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When I was pregnant with my first child, I was not prepared for how expensive childcare was or how difficult it would be to find an available spot for my child. Finding high-quality and affordable childcare is a challenge that most families will face. Working families across the country pay a high percentage of their annual income to cover the price of childcare. And today, about 57% of women work outside of the home.

After my personal struggle in finding childcare and after touring more than 50 daycares, I was determined to transform the childcare industry and find a solution for other mothers looking for a safe, affordable, nurturing, education-based childcare solution for their child. With that mission in mind, I founded WeeCare.

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After helping thousands of parents find care, we compiled a list of questions to share with you to ensure that you find the best daycare environment for your child:

1. Is this childcare option convenient for my family and our schedules?

Communicate your work schedules with your childcare provider and have a plan in place with your family ahead of time. Who will be dropping off and picking up your child? Once you decide on who will do the regular pick-ups, make sure you have a back-up option who is more than just an emergency contact. This will help ensure a smoother transition for your family and your child.

2. Is the childcare affordable long-term?

Ensure the option you choose is sustainable for your family over time. Picking an option that is a little over budget and switching later can add additional financial stress and disrupt your child's ability to form a bond with their caregiver. Also, ask about additional fees that you may need to budget for such as diaper changing, keeping the child for additional hours or transportation.

3. Do I feel that my child will be in a safe environment?

You should discuss this with your family before your tour so your family is on the lookout for anything that could be a potential safety issue. Are there any sharp edges in the home within the child's reach, are the light sockets covered and are there childproof locks placed on the cabinets? Are CPR guidelines and emergency numbers posted? Does it look clean and sanitary? While on your tour, observe the children interacting with one another and take note of what they are doing. Pay attention to the provider's interaction with the children. Does it look like a place where children will learn and play? Are the toys educational and are there books for the children to read? Is there an outside play area? If so, is the outdoor area enclosed or is it near a busy street or intersection? Are there any pets on the premises and are they inaccessible during daycare hours?

4. What is the policy for extended care or late pick-up?

Emergencies can happen so it's best to understand the provider's policies upfront and that they align with the needs of your work schedule. A few questions to keep in mind:

  • How much advance notice do you need to give if you won't be needing childcare on certain days to avoid being charged?
  • What is the policy on communicating that you will need to stay at work late?
  • How many times a day does the provider communicate with parents and what is the best method to communicate with them?
  • How long does it typically take them to respond to parents?

5. What is your holiday schedule?

Childcare providers are usually closed during major holidays. They may also be closed for in-service training or longer holidays such as summer or winter break. This can range from a couple of days to a few weeks so get that information in advance so you can plan ahead if childcare is not available.

6. How is learning structured and what educational programs do you follow?

Did you know that 90% of physical brain development occurs in the first three years of life, and research shows a direct relationship between the quality of childcare and cognitive and language development. As children under the age of 5 spend an average of 36 hours per week in a childcare setting, a structured early-education environment with a routine is vital to their success later in life. There should be a day-to-day routine to ensure the child is learning.

Ask what teaching method they follow—iMontessori, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, etc. It's also important to ask if the teachers have a background in early education, as this can positively impact your little one.

7. What is the teacher to child ratio?

The teacher-to-child ratio speaks to both the safety and the amount of one-on-one attention a child will receive in an environment. Many daycare centers will increase the number of children to grow their margins and not the number of caregivers, the result is often overcrowded classroom.

While it varies, the number of teacher to children ratio mandated by the state is usually around a maximum of 1:15. Where in a home daycare environment, the teacher to student ratio is usually 1:6. Here you can find out more about childcare in your state, including the teacher to child ratio.

8. What is the teacher turnover?

Teacher turnover is another factor that can disrupt your child's ability to form a bond with their caregiver during a key stage of their development. It has been shown that children enrolled in early education programs with low turnover and higher staff compensation witness and experience more positive interactions that are crucial to their healthy development.

Positive adult relationships and positive learning environments has also shown to boost a child's success in later learning and in life so this relationship is vital to your child's development. Ask how long the teachers have been there, and observe how happy the teachers look overall and with their environment.

9. How do you communicate the child's developmental progress? And, how often?

This is definitely a question that you will want to ask, as well as how often and what method your child's developmental progress will be communicated (in-person, email, text, etc). This will help align you with the caregiver on the expectations of how often you hear from them. If you have a concern that you have brought up over email that is not being addressed, this would be a sign that the daycare provider is not communicating properly. You may need to take the conversation offline and schedule a time to meet in-person to discuss this further.

10. Do the children play outdoors?

Outdoor play is just as critical as indoor play and allows children to develop stronger social and emotional skills. Kids need to be in a natural environment where they can run, explore and exercise. Ask about how much time is spent outdoors each day and what activities they engage in when outside.

11. What is the discipline policy?

Having a caregiver with a discipline policy that is aligned with what you are teaching at home ensures consistency in what your little one knows as positive or negative behavior. It goes without saying but you want to ensure the caregiver is not physically punishing children and the as a rule of thumb, the number of minutes spent in time-out should never exceed your child's age.

12. How is conflict resolution handled between children?

Your child will need to learn how to properly interact with others and the teacher should give verbal cues and positive reinforcement when children resolve an issue. If the teacher does not, this could be a red flag. Ask what happens if the conflict occurs again and at what point are the parents involved. What is the difference between "normal" conflict between two children and when parents should be worried?

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When we buy baby gear we expect it to be safe, and while no parent wants to hear that their gear is being recalled we appreciate when those recalls happen as a preventative measure—before a baby gets hurt.

That's the case with the recent recall of Baby Trend's Tango Mini Stroller. No injuries have been reported but the recall was issued because a problem with the hinge joints mean the stroller can collapse with a child in it, which poses a fall risk.

"As part of our rigorous process, we recently identified a potential safety issue. Since we strongly stand by our safety priority, we have decided to voluntarily recall certain models of the Tango Mini Strollers. The recalled models, under excessive pressure, both hinge joints could release, allowing the stroller to collapse and pose a fall hazard to children. Most importantly, Baby Trend has received NO reports of injuries," the company states on its website.

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The strollers were sold through Amazon and Target in October and November 2019 and cost between $100 and $120. If you've got one you should stop using it and contact Baby Trend for a refund or replacement.

Four models are impacted by this recall:

  • Quartz Pink (Model Number ST31D09A)
  • Sedona Gray (Model Number ST31D10A)
  • Jet Black (Model Number ST31D11A)
  • Purest Blue (Model Number ST31D03A

"If you determine that you own one of these specific model numbers please stop using the product and contact Baby Trend's customer service at 1-800-328-7363 or via email at info@babytrend.com," Baby Trend states.

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[Editor's note: While Motherly loves seeing and sharing photos of baby Archie and other adorable babies when the images are shared with their parents' consent, we do not publish pictures taken without a parent's consent. Since these pictures were taken without Markle's permission while she was walking her dogs, we're not reposting them.]

Meghan Markle is a trendsetter for sure. When she wears something the world notices, and this week she was photographed wearing her son Archie in a baby carrier. The important thing to know about the photos is that they show the Duchess out for a walk with her two dogs while wearing Archie in a blue Ergo. She's not hands-free baby wearing, but rather wearing an Ergo while also supporting Archie with her arm, as the carrier isn't completely tight.

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When British tabloids published the pictures many babywearing devotees and internet commenters offered opinions on how Markle is holding her son in the photo, but as baby gear guru Jamie Grayson notes, "it is none of our business."

In a post to his Facebook page, Grayson (noted NYC baby gear expert) explained that in the last day or so he has been inundated with hundreds of messages about how Markle is wearing the carrier, and that while he's sure many who messaged with concerns had good intentions he hopes to inject some empathy into the conversation.

As Grayson points out, these are paparazzi photos, so it was a private moment not meant for world-wide consumption. "This woman has the entire world watching her every move and action, especially now that she and Harry are leaving the umbrella of the royal family, and I honestly hope they are able to find some privacy and peace. So let's give her space," he explains, adding that "while those pictures show something that is less than ideal, it's going to be okay. I promise. It's not like she's wearing the baby upside down."

He's right, Archie was safe and not in danger and who knows why the straps on Markle's carrier were loose (maybe she realized people were about to take pictures and so she switched Archie from forward-facing, or maybe the strap just slipped.)

Grayson continues: "When you are bringing up how a parent is misusing a product (either in-person or online) please consider your words. Because tone of voice is missing in text, it is important to choose your words carefully because ANYTHING can be misconstrued. Your good intentions can easily be considered as shaming someone."

Grayson's suggestions injected some much-needed empathy into this discourse and reminded many that new parents are human beings who are just trying to do their best with responsibilities (and baby gear) that isn't familiar to them.

Babywearing has a ton of benefits for parents and the baby, but it can take some getting used to. New parents can research safety recommendations so they feel confident. In Canada, where the pictures in question were snapped, the government recommends parents follow these safety guidelines when wearing infants in carriers:

  • Choose a product that fits you and your baby properly.
  • Be very careful putting a baby into—or pulling them out of—a carrier or sling. Ask for help if you need it.
  • When wearing a carrier or sling, do not zip up your coat around the baby because it increases the risk of overheating and suffocation.
  • Be particularly careful when using a sling or carrier with babies under 4 months because their airways are still developing.
  • Do not use a carrier or sling during activities that could lead to injury such as cooking, running, cycling, or drinking hot beverages.

Health Canada also recommends parents "remember to keep your baby visible and kissable at all times" and offers the following tips to ensure kissability.

"Keep the baby's face in view. Keep the baby in an upright position. Make sure the baby's face is not pressed into the fabric of the carrier or sling, your body, or clothing. Make sure the baby's chin is not pressed into their chest. Make sure the baby's legs are not bunched up against their stomach, as this can also restrict breathing. Wear the baby snug enough to support their back and hold onto the baby when bending over so they don't fall out of the carrier or sling. Check your baby often."

Meghan Markle is a new mom who was caught off guard during a moment she didn't expect her baby to be photographed. Every parent (no matter how famous) has a right to privacy for their child and the right to compassion from other parents. If we want people to learn how to safely babywear we can't shame them for trying.

Mama, if you've been shamed for wearing your baby "wrong" don't feel like you need to stop. Follow the tips above or check in with local baby-wearing groups to get advice and help. You've got this.

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At one of the most important nights of their career, celebrities made sure their hairstyles stayed put at the 26th Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards. As a collective, the hairstyles were beautiful—french twists, bobs, pin curls and killer cuts filled the red carpet on the night to remember.

And surprisingly, the secret wasn't just the stylist team, mama. For many of the celebs, much of the look can be attributed to a $5 hairspray—yes, you read that correctly.

Dove style+care micro mist extra hold hairspray was one of the top stylist picks for celebs for a lightweight, flexible finishing spray, leaving tons of body and bounce. Unlike most hairsprays that can take several minutes (even a half hour) to set the look, this extra-hold one contains a fast-drying, water-free formula that helps protect your hair from frizz in minutes. As a result, celebrities were able to hold the shape of their styles with mega volume.

"Dove hairspray works well by holding curls in place with maximum hold and ultra shine, while still maintaining soft, touchable texture that is easy to brush out," says Dennis Gots for Dove Hair, who styled Phoebe Waller-Bridge for the SAG Awards. Translation: It's great for on-the-go mamas who want a shiny hold that lasts, but doesn't feel sticky.

Here are a few awesome hairstyles that were finished with the drugstore Dove style+care micro mist extra hold hairspray at the SAG awards:

Lili Reinhart's French twist

"I sprayed Dove style+care micro mist extra hold hairspray all over Lili's hair to lock in the shape and boost the shine factor, making the whole look really sleek," says stylist Renato Campora who was inspired to create the look by Reinhart's romantic gown. "Lili's look is sleek and sharp with a romantic twist."

Cynthia Erivo's finger waves

"This look is classic Cynthia! I knew I wanted to keep it simple, but it's actually quite detailed and intricate up close," says stylist Coree Moreno. "While the hair was still wet (yes—I needed to work fast!) I generously spritzed on the hairspray for all night hold without flaking. The hair continued to air dry perfectly while she finished up makeup."

Nathalie Emmanuel's curly high pony

"Nathalie wanted a retro Hollywood glam for the SAG Awards, so I used her natural texture and created a high pony with loose tendrils framing her face and neckline," says stylist, Neeko. "I finessed the look with the hairspray to lock in the style while keeping her hair looking and feeling touchable."

Phoebe Waller-Bridge's slicked back bob

"I used duckbill clips on different areas of her hair to keep the shape and curl while the hair air dried. Air drying the hair allowed for maximum shine and then I sprayed lots of hairspray all over to truly lock in the sleek shape and enhance the shine," says stylist Dennis Gots, who was inspired by a 90s vibe for Waller-Bridge's look.

Dove Style+Care Micro Mist Extra Hold Hairspray

Dove Style+Care Micro Mist Extra Hold Hairspray

Who doesn't want a hairspray that makes your hair feel as good as it looks? Dove Style+Care Extra Hold Hairspray holds body, volume and enhances shine. It gives your hair touchable hold while fighting frizz, even in damp or humid conditions.

$4.89

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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We often think of the unequal gender division of unpaid labor as a personal issue, but a new report by Oxfam proves that it is a global issue—and that a handful of men are becoming incredibly wealthy while women and girls bear the burden of unpaid work and poverty.

According to Oxfam, the unpaid care work done by women and girls has an economic value of $10.8 trillion per year and benefits the global economy three times more than the entire technology industry.

"Women are supporting the market economy with cheap and free labor and they are also supporting the state by providing care that should be provided by the public sector," the report notes.

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The unpaid work of hundreds of millions of women is generating massive wealth for a couple of thousand (predominantly male) billionaires. "What is clear is that this unpaid work is fueling a sexist economic system that takes from the many and puts money in the pockets of the few," the report states.

Max Lawson is Oxfam International's Head of Inequality Policy. In an interview with Vatican News, he explained that "the foundation of unpaid work done by the poorest women generates enormous wealth for the economy," and that women do billions of hours of unpaid care work (caring for children, the sick, the elderly and cooking, cleaning) for which they see no financial reward but which creates financial rewards for billionaires.

Indeed, the report finds that globally 42% of women can't work for money because of their unpaid care responsibilities.

In the United States, women spend 37% more time doing unpaid care work than men, Oxfam America notes in a second report released in cooperation with the Institute for Women's Policy Research.

"It's an economy that is built on the backs of women and of poor women and their labour, whether it's poorly paid labour or even unpaid labour, it is a sexist economy and it's a broken economy, and you can only fix the gap between the rich and the poor if at the same time you fix the gap between women and men," Lawson explains.

According to Lawson, you can't fight economic inequality without fighting gender equality, and he says 2020 is the year to do both. Now is a great time to start, because as Motherly has previously reported, no country in the world is on track to eliminate gender inequality by 2030 (one of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by 193 United Nations member countries back in 2015) and no country will until the unpaid labor of women and girls is addressed.

"Governments around the world can, and must, build a human economy that is feminist and benefits the 99%, not only the 1%," the Oxfam report concludes.

The research suggests that paid leave, investments in childcare and the care of older adults and people with disabilities as well as utilizing technology to make working more flexible would help America close the gap.

(For more information on how you can fight for paid leave, affordable childcare and more this year check out yearofthemother.org.)

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