When you ask me what the pandemic was like, here’s what I’ll say

Today, I am writing to you to talk about the part when we decided to change the world.

pandemic letter

To my child,

I know you are grown now, but there was a time when you were very small—a time you were too small to be able to remember— when a great illness, the coronavirus pandemic, swept through the world.

You've heard us talk about it a hundred times. You've seen the pictures and the boxes of artwork we made during that time. You've learned about it in your history class and your economics, biology, political science and psychology classes.

But I wonder if those platforms have taught you what the experience was really like—so I am going to tell you here.

In short, it was awful.

Problems that we had ignored boiled quickly to the surface, like the lava of a not-so dormant volcano. Racism, economic disparities, sexism and so much more reared their monstrous heads and the fallout was severe.

People hurt, and people died. Things we once took for granted transformed overnight into impossibilities—quick access to food, toilet paper, security—it was just… gone. Everyone was stressed, exhausted, bored and overwhelmed, all at the same time. There was an undercurrent of mistrust. And there was fear—so much fear.

But that's not why I am writing to you. Today, I am writing to you to talk about the other part: The part when we decided to change the world.

There was this palpable energy among the human collective when we exhaled deeply and said enough. This is not how we will exist anymore. This is the moment we start doing better.

It was awful, but we chose love.

And so, we stayed home.

We gathered together on Zoom. I know it seems archaic now, but I can still remember how excited everyone was when we learned we could use different backgrounds in our video conferences.

Companies, museums, schools, zoos, fitness instructors and so many others came out of the woodwork to offer free digital education, exercise classes and fun programs to get us through the days.

We went for walks—so many walks. People bought baby chicks. They planted gardens and learned to grow their own food—and in doing so, they remembered how to tend to and value the earth.

We allowed ourselves and each other the space to have emotions. Before this pandemic, we, as a society, weren't great at allowing room for uncomfortable feelings. But forced with no other choice, we learned to sit in our discomfort. To be okay with the shadows. And because of this, we grew.

We stopped accepting the societal issues that we ignored for so long. We picked our causes and we rose up and we fought because we vowed that never again would we allow anyone to be treated as if they were somehow less than.

We thanked our healthcare workers, grocery store employers, sanitation workers and hundreds of others with cities erupting in applause and fire engine salutes.We realized that maybe that was the way they should always be treated, not just during a crisis.

We mourned for people we never met.

We acknowledged the work of parents. There was a time, my love, when work and family were like oil and water. If you shook them really hard, they'd kind of work together, but without attention, they separated back into two very distinct matters. But the pandemic taught us that it was possible to have both, at the same time. We had video conferences with kids running in and out. We said things like, "I need to sign off to put my kids to bed." And never again did we question 'what a stay at home parent does all day'—not ever.

We got creative—I don't mean with hobbies, though, certainly there were some who learned new ones. I mean with our resources. We transformed company cultures in a matter of days to prove that working from home and flexible schedules were possible, after all. We learned to make do with what we had. Car manufacturers learned how to make ventilators. Engineers turned old breast pumps into ventilators, like magic. Scientists learned how to make a new vaccine.

We stopped wearing real pants. Yes, this was the moment in history when we collectively decided that leggings and sweatpants would evermore be acceptable in all settings. You're welcome.

We helped each other—my goodness, did we help each other. Kids made pictures of rainbows and put them in their windows to cheer people up. We made masks out of T-shirts and gave them to people who needed them. We shopped for people who couldn't get out to the stores. We made memes to make each other laugh. And when we called our friends and family members to ask, "How are you?", we meant it.

We stopped being so hard on ourselves. We gave ourselves grace when we let you kids watch too many shows or when we let our diets slip. We said we were going to declutter our closets, but we didn't—and we didn't beat ourselves up for it. We just said, "I am doing the best I can, and that is enough." And for the first time maybe ever, we believed it.

Please understand that I am not glossing over this period of time—it was horrible, and the suffering was very real. It may seem like a distant memory, but the consequences of that time will be felt for generations. There was terrible loss all around us.

I never want you to forget the lessons we learned because it can all be undone so quickly.

I want you to know all of this because I want you to understand the moment in our history when the world as we knew it changed forever. When we found out just how resilient we were. When we chose, again and again, to be on the right side of history, to do the right thing.

We chose love. And my child, that will never be the wrong choice.

This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

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