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Parent Spotlight-Kasey Ley, OTR/L

Name: Kasey Ley

Location: San Francisco, CA

Occupation: Pediatric Occupational Therapist/Director of Enrich Play Learn

Children (Names, Age):  Evvie, 3

Parent Education Videos:

Can you give us some background on Enrich Play Learn and the services you provide? Enrich Play Learn (EPL) offers multiple programs for children ages 0-6!  Our programs range from a Baby & Me class (Play With Me!) to a drop-off enrichment class that prepares your child for preschool (Preschool Prep) or supplements your child's preschool (PreK/TK Enrichment) to a highly specialized class that focuses on social skills, behavior, and peer play (Peer Playgroup).  We also offer School Holiday and Summer Camp for children ages 3-6. We partner with some of the best Enrichment Providers to bring your child a part-school, part-enrichment experience.  All of our classes are designed and led by myself:)

Our classes are thoughtfully designed to meet children where they are, developmentally.  EPL is built on a foundation of community, communication, and transparency.  Our goal is for each family who walks through our doors to feel like they are part of a very special community.  We are a small business that respects the individuality of each child, thus extra support is given to those families who are experiencing challenges due to their child's behavioral differences. Currently, our in-person program is closed so check out our Instagram page for updated activities you can do at home with your children.

As in OT, what do you recommend for parents to know during the Shelter in Place? We are all living through an uncertain time at the moment and many parents are feeling the pressure as their role as mom/dad has shifted to teacher.  Parents are having to manage working from home with homeschooling while continuing to maintain patience, calmness, and a sense of security for their children.  Home is now the office, school, playground, restaurant, movie theater, etc. Lines are blurred everywhere we look with no true end in sight. THIS SHIT IS HARD!  As a mom and a professional, I want parents to know it is meant to feel hard.  Home should not be school and mom should not be teacher (unless you have always homeschooled).  You simply can't implement the same structure and discipline that a teacher can at school and that has nothing to do with you as a parent.  So, be gentle to yourself!!  Your kiddo will be okay.  They are way more resilient than we are and will bounce back from this.  Do what you can do to continue their education, but learning can happen anywhere and everywhere.  You don't need to do elaborate projects to instill lessons.  Ask questions, be present, and have fun with your child.  Family time is damn important and something we don't get a chance to invest in often in our busy society. So, take this time to be with your family.  We are all going to learn some big lessons at the end of this!

What brings you joy as a parent? Watching my daughter grow and develop- physically, cognitively, emotionally, socially, etc.  It is quite amazing and she is at such a ripe age where concepts are constantly connecting.  So, her true personality is really starting to come out and that is so fun to watch!  It is a feeling of pride I didn't know existed. 

What are some of your challenges as a parent? Slowing down in my own personal life to give my daughter the attention she deserves.  That has been a challenge for me since day one!  Letting go of some of the "to-dos" to make undivided parenting a priority.   

What is the best advice you received or lessons learned as a parent? Something I found myself repeating to myself when Evvie was an infant- when anxieties were high and questions were constant- was, "My worst decision is probably someone else's best decision." We are so hard on ourselves as moms and as new moms it's extremely difficult to not compare.  This was a reminder to be gentle with myself.  These kids need very little- love, safety, nurture, and laughter.  It is a waste of energy to be concerned with having the best stroller or enroll them in the best preschool.  Everyone's situation is unique and parents need to be supporting each other because it truly does take a village.    

How do you practice self care? Self-care is so important!  Working out is definitely a top priority for me so I make time for that daily.  I am a better mother, wife, friend, and professional if I am able to carve out time to exercise.  It brings me total clarity and all the good feels! If I can't get an actual workout in, I make sure to at least get outside. We are lucky enough to live in a region where getting outside everyday is an easy box to check.  There are definitely some days where neither a workout or a walk happens, and I have found peace with that.  I also try to find a daily change or challenge in my routine- that might be as simple as taking a different route to work or as scary as trying something totally out of my comfort zone- but I try to find some degree of daily change or challenge to keep my brain fresh!  And, this may be the most important, watching Bravo! Shutting my brain off and watching some good reality TV!

How do you make time for your relationship with your partner? I try not to place too much weight on this, but we make sure to have a date night whenever possible.  And, luckily my husband enjoys a little Bravo himself so we get some regular couch time!

Are your parenting styles different than your partners?  How do you manage parenting with your partner? Yes and no. I think there is a clear difference between female and male parenting priorities.  Women are just innately more intuitive, caring, and nurturing.  So, we naturally gravitate toward more thoughtful parenting.  We are going to think about the nutrition that is going on the plate rather than just the basic need of getting something on the plate. In general, guys operate off of basic needs in their own lives and that filters into their parenting.  Which, isn't a bad thing.  I don't think they think of a "style." Eat, sleep, play, repeat.  Man, I envy that mindset!  But, we wouldn't have the bad ass people around us without mothers.  In the end, men and women can really balance each other out when it comes to parenting.  With that said, my husband has been great at absorbing my "style."  I have more experience with children, so he has kind of just followed my lead and it has worked out.  The outfits though- that is an area I need to work on with him!  That girl leaves the house in some highly questionable attire sometimes!

How do you spend quality time with your children? Honestly, during the week, it is hard!! I'd love to hear what other people do who work full-time jobs.  I'd say bedtime is the most we are going to get for quality time during the week.  I sometimes fight the bedtime routine, but once I am in it, I love it. Reading books in a no-distraction zone is incredible.  I find being home to be a difficult environment for quality time- mainly because I always feel like there are a thousand other things I need to be tending to.  So, anytime we are outside or in a different environment than home, it feels like true quality time.  

What parenting tools work for you and your family? I believe in constantly talking to your child, regardless of their age, preparing them for what is to come next and explaining what you are doing or what is going on around them.  I find this to be an extremely valuable tool.  Children thrive off of structure and predictability so helping them understand what is coming next is really helpful and talking through things with them brings a degree of attention and ownership for them.  It gives them some control and definitely helps the brain grow.  Also, I am always using the "First X, Then X," strategy.  "First put on your PJs, then you can watch a show."  This is gold!  Figure out what they want at that moment and make them do something you want first.  It's a win-win and rarely fails!

Favorite parenting books or resources? I'm in a unique situation as an OT to also be a parent.  I have always been fascinated by child development - the sensory system, behavior, motor development, social-emotional learning, etc etc!  So, a lot of my time has been spent reading and learning about child development and prior to becoming a parent, I was applying what I knew at work.  Since becoming a parent, my education has given me a slight advantage, but no one can really prepare you for parenthood and truthfully, no one should!  Everyone's situation is totally special and unique.  You can take tidbits from everything you hear and read and maybe apply that tidbit to a part of your life, but I'd urge new parents to put the book down and trust their gut!   We've been doing this for hundreds of years, with far less resources.  Maybe dudes really do have it all figured out?!  Maybe it really is just about the basic needs?!

What do you wish for your children? I hope to create a bond with my children that is so strong that they want to take care of me when I'm old!!!  :o)  But, really, I simply wish for my children to feel loved, supported, and fulfilled.  I want them to feel confident being their true selves and hope I can create enough trust and respect between us that they will feel comfortable using me to achieve what makes them happy. 

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