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masks for kids!

masks for kids!

With COVID-19 cases quickly rising again here in the US, many states have mandated that masks should be worn for ages 2 and up when outside of your home in a community setting. It's the easiest and safest way to protect ourselves and others. There are a growing number of great options for kids, so here are a few of my favorites! Since masks should be washed after each day worn, we have a handful for each of our kids so that we always have clean ones available.

1. The Mighty Company glitter face masks (3 for $55, ages 6-11, one mask donated for every mask sold and 20% of profits to NAACP Legal Defense Fund), 2. Kira Kids star mask ($10, ages 7-12), 3. Kira Kids tie dye (2 for $16.50, ages 3-6), 4. School Mask Pack (pre-order 5 for $30), 5. Mochi Kids happy mask ($19.50, one mask donated with each purchase), 6. We Are Aurora Masks (located in South Africa), 7. Cubcoats (2 masks for $13, ages 4+, 10% donated to Feeding America).

oh joy academy: juggling work and life during a pandemic...

oh joy academy: juggling work and life during a pandemic...

Back in March when COVID-19 became wide-spread in the U.S., many small businesses came to a standstill, slowed down, closed temporarily, or quickly pivoted. What we thought was a temporary inconvenience turned out to be a worldwide pandemic that we're still going through right now. The difference between now and a few months ago is that we've all adjusted to a new version of what our day-to-day looks like. Whether that's working from home while managing kids or working partially in an office with less people, it's a much different day-to-day than we had before.

I recently asked you on Stories how I can help you or your small business right now during our new normal. We received lots of questions, so I have a multi-part series planned over the next several weeks answering some of your most asked questions and sharing tips and advice you requested. Today is about balance and juggling work and life right now...

Overall, when it comes to juggling work and life, my key tips are the same as they have always been and were pre-pandemic:

  1. Focus on Your Priorities
  2. Divide and Conquer
  3. Block Off Time
  4. It's Gonna Be Okay

Those four things working hand-in-hand are super important always but even more so right now. Whether that's because you are: dealing with a new baby or have multiple kids at home, working from home, running a business from home, trying to get a new job, trying to start a new business, or getting a side hustle off the ground, you're trying to do it ALL while also trying to stay safe and healthy.

1. Focus on Your Priorities. This means taking inventory of what parts of your life (both personal and professional) need your daily attention the most. Right now, many of us who are parents are stretched thinner than ever with possibly little or no childcare, no school, and no summer camps. Your children need you, and your work needs you. First, when and for what do your kids need you (and only you)? If they have online classes on Zoom or a certain amount of help needed with daily activities, get a good grasp of when you need to be fully available for them. This will obviously vary based on the ages of your kid(s). For example, ages 5 and up can do a lot more on their own than a baby or toddler.

This priority focus also applies to work. Whether you work for another company or run your own business, it's nearly impossible to do your normal full-time schedule during your normal hours if you're also home with your kids. So focus on the parts of your business that are most active and continuing to bring you income. For some of you, this may now be a good time to focus on parts of your business you never had a chance to take care of (like updating your website or filing all your business papers away), especially if certain parts of your business have slowed down or are on hold due to COVID-19.

2. Divide and Conquer. Every home is different so your available childcare/help will vary. Maybe your partner also works from home, and you need to figure out how to split each of your days so that someone is fully available for your toddler. Perhaps a parent or nanny has been part of your pod since quarantine started, and you have some hours of childcare help available. Once you have your home team assessed and everyone has their own new normal schedules figured out, this is where team work makes the dream work. Coordinate with your home team a schedule that works best for everyone in helping with not only your kids but also meal prep, cleaning, and all those household things that now need more attention than ever. You can then go about giving yourself set times for work and life within your day.

3. Blocking Off Time. While a normal day for you might have been a nice 9-5, adding in being a homeschool teacher doesn't usually allow for your work hours to be standard at all. Based on the priorities you have set above, you'll need to block off the time needed for your family and then fill in work in the other times around that. Whether that means you can work while your kids get a couple hours of downtime, while they are on a Zoom summer class, while your baby is napping, or while you have someone else at home available to be with them, this is your time to get your own work done! Now, this could be 1-2 hours a day or 6-8 hours a day depending on your own family's schedule and needs. This also might mean making time in the evenings after your kids are in bed to really get a couple hours of uninterrupted time to either finish work, start on a new project, or work on your new side hustle.

4. It's Gonna Be Okay. Even if you get yourself set-up with all of the above, some days will not go perfectly. And it's okay! I have had days where I was on a phone or Skype interview, and my kids come screaming into the room. I've had moments of peace thinking that everyone was doing great only to have everyone in full meltdown mode fifteen minutes later. These times are not normal, and we are not expected to be perfect at handling it all. Not today...maybe not ever. I have had moments where my stress of trying to DO IT ALL at the same time wore on me, and I found myself being crabby to everyone in my family for the rest of the day. But now I try hard to remember that we're all trying the best that we can. And tomorrow is a new day!

Now after keeping the above in mind, here are some specific questions I received...

How can I find time to kickstart a new business with a young baby? This time will come from a combination of when you have help and when your baby is sleeping. Basically, how much time do you have when your baby doesn't actively need you? Is that one hour a day or is that more? If you have help available, take it! Many new parents (especially Moms) have a hard time asking for help. Not only do you need help to find some rest (if you're still doing nighttime feedings), but if you are trying to start a new business or side hustle, you need some regular time to keep feeding into your career goals (again, if that's a current priority for you) as well.

I am juggling three different hustles and having a hard time balancing them all. Help!
This is when priorities come into place. Do you need to be doing three side hustles right now? Are they all working? Are they all growing? Are they all making money? If not, focus on the one or two that are doing best, earning the most money, and making you happy. You'll be much happier, less stressed, and those hustles that have your focus will thrive more.

Do you have tips on working from home while parenting?
If you didn't work from home before (which most of us didn't) then it's time to set up a new work-from-home area. If you don't have a home office, this could be a corner of your bedroom or an area of the dining room. Ideally, this is a closed off space to provide a bit of separation when you do have blocked off time to work (more WFH office tips here). Having just a bit of separation helps physically indicate for everyone that it's work time.

When should you take risks in your business? COVID-19 changed my entire structure.
Lots of business have seen major changes over the past three months...some small and some major. I have seen small businesses take major risks with appropriate pivots that majorly paid off. I have also seen some play it safe and stick to what they know and what their customers are still coming to them for during this time. Taking a risk right now is most likely a good move if that risk doesn't require money that you don't have or are unable to get. Some risks simply involve time and the execution of new ideas, and those are great risks worth taking. Some risks may require bank loans and extra capital. Those risks are only worth it if your business has managed to stay on course fully (or even grown more during this time), in which you may be in a great place to take a loan with interest rates being extra low right now as well.

If you have any other small business questions or advice needed, please feel free to ask in the comments below!

(Photo by Lily Glass)

kids' books that show diversity (part 2)...

kids' books that show diversity (part 2)...

As a follow-up to our first post in 2017 about diverse kids' books, here's an updated version with a few of my family's favorites right now. Ranging in ages from 0-10, these books focus on authors and characters of color, characters who break the traditional molds of what was expected of them, stories of real life people who broke through barriers to accomplish great things, and stories that speak to kids even at a young age.

1. Look Up with Me by Neil deGrasse Tyson is a biography on the beloved astrophysicist and great for ages 4 to 6 and especially for kids who love science and exploring the stars.

2. Queer Heroes by Arabelle Sicardi celebrates the achievements of LGBTQ+ people through history and from around the world with a diverse selection of 53 inspirational role models accompanied by short biographies that focus on their incredible successes. Great for ages 6-10 and especially for those who are starting to do school book reports on notable people in history!

3. Little People, Big Dreams has a whole series (this one is on Rosa Parks) that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream. This one is great for toddler to little kid ages.

4. Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty champions STEM, girl power and women scientists in a rollicking celebration of curiosity, the power of perseverance, and the importance of asking “Why?” I love this one for older toddlers to little kids.

5. Another by Christian Robinson is great picture book from baby to toddler that allows the reader to explore all the possibilities the world brings. He also just came out with You Matter which I've recently added to our library as well.

6. Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky highlights the contributions of fifty notable women to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from the ancient to the modern world. This one is great for ages 6-10...my oldest read through this with a few biographies every night until she finished.

7. Work It, Girl: Oprah Winfrey by Caroline Moss helps us discover how Oprah became a billionaire CEO and media mogul in this true story of her life. I love how you can also learn 10 key lessons from her work to apply to your own life. Great for bigger kids to tweens.

8. The Wall: A Timeless Tale by Giancarlo Macri and Carolina Zanotti is about the benefits of diversity and encouraging kids to see how helpful it can be to work together. This is a very visual book on what can be a serious topic that makes it easy for smalls kids to understand.

I will keep adding to my list, and you can always find more of my favorite kid's books right here.

at home birthday party backdrops!

Oh Joy Heart Fringe Backdrop

Birthday parties have certainly been different this year. We've been doing lots of drive by birthday parades for my kids' friends. Everyone is celebrating at home with their immediate at-home family and creating special moments regardless of our limitations right now. If you are looking for fun things to do that involve some crafting together and celebrating a special occasion, photo backdrops are a great craft for getting the whole family involved...

Oh Joy! Paper Chain Backdrop

We've all made these paper chains back in the day at school, so use the same idea to make a Rainbow Paper Chain Backdrop for your next at-home celebration! If you want to make something that's extra special and can be moved around to different parts of your home (inside or out), we also love this Heart Fringe version (shown up top).

Oh Joy! Silver and Gold Glitter Backdrop

Using garland you might have stored with your holiday decorations, you can make this Gold and Silver Stars Backdrop!

Oh Joy! Rainbow Backdrop

You can use a similar hanging method with Rainbow Streamers and add festive honeycombs you might have saved from last year's birthday party.

Oh Joy! Honeycomb Backdrop

While these Sparkly Honeycombs were made for a holiday celebration, change up the colors and they can turn into a festive graduation, birthday, or at-home baby or wedding shower, too!

However you make your backdrop, the fun doesn't end there. Now it's time for photoshoots and fashion shows. Everyone dress in their finest clothes, in one solid color, or in their wackiest costumes. Prop up your phone up and do a self-timer so everyone can get in frame. And remember, while celebrations right now are not what they used to be, they can still be full of amazing memories!

{Photos by Lily Glass and Casey Brodley, styling by Wilmarose Orlanes and Julia Wester, styling assistance and crafting by Jess Hong. Thanks to our models, Jess, Julia, and Joy!} 

let me shop for you: mini dresses!

let me shop for you: mini dresses!

It's heating up out there as we reach (almost) summer! I've been sticking to my Fancy Casual looks at home and as we slowly venture out with limited activities. Here are a few of my favorite summer mini dresses I found for you...a mix of both new and vintage in a range of price points and sizes. I've often listed the size of the item when we're looking at one-of-a-kind vintage pieces, but going forward, I will also include the size ranges available for new items, too!

1. AaricaNichole Vintage Green Floral Dress ($63, size XS/S), 2. Lisa Marie Fernandez for Target one shoulder dotty dress ($45, sizes XXS to 3X), 3. Selkie Collection Dress ($189, sizes 2-18), 4. Vintage Floral Shift Dress from ShopExile ($55, size M), 5. Cushnie for Target ($45, sizes 0-22W), 6. Vintage Mini Mod Dress from ShopExile ($57, size M), 7. Celia B pink dress ($255, size XS-XL).


Craftopia - HBO Max

When it comes to TV time, my kids have started to break outside of the kids' cartoons and watch shows with real people. They now love creative competition shows which have been so fun to watch as a family. So I'm excited to tell you about this amazing new show that launched a couple weeks ago on HBO Max called Craftopia. Hosted by Lauren Riihimaki of LaurDIY with judges James Worsham and Toya Moore-Broyles, it's a crafting competition show for kids ages 9-15.

Craftopia - HBO Max

Craftopia - HBO Max

Not only is it completely family-friendly and SO MUCH FUN (my kids are obsessed!), but I'm a guest judge on the 5th episode ("It's Lit!")! The challenges are so fun, the set design is RIDICULOUSLY GOOD, and I'm so thrilled to have played a small part in it. We filmed this back in November—and to see it now in our current times—I'm so proud of the diversity of the cast and the contestants. It's an amazing sign of our times and the evolution of TV. I am so happy that all kinds of kids can see themselves represented in this show and feel inspired to explore their creativity. Thanks so much to the team at Craftopia for having me...I truly had the best time filming this!

(Top photo by Oh Joy, others are screen shots from the show)

black illustrators you can hire right now...

Loveis Wise Illustration

Supporting Black artists and businesses is one small part we can play in helping to lift up our Black American friends, fellow creatives, and community. For those of us in roles of hiring freelancers, artists, and others in our company's branding, editorials, photos, and more, we need to make sure we're hiring a diverse range of creatives both behind the scenes and in front of the camera. This is a reminder to myself as much as anyone that bringing diversity is absolutely essential, and I'm committing to taking a much more active role. And this isn't just about today or this week, it's about doing this always and forever.

Since I always get asked for recommendations on Illustrators, here's an amazing site I wanted to highlight today. Women Who Draw offers a portfolio of a diverse range of talented Illustrators (African American/Black, Asian/American, Hispanic/Latina, LBTQ+, and more) for you to hire for your next project. Some of the artists also have online shops and sell prints for those who might want to bring their work into your home. And, if you're an illustrator looking to be featured so more brands to find you, the site gets updated regularly with new artists. You can submit your work right here!

(Illustration above by Loveis Wise. Follow her on Instagram here.)