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How to help kids and their emotions during huge life changes—like moving, divorce or death

No matter how stable our lives are, it's likely that at some point our families will go through some huge changes. Whether it's divorce, bereavement, health issues or relocation, these seismic shifts can make parenting more challenging. Just at the time when our cup feels most empty, our children may respond with emotional and behavioral challenges.

For young children, even small transitions can be hard. For a toddler, leaving a playdate or separating to go to daycare can trigger strong emotions so when bigger changes happen it can feel almost overwhelming for both your child and you.

So what do you do when you are in the midst of a big change? How do you involve your children, communicate well with them and allow space for their emotions? Here are some tips.

1. Have family meetings

It's good to make time to talk things through and explain what's going on in an age-appropriate way. This could be as and when the need arises, or it could also be more 'formally,' as a sit-down family meeting. If you are planning a big change, such as relocation or announcing a divorce, then it's good to sit down together as a whole family and be honest about what changes are going to take place.

Kids of all ages will benefit from having their voice heard and having a say in the decision-making process, even if they're not directly involved. Take time to listen to their concerns and questions about what is happening.

2. Let them express their emotions however they want

Announcing a big change or sharing the news of a loved one's illness or death can bring on big feelings. It's natural to be frustrated if your child throws a tantrum—especially if it's a change that you see as a positive step, such as moving to a new house or having a new sibling.

It's important to remember that tears and upsets are all part of the healing process. Children cry when they feel safe enough to express themselves and will often feel better once they've released those emotions. Tears have even been found to contain cortisol, the stress hormone, so crying literally releases stress. Once the stress is gone, kids may be able to think more clearly and see things from a different perspective.

Remember to listen and empathize without trying to stop or "fix" the tears. Crying may be part of your child's grieving process about a change, and moving through it with lots of emotional support can help them accept the new situation.

Your child's big emotions may show up in less obvious ways too. Perhaps they seem fine with the change but then have meltdowns over seemingly small things, like not wanting to go to the grocery store or refusing to eat a dinner they normally like. This is what's known as the "broken cookie phenomenon" where a child has an upset about something insignificant, such as a cookie that breaks because they are feeling overwhelmed about something much bigger.

Whatever the trigger for tears, and no matter how small it may seem to you, listen and empathize.

3. Make time for short doses of connection

In times of transition, your child may need more attention from you than usual and you may find that you're less resourced to be able to give it. This can be tricky and your child's need for connection may manifest as behavioral challenges.

One way to deal with this is to focus on giving your child short bursts of quality time. "Special time" is when you spend a set period of time doing something that your child chooses while showering them with attention.

When everything is changing, special time is like a strong foundation that builds a connection between you and your child. Set a timer for however long you feel you have the attention to give. Even five minutes can make a difference in your child's mood and behavior.

You might notice that when you do special time your child wants to roleplay around the transition, for example playing hospitals if a family member is unwell, or using dolls to act out the arrival of a new sibling. This kind of play can be especially healing when laughter is incorporated. Laughter lowers blood pressure, and releases endorphins, and laughing about difficult experiences in the context of play can help to release tension around them.

4. Set limits gently

You may notice that your child starts "showing" their feelings about a change indirectly through their behavior. Set limits gently because children's "misbehavior" is usually a sign that feelings are getting in the way of their thinking. Move in close to your child, make eye contact, and gently set a limit.

If you feel frustrated, try to remember there's a deeper reason for the upset that your child is struggling to put into words.

5. Remember to nurture yourself

Parenting is challenging, especially when big changes are occurring in our lives and we feel overwhelmed. It's more important than ever to make sure to take care of yourself.

Children are like sponges, feeding off our energy, so as we process our feelings around a transition they will too. Take time for yourself. Hire a babysitter or ask a family member to take over so you can have a break. Spend time with good friends that know how to listen and seek counseling if you need it.

Grieve for what is lost and take time to fully express yourself. Don't go it alone. Just like our child's perspective can change through grieving, so can yours.

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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.

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$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.

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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.

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(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.

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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.

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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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Baby stuff comes in such cute prints these days. Gone are the days when everything was pink and blue and covered in ducks or teddy bears. Today's baby gear features stylish prints that appeal to mom.

That's why it's totally understandable how a mama could mistake a car seat cover for a cute midi skirt. It happened to Lori Farrell, and when she shared her mishap on Facebook she went viral before she was even home from work. Fellow moms can totally see the humor in Farrell's mishap, and thankfully, so can she.

As for how a car seat cover could be mistaken for a skirt—it's pretty simple, Farrell tells Motherly.

"A friend of mine had given me a huge lot of baby stuff, from clothes to baby carriers to a rocker and blankets and when I pulled it out I was not sure what it was," she explains. "I debated it but washed it anyway then decided because of the way it pulled on the side it must be a maternity skirt."

Farrell still wasn't 100% sure if she was right by the time she headed out the door to work, but she rocked the ambiguous attire anyway.

"When I got to work I googled the brand and realized not only do they not sell clothing but it was a car seat cover."

The brand, Itzy Ritzy, finds the whole thing pretty funny too, sharing Farell's viral moment to its official Instagram.

It may be a car seat cover, but that print looks really good on this mama.

And if you want to copy Farell's style, the Itzy Ritzy 4-in-1 Nursing Cover, Car Seat Cover, Shopping Cart Cover and Infinity Scarf (and skirt!) is available on Amazon for $24.94.

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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Daycare for infants is expensive across the country, and California has one of the worst states for parents seeking care for a baby. Putting an infant in daycare in California costs $2,914 more than in-state tuition for four years of college, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Paying north of $1,000 for daycare each month is an incredible burden, especially on single-parent families. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable childcare as costing no more than 10% of a family's income—by that definition, less than 29% of families in California can afford infant care. Some single parents spend half their income on day care. It is an incredible burden on working parents.

But that burden may soon get lighter. CBS Sacramento reports California may put between $25 and $35 million into child care programs to make day care more affordable for parents with kids under 3 years old.

Assembly Bill 452, introduced this week, could see $10 million dollars funneled into Early Head Start (which currently gets no money from the state but does get federal funding) and tens of millions more would be spent on childcare for kids under three.

The bill seeks to rectify a broken childcare system. Right now, only about 14% of eligible infants and toddlers are enrolled in subsidized programs in California, and in 2017, only 7% of eligible children younger than three years of age accessed Early Head Start.

An influx of between $25 to $35 million dollars could see more spaces open up for kids under three, as Bill 452, if passed, would see the creation of "grants to develop childcare facilities that serve children from birth to three years of age."

This piece of proposed legislation comes weeks after California's governor announced an ambitious plan for paid parental leave, and as another bill, AB 123, seeks to strengthen the state's pre-kindergarten program.

Right now, it is difficult for some working parents to make a life in California, but by investing in families, the state's lawmakers could change that and change California's future for the better.

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When a mama gets married, in most cases she wants her children to be part of her big day. Photographers are used to hearing bride-to-be moms request lots of pictures of their big day, but when wedding photographer Laura Schaefer of Fire and Gold Photography heard her client Dalton Mort planned to wear her 2-year-old daughter Ellora instead of a veil, she was thrilled.

A fellow mama who understands the benefits of baby-wearing, Schaefer was keen to capture the photos Mort requested. "When I asked Dalton about what some of her 'must get' shots would be for her wedding, she specifically asked for ones of her wearing Ellie, kneeling and praying in the church before the tabernacle," Schaefer tells Motherly.

She got those shots and so many more, and now Mort's toddler-wearing wedding day pics are going viral.

"Dalton wore Ellie down the aisle and nursed her to sleep during the readings," Schaefer wrote on her blog, explaining that Ellie then slept through the whole wedding mass.

"As a fellow mother of an active toddler, this is a HUGE win! Dalton told me after that she was SO grateful that Ellie slept the whole time because she was able to focus and really pray through the Mass," Schaefer explains.

Dalton was able to concentrate on her wedding day because she made her baby girl a part of it (and that obviously tired Ellie right out).

Ellie was part of the commitment and family Dalton if forging with her husband, Jimmy Joe. "There is no better behaved toddler than a sleeping toddler, and she was still involved, even though I ended up unwrapping her to nurse her. I held her in my arms while my husband and I said our vows. It was really special for us," Dalton told POPSUGAR.

This is a wedding trend we are totally here for!

Congrats to Dalton and Jimmy Joe (and to Ellie)! 🎉

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The internet is freaking out about how Peppa Pig is changing the way toddlers speak, but parents don't need to be too worried.

As Romper first reported, plenty of American parents have noticed that preschoolers are picking up a bit of a British accent thanks to Peppa. Romper's Janet Manley calls it "the Peppa effect," noting that her daughter started calling her "Mummy" after an in-flight Peppa marathon.


Plenty of other parents report sharing Manley's experience, but the British accent is not likely to stick, experts say.

Toronto-based speech and language pathologist Melissa James says this isn't a new thing—kids have always been testing out the accents they hear on TV and in the real world, long before Peppa oinked her way into our Netflix queues.

"Kids have this amazing ability to pick up language," James told Global News. "Their brains are ripe for the learning of language and it's a special window of opportunity that adults don't possess."

Global News reports that back in the day there were concerns about Dora The Explorer potentially teaching kids Spanish words before the kids had learned the English counterparts, and over in the U.K., parents have noticed British babies picking up American accents from TV, too.

But it's not a bad thing, James explains. When an American adult hears "Mummy" their brain translates it to "Mommy," but little kids don't yet make as concrete a connection. "When a child, two, three or four, is watching a show with a British accent and hears [words] for the first time, they are mapping out the speech and sound for that word in the British way."

So if your baby is oinking at you, calling you "Mummy" or testing out a new pronunciation of "toh-mah-toe," know that this is totally natural, and they're not going to end up with a life-long British pig accent.

As Dr, Susannah Levi, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University, tells The Guardian, "it's really unlikely that they'd be acquiring an entire second dialect from just watching a TV show."

It sure is cute though.

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