Helping your child learn to express their emotions

As adults, we often forget that children don’t naturally know how to express their emotions. Why is this important? When your child can identify emotions, they are more likely to be empathetic towards others, have self awareness, and manage their emotions in an appropriate expressive way. These are skills that are so important to instill in our children, especially during these times in the world.

I’m going to share with you a few tips for helping your child express emotions. These help ALL children, from the non-verbal, to the easily frustrated, to the ones with strong verbal skills.

Model by giving them examples. Your child looks to you to see how you handle and react to situations. I try my best to be mindful but I can tell you, I have handled certain situations in ways I’m not proud of -but it’s also a great lesson to teach your kids. Admit to your kids when you’re wrong and when you’ve made a mistake because it’s real and it happens. Guide them early on so that when they make mistakes (like we ALL do) they learn how to handle them in a healthy way.

Here are a few examples of daily modeling:

“I spilled milk but it’s okay, I can clean it up” 

“It makes me so happy when we take turns”  

” Oh no! All the cookies are gone and that makes me sad” (true story) 

Listen AND help identify their feelings and others.  At times, your child may not have any idea how to express their feelings in words and so it’s important to help them identify the feeling. “You seem angry, you are crossing your arms and stomping your feet. It looks like you are angry because you didn’t get to be first in line” or “You are smiling, are you happy to see grandma?” or “I understand that you are sad because it’s time to go home and you were having so much fun”. If you did not see the occurrence, try your best to help your child identify why they are feeling the way they are. Also, help your child identify the feelings of other children “Molly fell, how do you think she feels?” “What can we do to help her feel better?”.

Books. Books are just so amazing! Aside from learning language and vocabulary, use books to help you facilitate different issues/situations. The visuals and discrete lessons that don’t come directly from you is a fantastic way to start a conversation/ask questions. For example, if your child has difficulty sharing or making friends or taking turns, there are several books that you can search that cover these topics (spoiler alert: I will be starting a book topic series- more details to come soon)

DO NOT PASS JUDGEMENT! It is so important to always validate a child’s feelings. Do not ever call your child a cry baby or tell them their feelings are wrong or to “get over it”. Does it feel good when someone dismisses your feelings?? No. For children, it crushes their spirits and makes them feel unimportant.

Encourage your child with lots of love. Remember that your child is learning. Get down to your child’s eye level to listen and talk with them especially when the situation gets hairy. Most importantly, give them comforting hugs and reassurance.

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Mother’s Day Giveaway to Bloom!

I am so excited to giveaway a ticket to BLOOM! This one is very special AND for you locals!

The Raleigh Moms Blog is hosting BLOOM, an amazing event for triangle-area new, expecting, adoptive, & foster moms or women planning on growing their family soon on Saturday, May 20th from 1-3pm at The Bridge Club, A venue from the award winning Chef Ashley Christiansen.

 Bloom guests will:

  • Sample crave-worthy small bites
  • Enjoy a mocktail
  • Mingle and listen to a panel of local baby and birthing experts from Baby+Company and WakeMed Hospitals
  • Meet a family chiropractic care group, lactation consultants, nutritionists and more.
  • Enjoy a Mommy-in-chair massage from Skin Sense Spa sponsored by WakeMed Hospitals
  • Explore cloth diapering
  • Explore baby wearing from BuyBuy Baby
  • Have complimentary Baby Bump and Mommy and Me photos taken
  • Receive a Baby Swag Bag filled with great items for mom and baby
  • Enter to win big Grand Prize Giveaways + a Push Present Giveaway

Tickets are $30, for purchase on Bloom Eventbrite Page but entering the giveaway gives you a chance to win a ticket! wohooo! 

Here’s how to enter the BLOOM ticket giveaway:

 *You must be able local or able to attend in Raleigh, NC*

  • Subscribe to my newsletter, right here on the blog!
  • Follow my instagram page @theminimama
  • Go to my giveaway post on instagram and Tag 3 friends (in separate comments) that you would love to share my blog with and let me know you have done all steps!
  • Mail me a box of cookies! Jk! If you’ve completed the first three steps then you’re all set but if you do decide to mail me cookies, you’ll have a new bff! 🙂

Winner will be announced on Thursday, May 11th and will be chosen at random, Good Luck!! 

For more details on BLOOM, visit Raleigh Moms

Surviving your first day back to work after maternity leave

I think I cried for two weeks on and off before my first day back to work. The mere thought of leaving my baby for a full work day gave me extreme anxiety! I’ll never forget the last bedtime before my first day of work, talk about a river of heartbroken tears!!!!! It was SO hard but the light at the end is that it DOES get a little better as you adjust to your new normal, again. I am so thankful that I had the first three months to myself with Louie because I took advantage of every possible moment to form a strong bond with him. I would have preferred for it to be longer, but let’s not get started on how ridiculously heinous the maternity leave situation is here in the United States of America! I know we could all be here for days!@!&%$^!

I digress…

So, here are some things that helped me survive that first day back to work:

Surround yourself in the love of your support group–girlfriends, spouse, neighbor, family, whoever they are. They will be sure to cheer you on during this transition, especially if they’ve been through it too!

Wear waterproof mascara. You may think of your baby often and randomly start to cry while reading your emails, but just a ::WARNING:: All of your extremely sweet, loving, caring, coworkers are going to ask about your baby and how your day is so far, etc. this might make you cry and then ironically help you become even stronger since you will have repeated it several times. Either way, aren’t you so lucky to have people care about you!

Pictures and videos of your little one/s. Look at these often (because you know you have 46788 in your phone already). I still do this -every. single. day.- and now I smile instead of cry.

A Calendar. Look forward to a long weekend, a spring break, or whatever holiday is near. Cross those days off for the countdown!! THIS helped me so much! I went back to work December 1st and one of the things that kept me going was to look forward to my 10 day Holiday Break.

A box of tissues 🙂

• If you wish to pump, don’t forget to pack your pump bag! For those that may not be aware,  “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” is a law that requires employers to provide you time and a quiet place for pumping. Click on the link to read more.

Your favorite lunch and beverage 

Treat yourself: get yourself a cookie or your favorite Starbucks drink whatever it is that floats your boat! You did it!!!! You made it through the day and that makes you amazing and you totally deserve this!!!!!

The guilt will be there but be gentle with yourself. A very supportive friend once told me, “You are a working mom in order to give your baby all that he needs.” It was a sentiment that helped me (and continues to help me) get through rough days.

How did you survive your first day? Share your tips with us in the comments!

How to begin early learning with your newborn through play


As we got closer to Louie’s arrival, I knew I  wanted to have some strategies on hand so that I could start “playtime” with him shortly after arriving home from the hospital. I was also super excited to be able to play and bond with MY own baby!!!! When I worked as a Developmental Therapist, I became even more aware of the importance of early learning – beginning with newborns. Some people find it silly that one would think to do anything with newborns other than to feed and let them sleep. The truth is, they need to be engaged in their physical, social, emotional.

I did my research about play with newborns and I found a lot of 0-3 activities and that was great but I really was looking for specifically brand spanking new baby play ideas…like, just brought you home ideas. 

I already had most of the materials/items at home (or from my registry) and if I didn’t, I tried to make them #savingmoneyfordiapers. You can do these in the smallest spurts of time throughout the day. As your baby grows, these can be modified (that’s a different post).

I began introducing these activities during Louie’s first two weeks of life. Here’s how and why: 

Read: READ READ READ!!!! If you aren’t able to do anything at all, just make sure you read story books to your baby every day ! Believe it or not, reading books to newborns promotes and prepares them for learning, thinking, and language. Studies have shown that when a child is read to as a newborn, they gain a larger vocabulary. Aside from that, it helps your baby learn to distinguish rhythms, tones and even emotions! It’s also a wonderful opportunity to bond with your baby and establish routines. Showing your child to have a love for books is investing in the education and future of your child. I can just go on and on and on about the benefits! 🙂 There are so many great books out there, these are some of the ones we love reading to Louie: It’s Okay To Be DifferentLove From the Very Hungry CaterpillarIf I were a Penguin.

Black & White books/Cards: One of the best ways to stimulate your baby visually is through black and white pictures. Their vision is limited and they can only see from a short distance (10-15 in) and they can’t see color either. Seeing black and white not only helps strengthen their vision but also allows them to be a part of and discover their brand new world. Put them near the changing table, prop them up on either side of baby during tummy time, or take a look together while just hanging out. I made black and white cards for Louie while I was pregnant because I was feeling artsy, but not so artsy because I used google to help me with image ideas but if you’re not down for that, check out these  A-DOR-ABLE cards! In case you need ideas, here are some great black and white books: Hello Baby, Baby Animals Black and WhiteCloth Book.

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Tummy time: This may sound surprising but it’s true, you can start tummy time as early as your baby’s first days of life. At this stage, while your baby is awake, you can practice putting him/her on their tummy for 30-60 second spurts. Try putting an enticing toy or picture on either side of them to capture their attention. If your baby does not enjoy it then start very small and then build your way up and make sure you give them lots of breaks in between. Tummy time strengthens your baby’s motor skills and strengthens all the core muscles in their body that will later prepare them with: rolling, sitting, crawling, standing, walking, running. Also, tummy time isn’t just limited to lying on the floor. It can be on your chest, on an exercise ball, and so much more. Check out OT Mama’s 7 tips for making tummy time less miserable.

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Louie was just days old in these pictures! He was SO LITTLE!!

Talking/Singing: Talking and Singing with your newborn not only expands their idea of communication and vocabulary, it also helps build healthy relationships and social skills by showing them to listen, play and that it’s okay to be silly. Making eye contact while talking to your baby shows them that you are listening and engaging. I talk to Louie all day, I make sure to tell him what is happening in the moment and what happens next “I’m going to change your diaper and then get you ready to go to target” (the best store in all the land).  I also sing Old MacDonald way too much but he just loves those animal sounds and we get very silly! Find songs you feel comfortable with singing, I do slip in JT songs from time to time! Just know you will look silly but it’s okay, your sweet baby will not look at you with judgey eyes…they only have hearts for you! If you don’t know any songs, youtube is a great place to start searching.

Mirror: Mirrors help your baby focus and learn to track images. They also trick them into staying in tummy time just for a little longer (don’t tell Louie!). Seriously, they have so much fun looking into their reflection! We used a regular full length mirror and laid it horizontally and we also have this cute one  in our family room.

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Mobile: Mobile’s are extremely interesting for newborns, they look at the way it moves and sometimes will try to reach for it. It was so neat to see Louie engaged in the visual stimulation from the mobile. I used this  black and white mobile that I received from my registry and also a simple cloud mobile for over his crib. I went with neutral colors because I didn’t want to overstimulate him with a ton of color – this was just my preference. I am a huge believer in creating soothing, yet fun spaces.  I did plan to make different mobiles to switch out but I still haven’t gotten there yet (this may be a future DIY)

Please remember, I had no idea I would start a blog so these pictures are real, unplanned, and in the moment. I hope someone finds this helpful!! Thanks for reading!