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Whether they've drawn on the walls or spat in grandpa's face, acting out is always a symptom among children—not the problem itself.“Acting out" literally comes from “acting out their feelings," which means when children can't express their needs and emotions in healthy ways, they will act them out through displeasing behavior.

The key to understanding “acting out" is to see it as a communication driven by an unmet need.

Just as a puppy doesn't purposely provoke us by chewing up the couch, our children's behaviors come as much more natural expressions of their internal states.

It's so easy to jump to judgments like "he's just pushing my buttons" or "she's doing it on purpose." But we'd be wise to remember that when children can cooperate, they generally prefer to.

Here are some reasons that might really be at the root of the challenging behaviors—and some ideas of how to respond to them

1. They're hungry

Most of us can relate to the feeling of irritability that comes with low blood sugar. As with many adults, when a kid gets hungry, he may not even notice it, but automatically becomes crabby and starts grabbing toys from his little sister.

What to say: "Whoa! I can see we've run out of fuel. Grabbing toys isn't respectful. Come, let's return this doll to Celine and you and I will go grab some lunch. What do you fancy? Rice or pasta?"

2. They're tired

Show me the parent who doesn't totally get this one. When kids are sleep deprived or due for a nap, disintegration happens fast. So rather than sweetly saying: "Please Mummy, may I have a rest?" your daughter flings her bowl across the room.

What to say: "You're showing me how exhausted you are! And I hear you! I'm putting the bowl in the sink and we'll go straight to our room for a rest, my love."

3. They need to pee

This one gets overlooked. But when (potty independent) children need to pee they often hold it in and become increasingly flustered. If little Jose suddenly bursts at you with an obnoxious tone saying, "You're not the boss of me," his stressed bladder may be to blame.

What to say: "Let's take a bathroom break and then we'll talk about this!"

4. They're worried about something

If your child is harboring a concern about an upcoming transition—such as moving houses, a new baby on the way, a new school, a new job, a new babysitter ora sick grandparent—they likely will not have the words to express that in a healthy way. Rather, they'll begin to refuse the meals you prepare, to hurt other children or to breakdown in tantrums at Every. Little. Thing.

This is their way of trying to gain some control over their lives. When you have an inkling as to what the worry is, pick a calm and connected moment, such as bedtime or a long drive, and address it head on. Be sure to be honest, but also optimistic and empowering. Don'tt dismiss their worries, but help talk abouth what might happen and what they can do about it.

What to say: "Hey, my love. I can see you're feeling really worried about something. Perhaps it's about the new baby that's on the way? Are you worried that I won't have as much time for you once the baby arrives?"

5. They're afraid of something

Most children experience normal childhood fears such as fear of the dark, monsters or robbers. While they may be normal, they can also be deeply inhibiting and can set them on edge throughout the day. Rather than remaining calm and regulated, your child might act out with anger. Helping him find coping mechanisms to gradually face these fears is key in helping children overcome their fear and not be controlled by it.

Validate their fears but still hold the expectation for them to overcome them, with support.

What to say: "I do not like being yelled at. I can see you're feeling pretty angry right now. Has this got something to do with the questions you were asking me about robbers before? I know there are none, and I want you to feel sure, too.Would you like for us to go through the house with a flashlight so you can feel satisfied there are no robbers here?"

6. They've been influenced by something

If children are watching violent TV shows or have neighbors, friends or cousins who are wild, destructive or disrespectful—they may well try on this behavior. We all unwittingly, imitate what we see around us. When I've watched too much Downton Abbey, for example, my accent skews far posher than usual. So if your neighbor has been reciting a foul-mouthed rap song to your daughter this morning in the yard, you can expect some of that to come through.

What to say: "Hmmm, using those words is not how we speak in our home. I know you might hear other people using that language but being respectful is very important to our family."

7. They're mirroring you

I know this one bites. But when we've been losing our cool, yelling, punishing, threatening, it's safe to assume our children will mirror that behavior right back at us. So when my son says: "How dare you?" it's nothing short of hypocritical of me to shoot him down with, "You will not speak to your mother that way," because clearly, he got it from me.

What to say: "I know I've been yelling and raising my voice. I'm sorry. It's important that we all speak kindly and gently to each other, including me. Can we start over?"

8. They're angry

Perhaps she's angry you didn't let her finish her game this morning, or that you forgot to dry her pink tutu in time for her playdate, or that you said no to a final helping of ice cream, or that you co-sleep with the baby and not with her, or that her teacher didn't give her a warm smile that day, or that her favorite doll's leg broke…

The point is, children have endless frustrations throughout their day—some of which are fleeting and others that are substantial. So when she purposely draws on your favorite cushion, she's expressing just how angry she is. The key is to validate their anger and to empathize so as to allow them to move through the anger and reach the softer emotion beneath is: sadness or fear.

Teach your child to express their anger through words, songs, painting… We love to sing the mad song (below) and eventually break into giggles. The healing comes when the angry feelings are expressed and allowed by you—even if the behavior is not.

What to say: "Yikes. I know you know that cushions are not for drawing on. And I can see from your face how mad you are right now! Being mad is just fine, but ruining our furniture is not. Would you like to stamp your feet and sing a mad song? Let's do it! Repeat after me! "I'm MAD MAD MAD! I want to be BAD BAD BAD! I feel so SAD SAD SAD! That makes me MAD MAD MAD!"

9. They're frustrated

When children hit developmental stages they haven't quite mastered yet, they can feel deep frustration that they often need to act out. Consider the baby who's trying to take their first steps and keeps falling. Or the toddler who desperately wants to feed herself but can't manipulate her fingers just so yet. Or the preschooler who can't write their name legibly despite their best efforts. Rather than politely saying, "I'm finding it difficult to master this skill which arouses deep frustration in me," he swats his baby brother on the head.

What to say: "I can't let you hit! I'm going to hold your hands until you can use them safely… I know you're so frustrated, my love. It's so hard to try something so many times and not manage yet, right?"

10.  They're sad

It's almost taboo for children to be sad, because culturally we like kids to be happy and to make those around them happy. But if a child experiences a loss or that's their temperamental disposition, they may feel deep sadness. They may be sad about things we expect them to be happy about such as a new sibling or graduating kindergarten. So she drags her feet just when you're rushing to get out the door.

What to say: "Sweetheart, your face seems sad. I see that! Would you like to talk to me about it? We must leave the house right now, but we will have plenty of time for me to listen in the car. Let me help you with your shoes and let's hold hands to the car, ok?"

11.  They're curious

Often what we perceive as acting out is really just exploration. Children are infinitely curious and learn through hands on, sensory experience. They need to touch, climb, throw, push, pull, spin things. So if your son just dumped all of the clean, folded laundry down the stairs, that may be his misguided curiosity at play.

What to say: "Oh no! That laundry is clean, so it's not for throwing. I will put it on the bed next time. But I can see you want to throw things! Let me pass you this basket of teddy bears and you can throw away."

12.  They didn't know it's not allowed

Sometimes kids simply don't realize something isn't allowed. Even though it was painfully obvious to you (or perhaps because of this) you never made it clear to them. So if your daughter just sprayed shaving cream all over the bathroom, she may have thought this was your plan all along. Why else would you leave the shaving cream out?

What to say: "Whoops! Shaving cream is not for playing with! Silly me. I should have left it in the cupboard. Next time please do not use this as a game. Let's clean up. I'll grab the mop. Do you want to spray or wipe?"

13.  They don't understand the logic behind the limit

Setting limits is important and sometimes kids do need to simply "do as we say" without further explanation. But those instances are rare. For the most part, we'll garner far more collaboration (rather than blind obedience) when children understand our reasoning behind the limits. Sometimes if we've too often failed to provide the logic, children may be moved to rebel. If they feel the rules don't make sense, they may go ahead and grab the chocolate despite your repeated assertions that's not allowed.

What to say: "Sam, I was very clear in asking you not to eat this chocolate and I'm disappointed that you have anyway. The reason I asked you not to was because this is for a gift for Marcy, it was not for us! I should have explained that, but I do expect you to honor my requests even when you don't understand them. We'll have to go and buy some more chocolate to replace this one. Let's get your money jar and you can contribute to the purchase."

14.   They're over-controlled

In a home that's run like a tight ship with a lot of control and fear-based parenting, many children will act out. Under the pressures of high expectations and low support, children begin to feel like there's "nothing to lose." They resent feeling controlled and scramble to find ways to exert their autonomy and sovereignty. That's one reason she why she may sneak around, lie or rebel. Lying is a normal developmental stage in children around the age of 5, but it can also be the sign of too much parental control—such as if she's afraid you'll come down on her like a ton of bricks, so she doesn't want to share the truth.

What to say: "Honey, it seems you've lied to me. It's really important that we have integrity and an honest, open relationship in our home. Were you afraid that I would be very angry or punish you if you were honest?"

15.  They're confused about limits 

When we've been confused about a limit ourselves or unclear in setting them, children will push back and act out. They've received the message from us that this is a "free for all" or an "undefined territory" and is up for grabs. So if you sometimes let them use the iPad first thing in the morning and sometimes don't, then you can expect them to try their luck.

What to say: "I'm sorry, I can see the confusion here is my fault as I've been unclear about the rules about the iPad in the morning. Let's have a family meeting and discuss when and how we use it and who's responsible for charging it. We can all contribute ideas and agree on what to do when someone breaks these rules. Then we'll all sign it and hang up the rules for all to see."

16.  They're agitated by something

Many children have sensitivities that can go undetected but manifest in grumpy behavior. Food intolerances such as a sensitivity to dairy or gluten can lead to fussy, testy children who appear to be acting out. A child who is sensorily sensitive to labels in their shirt, tight socks or too much noise can be more likely to tantrum, shut down, make demands or yell rudely.

What to say: "I can see you're uncomfortable. Yelling like that hurst my ears. Can you help me figure out what's bothering you? And then I can adjust it for you. Perhaps it's too noisy in here? Let's try going outside."

17.  There's inconsistency

For most families a certain measure of predictability breeds security. And security helps children (us all) to regulate. If a child is picked up by a different adult each day, has dinner at a different time each day, has a bedtime at a different time each day—you get the picture—they're likely to feel unsafe or unsure of what comes next.

When limits are inconsistent, too, then they're really not sure where they stand. So when she becomes impossible at bedtime, demanding yet another drink, book or trip to the bathroom, this may actually be a plea for more predictability in her life.

What to say: "It's really time to say goodnight now my love. We're done with the books. Let's talk about exactly what's happening tomorrow, okay? In the morning you'll wake up and then daddy will give you breakfast..."

18.  They're over stressed

Just like all people, if children are under too much stress they will absolutely act out or self damage, which is far worse. Unfortunately, today, children are under a lot of unnecessary stress to perform academically from the youngest of ages.

Children need long stretches of uninterrupted, independent play every single day, they need time in nature and time to rest. If they're not getting these de-stressors, and their every day is scheduled with goal-driven, measurable activities that are then evaluated by adults such as grades, then they're probably under a lot of stress. It's no wonder he's obnoxiously slamming doors.

What to say: "Can I come in? You just slammed that door pretty hard! I know you must be feeling very run down with all the homework you've got. Plus the game on Saturday. And piano practice. Still, please respect our home. You can always tell me when you're stressed and I'll get it. Hey, I have an idea, can we take this evening off? I'll write you a note for your teacher. Let's go play Monopoly."

19.  They don't have the words

Especially in the early years, toddlers may simply not have the words we so desperately want for them to use. That's why when parents yell for them to use their words, it usually falls on deaf ears. They can't. Even if the appropriate words exist in their vocabulary, under the stress of the moment they can't muster them.

As the adults, we can help to find the appropriate words for them and model for them how they might be used. So if you're child lashes out when a friend grabs a doll, use it as a language learning opportunity.

What to say: "Uh oh! That hurt Kiley! I do not want you to hit. Are you trying to tell her you're not done with the doll? Let's check if she's ok and then you can tell her, "I'm not done with the doll, Kiley… Hey, Kiley, are you ok?"

20.  They're overstimulated

Whether there's too much noise, too many people, too many toys, too much novelty, light, excitement, attention, colors, sensations… an overload of stimulation can cause a really visceral reaction in anyone. So when you were so excited to take your 3-year-old to the fair, but they ended up tantruming through the entire thing because they wanted another ride on the Tea Cups, you can bet overstimulation is at the root.

What to say: "I can see we're feeling a bit overwhelmed! And there is a lot going on here! Come, let's go over here to this quiet corner and sit down together for a few minutes. You can put your head on my shoulder and close your eyes. We'll calm our bodies down together."

21.  They're trying to get connection

If we haven't had much time for our little ones, they may be feeling cast aside or left behind. In a somewhat misplaced bid for connection, they may break something, yell or hurt someone. And it works for attention. But the fundamental thing to realize is that it's not about attention, it's about connection. They want our eye contact, our touch, our open hearts—not the stern look on our face telling them off. But if they can't get the former, they'll settle for the latter.

What to say: "Hey! I think you might have run out of hugs… Can I fill you up? Do you know how I can tell? Because you called me "stupid." That doesn't feel good to me and it shows me you must be completely out of hugs. Come over here!"

22.  They're questioning your leadership

If you're a shaky, unconfident leader in your family, you might experience increased limit-testing and push back. So when you say it's time to go, you might experience a lot of dawdling or even just outright ignoring.

What to say: "I can see I didn't make myself clear the first time. I do not like being ignored. We're going. Shoes on, now, please!"

23.  They're not sure what's expected of them

Sometimes your child might behave inappropriately simply because they don't know what they're supposed to be doing. Especially in a new situation, or with new people, they may shy away, or—conversely—become too loud and demand all of the spotlight. They may say things that appear rude or unseeingly, simply because no one's ever told them that it's impolite to point or that we don't make comments about people's bodies.

What to say: "While we're visiting Uncle Tom, we're expected to talk in soft voices. Can you use a soft voice with me?"

24.  They want to be seen

Acting out, ultimately, can be a bid for being seen, valued and accepted as we are. It can be as though our child is saying, "Hey, Mum, will you love me when I do this?!"

What to say: "I can see you're trying to do the worst thing you can think of! But I will love you no matter what you do, you can't escape my love."

When children act out it can be tempting to chalk it up to “bad behavior," “demanding attention" or an “annoying mood." But all behavior is a communication.

A request for help in meeting an unmet need. The need for unconditional love, for security and safety, for clarity and information. Usually when we answer the root cause, the symptom of the unpleasant behavior becomes irrelevant and fades away.

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As a mid-Spring holiday, we never knew exactly what to expect from the weather on Easter when I was growing up in Michigan: Would we get to wear our new Sunday dresses without coats? Or would we be hunting for eggs while wearing snowsuits?

Although what the temperature had in store was really anyone's guess, there were a few special traditions my sister and I could always depend on—and it won't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that my favorite memories revolved around food. After all, experts say memories are strongest when they tie senses together, which certainly seems to be true when it comes to holiday meals that involve the sounds of laughter and the taste of amazing food.

Now that I'm a parent, I'm experiencing Easter anew as my children discover the small delights of chocolate, pre-church brunch and a multi-generational dinner. While I still look forward to the treats and feasting, I'm realizing now that the sweetest thing of all is how these traditions bring our family together around one table.

For us, the build-up to Easter eats is an extended event. Last year's prep work began weeks in advance when my 3-year-old and I sat down to plan the brunch menu, which involved the interesting suggestion of "green eggs and ham." When the big morning rolled around, his eyes grew to the size of Easter eggs out of pure joy when the dish was placed on the table.

This year, rather than letting the day come and go in a flash, we are creating traditions that span weeks and allow even the littlest members of the family to feel involved.

Still, as much as I love enlisting my children's help, I also relish the opportunity to create some magic of my own with their Easter baskets—even if the Easter Bunny gets the credit. This year, I'm excited to really personalize the baskets by getting an "adoptable" plush unicorn for my daughter and the Kinder Chocolate Mini Eggs that my son hasn't stopped talking about since seeing at the store. (You can bet this mama is stocking up on some for herself, too.)

At the same time, Easter as a parent has opened my eyes to how much effort can be required...

There is the selection of the right Easter outfits for picture-perfect moments.

There is the styling of custom Easter baskets.

There is the filling of plastic eggs and strategic placement of them throughout the yard.

But when the cameras are put away and we all join together around the table for the family dinner at the end of the day, I can finally take a deep breath and really enjoy—especially with the knowledge that doing the dishes is my husband's job.

This article was sponsored by Kinder. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


Our Partners

Some days, what our family really needs is a good distraction from the news. With weekend days wide open and normal activities canceled, now is the perfect time to host your own at-home family "Olympics."

You can make this family indoor activity as simple or complex as you want. Break out the craft supplies to make paper torches and medals, spend some time learning about different countries to "represent" in the games, divide family members into teams and get started with as many of the games below that sound doable and fun for your crew. You might even support local businesses by getting some international takeout for a victory feast at the end of the day.

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Don't feel limited to the usual games either. Throw in some intellectual rather than physical games if you want and make sure to include something every member of the family is good at.

Let the games begin with these 20 game ideas for an "At-Home Olympics"

1. Find countries on a map

Challenge your kids' geography skills as one team tries to stump the other with finding different countries on a map.

2. Race to tie your shoes

Choose a skill your child has been working on and turn it into a game—for example, have a race to see who can tie their shoes the fastest or who can pump the highest on a swing in 30 seconds. Any simple skill can be turned into a game!

3. Spelling bee

Have an Olympics-themed spelling bee as part of the games, with words like badminton, archery, equestrian, gymnastics, anthem, compete and representative.

4. Clean up race

Set up a race to see who can clean their room the fastest or who can pick up a bucket of dumped Legos in the shortest time.

5. Name that country

Find some fun facts about different nations and cultures and quiz each other.

6. Throwing competition

Choose a ball or a frisbee and see who can throw the farthest.

Alternatively, play a competitive game of catch, where whichever team keeps the ball from hitting the ground the longest wins.

7. Cartwheel contest

Make sure to include some sports where your kid probably has the advantage, like a cartwheel contest. See how many cartwheels you can do in a row or set up some subjective judging like in the real Olympics.

Have a little gymnast on your hands? Include somersaults and balance beam "routines," or encourage them to come up with their own floor routine to music.

8. Basketball

Basketball can be an indoor or outdoor sport if you have a little hoop and a ball.

Don't have a basketball set? All you really need is a bucket (or laundry basket for the little kids) and a ball. See who can make 10 baskets the fastest or compete to see who can make the most shots in 2 minutes.

9. Races

Three-legged races, pillowcase races, jumping races, galloping races—mix it up and include as many as you like!

10. Long jump

Practice jumping as far as you can, marking where each person lands.

11. Paper plane throwing contest

Each team creates a paper airplane and then throws them to see whose goes the furthest.

12. Tug of war

You know the rules for this one! Make sure an adult on each team stands at the back, which minimizes the chance of kids slipping and falling.

13. Stacking contest

Who can stack the highest? Use blocks, rocks, whatever you have on hand.

14. Water bucket relay

You can't have the summer Olympics without some water sports!

Fill a few buckets with water and place them at one end of the yard. One member of your team stands by the buckets and the other stands across the yard. Race to see how quickly you can transport all of the buckets.

15. Hula hooping contest

Try to get this one on video if you can as it's sure to get silly. See who can hula hoop the longest. Consider adding style points for fun tricks!

16. Sailboat racing

Use a water table, blow up pool, or bathtub for an at-home sailboat race. Talk about what materials float and what holds up in the water and let your kids lead the way in designing a sailboat. See which one crosses the water the fastest or which one stays afloat the longest.

17. Jump rope contest

Who can jump rope the longest? Who can jump rope backward the longest? This is a fun and super simple "event" for an at-home Olympics.

18. Cycling race

Race balance bikes, tricycles or bikes around the perimeter of the backyard. Want to give your kids a leg up in the race? Try riding one of their little bikes instead of your own—it's harder than it looks!

19. Soccer

No soccer goal at home? Not a problem!

If you don't have a real goal, use some chalk to mark off a big rectangle on the fence in your yard. Play an actual game of soccer or have a goal-kicking contest depending on the age and skill level of your kids.

20. Balance challenge

See who can walk the farthest with a book or beanbag balanced on their head. Who can walk the fastest balancing a ball on a spoon? Who wins a race hopping on one foot? There are so many fun (and funny) ways to compete on balance!

No matter what sports you choose to include, hosting an at-home family Olympics is the perfect way to turn a day at home into something your kids are likely to remember forever. It's also an excellent chance to work on skills like teamwork and good sportsmanship.

Take pictures of the day and make a scrapbook. It just might become a repeat event in your family!

Learn + Play

It's the kind of news no one wants to report and that no elected official wants to have to give to constituents, but on Wednesday Connecticut's Governor, Ned Lamont broke the news that an infant in his state died due to complications of COVID-19.

"It is with heartbreaking sadness today that we can confirm the first pediatric fatality in Connecticut linked to #COVID19. A 6-week-old newborn from the Hartford area was brought unresponsive to a hospital late last week and could not be revived," Lamont tweeted.

According to the governor, the baby tested positive for COVID-19.

"This is absolutely heartbreaking. We believe this is one of the youngest lives lost anywhere due to complications relating to COVID-19," he wrote.

FEATURED VIDEO

Lamont continued: "This is a virus that attacks our most fragile without mercy. This also stresses the importance of staying home and limiting exposure to other people. Your life and the lives of others could literally depend on it. Our prayers are with the family at this difficult time."

Lamont initially said the baby was 6 weeks old, but Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin later confirmed the baby girl was 7 weeks old, NBC Connecticut reports.

Before this baby's death, the youngest person to die from COVID-19 in Connecticut was 35 years old. The Connecticut case follows the death of a 9-month-old infant in Illinois on March 23. That baby's death is still being investigated as it is presumed to have been caused by COVID-19 but that has not yet been confirmed. The results of that cause of death investigation are expected within days, The Chicago Tribune reported this week.

Health officials are asking parents to take the social distancing guidelines seriously because while preliminary research suggests that children with COVID-19 usually don't get as sick as adults, a study posted by the journal Pediatrics found babies and preschoolers can become severely ill if they get COVID-19 (older kids are also are not immune, as the recent deaths of teens in France and London, England illustrate).

We are not reporting on this news to scare you, mama. We are reporting it to inform you so that you can make the best choices possible to protect your family.

Here is how you can protect you babies from COVID-19:

According to Dr. Aaron Milstone, M.D., M.H.S., a pediatrician at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and an infectious disease expert at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, the best way to keep our kids from getting COVID-19 is to avoid exposure. That means staying home and avoiding contact with people who don't live in your home or who are sick or have been exposed to sick people.

"Children are exposed to COVID-19 when the virus contacts their eyes, nose, mouth or lungs. This usually occurs when a nearby infected person coughs or sneezes, which releases respiratory droplets into the air and onto the child's face or nearby surfaces such as tables, food or hands," Dr. Milstone explains.

Speaking on Good Morning America this week, another expert, Dr. David Kimberlin (professor and co-director of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama-Birmingham) reminded parents that there are other viruses going around that are not COVID-19.

"Not every fever, not every cough is going to be this new COVID-19 virus," said Kimberlin. "That said, the coronavirus is circulating widely and so it has to be on our radar and part of what we're thinking. Pediatricians across the country are on heightened awareness with this."

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents call their doctor if their infant is showing symptoms that could be COVID-19 (including fever, cough and shortness of breath). Your pediatrician can tell you if you need to take your baby to the ER.

If your infant or child has difficulty breathing, can't keep down liquids, has bluish lips, confusion or won't wake up, call 911.

[An earlier version of this post stated the baby's 6 weeks old. It has been updated with clarification from Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, who says the baby was 7 weeks old.]

News

Easter is almost here, mama. But if you're anything like me, you haven't had time to prepare. Surviving during the coronavirus outbreak with a preschooler and 11-month-old has taken up much of my energy. And since I'm constantly thinking of fun activities to entertain them, I find myself exhausted with the mere thought of having to think of cool Easter crafts—I'm tapped out!

Thankfully, there are tons of Easter crafts that are perfect for the season (and really, any day). So grab some paper, scissors, glue and googly eyes and let your imagination fly.

Here are 10 easy Easter crafts your kids will love making:

Speckled egg planters

Bring the outdoors indoors with a fun spring gardening project.

What you'll need:

  • Eggs
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Mini cups (disposable or whatever you use for crafting)
  • Paper towels or newspaper
  • Organic potting soil
  • Spoons and bowls (disposable or whatever you use for crafting)
  • Small fresh potted flowers
  • Empty egg carton to display planters

Instructions:

1. Gently tap the top of each egg against a hard surface until it has started to crack. Carefully remove pieces of shell from the very top of the egg, leaving about three quarters of the remaining shell intact. Pour out the yolks and whites, then wash and fully dry the empty shells.

2. Fill up your mini cups with paint in the colors of your choice.

3. Using a brush, start splattering paint by tapping your paint brush with your index finger. Let the shells dry completely.

Craft from Nellie's free range eggs.

Pom pom bunnies

There's nothing sweeter in the spring than fuzzy little animals.

What you'll need:

  • Scissors
  • Tacky glue
  • Yarn
  • Cotton balls
  • Felt
  • Beads

Instructions:

1. Start by creating a small pom-pom for the head and a large pom-pom for the body. Wrap yarn around the "arms" of your pom pom maker and make sure not to wrap too tightly. The more yarn you use, the thicker and fluffier your bunny will be! For the small pom-pom, we wound the yarn about 15 times. For the large pom-pom, we wound the yarn about 40 times.

2. Cut a 10-inch piece of yarn and tie it in the center. Tie the yarn so it leaves one long tail. Gently remove the yarn from the pom-pom winder.

3. Take scissors and cut the loops to create your pom-pom. Make sure not to cut the long tail on the pom-pom. Repeat steps with the large pom-pom maker to create the bunny's body.

4. Take the two pom-poms and tie the long tails together to create the bunny. Trim off any excess yarn.

5. Decorate your bunny with felt and beads! Make eyes, a nose and a tail, and glue them on the pom-poms.

Craft from Kiwico.

Easter egg suncatcher

Similar to a wind chime, a suncatcher can be hung near windows to "catch" light. Make your own by following these easy steps.

What you'll need:

  • Clear contact paper
  • 2 sheets of construction paper
  • Tissue paper in various colors
  • 1 sheet white paper
  • 12-inch piece of yarn
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Pushpins
  • Foam board

Instructions:

1. You will need a sheet of contact paper that is twice the size of a piece of construction paper. Lay the contact paper, clear side down (do not remove the backing yet!) onto the foam board and tack it in place with pushpins, one in each corner.

2. Draw an egg shape on white paper with a black marker. Slide the egg drawing underneath the contact paper on the left side. Carefully peel the backing off the left side of the contact paper (the sticky side should be facing upward) and fold it over to the right, tacking it under the pushpins on the right to hold it in place.

3. Have children decorate the sticky side of the contact paper with tissue paper, using the egg drawing underneath as a guide.

4. When children are done decorating, peel the backing off the right side of the contact paper and fold it over to the left, sticky side to sticky side. This will sandwich the tissue paper design between the contact paper.

5. Take the egg drawing and cut it out. Use that as a guide to cut egg shapes from the purple construction paper. Stack both sheets of construction paper together and cut around the egg, leaving about a 1-inch border all the way around.

6. Use the egg cut-out to cut the decorated contact paper in the same fashion, only leaving about 1/2-inch border all the way around.

7. Tie your yarn into a loop. Use a glue stick to adhere the egg inside the two construction paper eggs, creating a frame for your suncatcher. Be sure to glue the yarn inside with the contact paper egg.

Craft from Crafts by Amanda.

Crafty cascaróns

Making cascaróns is a great way to gather friends, family, and neighbors together to celebrate Easter and share Latino traditions.

What you'll need:

  • Newspaper, craft paper, or a plastic tablecloth
  • One dozen eggs (and carton)
  • Easter egg coloring kit or natural dyes
  • Small bowls
  • Vinegar (optional for vibrant colored eggs)
  • Scissors
  • Tissue paper, cut into small squares
  • Glue
  • Paper confetti (you can make DIY confetti by hole-punching construction paper)

Instructions:

1. Prepare the egg decorating work area by covering your table with newspaper, craft paper or a plastic tablecloth. Be sure to have plenty of napkins handy for little decorators to dry their hands on or to clean up any spills.

2. With a spoon, gently tap the top of an egg.

3. Remove the bits of shell, peeling away enough to make a small 1/2-inch hole.

4. Empty the contents of the egg out into a bowl. Thoroughly rinse the egg shell inside and out, shaking out excess water. Let the eggshell air dry upside down in an empty egg carton.

5. Dye the egg shells using an egg coloring kit or natural dyes in individual bowls. Add a splash of vinegar to the dye for vibrant color. Note: Brown eggs produce pretty earthy colors, and usually need to sit in the dye a bit longer.

6. When the egg shells are dry, fill with confetti to the brim. Once filled, apply glue around the outside of the hole and cover with colorful tissue paper. Let sit until completely dry.

7. Find an unsuspecting friend to sneak up on and gently tap your colorful cascarón over their head, then watch the confetti fly!

Craft from Nellie's free range eggs.

Rainbow play dough

Playing with playdough is a classic activity kids love and it's very easy to make.

What you'll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup cream of tartar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Food dye
  • Wax paper

Instructions:

1. Mix flour, salt and cream of tartar in a medium saucepan. Add water and oil; mix well. Add 20 drops of desired food color.

2. Cook about 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture holds together.

3. Remove from heat. Scrape dough onto wax paper to cool. Knead lightly until the dough is smooth.

4. Store in an airtight container. May be kept for 2 to 4 weeks.

Craft from McCormick.

Egg carton floral garland

Spring has sprung and it's the perfect time to add color to your kitchen, living room or your child's bedroom. Use this garland to liven your home.

What you'll need:

  • Empty egg carton
  • Mod podge
  • Oversized needle
  • Green thread/string
  • Tissue paper (purple, pink and green)
  • Scissors

Instructions:

1. Cut the empty egg carton into individual cups.

2. Cut tissue paper into 3-inch squares.

3. Apply mod podge onto the outside of each egg cup. Place a tissue paper square onto the bottom of the cup, pressing to adhere, and then press onto the sides as well, gathering the paper to fit and forming a crinkled flower. Repeat for as many flowers as desired, and set aside to dry completely.

4. To make the leaves, cut out the flat top of the egg carton lid, recycling the off-cuts.

5. Use mod podge to apply green tissue paper onto the lid and let dry.

6. Once the tissue-covered lid is dry, cut lid into leaf shapes, each about 1-inch long. Once the tissue-covered egg cups are dry, use scissors to trim the excess tissue from the edges.

7. Thread an oversized needle with green thread. Carefully pierce the egg cup as close to the base as possible, and pull the needle all the way through.

8. To add the leaves onto the string, poke two holes into one side, as shown. Then, put the needle through each of the holes.

9. Continue adding flowers and leaves onto the string. Once all flowers have been added, cut contrasting tissue paper centers. Pinch the center of each circle and crumple the excess. Add a dot of mod podge into the center of each flower and attach the new tissue paper center onto each dot. Let dry completely, then hang as desired.

Craft from Nellie's free range eggs.

Easter egg wreath

Wreath making isn't just for the holiday season. This colorful wreath from paper plates is perfect for kids of all ages to create.

What you'll need:

  • paper plates
  • construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Markers
  • ribbon

Instructions:

1. Cut the middle out of your paper plate. Cut ovals out of construction paper or encourage your child to try cutting the ovals.

2. Decorate the eggs with markers, paint, or stickers. I envisioned polka dots, stripes, and springtime decorations. Instead he made Angry Birds, Tic Tac Toe, and happy face eggs. It's times like these when I remember it's all about the process and creativity and not about the end product.

3. Arrange and glue the eggs onto the paper plate.

4. You can layer the eggs or arrange them onto your wreath in any way you want. You could even add a ribbon to hang it. This craft would also work well with egg shapes cut from craft foam.

Craft from Kiwico.

Yarn pom pom bunny tails

There's no doubt that Bunnies are an important part of Easter. Make your own bunny costume and start with a super cute tail.

What you'll need:

  • Scissors
  • Yarn
  • Yarn winder

Instructions:

1. Take your scissors and cut a piece of yarn that is about 4 feet-long. This will act as a belt to secure your pom-pom tail. Put it aside.

2. Hold the pom-pom winder in one hand. Using your dominant hand, start winding the yarn from the skein around and around. Don't wrap it too tightly or it may be difficult to remove from the winder. Keep winding. One full yarn skein will create a big fluffy pom-pom tail.

3. When you are done winding, take the 4 feet-long piece of yarn and tie it around the middle of the looped yarn between the arms of the pom-pom winder. The long string of yarn will act as a belt so make sure to secure the bunny tail in the center. Tie it twice to make sure it is extra secure.

4. Pull the yarn off the pom-pom winder. Take the scissors and cut both ends of the looped yarn. Adult assistance may be required! As you do this, make sure not to cut the piece of yarn that was used to tie the middle. Once the loops are cut, you will have your pom-pom tail.

5. Take the long string and tie it around your waist to secure the tail in place. Now get hopping!

Craft from Kiwico.

Homemade Easter marshmallows

Forget store-bought treats and create your own Easter marshmallows.

What you'll need:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup cold water, divided
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 envelopes (1/4 ounce each) unflavored gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar

Instructions:

1. For the colored sugar, place sugar in a large resealable plastic bag. Select your desired Marshmallow variation in the tips section below and add the designated amount of food color with the sugar. Seal bag and knead gently until color is evenly distributed. Spread colored sugar in a thin layer on a large rimmed baking sheet and break up any large lumps. Allow to dry thoroughly, about 15 to 20 minutes. Sift or press through sieve, if needed. Spray a 13x9 baking dish with no stick cooking spray then coat with some of the colored sugar. Set aside.

2. For the marshmallows, microwave 1/2 cup of the water, sugar and corn syrup in a medium microwavable bowl on high for seven minutes. Stir to dissolve sugar. Microwave on high for five more minutes. Carefully remove the hot bowl from the microwave.

3. Place remaining 1/2 cup water in a large mixer bowl. Sprinkle with gelatin. Let stand 5 minutes. Gradually beat in hot syrup mixture with whisk attachment on medium-low speed. Beat 8 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high. Beat 10 to 12 minutes longer or until mixture is fluffy, shiny and at least tripled in volume. Beat in vanilla.

4. Spread marshmallow mixture in prepared dish. Smooth top with a spatula. Sprinkle some more of the colored sugar on top to coat. Let stand at room temperature overnight or refrigerate at least three hours. Reserve remaining colored sugar in a large resealable plastic bag or airtight container.

5. Cut marshmallows with 1 to 2-inch cookie cutters. Add marshmallows in batches to reserved colored sugar in the bag; toss to coat well. Shake off excess. Store marshmallows in an airtight container at room temperature up to three days.

Marshmallow color variations:

  • Pink Marshmallows: Add 10 drops pink color with the sugar.
  • Purple Marshmallows: Add 5 drops purple color and 8 drops blue color with the sugar.
  • Blue Marshmallows: Add 15 drops blue color with the sugar.

Craft from McCormick.

DIY scented rainbow bubbles

What's better than bubbles? Rainbow-colored bubbles scented with essential oils. Have fun experimenting with colors, smells and bubble recipes at home.

What you'll need:

  • Empty egg cartons
  • Unscented dish soap
  • Glycerin
  • Essential oils
  • Food coloring Bottles or jars (with lids)
  • Scissors
  • Wire and/or pipe cleaners
  • Wire cutters

Instructions:

1. Open up the empty egg carton and cut along each hinge so that you have three pieces. The two egg-compartment pieces will be used for holding bubbles, while the flat lid piece can be recycled, set aside for another craft.

2. In a pitcher, mix together 6 cups of water, 1 cup of unscented dish soap, and 1 tablespoon of glycerin. Use a large spoon or whisk to stir the solution until well combined.

3. Pour the solution into eight jars or bottles, one for each color of the rainbow.

4. Add a drop of food coloring into each jar. Once the colors are mixed, add a drop or two of essential oil to each color and stir to combine.

5. Have fun forming the wire into loopy shapes, making sure that they either fit into the openings on your jars or are the size of one egg compartment. Use tape to secure the handles if necessary, or simply twist the wire together. Pipe cleaners work in a similar way and are a great option for younger kids. Once shaped, your bubble blowers are ready to use, but you can choose to give them a quick coat of spray paint if desired.

6. To set up your rainbow bubble station, pour the colored bubbles into the egg compartments. Dip your DIY bubble wands into each solution, gently blow and watch the bubbles take shape!

Craft from Nellie's free range eggs.

Lifestyle

Dear mama,

When you find out you're pregnant, oftentimes you're hit by a wave of emotions. You immediately wonder and worry about so many things.

How will I give birth? Where will I give birth? What classes should I take? How will I feed my baby? What do I need for this baby? Should I get a doula? Will I be a good mother?

Never in a million years did you think you'd have to worry about giving birth during a global pandemic. This is certainly an unprecedented time to be delivering a baby.

Just a few weeks ago, my doula business was busy—I was attending birth after birth, all while standing right by each of my client's sides. Then, things changed.

FEATURED VIDEO

As we began to hear more and more about the coronavirus each day, we began to realize just how much this was going to impact us as doulas and, in turn, all the families we were in the process of supporting or planned on supporting. Things changed rapidly.

My last in-person support was a few weeks ago. I walked into the hospital to be with a couple that morning, and by the afternoon that very hospital changed their policy to say only one support person would be allowed in the delivery room.

I felt your wave of emotions and worries now shift completely. You wanted me there and I wanted to be there for you—like we planned.

As a doula, it truly is an honor to be there with you to witness the miracle of your baby coming into the world.

As a doula, I aim to support you emotionally, physically and educationally before, during and after the birth of your baby.

As a doula, I aim to reduce fear and instill strength.

Just as someone might hire a wedding planner for their wedding, I am that for your birth. We spend a lot of time together discussing and preparing for your big day. And just like a wedding, rain or shine, the big day is going to happen.

Global pandemic or not, your baby is going to be born.

Changes in your birth plan or not, your baby is going to be born.

In-person doula or not, your baby is going to be born.

Things have shifted, mama, and it breaks my heart that I won't be able to be there physically in the room with you. What shatters it completely is knowing that this is breaking your heart, too. Knowing that you are scared and feeling doubt as you wonder, how am I going to do this?

But remember all the many ways doulas can support you. Just because the physical aspect has been taken away, doesn't mean I am completely taken away. Now I will be focusing on supporting you emotionally and educationally. I can still be part of your birth team—virtually. I will be on the phone talking, texting and FaceTiming with you every step of the way.

Yes, I know and understand it is not the same. I know this was not what you envisioned for your big day.

But here is what I want you to remember: You can and will get through this.

You have been through difficult times in your life and you have made it through to the other side.

You have done everything you needed to do to prepare for this day and you know what to do.

You are strong.

You are brave.

You are ready.

You are a mother.

Remember to take it moment by moment, one breath at a time. Allow yourself to move, listen, connect to your body and baby. Remember all the strong women before you who have birthed life into this world. Remember you are not only connected to them, but to every woman across the globe who are also getting ready to birth their babies.

This is a historic moment. YOU are the women giving birth to babies born during a global pandemic. YOU are superheroes.

Now, take your arms and wrap them around your belly and close your eyes. Take a deep inhale and slowly exhale. Know you have the strength and power within you. You can do this—with or without me—because you are your baby's mother. Even though I will not be with you in the room, my heart and my words are right there by your side.

Sending virtual (for now) hugs,

Your doula

Life
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