"We have now entered a brand-new era of parenting, where for the first time we have the scientific evidence, not just opinions, that explains how to enable a child to thrive."
I found this book. It’s like a 7th grade science textbook of what current brain research says about raising kids.
I'm hooked. Know the kind of books you like so much, you keep reading it bit by bit to savor it, but also jump ahead to the good parts? That's what this is to me.
As a newer mom, I've consumed plenty of parenting advice:
•Friends, family and strangers
•Crappy, crappy parenting books (I hate you, "BabyWise.")
•Decent parenting books that don't always go very deep or focus too much on older kids
•Social media moms
•And of course, late night Google searches that lead to discussion forums from like 2009 (totally reliable sources of information)
I like to learn. I read a lot. I ask my mom friends--including my own awesome mom!--for advice. Guys, this books takes all the best advice I've read and heard and then backs it with science. I am in love.
If you're a parent, future parent, grandparent, teacher, or just someone who likes kids, you should read this book. It's $8.99 on Amazon right now.
If you don't like to read, just buy it and skip to the parts that are interesting to you, such as the sections on sleep or separations. Or if you want, just look at the pictures and read the captions (those are all way shorter than this post!).
Which would you rather rely on? Late night internet searches? Or an actual science-based book about your child's brain?
Seriously friends, just get the book. Read. Learn. Be challenged.
And, if you want to talk about it, come join the Brainy Mamas Facebook group.
Quote: The Science of Parenting by Margot Sunderland
"Like any work of art, families need inspiration, fresh infusions of hope, and imagination."
Friends with older kids, Nishantha and I have been looking at many of you lately and thinking about our family’s future. We may not always comment, but when we see posts of our friends with older kids we smile and often talk about them later.
We wonder and hope that our kids will be as loving, creative, curious, and/or bonded as yours.
I read a lot to learn as much as I can about how to raise kids, but it’s just words. You, my friends, are showing me how. Thank you for sharing your families with ours.
Quote: Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne & Lisa M. Ross
“What often matters more than the activity we're doing at a moment in time is how we feel about it. Our perception of time is, indeed, our reality."
My perception of time is different than most moms with kids as young as mine. I'm older. I began having babies near the halfway point in my career as a classroom teacher.
Today, a teacher-leader friend commented that I "mom so hard." I love it.
The younger version of me would have cringed at this. I thought having kids would have just been a time-sucking burden. Now being praised for momming instead of teaching feels like one of the best compliments I've received.
I mom so hard because I'm older.
I've gained a lot of insight over the years. I spent most of my career working with youth who were abused and neglected by their families. This inspired me to jump down the rabbit hole of learning about how early childhood experiences (and screens) affect humans. I'm trying to apply what I've learned--and share as much as I can with you.
I've learned that my own children deserve my time and attention more than my students. Honestly, things are not going perfectly in my classroom right now, but my students have parents who love them as much as I Iove my babies. It's okay. I am savoring this maternity leave. I know I may not get another solid six months of mom time until my babies are graduating high school.
I've also learned--the hard way--to establish boundaries around teaching. I know that trying to do it all is not what my students need. They need me to take care of myself so I have the energy to focus on what really matters during class. When I go back to school, I'll maintain the systems I've created to make sure this continues.
Also, I realize how incredibly fortunate I am to even get to be a mom. This time, as a mom to two smiling and sometimes totally crying kids, is the best time I've ever had.
Quote: Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte
Today, I had two “calls.” Calls is the fancy word for a work meeting. One quick thought, because I’m setting a timer for myself to practice boundaries.
Education social media influencers really want to make money, but they are earning nickels and dimes. Little bits of commission and ad revenues here and there are nothing compared to what they could be making.
I’ve done consulting with a third-party and directly with a district. I’m pretty sure what I made in a few days is more than what most side-hustling teachers have ever made on TPT or through affiliate programs on Instagram.
Schools have money. Vendors have money. Start-ups have money. Conference hosts have money.
Why are so many of us just sitting back and letting someone else make all that money?
Why are so many educators selling their work for a few bucks here and there on TPT when they could be selling the pedagogy that went into making it?
Times up. Stay tuned for more.
PS Today also made me realize what a giant waste of time something like Amazon Affiliates is. But, by all means, please click on my affiliate links on this page. Maybe one day I’ll make $1 for all my extra clicks.
“Everybody loves a good story, but good storytelling doesn't come easy to everybody. It's a skill that takes a lifetime to master. So study the great stories and then go find some of your own. Your stories will get better the more you tell them.”
When you read story did you think of words? Video, Maybe a story on Instagram? I thought of words. But, I'm an English teacher.
Nishantha tells story through video. Have you seen his feed lately? His home movies of our family are gorgeous: @nishantha.unantenne .
I'm so proud of him. I am grateful for the memories he capturing--except when he films me in full infant mom mode before I've had any coffee.
We both love stories. Our mutual love of reading was one of the first things we liked about each other. Now, we're both spending time working on hobbies related to storytelling.
As I type, I can hear his chalk outlining an idea in his office. Our kids are asleep. Many couples use this time to watch stories. Instead, we're recording ours.
P.S. Thank you to everyone who watches my Instagram stories, too.
Quote: Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon
"Children do no go through the same developmental milestones in lock step, marching like little brain-soldiers on the path to their future."
Such a good reminder. Has anyone else gotten sucked into the milestone lists?
If I see one, I totally begin comparing my kids. I'm such a teacher. I'm like, "Oh, nice! Standards!" and automatically begin grading my baby.
I try to make myself stay away from them. I know kids develop at different rates and develop different strengths and weaknesses. This is what makes humans unique.
Today, I scrolled through some old pictures from when Nouarie was Noutin's age. I began comparing their milestones.
"Wait! Nouarie was in the bouncing chair at this time? Why don't I think Noutin is ready? Is he ready? Let me ask Nishantha what he thinks."
Aaah! Slow down. I can put Noutin in the bouncer when he's ready, not when his sister did it. (Prepare yourself for some cute comparison photos when it does happen!)
Instead of looking at a checklist of what my kids should be doing, I need to keep learning about what I should be doing to help them.
Quote:Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five by John Medina
“You can change in an instant.
You can change your mind.
You can change your timing.
You can change your approach.
You can change your words.
You can laugh instead of scream.
You can hop on one foot.
You can step away from the fray instead of stepping in.
You can give up, give in, and go in a completely different direction than you’d like to.
You can do the dishes later.”
Right now, I need to make some changes. Nouarie is having a hard time. Tonight my sweet girl told me, “Mommy, you’re breaking my heart.”
I need to spend more time with her. I need to have more patience with her as she adjusts to having to share me with Noutin. I need to be more affectionate. I need to be more present.
Right now, she is asleep in my arms in our recliner. After Nishantha and I made plans with her to have a focused family day tomorrow, I put her to sleep by telling her stories about when she was a baby and singing her favorite songs.
I have to remember she is still a baby, too.
Quote: Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood by Karen Maezen Miller
“Digital tools and digital devices can be used as a tool for your making.”
Mission accomplished. Last week, Nouarie and I sat together to look up Thanksgiving recipes on Pinterest on my laptop. She fell in love with cheese ball turkeys.
I thought it would be simple, but we couldn’t find most of the ingredients. (Ever tried to find one piece of candy corn the day before Thanksgiving? Not happening.)
After watching a few turkey tutorials on YouTube together, we ended up making this cute turkey from scratch. We added and mixed ingredients to the cheese until it tasted right and Nishantha helped us build the face out of leftover Halloween candy.
When I say kids don’t belong on screens, I mean that they shouldn’t be using them alone. (Babies is another story.) Using screens together with toddlers as a tool, like we did with the turkey, is a healthy screen habit.
I modeled learning, Nishantha helped, and we made something Nouarie was proud to share with her cousins.
I also got to practice letting go of wanting things to turn out as pretty as my original plan.
We’re all learning in our house.
What do you like to use Pinterest or YouTube to learn to make?
Quote: Lisa Brahms as quoted in The Art of Screen Time: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life by Anya Kamenetz
"Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection."
Know what makes teachers authentic? Being a human instead of a niche.
So many #teachersofinstagram accounts are niche. It's all teacher content all the time, especially in feeds.
Kids, significant others, chores, hobbies, self-care all get left out or just occasionally slipped into stories.
People make two accounts for reasons ranging from following advice to grow an audience to family privacy concerns. It all makes sense.
But, consider this:
When our feeds and stories only show us working, talking about work, and communicating with people we work alongside, we are not modeling balanced lives.
The younger teachers, future teachers, and parents with kids in school may begin to think that being a teacher means you are only a teacher.
I know. Even before Instagram was a thing, I had internalized this belief from other media. It took me way too long to figure out that I was wrong.
Know what makes a good teacher? Being a balanced. Same for any career or role, including being a mom.
I’m on maternity leave right now. My feed is full of mom stuff, because that’s what I’m currently obsessing on. When I go back to work, more teacher posts will be mixed in.
This is me. I’m trying my hardest to be authentic. I think you should, too.
Who are your favorite authentic Instagram accounts? Recommend them below.
Thank you for the inspiration @msduane and @middleschoolforever .
Quote: Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
PS Did you remember niche also means “a shallow recess”?
“Cuddles and hugs, affectionate little squeezes, carrying your baby in a sling, baby massage, and falling asleep in your arms can all have a wonderful effect on your child.”
When we are in a calm state and touch our babies, we activate opioids and oxytocin in their brains. These calm our babies and just make them feel good.
That’s the science.
Most mamas I know don’t need to know a thing about stress-relieving chemicals. We just snuggle our babies because we love them.
One of my favorite things is letting my babies fall asleep in my arms. I’ve heard the criticisms that view this as creating bad sleep habits. I ignore them—even on the nights when I am trapped beneath them in my recliner.
I know that giving kids what they need right now is the most important thing I can do to prepare them for the future.
Who else lets kids fall asleep in their arms? Leave a ? below if you’re a snuggly mama, too.
Quote: The Science of Parenting by Margot Sunderland
#teachermom on maternity leave • reader • vlogger • teacher trainer • MS ELL teacher • SoCal • screen-zombie fighter • recovering teachaholic