Playtime can be fun, educational, and exciting. It’s a great way to spend quality time with your little one and to learn more about the way they think. I try to spend at least an hour playing with my son no matter how tired or exhausted I am. Sometimes it consists of me just laying in the flooring moving a race car in circles.
Recently we’ve added dress-up costumes to my son’s collection of toys. He had a firefighter, surgeon, and an astronaut!! Before having these items my son loved to role play pretending to be anything from a repairman to a chef!
Now playing pretend does seem silly and fun but did you know it has so many benefits to a child’s development. Children who engage in role-play and dress-up can exercise their vocabulary, learn, and practice emotions. Studies have shown that children who play dress foster empathy, possess leadership skills, and stronger imagination which has been linked to critical thinking and problem-solving.
Role-playing and dress-up don’t have to be full-on costumes and garbs something as simple as a box or a napkin tube can open your child’s mind to a world of imagination! Here are some tips for role-playing with your little one!
🧝🏽♀️Think of characters and roles your child is showing interest in. 🧝🏼Find creative and simple ways to implement role-playing and dress up in your daily life. Repairing or putting something together around the house allows your child to safely assist. Explain to them what you are doing ask them questions and praise them for their efforts as an assistant repair person. 🧝🏿♂️Don’t break the bank (unless you want to) look for sales after the holidays. 🧝🏾Don’t constrict your child to “gender norms” little girls grow up to be great fire chiefs and little boys grow up to be amazing nurses. This will show your child that they can be whatever they want and respect individuals in those fields. 🧝🏾♀️Listen to you your child take their cues and don’t be scared to join in but you have been warned toddlers have the worst customer service and bedside manners!!
I’ve had a lot of people ask me how do I create my lesson for my son. It can be intimidating to create an effective lesson plan for your child, but with the right mindset and drive creating and executing activities can be as easy as 1-2-3. So without further ado, these are some tips and tricks to help you Prep-Plan-Execute an effective lesson plan.
This week my son and I worked on the letter A. To have a variety of lessons, I planned a total of 10 interactive activities for the entire week. Each chosen activity will help reinforce and learn more about the letter A. I know ten activities seem like a lot of work, but these activities should be interchangeable for future lessons.
Tip one: Follow your child’s cues. What is peaking your child interest? Do they pretend to read or write? What actions of yours are they mimicking? Often our children tell us what they are and are not ready to learn. Use this to determine what lesson you will begin working on next. My son would sing songs like A is for a-a-a-alligator, B is b-b-b-ball, hinting to me that he was starting to recognize that letters made sounds and that letters make words. A simple song has led us to embark on this journey of learning all the letter sounds of the alphabet.
Tip two: What are your child’s interests and favorite toys? Do they like TV characters and which ones? Knowing these things will help you build engaging activities specifically for your child. There is nothing worse than spending time creating an activity that does not hold your child’s attention. Take notice of what motivates your child! Does your child like to get outside and run around? Do they like desk work? Use this to help create the environment in which you will teach your child. My son is very active so, scavenger hunts and races motivate him to learn more.
Tip three: Know and understand your child’s strengths and areas of difficulty. Understanding what your child is a master at and where they can improve will aid you in determining if you are pushing your child too hard or not hard enough. Be honest and open about what your child is telling you and about their strengths and difficulties. Give extra attention to areas of difficulty.
Tip four: ALL HANDS ON DECK! Make it fun to use textile letters, paints, Play-Doh, Slime, and other toys. Let your child get their hands dirty. Touch is a VERY IMPORTANT part of the learning process. With that in mind, DO NOT GO FOR BROKE ON TOYS AND LEARNING TOOLS. Purchase toys and learning tools that can be used in many different activities. DO NOT spend hundreds of dollars on “tailored made” learning kits. No child learns the same so, no child should be taught the same.
Kids all learn at different levels, and that’s okay! That’s what makes them BRILLANT! Instead, take a look at learning kits that catch your eye. Pull out pieces that you like, and create a cheaper and more effective version that works for you and your child.
Tip five: Are you having fun? It already takes so much to be a parent. No one said you can’t have fun too. Make activities that you enjoy to teach and you and your child can enjoy together. If you aren’t enjoying your self chances are neither is your kid!
Tip six: Don’t be afraid to modify things you already have or find. Let’s face it not everything we find is going to work! Sometimes things we purchase seem like a good idea at the time just to later realize that the item isn’t as effective as we’d like. If you can’t return it or you can find a use for it by changing it around “put those craft skills to work”. I purchased a wooden alphabet puzzle and maybe it was my brand loyalty that made me get it but once I bought it home I realized it made no sense for a child learning their alphabet. Instead of tossing it out, I made some changes, and BOOM new effective learning tool.
Tip Seven(PRO-TRICK): Now that you’ve established what you’re going to focus on. You have picked out some learning tools and toys based on your child’s interest. Give all your activities a common theme. If you are working on counting, you could use cars as items count, use stop signs to help your child earn when to stop counting. Make numbered parking spaces for another activity on blank paper and have your child match numbered cars to the appropriate space.
QUESTION? Why is it so important to have so many activities?
ANSWER: Not all activities will work all the time. Allow yourself to have a backup plan. This will also help keep you Kiddo’s attention. New activities mean new fun!
Tip eight: Leaning tools and toys should be fun. Give your little one a brain break! Let them explore and play with the toys and tools you use for activities. This will let them explore how these toys work and the different ways they can be used. Who knows you might even get an idea of how to incorporate new uses in activities.
Tip nine: Write it down. We’re parents and our memory often fails us. Write down your activities in a planner each day should have at least three activities. Take notes on what’s working and what isn’t write down changes you think would help improve the activity. Keep your list of activities and add to it.
Tip ten: Talk to other parents. Bounce ideas off one another! Talk about what has worked for you and what has not. IT TAKES A VILLAGE.
To better help me execute my activities I keep all my worksheets, loose papers, and books in a folder. This makes it easy to grab in the morning and everything already together. The organization is KEY all of my most used learning tools, toys, and crafting items are all located and organized in easy to reach designated areas.
Make copies of worksheets and use them more than once!
Be okay with adjusting activities.
Complete the activity more than once. Use activities on more than one day. Repetition is your BFF!!
When we become mothers we focus on the happiness of our family of our friends and our children. Too often our needs and happiness sit on the back burner simmering until everyone else has been taken care of.
We sometimes forget who we are. Do you know what makes you happy? Do you know what you like? Do you know what makes you smile What genuinely gives you that chasing rainbows pot of gold feeling?
If you answered no or you’re not sure or you think so! That’s fine and there is nothing wrong with your answer. Sometimes it’s hard for us to get to know ourselves all over again.
Throughout the years we change as women. What we like changes throughout the years. What makes us happy changes sometimes our favorite foods change. We are constantly changing and growing which are apart of life. It’s OK that sometimes we forget to get to know our new selves.
There’s this old saying that goes “if you don’t know what makes you happy, how can anyone else make you happy”.
I believe the validity behind the statement if you can’t make you happy, how can you expect someone else to.
So I challenge you as a mother and woman to get to know yourself. Take your self out figure out who you are. Do you like flowers? What are your favorite flowers? Do you like to cook or do you prefer to have your meals prepared for you? Do you like to work out, what type of exercises do you prefer? Would you rather go to the gym or work out at home? Do you favor to be outside or snuggled up indoors?
Let’s dive even deeper what is your love language do you like gifts or words of admiration or maybe both? Do you like cute pet names like cutie and honey? Do you like to be flirty and flirted with? Do you like to be goofy and silly? What is silly to you what do you consider fun or funny? Do you like bike riding or the cliché long walks on the beach? Do you fancy rock climbing, horseback riding, fishing, or reading a book what about you makes you who you are?
Of course, you’re a woman you may even be a mother, wife, girlfriend significant other. But what else you’re not just someone’s daughter, sister, friend, or coworker. YOU ARE SO MUCH MORE!!! Who are you outside of all these labels. These questions can be really hard to answer. So here are a few techniques to help you figure out what you like and what makes you happy, what you consider fun!
Everyone is talking about self-care and apart of that is getting to know ourselves. Do you remember dating when people would pull out all the tricks to appease and appeal to you? It’s time for you to date you don’t just take a minute or a moment take real-time to enjoy yourself and figure out what makes you happy.
Go to places you don’t normally frequent. Try visiting a florist shop look around do you like what you see?
Hang out in the bookstore do you like the quiet corners tucked away? What about museums do you like history, sports, or art what do you enjoy?
Create a dream grocery list what would you purchase if you could buy anything in the world any food!
Do you crave cheese and expensive wine or maybe decadent desserts like Macarons and Crème Brûlée?
Flip through a look book build your dream closet what’s your style? Do you like a class or an edgy look. What about faux leather and fur.
Taking a look at our feelings and emotions is very important. How did you feel today? Did you have any triggers today? What made you smile and laugh. Did you feel jealousy or anger and what caused those emotions?
Try keeping a journal or a voice log of how you felt throughout the day. Write down 10 things about your day that you loved and three things that weren’t so great.
Have a conversation with yourself how did you get through those hard parts of your day. What things help you cope with your problems. What concerns do you have about yourself? Do you have a temper or are you “too nice”? What are your favorite corks and traits about yourself?
Don’t be afraid to treat yourself! Buy yourself things that you only need but like as well. Dote on yourself look in the mirror and tell yourself how amazing and beautiful you are.
All of these are things that I had to work on and continue to work on. I had to understand that the young lady I was at 18 I’m not anymore. Come to think of it I’m not that 21-year-old or 25-year-old either. So now 30, a wife, and a mother I had to re-introduce myself to me.
Being a mother is a full-time job and that doesn’t include all the other things that we have to do. So its no wonder that we find ourselves forgetting our next task, walking in a room, and having no clue why we are there or getting off task altogether. And for me being the first time didn’t make staying on task any easier!
So to juggle it all, I started putting everything in my planner. This was something I was big on before I became a mother, but I did not realize how much this kept me on track until my son was born. If you’re like me your daily list looks a bit like this….
Blog & Vlog Planning
Play Date (Before Covid-19)
Scheduling Home Repairs
Scheduling Auto Maintenance
…and that’s just to name a few.
Naturally, this can make you a bit crazy trying to keep track of all that in your head. In addition to my list of things I also have to be aware of what my husband has going on; work, meetings, games, workout sessions, work meetings, practice, and his traveling schedule. This is when things started to get out of hand and we began using a family calendar application that synced with our phone calendar and provided us with notifications of our events. This was a lifesaver for sure!!!
The plan is the plan and we must execute said plan at all cost!
WRONG…Think of your schedule as more of “guidelines or suggestions”. Things that have to be done no matter what, prioritize those first. For example bills, self-care, grocery shopping, and home and auto maintenance have to be done. Things like cleaning, planning, or reorganizing can be done another day. Which leads me to my next point. Bo okay with not getting everything done, it took Wonder Women days to save the world and she had superhuman powers. So relax and be okay with the fact that you were productive and made progress. We praise our children for learning 4 out of 26 letters in the alphabet. Make sure you give yourself that same energy.
Adjustments sometimes have to be made and that’s ok. In the famous words of Bruce Lee “be like water” in other worlds just go with it. If you planned a walk for the morning and it rains, skip the walk or move it to the evening. You can always come up with a modified plan. Take a breath, relax, and regroup. It’s going to be OKAY mommy.
Finally, have a spillover planner or page. Use the spillover space for jotting down thoughts, Creating a list, prioritize, and remind yourself of things throughout the day.
The decision to become a stay at home did not come easy or without hesitation. When my son was born I had every intention of returning to, in fact, I did go back, and it was HELL! My son was born in June and I went back to work in September, I honestly thought I was ready for the return…Boy was I wrong.
I would get up at 5:30 am Monday thru Friday to make breakfast, get dressed, get my son dressed, feed him, and make sure he had all he needed for his childcare provider. My husband would drive my son ONE HOUR across two cities to every weekday. I would get to work around 7:30 am and I would always start my morning off with a quick pump session. I would then eat again “no one tells you that breastfeeding makes you feel like you are starving to death ALL THE TIME”. The branch would open at 8:30 am and like clockwork so did my depression. Every second of my workday felt like hours it was brutal. I found myself being locked in my office bursting in tears constantly I was hysterical. The only thing that made my day bearable was the constant pictures and updates of my son. He was my safe place and I only found comfort with him around. I would find the strength to pull myself together even if it was just for a while to do some work. I tried so hard to drown myself in any task I could find talking on the work of others to just unplug from my feelings. After a few more pump sessions, a pity party or two, lunch, and a few more ugly cry sessions it was 5:30 pm and time to drive “aka” sit in traffic for an hour to pick up my son and then drive another hour with him screaming in the car. I would finally get home around 7:30 pm if I were lucky and traffic was in a forgiving mood. I would pump, eat go to sleep and start all over again. Stuck in this cycle of complete mental chaos.
I felt so alone depression makes you feel that way isolated and abandoned.
Prior to my return to work, I had the worst anxiety. I always had this feeling that something bad would happen to my son. I would not go to stores that required me to cross busy intersections and if I dared to venture out I was super cautious. And when I say cautiously I mean I was the person you were yelling at because I would wait until there was no room for error to pull into an intersection. I remember this one time in Macy’s and had this sudden fear come over me that the mall was unsafe. I instantly started to scope out exit stairs and back doors that I could use to escape if a gunman were to enter the mall or if a fire was to spontaneously happen. This is what being a new mother was like for me constantly running these scenarios in my head of literally the worst thing that could ever happen. My number one job was to protect my son and care for him. So to do that I stayed home unless it was absolutely necessary.
People would always ask me why was I driving so far for childcare and why not choose a place closer to work and home. The answer to the question is quick and easy when I was younger I had the worst daycare experiences that a child could have from witnessing abuse to eventually becoming a victim. So naturally, I had a hard time coping with dropping my son off to a total stranger. I had no family close by that we’re able to or in a position to watch him. As a result, I took him to the only other person I trusted to watch him. We did eventually move him closer to home to a private school/childcare. They were literally the light in a dark place, they were welcoming and open. They were progressive in their creative curriculum and they encouraged nursing and mothers to come and nurse their babies whenever they could on site. I was smitten with the entire school, but like many things in life, all good things sometimes come to an end. We outgrew our tiny condo and moved to the suburbs/country “more space for a growing boy”! As a result, I had to switch branches terrible mistakes, and an even more terrible mistake moving my child from our beloved school to a daycare facility that did not have properly trained staff.
LITERALLY!! and I know I use this word so much it could probably sue me for misuse or copyrights…but I literally mean literally my worse nightmare come true. After a couple of weeks at this new facility on camera, I witnessed an employee pushing my 16-month-old son down forcing him to lay on a cot for a nap…I was enraged and addressed the situation immediately resulting in my son being confined to a crib for any nap following. Naturally, the confinement of my son did not sit well with me either…in no world will my son be punished for the actions of an adult!!! Needless to say, that was our last week at that establishment. Now the last stop on this train and our final attempt at childcare. At a predominantly black facility which I was all for being big on representation and all…”mind you that on my visit I showed the teachers the video of children at the last facility being pushed down ect…expressed my concerns and was assured that it would NEVER happen at their facility”. Our experience went something like this…
Week one: incident report child fell after tripping over toys, staff will make sure toys are picked up. Busted lip from fall.
Week two: incident report child fell tripping over rug…I don’t recall the plan of action but this was another busted lip. Needless to say, I’m finding it hard to believe that after falling a million times in our new home with no carpet and never having an injury. That now at this facility he is consistently busting his lip. Also, I had to request this incident report.
Week two and a half: I’m at work and have a missed call from the daycare with no voicemail. Of course, I try to call back with no answer. So I try again and again and again with no answer. I then called my husband to see if he had received a call in which he had not. I asked him to please try to call since I had to get back to work. After a couple of calls, my husband was able to reach an employee and he was informed that our son had fallen and obtained no injuries. I did not get the message and after about 10 minutes of not hearing from the husband, I place another call to the facility where I was informed that my son had fallen and instead of catching himself with his hand’s palms down he put his palms up and fell on his face and had a bruised lip…PLEASE TELL ME HOW THAT SOUNDS who falls with their palms up WHO? Livid I grab my things left work and call my sister on my way to the daycare facility. I inform my sister that today would be my son’s last day at the facility and that I needed her to please come down and watch him for a few days. I didn’t even need to ask she was packing before I could even get the words out. I ran into the daycare taken back to see my son’s entire right side swollen. I like to think the spirit of my late grandmother dragged me out of there before I could tear that place apart and the people in it. I grabbed all of my son’s things so fast and headed straight to the door. And in passing mentioning, that day would be my son’s last day. I handed her a typed note for the record. And the next day my letter of resignation was typed and turned in…
…So a little over a year later here I am telling my story and taking care of my baby on my terms. It has been an unforgettable adventure. I am so thankful that I can see the silver lining out of all this. My son is happy, healthy, and brilliant. I remember telling myself that my job will be there when I’m ready to go back don’t worry. Now I tell myself what job…this is my dream job!!
My name is Courtney, in my life, I have been a lot of things and held a lot of titles but my most recent is MOM. I have dealt with a lot of things that have led me to where I am today. A stay at home mom! A Black stay at home mom at that. A people group I feel is grossly under-represented.
What led me to become a stay at home mom?
…..Where to start postpartum depression and anxiety, inadequate and overpriced childcare, an economic system that doesn’t represent or benefit a working mother. These are just a few.
Why Blog About It?
When I first decided to be a stay at home mother I felt that I was the only one that looked like me. I’ve never met and I never really seen other Black stay at home moms. I had to go out of my way to find SAHMs that look like me. It was upsetting and remarkable that the only way I could connect with other women of color who were SAHMs was to pay to join an organized club or group. So for the next Black woman that feels alone, I want her to know that she is not…
I second-guessed my decision. I felt like I was throwing away years of school, countless hours of dedicated studying. I was the only one of my friends at the time who was exclusively caring for their child at home. I often thought could I and would I measure up in the long run. But I live by the motto “you have to get uncomfortable to get comfortable.” So there I was at home with my one-year-old son. With no clue what my next move was going to be. I had just worked through my postpartum depression and was fearful that I could slip back into its grasp again.
First I drowned myself in home improvement projects and then I realized I could still cultivate my skills and foster my creativity…and BOOM THE BLACK STAY AT HOME MOM WAS BORN.
I began coming up with creative tasks for my son that would hold his attention and help him learn new skills. I didn’t realize that the type of parenting style I had was unique or even a commodity among Black Millennial Parents. I was just doing what felt right to me attempting to break generational curses and mend the scars of the past.
Shortly after I started posting our activities on Instagram…THE POWER of a HASHTAG…I began using hashtags to discover moms like me using Black Moms that of all things were home with their babies….I began connecting with them and interacting with them. These women are some of the most educated and brilliant young women I’ve ever met. They are accountants, school counselors of the year, content creators, and so much more. It’s amazing to watch the growth and influence other women to be their best selves, to motivate one another to not only think about but commit to self-care and hold each other accountable.
Anyways I say all this to push the Normalization of the Black Stay at Home Mom!!!!
I hope you enjoyed my welcome narrative and I hope you guys continue to support me and join me as I continue to share my journey with you all.
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