What is the educator’s role in supporting play in the early childhood classroom?read more
How Does The Mommy Overwhelm Start?
Picture it – one of those mornings where you are already waking up late, rushing to get everyone where they need to be, not even taking a minute to look yourself over in the mirror, getting everyone fed, forgetting yourself, picking away at the chores that never get done, answering to the calls of “Mommy” on repeat while attempting to keep the smile on your face believable. Then something bigger happens, maybe a skinned knee or a tired toddler begging for another episode of Paw Patrol, a missing teddy, or lost homework, and your heart just pounds. Running off to the bathroom for a quick pee leads to banging on the door from a search party noticing you have personal space, and you look in the mirror and see it. You are exhausted and that top knot from yesterday isn’t fooling anyone. You. Need. A. Minute.
Keep reading for The Best Tip When You Need A Moment Away From Being Mommy
A Brilliant Idea For “Alone Time”
When I was a teacher in my 20’s, I had more energy then I can even imagine now. Where did that all go? I would pay a small fortune to have a bottle of that energy now. I bounced into the room with the optimism of the Blue Fairy, seeing everyone’s hopes and dreams come true all around me, watching these little beings transform over the school year. I loved it!
Every now and then I would have a special guest come into the class to share a story or teach the children something exciting, or even to put on a show. It was great. The idea was that the kids could hear a different voice for a few minutes and I could run to the bathroom or mark a few assignments. But you know what? I never wanted to miss a moment. I often stayed in the room to observe and work quietly in the corner, soaking in the joy and excitement the children felt. To be respectful of the guest to our class, and to allow for me to be efficient in my “free time” I came up with a brilliant idea. I crowned myself “Queen Invisible”. While I had my crown on the children “couldn’t see me, hear me or talk to me” unless it was an emergency of course. With the crown on, I wasn’t in the room to them. This took a few attempt to get used to but it worked brilliantly. Whenever I dawned the crown I was invisible.
What Mom Life Really Looks Like
That little vision above, with the running late and the banging on the bathroom door, that’s pretty much my reality. And I know I’m not alone there; hiding in the bathroom for a moment of peace. I think I actually hid a donut under my shirt, went to the bathroom and then ate it in silence in there earlier this week. That’s not true. I KNOW I did that. I. Needed. A. Minute.
Inspiration for Greatness from the Strangest Places
I was sitting on the side of the tub, eating this fantastic donut when I looked on the floor to find a discarded and dirty princess dress. We had been playing in the yard, making dough (click here for amazing outdoor play ideas), while dressed as princesses, because why not? We had come inside to clean hands and change clothes and the princess dress hadn’t yet found it’s way to be laundered… oh great, another thing for my to-do list today… and it hit me! I could be Queen!
Real Life Mom Hustle
Wiping the crumbs from my face, looking in the mirror at my top knot gone wild, yesterday’s mascara and who knows what day’s shirt, I thought, “This is perfect! I am Queen!” A former version of myself might have thought a few negative phrases about what I saw in my reflection, but not this girl. I’ve been working on my self talk (freebie below) and getting my priorities straight… hard to imagine when moments before I was inhaling a donut, but small steps to success still make the journey, and I was on my way to royalty!
After all signs of the donut were gone, I burst out of the bathroom (my hiding place, choosing to look beyond the irony of the whole “throne” bit) I strutted myself over to our dramatic play area and dug out a crown. I didn’t need a ceremony, this moment was perfect. Crown now on my head, I walked over to my chair and sat down.
There’s Something Different About Mommy
This was the sign to my daughter that something was up. I never sit down. In a chair. I sit on the floor crosslegged with her, I sit on the side of the tub while she sings on the potty, I sit in the grass and become a human bubble machine. I sit on the carpet and read stories on demand, sing songs, count and create all day long. But I rarely sit on a chair. Things were about to change.
“Mommy?” My first thought – she busted me. There could be chocolate crumbs on my shirt. No, it’s the crown. And the sitting. It’s all good.
“You’re playing princess?” I take off the crown and hold it on my lap.
“No honey, I am the Queen. When I wear the crown I become Queen Invisible and no one can see me.”
Silence. And staring.
“Sometimes Mommies need a minute to just be the Queen and do nothing else. When I am Queen Invisible I love you and am here and listening, watching for if you need me, but you can’t see me listing and watching because I am invisible. If there is an emergency, I can stop being the Queen, but for the next few minutes, I’m going to put this crown on my head and you won’t be able to hear me or see me, okay?”
“Okay.” I put the crown on.
Purposefully made with calming colors to prevent distraction and provide a focused space for learning through play with a parent or teacher,
The Love of Learning Binder can be used in a homeschool setting, preschool, or as a daily part of a momma life with little ones at home and makes a wonderful quiet time activity so you can get to business on your own goals.
Here for you, Momma!
63 Amazing Outdoor Messy Play Ideas for Your Children to Enjoy
Progress, Not Perfection
I do this for two minutes, which feels like an hour to both of us. The next day, I did it for 5, and then yesterday I did it for 10 minutes. I didn’t really need the minutes the second and third day but I wanted to see if I could make this work as easily as I did with my class years before. It was harder now. My heart was in a different place. I loved my entire class so much but there’s something different about your own children looking up at you with those eyes…
Each day I tried this I started by sitting down with the crown and explaining what I had the first time. At one point or another I did get questions, poked and prodded, pulled on and hugged (the toughest of them all). And each time (unless there were tears nearing) I smiled and continued to sit with my crown on. After the time was up I would take it off and repeat my explanation. Today – Day 4. Magic. I went through my explanation and reminded Little Bee that I loved her even when I was invisible. That I was able to become visible again if she needed me but that during this time, and she could play on her own until I took off my crown. And it worked!
Taking Charge of Body, Time and Worth as Mommy
I will do this again for the next few days, and then lengthen out the time between doing it longer and longer until I’m only doing it when I need or want to, no matter how frequent or infrequent this may be. For now, I am using this as my time to drink my coffee, warm as it was designed to be enjoyed, in my chair with my entire body to myself. Shocker of a revelation: coffee is so much better when it’s hot and fresh. Warming it up in the microwave four times each day does not make it better. I’m worth a hot cup of coffee.
Taking on Mom Guilt
Being a mom is a tough gig. Some days more than others. But it’s okay to take a few minutes of alone time to refocus and just be you again. Explaining this to our little ones, why it is important to you, also sends them the message as to why their own space is important to them (I talk about consent in this post). Having these moments helps me mother better and allows me to watch my child play without being distracted by something else. Making a habit of doing this now and then reminds both my daughter and myself that we are worth the time to stop and just be “invisible” when we choose to, while being fully there. More importantly, we can choose to be Queen, to take control of the situation and to express needs without shame or guilt.
Learning Through Play As Mommy – Why “Me Time” Is Important
I don’t need to pretend to play this game with Little Bee. I made a decision to be a mother and to do it as well as I can everyday. Some days I do this with pride and would shout from the rooftops of all the amazing things we did. Other days I feel I just couldn’t be the mother I dreamed I would be, serving chicken fingers and goldfish crackers and raisins from a tiny box to make it through. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t a great mom that day – she was fed, loved and avoided most injuries. That’s what Band-Aids are for, right?! Being a mom is a lot of routine, but it’s also a lot of challenge in keeping up with the constant changes our amazing children throw at us. What is important is that I do my best in that day. We read, we sing, we dance, and usually she takes the lead in the game. But I can design the play too. Play doesn’t have to stop because we have “grown up” and we are Moms. It’s just as important now as ever; learning through play never stops.
Lessons for Both of Us
When I play Invisible Queen, both Little Bee and I are learning so much and sitting in my chair, drinking my hot coffee, crown on my head, watching my daughter play quietly, isn’t a bad way to start the day – it’s way better than on the side of the tub with the donut. It’s a great message for the both of us. I’m worth the time, and so is she. I’m the Queen and she is my Princess. We both deserve the best we can both give to each day, within each day. Sometimes that means just making it through and other days it means magical moments. No matter what day we are having, we both deserve to be appreciated, noticed, and given what we need. We both deserve to play.
What do you do when you need to step away from being “Mom” for a moment – I’d love to hear how you take your “Me Time” when you can’t quite get away?
Mommy Mantra Printable
Being a Mommy is tough sometimes and the self talk we express to ourselves each day is so important! I created this printable for you to print out and post somewhere that you will see it and say it to yourself daily!
You’ve got this, Momma!
Creating meaningful learning in early childhood education doesn’t have to be overwhelming and complicated. You don’t need the newest toys, you don’t need to spend a small fortune changing your playroom into dramatic play environments that are worthy of Pinterest or Instagram. You just have to trust in the learning that comes from play, with the child in the lead.read more
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