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preparing for kindergarten during pandemic

Little children thrive when their circumstances are safe, stable and predictable. They like lots of time to get used to changes that are coming up—but right now, in the midst of a pandemic, that's impossible. Nobody knows what we'll be facing this fall when school starts. Nonetheless, it's time to think about what to tell your child about school this fall, so they'll be as prepared as possible.

Here's how to talk to young children about what to expect at kindergarten this year.


I asked two 5-year-old friends of mine what parents should tell their children about kindergarten. These two—a boy and a girl—were unhappy when their junior kindergarten classes stopped suddenly in March this year, and they're looking forward to getting back to school in September. They know all about the coronavirus but haven't yet realized that school might not reopen in the fall, or what it might look like if it does. So their ideas were all about school as usual, and that's probably the best place to start with your child.

1. Start by letting them tell you their concerns.

Kids, like adults, do worry about the unknown. Honor the predictable worries your child might be having. Make space for your child to express their concerns. Reassure them that you'll be available to help if they need you.

2. Encourage their curiosity.

When I asked my panel of 5-year-olds what they thought it was most important for new kindergarteners to know, they stressed, "It's fun!" The kids started rattling off all the wonderful, amazing things they did at school every day: games, activities, playtime, a building center, crafts, stories. Tell your child about the rich environment they'll be spending time in, a place with a variety of activities and possibilities, and teachers who want them to thrive.

3. Introduce a love of learning.

"And you learn stuff!" The two children I spoke with were enthusiastic about all the learning opportunities in their kindergarten: letters, numbers, shapes, science, and reading buddies. Talk to your child about the world of learning that will be gently opening up for them. Let them know that their teacher won't expect them to know or do anything more than they already do—but, as the kids told me, they will be "learning stuff."

4. Be honest about what might change.

Tell your child that because of the coronavirus, nobody really knows for sure what school will look like this year, and that their school schedule might change depending on a number of factors. School might be fully open as usual or open for fewer hours. Children might be attending school one or two days a week, or only mornings or afternoons, or classes might even be held outdoors. Because it's still so hard to tell what September will bring, even in school districts where plans are already underway, it's best to help your child be prepared for the possibility of change.

5. Emphasize safety.

Talk to your child in a simple, straightforward way about the safety precautions they might see in their classroom. They might be asked to do daily temperature checks and to follow rules about physical distancing, mask-wearing and frequent sanitizing of hands and surfaces. They might enter a classroom with spaced out desks instead of lots of small-group activity centers. They might experience play restrictions or some combination of online and face-to-face classroom activities. While you don't need to cite the Centers for Disease Control school guidelines chapter and verse, helping your child be prepared for some of the safety measures in place will help them understand why they are important, and how everyone in school can help do their part to keep others healthy.

6. Be open to ongoing conversation.

Be warm and confident as you talk to your child about all this. Ask if they have any questions, and take the time to think about your answers. Tell them they'll probably have more questions, and that you're always glad to talk with them about all this. Acknowledge that this is a big deal in their life and that you're there to make sure it all goes well.

7. Offer reassurance.

Tell your child that one way or another, you'll make sure they are happy and healthy and that they get a good education. Whether or not school this coming year is normal, you'll make sure they do some learning and are ready to go back to school when it resumes.

This post was originally published on Psychology Today.

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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My belly has been through some things.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum (yep, severe debilitating pregnancy-related vomiting), the pregnancies of each of my four kids, the 65 pounds of weight gain I have endured with each pregnancy, stretch marks, Occupational Therapy for pregnancy pelvic pain, unmedicated childbirth, and of course, postpartum recovery.

It's my personal opinion that this belly deserves some love. So starting with my second pregnancy, I've relied on Belly Bandit's postpartum belly bands (which I own in three sizes) to help support my core, reduce swelling, and begin to activate my midsection after nine months of being stretched to the max.

Here's why I love Belly Bandit:

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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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