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Turns out, singing along with your preschooler to Elmo's greatest hits is good for you (even if you're a little tired of having the same songs on repeat). Studies have shown that making and listening to music helps boost children's self-esteem and social skills, and may even help young kids focus at school. And in adults, singing and making music have been shown to release stress, boost energy and help us bond with others. When it comes to kids' development—and happy families—the more music, the better.

So, what if you're not exactly American Idol-ready, but you want to bring more music into your kids' day-to-day? You don't have to pay for regular music lessons or hire Julie Andrews to teach do-re-mi. A few simple strategies can help you make more music together as a family.

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Here are 10 easy music activities for toddlers and preschoolers that help boost their development

1. Sing important words and phrases

Any parent who's ever gotten a Daniel Tiger song stuck in their head on a loop knows: Repetition enhances memorization. According to Vincent Reina, music instructor and co-founder of the music school Music To Your Home, "Learning songs at a young age increases great memorization skills." Putting common phrases or instructions to a sing-along tune creates a pattern that children can recognize and recall with ease, and makes retention fun.

So when you want your child to catch on or remember something, one of the simplest ways to do this is by making any simple phrase into a song. Try utilizing the same "Hello" and "Goodbye" songs in your child's routine, or implementing jingles like "The Cleanup Song," and soon it will become second nature for your little one to recite greetings or instructions back to you in song. (Which, let's face it, is pretty cute.)

2. Create a musical craft

Rainy day activity alert: You can easily create musical instruments out of household items. Have fun with your child creating and "playing" your homemade instruments—you can even pretend to play a concert together.

3. Play 'talent show'

Use finger puppets or stuffed animals to act out a favorite song or dance to a favorite tune. Or if your little one loves to play-act (as so many preschoolers do), encourage them to dress up, imagine themselves as a character and come up with their own song.

4. Make a musical matching game

Here's an easy music game you can create and play at home: musical match. Cut pieces of paper into squares, and on one side draw a character or symbol that represents a familiar song: a yellow bus for "The Wheels on the Bus," a barn for "Old MacDonald," a star for "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," a spider for "Itsy Bitsy Spider," a dog for "Bingo" and any others that are favorites.

Draw the same symbol on two squares of paper for each song. Then put the squares face-down on the floor, and mix them up. You and your child can have fun taking turns turning over the squares, and singing the song while you look for the match!

5. Turn on background music

Use background music while you're doing other activities, such as working on arts and crafts, cleaning up toys, or at mealtime. Some studies suggest that background music, far from being a distraction, can help boost short-term focus.

6. Listen and draw

Put on a jazz or classical station or fire up a playlist, then pull out drawing paper and crayons. Spend some time listening and drawing what you hear, using colors, shapes, lines, dots and crayon strokes to represent the instrumental sounds, themes, dynamics and musical moods you hear. As you draw, talk about why you're choosing different colors to represent different sounds, like the color orange for a trumpet.

7. Play 'name that tune'

Hum, whistle or tap out the rhythm of a song, and see if your child can guess the tune. Then switch and see if you can guess the song that your child is humming.

8. Find musical library books

Take a field trip to the library and bring your child into the music section. Pick out some materials that include songs, nursery rhymes or easy melodies that you can bring home to play and sing along with. Use your total physical response to get your child moving and grooving too!

9. Form a family band

One of the best ways to make music part of your family's routine is to simply play music together. Play on a keyboard if you have one, create drums with pots and pans, find your child's xylophone and bang out some notes, strum a guitar together or just turn a container upside down and start making sounds with your hands or a wooden spoon.

Teach your child how to match pitch with their voice, or make up a song to perform for the rest of the family. It doesn't have to be perfect or on key, but it will show your child how to make music, and have fun doing it.

10. Download musical apps

There are tons of musical apps out there. Some of the best and most fun musical apps for kids include Tune Train, Musical Me, Piano Dust Buster and Kids Ear Training. These apps can help teach your child music fundamentals, introducing them to musical concepts such as pitch, notes, chords and structures.

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I am broken.

It has happened again and I am breaking even more. Soon, the pieces will be too small to put back together.

The negative pregnancy test sits on my bathroom sink like a smug ex-lover. I am left pleading, How could you do this to me again? I thought it would be different this time. I had hope.

We are still trying. It has been 11 months and 13 days and there has been no progress. No forward momentum. No double solid lines. The emptiness of the space where the line should be mocks me.

I am broken.

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No amount of planning and scheming and effort is enough. I am not enough because I cannot make a chemical reaction happen at the exact moment it needs to happen. I cannot do what I want but oh how I wish I could.

It almost happened once. Two months ago, I felt different. Sore breasts and aware of the world like never before. I felt not empty. The blankness had been replaced by someone. I was sure of it. And I was late. Six days late and I thought this is it.

I didn't rush to test because I didn't want to jinx it. Or perhaps I just didn't want to let go of that string of hope. Without evidence that you're not actually here, I can pretend that you are.

So I waited. And I Googled early pregnancy symptoms and I kept an eye out for red spots I hoped I would never see. I finally couldn't wait any longer and decided the next morning would be the test.

But when I woke up, I knew it was just me. The feeling I had been feeling was gone and I knew, just knew, what I would find.

This test had words instead of lines. 'Not pregnant' it blared loudly, obnoxiously, insensitively.

I am broken.

It was four in the morning and I stood in my tiny bathroom apartment silently sobbing. Alone.

Perhaps you were there for a brief moment, but then you were gone.

I stared again at the stick.

Not pregnant.

Not pregnant.

Not pregnant.

It was taunting me now.

I wrapped it in a paper towel. Walked down three flights of stairs to the front of my building and threw it in the garbage can outside.

Later, when my husband woke, I told him I was wrong. There was nothing there after all.

And I mourned. All day long, I mourned. While I walked to work. While I said hello to my co-workers. While I answered questions and pretended to smile and tried not to think of the broken body I was living in.

The next day the blood arrived. Furious. Both of us infuriated it was there once again.

Can I keep doing this?

Am I broken?

Will I get to the point where I just… stop? Stop hoping. Stop praying. Stop wishing. Stop. Trying.

Am I broken? Or can I keep going?

Life

One of my biggest jobs as a mama is to create a foundation for my kids to become trailblazers and problem-solvers. It's not an easy task. I'm constantly wondering what type of person they'll become and how I can ensure they'll be awesome citizens of the world. For me, part of raising and encouraging future leaders starts with exposure—the more I introduce them to notable leaders in history, the better they can envision their own future.

This is why I love when brands create inspirational clothing and accessories for kids. And this month, Piccolina, a lifestyle brand for littles, added an exclusive Black History Month capsule collection to their trailblazer tees series and they are too cute for words.

The Black History Month line honors heroic leaders like Harriet Tubman, Maya Angelou, Katherine Johnson and Rosa Parks on colorful tees. It even features illustrations by emerging artists of color like Monica Ahanonu, Erin Robinson and Joelle Avelino who are, in my opinion, just as important.

In addition to the tops, the collection features art prints that coincide with the shirts, making this a perfect addition to any kids room—and even mama's office. Perhaps even more exciting are the price points: The limited-edition tees retail for $28 and framed art prints are $60.

Maya Angelou trailblazer tee

Maya Angelou trailblazer tee

This cotton tee features a portrait of the award-winning author, poet and civil rights activist and is the perfect way for your little one to celebrate her inner storyteller. A portion of the shirts proceeds benefit non-profit organizations that support girls' education and empowerment, such as the Malala Fund and Step Up.

$28

While I'm not sure what type of person my little ones will become, I'm certain that introducing them to leaders will help them have greater self-confidence and reinforce that they are competent and resilient, too. And what mama can't get behind that? Now the hardest part is deciding which ones to purchase.

Shop

More people work from home than ever. (A full third of the US workforce.) Companies are getting comfy with jobs for stay-at-home-moms and other at-home jobs. The best part? Google's work-at-home job search recently evolved to Einstein status. Simple Google "remote" + [JOB TITLE] + "jobs." Click "search." Then click the blue jobs bar.

You'll find dozens of the best side jobs for stay-at-home moms (and jobs for pregnant women). We pulled 61 amazing opportunities. The pay info comes from Glassdoor. If you're good you'll earn more. If you're looking for a mom-friendly side gig that can help you bring in extra income, start here.

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Here are 61 of the best side jobs for stay-at-home moms.

Daycare

One of the most popular and best jobs for moms with young kids? In-home day care. If you love coming up with activities and more kids means more fun, this isn't a bad option.

1. In-Home Day Care. In rural areas, these jobs for stay-at-home-moms pay $20+ per kid per day. It's more in cities. Pay: $27,430

2. Babysitter. Not into full-fledged day care? Give a shout on Facebook for these part-time jobs for moms. Pay: $18,000

Typing

If you can type, you can probably do lots more. But, typing jobs for stay-at-home-moms are easy if you've got the skills.

3. Typist. You'll need at least 40 WPM for these jobs for stay-at-home moms. Test your speed free at KeyHero. Pay: $27,430

4. Data Entry. These stay-at-home-mom jobs need good 10-Key and Qwerty skills. Pay: $31,153

5. Legal Transcriptionist. Type dispositions and legal terms for these SAHM jobs. Pay: $28,570

6. Law Enforcement Transcriptionist. Learn police codes and terms on the fly for these legit work-from-home jobs for moms. Pay: $28,570

7. Medical Transcriptionist. You can find good mom jobs typing doctorspeak if you can learn the terms. Pay: $28,570

Phone

These are easy to get and do.

8. Phone Survey Conductor. Call people at home and ask questions. Pay: $27,099

9. Telemarketer. You'll need a phone and grit. And you've got both. Pay: $25,969

10. Call Center Representative. You know those radio ads with the 800-numbers? These part-time jobs for moms answer them. Pay: $32,214

11. Customer Service. More fun than call-center work. Requires product knowledge. Pay: $34,780

12. Dispatcher. Taxis, trucks, and cop cars need to know where to go. That means more stay-at-home-mom jobs for you. Pay: $37,112

Teaching

If you're a good teacher, you can find well-paying teaching and tutoring jobs online.

13. Online Tutor. If you're good at any subject, these make solid home jobs for moms. If you're good you'll make more than the median. Pay: $25,500

14. Test Scorer. You won't find these flexible jobs for moms in search sites. Contact schools and teachers directly instead. Pay: $24,380

15. ESL Teacher. There are lots of good online jobs for stay-at-home moms teaching English. Pay: $54,337

Writing

Do you have grammar and writing skills? These writer/editor/blogger stay-at-home jobs for moms might be your next chapter.

16. Proofreader. Checking spelling and grammar. Plus, you'll make your kids spelling bee champs. Pay: $36,290

17. Copy Editor. Check grammar, spelling, facts, and research with these online jobs for moms. Pay: $45,506

18. Content Creator. Jobs for moms who can blog and write. Pay: $54,455

19. Editor. Google has tons of remote jobs for moms who can manage writers. Pay: $61,655

20. Journalist. This one takes a long time to develop and you won't find it in the job sites. Join a pro association like the ASJA. Pay: $45,925

Computer science

If you've got a head for code, these might be for you.

21. Help Desk Worker/Desktop Support. Help non-techies jump through hoops. Pay: $43,835

22. Computer Scientist. As a CS, you can do any of the stay-at-home-mom jobs below. Pay: $109,075

23. Computer Programmer. Can you write code, or learn to? These are great stay-at-home jobs online. Pay: $64,719

24. Software Engineer. Also "software developer". This is more than programming because you design the apps. Pay: $104,463

25. Web Developer. Jobs for stay-at-home-moms who build website back-ends pay massive money. Pay: $88,488

26. Web Designer. Create the shape of sites and apps for these work-at-home jobs for moms. Pay: $56,143

27. UX Designer & UI Developer. Make websites play nice with users. Pay: $97,460

28. SQL Developer. Write code to store and retrieve data for websites. Pay: $81,714

29. DevOps Engineer. Someone needs to drive the great web development wagon train westward. That could be you. Pay: $138,378

Artistic roles

Are you an artistic mama? Try these creative stay-at-home-mom jobs.

30. Graphic Designer. If you're good with graphics, you'll find lots of work-from-home jobs for moms here. Pay: $48,256

31. Video Editor. Cook raw footage into gorgeous product with Adobe Premiere. Pay: $46,274

32. Musician. If you've got skills, you can find these jobs for stay-at-home moms in Google. Pay: $40,000

33. Computer Animator. These work-from-home jobs for moms come from networking, not job search websites. Pay: $61,000

Marketing

Many marketing teams rely on remote talent like you.

34. Social Media Specialist/Manager. If you can handle Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook, you can be a work-at-home mom. Pay: $54,500

35. SEO Specialist. This is all about keywords and search intent. Pay: $66,848

36. Marketing Specialist. These at-home jobs for moms turn heads to bring in bucks. Pay: $42,153

37. Marketing Manager. If you can lead a marketing team, you can find hundreds of work-from-home moms jobs online. Pay: $93,125

Research

Are you a top-notch internet detective who can pull it all together?

38. Researcher. Dig in, pull facts, and help your boss see forest through the decision trees. Pay: $61,085

39. Research Assistant. Just starting out? Try jobs for stay-at-home-moms helping the main researcher. Pay: $30,647

Accounting + finance

Have you got a CPA license or are you good with numbers? Try these stay-at-home-mom jobs.

40. Accountant. These SAHM jobs need a CPA license. If you don't have one already, move along. Pay: $55,202

41. Bookkeeper. No license. Keep track of the money. These work-at-home jobs for moms are everywhere. Pay: $34,677

Analyst

If you're really good at massaging data, these jobs for stay-at-home-moms may fit.

42. Business Analyst. For these stay-at-home-mom jobs, speak truth to power with hard data skills. Pay: $70,170

43. Data Analyst. Use big data tools like Hadoop or Cloudera to see what's really going on amid a world of figures. Pay: $65,470

44. Financial Analyst. If you don't already have a CFA certification, this one's off-limits. Pay: $63,829

45. Actuary. Insurance companies hire stay-at-home moms who make numbers sit up and beg. Pay: $107,598

46. Biostatistician. Health care needs statisticians too. Lots of SAHM jobs here. Some do it with less. Pay: $92,426

Engineering

If you're not already an engineer, you won't find many work-at-home jobs for moms in this part. Already got a degree? Try these.

47. Assistant Engineer. Do you understand the way things work? You can get SAHM jobs here with an associate's degree. Pay: $68,000

48. Engineer. Search a specific engineer job + "remote" in Google to find tons of these jobs for stay-at-home-moms. Pay: $77,182

49. Mechanical Engineer. Got your mechanical engineering degree but want to be a work-at-home mom? Pay: $73,016

50. Civil Engineer. Yes, there's tons of remote CE positions that work as stay-at-home-mom jobs. Pay: $68,638

51. Electrical Engineer. If you've got the training, you can find at-home-jobs for moms here too. Pay: $83,088

Healthcare

You need a license for these.

52. Telework Nurse/Doctor. If you're licensed, you can do these as a work-at-home mom. Pay: $76,710–$300,000

53. Massage Therapist. Welcome clients to your home and work your magic if you have a state license. Also try reiki practitioner and aromatherapist. Pay: $45,408

54. Mental Health Counselor. Online therapy's a thing, and works as SAHM jobs. Pay: $45,449

55. Addiction Counselor. Plenty of work-from-home jobs for moms online in this field. Pay: $37,762

56. Marriage Counselor. Rural couples love not driving. That creates online jobs for moms. Pay: $53,000

Other

Need a few more SAHM jobs with minimal training?

57. Virtual Assistant. Basically an online secretary. Good unskilled stay-at-home-mom jobs. Pay: $22,000

58. Recruiter. Many are underhanded, but you don't have to be. Pay: $49,712

59. Translator. If you're fluent, Google, "remote translator jobs" to find lots of legit SAHM jobs. Pay: $44,190

60. Amazon Top Work From Home Jobs. Amazon has stacks of jobs for stay-at-home-moms. Pay: Variable

61. Network Marketer. Multi-level marketing (MLM) has detractors and proponents. Research heavily before you jump. Pay: Variable

Originally posted on Zety.

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Work + Money

I am burned out. My house is a mess. My hair is dirty. My kids are napping, and I know I need to take a shower, but instead, I'm going to clean the kitchen so that the piled-up dishes stop frowning at me from the sink. I'll feel better starting the afternoon with a clean kitchen and state of mind that actually brings me peace. And this is okay. For me.

I see those beautifully written and curated posts about self-care that are meant to encourage me to set aside other's needs and tend to my own. Sometimes these posts do their job and I make a plan to "do something" to recharge. But I recharge by doing things for others and feeling satisfied in having met their needs as only I can.

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The way we are conditioned to think about self-care affects what we do and how we feel about it. For me, it's not a choice between sacrificing enough to validate myself as a 'good enough' mom, or believing that self-care is integral to my wellbeing. It is a matter of knowing I deserve it—in my way—and that should be okay.

Our culture values and glorifies self-sacrifice. "We promote the employee who works 80-plus hours a week; we idolize the mom who never seems to need a break," according to clinical psychologist, Dr. Jessica Michaelson. "This belief that self-sacrifice is best creates a great deal of shame when we feel like we need something different."

And too often there are barriers that prevent us from practicing self-care. In a recent study published in Midwifery, researchers examined mothers' perceptions regarding the role of self-care, their ways of self-care, and the barriers to doing it. The findings? Whether the mothers thought self-care was essential or not, barriers like time and other limited resources—money, social support, and difficulty accepting help and setting boundaries—prevented them from actually practicing it.

But worrying that needing self-care makes you selfish or weak should not be the barrier that prevents you from obtaining it. "Self-care absolutely is not the same as selfishness. Selfishness is lacking any consideration about others and profiting by this. Self-care is about making sure that we are well and healthy so that we are more available to help others," explained author, therapist and Silicon Valley health coach, Drew Coster.

Self-care can be as simple as a shift in perspective that leads to a better quality of life.

Self-care can mean many different things, but knowing what self-care is *not* might be even more important. Self-care is not something you force yourself to do or something you don't enjoy doing, either. Clinical psychologist, Agnes Wainman, explains that caring for yourself is doing "something that refuels us, rather than takes from us." That means whatever works for you, works for you. Even if that means letting others do something for you.

So if a spa day or binging on Netflix aren't your thing, that's okay, because self-care actually might not be what you add, but what you take away. You can give yourself permission *not* to do something, or eliminate tasks that are draining.

One tiny bit of self-care can make all the difference.

"In a perfect world, most of us would love to get an hour-long massage every day, take a bubble bath every night, and enjoy a relaxing gourmet meal each day. Is that possible for most of us? No," says Jacqueline Getchius, MA, LPCC, licensed professional clinical counselor and owner of Wellspring Women's Counseling based in Minnesota. "Instead, we need to take a good look at what actually is possible. Start small."

Some examples of small acts of self-care that can refuel you just as much as that hour-long massage:

  • Allow yourself to worry about something tomorrow
  • Sit down and put up your feet instead of sorting the socks
  • Let your partner do an extra chore
  • Go for a short walk without the dog
  • Skip a workout for once and have a cup of tea
  • Instead of doing a whole meditation, take five deep breaths
  • Turn your phone off for 30 minutes
  • Throw something out
  • Don't stay up late—let all the things wait
  • Unfollow someone on social media who brings you down
Bottom line: Self-care is as unique as you, mama. However you identify it, the key is that it refuels you in *your* way, however that looks.
Life
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