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I've seen some amazing preschools… and getting in isn't always easy. Some require you to get on their registration page at midnight on January 1st to snag your spot. Others essentially require you to get on a waiting list upon your child's birth. Not kidding.

The preschool selection scene can get pretty intense. We know the early years matter, but will getting into the "right" preschool really determine the trajectory of your child's remaining decades?

Between my own personal and professional experience and a fantastic podcast conversation I had recently with my friend Deborah Stewart, a phenomenal teacher and mentor at Teach Preschool, I've found that considering a preschool is more about finding the best fit for your child than about finding the one "perfect" school.

For every neonatal waiting list, I've also seen amazing things happening in small preschools with no waiting list at all. There are certainly things to consider to gauge overall quality, but the biggest thing to remember is that it's more important to follow your child's lead than to follow the crowd.

In choosing a preschool for your child, I recommend paying attention to these five aspects:

1. Your child

First and foremost, spend some time thinking about your child. What kind of environment do they thrive in? What makes them nervous, excited, uncomfortable, or at ease?

Do they need more structure or more freedom? More opportunity for big body movement like climbing, jumping, and running, or for long spans of quiet creativity?

What will be most challenging about preschool? Will it be the separation from you? Will it be making friends? Will it be following directions? In what areas would you like to see the most growth in your child after a year of preschool?

Thinking about your child's personality and tendencies help you recognize when the school everyone else is raving about might not actually match up with what your child needs most.

2. The teachers

If you're able to observe the teachers at work, watch to see how they interact with the kids. Hopefully, you see a teacher who is warm and enthusiastic about teaching. Someone who doesn't just stand to the side and play lifeguard, but who gets low to make eye contact and connect with the children. Look for a teacher who is engaging and creates a language-rich environment, but not because they're the ones doing all the talking!

Consider your own child's personality, and observe how this teacher approaches them. Keep in mind that a teacher you may love to have as a friend yourself may not be the best connection for your child.

3. The environment

If you look around the classroom and school, they should obviously be clean and orderly. But I would bristle at an environment that looked TOO perfect.

It should look like small children actually play there. You want to see materials that children can access and put away themselves (even if that means the place doesn't look like a perfect magazine spread).

Find areas of the room where you can sit on the floor or low to the ground and see the environment from your child's perspective. Are items easy to reach? Is the furniture and the decoration of the room oriented to a child's view or an adult's?

You want to see signs that the children have taken some ownership of their environment by creating items displayed in the room and building. That art shouldn't look like it was mass-produced with every piece looking the same. They also shouldn't appear like they've been "fixed" by adults who made them look "right."

Above all, classrooms should look like one big invitation to play!

See whether there are spots for hands-on sensory exploration, block building, dress up, art, and an irresistible book area. There should ideally be a balance of quiet areas and louder areas as well as space for big movements (like a playspace outside) and times and spaces for calm stillness.

Further, check out the bathroom facilities. The preschool years run right along the same timeline for most children to be newly potty-trained and as a newbie, using a public toilet can present a whole new challenge. Are the bathrooms close to the classroom (or ideally IN it)? Can the sink and toilet be used independently by a small child? Are children able to use the bathroom whenever they need to?

Pay attention to your other senses beyond sight as well. Particularly, how does the environment sound? A room or building full of children shouldn't be silent—you should notice a happy, busy buzz of children interacting. At the same time, thinking back to what you considered about your child, make a note as to whether it's too loud or too quiet for your child's comfort level.

Again, there's no perfect answer here, but particularly if you have a child with sound sensitivities, that "ideal" play-based classroom everyone's lining up for may have the ideal "happy hum" for many children, but be a constant roar to your own child.

4. The other children

If you're able to observe a classroom in action, watch the children and observe how they interact with one another.

Mild conflict is normal (and how the teacher addresses that will be very helpful to observe) but generally, you would hope to see children who are building their social skills. They're practicing sharing and taking turns and inviting each other to play with them.

The way that the children interact (and the way they're supported when they struggle) can tell you a lot about how social skills are promoted. While the early academic skills gained in preschool are important, the number one, most important task for preschool is building solid social skills.

Additionally, see if other children seem to feel at ease or on edge. Do they avoid the teacher or comply out of fear? Do they have an active role in the classroom or are they expected to sit for long periods as passive listeners? Paying attention to these behaviors can shed light on discipline, expectations and the overall culture of the classroom.

5. The location

As parents, we would go to the end of the earth for our children, but you don't want that to be your commute twice a day for preschool drop off and pick up.

Choosing a location that is reasonable for you isn't a selfish consideration. Since practicing social skills and making friends is one of your child's top priorities in preschool, you'll want to find a school where you're more likely to be able to get together with those new friends and possibly continue those friendships on into kindergarten and elementary school.

There are many things to consider as you select a preschool, but it helps to brainstorm your own questions ahead of your school visits. The greatest tool you have in this process is your attunement with your own child and your willingness to choose a school that best fits those individual needs and unique goals.

There's no one, right answer, and there are no perfect preschools., but there are many great preschools out there that can be "just right" for your child.

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With two babies in tow, getting out the door often becomes doubly challenging. From the extra things to carry to the extra space needed in your backseat, it can be easy to feel daunted at the prospect of a day out. But before you resign yourself to life indoors, try incorporating these five genius products from Nuna to get you and the littles out the door. (Because Vitamin D is important, mama!)

1. A brilliant double stroller

You've got more to carry—and this stroller gets it. The DEMI™ grow stroller from Nuna easily converts from a single ride to a double stroller thanks to a few easy-to-install accessories. And with 23 potential configurations, you're ready to hit the road no matter what life throws at you.

DEMI™ grow stroller
$799.95, Nuna

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2. A light car seat

Lugging a heavy car seat is the last thing a mama of two needs to have on her hands. Instead, pick up the PIPA™ lite, a safe, svelte design that weighs in at just 5.3 pounds (not counting the canopy or insert)—that's less than the average newborn! When you need to transition from car to stroller, this little beauty works seamlessly with Nuna's DEMI™ grow.

PIPA™ lite car seat
$349.95, Nuna

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3. A super safe car seat base

The thing new moms of multiples really need to get out the door? A little peace of mind. The PIPA™ base features a steel stability leg for maximum security that helps to minimize forward rotation during impact by up to 90% (compared to non-stability leg systems) and 5-second installation for busy mamas.

PIPA™ base
(included with purchase of PIPA™ series car seat or) Nuna, $159.95

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4. A diaper bag you want to carry

It's hard to find an accessory that's as stylish as it is functional. But the Nuna diaper bag pulls out all the stops with a sleek design that perfectly conceals a deceptively roomy interior (that safely stores everything from extra diapers to your laptop!). And with three ways to wear it, even Dad will want to take this one to the park.

Diaper bag
$179.95, Nuna

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5. A crib that travels

Getting a new baby on a nap schedule—while still getting out of the house—is hard. But with the SENA™ aire mini, you can have a crib ready no matter where your day takes you. It folds down and pops up easily for sleepovers at grandma's or unexpected naps at your friend's house, and the 360-degree ventilation ensures a comfortable sleep.

SENA aire mini
$199.95, Nuna

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With 5 essentials that are as flexible as you need to be, the only thing we're left asking is, where are you going to go, mama?

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


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Parents in New Jersey will soon get more money and more time for parental leave after welcoming a baby.

This week New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed off on legislation that extends New Jersey's paid family leave from six weeks to 12.

It also increases the benefit cap from 53% of the average weekly wage to 70%, meaning the maximum benefit for a parent on family leave will be $860 a week, up from $650.

It might not seem like a huge difference, but by raising the benefit from two-thirds of a parent's pay to 85%, lawmakers in New Jersey are hoping to encourage more parents to actually take leave, which is good for the parents, their baby and their family. "Especially for that new mom and dad, we know that more time spent bonding with a child can lead to a better long-term outcome for that child," Murphy said at a press conference this week.

The law will also make it easier for people to take time off when a family member is sick.

Because NJ's paid leave is funded through payroll deductions, workers could see an increase in those deductions, but Murphy is betting that workers and businesses will see the benefits in increasing paid leave benefits. "Morale goes up, productivity goes up, and more money goes into the system," Murphy said. "And increasingly, companies big and small realize that a happy workforce and a secure workforce is a key ingredient to their success."

The new benefits will go into effect in July 2020 (making next Halloween a good time to get pregnant in the Garden State).

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Whether you just need to stock up on diapers or you've had your eye on a specific piece of baby gear, you might want to swing by your local Walmart this Saturday, February 23rd.

Walmart's big "Baby Savings Day" is happening from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at participating Walmarts (but more deals can be found online at Walmart.com already and the website deals are happening for the rest of the month).

About 3,000 of the 3,570 Supercenter locations are participating in the sale (check here to see if your local Walmart is).

The deals vary, but in general you can expect up to 30% off on items like cribs, strollers, car seats, wipes, diapers and formula.

Some items, like this Graco Modes 3 Lite Travel System have been marked down by more than $100. Other hot items include this Lille Baby Complete Carrier (It's usually $119, going for $99 during the sale) and the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat (for as low as $199).

So if you're in need of baby gear, you should check out this sale. Travel gear isn't the only category that's been marked down, there are some steep discounts on breast pumps, too.

Many of the Walmart locations will also be offering samples and expert demos of certain products on Saturday so it's worth checking out!

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Any Schumer has not had an easy pregnancy. She intended to keep working, but if you follow her on social media you know she's been very sick through each trimester.

And now in her final trimester she's had to cancel her tour due to hyperemesis gravidarum, also known as HG. It's a rare but very serious form of extreme morning sickness, and on Friday evening Schumer announced she is canceling the rest of her tour because of it.

“I vomit every time [I] ride in a car even for 5 minutes," Schumer explained in an Instagram post.

Due to the constant vomiting she's not cleared to fly and just can't continue to the tour.

This is not the first time Schumer has had to make an announcement about HG. Back in November, just weeks after announcing her pregnancy, she had to cancel shows and again broke the news via Instagram.

She posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed with her little dog Tati, and spelled out the details of her health issues in the caption. "I have hyperemesis and it blows," Schumer wrote.

Poor Amy. Hyperemesis gravidarum is really tough.

Kate Middleton, Ayesha Curry and Motherly co-founder Elizabeth Tenety are among those who, like Schumer, have suffered from this form of severe morning sickness that can be totally debilitating.

As she previously wrote for Motherly, Tenety remembers becoming desperately ill, being confined to her apartment (mostly her bed) and never being far from a trash can, "I lost 10% of my body weight. I became severely dehydrated. I couldn't work. I couldn't even get out of bed. I could barely talk on the phone to tell my doctor how sick I was—begging them to please give me something, anything—to help."

Thankfully, she found relief through a prescription for Zofran, an anti-nausea drug.


Schumer probably knows all about that drug. It looks she is getting the medical help she obviously needs, and she was totally right to cancel the tour in order to stay as healthy as possible.

We're glad to see Schumer is getting help, and totally understand why she would have to cancel her shows. Any mama who has been through HG will tell you, that wouldn't be a show you'd want front row seats for anyway.

Get well soon, Amy!

[A version of this post was published November 15, 2018. It has been updated.]

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As a military spouse, Cydney Cooper is used to doing things alone. But when she delivered her twin daughters early after complications due to Influenza A, she was missing her husband Skylar more than ever.

Recovering from the flu and an emergency C-section, and trying to parent the couple's two older boys and be with her new infant daughters in the NICU, Cydney was exhausted and scared and just wanted her husband who was deployed in Kuwait with the Army and wasn't expected home for weeks.

Alone in the NICU 12 days after giving birth, Cydney was texting an update on the twins to her husband when he walked through the door to shoulder some of the massive burden this mama was carrying.

"I was typing up their summary as best I could and trying to remember every detail to tell him when I looked up and saw him standing there. Shock, relief, and the feeling that everything was just alright hit me at once. I just finally let go," she explains in a statement to Motherly.

The moment was captured on video thanks to a family member who was in on Skylar's surprise and the reunion has now gone viral, having been viewed millions of times. It's an incredible moment for the couple who hadn't seen each other since Skylar had a three-day pass in seven months earlier.

Cydney had been caring for the couple's two boys and progressing in her pregnancy when, just over a week before the viral video was taken, she tested positive for Influenza A and went into preterm labor. "My husband was gone, my babies were early, I had the flu, and I was terrified," she tells Motherly.

"Over the next 48 hours they were able to stop my labor and I was discharged from the hospital. It only lasted two days and I went right back up and was in full on labor that was too far to stop."

Cydney needed an emergency C-section due to the babies' positioning, and her medical team could not allow anyone who had previously been around her into the operating room because anyone close to Cydney had been exposed to the flu.

"So I went in alone. The nurses and doctors were wonderful and held my hand through the entire thing but at the same time, I felt very very alone and scared. [Skylar] had been present for our first two and he was my rock and I didn't have him when I wanted him the most. But I did it! He was messaging me the second they wheeled me to recovery. Little did I know he was already working on being on his way."

When he found out his baby girls were coming early Skylar did everything he could to get home, and seeing him walk into the NICU is a moment Cydney will hold in her heart and her memory forever. "I had been having to hop back and forth from our sons to our daughters and felt guilty constantly because I couldn't be with all of them especially with their dad gone. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life and I won't be forgetting it."

It's so hard for a military spouse to do everything alone after a baby comes, and the military does recognize this. Just last month the Army doubled the amount of leave qualifying secondary caregivers (most often dads) can take after a birth or adoption, from 10 days to 21 so that moms like Cydney don't have to do it all alone.

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