I am so excited to share my very first post of my blog series, Resources That Make Parenting Easier. There is no better way to kick off the series than with this incredible mom of 2, business owner, and Child Development & Behavior Specialist, Caley Kulka of Play with Purpose Florida. She is a wealth of knowledge and shares so many tips to help parents better understand their children, their behaviors, and how to appropriately handle the tricky moments on her instagram page @PlayWithPurposeFL. She focuses on sharing ways to connect with your own children throughout the day, how to navigate their tricky behaviors with empathy and love, and how to coach your children through their emotions.
When I found Caley’s business, Play with Purpose Florida, the timing couldn’t have been more ideal. I was in the thick of motherhood and adjusting to life with a toddler and a new baby. I found parenting harder than ever before. My newborn had colic. She cried nonstop. I was stressed. I wasn’t able to spend quality time connecting with my toddler like I had in the past. However, Caley’s posts helped me create strategies to connect with both children better and reminded me to regulate my own emotions to help create calm in the house.
I knew, from the moment I found her page, that I wanted to share this amazing resource with other parents. I contacted her to see if she would be willing to do a photoshoot with her family, talk to me about her business, and share a little bit about the inspiration behind Play with Purpose Florida. After my time with Caley and her family, I can 100% attest to Caley being exactly what she is online–so real and down to earth.
I am so excited to share my interview with Caley! I learned so much about her, her family, and her business through our time together. She is an expert in her field who gets to put her knowledge to use every single day with her own two children. She is so transparent as she shares her own parenting journey and doesn’t hold back when it comes to acknowledging the highs she experiences, the tantrums she also occasionally faces, and the lessons she learns along the way.
It is a pleasure to share this interview with you and I hope you find her guidance useful in your parenting journey!
Make sure to scroll down to the bottom of the post to see some images from our time together!
Meet Caley Kukla | Wife, Mom of 2, and Child Development & Behavior Specialist of Play with Purpose Florida
Tell me about yourself. Your family.
Oldest of four kids! Married my high school sweetheart, so we’ve been together for 16 years, married for 9.5. Truly loved being with him every doggone day. I never foresaw owning a business, but this is my second one, so I guess I’m entrepreneurial. I love helping people, and am PASSIONATE about changing the world one child at a time. I’ve always loved children and have acted like a mother hen since my earliest memories. And as much as I love being a mom, it hit me hard. I loved my babies fiercely the moment I held them, but I had a hard time finding a new identity in motherhood. I’ve found it, and love it, now. But it took time. I think that’s important for new/young moms to hear. It takes time. And it’s ok to not know who you are. Just as a child is birthed, so is a mother.
How does a typical day look for your family? What is important to your family? What are some of your family values?
I’d probably say the most notable thing about our family life is how much we play. We don’t watch TV on a regular basis, so we play from the time the kids wake-up, leave for school (3 days/week), when we come home, until bedtime. We love play. Our family hashtag is #kuklas4adventure because we LOVE going on adventures – Disney, bike rides, and lots of trips. We love to travel. Right now, we mostly travel to visit family in Oregon, Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia, and all over Florida. Our family motto is: “Teamwork makes the dreamwork.” We work together so that we each can experience life to it’s fullest. We believe in being grateful for our many blessings. We praise Jesus mostly through song and prayer in our house. We pray for people who are hurting and scared. We have family “values” instead of rules and they are: We are safe. We are thoughtful. We are helpful. And we can do hard things. We infuse these in our daily interactions with each other.
Tell me about Play With Purpose Florida. What services do you provide?
I offer private parent coaching in home, phone, video chat, or in schools. I offer workshops about child development and discipline. I teach social skills classes (which are SO fun). I recently became a Play Project Consultant which means I am licensed to offer play therapy for children on The Autism Spectrum. Differently wired kids, specifically children on The Spectrum are my speciality.
What inspired you to start Play with Purpose? What was your mission at the outset?
When my first son turned one, I felt like I had been through a war zone. Not with him, but with myself. I picked up a book about “discipline” and it was garbage. Telling parents to do damaging things to their children. I remember the moment I had the thought: “If I’m struggling to find good information about this topic and I have 2 degrees in this, what do parents with no background knowledge do?!” So I set-out to offer play classes that would entertain the kids AND educate the parents about their child’s development.
What role does your mom life play in the decision making or vision of Play with Purpose? Are there values from your mom life that help guide your vision and values of Play with Purpose?
I have such huge goals for Play With Purpose. I am so passionate about it. I would literally work all day, every day on it. BUT my family is my first priority. I struggle to pull back, but I limit myself to working only while my kids are in school.
Parenting is hard and we all experience moments of behavior struggles. How does a parent know when it is time to seek additional support to help them through?
When you don’t like being with your kid. Let’s be real. We’ve all been there. It’s a horrible feeling. I’ve had it. And I reached out for support. It takes a village. And that’s not a cliche. That’s a scientific fact. We live in a time that doesn’t support the mom village and WE DESPERATELY NEED IT. Don’t wait until things are explosive. Find a resource. Follow my page. Lean on a KNOWLEDGABLE and respected friend.
What are some of the biggest parenting questions you get asked? What do you see parents struggle with? What do you recommend to those parents?
Gosh. So many. “Is this normal?” So often, yes. “Should I wait and see?” No. If you think something is wrong, get a professional opinion. Things are easy to “fix” or “boost: the younger a child is. My work becomes much more challenging the older a child is. And I am pretty sure all professional kid therapists across disciplines would agree.
Also, “What do I do when my child tantrums?” What do you want when you’re sobbing hysterically? You want someone to listen and love you through it. Not call you out for saying mean things. Not correct your grammar. Not tell you to calm down and it’s no big deal. Just to listen. Listen with love to your children. Start there.
Do you recommend any additional resources to parents who want to continue their education about connecting with their children?
Dr. Becky Bailey
Dr. Laura Markham
Dr. Dan Seigel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson
Dr. Mona Delahooke
***They all have multiple books that are amazing!!
Podcasts: Simple Families, Real Talk For Real Teachers (great for parents), Authentic Parenting, Unruffled, Connected Families (Christian), Tilted (for differently wired kiddos)
In what ways does Play with Purpose bring support and community to parents?
Ummm… lol. Well, My IG/social media. I volunteer myself for probably too many things. I am always looking for extra support for parents. I make so many referrals. If I’m not the right or only resource a family needs, I’m the first to send out information. It takes a village. I believe that in my core.
Where can parents get in touch with you to find out more about the services you provide?
@playwithpurposefl (IG and FB)