Categories
Supermoms in the Spotlight

5 Best Board Games to Trick Your Kids Into Learning while Playing

These days, most kids are heavily into video games and apps, but there is much to be said for a good old fashioned board game. No matter how old your kids are, sitting down for some dedicated time together will thrill them (even if they won’t admit it). Most Americans tend to stick to the classics we know like Monopoly, Battleship, Chess, and Trivial Pursuit, but there are many exciting new board games out there that can liven up family game night!

Here is my list of the 5 Best Board Games.

At our house, we dedicate two to three hours of every Saturday night to family game night and try to never play the same game two weekends in a row. This keeps the kids (and us) from getting bored and gives everyone a chance at winning since most of us have expertise in different types of games. Here’s a look at five of the best board games we’ve made part of our family game nights that offer the added benefit of tricking our kids into a little learning while we’re having fun playing together.

These tabletop games are fun for both adults and kids in the elementary to middle school age brackets.

Apples to Apples

This game doesn’t have a board, just cards. It comes in both junior and regular versions. This was a game our youngest son introduced us to after playing it at school. It’s a comparison game (thus the name) that expands the vocabulary, encourages critical thinking and usually provokes serious belly laughs.

You take turns judging by selecting a green apple theme card that usually contains a one word descriptive like “adorable.” The other players each choose a red apple card they think best matches the theme. Red apple cards played might include “Koala bear” or “Hello Kitty.” You can also go for something funny like “Arnold Schwarzenegger.”

This game never gets boring and when your kids come across people, places, pop culture references or words they’re not familiar with, offering a quick explanation enriches their knowledge base and teaches new vocabulary. The grown up version is great for kids 10 and up and the junior version for grades 2-4. No matter the version, it’s a good time for kids and parents alike.

Settlers of Catan

This game is an award-winner created in Germany where tabletop gaming is a passionate pastime. It’s appropriate for ages nine and up and combines the appeal of Risk without the frustration of being wiped off the board by aggressive opponents. Settlers of Catan teaches strategy and cooperative bargaining because this is a game where you have to trade to succeed.

settlers of catan

The hex shaped board game offers spaces that provide you with resources including brick, ore, wheat, sheep and wood. You use these resources to expand your holdings by building settlements, roads and upgrading to cities. Because you start out with limited resources, you must bargain and trade with other players to progress. This requires you to be both cooperative and competitive.

This one is a big hit in our household and has spread like a virus to our friends and family who’ve played it at our house. Once you master the basic game, you can try expansion kits that add fishing and seafaring into the mix. Other exciting versions of Catan include Traders & Barbarians, Explorers & Pirates and historical versions like Ancient Egypt or Greece.

Rory’s Story Cubes

This tiny game has won big accolades including Child Magazine’s Seal of Excellence, Best Game at the Independent Toy Awards, Dr Toy Best Game and Educational Toy of the Year. One of the best things about Rory’s Story Cubes is that the game fits in the palm of your hand so it’s great to take on trips or to a restaurant so that family game night can travel with you wherever you go.

Each tiny boxed set version comes with nine “dice” with images instead of pips. This gives you 54 options to spark the imagination. You roll the dice then create a short story of a few sentences that must include every element. The basic set features story prompts such as a cell phone, house, bee, pyramid, sheep, fish and an eye. What’s also fun is that there is no winner. It’s a just-for-the-fun-of-it game.

As you and your kids create stories to fit the images, you stretch your imagination and strengthen reasoning and logic skills. Other versions include Voyages and Actions. Mix and match sets to make the game more challenging. It can be played anywhere: in the car, on a table, even on a plane. I keep a set in my purse so if we get stuck somewhere, we can kill time when our devices are dead or there’s no WiFi.

UpWords

Scrabble is fun enough, but UpWords is more engaging because it literally takes it to a new level. It’s also played on a grid with letter tiles and game time runs from 40-90 minutes depending on number of players and skill level. Everyone gets seven tiles and the first player has to play a word that includes the center square on the board (like Scrabble also requires).

upwords gameFrom there, it gets crazy. You can either lay down a new word that crosses an existing word or build on top of someone else’s word. For instance, if someone plays the word “games” you can replace the G with a T to make “tames.” That’s a simple instance that younger kids are likely to play. Older tween players will explore more sophisticated options that allow them to replace several letters.

One letter of the prior word must be left uncovered. For instance “cater” can be turned into “laser” with an L and an S. UpWords helps to expand vocabulary and encourage language development. It also tickles your brain by adding spatial thinking to a language skill which doubly stimulates your cranium. Another plus is that the plastic tiles hold firm so a table jostle won’t send your words skittering.

Establishing (and sticking to) a family game night while your kids are younger can become a family tradition that will keep you in tight with your offspring even when they’re spreading their wings. These games range in price from $10 for Rory’s Story Cubes up to about $35 for Settlers of Catan. We expand our library by three or four games a year to keep things fresh, try new games and appeal to everyone’s interests.

Monopoly

The board game classic comes in both junior and big kid/adult versions as well as a wide array of interesting custom versions including Disney, Marvel Comics and Dot Com (properties are famous websites). We prefer the classic good-old Atlantic city version for our game nights. Monopoly is a fun way to reinforce counting and math skills, strategy and patience.

You may remember as a child that a multi-player Monopoly game could monopolize your whole day so when we break this one out, we decide ahead of time how long we’ll play and set a timer. The person with the highest net worth at the designated stopping point takes the win. And because this game comes with so many little pieces, we established a “winner cleans up” rule to make sure parts don’t get lost.

One version of Monopoly I don’t recommend is the Electronic Banking iteration. This one doesn’t use cash and instead has a credit card type device where you swipe your card to pay bills and collect rent. This is a lazy version that strips away the educational value of handling the faux currency and teaches kids that swiping plastic is the way to pay for everything.

Are your kids into board games? Camps like The Game Academy, Active Learning, and It’s Your Move Games allow campers the chance to do what they love all summer long!

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Supermoms in the Spotlight

Celebrate Mom: 7 Ways to Make Every Day Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day: The one day a year to appreciate the person who appreciates everyone every single day.

We cook, we clean, we chauffeur, we don’t complain, we just do it.

Because we’re mom. 

Make Mother's Day Every Day
photo by Flickr user relentlesstoil

So guess what all you Super Moms out there? I’m telling you that you need to celebrate yourself every single day.

Nothing melts my heart like a macaroni art project or an unexpected drooly kiss from a blissful toddler, but there are some thing we just need to do for ourselves. To keep ourselves sane and happy.

Happy Mom = Happy Kids.

So take time to make yourself happy. You deserve it.

Learn Something New

We teach our children every day. How to draw an airplane, how to sit on the potty, and eventually how to read, write, and fill out college applications.

We teach so much that we forget to learn ourselves.

Something small like a yoga class keeps the mind fresh and the spirit rejuvenated. Bigger commitments like cooking classes or a book club can bring a whole new passion into your life.

Meditate

Yes, meditate. It’s not as complex as you think.

At any given time, the mind of a Mom contains 5 social security numbers, the price of bananas at Trader Joe’s, how long her son has had that rash on his knee, and her mother-in-law’s birthday among many other thoughts.

It’s amazing how much a quiet mind for even a short period of time can do for your health.

Ask for Help

Every Mom wants to be a Super Mom. The fact of the matter is that there would have to be about 10 extra hours in a day for me to get everything done that I set out to do and get a decent amount of sleep.

Don’t look at asking for help as a weakness.

Read a Book

Correction: Read a book that isn’t filled with brightly colored pop-up images and filled with cutesy rhymes.

As an English major, I fell out of love with reading when I didn’t have the time to read what I wanted. I finally found my passion again years later when I had the time to pick up the Harry Potter series.

A good book does wonders for the soul.

Stay in Touch

A good woman is surrounded by good friends. Female friends offer such a positive platform for support.

It’s easy to lose touch in demands of a family, but try your best to keep in touch. Just remember that in order to have good friends, you have to be a good friend.

It’s important to remember who you are besides being Mom.

Feel Good

I don’t know about you, but when I feel good about myself, everything else just seems to fall into place. Living a healthy and active lifestyle sets a positive example for your children and your family.

Take care of yourself and life will take care of you.

Treat Yourself

As much as I love a good pedicure, the schedule and the budget don’t always allow for it.

Pampering yourself doesn’t have to be elegant and expensive.

Light some candles, take a long bath, have a glass of wine, unwind.

 

A mother whose love for her family could lasso the moon deserves the same in return.

It’s difficult for a person to show love to others when they don’t show love to themselves. Take the time to be sure that you’re giving yourself the love and appreciation that you deserve.

 

Written by Sarah Antrim

Categories
Contests Supermoms in the Spotlight

The Finalists of Our Next Top Mom Blogs Contest! Are You on Here?

top mom blogs
Photo by Flickr user tausen

We’ve been keeping our search for the next wave of top mom blogs highly under wraps since our initial announcement.

Check it out again if you missed it, but here’s the gist.

We’re looking to highlight bloggers with:

  • voice
  • something valuable to say
  • that certain something that makes you spend hours lost in their archives
  • sites that are new or still under the radar of the big awards

The Nominees

We asked our readers and we asked some of the mom bloggers that we admire. (lots of links)
And we got great feedback!

Naturally, not everyone can will, but we’ve narrowed the field down to ten finalists.

Tomorrow, we’ll reveal the winners!

So if you had something to add…”speak now or forever hold your peace”…I mean, we would love to hear it!

Drumroll please…..

The Finalists

In no particular order. Of course!

  1. But I Do Have a Law Degree
  2. The Naptown Organizer
  3. Let Why Lead
  4. Lil Kids Things
  5. Seven Seas of Rhye
  6. Expatria Baby
  7. Five Kids is a Lot of Kids
  8. By Any Other Name
  9. Life in Pint-Sized Form (Not exactly a mom, but a provider of excellent parenting insights.)
  10. Jason Good (Yes, he’s also not a mom. But he blogs about parenting. And he’s amazing.)

What do you think? Is there someone on here that you just love? A blogger that you know could really use and benefit from this boost?

Categories
Supermoms in the Spotlight

Summer Camp Diaries — Spotlight Blogger Shawn L. Fink of Awesomely Awake

Here at ActivityHero, we believe that kids’ activities including camps and classes help kids to grow, learn, and discover new passions and interests.

We interviewed inspirational writer Shawn L. Fink of Awesomely Awake about her favorite childhood memories from summer camp and what she looks for in a camp for her own kids.

What is your favorite memory of camp from childhood?

I attended 4-H camp as a girl and my favorite memory of that time was sitting around a ginormous camp fire singing songs, chanting and enjoying a traditional American Indian campfire ritual — with a modern spin, of course.

How did that camp help make you who you are today?

From the age of 8 through high school, I happily boarded a bus to go away to summer camp for a week. The only time I cried was when it was time to come home. Camp taught me a fierce level of independence. Or, perhaps I was born with that and camp only supported that personality trait. Camp gave me best friendships that have lasted a lifetime. Camp gave me confidence, originality and a respect for people I would not ever have met otherwise.

What’s the most important thing you learned from camp?

Camp taught me to think for myself. There were adults — and they became mentors — but ultimately, I had to be self-sufficient at a very early age. From packing my clothes to showering and taking care of myself, I had to learn to do for myself what my mother might have done for me. I am a very self-reliant, independent woman, almost to a fault, and I can’t help think that my years at camp may have deeply contributed to that. I am grateful for it immensely.

What is the most important thing you think kids learn from camp?

My daughters are too young to attend overnight camps as I did but they have been in several classes and are currently in gymnastics. What they are learning is that there is more to life than learning and working. They are figuring out what makes them happy, what fulfills them as people and I think that’s the most satisfying benefit of any extracurricular activity.

What do you look for in a camp for your children?

I look for price because I have twins and they almost always have to do the same thing. I look for positive adults who lead the class. My standards are pretty high. We cut out of swim lessons pretty early because the adults just weren’t warm and friendly. I also look for what makes them happy. If I’m dragging them out the door, then it’s not the right fit. If I can’t get them to practice at home, then it’s not the right fit. We have to trust that they know what is best for them.

______________________________________________________________________

Want to see more of Shawn’s work? Check out Awesomely Awake for inspiring posts & projects and her book, The Playful Family.

Written by Sarah Antrim

Categories
Contests Supermoms in the Spotlight

Are You the Next Top Mom Blogger?

Mom blogger with laptop
Photo by Flickr user Luke Redmond

Mom bloggers have gone from a cultural phenomenon to a high-powered commercial force. No longer are posts just about your own baby’s first steps or favorite foods. Mom blogs are full of expert reviews of the best baby products and practical, tried and tested advice on childrearing, homemaking, and handling the demanding balance between motherhood and life.

Bloggers, like the venerable Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman) or Stephanie Morgan and the ladies at Modern Parents Messy Kids, have their own books, TV shows and products. Others, like the clever marketing gurus in the Clever Girls Collective, have banded together into a powerful force for brands looking to reach out to their wide audience of moms.

The Mom Blogging Hidden Gems

But through all of the content, all of the posts, all of the words . . . it’s easy to get lost.

Everyone has their favorite sites, the ones they check into every day either because they love the bloggers voice or advice or because these sites are one-stop-shopping for everything they need to know. But some sites stand out by providing crazy compelling content or super-niche but useful ideas.

And we want to find these little-known but soon-to-be-big mom bloggers.

Do you know any?

Top Up-And-Coming Mom Bloggers of 2013

Hip mom with kids
Photo by Flickr user ~PhotograTree~

Here at ActivityHero, we not only want to make busy mom’s lives easier by keeping children engaged in enriching activities, but we also like to recognize moms for all of their hard work.

So we are on the hunt for the top new mom bloggers to recognize them for their awesome contribution to the community.

If you know someone (or are someone) who fits the bill, let us know!

What We’re Looking For

We’re looking for blogs that have that something special that makes you want to bookmark the site the second you stumble across it. Maybe they haven’t been around that long, maybe they’ve recent revamped, or maybe they’ve come back from the baby number two (or more!) hiatus. Bloggers who have not yet received an award.

You tell us! Who are your favorites?

Do you have a blog (your own or otherwise) to nominate for our contest? Let us know in the comments!

Categories
Parenting Resources Supermoms in the Spotlight

Best Mom Blog (and Dad Blog) Posts of 2012

Snowman family
Photo from Flickr user Joe Howell

1. Do You Suffer From I’m-so-busy-itis? (The Happiest Mom)

“There are some mothers I know who claim to be so chronically over-run with items on their to-do list that I sometimes wonder: how is it even possible to have so much to do, not just sometimes, but constantly?”

2. Grass: Greener. The Truth About the Mommy Wars (Mom-101)

“Every time I stare at one of these mothers, I think, what I would give not to be racing back to the office right now. What I would give to be here instead with my girls sharing a croissant. And surely, one of the moms looks at me and thinks: What I would give for a whole 10 minutes to walk through these halls by myself.”

3. Back to Basics: 5 Life Skills We Forget to Teach Our Kids (Dad-O-Matic)

Hand holding
Photo from Flickr user The National Guard

“My kids are now in their twenties and starting their own adult lives, and as I look at the things that are truly important to them on the journey into adulthood, I am reminded about some things they need to know that ultimately may be more useful than how to manage their Facebook presence.”

4. On-the-Go Momma’s Guide to Finding Inspiration (On-The-Go Momma)

“What started out as a very natural desire to teach our children well and be significant in their lives actually becomes self-realization on a personal journey toward meaning and significance.”

5. Former Future Girl Scout Feminist (Julie and Martin)

“I respectfully disagree with Rep. Morris’ accusations and deeply-felt convictions that a national organization dedicated to the empowerment and education of life skills for girls is a contributing factor in the ruination of the American family.”

6. Anxiety and Motherhood – Can You Separate the Two? (Beccarama)

Family hugging
Photo from Flickr user o5com

“I always envisioned myself as a mom who watches with ease as her child climbs alone to the top of the monkey bars, or who can introduce led feeding at 6 months, or who is fine with my kid licking the city streets (germs are good immune boosters after all!). It is not these actions that actually scare me, it is the fear itself.”

7. Teach Your Children Well (Huff Post/50)

“What started out as a very natural desire to teach our children well and be significant in their lives actually becomes self-realization on a personal journey toward meaning and significance.”

8. Storytelling 101 (Modern Parents Messy Kids)

Family drawing
Photo from Flickr user Childrens Book Review

“Today I would like to share with you a simple yet super-fun storytelling form that uses paper. I call them the ‘Tear-and-Tell’ tales. It is really pretty neat to see how a single piece of paper transforms into something entirely different.”

9. A Short Story About Self-Harm (Actually Mummy)

“She had always spoken to the little girl in a mature way, ever since she was born. Had she unwittingly set her baby up for a lifetime of feeling pressurised and inadequate? By reasoning with her and explaining complicated words and concepts had she condemned her to feeling like she was never good enough for the rest of her life?”

10. The Great Balancing Act: A Time to Speak Up (Playground Dad)

“This phenomenon is a silent issue because men are not vocal in discussing and advocating for solutions to this challenge we face as working fathers. Working men also cannot have it all it appears.”

What have your favorite parenting blog posts of the year been?

Categories
After-School Activities Supermoms in the Spotlight

Camp Chrysalis in Berkeley Helps Kids Discover and Appreciate Nature

Camp Chrysalis is a Berkeley-based camp for kids 8 to 15 years of age. In its 30 year time frame, it has helped teach kids about their native surroundings and built many young friendships based on kindness and respect. Camp Chrysalis is offering a special camp this winter season for kids interested in skiing and snowboarding. The camp will run from December 28 – January 4 and is open to kids 12-18 years of age. Click here for more details.

We asked founder Lee Tempkin a few questions about Camp Chrysalis.

Camp Chrysalis helps young people explore the rich and diverse natural environments of California.

ActivityHero: Tell us a little about yourself and how you started the camp

Lee Tempkin: I’ve been teaching for 40 years primarily as a 5-7 grade teacher and was a middle school director for 8 of those years. I’ve been leading outdoor education trips with kids for over 35 years and started Camp Chrysalis 30 years ago with my deceased partner, Michael Rossman. A former director at our independent school asked me to start a summer program and Michael was the science naturalist at our school. We were very excited about joining forces and creating a camp for the students from our schools in an outdoor and overnight setting. It was a natural fit, and we began camp with two sessions at two different natural environments. Within a few years, we had decided to focus on the three rich environments that we go to today. Over the years, our camp has grown but still holds on to its roots in appreciating the wonderful natural environments of the redwoods, the coastal tidepools and sand dunes, and the Sierra Nevada mountains. Fifteen years ago we started a backpacking session that changes location every year to continue to deepen the camping skills and connections with campers that begin in the core sessions. Often campers start with Big Sur, move on to Mendocino and then to Sierras before going backpacking with us in the  backpacking session.

AH: Are there any special lessons or experiences you are trying to provide during the camp?

LT: Besides developing an appreciation and knowledge of the natural environments, we work very hard with campers to develop a feeling of community and personal responsibility to  themselves, to each other, and to the environment as future stewards of the earth. LNT (leave no trace) principles are balanced with learning to use the plants and other natural resources of each of these environments. We strive to develop a balance between these two perspectives. Campers are broken into four small groups of about 8 campers and a staff mentor and meet daily to deepen their connections. They also do projects and activities together each day often with another group. They help with daily tasks including cooking dinner, building the camp fire, etc.

The other experience that we want to give young people is the feeling of working with real tools to create real objects of personal value. They are involved with cooking and learn the basics of helping prepare meals for the group, and they also learn how to use many craft and woodworking tools like saws, drills, files and other real tools to create jewelry and other personal items for themselves or their family. They learn to use flint and steel, make leather bags, create their own journals filling pages with water colors, poems and natural observations. They’re kept really busy within our camp structure that also gives them time to relax and hang out with each other.

AH: What surprises/delights the kids (or parents) most about your camp?

LT: Parents often mention how much their children have grown up after a week at camp and how they take more responsibility for themselves. They’re also very impressed with the stories about and knowledge of the environments that we camp in. When campers bring their parents to these sites, they have a huge amount to share with their families. Parents also love the songs that the campers bring back. We have a songbook of folk songs and some modern additions that campers take home with them every session.

AH: Anything else you’d like to add?

LT: It’s been a pleasure to have influenced so many young people over the past thirty years and several have written their college essays about the importance of camp in their lives. Over the years, we’ve kept the camp small to keep its intimacy and feelings of community strong in camp between campers and the staff as mentors of young people. We take our responsibilities as mentors of young people very seriously and have many returnees who come back year after year, so we see them grow and mature into young adults in the ten years that many stay with us. In addition, many continue as staff over the years and then influence the next generation of campers. It’s a fabulous cycle that keeps the camp culture stable yet dynamic. Some parents say that we’re a well kept Berkeley secret. We have some enthusiastic parent comments on Yelp.

For more information on Camp Chrysalis and their upcoming winter snowboarding/skiing session, check out Camp Chrysalis on ActivityHero.
Written by Sarah Antrim
Categories
More About Us Supermoms in the Spotlight Two and a Half Moms

8 Tips to Balance the Demands of Startup and Parenthood

ActivityHero co-founder Shilpa Dalmia was asked by Women 2.0 how she manages to balance the demands of a family with kids and a startup company. Here’s what she had to say:

Shilpa’s daughter is so supportive of her work, she even asked to be our mascot Activiana for Halloween! Here she is in her costume!

Many people ask, “How do you balance work and life with two young kids and a startup?”

My answer is, “The same way you raise three kids.” A startup is just like another child. Each child has his/her/its own demands and needs, and each gives you immense satisfaction and pleasure.

Here are some tips for parents thinking about venturing into the world of entrepreneurship:

Tip #1 – Treat your startup like another baby.

Each child is a full-time job. Before you take the plunge, ask yourself if you are ready to handle another child. You go through similar stages and emotions running a startup as you do while raising a child:

  • Market research, testing ideas, joining entrepreneurial communities for a startup is similar to researching what’s right for you child and joining parenting groups.
  • Picking out names.
  • Sleepless nights.
  • Celebrating little milestones like your startup’s first soft-launch and pilot customer are like celebrating a baby’s first smile and first step.
  • Every day is a challenge, lots of unknowns, unpredictability.
  • Realizing that this is something you cannot stop being attached to. Just like you cannot stay away from your kids, you cannot stay away from working on your startup.

Tip #2 – Involve your kids in your startup.

Make them feel part of it so there is no sibling rivalry. There will be times when you can do things together as a family – designing the logo, coming up with names for your company, discussing challenges – let them help you wherever they can.

My eight year old daughter is so excited about my startup that she begged to dress up as my company mascot for Halloween last week!

Tip #3 – Your spouse plays an extremely important role.

His/her support, both mental and physical, can make a huge difference in dealing with the stress factor.

Tip #4 – Quality more important than quantity when it comes to time.

Do the things you enjoy doing the most – like cooking or driving kids around or playing board games or reading – and delegate the rest. I cannot stress the importance of delegating and not getting caught up with doing things you hate. Hire help – cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping. This is part of the startup investment you’re making.

Tip #5 – Make sure your finances are in order.

Don’t let that add to your stress. Remember, you are not the 20 year old college kid who can live in a suitcase and has nothing much to lose.

Tip #6 – Give your 100% to the task at hand.

Remember, each child is a full-time job. And in order to do justice to each, you need to give each one your complete attention. If you’re spending time with your child doing their favorite activity, don’t do anything else. Shut off your phone, do not check emails. When you’re working at home, let your kids know that this is your work time and you do not want to be disturbed.

Tip #7 – Take a vacation.

Yes, you cannot be entirely disconnected while on vacation, but make sure to take a break. It’s important for both you and your family’s sanity.

Tip #8 – Remember, your co-founder is like your spouse.

You are raising this baby together, so make sure one of you is always there to take care of this baby. It’s important to make sure that you not only have complementary skills, but also complementary timings so when you have your cellphone off or you are on your little family vacation, you know your baby is still well taken care of.

At the end of the day, it will be the respect that you have for each other and the love for your baby that will see your company through both the good times and bad.

By Shilpa Dalmia

 

Originally posted here by Women 2.0

Categories
Sports Supermoms in the Spotlight

Parents of Olympians

As the Olympics continue on in London, coverage has been focused on some sports heroes more prominently than in years previous – the mothers of the athletes in all of their screaming, gasping and whooping glory.

NBC, the exclusive primetime network broadcasting the games, has received plenty of bad press. From limiting online viewing to those with particular cable subscriptions to just flat out not showing a variety of events, they have really done one over on the games’ most devoted fans. However, many are agreeing NBC has totally redeemed itself with its incredible coverage of the sobbing parentals in the stands, anxiously viewing their sons/daughters’ performances in England.

Here are a few of our favorite examples, paying homage to moms everywhere.

Aly Raisman

image from ibtimes.com

Probably the most prolific coverage of the games has been given to Aly Raisman’s parents, whose video as spectators at team final has gone viral. Lynn and Rick have received as many hits on YouTube as skate boarding dogs and singing toddlers with their hilarious facial expressions reflecting the jaw-dropping stunts and competitive action at the Olympic gymnastics events. Aly has responded with a hint of eye-rolling and polite responses to media regarding her parents’ viral video success – but there’s no doubt that her gold-medal winning performances can be partially credited to her parents’ loving support.

Michael Phelps

image from todaysmama.com

American viewers first became acquainted with Debbie Phelps in prior Olympics games, as she was one of the first parents to truly receive media attention for her hooting, hollering and sobbing in the stands. Now that her son has broken historic Olympian records in men’s swimming, she can relax a bit – as was illustrated by her leaning against the spectator railing in relief. A devoted single mother who worked full time while driving Phelps to early morning swim practices growing up, Debbie continues to be a focal representation of Olympian parenthood.

Gabby Douglas

image from todayinlondonblog.today.msnbc.msn.com

16-year-old Gabby is the first African American woman to ever win the all-around gold in gymnastics, and her mother Natalie Hawkins could not be prouder. Their story also could not possibly be more compelling. Natalie had to make the gut-wrenching decision to send Gabby across the nation to train with a particular coach, which eventually led to not only a Gabby-shaped hole in her heart as she had to settle for a long distance mother-daughter connection, but also to her selling her own jewelry and filing for bankruptcy as well. This mom’s commitment is being reported as one of the most shining examples of committed parenting when it comes to young athletes.

Chad le Clos

image from themurdockman.com

Chad le who? That is what America was saying until the South African swimmer stole a gold medal from the seemingly unstoppable Phelps. And his father Bert is just as golden when it comes to gushing publicly over his son. Watching replays, he adorably used the word “unbelievable” and blew kisses to the TV screen. How can you not love such an underdog story with a dad as excited as this one?

Jordyn Wieber

image from detroitnews.com

Rita Wieber, the mother of Jordyn – who was expected to be “the one” to watch during the gymnastics events in London – has been on quite the emotional rollercoaster. First, her daughter failed to qualify for the individual finals despite being heralded as a shoo-in for the events. The images of Jordyn weeping after losing the chance for an individual gold were replayed countless times over airwaves, and Rita was not able to reach her daughter for hours after the devastating loss. However, despite her obvious undying support for Jordan in the arena, Rita should also get credit for another aspect of parenting – insisting Jordyn remain in public school and have a well-rounded life outside of gymnastics.

As the Olympics progress, we will undoubtedly see more emotional moms and dads as their children compete in the games. And honestly, that’s likely how America likes the broadcasts to go – showing real people like themselves experiencing the best moment of their children’s lives. It’s what we all hope for, and what we all can aspire to when it comes to unconditional love, commitment and sacrifice.

 

Written by Tamara Warta

Categories
Sports Supermoms in the Spotlight

Olympian Moms

Sometimes you CAN have it all – as proven by the multitude of athletes that are not only Olympians but parents as well. Balancing motherhood and elite sports is no easy feat – but these women have made it look easy.

Kerri Walsh

image from elliottharris.com

Gold medalist Walsh is well known for her awesome beach volleyball victories, but at home she is simply known as mom. She takes a lot of pride in this job – so much so that she hopes to have a gold medal for each of her children – winning a third at the London games will provide an extra for the third child she hopes to conceive after the competition. She has been quoted as saying that being a mom has given her a new perspective on the world and makes her courageous enough to follow all of her dreams. Her son Joseph was born in May 2009, and Sundance followed a year later.

Kristen Armstrong

image from usatoday.com

Armstrong, who recently won gold for cycling in London, originally retired from the sport after first winning in Beijing. But after her son Lucas was born in 2010, she discovered she still had that passion for competition on the open road. Now almost two years later, she has found a reasonable balance between her own interests and those of her son’s.

Kara Goucher

image from runtheedge.com

Another example of a mom who finds the energy to do it all is Kara Goucher, who participated in the Beijing Olympics as a long distance runner and is now back at it in London. Her 2-year-old son Colton is what she credits for her ability to stay fit post-birth. Instead of enjoying much downtime, this toddler keeps her on her feet almost as much as her sport.

Christie Rampone

image from nj1015.com

While 6-year-old Ryle and 2-year-old Reece have yet to blaze their own Olympic trail, their famous soccer playing mom Christie Rampone has a life full of achievements. London is her fourth Olympics and her daughters will be in tow – cheering mom on from the stands.

Lashinda Demus

image from staysimplyfit.blogspot.com

What keeps Olympic track and field athlete Lashinda Demus running? Her 5-year-old twin boys Dontay and Duaine. She credits her husband for her healthy life combination of training time and down time. Despite the busy life of raising energetic little ones, she is not only competing in London, but is dreaming of the 2016 Olympics as well.

Getting it All Done

Just because they manage to keep it together doesn’t mean Olympian moms don’t have to experience a bit of trial and error in their lives. Many have been quoted as saying they struggled to get their bodies back in shape after having their second child and beyond. Still others admittedly wake up early in the morning in order to relish in that precious “alone time” that just doesn’t come with the motherhood package. Early rising, smart eating and plenty of emotional and logistical support from friends and family seems to be the key to success for all of these athletes.

But, in the end, no matter how many golds are won in London and beyond, their children remain their most precious prize. This is exemplified by the fact almost all of the above mentioned competitors are welcoming their little ones into the stands to cheer them on in the games.

Being childless may be easier when it comes to training and competition, but these moms know full well when it comes to their kids, they could never do it without them.

 

Written by Tamara Warta

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Parenting Resources Supermoms in the Spotlight

Power to the Mommies: Who says we can’t have it all?

No matter where you look lately, you can’t help hearing the buzz about Marissa Mayer, former Google exec turned Yahoo CEO. Hey, any news that puts powerful females in a positive light is good news to me. The bigger news that was released shortly afterward is that she is six months pregnant and plans to take an abbreviated maternity leave and even work through its entirety. While it appears to be almost impossible to many, she made a personal choice in wanting to get back to work as soon as possible. So, what’s the big deal?

Marissa Mayer, former Google exec turned Yahoo CEO, announced she is 6 months pregnant and plans to work through maternity leave.
photo from elizabethstreet.com

Many women worry that Mayer is setting an unrealistic expectation for all expectant mothers—work until your water breaks, squeeze the little one out, then back to work, pronto! With enough pregnancy discrimination in the workplace as it is, many wonder if Mayer’s overpublicized choice will pave an even bumpier route for new mothers in the future. However, Mayer is not the first woman who has decided to put her career on an equal pedestal as her child—Ivanka Trump was off on business just 8 days after giving birth. French MEP Rachida Dati was criticized for returning to the European parliament after only 5 days post partum after  saying it was a personal choice. When I found that one of Forbes magazine’s headlines read: “Should you hate Marissa Mayer?” I was perturbed to say the least. Why do we hate power moms?

One point we may be forgetting is that there are many different types of mothers out there—there are those who get so wrapped up in all aspects of mothering that they can’t imagine doing anything else (admittedly I fall into this category), and there are others who see being a mother as just another challenge added to their plate. I had a close friend who was so anxious to go back to her job with the city of Chicago that she barely shed a tear when she sent her 4 month old daughter off to daycare for the first time. No two families are the same, so it sets an unfair expectation of women to be wrapped up in their snuggly new baby for weeks or even months if it’s not where they feel they need to be.

While it may be an easy transition for some, many women feel that the balance between family life and the working world is more difficult than it seems. Personally, I cannot fathom getting any work done just weeks after giving birth let alone days. Heck my son is 10 months old and I still have a hard time finding the time to sit down and start writing—but that’s just me. I also admittedly have very poor time management skills and end up spending an hour on Pinterest when I have a deadline. It can be a big struggle though, take for instance Italian MEP Licia Ronzulli who created quite a stir when she arrived at a meeting at the European parliament with her 7-week-old daughter nestled to her chest in a sling. “It was not a political gesture,” she says. “It was first of all a maternal gesture – that I wanted to stay with my daughter as much as possible, and to remind people that there are women who do not have this opportunity [to bring their children to work], that we should do something to talk about this.”

Italian MEP Licia Ronzulli at the European parliament with her 7-week-old daughter.
photo from timesofmalta.com

The real point of the matter is that no two mothers are the same. If you have the opportunity to have everything you want in life and are able to balance it all, then by god go ahead and have it all. No mother, no woman, no person should have limitations set for them. If we tell Ms. Mayer that she is working too hard when she is perfectly happy and capable of doing so, we are only continuing the cycle of discrimination.

No matter what path a mother chooses, she is still a mother. Many mothers get this idea in their head that they need to be there for everything, but even if you’re not the one to kiss them goodnight every day you’re still a mother—nothing will ever change that.  “It’s a very personal choice,” says Ronzulli. “A woman should be free to choose to come back after 48 hours. But if she wants to stay at home for six months, or a year, we should create the conditions to make that possible… Everyone must decide for themselves.”

So who says women can’t have it all? “Having it all” is merely a perception. A single woman with a great career like Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw could think she has it all. At the same time, a suburban housewife with 3 kids might feel as though she has it all. So those who say “women can’t have it all” are putting unnecessary limitations on themselves. If you really want something in life, you’ll figure out a way to get it. If we all lived under the perception that we can’t have it all, what would this world be like?

 

Written by Sarah Antrim

Categories
Parenting Resources Supermoms in the Spotlight

Just a Mom

“I couldn’t do it, I would get too bored.”
“What do you do with all that free time?”
“I would miss my job too much, I like having a separate life.”

These are just a few of the comments I’ve received in response to my decision to stay home and raise my son. I never pictured myself being a stay-at-home mom. I hate cleaning and can barely remember to take my keys out of the door—how could I manage to keep another person alive? Well, like most stay-at-home moms will tell you, it just happened.

I’ll be the first to tell you that many perceptions of the stay-at-home mom are extremely untrue. First of all, I don’t have the time to get bored. Even my partner, who bless his heart works full time to keep a roof over our heads, has repeatedly offered to set up the old video games we used to play before parenthood so that I can “be entertained” during the day. What he doesn’t understand is that my “free time” during the day is spent showering, doing the dishes, and tidying up after a crazy crawling tornado. If I’m lucky, I may sneak a chapter or two of a book in but that’s pretty rare.

Many moms choose to go back to work after having a child and I think that’s great. If you have a job that you look forward to going to everyday and helps define you as a person, bless you and stick with it. I, on the other hand, have never experienced that until I became a mother. I also don’t have the luxury of having a retired mother nearby aching to take a baby off my hands so day care was out of the question. Motherhood is the only thing that has ever come naturally to me, so I choose to do it full-time. I too like to have a separate life but mine just comes in small doses.

There’s a certain amount of guilt that I felt about not bringing home a paycheck and not being able to help with the financial burden so I guess I had a hard time justifying it. I’ve always been the type of person who works hard for what she wants and tries to have everything be as equal as possible in a partnership. You can only imagine the amount of guilt I would feel when my partner would come home from work to a sink full of dirty dishes and a disaster of a house. Where did the time go? How couldn’t I find 20 minutes to wipe down the counters or even do a half-hearted vacuum job?

When my son was 6 months old, I went out to dinner with a few friends one night. The waiter was making small talk with some friendly questions and happened to ask each of us what we did for a living. “I’m a social worker,” replied one. “I’m an elementary school teacher,” said the other. I paused when the eyes were on me—well, I USED to be a yoga instructor and writer, now I’m a full-time spit-up crusted food source and diaper zombie at the beckoning call of an infant. “I’m just a mom,” I said. To my surprise, both my friends and the waiter looked at me with sharp eyes. “JUST a mom?” replied the waiter. “Honey, do not discredit yourself. I commend you for your responsibility. You are raising another human being—that is no small feat.” As shocked as I was to hear his reaction, a smile immediately came to my face and I felt an extraordinary amount of self-satisfaction.

It’s no secret that along with parenthood comes an immense amount of judgment. We watch how other parents handle their kids and wonder if perhaps they know something we don’t. If we breastfeed, we are embarrassed to do so in public; if we bottle feed we get the guilt trip about the benefits of breastmilk. All judgment aside, we alone are our own biggest critics. Why are we so hard on ourselves as mothers? We strive to have a clean home, a delicious dinner on the table, and smiling children every day—but life gets in the way. Kids are unpredictable, as is life. So take a deep breath, ease your worries, and tell yourself that you’re doing a good job. When your family looks back on this time they will not remember how many days that dirty pot sat in the sink, how long that coffee stain has been in the carpet, or that you wore that same pair of yoga pants three days in a row. They’ll remember the love you gave them and the smiles and laughs you shared.

 

Written by Sarah Antrim