Quarantine Parenting

0

About eight weeks ago, I was worried about surviving Spring Break – and this post was to be about my misadventures. Instead, it’s about our new world. This is quarantine parenting.

Like many of you, I had Spring Break travel plans. Then, COVID. At first, we were told school would resume after Spring Break. So, it just looked like an extra long break. Then, word that their next projection would be end of April for returning. Then the final blow: we will not be returning this school year, but will begin online learning.

So, here we are. How’s it going?

My kids are taking the isolation and quarantine life about as well as any of us could. Some days are hard, so we give grace. There is too much screen time. There is too much time in pajamas. I wonder if any of us will wear real pants again. Or shoes. One of my kids was in his underwear and when I asked him why he ditched his clothes, he said “I am having a spa day”.

I held my kids tight today. I held on a little longer than usual. So grateful to be their mom – even in close quarters and quarantine. Even though they’re eight years old and still walk in on me in the bathroom. Truly nothing is sacred. In a world where things are constantly changing, I guess there is comfort that some things do not. 

Mama, put on a fresh pair of sweats. Drink another cup of coffee (or one of those tasty whipped coffee things that I still haven’t figured out). Keep exercising. Keep singing. Keep writing. Keep trying. Keep loving. Keep showing up. 

I double dog dare you to drop the weight of the worries this new world has placed on your shoulders, and exchange it for an impromptu dance party in your living room with your kids. Even if they’re in their underwear. Even if your neighbors see. 

These moments, these days, these challenges – they are the future’s “good ole days”. Make the memories. 

DIY Delivered to Your Door: A Round-up of Local Kits for Kids

There is something going on in my house that I can’t quite explain. The first week or two of the stay-at-home order I gave myself and my family a lot of grace and space to “settle in” to a new routine and rhythm, thinking we’d get the hang of it. But here we are, many weeks in, and the wheels. are. falling. off. 

Okay, maybe that is an exaggeration, but it sure does feel like it sometimes! Enter my current sanity saver: Kits from local businesses, including all of the materials needed for a project or experience from start to finish, delivered to your door or available for curb-side pick up. This really feels like a win-win-win situation in my family. I’m able to support some of my favorite local businesses, my kids have an exciting few hours of something new AND I get a break from planning/organizing/executing an afternoon once or twice a week. 

Here is a round-up of TEN local businesses offering some type of “kid kit” to help you out with some of those days (or hours) that feel like they might never end!

Delectable Baked Goods

cupcakes with sprinklesWe got the cupcake decorating kit and it was definitely a family favorite. My kids had so much fun with the frosting and different sprinkle options and I appreciated that there was ZERO kitchen clean-up! This bakery is offering a series of “Quarantine Sweets” pop-up menus, so your best bet is to follow on them Instagram for updates on what is available!

Mimosa Studios

Mimosa Studios is offering a To-Go Painting kit – you order the items you want to paint and they deliver those, along with the paint, brushes and instructions. When your done painting, they come pick it up and bring it to be fired at their studio!

Craft & Boogie

Another locally owned and operated company, Craft & Boogie, has pre-assembled craft kits perfect for any child, starting at age three! There is a monthly subscription option, a one time purchase option or a seasonal/holiday themed option. Each box comes with EVERYTHING you need for multiple craft projects, games and activities. These are perfect for surprising your own kiddos or sending to a family member or friend to brighten their day in a meaningful way. 

Collage 

With three locations offering curbside pick up or delivery with a fast turn around, Collage is your local spot for all the art supplies you might need! From finger painting supplies to Sculpey clay to paper quilling materials, there are endless options to keep your littles busy! 

Carter & Roseclay kit at home

This clay kit was so much fun. It was delivered within just a couple of days and it came
with everything we needed to make multiple clay creations. Bonus: IG mini lessons from the owner AND it’s a multi-day project, one day to sculpt, another day to paint the creations with glaze … definitely a parenting WIN! 

Powell’s

Powell’s offers a kid subscription box called “BOOX” and with it comes a themed reading experience, including two hardcover books and related toys or activities. These are mailed out to subscribers every 8 weeks. 

My Masterpiece Art Studios

This local art studio is offering “take & make” kits for to get your art on at home. Each project comes with the materials needed for completion and there are many different types of project to chose from – you’re sure to find something for each artist in your house! Check out their website for more info on ordering and scheduled curbside pick-up days. 

Super Nature Adventures

Super Nature Adventures has two different themed projects available for purchase and download. One, called “Explore Your Own World” offers activities and crafts to get outside and explore your backyard (or local park). The second, called “Create Your World” uses STEAM activities to support your child in creating their own imaginary world with materials that are available around the house!

Tiny Learning Boxes 

This monthly subscription box is curated by a former elementary education teacher turned SAHM! Each box is filled with activities designed to engage all areas of development AND there is a toddler or preschooler option available. 

Little Otters Inc              

Little Otters, Inc is offering a monthly subscription box option and the best part is that they make every effort to curate it toward your kiddos current interested! Reach out to them via instagram for more information!   

4 Parenting Tips for When Kids Are Anxious

0

A few months ago, I went into my son’s room to tuck him in and kiss him goodnight. It had been a normal school night (back when our kids left our homes to go to school). We’d done homework, had dinner, and played together, but it had been full of lots of meltdowns over homework, intense feelings about dinner, and destruction when he lost the game we were playing.

Walking into his room that night, I was surprised to find him crying. I immediately asked what was wrong and was stunned when he said, “I don’t want to go to middle school!” My first reaction was to tell him that he’d be just fine, not to worry, and to go to sleep.

But something I have learned about kids and their behavior stopped me. And it’s this: Children’s actions are telling us that they are either missing a skill or have a need that has not been met. In this case, the extra button pushing was a sign of the anxiety he was feeling about starting middle school in the fall.

Anxiety comes when something or someone leaves us feeling helpless, out of control, or confused. A traumatic event or repeated stressful events can trick our bodies into thinking that all of our experiences are confusing or out of our control, and we can get stuck in cycles of anxiety.

Anxiety is an emotion that all of us feel at one time or another. And it’s not just reserved for adults. The CDC reports that 7.7% of children ages 3-17 years of age are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and the number is rising.

Anxiety in Kids

How do we help our kids and ourselves respond to feelings of anxiety in ways that do not negatively interfere with our ability to engage in normal daily life?

Identify Anxiety: Anxiety looks different for everyone. Sometimes it’s restlessness, trouble concentrating, irritability, avoidance, consuming thoughts, tantrums, impulsive or compulsive behaviors, headaches, abdominal pain, or muscle aches. Pay attention to behaviors in yourself and your children. Anxiety might be the source.

Name What’s Going On: Name the anxiety and connect it to the experience. Verbally making the connection between the feeling and the experience in our bodies is powerful. When my son was feeling anxious about middle school I said, “I wonder if you’re feeling anxious when you think about going to middle school. You don’t know what to expect and it feels out of your control.”

Release the Energy: When we are feeling anxious, energy builds up inside us. To move through anxiety in healthy ways, it’s helpful to find productive ways to release the anxious energy. Movement is key. Go for a walk, throw a ball together, ride bikes, turn some music on and dance. Try different ways and see which one works best for you and for your kids.

Get Support: We are not meant to parent alone. It’s helpful to build a network of support for yourself and your children. It can be another mom, a group of parents, or community you can share the highs and lows of parenting with. 

And when you’ve tried all “the things” and anxiety is still controlling your family, seek professional help. For your child, look for a counselor who specializes in play therapy. They will know how to help a child use their primary language of play to gain the skills to move through anxiety in healthy ways.

About Hannah

Hannah Benedict

Hannah is a northwest native who loves outdoor adventures with her boys, escaping to new worlds in a good book, and baking without a recipe. She is a play therapist, parent coach, and co-founder of the ACT Parenting Community, an online community for parents who are looking for practical action steps, connection with community, and research-based teaching.

I’m Not Missing Youth Sports Right Now

0

I, for one, LOVE this break from youth sports. I do not miss carpooling, washing uniforms, or trying to find matching socks. I DO miss watching them play. I miss cheering them on with the other parents. I don’t miss standing in the rain, but I do miss the pre-game pump-it-up play list. I’d like to see their faces light up when they are pleased with their play, but I don’t miss the salty ‘tudes that accompany a loss or missed opportunity.

It also feels like I am alone when I say, out loud, to my friends, that I don’t miss youth sports. I have yet to hear someone reply “me neither.” It feels like somehow, by voicing this I, or my child, is not as tough or not as passionate. I struggle to sustain passion for anything year round; I’m not sure why we think kids should be able to. 

What I love the most is the break that their little bodies are getting from almost year-round athletics. I love that right now we can all avoid the pressure to say “Yes” to extended seasons and extra practices for fear our kids will lose their edge. My hope is that the reprieve will help stave off burnout.

My kids’ teams have weekly online meetings, which has been nice since they are really missing their teammates and coaches. All of their coaches have sent out weekly training schedules and I, for one, am leaving the solo training in the hands of my children. If they want to participate, fine. If not, that’s great also. Their passion has to come from within. I have enough trouble trying to motivate them for online school tasks. Extra-curriculars are up to them. 

Like many parents, we got sucked into the pressure to put our kids in sports early. Too early? I’m not sure… but probably. I think most of us are familiar with burnout and the increase in overuse injuries endemic in youth sports today. It’s hard to watch my middle schoolers’ interest in a favorite sport wax and wane. I want them to be able to quit if they want to, but I don’t want them to be short-sighted in their decision-making process. Add this to the list of things I wish there was a parenting manual for.

I’ve heard rumblings that some of their sports will truly be year round next year to make up for the lost time and I’m choosing to ignore that for now. Guidelines and stay-at-home orders continue to evolve, so I know it’s mostly speculation and a hope for return to some kind of normalcy, both emotionally and financially. For now, I will just enjoy the disorganized play and goofing off. 

Tips for Mountain Biking with Kids

Many thanks to our partners at evo for bringing you the tips in this post!

The days of quarantine will hopefully be over soon, the sun will be shining and all of our favorite mountain biking trails will be open again. 

There are few feelings in the world as rewarding as sharing an activity that you love with your kids. There’s something magical about watching them fall for something you really enjoy, and mountain biking is no exception. What parent doesn’t want to share new trails, the thrill of descents, and the rewards of long climbs with their offspring?

But, for the unprepared, mountain biking with kids can present a whole set of unanticipated problems that can really affect your kid’s perception of the sport. When they’re just getting started, it’s imperative to make sure you’re not forcing something that’s too challenging on them. So we’ve partnered with evo to put together this list of tips for mountain biking with kids to help you, and them, have the best experience possible.

Check their bike before you’re at the trailhead

This one might seem obvious, but it’s really important to make sure kids’ bikes fit well, and are running smoothly, before you start riding. Just because they’ve been riding it around the neighborhood without any problems doesn’t mean it’s ready to take on trail riding. Take their bike into a reputable bike repair shop, and have them do a quick check. They’ll let you know if there are any problems you need to address, or any quick ways to make it perform better. Having a good bike shop check your kid’s bike every few rides won’t just improve the riding experience for them, it will also make sure it’s safe to ride.

While you’re there, talk to someone at the bike shop about dialing in the bike’s fit for your child. Because kids grow so quickly, the touchpoints of the bike (the pedals, handlebars, and seat) need to be adjusted often to make sure they’re comfortable. This goes for other gear like helmets, too. Fit isn’t something your child will be able to intuitively point out, so it’s a good idea to have someone who has experience with youth bikes take a look at their fit. They can also adjust brakes and shifters to be easier to reach for small hands.

Consider renting a bike

If your kid doesn’t own a dedicated mountain bike, or if their bike is too small, consider renting. It might be tempting to buy, but a mountain bike rental is a great way to make sure they have a good experience riding and will stick with it before committing financially. Of course, if they’ve got a capable bike that they’re comfortable with, a rental is unnecessary, but for riders just getting into the sport, it’s a great idea.

Take them to a skills park

It’s tempting to take your kid on one of your favorite rides and let them figure it out. What adults often forget is that it takes smaller people a lot longer to get places on a bike, and longer singletrack rides can get really boring for kids who feel like they’re just pedaling the whole time. Instead, kids’ brains are programmed to want to try many new things, and experiment while they learn. This makes a mountain bike skills park the perfect place to start out. Small obstacles, and a pump track give them a place to experiment, build skills, and gain confidence, without having to ride very far. It’s like a playground for bikes. If you don’t have a skills park handy, consider just sessioning a very short section of trail to practice rolling over roots, and braking before corners.

Always ride uphill first

If you’re taking your kids on a longer ride, it’s best to get the bulk of the climbing out of the way right at the beginning when they have the most energy. One of the hardest things about riding with kids is gauging their limits, figuring out how long they can have fun, before they get too tired and become cranky. If you choose rides that start with a climb, you can reward them with snacks at the top, and even if you don’t make it all the way to your goal, you can coast back to the car. For small people, rides that end with a downhill leave them excited to come back for more descending next time, not angry about the slog back to the car.

Keep the focus on (their) fun

This is the most obvious, but also one of the hardest tips to put into practice. As adults, we have preconceived notions of what makes a fun bike ride. We want to clean climbs and charge down descents, we want to feel tired and accomplished. For kids, their priorities can be really different, and if they’re not having fun, you’re wasting your time. Don’t focus on riding a certain trail, or being on the bike for a specific amount of time. Be flexible, if they want to look for pollywogs in the creek, instead of riding that last hill, let them. Look for natural breaks, pick some berries, learn about birds, don’t just focus on the ride. Their young minds want to wander, facilitate that, in the context of riding, and they’ll come to enjoy the whole experience, and will become life long riding partners.

evo’s bike rental is open with precautions in place to get you out mountain biking with your kids.

 


 

We are evo Portland –  a ski, snowboard, mountain bike, surf, wake, skate, camp, and lifestyle retailer.

evo explores the collaboration between culture and sport by seamlessly joining art, music, streetwear, skateboarding, snowboarding, skiing, mountain biking, and wakeboarding. Our aim is to bring all things relevant to the urban, action sports lifestyle into one creative space. Whether it is on the website, on the phone or in our stores, our aim is to make all who come into contact with evo feel welcome and excited about their experience.

Get All the Mother’s Day 2020 Feels with These Powerful Photos of Moms Meeting Their Children

Mother’s Day 2020 is not going to play out how we imagined earlier this year. There’s probably no meal out or relaxing day at the spa to celebrate just how awesome we are as moms.

And, let’s get real. We do A LOT for our families, especially right now. We are trying to juggle all. the. things. while holding on to a semblance of ourselves and our sanity. See? Not an easy task. 

It stands to reason that you, mom, deserve a better than average Mother’s Day 2020. Maybe it will happen by some stroke of Fairy God Mother’s Day magic. Your family will lovingly cater to your needs and give you the break you deserve all while making sure that any needed Zoom calls with family are planned, and then they will take out the trash to boot.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty unlikely on my end. So, what are we to do? My plan is to make sure I get SOME time during the day to myself and I’ll likely reminisce about those frustrating, funny, stubborn, perfect little people that made me a mom.

Mother with long hair and pants holding and staring down at her new baby
Image courtesy of Portland Birth Photographer: Natalie Broders

There’s something magical about that moment you meet your child. That connection. A deeper meaning to existence. Whether it’s through birth or adoption, foster care or surrogacy, there are many ways to make a mom, but meeting your child for the first time? Now that is otherworldly.

In honor of Mother’s Day 2020, here are seven powerful moments of mamas meeting their children. Caution: these images are guaranteed to give you a serious case of the feels and side effects may include Baby Fever. You have been warned.

The First Kiss

A mother holding her newborn baby and kissing it on the head
Image courtesy of Molly Yi Photography

Dad couldn’t be at the hospital because they have an older child that couldn’t be left home alone. So Mom asked if I would be her support person and photographer. She couldn’t have any other visitors due to COVID so it was pretty special to have been chosen to be with her.”

Hi Moms

Two moms lovingly looking at their newborn baby together
Image courtesy of Jen Berryman

Double the Mother’s Day joy! These local moms have a special little one. You see, this baby is the non-gestational parent’s biological babe – carried by her partner. One mom provided the genetic material and one mom provided the womb to make one very loved new little human.

It Was All Worth It

A mother who has just delivered her baby looks down in happy surprise
Image provided by a personal friend of the author

Sonja is a good friend of mine. Her second pregnancy was no walk in the park.

“It was a loaded emotions pregnancy. IUD fail, gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, biweekly NST with a toddler in tow. It was a rollercoaster of emotions from start to finish. I would also 1000% do it again to get her though.”

Getting to See You First

Mother having a Cesarean and newborn baby is held up to see-through curtain
Image provided by a personal friend of the author

Susan is another close friend. With the birth of her second child, she knew she would need a Cesarean. Dad snapped this powerful moment when their daughter was born.

“I didn’t experience this moment with my first baby since his delivery was an emergency c-section. For my second child, the anesthesiologist convinced me I would regret missing the moment, and had the doctors drop the drape when they pulled her out. I am grateful he convinced me to watch because it was a gift to see my daughter come in to this world.”

It’s a Boy!

Mother who's just given birth is handed her baby while crying with emotion
Image courtesy of Portland Birth Photographer: Natalie Broders

“For the birth of their third and last baby, they wanted to wait to find out. When Dad announced that their baby was a boy, this mom was overcome with emotion and burst into tears.”

After the Storm

Breast Cancer Survivor holds her just born miracle baby against her chest
Image courtesy of Meg Ross Photography

“A day dedicated to moms is an extra kind of special after you have been told by the medical community that children would be impossible. This strong mama survived breast cancer and surprisingly found herself pregnant with her miracle baby. She ferociously roared through birth with passion and I am proud to say I watched her become a mom.”

Worth the Wait

New mom pulling up her baby that she just birthed with tears and emotion on her face
Image courtesy of Jessie Photo Doula

“Mom said, “We’ve prayed for you for so long.” I don’t usually get emotional at births but this one hit me right in the mama feels. 6 years of love and waiting for this perfect little girl.”

Right now, things are hard, Mothers Day 2020 included. But you, dear mama, you are strong and have done hard things before. You are shaping those children that depend on you. And while it may seem cliche, your kids are so very lucky to have you as their mom.

With love and solidarity, Happy Mother’s Day to every one of you!

Mom looking at and nursing her newborn baby who is laying on a floral print pillow
Image courtesy of Portland Birth Photographer: Natalie Broders

A Special Thank You to the moms and photographers that shared their photos with us. To get in touch with any of the photographers mentioned, please find their information below:

(Pandemic) Comfort Cooking

In the last several weeks, I’ve had some virtual happy hours with different groups of women. We can all collectively agree that life has been turned on its head, there’s no doubt about that.
One frienSkillet Veggiesd owns her own veterinary practice in the Midwest and they are doing drive-up appointments. She has seen a decline in income and she’s working hard to keep her small business afloat. 

One friend who lives 25 minutes from her closest grocery store is homeschooling her three children. She’s not working because all of her shifts were cut by her employer.

One friend is working from home, and because of medical issues, is hunkered down for the long haul of this. Her goal is to come out on the other end of the pandemic alive. This means making difficult choices to ensure she stays healthy in her own home, including investing in a trailer so she won’t be inadvertently exposed to the virus when her husband comes home from work.

One friend, also in the Midwest, spent three weeks trying to find chicken or beef, only to repeatedly come up empty-handed. “I hope the kids won’t give me too hard of a time about eating shrimp.”

More than one friend has been put on full-time furlough from work.

I feel like most days I’m stuck between all the worlds. 

We are all navigating this pandemic in our own ways, with our unique set of circumstances. We’re all impacted in various personal ways.

My membership group with women learning how to meal plan, lose weight and live their best life was impacted. I had a reduction in memberships and slashed monthly dues just to keep things afloat.

I’m trying to (unsuccessfully, most days) homeschool my three- and six- year-olds. Mostly,  I’m just trying to keep them alive, and I hope the time my son invests into Minecraft will pay off with an interest in architecture in 13 years.

I have my own medical issues and I, too, am mentally prepared to be hunkered down for the long haul. We take extra precautions when my husband goes out for any reason. 
Dehydrated Lemons
I have had some difficulty getting some food items — nothing dire — and we are so fortunate to have the means to still put food on our table. Thankfully, we are able to get our groceries delivered. I feel like I spend a fair amount of time managing my pantry to ensure we use as much of what we have on hand and reduce how often we have to venture out to get groceries or place an order. 

I’m on part-time furlough now.

I feel so grateful for still having work, even on a part-time basis, because it not only gives me a sense of purpose each day, but I am able to connect with people outside my own home. The quantity of projects we work on has been impacted. There is still plenty to be done and it feels like I’m trying to cram 30 hours of work into 20. This can be stressful because we have time limitations, and I have a job that requires a high degree of concentration. Work becomes a challenge when one child is screeching for fish crackers and the other wants to talk to me about Minecraft. I’m used to being able to work extra to get something done, so the regulations around reduced hours feels limiting. 

However, it’s not hard to remind myself daily that I’m beyond fortunate.

My kids are healthy. We have food on our table. We have a safe home to live in. These feel like the most important things I can hold onto each day. 

While I had become someone that was known for healthy cooking and meal prep before, I have been spending even more time in the kitchen the last several weeks. With everyone home and ingredients not being as easily attainable, I’ve been experimenting quite a bit more. 

Homemade ApplesauceOne of my hobbies lately is to use up everything I possibly can. I’ve made banana bread with leftover bananas, chimichurri with fresh parsley and pesto with the tops of carrots. I’ve made apple butter, applesauce, fresh bread and vegetable soups. We’ve saved bread crusts from the kids sandwiches and made various bread pudding and breakfast casseroles.

Every weekend I spend time in the kitchen and find creative ways to use up my scraps. Necessity is the mother of invention has certainly made me an inventor in my own kitchen. 

Cooking and exploring new recipes and making homemade healthy dishes is giving me a sense of security and purpose. It feels like the one thing I can control. Everything from work, school, society, and health feels unknown and uncertain. I can’t even control what we’ll be able to find at the grocery store.

But once I have my groceries home, I can control what becomes of it. That gives me peace.

Simple Gifts to Give Mom This Mother’s Day (In Quarantine)

Dear Mother’s Day Gift-Giver,

This post is for you. Please give it a read. It is not meant to offend you or your previous Mother’s Day attempts. We have loved lots of what you have done in the past, but this year is very different. Many of your usual strategies are not going to work. The kids aren’t making cute crafts and cards at school. Grocery shopping takes a lot more time and planning and your local brunch spot isn’t open. So, here is a simple guide to help you give mom what she wants this year, even within the limitations of quarantine.

DIY Projects: Nothing super fancy needed; if you can write and cut, you can do make these ideas happen:

Mother's Day craft

Trace your kid’s hand and have them write their name. Paint a rock or a flower box. Make a simple card by asking your kiddo three things they love about mom. Print out a photo and have your child to make a frame with some cardboard.

I promise there are tons of ideas that are easy to do.

If planning crafts isn’t your thing, turn to the experts. Shops like Mimosa Studios and Collage PDX are offering to-go kits which, makes it super easy to complete a Mother’s Day project. Order now to ensure it’s ready by Mother’s Day. Most moms love handmade gifts; even if it’s not your thing, take a few minutes and make something for mom.

Brunch/breakfast in bed: There are quite a few local restaurants offering brunch to go!!  Order Now!! Don’t put it off until tomorrow, trust me or you may miss your window. Many places will close orders at some point, so don’t risk it by being late.

Some options include: Proud Mary, Barkingpdx, Marco’s Cafe, Mother’s Bistro, Jam on Hawthorne as well as many others. PDX eater has a great list; pick a winner!

What better time to support local restaurants then Mother’s Day? To score extra points, don’t forget about the other meals of the day, too! Have something in mind for dinner as well, whether it’s take-out or cooking up her favorite meal. Also, remember to do the dishes, wipe down the counters, and put away any leftovers. Please don’t leave us a mess to clean up later. That can really put a damper on a special day. 

If take out isn’t in the cards, don’t fret. Think about what she really loves for breakfast and make it. Double check to be sure you have all the ingredients on hand a few days in advance. French toast her thing? Look up a delicious recipe and give it a go. Quiche? Lots of awesome recipes out there. Make it special and she will be happy.  

Mimosas/tea/coffee: Whatever her favorite breakfast drink is, have it ready early in the day. Again, plan ahead and be sure you have the crucial components (i.e. mimosas without champagne are… disappointing). Some of the restaurants above are also offering mimosa kits with breakfast take-out. Win-win.

Flowers, plants, succulents: Would you partner love flowers on the table, some hanging baskets for outside, succulents, a garden planted? Many local shops are offering curb side pick-up or delivery. Plan this early as well, as plant and flower shops are getting busy! 

Sleep, precious sleep: Let mom sleep in. As soon as you hear the kids, usher them away and let her rest. Possibly the best gift of all. While she is sleeping, pick up the house a bit, feed the kids so they aren’t hangry when she gets up, and prep breakfast. It sounds like a lot, but I promise this is what most moms want, and your gift will be appreciated.

You may be thinking… there’s more?! Isn’t this enough?? Yes, in my book, but every mom accepts love differently. Think about how your partner accepts love and plan accordingly.

Some other options: Depending on your budget and how your family celebrates there are some local shops/spas offering Mother’s Day gifts/gift cards. Spa gift card, DIY coupons for mom’s day off, wine from her favorite winery, gift certificate to her favorite jewelry store… the list goes on! There are many local shops offering gift cards, curbside pickup, or online shopping if you/her prefer a physical gift. This can also be a great way to support local businesses that have had to remain closed this holiday.

Breakfast In BedSomething as simple as running her a bath and serving her a mimosa in the bath is sure to warm her heart. Cleaning the house, taking the kids on a walk so mom can have some silence, sending her up to the bedroom with her favorite book, all of these would be more then welcomed by most.  We don’t need or want a lot of money spent on this holiday. We want thought put into it, we want to feel loved, taken care of, and appreciated.

We often say we don’t need anything or don’t want to celebrate this holiday. We are caretakers; we try to make everyone’s’ life easier. Sometimes, we say we don’t need anything as a way to make it easier for you. But the truth is, I have yet to meet a mom who wouldn’t  appreciate a card or some token of appreciation.

Truly, what most of us want is to not have to plan anything. We are multi-taskers, planners, and entertainers. It’s exhausting. Taking a day off is a dream come true, and an easy enough gift to give.

It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money but it does take some planning.  Now go and call those local brunch spots, go grocery shopping for her favorite stuff, and get the kids to put a hand print on something!

Distance Learning and the Digital Divide

Many thanks to our partners at Comcast for bringing online access to so many in our community!

When I first heard that schools were transitioning to online learning due to the coronavirus, my first thought was, “But what about all the kids without home internet?” While teachers are being amazing and reassuring families that we’re all in this together, I can’t help but worry about children getting left behind.

Our partners at Comcast reached out to Portland Mom Collective because they are working hard to ensure that doesn’t happen to ANY students. In addition to making free internet available to families with the help of community partners and their Internet Essentials program, Comcast has also ramped up parental controls, opened up their public WiFi hotspots and brought a ton of educational content to their X1 and Flex services in response to the coronavirus.

To talk over how Comcast/Xfinity are helping families through this time, I spoke with Rebecca Brown, Director of Community Impact at Comcast. When we spoke, she was working from home with her three kids, like so many of us. After all, it wouldn’t have been an authentic mom-to-mom pandemic conversation if we hadn’t been interrupted at least once!

Kid at ComputerThanks for taking some time out to talk to me today. First of all, I know you have kids — how old are they?

We have a ten-year-old daughter in fifth grade, an eight year-old son in second grade, and a four-year-old daughter. So I am working full-time from home and managing distance-learning, just taking it day-by-day.

Tell me about the distance learning piece. I know Comcast is helping facilitate online access for local families. How?

The Internet Essentials program is a low-cost option for low-income families and households; we are now offering two free months of internet to families who apply by June 30. Our goal is to help as many households as possible get online, with access, for distance learning and beyond.

I have big concerns about the equity piece of distance learning, as do many others. What are your thoughts on that?

This pandemic has really shined a spotlight on what we call the “digital divide;” the very reason why the Internet Essentials program was created. When we launched it nine years ago, we knew that there were those who couldn’t afford getting online, so we developed a program that addressed the three main barriers for those individuals: how can someone get a low-cost computer, a low-cost home internet service, and the free digital literacy they need to navigate the online space.

Now, of course, we’re seeing there is still a huge need. We’re partnering with different school districts and non-profits that want to help support their more vulnerable families. They basically say “Hey, if Comcast can get families connected for a stretch, we’re going to help pay for Internet Essentials for an even longer time period.” Ultimately, Comcast supports the first two months and our community partners are going to cover the next four months for these families. We have partnerships with The Fund for PPS, Salem-Keizer School District, Portland Community College, and more.

Also, we have opened up all of our public and business Wi-Fi hotspots to everyone, even if you are a non-Xfinity subscriber. If someone is out and about or near a public area, they can hop on any open network; we have a map online that shows what is available. It’s just another way to get people connected.

I read that screen time is up nationally, and that Comcast/Xfinity is reporting a 57% increase in daily xFi usage and a 27% increase in parental control activation. What can you tell me about these tools?

I don’t know about you but I have definitely seen an uptick in my kids’ screen time. Part of it is them doing school work, of course, but people are also home more and using devices more, in general.

One thing I love is that utilizing our xFi app, you can limit screen time and pause devices, giving you the option of how to manage your kids’ access.  So for my family, in our “computer area”, we are all set up together. I have set the iPad, for example, so that it can’t be accessed until noon and then it’s inactive at 8pm. The kids have 2-3 hours altogether throughout the day where they can use the iPad, split between three kids.

Also, at lunch and dinner, on my xFi app, I can hit a button and say, “Boop! Ok, we’re going to pause devices now and let’s all come together.” It’s really easy and pausing devices means we are taking a screen break as a family. The kids know that is how it works and just expect it now.

What advice do you have for families navigating digital learning, in general?

First and foremost, we don’t have to do this perfectly. It’s ok to give yourself a break and the kids a break, because this is new for all of us. I saw a quote from a teacher that said something along the lines of, “Don’t worry parents, in September, we’ll get the kids back on track; that’s our superpower.” The best thing you can do right now is be your kids’ support, give them grace, and give yourself grace. I think that’s what we’re doing. We’re trying. We have sort of set a time frame and a schedule (loosely), and I think that has helped. They know we still have to get up, make our beds, and get dressed. It’s not jammies all day – except when it IS jammy day, LOL. And we do some schoolwork, check-in, take a break, then craft time. Keeping a schedule and having some grace, that’s how we’re getting through each day.

I also heard that there is some educational programming available through Xfinity. Tell me more.

Oh, this is so cool! If people have X1 or Flex, there is a ton of educational content out that the company has added.  You can easily access it by saying “Education” into the Voice remote.  We’ve been using it at home and — oh gosh! Do you do GoNoodle? It gets the kids moving and honestly it gets me active, too! That’s an example of some programming that you can easily access through Xfinity TV.

The educational content we’ve curated is divided by grade level, either K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. It’s very easy; you click in on your grade level and there’s all kinds of options — from math, language arts, science, yoga, fitness … a little bit of everything is in there, and something for the kids AND adults. It’s a great resource. There has always been an effort to provide safe and enjoyable, family-friendly entertainment, but we have worked to enhance the content that’s available to help families out at this time. Yes, it’s still screen time, but it’s a different screen and having something on a TV screen versus a small Chromebook can be a different experience. For GoNoodle, we can all spread out around the room and everyone can see it. It’s really fun!

How Should We Talk to Our Kids About Quarantine (Without Freaking Them Out)?

It’s no secret, even to the littlest of kiddos. Something is going on.

You and I might be able to chat about the endless barrage of information coming at us from all directions that elicit a sense of impending doom (or maybe that’s just me), but how in the world are we supposed to talk to our kids in a way that’s both honest AND healthy?

To answer that question, I did what I always do when I need evidence-based answers: I spoke to a professional.

Father sitting at the table with his young child to color and talkHere are some of the helpful insights I received by talking with local psychotherapist Harini Sukumaran, whose specialties include children and women with anxiety. She is the Clinical Director and Founder of MindTree Holistic Counseling and Wellness Center.

What’s the best way to talk to our kids about both the virus and the corresponding pandemic?

There’s a lot of fear and anxiety going around right now, both for kids AND their parents. Kids can pick up on these changes and their brains may perceive them as a threat. As parents, the last thing we want for our kids is for them to feel unsafe.

Therefore, the best approach to having these conversations is to mindfully respond as opposed to reacting. Since kids are still developing their emotional regulation skills, if you start to panic, they are likely to start to panic, too. You want to come to these conversations around the pandemic with as level a head as possible. Not only so you do freak out your kid, but so you don’t confuse them either.

Meet your child where they are at. Take their feelings about the situation and name them, validate them, and normalize them. The idea is to emotionally connect with them on their level. Doing this will help them understand what exactly they are feeling and how to communicate these feelings in the future. Additionally, having a better understanding of their emotions can help your child feel calmer and more in control of the present situation.

If your child is old enough to understand certain emotions, make a physical list, and write down all of the worries they are experiencing. Once some of these internal worries are externalized, it’s easier to gain an outside perspective. From there, it’s easier to approach each issue one by one, working through them in an honest and thoughtful manner. It works like a kind of roadmap and gives your child a better sense of control.

How should we amend our approach based on our child’s age?

While there are some difficult concepts for younger kids to grasp, the best way to find out where you’re child is at emotionally, is by asking them. Keep the question open-ended and collaborate with them so that you find the answers “together”. You don’t want to end up projecting your worries or concerns onto the conversation. Validate and connect with your kids, and remind them that these feelings are not permanent.

A good introduction to the conversation can be as simple as:

There’s a lot going on right now. How are you feeling? Do you have any questions?

For older kids, it’s highly likely that they are hearing a lot of the tidal wave of information that you hear. Unfortunately, they may be hearing some misinformation as well. For these kinds of things, you can always ask them what they think something like “pandemic” or “social distancing” means and go from there with correct information.

Is there a difference between fear and anxiety?

While fear and anxiety often overlap, they are distinct feelings.  Fear is typically an emotional response to an immediate threat that is happening in the present. Anxiety usually involves anticipating something in the future that is unknown (which may or may not be unlikely to actually happen). However, fear and anxiety elicit similar physiological responses like the fight, flight, or freeze response. They also feed into each other, fear causing more anxiety, and anxiety causing more fear, which leads to the interconnectedness of fear and anxiety.

Once we’ve had an initial conversation with our kids about the pandemic, how often should we be checking in?

It’s always a good idea to check-in with your kids on how they are feeling. This does not mean that you have to ask, “Are you okay?” every single day. But rather, you want to get a sense of their emotions, without making a huge deal out of it or projecting your own worries. A daily check-in activity can be helpful. 

For younger kids in particular (but also older kids if they’re willing), you can try the “Color Your Heart with Feelings” activity. The idea is simple. Let your kid “show” what emotions led them throughout the day by assigning each feeling a color. It doesn’t have to be EVERY feeling (maybe pick the top 3-5) and depending on how much of that feeling they felt, they should color that much of their heart. For older kids, adding an intensity scale can be helpful sometimes as well.

This kind of activity acts as an invitation to talk through those feelings with your kid. It certainly helps if you do the activity as well, sharing your feelings with your child which will help them feel more emotionally connected (and more likely to share their feelings with you).

If daily check-ins feel like too much, try at least once a week. It’s up to you how often feels too often.

My kid seems to be handling things well at the moment. Are there any cues that I can look for that might indicate they are starting to feel anxiety around the pandemic?

Some overt behaviors that can be indicative of anxiety include irritability, impatience, and restlessness. Another, less obvious sign that your child could have anxiety is if they start to shut down communication and self-isolate. With the ladder, it’s a common response to being overwhelmed.

There are plenty of other issues that can cause a similar effect in your child that are not anxiety, so HALT and consider the following possibilities first:

  • Hunger: We all get a bit more irritable and snappy when we’re hungry, hence the portmanteau hangry
  • Anger: If something has happened recently that would make your child mad, (like a fight with a sibling) it’s okay for them to be angry, for a short while at least
  • Lonely: Perhaps your kid is craving attention or connection
  • Tired: Sleep is vital to full brain function, including emotional regulation

Harini was gracious enough to answer additional questions from our community of moms in the full interview, which you can watch below.

If podcasts are more your speed, check out our bonus podcast episode at Raising Cascadia for the full audio version.

You can keep an eye out for future talks with experts in our community by liking and following us over on the PMC Facebook Page.

Recommended Reading

Get All the Mother’s Day 2020 Feels with These Powerful Photos...

2
Mother's Day 2020 is not going to play out how we imagined earlier this year. There's probably no meal out or relaxing day at...
Schoolwork in Quarantine

Parenting in Crisis