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tips to safely get back to the playground

After doing their part and staying home for months to keep themselves and others safe from coronavirus, is it finally time for your kiddos to return to the playground? Your kids may be eager to get back to climbing, swinging and other monkeybar-business—and you might be just as eager to get out of the house.

But is it safe to take kids to the playground right now, especially with COVID-19 cases on the rise again? Experts have offered a few tips on how to safely navigate the playgrounds during the coronavirus pandemic.

Here's what you need to know before you go to the playground, and how to play safely once you're there.


How to know whether it's safe to go to the playground

Are cases on the rise in your community?
Experts agree that while there's no such thing as a "risk-free" activity this summer, the top consideration when deciding whether an activity is safe or not is whether there is a high level of virus activity in your community. If there's a lot of community spread in your area, the safest place for kids to play is at home.

Does your household include any individuals who are especially at risk?
If you have any elderly, pregnant or immunocompromised household members, it's safer to play at home than at the playground.

Are playgrounds in your area open?
This may seem like an obvious one, but make sure to check your community's parks department website or social media handles before you head out to make sure you're not met with a locked gate—and a lot of disappointment.

If you're ready to head to the playground, here are 6 tips to keep you and your family safe.

1. Visit at off times, and limit the length of your stay.
When making a trip to the playground, try to go at times when it will not be busy, and plan to visit for no more than an hour at a time. Typically, it is best to go early in the morning or late afternoon. Try to avoid lunchtime visits or times you know there will be large crowds so you can minimize your interaction with others.

Manage expectations beforehand by letting children know there's a limit on playtime: "We'll be here until 10:30, and when I say it's time to go, it's time to go. Have fun!"

2. Wear a mask + bring extras.
Although you will be outside, it is still important to wear a mask especially if you cannot maintain a safe social distance. It doesn't hurt to bring a few extras in case they rip or get sweaty from your little ones playing. The CDC recommends children over 2 years old wear a cloth face covering to decrease the chance of spreading the virus—and experts have suggestions for how to keep kids comfortable in a mask, even on hot days.

3. Do not plan to eat at the playground.
Bringing snacks to the playground may seem like Parenting 101, but kids may be tempted to touch their face with unwashed hands while eating. It's best to avoid snacking altogether while you're at the playground, and save those tasty treats for when you're home.

4. Bring water + avoid drinking fountains.
Be sure to come with your own water to stay hydrated. Avoid drinking fountains if possible, but if you must use one be sure to sanitize hands afterward. Speaking of which...

5. Bring sanitizer.
You won't have access to soap and water at the playground, but you can still use hand sanitizer frequently. It is inevitable that kids' little hands will get dirty touching the play equipment, so try to sanitize as frequently as you can. The CDC recommends using a hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol-based to best combat germs and avoid getting sick.

6. Closely monitor your child to ensure they're keeping a distance from other children.
Mamas, we know it's difficult to keep you kids away from other kids when they're playing. However, it's important to make sure they're maintaining a safe distance when possible. The playground will still be just as fun while practicing social distancing.

While it can be tricky to know what's safe and what's not during this pandemic, remember that you are the best decision-maker for your family. Even if your child cannot flawlessly adhere to social distancing guidelines 100% of the time, there are still ways to minimize their chances of exposure to illness. Stay safe and enjoy your quality time outside with your children, mama.

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

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In just over three weeks, we will become parents. From then on, our hearts will live outside of our bodies. We will finally understand what everyone tells you about bringing a child into the world.

Lately, the range of emotions and hormones has left me feeling nothing short of my new favorite mom word, "hormotional." I'm sure that's normal though, and something most people start to feel as everything suddenly becomes real.

Our bags are mostly packed, diaper bag ready, and birth plan in place. Now it's essentially a waiting game. We're finishing up our online childbirth classes which I must say are quite informational and sometimes entertaining. But in between the waiting and the classes, we've had to think about how we're going to handle life after baby's birth.

I don't mean thinking and planning about the lack of sleep, feeding schedule, or just the overall changes a new baby is going to bring. I'm talking about how we're going to handle excited family members and friends who've waited just as long as we have to meet our child. That sentence sounds so bizarre, right? How we're going to handle family and friends? That sentence shouldn't even have to exist.

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Life

As told to Liz Tenety.

Around the time my husband and I were turning 30, we had a genuine conversation about whether or not we wanted kids. I was the hesitant one because I was like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Let's just hold on. Okay, let's talk about this. Because we love our life. We like traveling. Is this what we want?"

My husband said, "Let's ask our three most pessimistic, crabby friends who have kids whether or not it's worth it."

And every single one of them was like, "Oh, it's unmissable on planet earth."

So when I got pregnant, I was—and I'm not ashamed to say this and I don't think you should be—I was as connected with the baby in my belly as if it were a water bottle. I was like, I don't know you. I don't know what you are, but you can be some gas pain sometimes, but other than that, we're going to have to meet each other and suss this relationship out.

But all the cliches are true that you just know what to do when the baby comes out. Some of the times are hard, some of them are easier, but you just gotta use your gut.

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Life