"Things don't always go your way, but they always go. A mother knows best when she learns to simply see how things go and respond accordingly."
I really wanted this picture. The trees. Her cute beanie. Noutin asleep in the carrier. Nope. Nouarie wanted to explore.
Posing for family pictures has gotten much harder lately. I've noticed the more I want Nouarie to pose, the less likely she is to pose.
It happens more when I have a strong idea in my head of what I think should happen. And it often leads to me getting at least a little frustrated.
I want to work on this. I want to step back more and respond to what my babies need instead of creating conflict when they don't meet my needs.
Know who's much better at just responding to what the kids are doing? Nishantha. He called it quits on my attempt to try to get a perfect picture.
Have you seen his video of this same day? It's gorgeous and Nouarie is just being herself. He just stood back, followed us, coached us a little, and the results are much better than what I was trying to force.
Friends, let's try to remember to try to go with the flow and respond accordingly instead of forcing things to go your way.
PS I actually think this imperfect picture is pretty cute and totally authentic.
Quote: Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood by Karen Maezen Miller
"The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them."
I purged my house of years of surplus crap from my vintage eBay business THEN I met Nishantha.
I left a teaching job that had become my life THEN I became pregnant with Nouarie.
I finally gave up trying to be an crazy innovative teacher THEN I became pregnant with Noutin.
Guys, when you make space, rad stuff happens! My life is more balanced and filled with more smiles and love than I ever dreamed of (and, honestly, thought I deserved).
I know most people are pretty busy with the holidays right now. I have plenty of wrapping and baking to do myself -- and I didn't even teach this week because I'm still on maternity leave!
But, once things slow down and you begin to think about the new year, please think about how you can make space to uncover the jewels that are even better than you can dream of or believe you deserve.
It's so, so awesome! Look at this cute smooshy, now smiley, baby! Aaah!
And, teacher friends, if you want a little help with putting school in it's place to make space for you, join my new e-course, You Before School. It's still on sale! The link's in my bio.
Tell me. What strange jewels have you uncovered in your life?
Quote: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
I know you’re thinking about starting 2020 off right.
If you are ready to bring better work-life balance back into your life, I would love for you to join my new course!
In 4 weeks, you will:
•Reprogram your teacher brain to say goodbye to guilt
•Identify what you really need to take care of yourself and your loved ones
•Create a weekly routine that aligns your priorities with your time
•Build boundaries to stick to your plan
Self-care is so much more than pockets of time set aside for pedicures.
I want to help you build a life that ensures your needs are consistently met, so things like #selfcaresunday and #teachertired don’t even need to cross your mind.
I know. I know. You don’t have time. I get it. I used to be you, busy friend.
It’s okay. I’m ready for you anyway!
•The course will take only around an hour per week
•You can work at your own pace
•Everything will be recorded
•You’ll have access to the course for a year
•It’s not grad school: no reading, no discussion boards, no tests
•There’s even an app so you can listen on your commute
Teachers, I’m seriously so excited to share You Before School with you!
And looking forward to bringing you together! Did I mention there’s a mastermind group to connect with other teachers? And weekly live Q & A webinar calls? It’s going to fun!
The course starts on January 1st. There’s a link with more information in my bio. Feel free to message me with any questions!
Tag your busy teacher friends below!
“What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance? What if instead we celebrated how much time we had spent listening, pondering, meditating, and enjoying time with the most important people in our lives?”
Sigh. I totally used to believe that my worth was tied to my busyness.
Then I began to change the way I used my time outside of school.
I went home. I got off the couch. I closed my laptop.
I began to spend time listening to books while I walked. Pondering as I hiked. Meditating through yoga.
I slowed down.
I began thinking about my most important people. At the time, they were my students.
My busyness had led me to believe that school was more important than starting a family of my own important people.
Then I met someone else who was listening, pondering, and meditating.
Now my most important people are the family Nishantha and I have created.
I still enjoy busyness, but I am more balanced, my vision is clearer, and the way I spend my time aligns with my priorities.
I understand teaching is my career, not my life. My students are my students; Noutin and Nouarie are my kids. My family is right here, not at school. And, know what? I’m still a great teacher.
It’s been a journey, and I’m still learning, but I want to share and help. I just created an e-course to help my fellow busy teachers slow down and find a little balance.
My course is called You Before School. I’m offering an early bird discount through Saturday. You should sign up to join my first cohort, which starts in January. I’d love to see you there! The link to more information is in my bio.
Busy friends, what do you do to slow down?
Quote: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
“The very best way to learn about numbers is to manipulate objects, line them up, compare sets, and so on. There is simply no substitution for playing with objects, and these actions speak louder then words. Plus, this type of play is something children love to do without being told.”
We have a few hand-me-down games from my mom’s preschool teacher collection. As you can see, Nouarie is very into them. Most of them involve matching, shapes, colors, and counting.
I know she could play these types of games on a screen, but the social interaction with us and hands-on element would be missing. Even when she plays by herself, we assist and encourage as necessary.
Friends, what are your favorite non-app games to play to develop early math concepts? They don’t even need to be games like you can purchase. Some of our favorite games are the ones we just make up, like “What’s bigger? _____ or _____?”
Quote: “Einstein Never Used Flash Cards: How Our Children Really Learn--and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less” by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Diane Eyer
"There is a mass of evidence to demonstrate that the more touch a child gets in childhood, the calmer and less fearful he is likely to be as an adult."
Sometimes I hear that I hold Noutin too much.
My mom gave me better advice when Nouarie was born. She said to remember “you can never spoil a baby.”
I carry and cuddle Noutin a lot. He naps in my arms. I work on my laptop while he sleeps. I cook while carrying him. I walk around the house with him perched up on my shoulder like a little bird. I rock and pat him to sleep.
It’s not spoiling. Holding babies gives them what they need right now and it feels good. Frequent physical touch leads to stronger mental and physical health that lasts into adulthood.
But the snuggles won’t last forever.
I remember many of you telling me to soak up the baby cuddles when Nouaire was little, and she went through a little phase of insisting on touching me to stay asleep during naps. She is still snuggly, but she’s already big enough to normally feel more comfortable sleeping on a pillow than my chest. I keep trying to tell myself, and new moms, to just soak it up.
I also know Noutin won’t remember his warm, smooshy, sometimes squirmy, body melting into me as he falls asleep. He won’t know how much I loved feeling of his little lungs breathing and the sound of his slightly weezy and grumbly little breaths as he slept. But he will be more confident as a result of this time.
Remember my mom’s advice and some science. Hold your babies and encourage other mamas do to the same. Know what’s the best support? Offering to do something so a mama can keep snuggling.
PS This touch stuff applies to big kids, too!
Quote: The Science of Parenting by Margot Sunderland
Going back to work after maternity leave "is a big transition, and the research shows that--for many women--the return to work happens before they are ready and is harder than they expect."
I should have returned to work over a month ago. My doctor's note wrote me off for eight weeks because I had a c-section. FMLA, my district's policies, private disability insurance, and our savings are allowing me to extend my leave.
I am grateful to be in a position to spend extra time with my smiley baby Noutin and his sister. I know most moms don't have workplaces as supportive as mine.
I also know some moms aren't as willing to take a break from work as I am. I get it. If I was younger, I would have wanted to jump right back into my classroom. It was that annoying savior complex crap that sneaks into teacher brains. That, and the belief that my entire identity was that of an overachiever teacher.
To my pregnant and maybe-someday friends, figure out a way to take as much time as you possibly can. Save your sick days. I used more than 50 when I had Nouarie. Talk to your union, HR, and insurance companies far in advance. Squirrel away your tax return. Work with your significant other to find a way to spend as much time as you can with your baby.
Going back to work is hard. I've had three good mama friends go back within the last month. It's so stressful, but it's also so good to be able to support your family and set a good example to your kids.
Experienced mama friends, how much maternity leave did you get/take? Any suggestions for new and future mamas?
Quote: Strong As a Mother: How to Stay Healthy, Happy, and (Most Importantly) Sane from Pregnancy to Parenthood by Kate Rope
“If we start with that, with wanting girls to see themselves from the inside out rather than outside in, we will go a long way toward helping them find their true happily-ever-afters.”
“What’s ‘nerdy’ mean, Mommy?”
“It means you’re really smart and happy. Sometimes nerds wear glasses to read more.” We were talking about an inflatable holiday decorations during a walk the other day.
“Are you and daddy nerds?”
This was right after Nouarie’s most recent ophthalmology appointment.
As we left the doctor’s office, the nurse had handed her princess stickers. We don’t do princesses, but I was being too polite and accepted them.
On the way home, I asked her what a princess does. She replied, “spins in circles.” I don’t know where she got that, but I just laughed and the stickers when we got home.
I know most of you would rather call girls in your life princesses instead of nerds, but I want Nouarie to be a nerd. I want her love of learning to stand out more than her appearance. I want her to have girl friends. I want her to have healthy relationships. I want her to be confident.
The actual ophthalmologist did have some good news though: she can stop wearing her eye patch. She was hoping for glasses to match her cousins, but not yet. For now, she can keep stealing mine while I’m holding her brother.
PS I’m also going to work on saying “No, thank you” when we are offered princess gifts.
Quote: “Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Line of the New Girly-Girl Culture” by Peggy Orenstein
“Before two years of age, human interaction and physical interaction with books and print are the best entry into the world of oral and written language and internalized knowledge, the building blocks of the later reading circuit.”
If you’re like me, you’re probably still shopping for gifts.
If you’re stuck on a gift to buy a child in your life, please consider a book or two.
If you don’t know where to start:
•Ask the child what they’re into and look for books related to the topic
•Search for best lists for the child’s age and interests
•Even better, search for diverse books or books with characters that look like the child
•Ask a friend who is a teacher, librarian, or parent who is into reading for title suggestions
Don’t worry about feeling bad for just buying a book. It’s the best educational toy you can give. I promise. And, the best books don’t even need batteries.
Quote: Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World by Maryanne Wolf
"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
I'm a teacher, mama, and mentor. I created the You Before School e-course and more. I'm here to encourage and share self-efficacy skills for women.