Kids Need Recess, Even in a Pandemic

Kids need recess or time to play outside
Kids need play and recess to help them learn.

My son, Ezra Winter, wrote this essay on how kids need more recess. He began work on this project during distance learning, as we started our isolation at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new schedule of work and school at home has been a challenge for us. It is sometimes a struggle to get through school work and find time and place to play. Yet here was my son, writing a very compelling argument why I should give him even more recess. He is right: kids need play, even in a pandemic, even in a lockdown.

For many people, the school year is winding down. But the need for our children to play is still strong. How can we recreate recess with no playmates or playgrounds? Zoom playdates do not fulfill the need for connection that my young children feel. As we carry on with social distancing, we will have to get creative about play. In our family, we ride bikes, run around in the alley behind our house and try to spend time in nature. Even an empty parking lot can become a great place to play during a pandemic.

As we try to make plans for the most unusual summer in the DC area, I will try to keep Ezra’s recommendation in mind: my children need opportunities to run and play, even when everything else is topsy-turvy. What are you doing to meet your child’s need for play and friendship and connection?

Kids Need More Recess: by Ezra Winter

Imagine a classroom in a world with no recess: children tired of work, not paying attention to the teacher, their bodies are all over the place, and they’re talking to their friends! Kids need more recess because it helps them learn, socialize, and be healthy.

To begin, recess helps kids learn. You’re probably thinking, “Hold the phone. Recess helps kids learn?” It does! In Finland, kids have 1 hour and 30 minutes of recess time, and they have very high scores in school. Kids need to move around to concentrate. Kids can concentrate when they have more time to play. For example, scientists know that exercise helps the brain grow. In other words, recess helps the brain develop.

Secondly, kids need to socialize. When kids have friendship, they feel more invested in school, and they develop social skills. That happens in recess. Friendship helps kids feel connected. In fact, experts know that recess is a good place for kids to run around and talk. So when they come back to class, they aren’t as chatty.

Last, but not least, recess helps kids be healthy. More time outside = vitamin D. Kids should exercise to be healthy. Playing outside takes care of all of that. Kids need to run around, so when they come home or back to school they aren’t crazy. In this case, some articles say exercise helps blood flow to your brain: that means exercise helps your brain work.

It is obvious that kids need more recess, because play helps kids learn! Think of kids that have no playtime: they’re wild and miserable at the same time. So kids should have two recesses.

Spring and Summer U-Pick Produce and Farm Fun Guide

Spring and summer are finally here! COVID-19 may be keeping us away from a lot of our summer fun, we can still enjoy area farms that offer produce, markets, and farm fun. Farms with a 🍓emoji have u-pick produce available.

Be sure to CALL the farm or CHECK their website to make sure they are open and what they are offering that day. Also, admission costs vary or are determined by how much produce is picked. Check sites for details on pricing.

Do you think we missed any places?! Please let us know and we will add them!

Buckland Farm Market 4484 Lee Highway, New Baltimore, VA 20187
540-341-4739
Locally grown fruits, vegetables, eggs, and meat. Plus freshly baked pies, breads, and lots of jams and jellies in the market.

Burke Nursery 9401 Burke Road  Burke, VA 22015
703-323-1188
A gardener and landscaper’s oasis.

Butler’s Orchard 🍓 22222 Davis Mill Road Germantown, MD 20876
301-428-0444
Strawberry picking by reservation only. Curbside pick-up available.

Clark’s Elioak Farm 10500 Clarksville Pike, Ellicott City, MD 21042 
410-730-4049, 443-741-2412
Adorable farm located in Ellicott City, MD. Get ready for farm fun by reliving Mother Goose’s Rhymes, seeing farm animals, and exploring a fairy garden.

Councell Farms 11773 Old Skipton Road Cordova, MD 21601
410-822-8213
Closed until September 3.

Cox Farms 15621 Braddock Rd, Centreville, VA 20120
Closed until at least mid-June.

Great Country Farms 🍓 18780 Foggy Bottom Rd, Bluemont, VA 20135
Pick your own strawberries are by appointment. Farm Market is open daily for curbside pick-up 10-5.

Green Trucks Farm 3015 Hartland Lane Markham VA 22643
540-316-7715
Opening with blueberries mid-June! (no strawberries this year)

Hollin Farms 🍓 1524 Snowden Road, Delaplane, VA 20144
540-623-8854
Peak strawberry picking begins in early June. Check their website often for updates. Hand washing and masks are required. No reservation necessary.

Homestead Farms 🍓 15604 Sugarland Road, Poolesville, MD 20837
Opens June 2020. Cherries, blueberries, peaches, blackberries, strawberries, and more available at the farm.

Larriland Farms 🍓 2415 Woodbine Road Woodbine, MD 21797
301-854-6110
Large, spacious farm to practice social distancing and plenty of sunshine with strawberries, grapes, peaches, tart cherries, blueberries, and blackberries.

Leesburg Animal Park 19246 James Monroe Highway Leesburg, VA 20175
703-433-0002
Farm fun alert! Open for a drive through Zoo!

Miller Farms 🍓 10140 Piscataway Road Clinton, MD 20735
301-297-9370
Strawberry picking available now. Containers provided and no fee or admission required.

Montpelier Farms 1720 Crain Highway North Upper Marlboro, MD 20774
410-320-0464
$7 admission includes gobs of outdoor farm fun for the whole family. Lots of space to explore and play.

Messick’s Farm Market 🍓 6025 Catlett Road, Bealeton, VA 22712
540-439-8900
U-pick produce including strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, herbs, tomatoes, and flowers! Stay to visit their market and eat at their cafe.

Sharp’s at Waterford Farm 4003 Jennings Chapel Road, Brookeville, MD 20833
Online ordering and curbside pick-up available.

Shlagel Farms 🍓 12850 Shlagel Rd., Waldorf, MD 20601
301-645-4554
Large open space for strawberry picking. Be sure to check their Facebook page for updates!

Ticonderoga Farm 26469 Ticonderoga Road Chantilly VA 20152
703-327-4424
Currently closed due to COVID-19, but please help their farm animals by donating here.

Wegmeyer Farms 🍓 38299 Hughesville Road, Hamilton, VA 20158
540-751-1782
Enjoy acres of strawberry picking with reservations. Drive-through pick-up is also available.

🍓 = U-pick produce available to pick

Want to be a part of our 2020 Spring and Summer U-Pick Produce and Farm Fun Guide?

We want to alert our readers of the great farms open and available during the spring and summer months in the Washington, DC area. Partnering with us allows your business greater visibility with a large targeted market of local families.
Join us and help enrich the lives of families in the DC Area!

My Story: Postpartum Anxiety and Panic Attacks

This is a guest post from Autria Godfrey. 

I can still vividly remember the worst of the panic attacks. 

It was 2:30 in the morning and I was sitting in the floor in my daughter’s nursery. My heart was racing and my hands were shaking as I frantically scrolled through the live feed of her nursery camera to go back and find the exact moment someone else’s hands appeared in her crib and tried to take her out. 

Of course, I never found the moment. It didn’t exist. But in my mind it was real enough to catapult me out of my bed and into her room where my eight-week-old was quietly sleeping. 

That anxiety-induced hallucination should have been my wake-up call that the postpartum anxiety I was dealing with was spiraling into something of concern. But it wasn’t.  

Sadly, no one told me to look out for what I was experiencing as postpartum anxiety.

The conservative estimates are that roughly 20% of women experience postpartum anxiety, but those statistics are sketchy at best. The reason? It’s not formally recognized as a separate mood disorder that strikes women who have just given birth according to Dr. Alexa Andewelt, a psychiatrist practicing in Washington, DC. 

“Although it is a significant issue, postpartum anxiety is not a diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Ed. (which is the psychiatric diagnostic manual) so there is no formal description. Instead, postpartum anxiety is often looked at simply as an anxiety disorder that is defined in the DSM-V such as generalized anxiety disorder, Panic Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive disorder, …that develops postpartum,” Dr. Andewelt explains. 

Because it is frequently swept under the umbrella of postpartum depression, many women (like myself) tell themselves “nothing is wrong.” 

I wasn’t depressed. 

I didn’t want to harm myself. 

I didn’t want to harm my baby. 

I didn’t have feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or malaise. 

By my own definition of depression, I didn’t check the box. I wasn’t depressed, but I also wasn’t ok. 

Panic attacks were a regular occurrence. I couldn’t sleep at night even when the baby did. As soon as I heard the first whimper out of her that she was awake, my heart began beating out of my chest. I could feel the adrenaline coursing through my veins. I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to stop the crying once it started. And, I became fixated on the number of hours she slept, the time she went to sleep, and the time she woke up. In fact, I didn’t want to entertain visitors or leave my house because “what if she started crying?!” I constantly viewed my crying baby as a sign of failure.

 All of these things, Dr. Andewelt says, sound familiar. 

“While most women have heard about postpartum depression, when postpartum anxiety appears on its own, women often find the symptoms to be ego-syntonic. They think that they are the problem, rather than they have a medical problem. Women often present saying that they worry a lot because they think that they are inadequate mothers, that they don’t know how to parent.”

Our lives were a debilitating cycle of good days and bad days that went unchecked for six months. It wasn’t until Christmas when we traveled home to see my family that I recognized something was wrong. My mom and sisters became the mirror I had been avoiding for months. They were quick to point out their concerns over my OCD tendencies, my obsession with her sleep cycles, my short-tempered outbursts if heaven-forbid she didn’t sleep the EXACT amount of time she should have. They were surprised by how irrational I was about insignificant things. And they expected me to be calmer under pressure given how my career had shaped me to do just that for more than a decade. In hindsight, I should’ve gone to a professional and Dr. Andewelt agrees. 

“Women should seek professional treatment if the anxiety interferes in their daily life, sleep, bonding with the baby, or if they are preoccupied with worries. I’d recommend if the question of seeking treatment even crosses a new mother’s mind, they should specifically ask their obstetrician about mental health treatment, or directly seek an evaluation by a mental health professional,” she says.

Rather than seeking help, I tried to address the little things that I could actually control that I knew triggered anxiety. I got off social media, completely. Comparing my rough behind-the-scenes real life to everyone else’s highlight reel was only exacerbating the feelings of failure. I can’t overstate enough how much removing myself from the phony world of social media helped. Also, I gave my diet an overhaul. I cut out all the foods and drinks that were known to increase anxiety (caffeine, alcohol, etc.). 

I also started opening up to my fellow mom friends about the wild anxiety I had experienced and turns out, I was far from alone. Collectively we realized that while we shared many of the same symptoms. We each had anxious thoughts and worries that were unique. Yet not one of us had been warned about the potential for postpartum anxiety from our doctors, families, or friends. We were all in agreement that the main takeaway for new mothers was mainly just the idea that if you didn’t want to hurt yourself or your baby, then you were A-OK. And instead, my friends and I dragged ourselves through the trenches of these irrational thoughts, obsessions, and worries all alone. 

It took time to work through my anxiety, but I would say within two months I saw a noticeable difference. She’s awake at 2 am? Ok. I’ve got this. She’s crying? No biggie, she’s a baby!

If you have anxious thoughts or panic attacks, know you are not alone and you don’t have to suffer alone. Be sure to find a therapist today. You and your family deserve it!

What I still find fascinating by the whole experience, is that for 13 years I was a news reporter/anchor. Every day, I would wake up and jump in front of a camera to talk about the topic du jour. I never knew what each day was going to hold. And, I didn’t know what topic I would be expected to be an immediate expert on or if I might find myself standing in front of a senator or governor asking about the crisis of the moment. You might think, ALL of these scenarios would trigger panic attacks on a regular basis—that I would be a walking ball of anxiety at any given moment. But no. Not at all. It turns out, a screaming protester or a yelling congressman was no match for the tiny whine of an eight-pound little lady. 

About our Guest Author:

Autria Godfrey is an Emmy-award winning news anchor who has spent the last decade in Washington, DC. After beginning her career in Charlottesville, VA, Autria moved to Washington to work for Fox News Channel, CBS Newspath, and eventually Tribune Broadcasting as the White House and Congressional Correspondent for the DC Bureau. Autria and spent the last 8 years at WJLA, most recently as morning anchor of Good Morning Washington. Autria has covered both President Obama’s and President Trump’s inaugurations, Pope Francis’s visit to Washington DC, and the Country Music Awards in Nashville, TN. She lives in the district with her husband Paul and daughter Eliza.

We (Accidentally) Broke Social Distancing When We Had a Birthday During COVID-19

From the start of the stay-at-home orders I have been very honest with my kids regarding the pandemic, our daily routines, and the great uncertainty we have as we look forward. I had a sense that our son’s May birthday would not be celebrated as we usually do. My husband and I were careful to create realistic expectations while still giving him the assurance that we will have a fun day. He made peace with the idea of a different birthday without much fuss. We moved on to make special arrangements and had a couple of surprises to make the day extra special. I had all intentions of making his celebration a socially distant one.

Physical Distancing: It would all work out as planned, right? Wrong!

In my mind, it was all going to work out. We had the police come by early to wish him a happy birthday. We did a Zoom family call with a surprise cake. And we had organized a drive-by happy birthday with some friends. These were all surprises to him and he responded happily to most. 

When the moment came for the drive-by birthday, he decided to surprise everyone with a piano concert. This required us to bring his keyboard outside, much closer to our friends than we had originally intended. When everyone arrived, he was happy, surprised, and intimidated. He was not expecting to see so many of his friends. My little boy panicked and decided not to play. He told me he had stage fright.

One of our closest friends got out of the car, mask included. As the children froze, no longer knowing how to interact in this new normal, I started to realize how much they had missed interactions since the last day of school. They stood at a distance, looking down and avoiding eye contact. They didn’t speak much. I looked over to my friend and we both decided to let go. This expanded to another family, while the rest remained in their cars keeping the social distancing norms.

For a short time that afternoon, we let our guards down and enjoyed our friends’ company and conversation. The kids played basketball, soccer, football, and rode their bikes. They were not sharing food or drinks, but they were much closer than anything we have been advised to do. It was wonderful, the kids had an amazing time and the only thing missing were hugs. At least we did not break that rule. 

Now comes the guilt …

At the end of the day my husband asked how I felt. I had mixed emotions. Our friends had been good about staying home and adhering to the social distancing guidelines, but I also knew that we had exponentially increased our exposure. I knew that my son needed that time to play. He needed to forget about distance learning and to play with someone other than his brother. I had enough to justify our actions and pretend to have a calculated risk. 

As I laid in my bed that night, I couldn’t help but cry. I was an emotional mess. Regrets and at the same time no regrets. A feeling of sadness because our kids are finishing the school year virtually and most likely starting the same way in the fall. And although we have no real worries like many others, we are a long way from overcoming this pandemic so the idea of continuing the way we are just broke me.

The longer we continue physical distancing the more their social skills will suffer. I am a strong supporter of the stay-at-home orders as I have experienced too many flu seasons with complications. I understand the high risk of contagion and have been very good at following the stay-at-home orders. But I know my kids miss playing with friends and running around playing tag. Doing all the things not allowed under physical distancing. I am not sure that the answer is to send them back to school wearing masks and asking them to behave like little robots. The images and reports of schools reopening abroad are not at all reassuring. 

So, as I went to sleep I remembered past celebrations. Feeling exhausted from a long day entertaining our guests, but happy because it was another memorable celebration on the books. This year the feeling was different. The smiles on the children while playing reminded me of the things we are currently missing. With more information coming up, we might expand our bubble. But the emotional guilt of increasing the risk is not easy to manage. I guess as they say “parenting is never easy.”

Mega Guide to Local Virtual Events

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Parents are facing innumerable challenges as we strive to educate, entertain, feed, comfort, and care for our kids in our current reality. Here at the DC Area Mom Collective, we want to provide perspectives and information that can make the day a bit easier for you and your family. This month, we cannot offer a guide to our area’s family-friendly events. However, we have highlighted a few virtual events and offerings by LOCAL organizations.

We are incredibly fortunate to have so many wonderful community resources accessible from our homes. Most are free, but some do cost to enjoy. (They’re trying to keep their businesses afloat!). Available resources are constantly changing as organizations assess how to best provide access to families. We will add to this list as we learn of additional offerings. If you would like to share information with us about local virtual events or classes, please share in the comments below.

Photo by Patricia Prudente on Unsplash

ANIMALS

National Aquarium
There’s still plenty of Aquarium fun to experience, even from inside your home! Check out the aquatic activities such as word searches and downloadable coloring pages. Don’t forget to tune in to the aquarium’s live streams for an up-close look at the Blacktip Reef exhibit, blue blubber jellies, and residents of a Pacific coral reef. The Aquarium has also has created several fun backgrounds for all those Zoom meetings.

National Zoo
The National Zoo may be closed, but it is committed to supporting teachers, students, and families around the globe as they face unprecedented new learning challenges. They are actively developing new materials to help learners of all ages respond to this challenging period, so check their website frequently. Currently, they offer resources to engage learners in grades pre-K to 12 with science, the natural world, wildlife, and conservation. Some of the activities offered are games, a virtual tour of the zoo, and webcams that allow you to check in on the pandas, mole rats, lions, and elephants from your home.

ART AND READING

DC Public Library
Enjoy the DC Public Library wherever you are. Get your library card online and access extended privileges to digital resources during social distancing. Your family can enjoy thousands of movies, eBooks, streaming music, and more for free! Join the Library for DC Family Reads (a family literacy program) and a variety of other virtual events to entertain and educate family members of all ages. The upcoming schedule includes virtual Story Time, learning ASL, a live cooking demonstration for all ages, a yoga class, and more. Stay up to date on DCPL events through its website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. DCPL also has organized a civic engagement arts contest for teens called “Know Your Power.” The contest is for kids between 13 and 19 and runs from May 18.  Check out DCPL’s list of distance learning resources to help families during this challenging time.

Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE)
Explore More: Home Edition is based on GRACE’s exhibition programs. It is a self-guided program for kids and families normally taking place in the gallery. The Home Edition is designed for you and your family to explore art and making from your home. The program is free, but please consider making a donation or becoming a GRACE member so GRACE can continue to provide fun and creative activities for your youngest up and coming artists.

The Kennedy Center
On May 31 at 5 pm, the Kennedy Center will broadcast The Yo-Yo Mo Show! with Mo Willems. Information about the show is coming soon! It has also archived Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems. This incredibly popular event allowed learners worldwide to draw, doodle, and explore new ways of writing by visiting Mo’s studio virtually for fifteen sessions. Grab some paper and pencils, pens, or crayons and join Mo to explore ways of writing and making together. Don’t forget to visit Kennedy [email protected] to enjoy free videos of extraordinary live and on-demand performances and educational activities to do at home, with new releases daily.

Library of Congress
Dav Pilkey at Home
Check this page and the Library’s social channels every Friday for a new video from Dav Pilkey. He shows viewers how to draw and does readings from his very popular books. You can also find great Dav Pilkey content at Scholastic’s webpage where, each Friday, you can get creative and have fun with some of your favorite characters from Dog Man and Captain Underpants! New activities, exciting videos, and more will be posted each week.

Library of Congress
“Write. Right. Rite.” 
For his two-year term as National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, DC local Jason Reynolds has planned to visit small towns across America to have meaningful discussions with young people. Reynolds has created two digital features that fall under his “GRAB THE MIC: Tell Your Story” platform: a video series titled “Write. Right. Rite.” and a blog series titled “GRAB THE MIC Newsletter.” Reynolds wants to share his passion for storytelling while discussing topics like creativity, connection, and imagination. At the end of each video, Reynolds will share a prompt that encourages young people to work toward a specific idea. The activities are fun-filled and some are more challenging than others, but Reynolds always makes sure to include brainstorming “get-you-going” questions.

PBS KIDS
PBS KIDS has partnered with Penguin Random House and Michelle Obama to create a live streaming story hour with the former First Lady. Tune in on Mondays at noon for “Mondays with Michelle” on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Watch out for some pretty spectacular surprise guests throughout the series! Check back for more live stream events with authors, illustrators, and producers of your favorite PBS KIDS shows. PBS KIDS for Parents also offers a variety of coronavirus resources for parents, including articles on talking to your kids about coronavirus, health and hygiene tips, and learning at home.

The Phillips Collection
The museum has compiled resources so that its art and exhibitions can be explored from home. Families can try #MuseumAtHome activities such as a printable Discovery Pack to learn about the Phillip’s collection, directions for how to make a maraca, sketching activities, and more. There are also opportunities to re-create Phillips masterworks and to create your own art based on Jacob Lawrence’s powerful 60-panel Migration series.

Politics & Prose
Like other fantastic independent booksellers in our area, Politics & Prose has had to shut down their stores during this crisis. They are trying to remain connected to the community by offering online and interpersonal phone sales, curbside pick-up, and live streaming some of their scheduled author talks (the P&P Live! Series). On May 27, P&P Live! will present Parker and Jessica Curry for a reading of “Parker Looks Up,” their book based on the now-famous photo of Parker gazing up at a portrait of Michelle Obama in the National Portrait Gallery (register on their website). Check their site regularly for updated P&P Live events.

HISTORY

Gunston Hall
George Mason’s home, Gunston Hall, is offering engaging activities, projects, and chances to expand your horizons from within your own home. They have provided free activities related to cooking and gardening. There are also directions about how to make 18th-century kids activities such as a kite and a whirligig.

Mount Vernon
Every Monday through Friday at 12:00 pm, tune in on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube to see a live broadcast following these daily themes: Mansion Mondays (explore different areas of the mansion); Teaching Tuesdays (for K-12 students, teachers, and parents); Washington Wednesdays (dive into a different piece of Washington history); Tranquil Thursdays (enjoy the sights & sounds of Mount Vernon); and Casual Fridays (something new & different each week)! Be sure to check the full schedule special Member Monday live streams, the Washington Library’s Tuesday Book Talks, Trivia Thursdays in May, and occasional Workshop Wednesdays!

FOOD

Foublie
Foublie is a pediatrician-approved guide to feed your family. Everything you see at Foublie is evidence-based and mom tested. During this crisis, it is helping out parents with kids ages 2 to 4 by providing free weekly activity guides released every Friday. These guides have been designed by child health, nutrition, and development experts and tested by its favorite threenagers. Its cook + play + learn activities are taking on COVID-19 stay-ins with some food fun. Each week, Foible will send you an email with food-based play, learning, and cooking ideas. Check out this link for more information and to sign up for the guides. Foublie’s library of free activities is at this link.

MUSEUMS

Children’s Science Center
Join the Center every Monday at 11 am on its Facebook page for Budding Bookworms, where a new book is read each week followed by an activity for you to print out and explore along with your child at home. Visit their YouTube channel for more book readings and other experiments to enjoy. They also host Virtual Camps where their expert STEM Educators will facilitate hands-on activities, self-directed learning, STEM explorations, and group discussions. These sessions are geared for 3rd to 6th graders. They are free, but you are asked to pay what you can. Check out the website for an upcoming schedule.

International Spy Museum
There are several ways families can enjoy the International Spy Museum from home. Check out the museum’s YouTube channel for engaging video content including author debriefings, discussions of current events, interviews with former spies, DIY workshops, and more. Each week, it offers a new free SpyCast featuring interviews and programs with ex-spies, intelligence experts, and espionage scholars. Additionally, it provides free classroom lessons, resources, and activities that support traditional curriculum. The activities range from code-breaking to designing a spy gadget. A reading list is also provided.

The Maryland Science Center
The Maryland Science Center has created a variety of online activities and events to bring a bit of the science center to your home. Try one of its Science At Home Activities, join them for new online events every week, and more!

National Geographic Museum
The museum is closed, but National Geographic has curated collections of learning activities for grades K-12 to implement at home. It also offers Learn Through Play activities that challenge families and students to learn through play by problem-solving, thinking creatively, and having fun. Through its Citizen Science collection, we learn how everyone can be a scientist by learning how to collect data from the outdoors and share with the scientific community. There are many more lessons about issues ranging from maps, explorers, natural wonders, photography, and more.

Smithsonian Museums
The Smithsonian is offering an enormous variety of programming to educate and enlighten family members of all ages. It has provided access to its vast collections through Online Exhibitions, Online Events, and Digital Content. The Online Exhibitions allow users to explore exhibits such as Trailblazing: 100 Years of our National Parks; Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863, and the March on Washington, 1963; and more. Many featured Online Exhibitions include additional resources to augment the learning experience. There are also many Online Events offered, including online Storytime and Young Portrait Explorers from the National Portrait Gallery, Aerial America Facebook Watch Parties, Smithsonian Social Studies Online, and much more. Some events require online pre-registration.

MUSIC

The Kennedy Center Couch Concerts
The Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage is bringing a new series of live performances streamed to you. It is in times like these that we need artists most. Watch talented artists perform their work and help us inspire, grieve, heal, and move forward as a nation. Performances will stream live from artists’ homes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 4 pm. Check out past concerts and the future schedule on the website. Don’t forget to visit Kennedy [email protected] to enjoy free videos of extraordinary live and on-demand performances and educational activities to do at home, with new releases daily.

Kidsinger Jim
A local favorite on the kids’ music circuit is Kidsinger Jim. He has started producing videos so that children at home have more content to enjoy. You can watch his music, puppet, and animated videos as often as you like for free. If you like what you hear and see, there is a link on his website to a virtual tip jar.

Meadowlark Music Lessons for Babies and Toddlers
Meadowlark is a local business, owned and operated in Washington DC. Spring classes for babies and toddlers have been moved online, using Zoom. Teachers have conducted classes as such for the past few weeks of classes and it allows them to see students in real-time and interact with little ones and caregivers (which is super important to them!). They hope to be a bright musical spot in your day and lives as we navigate this challenging time together. You can register for classes online.

Strathmore Saturday Jam Sessions
Saturday Family Jam Sessions are now online! Junior music aficionados spend Saturday mornings singing, playing, and preparing for a lifetime of music appreciation as expert artists guide them through a variety of genres on Facebook Live. Ideal for ages 6-12. Upcoming Jam Sessions will teach users about the swing, jazz, ancient Chinese music, and the instruments of West Africa. The Strathmore is also offering additional virtual programming including Virtual Art Talk for Kids. These events are free, but RSVPs are requested.

Sunset Sessions at the Parks
Experience great musicians from home with a series of virtual events broadcast from The Great Lawn at The Parks at Walter Reed. Sunset Sessions at The Parks presents a series of five musical performances by some of DC’s most renowned musicians. Events are held Sundays at 5 pm. The upcoming schedule includes Beth Cannon, Imani Grace, Luke James Shaffer, Marcelle Pena, and James Zimmerman.

SPORTS AND PLAY

Breathing Space
Breathing Space supports healthy families through yoga and wellness education for all ages. It offers classes for the whole family that can be enjoyed from the comfort of your home. Upcoming live online classes welcome the entire family to participate for a single class fee based on $12 per class tuition. While instruction will be tailored for the stated age, older and younger siblings are welcome to join in the fun. Replays will be available for a week after each class airs. Breathing Space recommends that parents participate in classes designed for children younger than 4 years. No previous yoga experience necessary; be prepared/dressed for movement. Register and pay online.

DC United
Kids soccer leagues may be on hiatus, but your little kicker can get a soccer fix on the DC United website. The team has posted several Throwback Matches, workout suggestions in Talon’s Workout Tapes featuring Steven Birnbaum, and an “Ask Me Anything” interview with Donovan Pines. Check the website regularly for updated content.

Labyrinth
Join the knowledgeable Labyrinth staff for a variety of virtual events. Learn to play popular games such as Catan or Disney Villainous. Join other kids and teens to play Dungeons and Dragons. Learn about PokĂ©mon Trading Cards and join a PokĂ©mon Online Tournament. Check out the website for all of their upcoming events. Participants are asked to pay what they can to participate in many events, while others have a fixed price. Also, don’t forget that Labyrinth has made many of their products available for online sales for pickup or shipping.

President Lincoln’s Cottage Virtual Family Game Nights
Join President Lincoln’s Cottage and Game Genius for their virtual community game nights to play together in creative ways! Be ready on Tuesday evenings in May at 7 pm with your imagination. The theme for May 26 is The Penny Olympics. The game will involve coins (mostly pennies) and other objects. Together, we’ll turn these Lincoln-related objects into games that spark brave ideas. This program is suitable for children 5 years old and older. The event is free (though donations are welcomed) but register online.

Washington Mystics
The Mystics have created #TogetherDC At Home, a place to keep up with everything that the Mystics, DC, MD, and VA are doing to fight the spread of COVID-19. They have also provided at-home activities such as a STEM workbook, coloring pages, and a variety of fun family fitness challenges (in partnership with MedStar Health). To relive their championship run, check out the documentary Run It Back: Mystics Journey to a Championship.

THEATER AND FILM

American Film Institute (AFI) Movie Club
AFI Movie Club is a newly launched program created to raise the nation’s spirits by bringing artists and audiences together—even while we are apart. AFI selects an iconic movie each day for the world to watch together, creating a communal viewing experience. Audiences can “gather” at AFI.com/MovieClub to view the featured movie of the day with the use of their preexisting streaming service credentials. You can join the conversation on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Each day’s film is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points, and material from the AFI Archive to enrich your viewing experience. You can catch up on films already featured including The Sound of Music, Beauty and the Beast, North by Northwest, Wonder Woman, Star Wars, Snow White, and many more. 

Discovery Theater
The Discovery Theater has a list of digital resources available for teachers and parents. They have also compiled Learning Guides from their most recent performances. The guides include information on the subject matter of a specific play, topical hands-on projects, and discussion questions. Recent performances centered on subjects such as hoops and circles as symbols in Native American life, the ABC’s of percussion, and African American adventurers and explorers. All resources are free.

Folger Shakespeare Library
Believing that it is never too early to discover Shakespeare, the Folger has pulled together fun and informative resources for kids and for Shakespeare beginners. Become an expert about Shakespeare’s life and work, play games, learn barbs, and read play scripts.

Imagination Stage
With its building closed and families cooped up in their homes, Imagination Stage is doing what it can to bring lively entertainment and activities from its stages and classrooms into our homes. For the next couple of weeks, follow its blog and social media to keep up with upcoming digital performances, workshops, storytelling, and ideas for activities that you and your children can explore in the comfort of your home.

Roundhouse Theater
The Round House Education department is releasing a weekly series of age-appropriate Theatre Education Challenges. These challenges will keep students busy with the same methods of creating theatre that they teach at Round House: acting, movement, design, and play-making. Check back each week to watch archived videos Videos will also be shared on their Facebook page. Each week, Roundhouse Theater will release new videos by the following schedule for each age group: Mondays (Grades K-3), Wednesdays (Grades 4-6), and Fridays (Teens).

Paradise is a Parking Lot

Yes, this is a play on the song Big Yellow Taxi‘s line “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” Another part of the song has been hitting me: “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” Yeah, that too. Ironically, parents and pet owners have been finding a bit of paradise in a crummy old parking lot.

I’m not going to say which parking lots people are using. Since the lockdown began, families have been cooped up in condos or trapped in townhomes, with human kids and fur babies. I would hate if this little bit of relief was taken away.

When parks closed, we had to find an alternative place to play.

The Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) closed the parks and the playgrounds in mid-March when the city of Washington responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. The gates of our local parks were locked and the recreational centers closed. It was fine in March when we were mostly inside anyway. Two weeks turned into a month, which turned into 2-3 months. In the meantime, we took Junior out on toddler walks and would spend a little time in the tiny dirt church parking lot. Our tiny postage stamp front yard and small patio did not provide the recreation he needed. So the parking lot and the sidewalks became his new playground.

Not that this new playground alternative is great. My toddler has face-planted several times. Brick is unforgiving for little uncoordinated feet and gravel is no friend either. Sadly, it is a better option than the bookshelf and furniture climbing he’s recently taken to.

Parking lots—with social distancing—provide space for pets and kids to play.

When I ventured out on the bike to get groceries, I noticed others using larger (and less cluttered with cars) parking lots for recreation. When DPR closed the kid parks, they also closed the dog parks as well. So several times I noticed a small cluster of dog owners in the corner of a gated church parking lot as dogs played in the space. Another time, when attempting to tire out a toddler by getting him to walk more, we ventured by a paved parking lot devoid of cars. Families were spread very far apart, young kids were riding bikes and human-powered scooters on the blacktop.

The lengthy lockdown is taking its toll. One family on our block relocated early on to their family’s rural vacation home. Another has moved away to the suburbs in the past week, and are preparing their home to rent. We have been thinking about moving out of the city to be closer to my husband’s work in Maryland. I had wanted to stick around to take advantage of DC’s free Pre-K. The things that made the city and living close to Downtown great for us are now closed. It’s up in the air when and if those places will open. Now I’m itching to sell and trade in the townhome I’ve renovated for a house with a larger yard, all for the lack of a park.

What have you done to help get your toddler’s ya-yas out? Has walking the neighborhood helped? Or have you found parking lots to be an alternative paradise?

Curious About Newborn Stem Cells? Let CBR help!

This article is written in partnership with CBR by Generate Life Sciences. We hope you enjoy learning about the services they offer to families.

With so much to think about when expecting a new baby, whether to preserve your baby’s stem cells from their cord blood and cord tissue might seem like just one more thing to add to the list. 

Parents often have a lot of questions about why they should save their baby’s stem cells, what these powerful cells can be used for, and what they should look for in a cord blood and tissue bank. 

Well, we want to help make this easier for you. We are Whit and Chrissy, neighborhood moms and your local CBR representatives. We love talking to parents and answering their questions about cord blood and tissue banking. 

1. Why should I store my baby’s stem cells?

Given the uncertainty of the world, it’s important to know there’s one thing you can do to protect your family’s future. By cryogenically storing these cells now, and stopping the clock on aging, you’ll have potential access for decades to come.

They’re also unique to your family, which is important if you ever need to use them. Not only is your baby always a 100% match to their own cord blood stem cells, full siblings have up to a 75% chance of matching, too. If they’re needed for a stem cell transplant, a doctor is going to look for a closely matched donor, like from a sibling.

Banking at birth is the only guarantee a parent has that their child will absolutely have a match for their own stem cells. And given that many transplant physicians look for a closely matched sibling, this is also a parent’s chance to ensure their other children may have a stem cell match as well.

Additionally, given the information available today, cord blood units in proper cryostorage should be able to be preserved forever. Which means that, by storing now, your family will have more potential options and peace of mind for years to come.

2. What are newborn stem cells used for?

Today, cord blood is used to treat more than 80 conditions of the blood and immune system as part of a stem cell transplant, where the stem cells are used to rebuild a healthy immune system for things like certain cancers and blood disorders. There’s also a lot of potential in another area of medicine – called regenerative medicine – where researchers are investigating how these powerful cells can help repair damage and improve cellular communication. In fact, there’s more than 300 clinical trials that have been initiated in this field of medicine!

What are they researching? Conditions like autism, cerebral palsy, hearing loss, and other conditions that have no cure today. Which means that preserving cord blood and cord tissue now could mean more therapeutic options in the future for your family.

3. Why should I choose CBR?

You’ll want to choose a bank that’s reliable, secure, and who is available to answer questions when you need them.

Since 1992, more families have chosen CBR than any other bank. To date, we have stored over 900,000 samples and counting. Our lab and storage facility in Tucson, Arizona, is at low-risk for natural disasters. Plus, our samples are monitored 24/7/365, with more than 500,000 quality checks annually.

But beyond that, we’re there when our families need us. During times like the one we’re currently facing, it’s especially important that families are able to call on our customer service support staff. 

We’ve helped more than 600 families use their cord blood stem cells in a transplant or investigational use. Should a need arise, our team will work with the treating facility and safely release your cord blood sample, handling all the logistics.

We hope this helped to clear up some of the questions you may have about newborn stem cells. If you would like to learn more about these powerful cells and get a special savings, call or email us today. We would love to hear from you!

Please contact Chrissy Moggio at [email protected] or 202.550.3862 for Washington, DC & Maryland. OR Whit Shelburn at [email protected] or 703.776.0800 for Northern Virginia.

1. Verter, F., Couto, P. S., & Bersenev, A. (2018). A dozen years of clinical trials performing advanced cell therapy with perinatal cells. Future Science OA, 4(10). doi: 10.4155/fsoa-2018-0085

Upcycled Fish Activity for Toddlers

Toddlers and preschoolers alike will enjoy this special play and learning time with you as you explore sorting pom poms together in this unique activity for toddlers that also helps build fine motor skills.

This simple upcycled project is great for building fine motor activities, hand-eye coordination, developing and strengthening visual perception skills, color recognition, and visual-motor coordination. It is also a great way to exercise little fingers of toddlers and preschoolers. Fine motor skills are important for future tasks like gripping pencils and zipping up jackets. The main goal of this activity for toddlers is to name the colors and match the pom poms with the right color. Preschoolers can also use a single clothespin to transfer the pom poms to the lids. Also, to add variety, change out the dot stickers to work on introducing new colors.

Supplies Needed for Activity:

  • Cardboard (I used an empty cardboard box; Paint Pad would work as well)
  • Sharp scissors or a precision knife
  • Washable paint to paint the body of the fish. For the details I used markers.
  • Paintbrushes (thick & thin)
  • Markers
  • Lids from empty water bottles
  • Glue dots or strong glue
  • Pom poms
  • Color-code dot stickers

Directions:

  1. Draw the body of a fish onto the cardboard.
  2. Cut out the body of the fish.
  3. Paint the body of the fish. Once the paint is dry use markers to add details. You can also paint the details with a thin paintbrush.
  4. Once the paint and details are dry, glue the lids onto the body of the fish. I used the glue dots, but you could also use a hot glue gun.
  5. Stick the color-code dots sticker onto the inside of the lids (you can also use colored paper cut into small circles if you don’t have dots).
  6. Get the pom poms handy.
  7. Ready – Steady – Play!

Check out more craft ideas and activities and comment below with your favorite ideas!

About the Guest Author:

Lucia is a SAHM of two children, Luca (2 &1/2) & Anna (9 months). She loves to design and create crafts, DIY toys, and activities for toddlers and preschoolers. Please join us at @mornings_with_toddler & let’s create something beautiful.
This article does contain Amazon Affiliate Links. If you choose to purchase items through the links on this site, it won’t change your price, and a teeny tiny portion of the sale would go to support our site and we would be so grateful!

Sibling Room-Sharing for the Semi-Organized

Disclaimer: Not an Expert

This post is not a “how-to” on organization, toy-bin labeling, or keeping kids’ rooms tidy all the time. If you find a blog post on how I can do this well without sacrificing my sanity, I’m here for it. This post is for any parent starting a journey of kids sharing rooms, without a clue in the world as to how it will work. Are shelves exploding with books? Want to be more minimalistic? Wondering how in the world your kids have so many clothes and where to store them? These are some areas of sibling room-sharing in which I feel qualified to lend my expertise. But if you see a “Help Wanted” ad for getting room-sharing sisters to fall asleep peacefully and independently, I probably wrote it.

Big Family, Small Space

I have three little girls and a mom whose love language involves buying their fall and spring wardrobe. My kids are seven and a half, four and a half, and coming up on two and a half. Oh, and we love clothes. When our oldest two were very young, we lived in a large house on the Eastern shore where storage was not an issue. Four years ago we moved to DC for grad school, reducing our living space by more than half. I then became pregnant with my third daughter. This is when we learned the art (dance? circus? trick?) of room-sharing.

We lived in a two-bedroom apartment and fostered a little girl on the weekends while I was pregnant with my youngest. My oldest two girls shared a room and the baby slept next to our bed until she was about six months old, when we moved. During that season, the girls shared one closet and one dresser. We looked forward to a day when we could split up the girls and give them each a larger space of their own. Who knew that when we moved to a large house in Silver Spring, we would choose to room all three girls together?

Clothes Storage: Less is More

When we moved, our girls started sharing a large bedroom upstairs with two large closets. We brought our beloved shared dresser along, and each of them got one drawer. This was not a large or magical dresser with deep or hidden drawers—just your basic Ikea Hemnes. Was this enough space for pajamas, socks, undies, and seasonally-appropriate clothes? Definitely not. This is when we decided to utilize rolling storage bins in their closets which would store these smaller items.

We kept only the shirts and bottoms for that season in their drawer. Everything else was hung or organized and labeled in a bin in their closet. As the seasons change, we go “shopping” in the closet so that my middle and youngest can get the big sisters’ clothes, and plan for which new items big sister will need. Before I shop, I take a careful inventory of what each child has and needs. If it doesn’t fit in the drawer, it doesn’t fit in the “need” category. My girls have lots of dresses and have never complained about their lack of clothing.

Books

The bond my girls formed when sharing their space was one I am grateful for. That being said, we were recently able to convert our main floor office into a bedroom for my husband and me, which meant that big sister was going to have her own room for the first time in almost four years. All of this moving meant that she would be bringing her “big girl books” to her new room, leaving me with a ton of kids’ books of all shapes, sizes, levels, and textures. Now, I’m not particular about the way shelves are organized as long as they aren’t exploding, but the differently-textured books were driving me CRAZY! The “Learning to Read” paperbacks just wouldn’t stand up straight and kept slipping off the shelves. The board books and nice hardback classics just didn’t work on the same shelf and we kept forgetting about some of our favorites. That’s when I went back to my bins.

If It Doesn’t Fit, Get Rid of It

Now, I love books–especially children’s books. There are some prized possessions from my childhood that grace my children’s shelves with faded book spines and nostalgia. However, we are frequent flyers of our local library and city-living has taught me that it’s just not necessary that I own every children’s book. All that to say, my kids each have a small, four-cube Ikea shelf and once the shelf is full, it’s time to donate. Those floppy books I mentioned fit beautifully in the plastic rolling drawers that I also use for socks and underwear. All of the well-loved “Learning to Read” paperbacks go in one drawer and the other slippery paperbacks go in another. This makes them easy to find and less likely that they will fall behind the shelves unnoticed.

*Pro-tip: We don’t keep library books in their rooms. We have a specific “book bin” in our TV stand that is for library books only. When we want to read one at bedtime, we take it to the bedroom, read it, and do our best to put it back in its place immediately. This lessens the blow of the seemingly never-ending library fines we seem to rack up as frequent library patrons.

Work In Progress

I am still trying to figure out to organize the girls’ shoe hand-me-downs, so if you have any specific suggestions, please send them my way. I hope this article was helpful and provided a few tips and tricks for navigating the organizational aspect of room-sharing.

Sincerely,
A Happy Homeschooling Mom who will never be featured on Pinterest 🙂

Do you have tips to share about sibling room-sharing? Please leave a comment below! And try these minimalist parenting tips for even more ways to organize small spaces.

Downsizing With Kids? Tips for Surviving!

A move to DC for many people involves a significant amount of downsizing. Over the years I’ve known many families who move to the city, leaving behind a large suburban home for a much smaller city row home or apartment. Downsizing, especially with kids in the mix, can be a challenge. Recently we went through a season of life where we had to significantly downsize, and we are so much better for the experience!

Undertaking a Major Renovation

The past two years of my life have been something of a roller coaster. We decided to move from downtown DC to a quieter neighborhood in the city. We bought a home that was in need of a total gut. When I say this house needed work, just imagine a frat house that hadn’t been looked after or maintained in about a decade. (Indeed, there were kegs left in the basement and an abandoned Mr. Beer brew kit in an upstairs bedroom, amongst other less savory treasures).

Photo by Matthew Hamilton on Unsplash

My husband and I went into this (mostly) aware of the sacrifice this would mean for our family—financially, emotionally, and time-wise. But what we didn’t really account for was how to accomplish this with kids. Part of the timeline included a significant exercise in downsizing for all of us. We turned our basement into a separate 2 bedroom apartment and moved in for the 6 months it took to gut and rebuild the main part of the house. However, as nice as we made our basement apartment, it still had its limits. There is, after all, only so much room in a 900 square foot living area for four humans. My girls went from separate rooms to sharing a space, and we had to relegate half of their belongings to storage.

(Now I realize it is a common thing for siblings to share rooms, and I am a fan of it if it works for a family. Our girls love the novelty of sharing a room on a vacation. Day in and day out for months on end, with nowhere to hide? A whole different animal for my girls!)

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you have to downsize a living situation with your kids, here are some tips that we found to make the transition easier.

Photo by HiveBoxx on Unsplash

Tips for Downsizing With Kids

Clearly communicate what changes to expect before the move.

Whether this is a short term or long term downsize, kids need to be prepared for what’s going to happen and how it will affect them. Certain things that should be communicated to children before the move include timelines, how daily schedules will be impacted, what the new neighborhood will be like (if applicable), etc. Many of these are quite abstract concepts for children to grasp. When you can, try to make it as concrete as possible. One example of how we did this was explaining that we were moving in the winter, but would return to our permanent space at the end of summer. A calendar was helpful (for my older daughter) in showing roughly how many days we would be living “downstairs.”

Make it a family adventure.

The way the adults discuss the downsize will have a tremendous impact on the children’s perspective. As my dad always says, attitude is everything! Instead of viewing our move to the basement as something we had to slog through, we tried to frame it as a family adventure. My girls have wonderful memories of our many months in the basement. In fact, my youngest daughter still asks when we can move back “downstairs” because she loved living there so much.

Involve them in the process.

There was only so much our 5- and 3-year-olds could contribute to the planning and execution of our downsizing, but we tried to involve them when we could. When you downsize your living space, your possessions feel it acutely, too! Over the course of a few weeks, we had our girls pick out their favorite toys and activities. Spreading this out over a longer period of time helped the task seem less daunting for them. Together they helped to decide what to bring with us, what to put into storage, and what to donate.

Plan for separate activity space as much as possible.

In our situation, if the girls needed to be separated, it could be tricky. Our back patio was a construction staging zone and was in no way safe for playtime. And we couldn’t exactly just send them out the front door to play independently on the sidewalk. We made an independent activity corner in the living/dining room where one of them could go to be alone when needed. Also—this is D.C., land of free activities galore! Take advantage of all the large, free places to let your little one(s) play if your smaller space is getting you down. There are so many places in the area to go to let off steam both indoors and outdoors.

In addition to separate activity space was separate time with each child. Living in closer quarters than ever before could feel a little stifling at times.  My husband and I made sure that we intentionally scheduled separate time with our girls to help them still feel like they had extra breathing room.

Benefits of Downsizing

Pressing “Reset” On Possessions

Does it spark joy? Seriously, Marie Kondo has great insight to be applied here. It is so easy to just accumulate possessions—kids’ stuff especially! But when you are limited with space, you get a clear sense of what is really important. Boxes and boxes of toys went away into storage. And guess what? By the time we were done with the renovation, my girls had completely forgotten about them. I loved being able to do a “reset” of all of our belongings. The whole process was a tremendously helpful exercise in finding out what we needed, and how to live more minimally. We have chosen to donate much of what we initially put into storage. The lack of clutter is so freeing!

Downsizing is a great opportunity to purge and press “reset” on your belongings!

Communication Skills 101

Another benefit we experienced was the improvement of communication between us all. Of course, there were plenty of times when conflict arose! But living in tighter quarters meant that we couldn’t just stew in our anger at someone else for very long. There was nowhere to run and hide to wait it out! Being forced to confront one another and work through conflict quickly was an added bonus to our downsizing adventure.

If you are looking at the possibility of a housing downsize for whatever reason, just know it can be done, and with great benefit, for your entire family!

 

Living With Anxiety in the Midst of a Pandemic

Most people would think a stay-at-home order would be an easy thing for me. After all, I’m an introvert and I really do live to stay at home. However, what most people don’t know is that I was recently diagnosed with situational anxiety, and “the unknown” along with “uncontrollable new situations” are a few of my triggers. Therefore, just like that, what you think would be so easy for me, turned into a nightmare of panic and worry. Living with anxiety during a pandemic isn’t easy.

Recognizing Anxiety

At first, I let my anxiety take control. I worried about possibly catching COVID-19 and thought of how bad it could be for me since I have asthma. Then I became worried about my family especially my six-year-old daughter. I watched and read countless news reports and soon the worry turned into fear. I was cleaning and disinfecting my home all the time. A sneeze or a cough from clearing my throat made me worry. Soon I began to have small bouts of insomnia. I would catch myself clenching my jaw and on bad days my leg or arm would feel numb.

Fortunately, I quickly recognized what was happening was anxiety. Knowing what I was feeling and why I was feeling this way, was key for me. This helped me as I set on a quest to not let living with anxiety control or consume me.

Finding Strength

The first thing I had to accept, was that some things are truly out of our control and that is OK. I had to get back in control of my thoughts and provide myself with positive affirmations. Understanding that it is OK to have a little anxiety during this time. Most people are feeling a little anxious, but being controlled by fear wasn’t OK for me. I had to learn to step away from the news, updates, press conferences, and even social media. I put limits on how much I looked at coverage of the pandemic.

Once I began to think positively, I naturally began to look at things differently. This time became my free time with my family that I probably wouldn’t even get on a vacation. It was time for me to focus on things I never had the time to. I caught up with my cross-country family, spoke to friends that I have spoken to in a while. I had quality time with my husband and daughter and just like that, having to stay at home felt more like fun.

Sure, I still have anxious moments now and then. Once I realize it’s anxiety, I quickly begin to do something to relieve it. I exercise, I look around the room I’m in and notice all the colors, the shapes and take a deep breath in and a deep breath out. Sometimes it’s helpful to go outside in my backyard and let the sun hit my face or feel a chilly breeze. I do what I can to live with anxiety and not be controlled by anxiety during the times we are in.

 

Introducing DC Area Mom Collective!

We started DC Area Moms Blog with a heart for Washington, DC and the moms who live here. Two years in and that is still our passion. Our mission is to create an inclusive, encouraging space for motherhood in our Nation’s Capitol. Our site has been updated with a fresh look and new name that fits better with what we do. We are a group of moms who collectively write for the site, collectively host and attend events, collectively engage and message on social media, and collectively spur one another on in motherhood. We are now DC Area Mom Collective!

Our real life stories, parenting perspectives, and fun ideas are written FOR DC area moms, BY DC area moms. We offer relevant resources to help make life a little easier so you have more time to enjoy your family. We host events so we can gather together, meet new mom friends, and simply have fun!

Why do we write articles, create useable, valuable resources, and host fun events? For you! We are here to serve YOU! We know all of us moms could use a pat on the back and a friend to say “you are doing great, Mama!”. You see, our articles are meant to be more than just written words. We want to inspire and encourage you on your motherhood journey! It takes a village and we strive to be that village.

We know this is a hard time with COVID-19. We feel it too and are right there with you schooling at home and trying to keep life afloat. But even with this pandemic and social distancing, we need one another. We hope that you find encouragement and resources on our site that help make your days more fun and life a little easier.

We are so thankful to be linking arms with so many amazing women in the DMV. Thank you for being a part of our community! We strive to inspire you, but know that you inspire us too! Always feel free to message us. It makes us happy to hear from you. If you haven’t already, please join our newsletter to stay in the know, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for articles and fun giveaways, and join our newly formed Facebook groups!

Sincerely,

Courtney

Kids Craft Idea: How to Build a Cardboard City from Recyclables

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Now more than ever, I am looking for kids craft ideas that are 1) not overly complicated, 2) require no special materials, and 3) will keep my child entertained for a decent amount of time. Building a Cardboard City checked all of those boxes (pun intended!)!! This craft is both fun to assemble AND fun to play with afterward.

Let’s Make It! Build a Cardboard City

Does anyone else out there have a ton of cardboard boxes at home right now? Let’s put those empty Amazon and Target boxes to good use! Read on to see what other supplies you can use for this kids’ craft project.

Supplies from Your Recycling Bin:

  • one large flat piece of cardboard for the base
  • small boxes/cardboard milk containers of various shapes and sizes
  • empty toilet paper and paper towel tubes
  • egg cartons
  • additional cardboard of any size for cutting out shapes
  • empty drink cans

Supplies from Your Crafting Bin:

  • crayons, markers, or paints
  • pipe cleaners
  • pom pom balls
  • colored noodles
  • beads
  • scissors and glue

One thing I love about this craft is that the supplies list is really just a recommendation. Let your imagination run wild here! Don’t have one of the supplies listed? Brainstorm with your child about a good substitute. Need to restock your crafting supplies? Don’t forget to check out my post 10 Essential Kids Craft Supplies for a few of the items that we ALWAYS have on hand!

Kids Craft Directions:

Step 1: Create the base.

You will need one large flat piece of cardboard to act as your base. We deconstructed a medium-sized box, but feel free to go bigger for older kids or smaller for younger kids!

Step 2: Think about the layout.

Grab small boxes that can become “buildings.” Step 2 is all about city planning. Where should buildings be placed? Once decided, glue the buildings to the cardboard base.

Step 3: Add architectural detail.

Use additional materials to add architectural detail to the buildings. We had a lot of fun cutting up empty egg carton crates, which made the detail at the top of this building (pictured below). I also cut out cardboard squares for my son to glue on to give this building windows. Two rectangular pieces of cardboard made great doors and two wooden beads became doorknobs!

Step 4: Make room for vehicles.

Use crayons, markers, or paints to create the city’s roads and parking lots.

Step 5: Create some green space!

My son decided that our city would also benefit from a few parks. These are super fun to create! For instance, reimagine empty toilet paper tube rolls as tree trunks with pipe cleaner branches. Cut small slits into the rolls to secure the pipe cleaner ends. Additionally, green pom-poms make perfect bushes. Glue them around the bases of your trees.

After that, my son decided that our park could benefit from a fountain! First, he grabbed a clear plastic cup and filled it with scrunched up blue and white tissue paper (see image below). Then, we added blue pipe cleaners to create the fountain spray. Finally, we made two park benches by cutting out the rim of a plastic cup (about 2-3 inches wide). These rounded semicircular pieces made perfect benches when glued down to our cardboard.

Kids Craft Tip:

As you work on this project, it’s fun to ask if there are different ways to make the same things. For example, is there more than one way to make a “tree?” We made a second kind of tree out of an aluminum drinking can (see image below). In this instance, a section of egg carton glued on top becomes the perfect base for green macaroni noodle leaves.

Step 6: Playtime!!

Have your child grab all of their toy vehicles and toy figures. Who is visiting the city today? Is there heavy traffic? What happens inside each of the buildings? Are people enjoying the parks? The possibilities are endless in a busy city!

If you are looking for MORE exciting activities to try with your kids, don’t forget to check out these additional fantastic ideas:

When DC Isn’t Your Forever Home: How to Settle in

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DC draws people in from all around the country for various reasons. Some who land here will call it their forever home and decide to settle down. Others might know (or question) that this is not their permanent home and have plans to eventually move elsewhere. For those that know DC is not their forever home, how do you settle down and make the best of the time you have here?

Investing when you know you may likely be moving on is difficult. As a parent, you may also have less emotional energy (and time) to meet new people and get to know your community. If you know you are potentially leaving, it can feel like you are putting forth a lot of effort when you are eventually going to say goodbye and start over anyhow. 

So what do you do if you think (or know) that DC is not forever home? What do you invest in?

I’ve chosen to invest myself fully in the community while I’m here. Why? I’ve moved plenty, most recently from San Diego to DC, and this will likely not be my last move. The odds are that we will not call DC our forever home. Ultimately from moving, I know that goodbyes hurt, that it’s hard to build community and then leave it. But I also know that not having a community is significantly more painful and difficult. Now as a mother, I need community, even more, especially mom friends in order to survive parenthood.  

So what steps do you take to settle into DC for a short time? What does that look like?

First, it’s important to change your mindset.

Don’t overthink settling into DC, and don’t let that this isn’t your forever home prevent you from enjoying your time here and getting to know the city. You can almost consider yourself a tourist—here to see and experience everything DC has to offer while you are here. Make a list of all the activities you’d like to do while here and make a point each weekend to cross something off. 

On our site, we have tons of information to get you started on exploring the DC Area. Every month DC Area Moms Blog has a monthly events calendar. Additionally, we have numerous guides on topics such as the Monuments and Memorials, Museums and Galleries, Playgrounds, and Spray, Splash, and Water Parks (just to name a few!). 

Next, get plugged in right away.

Figure out what is going on in your neighborhood. Is there a neighborhood listserv? What resources do families use to find out information? What family-geared activities are going on at your library or community center? Introduce yourself to the neighbors and ask questions. 

Lastly, make a move to make friends.

Be the one to start the conversation with other moms and parents. Ask for a number—or give your number. What you do and say is simple—it’s just getting over of the awkwardness to step up and be the one that reaches out. Invite someone over for a playdate or dinner. Everyone can use a new friend and it may surprise you how lasting the friendships you form can be even after you move away.

DC Area Moms Blog does events that provide a great opportunity for you to meet other moms. Read about our Spa and Shop Day event, and subscribe to our newsletter (or follow us on Facebook) to hear about future mom meetups.

When you are in a city that isn’t your forever home, the default is to hesitate to invest in your community; counterbalance this with taking action. However long you are here, there is a lot to gain from being in a new city. And what you gain, when you decide to build community and fully invest, will greatly outweigh the difficulty of leaving it all behind. And when you do find your forever home? Well, you’ll know how to get out there and build a community! 

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