Creating Moments that Influence Your Child’s Mental Health

Creating Moments that Influence Your Child’s Mental Health

We know that everything we do as mothers influence how our children perceive the world. What we don’t have control over is how much of the outside world plays a part of that influence. As a result, I worry how my son is experiencing the world around him at school. I always hope that repeating my wise one-liners resonate with him throughout his day.

How many times have you simply asked “how was your day?” only to hear “okay” or “it was good” with not much else. Cracking that communication door open for children can be a challenge sometimes. Since my son was very young, I have always used books as the key to creating moments that provide an opportunity to have conversations and positively influence how he thinks about serious life topics.

How I Use Books

At the age of 3, I noticed my son would worry often and I decided to pick up this book. It is a workbook, filled with a great story (and a metaphor about growing too many tomatoes) on how to identify what makes him worry and how to change his focus. It was just the right language for his age, and we still have conversations about it today.

worry too much book for children

When I lost my daughter, my dear friend Jennifer, who is an Early Childhood Education specialist, shared a few books that she knew would help me discuss death with my then 5 year old. I knew that despite the tragic experience we were all facing, I had to choose how this was going to influence the rest of my son’s life.

books for children

Now that he is older, new challenges arise and I find myself looking for books that can influence how he operates in the world we live in. The tragedies in our news, the social dilemmas of friendship and the hard school work all are influencing our children. When I found Magination Press Family, who also published the Worry Too Much Book, had many different books that could help me have these conversations, I picked up a few to tackle what my son was feeling. The book series “What to Do When” is such a great collection of books that help with addressing issues kids face everyday. Similarly to the What to Do When You Worry Too Much, the What to Do When Mistakes Make You Quake was a great workbook to influence my son’s challenge with always wanting to be perfect.

child's book

Understanding Myself, by Mary C Lamia, is a favorite of ours and he reads it in the car when we have gone for long rides. It helps us discuss how to deal with intense emotions such as guilt, pride, grief or embarrassment by providing questions and little survey’s to answer and assess the power of his emotions.

school made easy book for children

Since Jennifer is an expert in her field of early childhood education, I decided to get her thoughts on how parents can use Magination Press Family’s long list of books that address challenging topics like anxiety and death to talk to their children.

Interview with Early Childhood Expert, Jennifer Santana

Q: What topics do you find parents have a difficult time discussing with children in early childhood?

A: When an only child is about to have a sibling or parents are going through a divorce, any real stressors in the home that can influence a child growing up or affect their behavior.

Q: Why do you believe books that discuss these challenging topics are better rather than TV or video?

A: When your watching TV there is no one giving feedback to the child, rather than when you sit with your child and read a book you can encourage the child to ask questions and have a one on one conversation, and the book helps guide you through that. Many books that we use for our early education center provide additional content such as Notes to Parents (even in board books for toddlers) that help guide parents in their conversations.

Q: Why psychology focused books for kids?

A: Parents need to know about the early childhood development (birth to 5) of life because that is where brain development is happening for their kids. If we are not thinking about the mental health of children at that age, we are breaking their synapses in the brain and some things are not able to be repaired.

Q: What do you think are common struggles that parents may not be conscientious of raising young children?

A: With young children, parents often don’t understand what is developmentally appropriate for their child and they expect too much for children. Especially with toddlers, parents often tell a toddler to share and really it is not developmentally appropriate for them to share. You are putting expectations on children that they are just physically and developmentally not ready to do – so it’s not fair for them.

What I loved about this interview was that we know as mother’s with children of the same age, we’ve gone through many books between us that have helped us navigate through the journey of motherhood, fully conscious that we have the power every day to influence out children’s mental health. One of my favorite of her ideas is leaving books around the house that would be intriguing enough for a child to pick up and ask about it. It’s a great way to get the child to start the conversation.

influence child mental health

Do you or someone you know going through a challenging moment with a child and struggling with how to appropriately discuss it with them? I encourage you to explore the books from Magination Press Family as they are the books that both Jennifer and I have used to get the conversation going with our children.

Let me know in the comments – do you have any thoughts on being the influencer in your child’s life or the life of a child in the family?

I want to thank my friend Jennifer Santana for contributing and sharing her expertise. Thank you to Magination Press Family for sponsoring this post.

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3 Tips to Raising a Mindful Child

3 Tips to Raising a Mindful Child

Thank you to Magination Press for sponsoring the opportunity to attend the Bee Still: An Invitation to Meditation children’s book event held at Barnes & Noble in Paramus, NJ. All opinions below are my own.

Being a mother means always being mindful of what you do and do not do knowing that your child watches you to learn how to be an adult. When I think about all my son sees me do at any given moment, I realize that it’s rarely in a relaxed state on mind. I’m always going, going and so is my husband, which is no surprise as we are both very active in our careers. So despite my awareness of the importance practicing mindfulness and promoting being mindful (the high school educator in me knows this well!) for children, I didn’t do it enough at home to make it a practice that could be a positive shift in my sons’ day to day school and life experiences.

mindful child

Given the opportunity to attend a book signing with Dr. Frank J Sileo, author of his latest children’s book Bee Still: An Invitation to Meditationit immediately became clear that I needed to practice being more mindful in my own life to promote the importance of mindfulness for my son. The book offers a sweet story about Bentley the Bee who is not bothered by the frantic busyness of the bees around him, but instead decides to practice being mindful and meditate to focus. Soon after, the rest of the animals that live in the forest join him in “bee’ing” still and mindful of the world around them.

mindful child

At the event, Dr. Sileo presented such wonderful practices to help children practice mindfulness and meditation while his book provided the perfect foundation for kids to understand why it is important to be mindful in the first place.

mindful child

But first, what is mindfulness? As Dr. Sileo put it, mindfulness is the umbrella that meditation and yoga fall under. It simply means noticing what your thinking, feeling and experiencing in your body without judging that emotion. So how do we get our children (or even ourselves!) to be more mindful to notice more of what they are experiencing, rather than worrying about capturing it on phones or not being aware of how the moment is making them (or us!) feel? I’m happy to share 3 ways to raising a mindful child as a result and be sure to read my favorite way below!

mindful child

Raising a Mindful Child Tip #1 

Do a Q&A!  Take a moment to stop whatever is happening to ask them questions like 1) are you enjoying what you are doing? 2) how does doing that activity make you feel? 3) what is your favorite and least favorite part of doing that activity? Or when you go for a walk, don’t only notice what you se in front of you, but look up and around and ask questions such as 1) aren’t those beautiful flowers 2) where do you think the people on the plane are going? 3) what do you think about the weather today?

mindful child

Raising a Mindful Child Tip #2

Remember to BREATHE! Have you ever had a child want to tell you something and they just can’t get the words out fast enough or want to tell you ten things at once? Ask them to take a moment to breathe. A trick Dr. Sileo shared was to take a hoberman’s sphere (or a pipe clean and some beads), and to essentially have each time they open and close the sphere (or pull a bead) for each time they take a breath. It teaches them to breathe when they feel rushed, but also to learn to breathe slowly. 

mindful child

Raising a Mindful Child Tip #3

My favorite is to just STOP! Dr. Sileo shared the power of the word STOP as an acronym: Stop Take a Breathe Observe Proceed. It really can be life changing for a child when given a moment to be mindful of what they are feeling and why they are feeling that way. And to simply ask a child to stop and acknowledge those feelings gives them the power to own them over time.

mindful child

Mindful child

As a busy mom, the importance of those tips for my son equally appply to me and to anyone trying to make the best of being a great mom and raising a mindful child. Let me know in the comments below:What do you do for yourself or your child to practice being mindful in life? Thank you so much for reading! 

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Things I Learned // What Busy Moms Don’t Talk About

Things I Learned // What Busy Moms Don’t Talk About

Women are busy these days. Sometimes too busy for their own good, particularly when you’re a Mom. I am one of those women. It seems that because we are so busy, we forget or ignore or just simply avoid taking the time to talk about some of the real issues we are faced with. Most importantly, I wanted to shed some light on what I believe all woman should feel comfortable sharing for the betterment of others.

We can’t do it all.

There. I said it. We really try to do it all. Partly because it feels good when we’ve accomplished something, we try our best to do just about everything. It’s not for not wanting to say ‘no’ as much as it is that our plates are full – home, kids, work, projects, meetings, after school activities, family gatherings, time with friends, planning for time away, actual time away, the unpacking and cleaning after coming back from being away – the cycle continues. I believe it’s time we feel okay with saying to someone – “We can’t do it all”, and we are still good mother’s! One way to manage what we to want to do is creating a time and task calendar. I use the Uncalendar for organizing my teaching schedule, and now also use one for my personal life! It is a true game changer! So even though we can’t do it all, we can at least have a place to manage all that we can do and want to do.

busy moms

We eat the burnt toast. (Sometime’s literally!)

That’s right, the burnt toast! How many of you make sure everything is great for everyone else before it’s great for yourself? We know we deserve better, but we seldom do it or too busy to do it. We let the coffee get cold, are too busy to indulge in the fancy and shiny things for ourselves, or don’t do date night as much as we would like (and probably need!) to. I am guilty of that more than I’d like to admit. We know we want the nice things, the good things, things that make us feel great. Moms also don’t talk about the changes in their bodies that keep them from feeling great. Not everyone tells a Mom that with a new baby also comes some things not as wonderful or precious – like bladder leaks! Exactly! I recently was invited to an event by the Always brand to discover one of their new products that help women feel their best. It had me thinking about what it meant for women who suffer from issues that they are too embarrassed to talk about, and how they let it go on without speaking to anyone about it. They feel forced to settle for the “burnt toast”.  I don’t personally suffer from incontinence, but as one of the most natural experiences a woman can have after childbirth or at an older age, no women should have to settle for uncomfortable and ugly underwear that denies her feeling good about herself.  

Did you know 1 in 3 women experience bladder leaks1? I had no idea. It’s not at all uncommon – so why aren’t more moms and women talking about it? The Always Discreet brand let us know that a common complaint from women who experience bladder leaks is there are no stylish options to help protect them. In fact, 2 in 3 women that have tried bladder leak underwear avoid wearing them all together, even when they know they need them2 (settling for that burnt toast!).  At the event, I learned that the Always Discreet brand decided to address the issue for women dealing with incontinence by creating the Always Discreet Boutique underwear, to restore their confidence and make sure woman are putting themselves first and not settling for the burnt toast when it comes to our health.  It’s time Mom’s put themselves first, feel good about doing it, and continue to do the things they love without fear of leaks!  To be able to wear pretty underwear that not only looks good, but solves all of those little problems some women never want to discuss. It’s time you put yourself first, feel feel good about doing it, and go out on date night without any worry! Hint, hint!

 This innovative new product was created after the Alway brand spoke to, and learned from, thousands of real women who experience bladder leaks and feel there shouldn’t have to be a tradeoff between maximum protection and a product that makes them feel beautiful. I also recently learned that 77% of women say the idea of wearing bladder leak underwear makes them feel older than they would like to feel. One of the Always Discreet Boutique scientist actually emptied an entire beaker’s worth of water onto the core of the product. While the core looks and felt very thin, it was able to hold to entire amount of liquid AND feel dry to the touch in seconds. The leading competitors on the market didn’t hold nearly as much liquid and certainly weren’t as dry. Check out the Always Discreet Boutique to see what I mean.

busy moms

busy moms

We deal with anxiety.

Recently, I have started to see an increase in Instagram posts from women that I admire and follow about their struggle with anxiety. I appreciate their candor, because if more of us share stories of what causes our anxiety, we’ll know there is a larger support system out there from women we admire. There are varying degrees of anxiety. And while I am no psychologist, I do know that anxiety can be triggered by stress, past experiences or other factors. For me, anxiety is something I only started to experience more after losing my daughter, just 3 years ago tomorrow. It creeps up when I am overwhelmed by too much to do and need a moment to stop myself. It’s those brief bursts of panic that many women deal with, and we don’t do enough of talking about it. We need to recognize it happens and that we are not alone. One way to deal with moments of overwhelmingness has been the Breathe app. I found it only after receiving the new Apple Watch 3 for my birthday. I love using it to help feel centered and to take a moment for myself without the rush of the day or the regret of taking a moment to pause the chaos around me!

busy moms

busy moms

busy moms

busy moms

Thank you so much for reading! And thank you to Always Discreet for partnering on this post!

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1Fem Care AI analysis – “Nielsen Homescan Panel ending March 2012 looking at Fem Care purchases in HH 50+ that have no teenagers at home.” 2The Always Discreet Boutique Online Study was conducted by MSLGROUP Research.

Remembering Ava // Love is why I am here

Remembering Ava // Love is why I am here

My heart is full this week. Thanksgiving has quickly come upon us, and while everyone is preparing for their feasts, I am preparing myself to remember why I am here. This entire journey online has been one of joy and hardship at times, and I am reminded everyday why I started. Three years ago, the weekend after Thanksgiving, I lost my daughter Ava. I was 33 weeks pregnant and I had just had the most wonderful Thanksgiving with my family that I worked so hard to host – from the food (my husband happily cooks!) to the decor, to the table setting and “What I am thankful for” place cards – I really went all out. I remember with distinct detail what we all did that day and who we all thanked while seated at the table.

why I am here

So what I thought was a day full of usual pregnancy pains from the hustle and bustle of the holiday dinner turned out quite differently. The last thing I ever thought was that I would be at a hospital hearing someone say “there’s no heartbeat”. While it was the calmest voice a person could possibly speak, all I heard was a loud siren go off in my head. “No!”, “check again!” , and “you’re wrong!” is all I remember saying, but I do remember the moment I accepted that the nurse was right. Time moved too quickly after that (while in the moment it felt painfully slow), but I count my blessings every day that I was able to hold my daughter and have one photo of us together that I will forever cherish. The details of recovering from such a devastating experience still haunt me, but I move on. I keep remembering why I am here. For Ava. For my son. For my family. 

why i am here

why I am here

This Season’s Gold is meant to honor the season Ava was born, still. Love is why I am here everyday sharing what it takes to move forward in life, what it takes to feel good on the inside and out after all of that, still. Raising a young boy, still. I am thankful to you for reading and always returning to see what is new, still. I can’t wait to share more.

why I am here

Something special is headed your way for all subscribers. Be sure and subscribe here if you haven’t had the chance! Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving! 

Featured // Le Motto top | Loft jeans |Cardigan (old, similar) | Steve Madden heels (old, similar) | Pink & Blue Co. child name plate necklaces | MZ Wallace clutch | Beret (vintage, similar under $30) 

PC: Sony Rodriguez signature

Being Mommy // 5 Things I Learned About Motherhood

Being Mommy // 5 Things I Learned About Motherhood

Happy Mother’s Day to all the beautiful women of the world! No matter what form your motherhood may take, your role as a mother is most definitely the most important role of your life. I live and breathe being a mother to my son every day. It is my raison d’etre, if you will! Now, as most of you know, my role as a mother is unique in that I have a beautiful and precocious son and also had a daughter born still at 33 weeks old. This Mother’s Day, I wanted to share what I’ve learned  about motherhood, from being a mother to a joyful soul on earth and to my angel’s soul in heaven.

Motherhood means forgiveness.

I’ve learned that it takes a lot of soul searching to forgive myself when I feel like I’ve messed up as a Mom – whether I am being tough about homework or too much TV. I know that I am not perfect, but my perfectionist ways definitely take over sometimes. And when I am not at my best self (tired, overwhelmed), it comes through in my role as Mom. But I have to forgive myself. Forgive those moments and make the next moments good ones – for me and for him. As I continue to grow through the heartbreak of my daughter’s loss, I know somewhere deep inside, I need to forgive myself for blaming myself. Does that make sense? Any woman who has lost a child knows those quiet moments when they think it’s their own fault, but it’s not. Forgiving yourself for thinking that is key.

things I learned about motherhood

Motherhood means pure joy.

The day my son was born, it was truly the happiest day of my life. I could not contain the smile, even in the midst of physical pain while at the hospital and learning to breastfeed, while I looked at him in my arms. My cheeks hurt from so much joy. It was the purest form of emotion I have ever felt, and I knew that because the words would escape me when I would try to describe the feeling. Even today, watching him discover something new or solve a problem, make a joke, or peek in to watch him sleeping, I am overcome with the joy that his existence in my life brings. And while I wish every day that my daughter was here with me, there is a sense of joy that I feel knowing that I have a guiding angel in my corner. I have no choice but to feel that joy, for the sorrow sometimes can be too much.

things I learned about motherhood

things I learned about motherhood

Motherhood means staying young.

As a teacher, I am surrounded by young teens who are eager to grow up and get on with their lives outside of the world of their parents. They are so quick to want to stop being young. When you’re a mother, life can be so busy that it’s easy to only wear the “grown up” hat. You can forget to play and just be “young” with your kids or find joy in the silliest things. Whenever my son and I play, I make sure I make the corny jokes, laugh the big silly laughs and make battleships with the Legos on a “stay up late” night!

things I learned about motherhood

Motherhood means learning from others.

I don’t think that I could have gone through those early days of being a new mom without the posse of women I found in my weekly breastfeeding group (aka “boob group” – I know!). It took all my energy to make it to my first meeting, anxious that I was the only one worrying about ruining my chances at being a great mom. But we were all worried and we all had a million questions about the baby’s weight loss, no sleep, controlling our husbands who didn’t know what they were doing (p.s. they do!), and all the other things that come with being a new mom. Those friendships are still with me today, as we often compare notes of the current status of our kid’s sassiness and how we just want to tell them where to go with their new found attitudes! Ha! I learned to let myself learn from others, that I did not have all the answers and never will. So whether it’s a new baby or one lost, I’ve learned to let myself learn from other women to be a great mom.

Motherhood means not forgetting yourself.

Remember when you didn’t take that shower to get your child ready for school since you woke up late after staying up late so you could just have a moment to yourself? Or when you gave everyone else the pretty plate of food and you took what you had burnt? Yeah, those times. We all forget ourselves for the sake of others. And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. What I learned, however, is that I don’t need to forget myself to be better for others. In fact, it’s just the opposite. I need to take care of my skin, my health, my mental happiness so that I can exist as a balanced whole and happy woman as a Mom, a wife, a teacher and every other role I have in my life. While I may not always find the time to remember myself (am I right?), I learned to make it a point to schedule myself into my own calendar more often. Everyone around me will be happier I did. (Trust me!)

Thank you so much for reading this far! I wish you all a lovely day, whether you are a Mom or are celebrating yours.  

It’s the Most Wonderful Time // Giveaway Day 3

It’s the Most Wonderful Time // Giveaway Day 3

We’re back with another fun It’s the Most Wonderful Time Giveaway! This time our giveaway is for 2 (TWO!) winners to receive a Worry Eaters plush toy of their choice! But it isn’t just any plush toy, and it actually means so much more than meets the eye. A few months back during the summer (ah, those warm days of summer!), I attended Blogger Bash in New York and was immediately drawn to the table with this odd but adorable plush today. The name Worry Eaters totally grabbed my attention, and by the end of talking to the representative, I was sold!

holiday giveaway

A finalist as the Top Toy of the Year for 2016 and awarded the Mom’s Choice Award plus many others, this toy is truly a creative outlet for children. Check out their parents guide for how this toy can relate to all ages! 

most wonderful time

most wonderful time

Why do I genuinely love it so much? My son had been experiencing a fear of the dark at the time, and when I brought Flamm (that’s this little guy’s name) home, my son was immediately attached to the fact that he could write his worry and place it in Flamm to “eat it up”. It may sound silly, but it wasn’t to my son. He soon asked if he could write other worries for Flamm to eat, and it really let him feel less afraid of the dark. (Clearly the dentist is not a fear of his!) To me, it’s similar to writing down your worries or fears in a journal and processing through them. That’s why I made Worry Eaters one of my top toys for our Little Ones gift guide this year and if you hoping to get one now, check out the guide! 

How to Enter and Rules

1) You’ll enter via the Rafflecopter image box below. Found it? Good! You’ll have to login using your email address or Facebook account. The more choices in the Rafflecopter you chose to complete, the more entries you will have towards your win!

2) This giveaway will run for 24 hours from December 20th at 9:30am and end by December 21st at 9:30pm.

3) The winners will be contacted by email within 48 hours about their win and their name will appear in the Rafflecopter below! 

4) If for any reason the winners cannot be contacted or do not respond within 5 days, an alternate prize winner(s) will be chosen at random.

5) The giveaway is open to US entrants only. No purchase of any kind is necessary to enter or win. Must be 18 years or older to enter.

6) This Season’s Gold is hosting this giveaway and a representative for Worry Eaters will be delivering the prize to our winners.

6) Each prize will be mailed to winners upon receipt of delivery name and address.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you so much for entering! Good luck! Be sure to keep checking back for more giveaways until Christmas! Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones!

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time // Giveaway Day 2

It’s the Most Wonderful Time // Giveaway Day 2

We’re in the home stretch of the the most wonderful time of the year, and the official winter season is set to come by mid-week. If you are a last minute shopper like me, you are feeling the stress of all of the shopping you still have to do, the wrapping that needs to get done, and all the who, what, where, when of planning us Mom’s tend to do! I don’t know about you, but whenever there is a moment for me to find a moment of peace from running around to get everything done, I like to enjoy a slightly longer shower, take my time pampering my skin, and ultimately just take in the warmth of a cozy robe and the intoxicating scent of some great smelling body products (and flowers!).

most wonderful time

So as a Mom, I am so thrilled to be able give away this amazing gift package from Aveda valued at over $150! One winner will receive Aveda’s Escape from Stress Collection, which includes a full size of of the Stress-Fix Body Creme, Hand Creme, Creme Cleansing Oil, and a Soy Wax Candle to enjoy on those days when a long relaxing bath is in order! In addition, the winner will receive a collection of 7 Balance oils, perfect for those days when you’re feeling a bit of balance from the long days and nights!

most wonderful time

most wonderful time

most wonderful time

How to Enter and Rules

1) You’ll enter via the Rafflecopter image box below. Found it? Good! You’ll have to login using your email address or Facebook account.

2) This giveaway will run from December 19th at 11:00am and end by December 24th at 9:00am. Yes, more time means more chances!

3) The winner will be contacted by email within 48 hours about their win and their name will appear in the Rafflecopter below! 

4) If for any reason the winner cannot be contacted or does not respond within 5 days, an alternate prize winner will be chosen at random.

5) The giveaway is open to US entrants only. No purchase of any kind is necessary to enter or win. Must be 18 years or older to enter.

6) This Season’s Gold is hosting this giveaway and delivering the package to our winner. Aveda is not a sponsor of this giveaway.

6) Prize will be mailed to winner upon receipt of delivery name and address.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you so much for entering! Good luck! Be sure to keep checking back for more giveaways until Christmas! Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones!

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