Q&A | Am I doing enough to supplement my kid’s education right now?

You are enough. You are doing enough. In today’s episode, I’m taking a question that many parents across the world are wondering: Am I providing enough structure/educational stimulation for my child in this time of crisis?

Hi there and welcome to episode 210 today. I'm answering the question. Am I doing enough to supplement my kids' education while we're home for the crisis? Hi, this is Denaye. I'm the founder of Simple Families. Simple Families is an online community for parents who are seeking a simpler more intentional life. In this show, we focus on minimalism with kids, positive parenting, family wellness, and decreasing the mental load. My perspectives are based in my firsthand experience, raising kids, but also rooted in my Ph.D. In child development. So you're going to hear conversations that are based in research, but more importantly, real life. Thanks for joining us.

Hello, hello. If you're new to the podcast. Welcome. If you're coming back, I'm happy to have you here again in these shorter Q and A episodes, I spend the first half sharing something simple that I'm loving. And then the second half take a question from an audience member. So, let's go ahead and start off with something simple for this week. So, this week I'm actually sharing a handful of apps that I'm using with my kids right now, prior to the crisis, my kids really didn't get any tablet time, but they are getting some now. So, here are the five apps that we are leaning on. The most. Number one of course is zoom to talk to groups of friends. My four-year-old is talking with her preschool class, which is kind of chaotic, but also kind of cute, but it helps them to feel connected.

It's definitely no substitute for a good play date or going to school. But I think having that touch point where they can see and hear from their friends and maybe their teachers can be really great for kids. So my kids are loving a little bit of zoom time each day. Now another app that we're using is called Libby, which is actually an app that is attached to our public library. Our public library has a partnership with Libby, so we download Libby, L I B B Y, and then type in our library card. And we're able to get eBooks for free. I guess I probably shouldn't say free more like tomorrow, you get to keep them for seven days and then you can renew them. The cool thing about it is if you have a Kindle, which I do, you can actually read the books on your Kindle, or you can choose to read them right in the Libby app, which you can use on your iPad or tablet or phone.

I've never really loved reading books to my kids on a tablet because I find that they react very differently, especially my son. He can read a book with me on my Kindle in black and white, even a picture book on my old school, black and white Kindle and be totally fine and enjoying it. But then when I try to read that same book on the Kindle app, on my iPad, his attention totally shifts, it's much harder to keep him. So when it comes to longer chapter books, I definitely use my old school Kindle when I'm reading aloud to my kids, but I am using a tablet for the picture books that are shorter. And the pictures just look so much better when you're on a color device for anyone looking for a chapter, read aloud book idea, right now we're reading the toys, go out by Emily Jenkins.

And my kids are really loving it. The third app that we're loving is the one I mentioned last week, which is Peloton and Peloton. Actually. Now just starting a few days ago has started some family workouts. So we've been doing either five or 15 minute family workouts that are kid-friendly and my kids love them. And they also have five, 10 minute family meditations to the fourth is Spotify kids, which just launched in the past week too. So it's a more kid friendly version of the app Spotify. So it allows you to browse the kid music and the kid podcast. Via a separate app, which is really good because I've definitely had my kids listening to some old school kids music, and then it shifted over to some less appropriate explicit music. So I'm glad that now Spotify has a kid app too.

So, last but not least is Disney plus we did it, we bit the bullet and signed up and they have been loving it. Usually my kids were watching about 40 minutes to an hour of screen time each day. And now we have update during the crisis and they're getting to watch a full movie each afternoon when life goes back to normal and they're getting out again, then we'll scale back in the meantime, I'm not too worried about it. So, I much prefer to use my tablet with my kids in the ways that I just mentioned. So reading eBooks, doing exercises, listening to music, listening to podcasts, as opposed to having them engage in some really high stimulation, mindless games. And that's really just my personal preference because I find that the more high stimulating fast action, loud music type apps that I expose them to the harder it is for them to put it down, the harder it is for them to step away and to calm down after they use it.

I think that all of us are leaning on screen time a little bit more so right now, but it doesn't mean that we can't be thoughtful and be intentional about the way we're using it. You can absolutely set boundaries on the types of screen time that your kids are engaging in and you should in our house, we have a really strict, no battle show rule. So my kids aren't allowed to watch anything where people are fighting or trying to kill each other battle each other, which actually eliminates a lot of kids programming. But I do think we have to be confident in setting these boundaries. You're not being mean you're doing what's in their best interest. So I'd love to hear what kind of lower stimulation activities your kids are doing on a tablet or on a screen screenshot this episode and share those with me on Instagram.

All right, before we move into the question for today, here's a quick 60 word from today's sponsor. The sponsor for today is Causebox. And anyone knows me, knows that I am really hesitant about subscription boxes because I think that the contents can pretty quickly turn into clutter. So when Causebox reached out and told me about their product, which is a quarterly curated subscription box filled with amazing products and brands that are all ethical and sustainable. Well, I decided I would give it a try and I'll be honest. I was totally blown away. The stuff is amazing. And I think that the Causebox would make an awesome gift for someone who you're not sure what to buy for among a few things in my box where a Jade roller, which I've been really, really wanting to try a bento box, a duffle bag, some makeup, some simple earrings, a laptop case, some really beautiful stuff from brands I had never heard of or never been introduced to before.

So, The best part is that my listeners get an exclusive discount. If you go to www.causebox.com/simplefamilies and use the code "simple families", you'll get 30% off your first box. That's over $250 a product for less than $39. Again, that's causebox.com/simplefamilies and use the code "simple families". All right. That brings me to the question for today. It is, Hi Denaye my primary question and concern is how much do I need to be doing regarding structure, organized activities, et cetera, with my children? I have a three and a half year old son and a two-year-old daughter. I'm on several group chats with other moms and daily. If not hourly, I see other moms posting different activities, experiments, coloring sheets, et cetera. It looks like they're always doing these things with their children. You should know that I do not like doing activities.

I don't like initiating and pulling out the supplies and then cleaning up two minutes later when they inevitably lost interest. I like playing with my kids outside, but they need tons of supervision when it comes to crafts. And that's what I don't really enjoy. It seems like other moms do more with their kids compared to me. And I guess I'm struggling with doubt about what my kids really truly need to learn and thrive, signed and insecure Dallas mom, I appreciate this question because I do not think that you are alone. You are in good company. I think that this time of crisis has many of us doubting our value and doubting if we are enough and I will tell you that you are absolutely doing enough when it comes to crafts. I think there's a lot of misconceptions here. We think that quote, unquote, good moms are good.

Parents do crafts with their kids. And the focus of most of these crafts you'll see is the final product. Having something to show for yourself at the end of the day, proof proof that you accomplished something on that day. And I think in an uncertain time, right now, we can really thrive on that. But I'm much like you or I don't thrive on that. I do not need a beautiful final product tied with a bow on top to show that my kids and I did something of value together today, because most of the things that we do with kids when we're home, don't have a tangible result. They don't have a tangible product because the value and the learning experience comes in the process. It's about the journey. And I know that sounds cliche, but it's completely true. The best thing that you can be doing with a two and a three and a half year old is reading books aloud.

What do you have to show for that at the end of the day, a stack of books that you tell your partner that you read? I think when we get really hung up in measuring our productivity, by what we got done each day, sometimes we feel like we need a list that has boxes to check like this. So, sure you could just hang up a paper in your home and write down every book that you read to your kid. So, at the end of the day, you can see what you accomplished. And if that makes you feel better, then great do it. If that feels like a lot of work to you, then don't do it. I think we can all get to a point or strive to get to a point where we recognized that the things that we're teaching our kids are not tangible.

They're not things that we can make a list of. They're often not even things that we realize that we're doing. We're teaching our kids every moment of the day. They're always watching us. They're always learning from us. They're learning far more from us through imitating our daily actions than they are from any well curated Pinterest activity. So I always tell parents, if you like doing that structured stuff, if you like doing the arts and crafts, then do it. If your kids like it, then do it. If everyone's happy, keep on keeping on. If you dread it, don't do it just because you think you have to, because the result is going to be, it's going to make you irritable. It's going to make you feel worn out. It's not going to make you feel good. It's not going to fill up your cup. And that's going to negatively impact your experience as a parent and the way that you're interacting with your kids, it's not necessary.

So, if you don't want to do it, if you don't feel like doing those kinds of things, then don't, if it's not your jam, then you're actually a better parent by opting out by recognizing the things that light you up and make you a better mom and letting go of the things that don't so read them. Books, play outside, let them play independently, let them get bored, follow their lead, but do not carry the guilt and the pressure that you need to be the all the time entertainer or even the most of the time entertainer, because that is not true. Our priority right now is supporting our kids' mental health. It's supporting our own mental health. The academic stuff will come and for a two and a three-and-a-half year old, it's probably not going to come for a couple more years. So take a deep breath and make it your new mantra.

I am enough this right here, what we're doing today is enough. Stop comparing yourself to the other parents who appear to be doing all the things I promise you the only things that you're seeing in their day is the highlights. They're probably not taking pictures of their kids vegging out in front of the TV and on the iPad. You're probably doing a heck of a lot better than you realize. In fact, I know that you're doing better than you realize. Remember, it's about the journey. It's about the process over the final product. At the end of the day, you probably won't have much to show for yourself other than the fact that you're going to feel more rested. You're going to feel happier. You're going to feel more confident. And as a result, your kids, your little mirrors are probably going to be feeling the same. Thanks so much for tuning in. If you enjoy the simple families podcast, make sure you hit subscribe. And when you have a moment, leave a rating and review on iTunes that helps the show to reach more people, have a good one.

Denaye Barahona

Denaye Barahona is a loving wife and mama of two. She's a therapist for moms, an author, and the host of the top-ranked Simple Families Podcast. Denaye holds a Ph.D. in Child Development and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has been featured on the likes of The Today Show, Netflix, The Wall Street Journal, Real Simple, Forbes, and numerous other media outlets.