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Parenting Inspiration

  • 8 Ways to Pay it Forward this Holiday Season

    Charitable pro-tip: you don’t have to have to be a billion dollar philanthropist to make the world a better place.

    While the holidays are a wonderful time to reflect on the best aspects of our lives, it can be easy to forget our community members in need.

    This year, families are experiencing unique challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, including joblessness, financial insecurity, mental health issues, and general loneliness. It is now more important than ever to get involved.

    To extend a giving hand in the spirit of the Holidays and to inspire compassion, we’ve compiled 8 easy, Covid-19 friendly ways to bring meaning to your holiday season, and to hopefully ease the burdens of those struggling right now.

    Together we can make a difference!

    Toy drive

    Toys for tots is a wonderful organization specializing in toy collection.  Every year dedicated United States Marines and local volunteers host a nationwide campaign to deliver Christmas to millions of less fortunate children. You can find a nearby toys for tots chapter here.

    Sponsoring a family in need is another great way to pay it forward. In lieu of our secret Santa gift exchange one year, my girlfriends and I sponsored a family and each of us selected a child to buy for. 

    When it was all said and done the entire family had gifts to open on Christmas morning. If you’re interested in getting involved in this incredibly rewarding form of donation, click here.

    Coat drive

    Give the gift of warmth this winter. Clean out the closet and donate old coats and jackets to a homeless or battered women’s shelter. For many Americans living below the poverty line, a new warm coat is considered a budget extra.

    When the time comes that your kids have grown out of their winter gear, consider donating to a coat drive such as the one facilitated by One Warm Coat.

    Many coat drive collectors also ask for hand and toe warmers for those working in the cold or homeless. These are cheap to purchase, and go a long way in keeping folks enduring the cold warm this winter.

    Canned food drive

    Nonperishable food drives are happening everywhere this time of year. Pick up some extra canned foods during the weekly grocery run and drop them off at a food bank, church or any center accepting canned food donations.

    Also, check with your child’s school, as many collect canned food around the holidays as well.

    Donate Toiletries

    When donating, many people forget the need for hygiene products at shelters and deliver food-oriented goods instead. Its always a great idea to check in with the center and find out what products are in demand.

    Think paper towels, toilet paper, toothpaste, feminine hygiene, diapers, etc. Another fun way to gather supplies is to host a toiletry drive.

    Have friends and family literally drive by and drop off hygiene product donations and watch the goods pile up.

    Help a Neighbor

    As the old homage goes “Love thy neighbor” and what better time to show kindness than the holiday season, and hint, it doesn’t always have to be in the form of baked goods.

    Maybe your neighbor needs their driveway shoveled or some help with the pets while they travel. Perhaps they’re spending the Holidays alone this year due to Covid-19 and social distancing, and just need someone to talk to.

    It never hurts to ask if there’s anything you can do to help out. There’s also a good chance your good deed will be reciprocated!

    Give Blood

    In healthcare settings across the United States, donated blood is a lifesaving, essential part of caring for patients. The need for donated blood is constant, and blood centers are open and in urgent need of donations.

    Important: The CDC is encouraging people who are well to continue to donate blood if they are able, even if they are practicing social distancing because of COVID-19. CDC is supporting blood centers by providing recommendations that will keep donors and staff safe.

    Examples of these recommendations include spacing donor chairs 6 feet apart, thoroughly adhering to environmental cleaning practices, and encouraging donors to make donation appointments ahead of time.

    You can learn more here.

    Look for posters advertising local blood drives or stop by a blood donation center to ensure blood supply for ongoing patient needs and unforeseen trauma situations.

    Volunteer at an Animal Shelter

    Let’s not forget our furry friends. If adoption is just completely out of the question (I mean, what better gift for your loved one than a puppy) volunteer some of your spare time at a local animal shelter.

    Help with dog walking, cleaning or donate pet food and toys. Some shelters will even let you bring home a pet for the holidays so they don’t have to spend this special time of year alone. Our animals deserve love too.

    Start at Home

    Our children are the fingerprints we leave on the world when we’re gone. It is vital to instill the values of kindness, empathy and compassion on the generation we are raising.

    Kids can be taught with explanation and led by example. Paying for a stranger’s coffee or helping a friend move may seem like simple acts of generosity, but when our children are watching, it is possible to impress upon them a lifelong commitment to kindness and benevolence.

    Do society a favor and get your kids involved in philanthropy early and often. For more information be sure to look into The Kindness Campaign.

    Looking for a quick act of kindness? Check out this sweet, small gift. DIY Scrabble Tile Ornament

  • Help Kids Cool Down with this FREE Printable Workbook

    As part of our passion for social/emotional learning, we’re always looking for healthy cool down strategies for kids. The idea for this printable cool down workbook came to me when my son was having a big, emotional week and I wanted to offer him a solution that would not only deescalate, but help him identify his feelings and cope in a positive way.

    Now, having created 6 different worksheets to be combined into a book, I truly believe this tool will be great for parents and teachers alike!

    This workbook is a process of working through big feelings with multiple worksheets. First, it includes an emotion identifier, with easy to understand emoji graphics. Children experience meltdowns, tantrums and extreme emotions for a variety of reasons. By identifying the correct emotion, it is possible to get to the root of the cause.

    Next, the child will choose a healthy coping mechanism. Then, there is a list of calming affirmations. As we know, studies show affirmations strengthen personal foundations for happy and meaningful lives.

    The final sheets are a grounding exercise for mindfulness, and an emotion thermometer to help kids register emotional zones. Through the emotion thermometer, kids will learn how to assess themselves emotionally and recognize the importance of healthy cool down strategies.

    Our hope is that children will be able to adopt this process and continue to utilize healthy cool down methods as they grow into adulthood.

    Above is the calm down area, and worksheets filed into clear sheet protectors and placed in a binder. The binder is designed to grab & go and can be used repeatedly.

    Use expo markers on the sheet protectors and wipe them off easily to be used next time. Kids should circle their current emotion on the first sheet and circle the chosen cool down method on the next. The affirmations should be voiced out loud.

    For the grounding exercise, have the child start on the “breathe in” cloud and inhale until they reach the “breathe out” cloud. Afterwards, they can color in the rainbow as desired.

    For the final emotion thermometer worksheet, kids should color in the emotional zone they were feeling prior to the cool down exercise in the “before” column. Then, color in the emotional zone for post cool down in the “after” column.

    Easy to grab-and-go printable cool down workbook! Free download below!

    Insert a pencil bag for the expo markers and a few calming items like magnets or a fidget spinner to complete the workbook.

    The goal of teaching social and emotional skills is to build a child’s mental health and resilience—so that as they grow, they can adapt and handle what comes at them. Using this printable cool down workbook can help develop those important skills. It can also aid in self regulation and emotional control.

    For more on the importance of social/emotional learning click here!

    And for tips on fostering your child’s mental health check this out!

  • Early Childhood Tips and Advice from a 30 Year Preschool Teacher

    As far back as I can remember, I woke up to kids in my home, and I’m not only referring to my siblings. My mom started her in-home childcare business when I was only a year old in a career move to spend more time with her kids. For a young girl like myself, it was amazing. I had an instant group of playmates waiting for me in the basement every morning. I was surrounded by toys and crafts and a space for imaginative play that was just waiting to be harvested.

    I always had someone to play with, learn alongside and grow up against. My mom became licensed, installed her small business in the lower level of our home, transformed it into a colorful, learning & play environment and eventually developed her own preschool program. She’s been doing it ever since.

    I’ve witnessed some incredible child transformations under her care. She has a method of disarming turbulent children that is soothing and transformative. She’s found the balance of being firm, yet nurturing to spirited personalities without dimming their flame. I would go as far as to say she’s perfected it over the past 30 years.

    Her kids are impassioned. They love learning. They play hard. And they absolutely adore her as their Mrs. Lisa. And because she is a vault of untapped knowledge and the person I go to for motherly advice, I decided it would be fun to pick her brain about early childhood development, what to look for when interviewing a daycare provider, and where to begin if you’re considering starting your very own in-home business.

    Keep reading for some solid advice from a 30 year preschool teacher and my beloved mama, which includes 15 Questions to ask Your Daycare Provider before enrollment.

    What are some important questions parents should be asking potential childcare providers before enrolling? Can you offer any extra advice on the interview process?

    Parents should ask if a provider is licensed or registered and if so, check the Division of Licensing Website for a list of visits and violations. Important questions can be found on the graphic below.

    We here at Rockitmama are big on promoting outdoor play, as mentioned in the graphic above. Why do you think it is so important to get the kids out once a day if possible?

    Kids are made to move! Running, climbing, and exercising those gross motor muscles is pertinent to a child’s physical development. Fresh air, sunshine and a change of scenery is good for everyone. The children have better attention span, better attitudes and rest harder at nap time after their outdoor recess. Not to mention the nature learning opportunities with insects, leaves, birds, nests, turtles, bunnies, etc. that we encounter! It also sets the tone as they get older and are exposed to screens and devices. Children who are conditioned to outdoor play & exploration at an early age are more likely to enjoy it later on in life.

    What is the most important component of child behavioral transformation? How do you get them to respond?

    Success in behavior transformation really depends on the age, but consistency is crucial at every stage. For very young children such as toddlers, redirection is best. As they become preschoolers the tantrums can be rough. Allow them to feel their full range of emotions without reinforcing the behavior. It’s easy to give in to the wails and meltdowns, but it will make it more difficult to follow through the next time. Children must know that your words are true and you mean what you say. Save the strong tones for extreme behaviors and issues that really matter to emphasize that the negative actions will not be tolerated. In other words, choose your battles wisely. Time away, removal from the situation to discuss what happened, and conversations about how the situation could be handled differently in the future are also useful tools to inspire behavior change.

    What values should parents be instilling in their children from an early age to help them find success in life?

    Empathy – show it towards your child and others.

    Honesty – always be truthful with your children and make sure that they always see you being honest with others. Trust and unconditional love is crucial to any child/parent relationship.

    Accountability – give praise when your child admits to their mistakes and owns them.  Let them know that we all make mistakes but that we are responsible for our actions and cannot place blame on others for what we do.

    Confidence – provide opportunities for them to conquer a new task or skill.  Applaud the mastery but don’t overdo it as the praise will not be as meaningful over time.

    How do you motivate children to focus and get excited about learning? 

    Learning should be fun for young children! Being silly, dancing, singing, and providing fun activities for the kids makes for a successful program. Reading a book and creating a corresponding character craft is an awesome way for children to connect with the material. The most important skills for young children to learn before starting school are social (sharing, taking turns, etc). Additionally, preschoolers should begin practicing to compromise, learn basic problem solving and develop the ability to follow directions.

    For those interested in becoming a provider, where should they begin?

    If you plan to care for less than 5 children, a license is not required. However, taking the effort to become registered or licensed is a big selling point for your business. Parents will know that there is regulation in your daycare and routine inspections are taking place. In regards to advertisement, word of mouth is the best method. Fostering a good reputation among clients will help your business spread like wildfire. Also, advertising with online “moms groups”, utilizing social media, and posting a flyer at your local library are great marketing strategies. Networking with other providers for referrals is also a great way to fill your slots.

    Thanks for the Q&A, Mom. Any additional thoughts as a mother of 3 now-adult children?

    For moms: your love for your children is enough. You will make mistakes or wish you had handled certain situations differently in hindsight, but if your child rearing is done with the best of you and the best of your intentions, that is enough. Be confident in your role as their parent because no-one can love your child the way you do. Children pick up on insecurity- own your decisions and be consistent! Your self-assurance enables your children to feel safe and secure.

    Hooray for enriching educational experiences, and providers like my mom who continue to ready our littles for success with love and attentive care.

    Did you enjoy our Tips and Advice from a 30 year preschool teacher? Leave a comment below! Also be sure to check out our post  7 Tips for Returning to Work After Baby and how to survive your first week back!



  • Simple Practices for Positive and Balanced Screen Time

    As I am typing this, my three year old is asking to watch “baby shark” on my iphone.

    While I’m generally inclined to let him view a quick video (especially while trying to get through a meal at a restaurant, we’ve all been there!) I cringe at the way he zones in to the screen and seemingly forgets the world around him. At times, I’ve used the phrase “Come up for air!” because it’s as if it engulfs his entire existence.
    Now, I am all for educational screen time at the appropriate age and understand the benefits of quality content. I truly believe healthy habits start with limitations.
    The topic of screen time is important to me as a mother, substitute teacher, lover of the outdoors and general believer in readying our youth for success. Physical activity and real-life interactions are pertinent to our children’s emotional wellbeing, learning and development which is why I’m a huge proponent for putting down the tablet and opting outside.
    While attempting to find ways to limit tech usage, I came across a few simple practices for positive and balanced screen time that I plan to implement in our household and figured why not share on the blog, along with some great information regarding healthy screen time habits.

    First lets define screen time:

    Screen time is the time one spends watching TV or DVDs, using computers, playing video or hand-held games, or using tablets or smartphones. In its best form, screen time enhances learning abilities, increases self instruction, entertains, captures memories and increases access to reading material. The downside is that too much screen time can lead to lack of physical activity, less social interaction, weaker emotional bonds, exposure to extreme content, and lower attention capacity.

    The latest guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggest that:

    • children under 18 months should avoid screen time, other than video-chatting
    • children aged 18 months to 2 years can watch or use high-quality programs or apps if adults watch or play with them to help them understand what they’re seeing
    • children aged 2-5 years should have no more than one hour a day of screen time with adults watching or playing with them
    • children aged 6 years and older should have consistent limits on the time they spend on electronic media and the types of media they use.

    In addition to the guidelines above, the AAP also recommends designating media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, and ongoing communication between parent and child about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.

    To learn more, click here.

    The graphic below can be used as a screen time regulator, a method for setting limitations, and a way to promote other activities critical to child development.

    The awesome part about this method is that you can customize it to what works for your family. It would be frivolous to think that there is a ‘one size fits all’ solution to monitoring screen time, like most parental challenges. Find a balance that works for you!

    Simple Practices for Positive and Balanced Screen Time

    • Set NO TECH ZONES in your home. A good place to start is the dinner table.
    • UNPLUG once a month with the entire family. Pick out a board game or go for a hike!
    • Set DESIGNATED TIMES allocated for screen time.
    • Provide STIMULATING ALTERNATIVES to screen time. Sensory bins, arts and crafts or baking!
    • EDUCATE your children on the negative aspects of too much screen time and why limitations are important.
    • MONITOR screen time usage and have a discussion about media literacy.

    Love it or hate it, technology is an integral part of our everyday human experience. There are positives and negatives to the fact that we rely so much on our devices. What we can control is the quality and amount of online content we are consuming and the impact of screen time on our littles. Thanks for reading!

    Looking for more child safety tips? Catch up on our 5 Bath Safety Tips Every Parent Should Read

  • The Importance of Family Traditions and Ones You Can Start Today

    As we move into another year, are you ever left wondering where the time went? How can we savor these moments more?

    I sure have.

    In two weeks, I will be heading back to work and to be honest, I have been overly sensitive about losing the precious hours spent at home with my children.

    See the importance of family traditions ideas you can apply to your family all year long below!

    The Importance of Family Rituals and Ones You Can Start Today | Rock It Mama | How to Strengthen Your Family Connection
    While preparing for this new season in time, I want to be sure that our family is continuing to form impactful, shared experiences in the busyness of our every day lives. I don’t want me being away to negatively impact the family dynamic. So this year, my focus is to continue to add more family rituals and traditions into our household. Here’s why.

    Studies show family traditions are the basis in creating family culture – you are nurturing bonds between siblings and parents, developing a sense of belonging and helping to create a memorable childhood. A review in the December issues of American Psychological Association’s (APA) Journal of Family Psychology found that “family routines and rituals are alive and well and are associated with marital satisfaction, adolescents’ sense of personal identity, children’s health, academic achievement and stronger family relationships.”

    And when I say traditions and rituals, I don’t mean they have to be extravagant or expensive experiences. They can be any simple daily, weekly, seasonal traditions your family can come to expect and look forward to. For example, we have a bedtime routine we stick to each night – dinner, bath, a book, three songs and lots of hugs and kisses. Some weeks we have breakfast for dinner or Taco Tuesday. Every month, we usually have a movie night where we get a Red box rental, stay up late and have popcorn. And of course we have our list of seasonal bucket-list traditions like visiting the pumpkin patch, driving around to see Christmas lights, decorating cookies, or going on a long family trip.

    “Family routines and rituals are associated with marital satisfaction, adolescents’ sense of personal identity, children’s health, academic achievement and stronger family relationships.”

    As each year goes by and as our family continues to grow, so have our traditions. I can see the impact they make on my oldest son and not only how he anticipates these established routines, but also how well he thrives on them. So while I will be losing time during the day with my littles, I know I will be able to savor the precious moments with them through the rituals we have fostered and the ones we will continue to add each year.

    And what better time to start adding new rituals than now?! Below are some great ideas that you can implement with your family today and some of which I will be adding to our family’s list as well.


    Remember, the rituals you create will establish key values for your family and will be “magical memories” for your children to look back on and possibly pass along to their own families and generations to come!

    What are some of your favorite family traditions? What family rituals do you want to add into your week? Share in the comments below!

    If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy 5 Family-friendly Ideas for Thanksgiving Day

    Family Traditions

  • Keep Giving: An Open Letter to the Mamas

    Smile. Smile Finley. Finley can you SMILE? I must’ve said it a hundred times.

    He stared at me plainly, then ran away in a defiant move that screamed “I won’t be cooperating for pictures today.” This happens often, and it’s okay. I want him to exercise autonomy and if he’s not feeling a photo sesh, I’m certainly not going to force it. I scrolled through my camera roll and found the one photo of him with a half-smile that portrayed him enjoying himself. I favorited it for later. 

    The rest of the day at the pumpkin patch was no different. He just. wasn’t. feeling it.

    Skipping nap probably had something to do with it. Isn’t it funny that the days we anticipate and build up for them the most are often a fail? I circled back to the photo from earlier and went to post it. I looked at it a little differently. The picture was in no way representative of how the day unfolded. The truth was, I coaxed him into every activity. He melted down over the slightest mishap. At one point, he was so angry he intentionally face planted in the middle of the hay barn (that was almost comical). I felt compelled to tell the whole story. So I’m doing that today. 

    Sometimes the days we plan and plot to be the most fun fall short. Sometimes our littles can’t appreciate the hard work we’ve put in to engage them. Sometimes our efforts to fulfill them feel fruitless and futile. It’s frustrating. It’s discouraging. And its all part of this momlife gig. We give and give and give to our kids and at times it’s as if the investment is yielding no return. 

    But it is. Every attempt we make to spend quality time with our children reinforces our love for them.

    Even when the immediate result is a million tantrums the lifelong affect is far greater than we can recognize in the moment. It hit me that, it was never about posting the perfect social media photo. It was about creating memories. Building self esteem. Encouraging wonderment. And mamas, every time we allow our kids the opportunity to experience something new, we are doing all of these invaluable things. I try to remind myself of that notion when plans don’t pan out the way I’d want them to. 

    It is with these words that I hope to inspire you to keep giving.

    Keep planning. Keep the magic alive. Worry less about the photo and more about the memories and positive takeaways. Our children will be boundlessly better for it.