Real Moms Share Their Favorite Lockdown Activities To Do With KidsIt happened. We adjusted. Welcome to the new and evolving norm. Here we are, contained in our homes and neighborhoods; many of us working from home while virtual schooling. And then what? When the “school day” or work week is over, do we sprawl out on the sofa and binge television shows and series? If your kids are anything like most, the answer which would surprise alot of folks who aren’t contained in a home with small children is: (*first let me spit my drink out through my nose in laughter*) “No Way. You’re kidding, right?” You see, while kids these days get a bad rap for all their screen time and instantaneous gratification, the truth is – they still have that drive to MOVE. They’ve got to channel that energy, and I don’t mean through the television. Many parents are noticing that their kids were surprisingly built fully loaded with an automatic screentime timer (at least as it pertains to virtual school work) and the academic performance and focus is sustained by multiple breaks set aside for creative, old fashioned, inventive fun and ingenuity. In true Mom form, a few South Florida moms weighed in on their top activities to do with young children – from preschool age through gradeschoolers. Our favorite Physician-by-day / blogger / business owner and simultaneous supermom of preschool age twins, Dr. Janet Nguyen-Sperry (@petitechicmom) shares her enjoyment of watching the kids in the neighborhood create obstacle courses with sidewalk chalk. “One mom used chalk to make an entire obstacle course down the sidewalk that was one block long.” Needless to say, mom gets a workout as well! But if you’re more of a crafty mom, Na Yaeger of Parkland, enjoys painting stepping stones, suncatchers, key chain art, and hitting the board games with the kids between work deadlines.”My kids saw the Netflix show, ‘Nailed It’ and were inspired to have a bake off.” Lockdown definitely has us all eating round the clock… but isn’t food much better when your kids are the ones cooking it for you? Many of us enjoy the opportunity to spend more time in nature with our kids. It’s an excellent chance to teach them to observe, be present, and a great time to talk and get to know our little ones in the moment. Mom of two little ones, Jamie Feller, shares a great way to combine crafts and fresh air. “A mom friend used clear packing tape around their kids wrist and went on a nature walk. They picked flowers and stuck them on the tape to make a nature bracelet.” Bubble painting, lego stamping, and making your own sidewalk chalk from cornstarch were some other activities her child’s preschool teacher, Stormy Freeman, encouraged families to try when schools closed. Flor Aguilar of Coral Springs added a fine arts twist to the discussion, highlighting “Learning a new language and/or playing an instrument. Acting, role playing, Karaoke games like ‘Name that song'” as fun ideas to help your children have fun while picking up a new skill. Other moms like Shelly Soffer are enjoying some good old fashioned fun playing water balloon fights, I Spy (in the clouds), racing bikes, and doodling with a spirograph while staying home with her kids. And last, but not least, CEO and founder of ihelpmoms.com, Michelle Brown recommends the Epic App, Groovy Lab In A Box, and other great STEM focused resources you can tap into on Pinterest.com/ihelpmoms. If you want to feel connected to all things mom, ihelpmoms.com is a wonderful resource for first time and experienced mothers. Needless to say, these may be uncertain times, but they certainly are times of amazing creativity, adaptability and wonder. There is nothing worth more in life than quality time with loved ones, and these moms are making the moments their kids will likely never forget.
Listen to Elsa: Let That Mom Guilt Go
Mother’s Day, 2020 is upon us, and while the tradition of the cosmetic industry is to focus on gifts, beauty, and flattering moms from all walks of life, a more authentic perspective this year might be one which celebrates mom’s strength.
This year, when the parks, beaches, and Mommy & Me’s closed, mothers of toddlers had to tap into creatively enriching their young minds. When the schools closed, mothers of school aged children had to learn to go virtual and integrate academic structure into their household routine. Some of those moms were teachers, who had to adapt quickly to set the stage for the families who depended on them. Bar and Batzmitvas, Sweet Sixteens, Graduation and Birthday Parties were honored in new ways, but not without a touch of flare from parent’s love. When Independent Living Facilities and Nursing Homes went on lockdown, mothers and grandmothers rallied to learn FaceTime in order to see their loved ones faces. Yet, all of these adjustments took place while many moms continued their professional duties, answered to an employer, or ran their own business from home. In true form, Moms are adapting and pulling through for their families in ways for which they hadn’t exactly planned.
While most moms aim to do this with dignity and grace, it’s important to remember that self-acceptance, and flexibility are just as significant to model: if not, more. If it’s a pizza night two nights in a row, the kids are still going to survive. If you have a breakdown and cry in front of your family because work stressors are piling up, it’s okay. When the day goes less than perfect, it’s not a failure, it’s a lesson.
Many moms are dealing with what we call “Mom Guilt” right now, comparing themselves to others on social media and beating themselves up for having to work from home while they feel their children yearn for their attention. Classically, we feel like we can’t be in enough places for enough of our dependents at once. But then, how is that different than it’s ever been?
This is why it’s so important to recognize that no matter what, you’re doing a great job. When you’re absorbed in your work, your kids are learning to be independent, self-guided, cooperative, constructive and creative. When it’s pizza again… they’re definitely not complaining, and they see that mom is cool with keeping her balance and acknowledging her at-the-moment limit. When we try to take on too much, it’s hard to give everything our all. Let your kids see you do your best and acknowledge where there’s room to grow, room to change the pace, room to laugh at yourself, and room to reprioritize. Let them see that it’s okay to struggle and know that you’re making them stronger for it.
Someone once told me that it’s not so much what happens that my children will remember, but they’ll remember how I reacted. I try to hold on to that thought on days when I’m working from home, cooking and cleaning, managing patient emails, calling contractors to repair a broken A/C, checking on staff and grandparents, doing physical therapy for my dog, chasing a toddler, consoling a preschooler, and guiding a gradeschooler through a virtual curriculum. “Grace” is the last thing my kids would use to describe the efforts they witness. But I don’t doubt that outside of their school lessons and family circus calamity, they’re learning a bit about “Endurance” and “Perseverance.”
So, yeah… Mothers certainly are beautiful and we do clean up pretty well. But let’s be real, that beauty’s true source is in a special kind of strength. Strength to do what we do for the people and causes we love. And strength to recognize how perfectly imperfect we all are, while cherishing and embracing the unique gifts that makes each of us our own kind of Mom. The most valuable thing a mother can teach us is to love ourselves. This Mother’s Day, let’s remember to take some of our own advice.
Happy Mother’s Day to You and Yours!
Nicole Gentile, PA-C, Nutritional Therapist, Mom of 3