Posts by Moody Baby:
Here’s exactly how to work from home when your kids need attention
,09 Apr 2020 in Tips
A few days before my first son was due to arrive, I asked my dad what it was like to be a parent.
After a (disturbingly) long pause, he quoted Martin Mull: “Having children is like having a bowling alley installed in your brain.”
Indeed. And when you are suddenly working from home with kids, it can feel like that bowling alley has suddenly gotten very loud and crowded, especially when the bowling pins go flying just as you are about to speak up on WebEx.
But now is the time to let go of the guilt we might feel from having a day go not quite as planned. You are already doing a great job, and we will all get the hang of it together a little more each day.
In case it helps, I thought I might share a few of the tricks that have helped me over the past years as I’ve navigated working from home with three sons.
Tips for working from home with babies + toddlers
Keep your baby nearby
Babies and toddlers are programmed to want to be near you. It’s their main mission in life. So, when my little ones weren’t napping, I just embraced this fact. In fact, when my littlest was a baby, I would lay out a blanket or his little seat right next to me as I worked, put on some music, and do my thing.
Now that he is a toddler, I have little gated corners with toys right near my workspace, and as long as he isn’t eating dirt or wailing, we have a pretty good time working together.
Make busy boxes
I rolled my eyes the first time I saw this idea on Pinterest, but busy boxes have been lifesavers during really hectic workdays.
The key is to change the contents of the box up. Each week I make a new box with little toys, bubbles, crayons, letter tiles, new books, playdough (when I’m feeling brave) and so on. The other key is to put the box away as soon as your meeting is done, or the kids start to lose interest, so it seems like a special treat the next time you pull it out.
Have a lineup of sensory activities at the ready
Things that adults would never find entertaining can keep little bitty ones occupied for ages. Throwing ice cubes off the deck. Sitting in an empty bathtub (yes, I have brought my laptop into the bathroom) and drawing all over with bath crayons. Bubbles. Sorting blocks into different colored buckets. You name it. Have a series of engaging sensory activities for toddlers and babies lined up in the morning so they are ready, and you’ll be thanking yourself later.
Tips for working from home with preschoolers + elementary-aged kids
Set expectations + reward kids for meeting them
At the beginning of each day, I suggest clearly communicating with your kids about the times when you have your most important meetings or deadlines. Those are the points in the day to bring out the big guns (you know what I’m talking about: YouTube, Roblox, iPads, TV). Challenge your kids to see if they can possibly hold out on electronics until those times and find little rewards for them if they succeed.
Give them their own “jobs” to do
Set aside cleaning supplies that are just for use by the kids—you might even put your kids’ names on the supplies so they feel ownership. Throughout the day, ask the kids to be your housekeeping assistants and encourage them to go on a hunt for dirt spots on the floor or dust on surfaces. You would be surprised how much fun a spray bottle of water and a few rags can offer throughout the day. (My 11-year-old has caught on to this trick though, so don’t be surprised if older kids don’t buy into it.)
Hire them as temporary assistants
Speaking of assistants, you can also ask kids to assist you with work! For example, I sometimes have asked my son to sit in the background and “take notes” during a meeting. It keeps him busy for a while and the result is usually hilarious (one time he wrote a whole page of meeting notes that just said BLAH BLAH BLAH).
Tips for working from home with kids of all ages
It’s okay if they’re bored
Kids are actually pretty good at staying occupied if we give them the freedom to do so. Boredom is good for humans and can serve as the foundation for creativity. Don’t feel like you have to fill every minute with activities, it’s actually better for kids if you don’t.
A few minutes of your attention can buy you many more minutes of work time
When kids come to you for attention, if you can, look away from the screen and listen for two minutes to what they have to say.
I know this sounds silly, but I schedule tea time every day with my kids. During those 10 minutes, we drink tea (okay, it’s actually milk) and eat cookies and talk. It’s often the best part of the day.
At night, record yourself reading to your kids. Picture books, chapter books, comic books, whatever you have on hand—it’s all good! Play those during the next day and you can both work and read to your kids. It’s the next best thing to cloning.
Give older kids a project of their own
Long-term projects that can be done in chunks over time are great for kids in preschool on up. For example, if ever there was a time to have your kids start building a time capsule, it is now! This sort of project can buy you a few minutes each day and is a great learning experience.
Don’t forget: You’re getting a lot done (honest)
There are going to be times when everybody is cranky and nothing is going right and you feel like you are getting nothing done.
When you hit the wall, I suggest doing two things:
1. Remember that you ARE getting things done, even if it’s not in the way you’d like
2. Have a pre-made list of very short mindless tasks that need to get done.
When you can knock those little annoying tasks off the list in between a kid crying because the brownies didn’t have enough marshmallows and the washing machine breaking, you will be a winner.
Above all, I suggest being honest with yourself and your colleagues. This is a new, chaotic, stressful time with lots of changes for everyone. If things are tricky in any given moment at home, we all understand. We will flex to the moment, laugh, and adapt as we work together to keep things going.
You’ve got this.
I'm finally in my final stage of quarantine grief: Acceptance
,08 Apr 2020 in Tips
Just weeks ago, I was busy with gym classes, music classes, make-ups for gym and music classes, storytime, tummy time, outdoor time, quiet time, playtime, Play-Doh time, exercise time. It seems I had time to do everything except stay-inside-time. Chill-time. Relax-time. Unplanned-time.
Two weeks ago I had a 23-month-old daughter and a 5-month-old daughter who didn’t spend more than 20 minutes at home without being shifted to the next activity, birthday, meet up, play date or playground. They would melt down, fall apart, sometimes hit and were constantly on the move. I was always the one saying, “Stay-at-home mom? More like never-staying-at-home mom! We are always on the go.”
And we were.
It was more to do with me than with my children. I didn’t want to slow down. I didn’t want to take a breath. I didn’t want to stop. Because if I did, how would I get through the morning? The next activity? The weekend? Dinner? The whole day?
I once read that being extremely busy (by choice) is actually a sign of anxiety. Well, hello. That was me. If I moved fast enough, I wouldn’t have to sit with myself and my feelings.
Then came the quarantine forcing us all to shut down for weeks on end due to the spread of the extremely contagious and dangerous coronavirus. I was devastated and exasperated, thinking words I probably can’t write down in an article.
I went through the five stages of grief.
Denial: This isn’t happening. People will fight back. Tomorrow we will be back to our normal schedule.
Anger: Why is this happening? Am I being punished for something? Is this because I didn’t let that person in front of me at the red light?
Bargaining: Okay, okay, I’ll do this for two weeks, but that’s it. This is going to really suck. I get why we are doing it. But still.
Depression: This is heavy.
As the hours turned into days then into weeks, we started to fall into a quarantine routine. We moved a bit slower at first, filling our usual gym or music classes with outdoor play or walks outside. Then the rain came and we were forced to spend time inside our house. My. Worst. Fear. I had to sit still and I had to be the one to interact with my children. It’s not that I didn’t want to before, it’s just that I didn’t think I was good enough or exciting enough. I mean, I don’t want to sit at home all day, why would my toddler or infant?
But I learned something about myself and my children through this stage. I am more than they need.
Because when they roll over my stomach or bounce on my knees, I am their gym class.
When we sing every song from Frozen, Frozen 2 and Moana, I am their music class.
When we make spaghetti with Play-Doh and lick ice cubes, I am their cooking class.
When we stop to go outside in the rain and purposefully get wet, I am their science class.
I have learned more about my kids in these past few weeks than in most of their lifetime. I learned that my daughter has a wide gap in between her two front teeth, just like I had as a kid and my grandma had as a kid. I learned my infant daughter is going to have green eyes like her dad and his mom. I learned that my older daughter thrives when she is home with me and her sister. I learned that the less she interacts with technology, the more calm she is.
I learned that maybe all the “problems” she was having before was her way of telling me that it was all too much. Too loud. Too many rules. Too many people.
She just needed to slow down.
These lessons brought me to my final stage: Acceptance.
I have to say, I’m enjoying this forced time with my kids. Not every minute of it. Not even every hour—but most days, I am really finding time to enjoy it. And if it weren’t forced upon me, I don’t know when or if I would have ever slowed down.
The quarantine will end eventually, but I can’t say when exactly. What I can say with certainty that once the ban is lifted, many of these lessons we’ve learned during this time will stay with us forever. We will stay home more. We will be present. We will quit some or all of our activities.
Because you know what? I have stopped moving long enough to learn that the present moment is often just what my child needs.
Caring for ourselves right now seems impossible—but it's necessary, mama
,08 Apr 2020 in Tips
We are in a very, very hard season of our lives. Plain and simple. The uncertainty and overwhelm is real. Running a household, homeschooling children, getting work done, being in a partnership (for some of us), taking care of older loved ones (either in our own homes or away from us) and managing our own fears and anxiety through all of this not knowing what the next day, week or month will look like—is very unfamiliar territory for all of us.
I am in the thick of this myself. Yesterday evening I went to bed with tears in my eyes after I returned from our local downtown and saw the impact firsthand this global pandemic is having on the small businesses we have fondly visited for years.
And often what many of us end up doing at 8:30 pm once the kids are finally in bed is binge watch TV or scroll through social media (or both at the same time!), simply to tune everything else out. There are moments when that comedy show you’re looking forward to watching is just the thing you need to relax before getting ready for a good night’s sleep.
And there may be other moments when that isn’t the best thing for our hearts and bodies. When our heart might be craving something else, something more soulful—but we are too tired, depleted and overwhelmed to even pay attention to that voice inside of us, let alone act on it.
Fear, anxiety and uncertainty can be incredible levers to tap into our purpose, creativity and contribution. It is hard to make space and time for acting on and processing your emotional energy when we are already feeling so maxed out—I fully get it and experience it myself too, almost daily. Yet in so many ways, valuing the parts of ourselves that want to feel seen, nurtured and cared for which may give us more energy and space to attend to our work, families and everything in between.
Here are some ways we can try to attend to that creative, purposeful and joyful part of ourselves during quarantine.
1. Reflect on what you may be called to do
Think of your life before COVID-19 or perhaps even before you had kids. Don’t add any constraints yet—simply go into daydreaming mode.
What are the problems in the world that need to be solved? Where, inside those problems, do you feel called to contribute? What messages does the world need to hear more loudly? What do you feel like creating and making (I am not referring to mac and cheese for your toddler, FYI)?
You don’t need to go on a retreat to answer these questions. Just grab a journal and spend five minutes writing down or reflecting on these questions in the shower or while brushing your teeth. Keep it simple yet give yourself permission both to dream and to feel all parts of yourself—without judgment.
2. Now narrow down the list
You can add some constraints and get more specific here. Pick something from your list that you can make progress on with only one to two hours a week to start. Pick something that makes you feel alive but won’t feel like one more thing on your list.
Here are some ideas to help you get started:
Volunteer: Find an opportunity to lend a (virtual) hand in your community.
Make art: You may have always wanted to paint or build something. Remember that scrapbook you always wanted to create? Time to go for it now. All you have to do is start by dedicating a few minutes two nights a week.
Write: No, I am not talking about writing the next NYTimes bestseller. Maybe a blog post or even a simple yet meaningful social media post. Your voice matters now more than ever.
Cooking: Did you always want to learn more about Thai cooking or how to make pizza from scratch? If so, the weekends may be your chance to nurture that part of yourself. And who knows—it may turn into a fun date night with leftovers your kids will actually enjoy.
Movement: Note, I didn’t use the word ‘exercise’ as I’d encourage you to think about this in terms of movement that helps you experience joy and connection to yourself. Dance for 10 minutes between meetings or do a restorative yoga session before bed.
Strengthen relationships: Sure, you can’t grab dinner with your best friend this week, but perhaps you can send her a handwritten note or set up an intentional video chat at night with your favorite beverage once all kids are in bed so you can connect over something meaningful from the week.
3. Plan in advance
Now here’s the thing, you need to prioritize and plan somewhat in advance so when the kids are all tucked in, you don’t just pick up your phone to read the latest news. Create a list of five-minute, 10-minute and 30-minute activities so you have options to choose from.
Planning is what will help you execute. You’ll be prepared with yeast in your pantry so you can try out that new bread recipe you found because of planning. Yes, I know the laundry and dishes are piling up and it may feel more efficient to get those done once the kids are in bed, taking the time to write one note a week or to try one new recipe a month may give you that much-needed dose of joy and connection that you might be craving.
4. Hold yourself accountable
Find a friend or join an online community to find the momentum you need to keep going toward something that feels meaningful to you and brings you joy.
There will likely be weeks with no room for anything outside of your to-do list—but in between the busy days, I hope that you also find days and weeks with a few small moments of calm and purpose to remind you of your own power, wisdom and brilliance in making our world a better place.
We are all in this together and collectively we will come out braver, kinder and more connected as a human species—forever.
Baby Twin Girls L______: Primrose (Rosie) and ?
,08 Apr 2020 in Tips
We need a bit of help as our baby naming duty just doubled! We are due to have twin girls in May. They will be our first children.
For a long time I have loved the name Primrose and lucky for me my partner does as well. Problem is we can’t find a name we love as much as Primrose for our other baby girls. I love the name for it’s whimsical, pretty nature and my husband likes the nick name Rosie. Im nervous the other name we end up using will always be the second best name. I need to love both names. I want our twins to have names that go together but aren’t to matchy matchy.
We both like traditional style British, Irish and French sounding names.
Names on our list include:
Charlotte (very popular),
Florence (we have a close friend who has a child with this name),
Maeve (we both like it but are underwhelmed when we compare it to Primrose),
Penelope for Nell (again we like it but Primrose is so frilly and fun where as Nell is much more serious and plain. Is it to much of a contrast?),
Clara (pretty but again it’s no Primrose),
Adelaide (I don’t like the nick name addy)
Boy names we had considered before finding out the general were Freddie, Alfie, August and Sydney.
Our last name starts with an L and has two syllables.
Please help us find a girls name that we will love as much as Primrose
I want to start by reassuring you that, mathematically-speaking, it would not be weird if you had a slight preference for one twin’s name over the other’s. That is the way rankings work: when we make a list of things in order, especially things like names, we MIGHT have two things tied for first place, but it is not weird to have first place, second place, third place, and so on; and it is not weird to have first place and then, say, ten names tied for second place, five for third place, twenty for fourth place, and so on. We don’t notice this as much with singleton births (and the passage of time can affect the rankings), but it is completely normal: of COURSE you use your favorite name first! and then of COURSE the next name is Slightly Less Favorite! When you’re choosing more than one name at the same time, it’s more noticeable, but don’t let it send you into a spiral where you are looking endlessly for something that might not exist. Liking the names equally is an admirable goal, and is certainly the STARTING goal—but if we don’t achieve it, it’s not because you’ve failed, it’s because there might literally not BE two names you like equally well. You can adjust the scales of fairness by giving the twin with the first-choice first name the second-choice middle name, and/or by giving the second-choice name to the firstborn twin.
Now, onto the names. With a whimsical, unusual name such as Primrose, I shy away from a traditional, Top 10 name such as Charlotte. Clara is beautiful and one of my own favorite names, but as you say, it’s no Primrose; I feel the same about Maeve. If you don’t like the nickname Addy, I’d cross Adelaide off the list anyway—but also, while it comes much closer than some of the others to holding its own with Primrose, it’s still not quite right.
The two contenders from your list, I think, are Florence and Penelope, but each has an issue. Because the name Florence is unusual and distinctive, I think you may want to avoid duplicating it if a close friend has used it. No one gets exclusive dibs on a name, and you MAY use it; but my guess is that you’d prefer not to, for your own sake as well as for your friend’s.
Penelope has enough whimsy to hold up to Primrose, and the nickname Nell/Nellie is perfect with the nickname Rose/Rosie, but the name Penelope was the 26th most popular girl name in the United States in 2018 (the 2019 data is expected to be available next month), while the name Primrose wasn’t even in the Top 1000. For comparison, in 2018 there were 6,474 new baby girls named Penelope, and 77 named Primrose. That is a significant imbalance. I feel inclined to say it is okay in this case, because the names are just so beautifully suited otherwise, and I think “Penelope and Primrose” will DELIGHT everyone who asks their names. Like, people will keel over with delight. Also because it’s hard to know which is the preferable usage situation, so it’s not like one name is “better”: some people would prefer to be the only person anyone knows with that name; other people would dramatically prefer a familiar name they don’t have to keep explaining; and there is no way to know which way each girl will be. But with the nicknames, you give them OPTIONS: if Primrose wishes with all her heart to have a familiar, common name, she can go her whole life by Rose or Rosie; if Penelope finds herself surrounded by Penelopes, she can go by Nell or Penny or Lola or Pip.
In short, I think Penelope and Primrose is wonderful. If it were me, I would have hesitations about the popularity discrepancy, and I would be nervous that the pairing exceeded the cutesiness quotient, but I think in the end my love for the names might overwhelm that.
For other options, here is my first and favorite suggestion, and I find I am suppressing excitement while also feeling nervous you won’t love it as much as I do: Marigold. Primrose and Marigold; Rosie and Mari/Goldie. If it were me choosing the names, I would be done. I would feel some regret for the loss of the loveliness of Penelope and Primrose, but the evened-out popularity (there were 156 new baby girls named Marigold in 2018) and the coordinated whimsy would DO ME IN. Primrose! and Marigold!
That one is my clear favorite, but here are some others to consider:
Amaryllis; Primrose and Amaryllis; Rosie and Rilla
Calista; Primrose and Calista; Rosie and Callie
Camilla; Primrose and Camilla; Rosie and Cami/Milly
Clotilde; Primrose and Clotilde; Rosie and Tilly
Cordelia; Primrose and Cordelia; Rosie and Delia
Dahlia; Primrose and Dahlia; Rosie and Dolly
Emerald; Primrose and Emerald; Rosie and Emmie
Juniper; Primrose and Juniper; Rosie and Junie
Magnolia; Primrose and Magnolia; Rosie and Maggie
Persephone; Primrose and Persephone; Rosie and Percy/Persie
Winifred; Primrose and Winifred; Rosie and Winnie
How to raise an optimistic child in a pessimistic world, mama
,08 Apr 2020 in Tips
It can be easy to focus on the
negative things going on in the world and what you should worry about, especially as a parent. Thanks to the 24-hour news cycle, social media, cell phone notifications and even sources you wouldn’t expect, like Instagram and YouTube, we’re all immersed in the news.
It’s understandable if you don’t feel like putting on a happy face every day and keeping your kids optimistic about the future.
But don’t give up. Ironically, even though media and technology seem to be the cause of our collective pessimism, they’re also essential for overcoming it, either by using them wisely or knowing when to put them away.
Here are six ways to help your family find a silver lining, even in a cloud.
1. Put things in perspective
When tragedy strikes somewhere in the world, we relive it every time we turn on the TV, open our social media, check our phone notifications or see a sensationalistic headline. Parents understand that the media amplifies things for eyeballs and clicks. But kids don’t necessarily get the relationships among sources, sponsors and audience.
How you respond to news makes a difference in how kids process it, too. Help your kids put things in perspective by explaining that the loudest voices capture the most listeners—and you should always do your own research. When you “right-size” things, it lessens kids’ fears and restores hope.
2. Talk about what you’re grateful for
Counter defeatist attitudes by nurturing your kid’s character. Strong character grounds your kids when the world feels chaotic. Take the time to share what you’re grateful for and have them participate, too. Encourage them to persevere against obstacles and to have compassion for others.
Research shows that expressing gratitude actually makes people feel optimistic. Try these character-building movies to kick off the conversation.
3. Fight fake news
Many kids say they can’t tell the difference between what’s real and fake online. Confusion, doubt, lack of trust are all things get in the way of being optimistic. But kids have the tools to fight fake news.
They can use online fact-checking tools to discover the truth (or at least uncover the fraud). Plus, they can refuse to contribute to the spread of false information by not sharing stuff they can’t verify and can call out dubious claims when they see them. Taking fact-checking into your own hands is empowering.
4. Stand up to bullies
Teach your kid that the buck stops with them. When they see someone getting bullied—and it happens all the time in texts, on social media, and in online games—they shouldn’t just stand by. While they should never do anything that would endanger themselves, they can do a lot to assert their support of others.
They can call out cyberbullies, report them, stand up for the victim, or just private-message the victim and tell them someone cares. It’s not tattling. It’s truly everyone’s responsibility to keep the internet a positive, productive place. Standing up to cyberbullies shows you believe you can make a change.
5. Stamp out hate speech
Online anonymity can have some unintended consequences. For example, people think they can spew hateful language or share insulting images without fear of being discovered. That may be, but hate speech is not a victimless offense. While institutions are beginning to punish those who spread abusive material, no one should wait until that happens. Hate speech hurts people, contributes to an overall negative environment, and is sometimes a cry for help from someone in crisis.
Explain how to handle hate speech: Don’t respond to it, block people who do it, report offenders, and don’t share it.
If your kid can influence only one person to knock off the negative stuff, then they’ll influence someone else, and they’ll influence someone else, and so on.
6. Tune out the world for a while
Grab your kids, grab your partner if you have one, and shut everything else down. If they’re all there with you, you won’t miss anything. Simply being together, whether it’s to read, have a device-free dinner, or talk about an issue recharges you and sends your kids the message that family time takes precedence over everything else.
Experts recommend this kind of self-care because the buildup of bad news can be overwhelming and even debilitating. And if that’s how adults feel, imagine how kids are reacting to the constant barrage. By managing your media and reclaiming your family time, you show your kids what’s really important.
Originally posted on Common Sense Media.
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