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Alternative Thanksgiving Ideas for Kids

*This article was originally published on myeducatedstyle.com in 2019.

It’s come to my attention somewhat recently (more recently than it should have, frankly) that what we learn in school about Thanksgiving is inaccurate. In the past two years or so, I’ve made efforts to introduce my kids to accurate history and indigenous perspectives. I wanted to share these alternative Thanksgiving ideas to help inform you and make this transition easier.

This year I went a step further to contact our local school district to inquire about their curriculum surrounding the holiday and it’s controversial history. I included resources and book recommendations that have been helpful to me.

As I’m writing this, they haven’t yet responded*, but I thought I would share what I’ve learned. I know that if it took me this long, there must be others who need these resources as well.

WHAT PROMPTED THIS?

I’ve been focusing most of my anti-racism and conscious parenting efforts inward. I realize this sounds pretty fragile and oxymoron-ish, but it’s the truth. I was appalled after reading this article. It’s always my place to speak up. The end. About how we teach slavery, alternative Thanksgiving, or anything else.

I EMAILED THE SCHOOL DISTRICT.

I don’t have a reason to believe our school teaches racist, white supremacist history besides the fact that it is an extremely common curriculum around the country (and world). Teaching anti-racist history and current events is even more rare, statistically speaking. Since it’s not clear if anyone else will broach this topic in our town, I did.

Not being indigenous or a teacher myself, I don’t know a lot about elementary curriculum development or what local indigenous people think is appropriate history to teach. I’m not an authority on this subject, they are. So I am using my connection to the school to amplify the indigenous voices in our community about the whitewashing of our history.

Socially Responsible Alternative Thanksgiving Ideas

NATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING
TOLERANCE.ORG RESOURCES
RACIAL JUSTICE GUIDE TO THANKSGIVING FOR EDUCATORS & FAMILIES
TEACH THE REAL STORY OF THE FIRST THANKSGIVING
NATIVE AMERICAN PERSPECTIVES ON THANKSGIVING
THANKSGIVING EDUCATION PRINTABLE

Children’s Book Recommendations

THANKSGIVING FROM THE NATIVE PERSPECTIVE
AMERICAN INDIAN CHILDREN’S LITERATURE

Like I mentioned above, I am not indigenous. I do not claim to be super knowledgeable about their perspectives or the inaccurate history we’re teaching. Please let me know if you have more recommendations to add or if any of these are harmful or inaccurate.

Land Acknowledgement

I also thought it was relevant to share about land acknowledgement since it’s something new I’ve learned recently. My kids already love nature (don’t all kids?) so this really resonated with them.

LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT – CHICAGO AND WEST MICHIGAN AREA

Kids are resilient.

If there’s one thing I know about kids is that they’re way smarter than we give them credit for. While there’s definitely topics that are not age-appropriate for elementary schoolchildren, they are observant, curious, and compassionate. They can understand things and can accept new information far better than adults. Maybe it’s because they’re much less set in their ways? I’m not sure, but anytime I have brought up a sensitive subject, they’ve been very receptive.

For example, we recently discussed how Eenie Meenie Miney Moe is a song used to make fun of slaves. They were shocked, and immediately wanted to make up a new song to use instead. Tell that to an adult and see how long it takes them to come around. They’ve asked smart, clarifying questions about it a few times since then. And also asked if there were other songs that made fun of people who were different. Moreover, I haven’t heard the song since.

I see part of my role in this anti-racist work is stepping aside to allow other voices to be heard. To show others that you don’t have to ruin childhood memories of a holiday to see it from another perspective. To put knowing better into action. So you know you’re not alone in having those awkward conversations at school meetings or your dining table.

*After attending a parent-staff meeting, we were able to effectively get some craft projects changed for next year. While we didn’t address the curriculum on a whole, it was a really beneficial conversation that saw progress!

3 ways to spend less time on social media and still grow your business

You know the old adage, “You get out of it what you put into it”? Well, it doesn’t always mean what you think it means.

What it doesn’t mean: spending too much time on social media, using your business as an excuse.

What it does mean: being smart and strategic about social media so you spend less time getting better results.

I have certainly spent my fair share of hours mindlessly scrolling on social media, blaming my business. And then riding the shame spiral when I blamed lack of results on my social media binges. I spent years in this cycle until I deleted all my apps and took a break. The break was more of a mental health during quarantine necessity, but it ended up giving me a business breakthrough.

I was confident that this break would signal the end of my business – my business that was built primarily on social media. On the contrary, I gained more followers, more leads, and more sales while I was gone. I experienced no withdrawals (though I did play a lot of crosswords) and I didn’t feel any FOMO.

Whether you take a break or not, there are some ways to really downsize your time spent on social media scrolling so you can focus on growing your business elsewhere.

One | Be Intentional

The time you do spend on social media should be extremely intentional. You’ll need to be honest yourself about your goals and how social media will help you achieve them. And perhaps more importantly, find out what social media can’t do for you – and skip it when you’re working in that area of your business. Some questions to ask yourself –

  • What do you hope to gain? (followers, paying clients, bookings, sales)
  • What activities will you complete? (commenting, messaging, liking)
  • How will you streamline your time? (delete apps, schedule, batch tasks)
  • What time limits will you impose? (30 minutes a day, 2 hours a week)
  • How will you hold yourself accountable? (rewards, delete apps, buddy)
  • How will you assess what is working, and make adjustments accordingly?

Two | Plan Ahead

Don’t groan – planning is the most important way to make this work. If you don’t plan ahead – both for your time on AND off social media – this exercise will be worthless.

  • Use content calendars to align your content with your business goals and so that your social media flows seamlessly
  • Pick a project or two that you will complete while you spend less time on social media
  • Review your analytics and insights to determine when actually is a good time to spend on social

Three | Ask for Help

This one is both the hardest and the easiest. Entrepreneurs are pretty famous for avoiding help like the plague but seriously, ask. Think of your business hero. I can almost guarantee you they didn’t do it alone.

  • Call on a friend to walk with you as you experiment with this and ask them to call you out when you spend too much time scrolling. (“Really! I saw you liked three of my posts over the course of an hour – get off social and do something productive!”)
  • Add asking for referrals into your social media content and increase the value of each post and see results more quickly.
  • Hire someone to help. You can have someone write content for you, take photos, prospect and outreach, and more! Take something off your plate, especially if you already don’t like doing it, and spend your time more efficiently.

If you are thinking this seems like MORE work than you’re already doing, don’t fear! I promise you are wasting way more time on social media than you realize, and that by streamlining your time, being intentional, planning ahead, and when you need to – asking for help – you’ll be more efficient, see better results, AND have time to spare. It might sound too good to be true – but I’ve lived it!

Book a coffee date with me to chat about how I can help you grow your business while you spend less time on social media!

What I learned during my social media break

Spoiler: life happens outside social media

I took an extended social media break. I deleted the apps off my phone in early June and logged in twice for 5 minutes on my laptop to do a few things for work.

So, 20 days later, what is life beyond the scroll?

The same.

Honestly, I have nothing transcendent to report. I was more productive and efficient. I was less stressed. I itched my scroll scratch by designing a pool for my backyard on Pinterest (lol). I spent more time with my kids. I missed a few birthdays and life events of friends. (Note to self: put birthdays in iCal.)

I still took an exorbitant amount of pictures of my kids. I still laughed and had fun. I still read books. I still read the news. Life is pretty much normal. (Minus the whole pandemic thing.)

And here’s the real kicker –

during this extended social media break, my business was fine

I spent quite a lot of energy in keeping up social media appearances for my business. I often used it as an excuse and a crutch to spend more and more time on there.

Now that I’ve spent 20 days off, everything is fine. I still believe a social media presence is important for business, but there are ways to curate that without feeding your addiction. More on that later.

Overall, social media is just a mind-numbing distraction. It fuels our narcissism in a major way – like I really don’t think anyone noticed I was gone. Your life happens – the good and the bad – whether or not you report it online.

Social media doesn’t add much to your life, turns out. And if you’re not careful, it can take so much away.

Try it. And just like when you ditched cable, you won’t miss a thing.

*Originally posted on myeducatedstyle.com in June 2020.

Spending time on social media is killing your business

If we’re not careful, we can spend up to 3 hours a day on social media. And that’s just for the average person – imagine being a solo entrepreneur that relies on a social media presence, strategy, and engagement for client prospecting, marketing, and sales.

Phew. That’s a lot of scrolling.

Since social media lives in our pockets (ladies, where do you keep your phones?) a few minutes here or there while waiting in line or making lunch for the kids seems benign. But clearly, when it adds up, it adds up. And not only in time spent, but also in distractions, frustrations, and headaches. How often have we hopped on our phones to quick reply to a message from a client or post a sale only to find ourselves reading an article about polar bears 20 minutes later?

Yeah, me too. Like did you know that polar bears’ skin is black and their fur is transparent, not white?! <mind blown>

Social media is a waste of our business time.

Social media is essential to business, no doubt about it, but you are likely wasting an insane amount of time on it and thus, losing money by not doing other income producing activities instead. We may think that the amount of time we spend on social media “building relationships” equates to more clients, but in my experience the opposite is true. The less time I spend on social media, the more successful my business is.

Social media is distracting us from achieving goals.

Spending too much time on social media is distracting. How often have we played the comparison game with other people in your field instead of prospecting new clients? Or fixed what wasn’t broken because we took a free training on something from a Facebook ad? If you are using social media as a tool for brand awareness and client prospecting, then do that and avoid looking for fancy solutions and quick fixes.

Social media is making us anxious and depressed.

The evidence is mounting. Social media and depression and anxiety are inextricably linked. (Here’s just one of many, many studies on the subject.) Adding fuel to anxiety and depression is not helping business outcomes. The stress is not helping you problem solve, innovate, or find new clients. The next big breakthrough or creative idea might be waiting around the corner from a social media detox.

Spend time on your business, not social media.

I have definitely been guilty of blaming my excessive use of social media on my business. Taking a break from social media this year and watching my business flourish made me realize that I’ve been doing it wrong.

I want to show other entrepreneurs that social media can be an awesome tool, but we don’t have to be so tied to it to find success. In fact, the act of letting go might be just what our business needs to grow.

United we could be…

*Original post appeared on myeducatedstyle.com in 2019.

On September 11 this year, we all looked at our phones (probably before we got out of bed, if we’re being honest) and the newsfeed was predictable, right? Everyone sharing where they were; their feelings of despair and shock; some sugary but earnest patriotism. <flag emoji> I do the same thing, every year. It almost seems if we don’t commemorate or say anything, then it’s like it didn’t happen at all. It seems wrong and sad to let our history slip into the past, forgotten even though we said #neverforget.

september 11
I take a picture of the sky every year on September 11, because that is what I remember most on this day in 2001. Sitting in the courtyard at lunch; my senior year of high school and remarking on not just the beauty of the kinda blue the sky only is in September, but the emptiness. Living in central New Jersey, there is never not a plane in the sky. Except that day. There are so many other things I remember. Friends crying in the hallways, waiting to hear from their parents who worked in NYC. Laying on the industrial carpet in AP History remarking (in true teen angst fashion) how my innocence died that day. How all the channels on the tv were off, but we still sat on the couch with dinner and watched the silence anyway. But the sky always comes back to me clearly.

These posts actually don’t bother me, and they’re not the point. A lot of them might be cliche and repetitive, but they are heartfelt. 9/11 was certainly a traumatic experience for me and I remember a lot of moments clearly. It’s healthy to talk about trauma and to make note of shifts in our country’s history.

What did bother me, especially this year, were the posts pining away for a country that once was: united we stand, one nation under God, and all of that. Especially at a time when our country seems more divided than ever (at least in memory…Civil War, anyone?), it seemed collectively everyone was wishing for a simpler time when we all got along. Those are really, really nice sentiments, buuuuuut…was that real?

Here’s where I have to take a step back and reevaluate my own memories of 9/11. Because I do recall that feeling of togetherness. Of course I did. I grew up 45 minutes from the World Trade Center and we were devastated. I was a teenager and I saw teachers and students alike weeping in the hallways at school. I went to countless memorials and made posters and sang songs and did all of that. And if you knew me then (or know me now) this won’t surprise you: I made a hell of a racket about not going to war, and treating Muslims with respect.

Ah, there it is.

The high school me likely didn’t have enough awareness of the big picture to make the connection that the unity I felt after 9/11 was not universal. Adult me does, however, and let me tell you this one smacks. No way were we united after 9/11. Don’t you remember all the brown people getting stopped at the grocery store and gas station and airports? Aren’t your ears still ringing from arguments about the war in Afghanistan and Iraq?

I came of age (yes, millennials are adults now) through this turmoil and it has absolutely shaped who I am, my beliefs, and my priorities as a citizen and as a parent. I have felt this division in my family, in my church, and in my town. There was no safe haven to escape from this reality, and it keeps coming back to me again and again, in so many different forms. I meant it when I said that I lost my childhood innocence on that day; that we were all safe and happy in our unified bubble. This pained reminiscing of the unity we once had is only felt by us, and even then it’s shaded by the rosy hue of nostalgia. Let’s face it, there are large swaths of Americans who have never felt united, and have always been marginalized, questioned, excluded, and worse.

Let’s bring it full circle. We are the United States in name only. Our democratic experiment does a good job of creating division and tension, particularly of the racial variety. The people in power are hell-bent on staying there, and they (we?) will use every tactic available to ensure that happens, including pitting us all against each other under the guise of patriotism.

The values we were founded upon are always under scrutiny and up for debate. That is indeed the point of a democracy, and since we can think and speak freely, I am challenging us to do so. We can solemnly reflect, while recognizing all Americans don’t remember it the same way. We can speak out against war, while supporting our military and their families. We can go back and revisit our memories, connect new dots, and arrive at a different conclusion. So, next 9/11 and 9/12 and all the days, I will lower my flag, listen to your stories, be proud of those who serve us all, and yell (maybe in all caps) about the American values I believe in: inclusion, equity, and unity. But for real this time.

Why social?

I write good content for businesses doing good. Social media shouldn’t be the detriment to your mission and life’s work. Let’s thrive together!

Social media is ubiquitous. That’s the obvious answer. I also grew up with social media (remember when you had to petition Mark Zuckerberg to get your school’s .edu address onto FB??). I’ve watched it grow and change and evolve. I love it.

I also hate it at times. It’s gotten overwhelming, saturated, noisy. It’s become a requirement to keep up with daily life, and it’s exhausting. I’ve taken extensive breaks, and learned how to have a successful business spending less time on it.

Why social media?

  • Despite all its flaws, you know social media is required for businesses these days. It’s where your customers are and it’s where you’ll get the most reach.
  • Like it or not, social media builds community. And it can build positive community if we curate it so. Businesses like yours are built for that.
  • Social for Good was created to help you be the clear voice that cuts through the noise, to reach your customers, and create a positive impact.

Social media is a very effective way to build community and reach thousands, if not millions, of likeminded customers and fans where they live – their phones. Creating positive, meaningful content that supports your brand’s mission and gives people a worthwhile way to engage on social media is, frankly, imperative.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • How do you feel about being on social media every day?
  • Do you feel like you spend too much time on your phone?
  • Is your business time and personal time getting muddled because of social media?
  • Have you daydreamed about quitting social media for good?

Consider these questions thoughtfully, and let me know how you’re feeling. Running a business with an important mission is overwhelming, but we are better together! I am here to help you grow your community and outreach so you can focus on what you do best – your impact.

Why good?

Focusing on businesses doing good just feels right.

I was introduced to the idea of businesses being at the forefront of change in 2017. It blew my mind.

Previously, I had envisioned myself working for a non-profit or charity, where the real impact occurs. It didn’t occur to me that businesses have so much control over solutions to global issues like poverty, climate change, and gender inequality.

Now, it seems so obvious that it’s hard to believe I ever thought differently. The sector of the economy that causes a lot of the issues we are facing, certainly can, and should, be the solution. It’s only when business changes, that the world will change.

So, here we are. Social media is an essential part of your business because it amplifies your message and allows you to connect in meaningful ways to your customers.

I hear people refer to social media being a “necessary evil” often and that’s a lot like saying for-profit businesses are a necessary evil, too. Let’s turn the tide and prove that social media and business can be real agents for positive change and global impact.


Watch the video that changed my mind.

More information on Sseko Designs here.

Why now?

Why am I writing good content for businesses doing good? Why am I doing this right now? Why not?

I sort of got here by accident.

We all spend too much time on social media, right? But most of us don’t dream of writing other people’s social media content for a living. And for me, I never dreamed of running a business (or working for one) ever.

I have a background in sociology and education. I was going to make a difference! I was NOT going to work a 9-5 at a desk. And I certainly wasn’t going to work in the business world with greedy people who made ethically questionable choices.

Ha.

Little did I know, that higher education is as rigid as it comes with its grueling schedule, aversion to change, and a whole lot of corruption.

After I had my children, I decided to stay home and raise them. It was partly a financial decision and partly a personal one. (Turns out education doesn’t pay well either…)

I fell into direct sales and had a seemingly magical talent for social media engagement. No formal training. No real idea what the hell I was doing. But it worked.

Somewhere along the way I realized that not everyone is comfortable writing social media content. It intimidates people. It’s one of those things that because it’s no big deal to me, I thought it must be the same for everyone else.

At around the same time, I learned that business can make significant impact on global issues, in ways that non-profits and charities cannot. Businesses around the world have a direct and meaningful connection to it’s consumers, employees, and everyone in between.

Business is where change happens.

I didn’t want businesses with incredible missions to be drowned out by other’s social media machines*. So that’s why I’m here. And that’s why I’m doing this now – simply because I can.

*Caveat: I am not a machine.