The upside of the pandemic: Our planet is healing

This could be a turning point for our children, the earth and their future—but only if we learn from this moment.

earth day

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our lives in so many ways and it is also changing our environment—for the better. As we isolate indoors, animals and nature are flourishing outdoors. The polluted sky is clearing and parents are looking out their windows at a world and a future that could be better post-pandemic. This could be a turning point for our children, the earth and their future—but only if we learn from this moment.

We've said it before here at Motherly: We won't go back to normal, we want better than normal. When the threat of the virus wanes we must remember the inequality it revealed and how it made sustainable living not just a trend, but an absolute necessity.

As kids, we all learned to reduce, reuse and recycle but a culture of consumption saw a generation turn its back on the Three Rs. But now that we're home, witnessing how the world can change when fewer cars are on the roads, planes are grounded and when newly frugal consumers choose longevity over convenience we're coming back to them. Millennial parents are baking their own bread instead of buying loaves wrapped in plastic, we're communicating with colleagues remotely instead of commuting to an air-conditioned office and we can change our habits for the sake of kids' health and their futures.


Our children have always been worried about climate change

Being home with our kids more means we are hearing their concerns more often, and so many of them are anxious not only about the pandemic but also about climate change. Seeing animals return to America's National Parks and adults switch to sustainable alternatives to disposable household products is a welcome sight to the majority of American teens who fear climate change.

In early February environment and energy reporter Jason Plautz noted an unnerving anecdote in a piece for the Washington Post, writing: "A psychiatrist I interviewed told me [an underage] patient had confessed that she secretly wished a pandemic would strike to ease stress on the planet."

That teen did not wish COVID-19 into existence, but young people like her are helping stop it while appreciating this opportunity for a cultural reset. According to UNICEF, "the last few years have seen young people around the world raising their voices on an unprecedented scale, asking adults and leaders to protect them from climate change. Now, by staying inside and taking their climate marches online, young people are showing solidarity with the older members of society, who are more vulnerable to the virus, by helping to stop the spread."

Teens understand these issues in a way that little kids cannot, but younger children, too, are worried about the consequences of a world in which Amazon packages of cheap plastic goods arrive quickly but progress to reduce the burning of fossil fuels is painfully slow.

What COVID-19 and climate change have in common

The novel coronavirus and unchecked carbon emissions both have the potential to change our world for the worse in different ways, but according to UNICEF the two issues have important similarities. As the organization noted in a news release this week, "both climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic require us to listen to experts, to unite behind the science."

The lessons plans UNICEF created for parents to use on Earth Day can also help young children understand the pandemic. William Finnegan is a PhD Candidate at the University of Oxford, and he is encouraging parents to consider making climate change part of their distance learning plan if it isn't already. Finnegan writes: "Climate change is an interdisciplinary subject that both school children and adults think is important. And as we deal with the current crisis—which is also having its own effects on the environment—there is perhaps no better time to think about how to avoid the next, potentially even greater one."

Focus on hope when talking to your kids

The stats show kids are anxious about climate change, and now is not the time for adults to make that worse. We can talk to kids about climate change and the pandemic without scaring them, and research suggests we should.

A study out of Sweden found that when kids experience 'constructive hope' for climate change and see the role they can play in helping the Earth they're positively influenced to take on environmentally protective behavior, but when their hope for the future comes through denial of science or an uncritical belief that everything will work out somehow the positive impact isn't there. When kids get overwhelmed, unconstructive hope can turn into pessimism.

"It's important to counteract the nihilism and the hopelessness that people feel," registered psychologist Christine Korol, the director of the Vancouver Anxiety Centre, told CTV News."Hopelessness is the big enemy of solving any problem, including climate change. When we're talking about children, we need to give them hope."

Parents can encourage kids to be hopeful by helping kids consider the positive side-effects of the pandemic, and what lessons their family and their country can take away from this time.

How to take action

According to Dr. Aaron Bernstein, a Pediatric Hospitalist at Boston Children's Hospital and the Interim Director of The Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the world needs "to take climate action to prevent the next pandemic."

He says "many of the root causes of climate change also increase the risk of pandemics."

We can start with small actions at home:

  • Consider fewer meat dishes when menu planning, and consider getting meat from a sustainable source when you do include it. If that's not financially feasible right now, consider more dishes with legumes and other pulses as a cheap and healthy alternative to meat. "Large livestock farms can also serve as a source for spillover of infections from animals to people," says Bernstein. "Less demand for animal meat and more sustainable animal husbandry could decrease emerging infectious disease risk and lower greenhouse gas emissions."
  • Try gardening or growing a small amount of food to help your kids connect with their food.
  • Have your kids do a disposability audit: How many products in your grocery order are disposable? Have your kids look through your list and involve them in creating or sourcing alternatives to things like paper towels, plastic water bottles and straws.
  • Talk about your carbon footprint and how you can work together as a family to reduce it.

The pandemic and sustainability are linked says Bernstein, who testified before Congress last year regarding how child health is impacted by climate change. "We've had a few shots over the bow here – SARS, MERS, COVID, Ebola. We need to hear what nature is trying to tell us, which is clear: let's be smarter about how we do business with the biosphere and stop disrupting the climate we depend on," says Bernstein.

Deforestation and other consequences of unsustainable human practices and making it easier for diseases to spread and air pollution and social inequality are making vulnerable groups more vulnerable.

A cultural shift in consumption can be the legacy of the lockdown

We're using less of everything these days as we mind our shrinking savings accounts and recommendations of public health authorities. From paper coffee cups to milk to utilities, consumption is down.

"U.S. electricity use on March 27, 2020 was 3% lower than on March 27, 2019" Peter Fox-Penner, the Director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy, and Professor of Practice at Boston University's Questrom School of Business explains for The Conversation.

According to Fox-Penner, recessions reduce the demand for power greatly. He says the 2008 recession "reduced power demand in the United States by about 10 years' worth of growth."

Fox-Penner worries that the pandemic is having a harmful impact on the production of renewable energy components, like solar panels, but says in the long term people will still be looking for toward carbon-free energy when we emerge from the pandemic.

The world will be different after this pandemic. But it's going to be better, too.

In This Article

    The HATCH Mama collection is everything your pregnant body needs right now

    Their oil is the only thing that stopped my belly from itching as it grew bigger.

    Conz Preti

    Let me start by saying I'm not a fan of moisturizing. I hate being wet and sticky and after applying product to my body, I have to stand around awkwardly until I'm fully air-dried—a practice that is not compatible with having three kids under the age of 3. However, as someone who has carried three children in her body, I also know how much your belly needs hydration as the baby grows.

    This was especially true with my second pregnancy. My belly popped way sooner (a thing that happens with subsequent pregnancies) and on top of that, I was carrying twins, which meant I became super pregnant super fast. My belly was itching constantly from the skin stretching (I checked with my doctor to make sure I didn't have Cholestasis) and there was no scratching in the world that could ease my discomfort. My doula recommended the HATCH Mama belly oil and changed my life. The oil is nourishing—but more important to me, quick-drying—so I could apply it all over my planet-sized twin belly and get dressed immediately after without having my clothes ruined nor stuck to my body. Because of how much I loved the oil, I tested other products, and let me tell you, they're all equally amazing.

    Curious about the HATCH Mama collection? All of their products are non-toxic and mama-safe, designed to help pregnant people overcome the challenges unique to pregnancy. As their website claims, "from stretch marks to thinning hair, to sleepless nights, we're helping you tackle every prenatal and postnatal beauty issue head-on so you can continue to feel like the best version of you." I'm here for all of this. For the entire Hatch Beauty collection click here.


    Here are my favorite products from HATCH Mama:


    Belly oil

    HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Oil

    Intensely hydrating + fantastic at reducing the appearance of stretch marks and scars, this will be your favorite through pregnancy + beyond.

    $58

    Belly mask

    HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Mask Set

    Not only does it help to minimize the appearance of stretch masks + scars during pregnancy + postpartum, but there is a little non-toxic wink (and that's to you, mama.)

    $42

    Nipple + lip ointment 

    HATCH COLLECTION  Nipple + Lip

    Calming + soothing, this magic sauce is lanolin-free & made of tropical butters and super fruits. I'm not lying when I say you will not want to stop using this, even way after birth.

    $28

    Belly tattoos

    HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Tattoos

    A very rock and roll way to honor your bump. And non-toxic + plant-based at that!

    $18

    This article was originally published in March 2021. It has been updated.

    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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    Motherly created the flexible online birth class moms need

    The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.

    Taking a birth class is a pregnancy milestone. Whether you've been excited to take a birth class for a long time or have just recently decided that you wanted to take one, sitting down for that first lesson feels big—spoiler alert, this is really happening! But finding time for a birth class isn't as easy as it would seem.

    We know new parents are busy (hello, understatement of the year). Between diaper changes, pediatrician appointments, healing from birth and the general adjustment to #newparentlife, the days can fill up quickly. But a lot of people are caught off guard by how busy pregnancy can be, too! That first trimester is so often full of symptoms—like nausea and fatigue—that can make previously easy or simple tasks exhausting. The second trimester begins and (usually) we start to feel better. But then our days get filled with planning out baby registries and deciding on questions like, "Where will this tiny new human sleep?" And before you know it, it's the third trimester—and, well, then you're in the home stretch. Plus there are so many appointments!

    All this to say that we get how busy you are—and how hard that might make it to fit in a birth class.

    And that's why we created The Motherly Birth Class. The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.


    Think you'll want to watch each lesson a few times over? Great!

    Due date's next week and you need the option to take a birth class very quickly? No problem!

    Like everything at Motherly, we designed this class with you in mind.

    Taught by Certified Nurse-Midwife Diana Spalding (who also wrote "The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama"), this class is broken into 12 lessons—and you get to control how and when you watch them. We'll teach you about what your (amazing) body is up to in labor, how to decide when it's time to head to the hospital or birth center (or when to call your home birth midwife), what your options are for coping with pain and so much more.

    When you sign up for The Motherly Birth Class, you'll get access to a downloadable workbook and meditations. Plus, you'll be invited to join our supportive private online community (where you can chat with the class instructor!)

    Oh, one more thing: Your insurance or flexible spending account might even able to able to cover the cost of this class.

    Pregnancy is wonderful—but it's a lot. You deserve a birth class that works for you and empowers you to have your best birth. Because vaginal or Cesarean, unmedicated or medication, birth is incredible. And you are the star of it all.

    You've got this.

    Sign up for The Motherly Birth Class today!

    The Motherly Birth Class

    pregnant-woman-looking-at-her-belly

    Take our completely digital birth class from the comfort of your living room. We'll help you have your best birth—because you deserve it.

    $79

    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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    BABYBJÖRN

    This post is sponsored by BABYBJÖRN. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    Keeping kids entertained is a battle for all seasons. When it's warm and sunny, the options seem endless. Get them outside and get them moving. When it's cold or rainy, it gets a little tricker.

    So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of the best toys for toddlers and kids that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, many are Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these indoor outdoor toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.


    Secret Agent play set

    Plan-Toys-Secret-agent-play-set

    This set has everything your little secret agent needs to solve whatever case they might encounter: an ID badge, finger scanner, walkie-talkie handset, L-shaped scale and coloring comic (a printable file is also available for online download) along with a handy belt to carry it all along. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

    $40

    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

    $40

    Stepping Stones

    Stepping-stones

    Kiddos can jump, stretch, climb and balance with these non-slip stepping stones. The 20-piece set can be arranged in countless configurations to create obstacle courses, games or whatever they can dream up.

    $99.99

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

    $120

    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

    $30

    Sensory play set

    kidoozie-sand-and-splash-activity-table

    Filled with sand or water, this compact-sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

    $19.95

    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

    $121

    Foam pogo stick

    Flybar-my-first-foam-pogo-stick

    Designed for ages 3 and up, My First Flybar offers kiddos who are too young for a pogo stick a frustration-free way to get their jump on. The wide foam base and stretchy bungee cord "stick" is sturdy enough to withstand indoor and outdoor use and makes a super fun addition to driveway obstacle courses and backyard races. Full disclosure—it squeaks when they bounce, but don't let that be a deterrent. One clever reviewer noted that with a pair of needle-nose pliers, you can surgically remove that sucker without damaging the base.

    $16.99

    Dumptruck 

    green-toys-dump-truck

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyard or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? It's made from recycled plastic milk cartons.

    $22

    Hopper ball

    Hopper ball

    Burn off all that extra energy hippity hopping across the lawn or the living room! This hopper ball is one of the top rated versions on Amazon as it's thicker and more durable than most. It also comes with a hand pump to make inflation quick and easy.

    $14.99

    Pull-along ducks

    janod-pull-along-wooden-ducks

    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

    $16.99

    Rocking chair seesaw

    Slidewhizzer-rocking-chair-seesaw

    This built-to-last rocking seesaw is a fun way to get the wiggles out in the grass or in the playroom. The sturdy design can support up to 77 pounds, so even older kiddos can get in on the action.

    $79.99

    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

    $79.99

    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

    $30

    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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    The ultimate back-to-school shopping list for busy moms

    Use this list to prep for the best first day ever!

    CasarsaGuru / Getty

    After spending a summer reconnecting with friends and family, enjoying the outdoors and (hopefully!) making time for vacation, it's time for kids to head back to school. They're ready to learn, grow and get out of your hair again! But they'll need some help to get there. Before the exciting first day of school, you'll need to get all the gear together to make school a success.

    As a parent, use this basic but essential school supply list to find everything your little ones need for their classes—even on a budget.

    Loose Leaf Paper

    Even though there won't be any tests or quizzes when school begins, kids take plenty of notes, complete assignments and do in-class exercises. Every student needs at least a few packets of loose-leaf paper for quick notes and doodles. Check with your child's school to find out if they require college ruled or wide ruled before you fill up your shopping cart — odds are they won't, but it's worth being sure.

    $4

    Personal Planner

    Your child will need a personal planner to kick off the school year and keep up with all of their assignments. It's an opportunity to invest in cute school supplies that motivate your kids every time they open their planners. Plus, planners help kids learn time management and responsible scheduling, which they can carry with them throughout their academic lives and into college and adulthood.

    $22

    #2 Pencils

    Most classes require #2 pencils because they show up easily on test bubble sheets that machines scan and grade. Add them to your child's school supply list before they sell out at local stores. A great deal on a large pack will likely last through the year.

    $10.29

    Black Ink Pens

    Teachers grade in red ink pens so their notes stand out as study tools. Your student should use black ink pens that don't bleed on the paper. Their work will stand out and never smudge if you use a tried-and-true brand that knows how to make a quality pen, like BIC.

    $4.47

    Highlighters in Different Colors

    Highlighters help students study if they outline notes in different colors. Get your child a pack so they have all the help they need for their study materials. If they're stressed about the tougher classwork, don't forget to break the tension with jokes that will put them at ease.

    $9.99

    Big Pink Erasers

    The erasers on the top of pencils won't last long in classes like calculus or trigonometry. Give your kids a backup by buying packs of big pink erasers. They last much longer and often do a better job of wiping mistakes away.

    $.99

    New Headphones

    Headphones are one of the school supplies kids can use to express themselves. They'll wear them while studying in the library or riding the bus so they can focus or relieve stress between classes.

    $16.99

    Lined Notebooks

    Notebooks are cute school supplies that students always need. The spiral-bound pages are easy to flip through and lightweight in a backpack. They even help with virtual classes because each subject can have a different notebook and further organize notes that assist with online tests.

    $3.19

    Three-Ring Binders

    Students collect their loose-leaf notes in three-ring binders because they snap everything shut and keep notes safe. Find back-to-school binders that match your child's personality so they can stack everything safely in their locker without bending or crushing papers.

    $16.95

    Locker Decorations

    Most kids love decorating their lockers when they start middle school or junior high. Add locker decorations to your school supply list so they can personalize their storage unit and feel more at home.

    $14.99

    New Lunch Box

    Spoiled food ruins the first day of school. But a dual-compartment lunch box ensures your child's food stays fresh throughout the day by designating a special section for an ice pack. Your purchase could also start a new tradition of getting a different lunch box when the school year begins, easing your kids' nerves about beginning a new grade.

    $12.99

    Upgraded Backpack

    It's always fun to get a new backpack. Let your kids pick one that matches their size and expresses their personality with characters, colors, or other prints.

    $31.96

    Colorful Markers

    Young kids might need help adjusting to virtual school or having fun during in-person classes. Colorful markers are an easy way for them to relax while doodling, and they'll likely be part of daily assignments for elementary school students.

    $3.49

    Reusable Water Bottle

    Drinking out of water fountains helps spread illnesses. Your kids can avoid flu season by carrying a reusable water bottle in their backpack. Let them pick out whichever one they want and they'll look forward to using it instead of drinking from public fountains.

    $29.95

    Calculator

    Every teenager needs a calculator when they go back to school. A TI-89 model assists with graphing functions and lasts throughout their academic careers. You won't have to buy another one if they keep it in its case between classes.

    $130.99
    Back to School Landing

    Mom relieves baby's gas like a pro in viral TikTok

    "How was he not floating around like a balloon?!" asked one commenter.

    @kaseybuscemi/TikTok

    We all know the struggles of having a gassy baby. It can be rough—for baby and for you! Since babies don't actually come out of the womb knowing how to pass their own gas without a little assistance, there are so many different techniques and tips out there to help your baby feel more comfortable when they're a little...flatulent.

    "Bicycle legs" is one common technique that can help get things moving for baby gas relief, and no one does it better than this mom on TikTok.

    Her video has more than 10 million likes, and it's not hard to see why—it's mesmerizing, informative, and, of course, downright hilarious!


    Her little baby has a wicked case of the toots and even mom cracks up by the end.

    Someone give this mom, @kaseybuscemi TikTok, a gold medal, because she just placed first in the Farting Your Baby Olympics. No joke. When I first learned about the "bicycle legs" technique (after my baby spit the gripe water right back at me and, I kid you not, laughed in my face while making direct eye contact), I felt awkward and had no idea what kind of rhythm was required to effectively fart my own baby.

    This mom? TOTAL PRO.

    The comments on this video are as funny and entertaining as you'd expect them to be, too:

    Never in my 30 years of living have I ever seen someone fart a baby. This is so cool.

    TWIST IT! PULL IT! BOP IT!

    *baby all grown up* "So what's a fun fact of yours?" "Oh 6 million people saw me fart."

    How was he not floating around like a balloon??

    Farting a baby is just as important as burping a baby!

    As far as the importance of farting a baby goes, yes, in case you're wondering, it is important. Some gassiness in babies is totally normal—just like with adults. Regular farting and burping are a sign of good gastrointestinal health, according to Healthline. In addition to bicycle legs, changing the baby's position, gently massaging the baby or bouncing the baby a little bit can also help alleviate trapped gas.

    Your baby could also be intaking a tad too much air from your nipple or the nipples of a bottle if they're extra gassy. If you're concerned about your own baby's gassiness, contact your pediatrician or healthcare provider for more information.

    If you're looking to master the bicycle legs technique, though, look no further than this video right here!

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