Also, I should add that I’m an extrovert. So, not being able to truly socialize, triggers my Anxiety even more so.

There are NO real breaks for me right now. My husband works from home at the moment and basically locks himself in the office until dinner time. He works for a food servicing company. Right now they have to adjust all of their orders and it’s been a nightmare. So, we see him usually around dinner time. This leaves me to hold down the fort the majority of the day. It’s exhausting. I LOVE my kids more than anything. I’m just exhausted. My husband is exhausted. We’re both used to the outside help that gets us through the day to day.

None of this is to say that I’m not thankful for what we do have, because I truly am. I’m thankful that my husband has a job that allows him to work from home. I’m thankful that we have a home, we have food, we have TOILET PAPER, and so many other necessities that others may not be privy to at the moment (or at all).

I’m truly just saying that it’s okay not to be okay. Its okay whether you’re a Stay at Home mom, Work from Home mom, or Work out of the Home mom. Bottom line, is that none of us signed up for this. We’re all struggling in one way or another. So, let’s lift each other up. Be each other’s light. We need to create a new kind of village for now. We are in this together.