Mama May i Blog
I am so grateful for the group of Mamas in my life. I have so many questions about parenting and my journey in motherhood. Loving that I have this wonderful resource - a collective of strong, gentle, nurturing souls surrounding me. Some are near (I can chat with them at the park) while others are hundreds of miles away (we stay in touch via Facebook) - but they all offer such amazing insight and perspective to every hiccup or challenge I have so-far encountered.
Here is a for instance: Today, this was my plea:
Layla (6) started camp this week. She loves being there, has so much fun, but leaving her in the morning is such a production. She cries. She's scared. She doesn't want me to go. She feels afraid "without mommy there". Etc.
She has always been sensitive but when I'm trying to wrangle all three of them I get so so anxious and overwhelmed at this. I want to validate her feelings but I also want to push her to have fun with her friends and have some space without us for a bit.
I want her to honor her commitment. But I also want her to feel safe, listened to, and just have fun.
She's like I was as a child - miss responsible. Her own worst critic. Harder on herself than anyone else could be.
We homeschool and this just makes me feel awful - like I am doing her a disservice. It makes me feel like maybe my homeschooling her is making her extra clingy. We are out of the house almost every day - at workshops, at friends', socializing, playing....she loves that (but I'm always present).
I feel like this is extreme separation anxiety for a six year old and I'm not sure how to get through it - in a positive way. I don't want to bully her through it, but I also think she could use some time and space of not having to play the role of "big sister".
I don't know. I'm so conflicted and I don't know how to help her.
She had such a hard time today that she chose to come home instead. I can't have this fight every day.
I wanted to bribe her into staying. I tried to lighten her anxiety by telling her we would meet her during playground time. She was excited about this the whole morning....until we got to camp. Then she melted down.
I wanted to force her to stay.
A part of me wanted to shame her into staying (You're six! Most six-year-olds do this.)
I actually told her if she came home we would do "none of the fun stuff" (this I am absolutely not proud of).
I wanted her to just "suck it up" and "follow through".
And then.....I took a deep breath.
I saw her eyes and heard her words (and the sound of her voice). Through the chaos of Lincoln melting down because he was ready to nurse and nap and Lillian's constant interuption because she wanted to go outside and play, I finally managed to listen to her scared voice. And I said:
"Okay. Go get your bag and your towel and we will go home."
I knew better than to say much else because I was feeling upset. Upset that my six year old couldn't handle being away from me for half a day. Upset that camp wasn't so magical that she didn't want to stay forever and ever. Upset in the feeling that I could be doing her a disservice - the whole "homeschooling thing." Sure, she was socialized, but apparently she hasn't exactly separated "healthily" from me. There. That was it. It was guilt that made me want to override her feelings and words and make her say. I felt responsible. I felt like I might be screwing her up forever more because we hardly ever have a chance to separate. I am within arm's reach, if that's what she wants, daily. I suppose I was also feeling a little embarrassed that other people don't understand and judge our "homeschooling lifestyle".
But then I regained perspective. I remember being young and wanting to be close to my house...my family....my parents. I know what it feels like to have plans changed, new places to be, and routines to establish. I never did well (and still don't, honestly) with a disruption. And I listened to her.
All she could muster were gurgles and lip quivers and "no, mommy, don't go"s and pulling my arms and legs to keep me close (yes, my six year old).
Eventually I got this out of her when she had a chance to calm down a bit and we could talk to one another:
"I am scared, Mommy. I am scared to be away from you. What if something happens to me? What if something happens to you? What if I need you and you aren't there?"
The more I think about it, the more I am not surprised. She used to do fine with the task of separating. She loved seeing friends, going to workshops and classes, sleeping at Grandma and Poppop's. But then, mid-year she started freaking out about all of it. Her anxiety was at an all-time high. She did not want to leave my sight. We did a lot of breathing through it. A lot of talking through it. A lot of talking through our routine and what would happen. We used rescue relief. Lavender spray. Special friends...whatever worked to get her through the day. Her anxiety seemed to lessen (though it never went away completely and separating was still not easy).
I truly believe she reached a developmental milestone of some kind; of greater understanding of how big (and sometimes scary) the world was. I think she was beginning to realize that things happen (all the time) out of her control - that something had the potential to happen to any one of us at any time and that underlying thought caused her great distress.
Last week we had an incident with Lillian (3) while we were at the Children's Museum. She had a seizure and we had to go to the hospital. Layla went with family while I went to the hospital with Lillian and she had no idea what was going on (we didn't have many answers at the time) or when she would see us again. The last thing she (probably) remembers is seeing her baby sister laying on the ground, listless, surrounded by her own vomit and not responding to Mommy's voice - and Mommy having to leave her (while she was scared) to be in an ambulance with Lillian and go to the hospital. I am certain (in my heart, and after taking this day to reflect on her insecurity) that it rekindled her uncertainty in the world and in the people around her and in the unknown of "emergency situations". All of the uncertainties. All of the what-ifs.
So here I am, on the other side of this day - reflecting on her behavior; her words; her actions; her body language. This morning I was upset that she wanted to come home with me. Tonight, however, I think she needed to come home with me (for whatever reasons she had in her heart). Today all the children played more lovingly and amicably than most other days. Today, Layla was such a big, sweet, sensitive soul. Today, we talked. Today, we listened. And today I reached out for advice from my amazing Mama support system. I am so grateful I was able to talk through my thoughts and emotions with a group of positive-parenting, big-hearted, loving, amazing women. I could have gotten a lot of "you're crazy. You should have made her stay there" advice. I could have gotten "you have to tear off the bandaid sometime" sentiments. But, instead.....this is what I got:
- Hugs Mama. I think it's wonderful that you're opening up about this and willing to ask for support. In my personal therapy, I have noticed that as I make breakthroughs, my girls are there to test me with the worst displays of our old challenges. I go back to prayer and forgiveness every time. Gratitude also helps and I've seen you working through that. I think what you're doing is wonderful and you know the girls better than all of us. I just want you to know that these shifts we make are worthwhile and our children will pick them up at their own time, especially when they know that we'll love them through the hard days.
You mentioned that you feel anxiety from the drop-off. Is there anything you can do to help yourself?
- My son is 7 and really just got over that this year (& he goes to public school). The guidance counselor (who is AWESOME), had to meet him at the door in order for him to leave my side. So it may have nothing to do with homeschooling her. We have seen a therapist as a family just to make sure that communication is open within the family unit- highly recommend it! Also reassured me that there was nothing 'wrong' with him. Try asking her in a matter of fact kind of way specifically what her concerns are about leaving you. Is she afraid you won't come back? Is someone being mean to her? Really explore gently with her:). I feel your pain!
- I remember at a meeting at my kids' school, one of the fathers admitted that he cried every time he was dropped off at school until 3rd or 4th grade. He has 5 boys and he sees his middle boy doing the same. He talked about how he was ok with it & understood that it was just his way to grieve being away from family. He gives his son a big hug and reassures him. He makes sure his son knows there is nothing wrong with showing his emotions. I am not sure this is helpful to you but it might reassure you that some kids just have a harder time with transitions & letting go. It has nothing to do with what you did or didn't do.
- Being on the receiving end of kindergarten (aka teacher) I can assure you that everything she is experiencing is absolutely normal for her age! She sounds like a sweet soul! one thing that I often have to remind myself and the parents in my care is that we need to teach children not to be afraid of their emotions by showing that we trust them and that they can trust in us. If she cries we comfort and show empathy and respect for her feelings. We still go ahead with our plan because we know that the challenge we have set before her is within her reach and we show her that we trust she can manage. Often what will happen is that the little one will cry, which is so hard for the parent because they don't see the child immediately end their tears as soon as the parent is out of view and literally jump into play!
I always call the parent right away and they are amazed at how quickly their child has moved on. I agree with that some children just need to release their big emotions to their parents as their way to prepare for the next part of their day.
- One of my favorite quotes that has helped me understand my role as a guide to children is by Magda Gerber: "Always be open when your child says he is afraid. Never belittle him by saying, "There's nothing to be afraid of." Don't argue about fear. Listen to whatever your child wants to express. You don't always have to share the fear, but always be willing to listen.
Refrain from saying, "That's silly. That monster under your bed doesn't exist," because it exists in your child's imagination at the time. You have to become a good listener. Later in life people pay huge amounts of money to therapists who don't do anything but listen. Perhaps you can avoid that by listening to him now."
- Some small things- taking a transitional object with her, reading books about the separation and coming back- we have a couple you're welcome to borrow. Hugs!
- I just want to tell you that I've seen many a homeschooled kiddo really come in to their own independence around age 7 or 8 (including my own). 6 is still quite young and even though many kids are dropped off at school/camp at that age, it doesn't always go smoothly. I think its just the age, not homeschooling, maybe she worries that she might be missing out on something awesome you guys are doing without her? Can she bring a special stuffed toy or a pic of you with her? Could you include a surprise note and treat in her lunch for her to look forward to? Maybe plan a super fun after camp activity to anticipate?
- My daughter experienced the same transitional stress/issues. (ironically my younger daughter will just jump out if the car and run throwing an arm up and yelling "Bye Mama!!").
What was helpful for her was having a ritual. We would talk about it the whole way there (sometimes in repeat). "I am going to walk in with you, help you take off your backpack and sun hat. (Pause) i will give you your first hug and kiss then we will walk to the playroom. Then we will sign in and you will walk me to the door. I will give you your second hug and kiss and you can open the door for me. I will wave and then you will have fun with your friends." The predictable routine and talking through it on the way there and the as we were doing it was realllllly helpful. She is a deeply feeling soul and the gentle routine seemed to make the otherwise overwhelming idea of me leaving her for a time manageable.
- My youngest has a lot of anxiety. When dropping him off anywhere I went about 30 min early & told him I would stay until he was ready for me to go. He was in control. It was very helpful.
I am amazed at, not only how many other children go through this, but also at how many wonderful tips, tricks, tools, and positivity came from putting myself out there. I am hoping that some of these things will resonate with you and that you can find peace and ease in whatever parenting challenge you are currently facing (or gathering tools for the future).
Here is another great resource I was given by a mama-friend from Code Name Mama
Ideas Gently Manage Separation Anxiety
We started off two years ago with "Honey Money" - little bumble bee coins Layla could earn for doing chores, being kind, going above and beyond, listening the first time. I have some made and ready-to-post but never did because I wasn't sure how well they would work and I wasn't quite sure if using them was better / worse than using "real money."
Well, two years of testing later and I will report that the Honey Money system definitely has it's place in our home for toddler and pre-school. The concept is more relatable at that age and it's fun to go to the "Hive" to pick out a prize - and it's fun to fill up your "Honey Pot" like Pooh Bear...
We've been working on money concepts with Layla (and Lillian by proximity) for the past couple months. She totally gets it (she just turned 6.) Each sticker on the chart is worth 10 cents...she was counting by tens today to get to dollars. And you could see her eyes light up when she counted her bills. I think this will be a great real-world upgrade for her and am excited with her enthusiasm. Lillian (3 in May) is not as excited to adopt our new currency exchange program. So, Honey Money it is. Two years of testing and finally I have my answer ;)
If you're looking for a way to reinforce positivity or just need a little behavior modification, Honey Money has been a great tool in making it fun and keeping things positive. I will try to have a set posted in the shop by the end of the week. Good for ages 2-5 - great tangibles.
If you have an older child it is so interesting to watch them understand the "value" of money. And want to spend it all in one place. But I guess that's a lesson for the not-so-distant future.
Thank you Jean @ArtfulParent for your lovely review! I am so glad Daphne and Emily enjoyed playing with these little cuties as much as my little ones do.
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Earlier this month we welcomed a new baby into our family : At home.
I am writing my birth story here for all of you who are like I am (I think there are quite a few) - who are birth story junkies :-)
Lincoln's Birth Story: Born at Home, With Love
The seconds and minutes and hours rush by
We're looking to meet you - stare into youreyes
Your fingers, your hands, your tiny toes
You ears and hair
and sweet little nose
I thought for sure you would come out on your due date, or before. With all the squatting, crouching, carrying, running, skipping, jumping, and dance-partying I’ve been doing with your two big sisters, I thought there was no way you would wait to come out into our world. Boy, was I fooled. 40 weeks came and went with no indication of labor approaching. Oh, how I willed it. Every piece of mucous and barrage of contractions I was hopeful it would be “the start”. But you just weren’t ready yet. And, looking back, maybe I wasn’t ready yet, either.
I only had two hands, after all – how could I take care of a third baby?
Lillian was only two after all – how could she possibly learn to share Mama time with anew little person?
Daddy has been super busy at work after all - and we have been doing a lot of figuring life out together – how could I possibly get everyone to sleep on the nights when he didn’t come home? How could I possibly hold down the fort when I am outnumbered three to one?
I am only one person after all - how was I going to care for you when everyone else needed my attention?
Sure I took care of my body during my pregnancy … I exercised in the form of walk and play. I ate well – I was afraid if I didn’t eat well you would get stuck because of how big Lillian was at birth. But emotionally and spiritually I was pretty tapped out – always looking out for everyone else. I have always been gentle with other people but not always so gentle with myself. Towards the end of my pregnancy I treated myself to a massage. I decided it was time to take care of myself in more peaceful ways….so for two months, that’s what I did.When Grandma came to visit it was easier to sleep. I relaxed. She treated me to a mani-pedi. I got to go to acupuncture and massages. I was beginning to pull away the layers of my uncertainty. I think my soul needed this before you came.Although I was clamoring for you to come out, you took your time….I think you knew what I needed more than I did. I needed time to work through my labor apprehensions. Soothe my spirit. And love myself.
41weeks came and passed. I asked Kate to do a membrane sweep, I was getting anxious. Contractions, yes. Spotting, yes. But no baby. We tried again, but you still weren’t ready. There were even a couple false starts – when contractions were coming 4 minutes apart – all day long – no matter what I was doing – but when I went to bed thinking they would soon wake me up, they never did. Waiting was so hard. I was starting to get worried about your size, and though I believe apples will fall when they are ripe – I was beginning to think there was something wrong with my body. That maybe my body was incapable of starting labor spontaneously. At 42 weeks I decided it was time to try castor oil.Something I had sworn off in pregnancies past. I couldn’t understand why women would choose this - - but, as I was approaching this milestone in our pregnancy and beginning to think about what a medical induction would look like, I decided I would try anything to get things going so I wouldn’t have to deal with Pitocin or a hospital. Down the hatch – it wasn’t so bad…….(though as I am typing this I can taste its distinct motor oil taste deep in my gut and in the back of my throat). This was supposed to be the “magic potion” of at-home induction. When you tried castor oil, that was the beginning….but you never came.
We saw Kate the next day and talked about how perfect you were. Your numbers,perfect. My numbers, perfect. You were big, though. We could tell. I could tell. We talked about what it would be like to deliver a big baby and the best positions to accomplish this. I really did want you to come when you were ready. And I was trying to make peace with that in my mind – that you would come when you were ready. That my body was not broken. That my body would work to get you out. I wrote about it and reminded myself of it, especially when I was feeling super uncomfortable.
“This labor will start
Sometime. On its own.
Hoping you, baby, will
Want to come soon.
But I'm waiting and waiting and dreaming for now
Of holding you close and sniffing you rhair.
I've been waiting for months, for weeks,and for days
We've finally come to our last little phase.
The countdown's begun, time's drawing near
I'll ride the waves and live beyond fear.
But I want you to come when you're ready to fall -
You started that way, heart beat and all.
And now I can feel you pushing on me-
Your legs, your arms, your hands, and your knees.
Stretching your muscles, practicing every chance
Soon we will sway in our rhythmic birth dance.
Looking forward to that moment in time
When the waves start to pick up and I know you are fine...
But for now, I'll keep waiting
Until you are ripe
And ready and willing to enter our life.
For now I'll keep waiting until you are ripe
Because I know soon you'll be ready to come into our life.”
Daddy and I decided that we definitely wanted to get an ultrasound to check on you –to make sure the placenta was functioning properly and that there was enough fluid for your uterine-home to be cozy and safe.
The next day we went for an ultrasound. It was perfect. You scored an “8 out of 8”– on all the criteria they account for. But then we had an NST which monitors your heart rate and my contractions and how you handle them. The perinatalogist scared me. On one hand she said it was “perfect, beautiful, but here, not so much.” She said she couldn’t find a base-line and that because we were 42 weeks and you were big she recommended we go to the hospital for “immediate delivery.” She also said, “You know, with such big baby they are going to give you c-section, right?” I panicked at the thought of this…so far from the peaceful, tender home birth I had envisioned for you. But I was not emotionally ready to rush off to the hospital. She did another ultrasound herself and still you scored an 8 out of 8 and she was impressed by the amount of fluid you had“this doesn’t look like the amniotic fluid of a 42 week baby.” Still, she recommended being delivered right away. She did a membrane sweep before I left and was hoping not to see me again. But we went again the next day because I wanted to check on you again. This time it was “picture perfect”. I was relieved and, as the weekend was approaching, we decided we needed to come up with a plan to have a baby. Daddy and I were not comfortable letting you go past 43 weeks so we decided that if you didn’t come by Monday we would go to Kate’s backup hospital to be induced (which I really, really didn’t want to do). Kate was sensing my uneasiness and suggested we do an “at home induction”.Sensing, even more, that my comfort zone was at my house – she decided that would be the place to do it. So, on Saturday she was going to come to my house,“camp out” and try all the things we had already tried to do to get this baby out – in one day.
After another wonky NST Friday but perfect biophysical scan (8 out of 8) I went home and prepared my body, mind, and spirit for what was ahead - even if it wasn't exactly what I had originally planned. I had a great meal, spent time with my family,took a candle-lit bath, set an intention candle, cuddled with my husband, and got some rest. Saturday morning I was ready for Kate and we hit the ground running. She checked me and, in spite of my anxiety, found my body to have progressed a bit. Yay! She could feel the baby's head this time and it brought me so much relief - it set the tone for the rest of the day. Membrane sweep,castor oil Shake, walk it off, a couple tinctures and there was no stopping progress...water broke at 3 cm and your heart rate stayed steady through it all:-) I had been in pretty consistent seemingly-labor a few other days throughout this process so I remained hopeful, but unconvinced that this was the real thing. I Showered. Tried to nap. Walked some more. Contractions were tolerable but more and more I would have to stop to get through them. Daddy and I walked around the neighborhood (we live in a very busy neighborhood, especially on a Saturday night) ... Kate joked that I was doing a public service going out while in labor. Every couple houses or restaurants I would stop and squat or find a railing to hold onto. Even having people around didn't slow them. Though I am curious to know how many people realized what was going on.
When we got home I soon found a ritual that seemed to work a while. I couldn't really move from my spot without things hurting more so we stayed - I was surrounded by love and support - a sisterhood of peace - and counter pressure -and my sweet husband. Eventually my “spot” wasn’t working as well and I wondered if I could get into the pool yet. Kate checked me again. I was 7! It was working! I was excited to get into the tub because I knew I'd relax and I was convinced it would be another several hours (Lillian's transition lasted for 7hours to get from 8 to pushing). I had a contraction at the bottom of the steps, made it to the top of the steps for another contraction. I went down the hall to my room and had another contraction and finally got into the birth tub.
I felt weightless. And wonderful. I wondered if it would slow things down because there wasn't as much pressure on my cervix, but I don’t think I much cared because I was in such euphoria ... I had maybe 8 or 10 contractions in the tub and I started grunting. I just felt like I needed him to move down further…just a little. Then there was a buzz about the room the same way there was in the hospital when it was time to push. I didn't want to get my hopes up so I tried to ignore it . I didn't feel it was imminent. I was just checked. I was only 7.This wasn't hours and hours of transition. I heard my mom motion for Jim to call his parents to get the girls home (I had wanted them to see our baby being born). But I said “no, no .. There's time” (and I really was sure I didn't want them to watch me so out of control for hours and hours of transition). But I started grunting more during another contraction and everyone was looking for a flashlight. It was so surreal. I couldn't believe it was really time. Already. "Are you sure?" I asked..."I'm only at 7. I just need to scooch him down a little." ----
"Go with your body." They told me. "Listen to your body." It was empowering to hear such trust in me to listen to my own body. Another contraction and your head was coming out. It felt bizarre because it felt like it wanted to float up in the pool. But your head wasn't coming out anymore ... It was stuck.
Because of where you were stuck (right around your eyes) it suddenly turned urgent to get you out. And I tried. Oh how I tried. I pushed and pushed until I couldn't breathe and tried to gulp a breath to do it again. It wasn't working. Out of the tub ... At this point everyone was frantic and I was getting scared because I knew how hard I was pushing and I knew you weren't budging. I didn't know how you were going to get out. Urgency was in everyone's voices and I was doing everything I could. Contraction or no contraction I was pushing, trying so hard- using all the muscles in the same way I knew how from my other two births.But nothing.
Would I need to go to the hospital with you half in/half out? How much time would we have? Were you still getting oxygen from the cord or was it compressed? All these thoughts flooded my head. Thankfully, I trusted my midwife and support team, but in those moments of uncertainty, so many thoughts rushed through my head. Kate said she was so sorry but she would have to make a cut. I was terrified of that for some reason,especially because your head was right there. My mom had found her way to the floor in front of me where I was, on hands and knees, trying to calm me down. Another attempt at pushing and again she apologized and said she would have to make a cut. Scissors in hand, daddy reached over the bed to where I was on the floor and his hands found my hips in all this chaos - he did the pelvic hip move we learned in birth class. At this point I was out of control and screaming. I pushed again and you budged a smidge. Maybe the pelvic tilt gave my body just enough wiggle room. “Oh, wait--maybe not!” Kate said referring to having to cut me. He was out enough over his eyes. I heard them talk about the oxygen tank but it was all a blur. I was scared but kept pushing and pushing and finally you came out. I plopped to the floor, absolutely nothing left in me. I had wanted you right on my chest but at that moment I couldn't feel parts of my body - my head was cloudy - and my eyes closed. I couldn't hear you. And I remember saying, through the haze, “is he okay? Why can't I hear him? Shouldn't he be crying? What's going on?” I still couldn't see you because you were behind me and I was still just on hands and knees / on the floor. Finally you started crying and I was so relieved to hear you.
Everything from there was a little hectic. I think we were all in shock about the whole situation. You were a “he” after all and you wouldn't stop crying. We were still attached and I was waiting on the urge to get the placenta out...and just trying to breathe and take it all in. It's finally over. Weeks and weeks of anticipation finally melted in that moment. I was anxious to get the placenta out because I seriously just wanted to be done. I didn't want anything else to be required of me. No cut was needed, after all - and when I was checked I hadn't even torn. Intensely relieved with this news I just wanted to soothe our baby and nurse you to calm us both down but you wouldn't stop crying long enough to show interest. So I asked Daddy to hold you while I got standing up, rinsed off, and found my way to bed.
From here things were a blur but the cord had stopped pulsing, Layla was on her way up to see our new baby and help with the initial exam. Born at 9:57 p.m. Our 42w 4 d gestated baby weighed 10 lbs 12 oz. and was 22 inches long. Wow. All that baby. All inside me. No wonder it was a struggle to get you out.
Layla was smitten, so excited to have a brother because she "has a sister already." I felt complete relief. Thankful you're out, after waiting for so long. Grateful you're healthy and safe. Supported even through such an unplanned entrance. Safe in my own bed surrounded by my own things and smells and sounds and comforts. Now we rest...and ogle this beautifully perfect little person that was just living inside me. Excited to finally meet you and see what you look like. Hold you, smell you, love you, and breathe you in.
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Do you love Mama May I toys as much as your little ones? We want to hear from you! Let us know how you play, explore, and learn together by submitting a photo and a description of your activity. As a thank you, you will receive a coupon for your next shopping trip of $5 off. There is no limit to the amount of submissions, however only one coupon may be used per transaction.
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Not only are Mama May I toys great learning tools for individual boys and girls, they are also terrific for group activities. Up until age three, most children will choose toys and play with them in an individual way even within a group setting. For this reason, a typical Montessori or Waldorf inspired playspace offers a bounty of learning tools to engage young minds. By age 3, children eagerly seek camaraderie and shared experiences with peers. These five learning toys are sure to delight a group of young friends in open-ended play.
Coloring with Rainbow RingsDo your little ones have trouble grasping crayons?
Try a rainbow ringlet for a delightful burst of color. A typical coloring page will come to life as the rainbow offers shading details and transitional colors. This vibrant coloring tool is sure to solve the problem of who gets which color crayon.
Silk ActivitiesUse the silkies to play parachutes or umbrellas. In the umbrella version, each player has a single silkie. For the parachute, tie many together to use one as a group.
Create a story surrounding a rainstorm to use the umbrella and give guiding cues to the group. “I hear thunder, I think it’s going to rain!” Start shaking the umbrella. “Here come the raindrops.” “It’s raining! Run under the umbrella.”
In the parachute version, everyone holds an edge and follows the leader. “Up, up, up!” “Down, down down!” “Under, everyone run under!” Wait for the parachute to fall on the group.
Hide N Seek Neighborhood + Colored Cups and BallsAny rainbow series game from Mama May I can inspire a playful group. These learning tools beg a little explorer to solve their many intricate puzzles. Discover how to stack, fill, and arrange the group, then turn them over and start again. In a group setting, little ones can learn from one another.
Observation and partnership begins with a common goal.
Classic Ball and Cup Dexterity GameThis traditional game doesn’t need instructions. Simply set a young pair of hands to work on the task of getting the ball into the cup and watch the fun unfold. In a group setting, add excitement to the game by setting goals. Who can complete the task first? How many times can you fill the cup in a set amount of time? Switch hands!
Make-a-match Memory GameLay out all tiles upside down. The first player takes a turn flipping over two tiles. If they match, the player keeps the pair, if not both tiles are overturned in the original spaces. The player with the most matches at the end of the game wins.
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Our world is full of the unexpected. A great way to help children learn about the unexpected is to teach them conditional awareness. Certain games introduce this skill like Mama May I? and Red Light, Green Light, by teaching children to move or perform a certain action after receiving a set of instructions. I was inspired to learn more about conditional awareness after seeing a suggestion to let children climb up a slide on the Golden Gleam Blog http://www.thegoldengleam.com/2012/10/benefits-of-climbing-slides-outdoor.html. Not all the time, but sometimes it is important for children to go back up the slide to help discover that there are rules for different situations. For instance, if you are the only one on the playground you could say, “It is ok to climb up the slide right now because there are no other children around.” The next day if there is a toddler in the park you might say, “It is not OK to climb up the slide today because we could hurt the other child.” This triggers an on/off switch that helps children distinguish your expectations for behavior depending on the surroundings.
Teaching conditional awareness is helpful for other aspects of life, too. It might explain why an older sibling is allowed to stay up for a later bedtime or why someone receives a special gift for a birthday. We can also demonstrate indoor and outdoor voices or work on manners. Basically we want to show that more than one outcome is not only possible, but also likely for any situation. In the end, we will set our children up for better understanding and social skills down the road. Let’s face it, there is only one thing in life that should be unconditional; Love.Read more »
At Mama May I, we are always on the lookout for creative, engaged parents because we can learn so much from the way they interact with their children. They are more than just teachers, they are listeners, observers and friends to their little ones. Over the years we have realized that it does not take a lot of stuff to be a great parent. All it takes is the ability to demonstrate love by responding to our little one’s needs.
We think these parents are worth a follow:
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Preparing Little Ones for the Labor and Birth of a New Sibling
I am pregnant with a little one who will make his or her debut sometime in July. Our baby will have two big sisters who cannot wait to cuddle, hold, and love our little bundle. Two big sisters who need to be well prepared for the upcoming events of labor and birth (we are having a homebirth) as well as what life will be like once our new baby is here. Here are some of the things we have done to help make the adjustment easier for them before baby’s arrival – because, let’s face it, it’s a family thing.
1. Read books. Lots and lots of books. Books about pregnancy. Books about labor and birth. Books about homebirth. Books about hospital birth. Books about what it means to be a big sister. Books about midwives and doulas. My children love to read. And I love the illustrations of some of these amazing treasures to help us all visualize what’s going to happen to mommy over this marvelous time.
We have several more, but these are the ones they reach for time and time again.
Mama, Tell Me About When Max was Born by, Toni Olson
We’re Having a Homebirth!! by Kelly Mochel
When You Were Inside Mommy by, Joanna Cole
I’m a Big Sister (Brother) by, Joanna Cole
Hello Baby by, Jenni Overend and Julie Vivas
Hello Baby! by, Lizzy Rockwell
What’s Inside Your Tummy, Momm? by, Abby Cocovini
Runa’s Birth by, Uwe Spillmann and Inga Kamieth
My Mom’s Having a Baby! by, Dori Hillestad Butler and Carol Thompson
2. Talking, singing, interacting with the baby as if he/she is already here (because she is!) Our little bundle can hear us talking, reading, singing, and sharing with each other, in-utero. My youngest (almost 2) is the first one to cuddle up and say good morning to the baby, hug, and kiss her. She always has to lift up my shirt to see my belly button in order to make the conversation legitimate (no matter where we are). I think she views my belly button as a portal or microphone into the baby’s world. Whatever the case, she loves whispering sweet nothings into my belly, patting, rubbing, and singing to our baby inside. Sometimes I get out a Tiny Tickler (we sell these in the shop) and she gets to “tickle” the baby. It’s a great way to bond with an unborn baby and if feels good to have soft, gentle touches on my tummy. I can’t help but smile when I see the beginnings of a sibling relationship forming. Melts my heart.
Tiny Tickler $15 Mama May i
3. We have been perusing Vimeo.com under the search terms “homebirth” because I want them both to be prepared for the type of labor and delivery that they will most likely be a part of. (I try to scan them first just to make sure I can explain what’s going to happen if there are noises or sights that might create questions). Both of my children WANT to be here when I deliver our baby and I want them to understand the types of things they will see, hear, and smell. It is amazing how interested they are in watching other little beings coming into the world – they can sense the magnitude of this incredible journey and event…they sit in awe and reverence as each story unfolds. I, myself, love watching these videos because they are affirmations to me of how incredibly strong and beautiful women are. I am excited and honored to have the opportunity to share this feminine journey with my little ones. It feels so natural and so real and inspiring.
FYI. They will have their own “person” when I am laboring so if it ever gets too intense, they are welcome to go play or head out for a walk.
4. Along with this idea, I talk to them about labor and what that means and looks like. I tell them it’s a lot of hard work for a mommy. That her tummy squeezes the baby, giving giant hugs, to help bring the baby down. Sometimes mommy’s need to use they birth songs to help them bring the baby down and it sounds like this “oooooooooo…….ohhhh…..” deep, grumbly, throating noises. I ask them to help me make that sound (they love to imitate me). I sometimes show them some positions that mommy might want to be in; on all fours, leaning against a bed, some pillows, walking, swaying our hips. Sometimes we practice our “hula” hip moves to bring the baby down.
5. I have always been honest with my children and have always used proper terminology when it comes to our private parts. They know that our baby will come out of mommy’s vagina. I’ve demonstrated this with a baby doll or two. We also talk about it when we watch birth videos. I don’t want them to be scared to see a whole little person coming out of me, down there. They know that baby’s can’t live in their “tummys” “uteruses” or “wombs” quite yet….but if they want to have children when they become grownups they will have a comfy cozy home just for their baby, too.
There is a woman who crafts these amazing, handmade birthing / breastfeeding dolls that beautifully depict this idea. If they weren’t quite so expensive I would definitely have one. But they are beautiful and one of these days I just might splurge…
Hoping to have inspired some good conversation with you and your little one about pregnancy, labor, and birth!
What are some other ways to prepare even the smallest members of your family for the upcoming arrival of a sibling?
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For quite some time I have been fed up with our clothes-keeping situation. Too often were things getting shuffled, piled, misplaced, displaced, and unkept. I have been trying to figure out what would work best for everyone - from Mama, who usually puts clothes away, to my independent little ones who are deciding to dress themselves nowadays (maybe a post on that another day!)
This is what our closet looked like, more often than not. I knew where things were, because I put them "away" -- but after one attempt or two of "finding an outfit" by my children or my husband, and this is what the piles looked like....and it was stressing me out.
I needed a solution. Fast.
I decided on relatively shallow drawers, so there would be plenty for sorting.
I chose the Stuva from IKEA and added more shallow drawers than deep drawers.
Now I have the drawers and they are finally built (that's a frustration in an of itself!)
They are in the girls' closet and ready to be organized!!
I decided to play around with the idea of a Paper Doll.
Buga traced my templates on scrapbook paper and cut out shirts, pants, leggings, socks, underwear, pajamas, cardigans, skirts, and dresses.
We designed two fashion "collections" - one for Buga and one for Boo.
Then we printed out label tags to put next to the proper article of clothing.
I want Buga to associate the written word with the article of clothing found inside.
Here she is "reading" the labels to figure out which word goes on which drawer.
Here is the After :-)
Buga stuck all the paper clothes onto the drawers and labeled them.
All together and organized. The best part came the next day.
When I was done folding laundry, I piled the clothes according to drawer.
I gave Buga each pile, one at a time, to bring up to her room.
She was able to find the correct place and put the clean clothes neatly into the drawer!
Boo was happy to assist in her clothing organization, also.
And Buga took great pride in "lifiting her up" when she couldn't reach. Teamwork at its finest.
Yay for independence! And Yay for finally getting some help with laundry!
I've created a printable for you to enjoy with your little organizer.
If you aren't interested in using it in this way, I've included a Paper Doll template
so you can let your little fashion-designer create a clothing line suitable to their little paper friend.
Happy Exploring!Read more »
I found another rainbow! Boo wanted to paint yesterday and I couldn't find a palette! I was going to put them all on a plate but then they (much too soon) turn brown - an experiment in color mixing is bound to happen - but I didn't want it to happen so fast.
I had these tiny condiment cups from a project and thought it would be fun to make a palette on a plate. I used glue dots to stick them down - easy peasy. I put a water cup in the middle.
The best part is I had lids so the leftover (if any) paint wouldn't go bad. I rinsed the palette when we where through to reuse next time we are in Picasso mode. ♥
My Little Artists At Work!Read more »
Excited to have participated in the Etsy Pop Up Shop at West Elm this Spring. The catch - we had to use props from the store to create a display. I felt like I was on Project Runway and needed to figure out how to get it all together in two hours or less! I think it turned out super cute, though -- and it didn't FEEL as busy as it LOOKS!
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Guess where Mama May i will be this weekend?? West Elm is having an Etsy Pop-up Shop in Philadelphia on Saturday, and I am honored to say that our shop is one of the ones chosen to participate! Looking forward to being in Center City this Saturday ♥
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Friday Featured Product : Welcome Bees
Did you know that the Welcome Bees were created after a Spring Walk with my little one. She was captivated by the Magical Dance, Movement, and Mission of the bumblebees. I thought it would be a great opportunity to explore these little critters in our Play and Learn time together....and My Mom was actually the one who designed and created the prototype for the differently colored rings as a way for them all to find their fluttery way home. ♥
Don't forget to share how you would use these little cuties with your little entomologist! We would love to know!
These Bees are ready for Spring and we bet your little one can't wait to play.
Share a way that You would use the Welcome Bees in an activity with your little entomologist.
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If you live in the United Sates, you have anticipated this day for months now. You have been berated by the political commercials on the television. Moved by the many Facebook friends who have strong political views. Laughed at the political satires on Saturday Night TV. But today....Today is the day we get to exercise our RIGHT TO VOTE.
Take this opportunity to share with your little ones about what it means to be a part of a democracy. Vote on "what's for dinner tonight. Or "what we should do for family fun day this weekend." Show them that you are interested in the issues and engaged in the outcome. If you can bring them along with you to the polling station, do it. Mine could feel the excitement and were happy to receive a sticker. They wanted to be a part of it just as much as I do...and isn't that the point. We ALL get to be a PART OF It. We have the RIGHT to vote.
So Use it.
We did. I brought the girls to our polling station. We talked about "democracy" and what it means to "vote". Mama's voting for someone who I think will be the most fair in "making rules for the people in our country"
I love receiving photos of little ones getting lost in the corners of their imaginations with my creation.
Here's Ella stacking her gnomes up, up, up. I love it! Thanks for sharing!
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This has been our Summer Sensory Bin. The Beach. We have been busy reading and exploring the sand and ocean this year so I thought it would be fun to bring the beach home with us. Buga likes writing her letters in the sand with the driftwood and I love the calming sound of her sifting the sand.
Looking for some more Sensory Bin fun?
Check out our Sensory Bin collection for find treasures perfect for tactile adventure.Read more »
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The storefront site has been a ....while.... in the making. A LONG while. I am so incredibly excited to be on the cusp of launching. A place for inspiration. A place for learning. A place for sharing. A place for buying. A place where my journey as a mother collides with my journey as a business woman. Where my life, and blog....unite with my career. I have dreamed about this happening, but now that it is so close ...so tangible... I cannot believe we have come this far. I am inspired and awed by the journey we have taken the passed few years and am ecstatic to see where it continues to lead us. Thank you to all my support, both at home, and afar who have made this journey possible. I couldn't ...and wouldn't be here without you.
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I'm a pretty crafty mama. And I do projects with my little ones a lot. As you know, if you read my blog. So when I heard of Kiwi Crate I was enthusiastic, but skeptical. A craft, to my door, once a month. But, hey...the thought of having a "present" delivered monthly was exciting. And I knew Buga would glow with excitement when a package arrived at our door with her name on it...every month. Like a magazine subscription, I thought it would be something to look forward to I am so happy I gave it a whirl. Just as I imagined, the package arrives to open, excited hands...and we both enjoy peeking inside to discover what the theme is. Yes, theme. I think this is really what holds it all together for me. Sure, I can create these little projects myself...and I do. But it takes a lot of time. And I don't always have the time available to get it together. With Kiwi Crate I don't have to. I get a free pass 1-2 times a month (if I stretch the projects out.) on a rainy, do nothing day...on a mama's-to-busy-to-think kind of day...it's nice to know I have a go-to box filled with learning and creative fun. Who doesn't enjoy opening a mysterious package? Sometimes I hoard them...like the past two months. We have been so busy with Summer that we haven't really had any project time - or home time for that matter. I put them in the learning closet and pulled one out this week when we needed a little something to get us through the day. It was perfect. A surprise project, even for Mama. Something we worked on together. A safari of animal fun while Boo took a nap. A little one-on-one crafting time. And memories to share.
Buga is still completely enamored over her Art Studio...and there have been more art projects made since its inception than ever before -- which makes me enamored with it too. Take up precious row-home space for a children's art table, you ask? Absolutely! It's already gotten more traffic than my china cabinet ever did. It's functional space. Real estate in my home is a commodity...but, I do not regret this investment one iota. Paint. Stickers. Tape. Pens. Pencils. Crayons. Conte. Collage. Brushes. Oil pastels. Scissors. Glue. Stamps. Ink. Do a dot. Beads. Pipe cleaners. Pom poms. Gemstones. You name it. So much use. I would have LOVED something like this when I was a child....or a high school student. Who am I kidding? It still makes me giddy inside to see all those writing utensils and craft supplies at our fingertips.
1. Wooden scratching supplies, sticks, stamps, ink pad
2. Tissue squares, construction paper cutouts, paper fragments
3. Oil pastels, do-a-dot, homemade crayons, recycled crayons
4. Random paper cutouts, leftover paint swatches for collaging, wooden squares
5. Foam pieces, parts, clothespins, collage goodies
6. Stickers galore
1. Washi tape roll. I love wash tape for packaging, collaging, sticking, adhering....There are schmencils, colored pencils, smelly markers, color slicks, oil pastels, glitter glue, paints, twisty crayons, regular crayons, thin markers, thick markers, black-paper markers, glue sticks, scissors, pencils, pens, brushes
2. Beads, pipe cleaners, hole punched shapes, straw bits, popsicle sticks
3. Beeswax crayons, beads, pipe cleaner flower vase
4. Toddler Tools - large crayons, crayon chunks, and veggies to work on our "still life" drawings
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Do you know the colors of the Rainbow? The perfect combination of cotton, fiber, wood, and paint create this whimsically delightful Color "Square". Can you point out the different colors? Name them? Find their opposites? Describe them? With this nifty, modern play mat you will inspire your little artist to better understand their colors and compliments in no time. The classic pinwheel design is a fun something tactile to hold onto while exploring the world of color. Matching the clothespins is a great way to teach beginning color concepts...and attaching those clothespins to the mat is a wonderful way to help develop fine motor skills: the tricky pincer muscle grip! A bit of modern art for your diaper bag, learning closet, or art center -- the Color Square is sure to make art pop in your home! or rather...Pop Art!
The Color Square measures approximately 7" x 7" square. It is made of a rainbow of cotton fabrics. A thick interfacing is used inside for stability. And the square is finished with a white backing and white ribbon edge. The clothespins are top-painted in 8 different colors using a soy based pigment. Each set comes in an organza drawstring pouch for easy put-away and visibility.....these colors don't want to hide, they want to come out to play!
These 10 texture bags are a great way to encourage curiosity and stimulate your child’s developing senses. Each sensory bag is a different rainbow color and fabric to promote visual and tactile learning. On the opposing side there is a high contrast, black and white, patterned fabric to further captivate and hold your little one’s attention. Each bag has a different filling adding another dimension to your child’s exploration. Tiny conversation pieces, they provide many linguistic opportunities for you to explore together: color, texture, pattern, weight, spatial characteristics and more…
These bags are sure to pique your little one’s interest; nurture hand-eye coordination; and provide endless possibilities to unstructured play. Sort them, match them, fill and spill them – toss them, hide them, touch and feel them – your imagination is the limit to the exploratory and play possibilities of this little Box of Bags.
Filled bags measure approximately 4” x 4” square and are filled with various materials: poly fill, lima beans, lentils, barley, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, and leftover fabric and fiber remnants (these are just some examples, your set may vary a bit from what's listed here). They are topstitched for that simply "finished" look. For now, they come inside a limited edition, carry-all tin with a handle for easy clean-up and portability.
Oh Where Oh Where Has My Little Blog Gone...?
- big brother
- big sister
- birth story
- candy cane
- candy canes
- children's art
- craft show
- cute stuff sale
- etsy pop up shop
- flutter fly streamers
- gross motor
- home birth
- kiwi crate
- make a match
- mama may i
- mama may i shop
- mama may i shop coupon
- matching game
- natural play
- new product
- new sibling
- new site
- pretend play
- sensory bin
- sensory tub
- tot art
- west elm