To Be or Not to Be a Stay At Home Mom

Thirty-two years ago, I can remember being faced with the decision of whether to be a stay at home or working mom.  I started working and tried staying at home for a while, and decided to go back to work.  I know many young parents face this decision.  My daughter has chosen a different route and is a stay at home mom.  She is doing a wonderful job and I asked her to share her challenges and joys of being a stay at home mother.  

So here they are by Megan Honeycutt Berg:

Being a stay-at-home mom is a great adventure.  The ups and downs of every day are enough to give you quite a few of gray hairs.  Some days I sit back and look at the little person I created and think, “Wow, I did a good job,” until I see that same little creation throw my phone into the toilet or draw on herself with a pen.  As a stay-at-home mom, I have the 1451576_10200841259376829_2015779913_n amazing opportunity to not miss a thing in my child’s life (the good, the bad, and the ugly).  First steps, first words, the sweet cuddles during the day, potty training, temper tantrums, eating the dogs’ food, and decorating the walls with poop are all a part of my daily life.

The joys far outweigh the struggles, but there are many struggles.  Whether my child is at school or at home, she has to learn.  The difference is that I am in charge of what she learns, and when she learns.  The weight is all on me.  Children learn at their own pace, but I feel that my child has to be on the same level as children her age in school.  This struggle is also seen as a joy because I can watch her little face light up as she realizes that she has learned something new.

Staying at home with my daughter has given us a bond that I cherish every day.  She is my best friend, and I am hers.  Although, trying to have a full conversation with a 3 year old can be interesting.  I wake up to her smiling face every morning and know that we get to spend the entire day together doing exciting activities.

1926863_10201614181499399_1920399702_nI love spending time with my daughter, but nap time is heaven!  I need alone time.  Having alone time is tough.  During the day I am everything to my daughter.  I am her chef, chauffeur, maid, playmate, teacher and mommy.  I would like to pass some jobs out to my husband when he returns home, but my daughter doesn’t see it that way.  I cater to her every need during the day so why would it be any different when her daddy gets home?  Unfortunately, there isn’t a switch that can be flipped on and off when this mommy needs a break

 Having the privilege to be a stay-at-home mom is one of the most rewarding experiences I have had.  I witness the little giggles, big smiles, learning experiences, and every temper tantrum.  There are good times and difficult times, but combining them all is what makes great memories and we get to make them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

As you can see, there are many challenges and joys to staying at home as there are if you choose to work outside of the home.  Mothers need to make the best decisions for their children, husbands, and themselves.  There is no right or wrong answer.  It has to be what best fits your family!  Just remember that whichever you choose, enjoy the ride!

Norma Honeycutt, Executive Director

Norma Honeycutt, Executive Director

Norma Honeycutt is the Executive Director of Partners In Learning Child Development & Family Resource Center. Norma is one of the states strongest advocates for children with special needs serving on boards and commissions including the North Carolina Child Care Commission, Rowan County NCPreK Advisory Committee, and Rowan County Local Interagency Coordinating Council. Norma is also a CBRS therapist and facilitates support groups, activities, and other programs for families of children with special needs.


Special Needs Mini Conference

mini conference

Susan King, author of Optimism for Autism, will be returning to Partner’s In Learning’s Special Needs Mini-Conference as keynote speaker on May 3rd for an encore presentation. She is a wife and mother of four adult children and she will be sharing her journey as the mother of a young man with Autism. She will talk about the challenges and joys of raising a child with Autism.

The conference is a free event for both parents and teachers; child care credit will be given to teachers needing continuing education hours. The Arc of Rowan will provide free child care at Partners In Learning to participants attending the conference. This annual event is a wonderful networking opportunity for the early education and special needs community in our area. Local agencies will be available throughout the conference to share and discuss the services that they provide for individuals, families, professionals, and members of the community.

optimism for autismThis year’s breakout sessions promise to be captivating and will inspire parents and professionals with ideas and hope! You will leave the mini-conference ready to try (and make) new things, with knowledge on your child’s development, and excited to not only be your child’s parent, but their number one advocate!

Participants will be able to attend two breakout sessions. Topics included are (1) use Pinterest to boost your child’s development; (2) hear from parents who have been there and done that and who are willing to share their journeys; (3) making shoe box activities; (4) how to make, or find cheaply, toys and tools that encourage fine motor skills and sensory play; (5) learn from and put yourself in the shoes of a retired Rowan County schools special education teacher; (6) how to have a passion for advocacy; and (7) discipline tips and how to determine triggers of behavioral problems in order to intervene and correct behavior in children with and without special needs.

If any of these topics sounds interesting to you or if you wish to network with the early education and special needs community in our area, please join us for our Special Needs Mini-Conference. The conference will be held in the Ketner building on Catawba College’s campus on May 3rd, 2014. Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. If you need childcare, please drop your child off at Partners In Learning before arriving at Ketner for registration. For more information and to sign up for the mini-conference, please call Partners In Learning at (704) 639-9020. We look forward to seeing you there!

Katie Zink, Infant-Toddler Family Specialist

Katie Zink, Infant-Toddler Family Specialist



Katie Zink is a graduate of Catawba College and serves as a CBRS therapist for Partners In Learning. Prior to her role as a therapist, Katie served as a teacher beginning in 2009.  Working with children is her life’s passion.

Sleep in Relation to Behavior

Iza sleepingSleep deprivation is a topic that has received some attention as of late.  We seem to not value sleep as much anymore, as a culture and though chronic sleep deprivation is a way of life for many of us today, it can result in decreased attentiveness, cognitive impairment, stress, decreased short-term memory and delayed response time.   When our children receive less than an adequate amount of sleep, their ability to learn is compromised and challenging behaviors may result from their inability to regulate emotions.  New studies also show a link between childhood sleep deprivation and obesity.   Other studies have linked sleep with brain growth.  We’re talking science now, not speculation or old wives’ tales.   Toddlers and preschoolers need between 10 and 13 hours of sleep per day.  School-age children need between 10 and 12 hours of sleep each night.  Often, young children are resistant to bedtime.  Here are some suggestions that should make bedtime go more smoothly:

  • Establish a bedtime and be consistent
  • Establish a bedtime routine that should last between 15-30 minutes and consist of calming activities such as a bath, reading a story and/or listening to soft music
  • Sometimes children resist going to bed because they fear they might miss out on something, so talk to your child about the fun things that will occur tomorrow
  • Don’t rush your child through the bedtime routine and allow this time to give your child your undivided attention

By the way, adults require between 7.5 and 9 hours of sleep to function optimally.  How much sleep are you getting?

Katherine Generaux,Community Inclusion Specialist, Partners In Learning

Katherine Generaux,Community Inclusion Specialist, Partners In Learning

Katherine Generaux serves as the center’s Community Inclusion Specialist. In that position she has been effective in modeling appropriate interactions with young children with special needs. Her ongoing presence in the classrooms modeling best practices for infants and toddler is resulting in additional experience while making a positive difference in early childhood programming. She is very aware of what is developmentally appropriate and engaging with the children. Her birth through kindergarten degree and experience are evident in her service to children and families.

Playing is our Job!

IMG_2141Children learn and develop by exploring the world in which they live. From the beginning of life they explore using their senses. A young infant learns that crying brings comfort, a toddler learns that biting may get what they want, a preschooler learns about math through building with blocks and the possibilities are infinite! It is our role as parents to ensure that we have a loving nurturing environment that encourages and stimulates the child’s natural inquisitive nature.

It is our role as parent to provide quality learning rich environments. Parents need to have a sound understanding of young children’s developmental milestones. By understanding the milestones, we are able to provide developmentally appropriate activities. We must be genuinely kind and nurturing. This allows children to feel safe, loved, and allows children to take risks.

IMG_2182But sometimes we adults think we need to rush a child along. Because we know how important education is, we want our children to learn and so we set out to teach them as much as we can. Although this impulse is good in itself, sometimes we can actually get in the way of a child’s learning by trying too hard to teach them!

We don’t need to push children or cram information into their heads. We just need to ensure they have the opportunities to explore knowledge for themselves. We can expose them to a rich environment and then allow them to explore it freely.

Let’s step away and let the PLAY begin!


Norma Honeycutt, Executive Director

Norma Honeycutt, Executive Director

Norma Honeycutt is the Executive Director of Partners In Learning Child Development & Family Resource Center. Norma is one of the states strongest advocates for children with special needs serving on boards and commissions including the North Carolina Child Care Commission, Rowan County NCPreK Advisory Committee, and Rowan County Local Interagency Coordinating Council. Norma is also a CBRS therapist and facilitates support groups, activities, and other programs for families of children with special needs.

Marathon Mamas! Lessons Learned and Lessons Taught

IMG_0601[1]One thing that many busy working mothers don’t do is set aside time for
themselves. We are always so busy taking care of others that our own needs are
neglected. About three years ago right before I turned 40 I took up running. A much
younger co‐worker of mine did as well and we began running a few times a week after

Before long we were entering practically every 5k the county had to offer. We also
got a couple of our parents involved as well after the first year. Now our little running
group has grown from 2 to 4.

I have a blended family with a total of three children in
the home ages 10, 13 and 20. Michelle, my co-worker has a 3 and 7 year old and our
other runner girls, parents at Partners In Learning, Ashley and Melissa each have one
child under the age of 3. So you can pretty much agree we are busy ladies.

IMG_0594[1]About 6 months ago I started to set the stage with Michelle about it being time for
us to compete in a full marathon, 26.2 miles! After a month of hesitation she agreed
and we signed up to run the Myrtle Beach Marathon on February 15. A few weeks
later Ashley and Melissa decided they would join the fun and register for the Myrtle
Beach Half Marathon, 13.1 miles.

Let the training begin! With the help of David Freeze we had our training schedules
for our prospective races and we were ready to begin the four months of preparation
that would get us ready to complete the race, we did not set out to break records or
even attempt to but to merely be strong enough to finish the race. We would run as a
group when we could, as pairs and as individuals depending on our crazy schedules.
There were weeks of set backs for all four of us through out our training. I had my
tonsils removed, had the stomach bug twice and had a knee injury toward the end of
training. Michelle, Ashlee and Melissa all had various soreness which prevented runs.
As well as bouts of the stomach bug also which hit every member of their families. We
did not let this stop us though. We pounded on each week as best we could. On the
weekends we would complete out longer training runs, sacrificing family time for
training time.

As race day approached we were all very excited to have finally made it to the big
day! Ashley and Melissa would run their first half marathon and Michelle and I would
run our first full marathon. Accompanied by our families, children and husbands we
were off ready to see what we had in us. Ashley and Melissa stayed together during
the majority of their run and texted Michelle and me when they were done.
Michelle and I were at mile 14 when they completed their half and we still had
another half left to go. This is where you really find out what your made of. Michelle
and I had stuck together thus far. I was having lots of pain with my knee and for a
passing moment thought of quitting. Michelle too was having the same issue and the
same thoughts but we visited the medic station, got iced, taped and kept on going.
We had gone from a good pace to a hobbling, limping 15 minute per mile pace.
I had seen my family already along the race course and they could tell I was having
pain. Michelle’s family kept popping up all over the place and each time her children
saw her limping a little more and going a little slower but nonetheless they saw her
keep going. We had laughter, tears, aggravation, competitiveness and doubt in those
last eight or nine miles as we limped and cringed with every step due to knee pain and
blisters but determination and perseverance won out and we finished that dang race!
My 20-year-old son met us at mile 24.5 and stayed with us hearing our struggles over
the last 10 miles but our inability to allow that to stand in our way of what we set out
to do. All the rest of mine and Michelle’s children came running and cheering across
the field at mile 26 and ran the last .2 with us. Three of them are girls and at very
impressionable ages. They could see when they ran up to us that we were hurt, in
pain, on the verge of tears and ready to be done but what they could really see, and
the image that sticks with them the most is that no matter what happens along the
way, you finish the race you started.

Michelle and I finished that race with 12 minutes to spare before the time limit of
seven hours was up. This was disappointing to us as we had hoped for better. But
looking back, the valuable lessons of determination, perseverance and reaching a goal
you had set for yourself that we taught our children that day was better than any
“time” I could have predicted.

Deborah Howell is the Assistant Director for Partners In Learning.

Deborah Howell is the Assistant Director for Partners In Learning.


Deboroh Howell is the Assistant Director of Partners In Learning. Her education includes an associate’s degree from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in early childhood education and a bachelor’s degree from UNC Greensboro in human development and family studies with a concentration in birth-kindergarten. She also holds a master’s degree at UNCG. She also serves as a CBRS therapist for the center.