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9 ways to help your kids cope with natural disasters

No matter where you live in the world, at some point you'll likely face at least one type of natural disaster, whether it's a simple thunderstorm, a long power outage from a snowstorm, flooding, an earthquake, or even a house fire. Such events can be stressful and traumatic for adults. As parents, we also worry about protecting our kids and helping them get through natural disasters.

I live in Houston, and in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, we have a lot of work for both physical and emotional recovery. In the process, we can't forget our kids are recovering from trauma as well.

1. Make a plan

Believe it or not, helping your kids through a natural disaster starts long before the natural disaster strikes. Create an emergency plan in advance and discuss it as a family. When or if a disaster comes, hopefully you and your children can act more quickly, calmly, and efficiently.

Michaela Fuller, a Houston resident and mother of three, often talked about her family's contingency plans over the phone with out-of-town family. One day, as she told her children to put on their shoes quickly and get in the car, her son asked, "Is it time to abandon the house?" Although young, he was aware of the plan and wanted to make sure his family followed it to keep them safe.

Sometimes even the best laid plans don't fully prepare you. In the case of Hurricane Harvey, although weather experts knew it would be extreme, they couldn't predict how badly the rainfall and flooding would affect the Houston community. However, a family emergency plan gives you a better chance during a crisis.

2. Make it as fun as you can

Sometimes you can make the situation light and fun. If you're seeking shelter from a tornado at night, collect everyone for a family sleepover. During power outages, bust out the board games and get creative with games and food recipes. Obviously, try to stay appropriate with jokes or light discussion about the situation according to what you and your children can handle and the severity of the natural disaster.

As a Houstonian whose house wasn't flooded in Harvey, I've been aiding my neighbors and friends in Houston muck out their homes. Some of the homeowners I've met, while devastated to lose so much, joked that they had too much stuff anyway. They smiled and focused on what they did have. It has boosted everyone's morale.

Although I appreciated seeing lighthearted footage of people kayaking in the Harvey flooding, I winced seeing people, especially kids, swim in it. With debris of all kinds (including sewage), alligators or snakes in the water, and the potential of getting swept away, it isn't worth the risk of getting sick, hurt, or killed just to amuse yourself.

3. Keep your kids close

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) young children feel most insecure about being left alone and getting separated from their loved ones. As the natural disaster occurs and also afterwards, try to keep your children physically close to you. Hug them and verbally reassure them you're all together and safe.

That being said, after the disaster, try to resume your normal routine as much as possible. Continue normal bedtimes as you are able. As daycares and schools reopens, return to routines that are comforting to children, but be aware that children will likely be extra clingy and need extra care and reassurance.

4. Be honest with your kids

In accordance with their ages, communicate to your children the facts of the situation both during and after. In many instances, they need to know the facts so they can use the plan you've created or at least understand what's going on. Many sources, including FEMA, recommend limiting media exposure and conversations that children may overhear to content appropriate for their ages, their sensitivities, or your specific situations to prevent any further trauma.

Also, let them express their feelings honestly. You feel fear and should talk about it with another adult, so let your children do the same with you or a counselor. Their feelings are just as valid, and talking about them will help children heal after a crisis.

5. Give them control

As helpless as you feel in a potentially devastating situation, remember that children likely feel even more so. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, adults need to try to give children power over at least a few daily choices so they have some control over their lives. It can be as little as what game to play or song to sing next. Any amount of control you can give them only adds to feelings of security.

6. Read books with them

As with just about any topic in life, there are children's books about facing and recovering from natural disasters. Some include familiar characters children know and love, such as Clifford, while others include no words at all. Choose whichever ones you think will be the most helpful for your children.

7. Let them help

Allow and encourage your children to participate in the physical recovery process in age-appropriate ways. Although seeing their own belongings destroyed can be heartbreaking for anyone, older children can feel closure and a sense of control if they're the ones throwing out their damaged possessions or at least contributing to the cleanup effort.

Especially for kids and families who weren't affected by natural disasters, encourage your children to join the aid effort for other families. Showing compassion increases gratitude and awareness of the needs of others. I've worked alongside several teenagers mucking out houses, and they have shown amazing work ethic to help those in need. Other kids went door-to-door delivering lunches for those of us working in houses. The kindness we've seen has brought so much unity and support in our community, and our children should see and be part of it as much as possible.

8. Be patient

If children have been directly or indirectly affected by a natural disaster, they may regress to younger behavior such as bed-wetting, separation anxiety, or thumb sucking. Sometimes when they lack the ability to verbally express their feelings, children can develop negative behaviors such as aggression, depression, and others.

As you spend more time with your children, reassuring them that you are all together and safe and listening to their concerns and feelings, those behaviors should subside in the days, weeks, or months after the events.

9. Get help

If regressive behavior or symptoms of PTSD continue – or just to supplement your own efforts to help your children cope – please consider seeking professional counseling for yourself and your children. Many agencies provide resources and guidance for children's mental health recovery.

Even if you decide you don't want a counselor's help, still use a support network to buoy up you and your children, including friends, family, your kids' teachers, and other community members. The road to recovery for those who endure major disasters is long, expensive, and difficult. If you have weathered a natural disaster, it doesn't have to fall on your shoulders alone to heal and sustain your family.

These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

1. Go apple picking.

Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

4. Have a touch-football game.

Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

When Chrissy Teigen announced her third pregnancy earlier this year we were so happy for her and now our hearts are with her as she is going through a pain that is unimaginable for many, but one that so many other mothers know.

Halfway through a high-risk pregnancy complicated by placenta issues, Teigen announced late Wednesday that she has suffered a pregnancy loss.

Our deepest condolences go out to Chrissy and her husband, John Legend (who has been by her side in the hospital for several days now).

In a social media post, Teigen explained she named this baby Jack.

FEATURED VIDEO

"We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we've never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn't enough," she wrote.

She continued: "We never decide on our babies' names until the last possible moment after they're born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever."

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