Essentials Elements of a Smooth Day

two children looking out window

I know we are all a little tired of hearing from people who think they know everything about some aspect of this virus. I really don’t want to come across as one of those people. In fact, in my desire to not sound like one of those know-it-alls, I almost didn’t write this post. I don’t believe I am better equipped to handle the effects of this mess than anyone else.

However, I have been a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom for many years now. Like, if this were a court of law and an attorney called an expert witness to testify about their job as a stay at home parent? I could do it. My mixed emotions about that are for another post, but all that to say- maybe I do have something to offer here. If being at home, handling the educational needs of your children isn’t your area of expertise, maybe I can help. If one person breathes a little bit easier and believes they can get through this, then I’m glad I added my voice to the sea of voices out there.

So I’m going to share five essential elements of our homeschooling days. Hopefully, you find something practical that will help your days run a little more smoothly.

General Daily Routine

There are a few colorful schedules I’ve seen floating around social media. A few years ago, I would have had a good laugh about them. Who needs or wants a schedule? My type-B self would much rather go with the flow, allowing our feelings and interests dictate the direction of our days. That approach isn’t wrong, but as the needs of my family changed, my time management style had to adapt as well. The truth is, when we all know what is happening, and when it is supposed to happen, our days tend to go more smoothly. During this time when you’ve been thrown into this with little warning or preparation, there is room for either approach. Days spent reading, watching movies, and supporting your child emotionally is time well spent. But if you are ready to move on to a more structured day, a general routine is something to consider. We call ours our “Family Rhythm,” and it hangs in plain view. If you’re finding this idea appealing yet overwhelming, just start with a short morning routine. What are 3 things you’d like to have done before lunch? Start there.

Quiet Time

The natural graduation after nap time in our family is quiet time. Everyone goes to a quiet spot in the house and engages in a quiet activity. They usually choose to read, play Legos, draw, or listen to audiobooks. This time for us is completely screen-free, but we know families who use it as a time their kids can play on educational apps and that works well for them. This time is as much for me as it is for them.  I’d love to say I clean or do something productive during that time, but I’d be lying.

Movement Breaks

I don’t know if it’s because my kids are all age 10 and under, but they need to move, constantly. One of our favorite websites to utilize is Gonoodle.com, but you could also just put on some music and dance.  Our math drills usually include karate kicks and our memory work sometimes becomes a giant game of tag. I can’t tell you how many times I find myself wondering what is going on with my kids’ behavior, only to realize they haven’t been able to let out their energy sufficiently.

Flexibility

Whether or not you have school work coming home, you’ve likely already learned a secret: school at home does not take as long as it does school. What takes kids all day to do at school, may take just a couple of hours at home. One on one instruction allows for that faster progression. Don’t succumb to the pressure to add more worksheets so your child is sitting for the entire day. This extra time is a gift you can use to explore other interests, together.

Realistic Expectations

There are some things that keep getting overlooked in all of the “advice from homeschoolers” posts out there.

  • You did not choose this
  • You did not have a chance to prepare for this
  • This was unexpected
  • You and your child are managing a variety of difficult emotions, in addition to a change in atmosphere
  • You might have the added responsibility of working your regular job from home

COVID-19 just threw you into the pool of home education, and the water is freezing. Take the time to adjust, and give yourself and your children grace as you do. Expecting days that look like those who have been doing this for years will likely end in frustration and disappointment. Survival mode right now is a very real and valid approach. If you’re ready to build on survival mode, hopefully these ideas will be helpful. The important thing is to stay safe, and take care of each other the best way we know how.

 

All We Can Do -Working From Home With Kids: Part 1

woman with head in hands sitting at computer

So, you’re working from home now. And you have kids. Noisy, dirty, attention-loving kids. How does this work? I have no idea. Check back next week, when I’ve been through some trial and error, because right now, it’s a mystery to me.

For reference, I am currently required to make about 4.5 hours of phone calls from home right now. I have three kids at home, two of which need almost constant supervision. (Not an exaggeration) I could put on Disney+ and call it a day but… that’s not how this is going to happen. My house would be burned to the ground.

Let me get real for a second, I love my job (no seriously, not just because my supervisor might see this…). But… I love my kids more. Exponentially more. I have to prioritize my time. My kids can remember this COVID-19 social distancing time as one where Mommy was stressed out and tucked away in the corner of the kitchen on the phone for 4 hours OR they can remember playing outside in the yard with me, making English Muffin pizzas for lunch, and coloring pictures to hang on the walls. Easy choice.

So that leads me to the problem. How am I, one singular person, supposed to suddenly homeschool three children and be fully productive working from home? It’s impossible. This situation is impossible. All I can possibly do is the same thing I tell my children and my client’s everyday. All I can do is my best.

I am not a teacher, but I love literature and I can surely run a storytime for three.

I am not a scientist, but I did order a terrarium kit on Amazon that even has dinosaurs.

I am not a physical therapist, but we have a trampoline.

I am AWFUL at math, but I can bake a mean batch of brownies (measurements, duh, it counts).

Somewhere in between those memory makers, I’ll get some work done. Not only because the bills need to be paid, but because I truly enjoy the work I do. I will schedule my time wisely, I will make room for errors, and I will adapt to the needs of myself, my children, and my clients.

I am not perfect, but I don’t have to be (and neither do you). Today, we ate too much junk food and watched Frozen 2 and Octonauts and Rise of Skywalker and didn’t learn a thing. Tomorrow, I will do my best to work from home and I will do my best to teach my kids something; even it just ends up being that all we can do on any given day is our best. 

(Check back for Part 2 where we most likely find out that my best is mediocre.)

Support Local Business {Covid-19 Resource}

 

River running by a city
Photo by Tina Chelidze

During uncertain times, small businesses are the first to suffer. These families and individuals depend on us for support. You can be sure that mega-corporations like Target and Walmart have the resources to weather the storms of a fickle economy, but the same cannot be said for the local mom & pop shops that make our community special. And if the unstable economic climate happens to be the result of a global pandemic that has everyone self-isolating for weeks on end….well that just adds insult to injury. Here are a few ways we can help our community through these ups & downs, most of which you can do without even leaving your house.

Buy Gift Cards

Digital gift cards can be a huge help to a small business because they get the benefit of using your money now to keep themselves afloat, and you can either save it to redeem later or pass it along as a gift. Rebelle Artisan Bagels, Aleppo Sweets, Al Forno, Knead Donuts, Gracie’s all have gift cards available for purchase online even during closures.

Hit the Drive Through

If your favorite local shop has a drive-through now is a good time to use it. Consider swinging by Providence Bagel, Brewed Awakening, Aroma Cafe, or Coffee Connection for your cup of coffee instead of Dunkin’ or Starbucks. Support local without leaving your car! (I know there must be more out there, so please share the wealth and let me know!) 

Food Delivery Services

Ordering food through Door Dash, Uber Eats, and Grub Hub are simple ways to patronize your favorite restaurants from your couch. And of course, many restaurants offer their own take our and delivery, which often costs less than using a third-party service for both you and the restaurants! 

Curbside Pick-up & Takeout 

Even more, places are offering take out options now. Eat Drink RI has compiled an entire list of places here. And you can always call your favorite establishments to see what options they have available. 

Grocery delivery

Certain small grocers and farmers are offering delivery services, including Roch’s Fresh Foods, Pat’s Pastured & The Local Catch. Munro Dairy is another great option for grocery delivery that allows you to support multiple local food companies with your purchase and they deliver anywhere in the state of Rhode Island as well as Southern Massachusetts. 

Online Ordering

This one is already second nature. Many local businesses operate online as well so you can shop there without ever setting foot outside. Cerulean, Bolt Coffee, Auras Chocolate Bar, Rhed’s Hot Sauce, Evolve Apothecary,  Providence Perfume Co, Jahmu Chai, Shore Soap Co, J Marcel, Stock, New Harvest, Riveted Woodworking and Design, and Martinelli’s (formerly PV Farm Stand) can all be shopped online. It’s also a good time to place an order with your favorite direct sales consultant if you have one.

Patronize Local Markets

When you inevitably do have to leave your house to pick up a few essentials try to visit smaller retailers like Urban Greens Co-op or Green Line Apothecary. They need your dollar much more than Whole Foods or CVS.

Tell us your favorite local small business in the comments so we can all show them some love!!

 

How to Talk to Kids about Covid-19 – Homebound Help

 

father and son talkingAs anxious and unsure as adults are about what is happening in the world during the COVID-19 pandemic, our children need to be our focus. We, as parents, get to control the narrative of what is happening to ensure that our kids feel safe, supported, and heard.

Here’s a guide for talking to your kids about Coronavirus broken down by age, but please make sure to use whatever information is developmentally appropriate for your own kid(s). The goal to make all children feel safe, validate their emotions about what is happening, and provide them with coping skills and calming strategies. Even if your kid seems unbothered, it is our job as parents to engage them in these conversations and to uncover those fears and anxieties so we can soothe them. Our kids need to believe that the grown-ups are doing their part to keep them safe.

Preschoolers & Kindergarteners

Provide safety (If a child doesn’t feel safe, they are unable to function properly. Safety and security is the number one priority!)

  • “School is closed right now so we get to learn from home!”
  •  “We are staying home to avoid germs.” (Great time to show that viral pepper video and talk about handwashing!)

Validate (Children’s emotions are strong and they are real. Validation helps kids learn to feel and share their emotions, build a stronger sense of self and self-confidence, and grow a better connection with their parents/caregiver.)

  • “I know it’s hard to be away from school and your friends.”
  • “It’s okay to feel nervous or sad about this sometimes. Sometimes I feel that way too.”

Coping Skills (Ways to calm down to avoid an escalation, tantrum, or meltdown)

  • “Let’s work on deep belly breathing.”
  • “We can color or blow bubbles.”
  • “You seem upset, would you like a drink of water or a snack?”

School-Age Children 

Provide Safety

  • “School is closed because there is a virus going around. It is not safe to be around big groups of people right now because that is how the virus spreads. We are safe at home.”
  • “Your teachers and friends are okay. We can talk to your teachers on Zoom/Google Classroom/SeeSaw/whatever app. We can’t have playdates, but we can write letters, talk on Xbox/Playstation, and call or text.”
  • “You can help keep yourself healthy by washing your hands, coughing in your elbow, and remembering to stay a few feet away from people outside of our family.”

Validate 

  • “This all may seem a little confusing or scary. Most people are feeling that way right now. How are you feeling?”
  • “Do you have any questions?”

Coping Skills

Older children most likely already have a good tool-kit of coping skills but they may need to be reminded to use them. Here are some examples of coping skills

Self-soothing – laying with a favorite pillow or comfy blanket, listening to calming or happy music or a guided meditation.

Distraction – talking to friends, playing a video game, watching a movie, reading a book, making art.

Mindfulness – yoga, guided meditation, taking time to pay attention to how the body feels.

Opposite action – Talking with a parent instead of isolating in their bedroom; going for a walk instead of playing another round of Fortnite.

Teenagers 

Provide Safety

  • “Coronavirus is making it unsafe to be out in crowds and the recommendation from health officials is to stay home. Which means no going to the mall/park/wherever with all your friends.”

Validate

  • “I know it’s hard to be home all day, we are all struggling a little.”
  • “Grandpa/grandma/aunt/whoever is okay right now but we are taking these measures to keep them safe. You can FaceTime them anytime you want.”
  • “You worked hard on graduating/that performance, and it’s okay to be upset about it being canceled.”

Coping Skills

Like school-age children, teens most likely already have a good tool-kit of coping skills but they may need to be reminded to use them (some of these are the same):

Self-soothing – wrapping up in a comfy blanket, lighting a scented candle, taking a shower, having a cup of tea.

Distraction – talking to friends, playing a video game, watching a movie, reading a book, making art.

Mindfulness – yoga, guided meditation, taking time to pay attention to how the body feels.

Opposite action – Talking with a parent instead of isolating in their bedroom; going for a walk instead of playing another round of Fortnite. Playing with siblings instead of yelling at them.

Emotional Awareness – drawing or writing about emotions, journaling about the day. Blogging about their experience.

Maybe these scripts and skills will be helpful, but every child and family is different. Provide appropriate information as it is necessary, answer questions, and keep the lines of communication open. Start conversations, never assume, and always validate. Children who feel supported, safe, and able to express themselves during this pandemic will have the best shot of getting out of this whole thing without having to remember it is a traumatic experience.

A Letter to Moms During the Coronavirus Craziness

Hey Momma,

It’s been been a crazy week. Take a deep breath. Maybe your anxiety is up or maybe you’re just straight-up sick of hearing about the Coronavirus or maybe you fall somewhere in between. Either way, take a deep. One more. Okay, stay with me, one more. It helps, right?

A lot of information is being thrown around right now and things can start to seem overwhelming. You’ve probably caught yourself thinking things like What the h-e-double-hockey-sticks am I going to do with my kids if they aren’t in school? Do I like, homeschool now (don’t worry, we’ve got a post for that)? What if the pizza guy’s first cousin’s Mom is a carrier of Coronavirus? Do I have enough toothpaste/chicken nuggets/toilet paper? What is happens if I can’t find wipes/ the juice boxes Aidan likes / TOILET PAPER? What if there is a confirmed case in my town, in my child’s SCHOOL? I have caught myself filling with anxiety plenty of times over the last 48 hours and I am a mental health clinician. Theoretically, I should have it under control. But I am human; a human with other tiny humans that depend on me to make important decisions for them.

There is a lot going on. But Momma, you can’t control it all. Here’s what you can control. You can control how you present this time to your children. They are taking their cues from you. If you are presenting as anxious, guess what? Anxious kids. Children are attuned to your energy, just like a newborn to its mom. You can present this time as a time to bond, a time to have adventures, and a time to discover new things! There are countless FREE virtual museum tours, story hours, and learning activities being made available to everyone with internet services (and companies offering internet service to those who don’t have it!). You can use this time to teach your kids about social responsibility (in an age-appropriate way). You can use this stressful time to show your child what compassion and kindness looks like.

You can’t control if Karen is supposed to be in self-quarantine but she’s in the bread aisle at Walmart. You can’t control if your April vacation plans are ruined. You can control what movie to watch, you can control turning the backyard into a nature scavenger hunt, you can control how your children remember this. You are the controller of you. Organize that junk drawer, binge something on Netflix, declutter that closet. Enjoy your kids. Turn off the news. Limit your media consumption. Put the phone down. Be present.

Momma, use this time to remember what’s important to you. Give your kid’s love and understanding; this is scary for them too. Even if they don’t understand what’s going out in the crazy world; they know that their routine has shifted. They may act out a little more, that’s what kids do when their entire routine is changed. Cut them slack. Cut yourself slack. Love each other. Go for a walk. Eat the brownies. And hey, Frozen 2 is on Disney+.

Meals for Kids in RI and Beyond- Homebound Help {COVID-19 Resource}

As new guidelines and recommendations for public safety are released, we encourage you to call businesses to ensure whether they are open.

Meals for Kids

 You can search for meal offerings by location at this link from the RI Department of Health.

Recreation Centers for all Providence Youth

All Youth 18 and Under Can Pick-Up a Free, Packaged Dinner from 4PM-6PM Weekdays, Beginning Wednesday, March 18.

Service will be located at the front entrance of each recreation center.

Residents are encouraged to visit the recreation center closest to them:

      • Vincent Brown
        438 Hope St. Providence RI 20906
        Phone: 401-680-7362
      • John H. Rollins
        674 Praire Ave. Providence, RI 02905

    Phone: 401-680-7352

            • Madeline Rogers
              60 Camden Ave., Providence RI 02908
              Phone: 401-680-7358
            • Davey Lopes
              227 Dudley St. Providence, RI 02907
              Phone: 401-680-7350 and 7351
            • Zuccolo
              18 Gesler St. Providence, RI 02909
              Phone: 401-680-7366
            • Armand E. Batastini Jr.
              50 Obediah Brown Rd. Providence, RI 02909
              Phone: 401-919-2822
            • Joslin
              17 Hyat St. Providence, RI 02909
              Phone: 401-680-7354
            • Neutaconkanut
              675 Plainfield St. Providence, RI 02909
              Phone: 401-680-7356
            • West End
              109 Bucklin St. Providence, RI 02907
              Phone: 401-680-7364
            • Sackett
              159 Sackett St. Providence, RI 02907
              Phone: 401-680-7360
            • Kennedy
              195 Nelson Street, Providence, RI 02908
              Phone: 401-226-6882

     

    UMelt
    Who: Kids k-12, no questions asked
    What: Classic grilled cheese, cup of soup, apple, water
    When: Weekdays until schools resume or further notice
    Where: 129 Weybossett St Providence, RI

    West Greenwich Fire and Rescue
    Who: EWG STudents, no questions asked
    What: Pre-bagged breakfast and lunch, peanut-free options (*prepared separately to the best of their ability)
    When: March 16-20, Pick Up 8am-10am daily
    Where: 830 Nooseneck Hill Rd, West Greenwich

    Providence School District
    Who: Providence Students, must be present to pick up
    What: bagged lunches
    When: March 17-20 (Begins Tuesday), 11 am-2 pm
    Where: 8 locations around the city
    · Asa Messer Elementary School, 1655 Westminster St.
    · Gilbert Stuart Middle School, 188 Princeton St.
    · Providence Career and Technical Academy, 41 Fricker St.
    · Mt. Pleasant High School, 434 Mt. Pleasant Ave.
    · Alvarez High School, 375 Adelaide Ave.
    · E-Cubed Academy, 812 Branch Ave.
    · Juanita Sanchez High School, 182 Thurbers Ave.
    · Hope High School, 324 Hope St.

    Service lines will be located at the front entrance of each school and Sodexo staff will hand each student a packaged lunch and breakfast.

    Wings Over Providence
    Who: All children
    What: one free kid’s meal per child, per day, in-store only
    When: until further notice
    Where: 725 Hope Street, Providence, RI

    Patriots Diner
    Who: All children
    What: choice of pancake, eggs and toast, or grilled cheese
    When: until schools resume or until further notice
    Where: 65 Founders Dr, Woonsocket, RI

    KFC Apple Valley
    Who: All children
    What: free lunch with voucher (email [email protected] for voucher)
    When: March 16-20
    Where: 4 RI locations, 3 CT locations

    KFC/Taco Bell – 421 Putnam Pike, Greenville, RI
    KFC – 25 Newport Ave, Rumford, RI
    KFC – 822 Reservoir Ave, Cranston, RI
    KFC – 824 Tiogue Ave, Coventry, RI

    KFC/TacoBell – 45 Salem Turnpike, Norwich, CT
    KFC/TacoBell – 578 Providence Rd, Brooklyn, CT
    KFC – 1589 West Main St, Willimantic, CT

    Goodstuff Smokehouse
    Who: Any student, no questions asked
    What: free kids meal to-go
    When: weekday during lunchtime, until schools resume or further notice
    Where: 97 Main St, Blackstone, MA

    P.J.’s Smoke N’ Grill
    Who: Any student, no questions asked
    What: free kids meal to-go
    When: weekday during lunchtime, until schools resume or further notice
    Where: 112 Main St., Medway, MA

    140 Pub N Club
    Who: Any student, no questions asked
    What: free kids meal to-go
    When: weekday during lunchtime, until schools resume or further notice
    Where: 168 Mendon St, Bellingham, MA

    Papa Johns Pizza 
    Who: families, no questions asked
    What: free slice of pizza
    When: 11am-3pm
    Where: 120 Highland Ave, Seekonk, MA

    Hockomock Area YMCA

    Uptown Food and Spirits 
    Who: Bristol/Warren school-aged children
    What: complimentary breakfast meal
    When: 7:30am-2:30pm, Tuesday- Friday
    Where: 437 Main St, Warren, RI

    Matunuck Oyster Bar
    Who: any student
    What: free item off children’s menu
    When: weekdays until school resumes or further notice
    Where: 629 Succotash Rd, Wakefield RI

    Cumberland 
    Who: any student
    What: Grab and Go Meals- Breakfast and Lunch
    When: M-F, March 16-20th
    Where: two locations

    BF Norton Elementary (346 Broad Street)
    McCourt Middle School (45 Highland Ave)

    Pick Up Windows:
    Breakfast: 8:00 – 8:30 A.M
    Lunch: 11:00 – 12:30 P.M

    Cranston Public School Foodservice
    Who: any student under the age of 18
    What: Grab and Go Meals- Breakfast and Lunch
    When: M-F,  while schools are closed
    Where: six locations

    -George J. Peters Elementary School
    -Hugh B. Bain Middle School

    -Gladstone Elementary School
    -Cranston High School East
    -Park View Middle School
    -Edgewood Highland Elementary School

    Pick Up Windows:
    Breakfast: 8:00 – 9:00 AM
    Lunch: 11:30 – 1:00 PM

    Coffee and Cream
    Who: students
    What: pancake or scrambled eggs and toast
    When: Monday – Friday, 6 AM-2 PM
    Where: 900 Victory Highway, North Smithfield, RI

    The DUKE Kitchen and Spirits
    Who: North Providence children
    What: cheese or pepperoni pizza (dine-in or delivery, please call ahead)
    When: Monday – Friday, lunchtime 11 am-2 pm
    Where: 1839 Smith St, North Providence, RI

     

    Other Meal Options

    Pawtucket Firefighters

    From their Facebook Post:
    Your Pawtucket Firefighters understand that this is a scary time for many people, not only in our community, but nation and worldwide. The closure of public schools statewide has caused many of you to be concerned about food security for those children who rely on school breakfast and lunch for many of their daily meals.

    This weekend, Your Pawtucket Firefighters will be out looking for staples to assist those in need. If you, or someone you know, have children affected by the school closures in Pawtucket and are in need of food assistance to get through the next week or longer, please message us here so that we can help in any way possible.

    Remember, this WILL pass, we WILL overcome! Wash your hands, stay home if you are sick, call 911 if you are having a true medical emergency, and always look after each other

     

    East Bay Food Pantry

    From their Facebook Page:

    In response to the closure of RI schools, we have temporarily modified our Food4Kids program. Families in the East Bay who need additional help providing food for their children may now pick up food every week instead of twice each month. Food4Kids will be available the 1st and 3rd Saturdays and the 2nd and 4th Fridays of the month, 10am-noon. In response to recommendations from the RI Dept. of Health, this food will be pre-bagged to reduce person-to-person contact and waiting in line. 

    During this difficult time, we anticipate a much greater need for food assistance. Monetary donations are the best way to support our food programs and allow us to adjust to changing needs as they arise. Please make your donation online at eastbayfoodpantry.org or by mail to East Bay Food Pantry, 532 Wood St., Bristol, RI 02809. Thank you for your support!

     

So Now You’re Homeschooling- Homebound Help

2020 has been a pretty interesting year so far, hasn’t it? No matter what your thoughts on COVID-19, it’s true that most of us are finding ourselves with a lot more time at home than we originally planned. Kids are home from school, and you’re home with them. It’s not like this is a long weekend that’s been marked on the calendar since the beginning of the school year. As schools are closing, you are feeling a lot. And among all of your mixed emotions, you may also be feeling like you’ve been thrown in the deep-end of homeschooling.

First of all, if this whole thing is freaking you out, take a deep breath. Seriously, do it right now. You can do this.  You don’t need superhuman patience or a master’s degree in education. Trust me, despite knowing a lot of homeschooling families, I know almost no one with either of those things. You’ve got this. Don’t psych yourself out.

You probably know a homeschooling mom who would love to help you brainstorm ideas for enriching activities. And if you don’t?  I’m here for you. I’m going to assume you already know to google “free math drill websites” and things like that, so I’ll give you some ideas for enrichment. If you don’t know what something is or how to do it, YouTube is your best friend. We have learned how to do so many things, thanks to YouTube.

  • Play restaurant – You give your child a budget, and let them decide what they want to serve the family for dinner. They purchase the food and are in charge of cooking and serving. It gives them practice in managing time and money, allows them to brush up on their measuring skills, and gives you a night off from cooking dinner.
  • Nature Walks – take along a sketchbook and sit down and draw what you see.
  • Make Kites and fly them – see which can stay in the air the longest.
  • Make Beaded Jewelry
  • Assemble mosaics with different colored pebbles, fruit loops, beans, anything.
  • Learn how to tie different types of knots
  • Learn to whittle
  • Dot Paints
  • Build models of constellations with toothpicks and mini marshmallows – download an app like Skywalk to help find the constellations you build.
  • Read poetry and act it out.
  • Have a dance party to different genres of music
  • Write a handwritten letter to a long-distance friend or family member
  • Soap carving
  • Make a sundial
  • Learn how to weave using a loom or your fingers
  • Invent a new kind of soup
  • First Aid/CPR
  • Make a list of small house projects and come up with an action plan together
  • Baking
  • Learn folk songs from 100+ years ago
  • Embroidery
  • Hygiene 101
  • Write comic strips
  • Canning or preserving food
  • Create art with pastels, watercolors, charcoal, oils, or clay
  • Learn and identify bird calls
  • Watch documentaries
  • Car mechanics- learn how to change a tire, check the oil, etc.
  • Listen to podcasts – Smash Boom Best, Wow in the World and Pants on Fire are some of our favorites
  • Plan a garden

One last but very important thing, don’t underestimate the power of cuddling up on the couch with some good books, engaging in good discussion, and really making the most of this time together. It’s certainly a less than ideal situation but it could end up being a sweet experience for you and your family. Wishing you all good health and happy homeschooling as we buckle down to get through this.

 

Uniforms Work For Us!

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I’m possibly the laziest parent ever. Don’t believe me? Come on over. Toys are everywhere, dishes fill the sink, clothes are piled up in the basement because after work I’m too tired to fold them (even though I loathe the sight of seeing the piles)- it’s a vicious cycle.

This is one of the reasons Catholic school was so appealing to us: we wouldn’t have to think about what our kids will need to wear. The principal made that decision really easy. Sweatpants and a tee shirt with a sweatshirt on chilly days, and gym shorts on warmer days, boom, done. This makes mornings significantly easier because my kids’ outfits are decided for them. I’m responsible for getting our daughter up and out the door in the morning, and knowing neither one of us is very cheery I took the easy road where she would be wearing a uniform. Clothes are laid out, they get up, go to the bathroom, brush their teeth and get dressed. The only real dilemma we face is matching socks, and if I’m being honest, the matching sock battle is one I usually choose not to fight.

This makes our mornings much easier, as I am not a morning person, and neither is my oldest child. We both grunt our hellos and do our best not to bump into each other as we get our breakfast.

Back to school shopping for supplies is stressful enough and I wanted to avoid any other stress, which is why when my daughter was going into grade school I wanted to look at private schools. I wanted to be able to have an easy morning, and I knew if she went to public school it would be a battle because 5-year-olds change their minds on a dime, and choosing an outfit for each day would provide ample opportunities for this mind changing.

The great thing is, when she outgrows her uniforms, my son can wear them and I am getting 4 years out of these clothes. Such a bargain! The uniforms aren’t too expensive seeing as she is wearing it from September to June and she doesn’t typically change out of them when she gets home, so my laundry piles shrunk considerably. Lazy mom win. Now, I did look at a few schools with multiple uniform options; different combinations of shirts, pants, shorts, jumpers, etc.  As much as it might seem like I picked the school for their one-and-done uniform choices, I’m not that lazy. I picked the school based on the curriculum and the teachers and administration, of course!

The thing I like most about the uniforms is that all the kids feel equal and there’s no competition, no bullying about what you’re wearing or not wearing.

Do your kids wear uniforms? Love or hate?

The Providence Mom 2020 SPRING Bucket List (with Printable PDF)

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

It’s been another long New England winter, and we’re just as eager as you are to shake off the chill of winter and dive headfirst into springtime.  So we’ve pulled together a list of some of our favorite things to do when the weather gets warm and compiled Providence Mom’s Spring Bucket List. Scroll to the bottom for the PDF version that you can download, print, pin or otherwise post to your heart’s content. Did your favorite springtime activity make our list? Reach out and let us know!

  • Plant an herb garden
  • Visit Wicked Tulips
  • Explore the Audubon Society
  • Build  a fairy garden
  • Visit Botanical Gardens at RWP 
  • Read about a spring holiday 
  • Take a trip to RWP Zoo
  • Dye some eggs 
  • (Make your own egg dye!)
  • Have a holiday egg hunt
  • Visit Wright’s Dairy Farm 
  • Celebrate May Day
  • Eat Johnnycakes
  • Grow flowers
  • Bake hot crossed buns, or make another springtime recipe
  • Make a bird feeder
  • Fly a kite (Try making your own!)
  • Marie Kondo something 
  • Throw a tea party 
  • Have a picnic 
  • Go hiking
  • Play in the rain 
  • Make mud-pies 
  • Visit a new playground
  • Press flowers or try one of these other super simple spring activities 
  • Walk the PVD Pedestrian Bridge 
  • Have your own storytime outside
  • Lie in the grass and watch the clouds
  • Blow bubbles
  • Feed the ducks
  • Paint rocks and hide them in public places for other people to find
  • Visit Blithewold mansion
  • See the Green Animals Topiary Garden in Newport 
  • Road trip to the PEZ museum 
  • Learn about bees
  • Cumberland library trails
  • Go mini-golfing 
  • Ride bikes 

And if you’re a new or expectant mom make sure you add Bloom 2020 to your own personal bucket list!  More details coming soon!


Download the printable PDF here: Providence Mom Spring Bucket List

Giving Them “Everything.”

boy and girl playing in yard | Providence Mom

I have often heard the phrase “I want my children to have everything.” Or at least, to want for nothing. The concept that every child must live in a big spotless house, on a quiet street, with just enough friends to play with, with a huge backyard, and go to a top-rated school, and have a parent home with them 24/7… It’s idyllic. Such a nice idea. And it sounds good—attainable. But I can speak for myself when I tell you that it’s not always a reality.

We actually have less money than my parents had at the same age. My children are well taken care of, but we live in a modest home on a main road, because that’s what we could afford. My husband and I both work. I currently work 30 hours a week, which is just enough hours to maintain our health insurance and benefits, but a little bit of downtime to be able to get all of our errands done and keep our house afloat. I occasionally buy my kids new clothing, but I generally don’t spend more than the clearance rack at target allows. I’m pretty sure the majority of their clothes are hand-me-downs. This is especially true for my second son, who has very little of his own at all.

We want them to be able to enjoy fun extras like swim lessons… But that costs a lot of money, and so we end up asking for things like that as gifts for their birthdays. I don’t buy organic apples because we can’t afford it. My car does not have heated seats. We make our coffee at home because coffee shops are way too expensive. Our friends are going to Disney this year, but that’s just too much expense for us right now, considering we pay 27K annually for childcare. Bottom line, we’re doing ok. But my kids don’t have “everything.”

And I’m ok with it.

There are things I want for my family… I would like a house on a quieter street, mostly because I think about my children’s safety. And I would love a garage… Lugging kids outside in the snow and rain isn’t for the faint of heart. I’d like to have enough extra cash that we can occasionally plan a trip, or that we can afford for them to play a sport that they enjoy, even if it’s an expensive sport like hockey. And I would love it if they never ate another non-organic vegetable in their lives.

But if I want that, I’d need to change some things. I would need to work more… Return to the 40 or 45 hours a week I was working before I had children. That would mean that all of those errands that I do on my day off would have to happen on the weekends, and it would also mean less time at home with the kids. I think to myself, what’s the point of having a big yard if I can’t play with my children in it because I’m too busy working?

I want them to have everything… but isn’t the time with their parents really important as well? With the schedule as it is, we might not have tons of extra cash… But we have quality time in spades. Almost all the errands that we need to finish are done by the time we are together on a Friday night, leaving us uninterrupted family time from Friday night until we go back to work on Monday morning. My job might not necessarily be high-paying, but it is incredibly flexible and allows me to change my schedule if my kids need me. Maybe, for right now, time with their mom and dad is the “everything” my kids need. 

It’s tempting to fantasize about having a little bit more money. Sometimes, though, you can’t have everything you want. But right now, I think my kids have what they need. 

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