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In his acceptance speech for the Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award, Fred Rogers said something that gets to the root of what it means to have been a child. His words also encapsulate the countless things any of us might say about being a parent into one beautiful sentence:

“All of us have special ones who have loved us into being."

He asked the star-studded audience to take 10 seconds to think of these people – the ones “who have helped you become who you are." True to form, Mr. Rogers took a moment ripe for self-congratulation and turned it inside out into an opportunity for appreciation and gratitude. Even when receiving, he gave.

“How pleased they must be," said Mr. Rogers, “to know the difference you feel they've made."

And couched in that graceful sentiment, a suggestion: if you haven't told those people about the difference they've made, you should.

I openly cried listening to that speech, just as I cried while watching his defense of PBS before the U.S. Senate in 1969 and his interview with Charlie Rose in 1997 and his Goodbye message in 2001.

What about Mr. Rogers triggers this reaction in me? The same things that drew me to his neighborhood as a child – his friendly manner, his reassuring voice that never rushed or instructed, the simplicity and clarity of his language, the calm way he went about everything, and the sense that he cared deeply about what he was doing.

Every day after getting home from school, I could rely on the model neighborhood flyover, the zoom into the small house at the end of the street, the familiar piano flourish as the camera panned from stop light to front door, where I would wait for his entrance. Sometimes he wore a mackintosh, sometimes just a sport coat, but he always sang the same song, which I would sing with him.

In his testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Communications in '69, Mr. Rogers described his carefully orchestrated program – which, at the time, operated on a budget of $6000 – as "a meaningful expression of care."

"This is what I give," he told Senator Pastore, after taking a moment to find the right words. "I give an expression of care every day to each child to help him realize that he is unique."

There it is. The philosophy that drove Fred Rogers' entire career: the idea that each of us is inherently "special." But this idea, repeated as often as it was in the Neighborhood, never implied that you should feel entitled or deserving of excessive praise. It had more to do with being honest with yourself about who you are, accepting that truth, and living in the fullness of that acceptance.

"One of the greatest gifts you can give anybody is the gift of your honest self," he said. In other words, we were expected to offer our specialness to others. We were expected to participate in a collective good much larger than ourselves – and we could do it well provided we did it honestly.

Of course, back then I didn't realize he was helping me feel unique or giving me the tools to become a compassionate citizen someday. What I did know was that I liked watching him step in the door with a smile. I liked watching him change out of his jacket and into his sweater, zipping it up and a little bit down again. And I especially liked it when he took off his dress shoes, tossing one from his right hand to his left at just the right part of the song, before pulling on the dark blue tennis shoes with the white laces, and always managing to tie them before the song ended.

I remember one episode in which, taking moment to look at the fish in his fish tank, Mr. Rogers essentially makes a case for biocentrism:

There is something fancy about every creature in our world, and there's something fine about each one of us, too – each person, each fish, each animal, each bird, each living creature. The important thing for us is to look for what's fine in everybody, and that will help us to want to take care of everybody, and give us a really good feeling.

Mr. Rogers understood that feeling is the driver of doing, especially for children. If kids could play an active role in helping themselves feel good, they would be well on their way to living full, rewarding lives. In the documentary about Rogers called "America's Favorite Neighbor," Michael Keaton put it this way: "Fred helped kids see lots of what made life good."

His show was so simple, so specific in its scope, and yet it dealt with complex themes common to everyone. He'd take the concept of "body integrity" and turn it into a song called "Everybody's Fancy," which celebrates individuality and draws distinctions between what we look like on the outside versus how we may feel on the inside.

"What we see is rarely what is essential," he told Charlie Rose years later. "What's behind your face is what's essential."

Now think of this teaching in light of the societal pressures we have all felt to look and act a certain way, to be successful and significant, to be noticeable, to be worthy of attention or love. Fred Rogers understood these corrosive forces and countered them daily with small, digestible, seemingly mundane "expressions of care."

But their commonplace nature is what made them so brilliant. He wove big, important ideas about humanity and psychological well-being into the everyday routine of a middle-class neighborhood in Pittsburgh, thereby making them accessible (via public television) to the most impressionable and ultimately influential demographic: children.

In his now famous defense of public broadcasting, Mr. Rogers said, "If we in public television can only make it clear that feelings are mentionable and manageable, we will have done a great service for mental health."

Mr. Rogers' signature attention to "the inner drama of childhood" feels particularly poignant to me right now, as I raise two sensitive, spirited boys who notice everything, absorb everything, and sometimes get overwhelmed by the sheer emotional tumult of growing up. Just the other day, as my 5-year-old pounded his fists into his bedspread, upset about missing an opportunity to share at school, I tried to channel Fred.

"I see that you're really frustrated," I said. "It's a hard feeling to have. I get frustrated, too. Let's try taking some deep breaths." His little chest heaved as the tears rolled down, and I sat there with him in silence for a while. Then: "You have a share day every week, right? Do you want to talk about what you'll share next time?"

Before long, my son had dried his own tears, hopped off the bed, and spread out his share options on the floor. Mr. Rogers called anger management "that good feeling of control." I hope my son felt some of that good feeling as he whispered, "Eenie meenie miney mo…" to a Power Ranger, a collapsible camping cup, and a sparkly-eyed Beanie Boo turtle named Taffy.

If Mr. Rogers were still alive today, I would love to hear what he would say about the current political quagmire. I would love to listen to his soft-spoken voice deftly articulate an argument in favor of funding for the NEA, the EPA, and PBS.

In his absence – and in his honor – I think all of us would do well to revisit the values that fueled the longest running children's program ever produced. Then we should counter the malicious, joyless forces eroding our democracy with actions worthy of Mr. Rogers as well.

"I know how tough it is some days to look with hope and confidence on the months and years ahead," he said in his farewell broadcast. "But I would like to tell you what I often told you when you were much younger. I like you just the way you are."

(Cue: vivid flashback to being six and sitting crisscross-applesauce on the pull-out couch in the family room on Stewart Street, eating a snack of Swiss cheese, crackers, and cranberry juice to "hold me," as Mom said, until dinner.)

"And what's more," he continued, "I'm so grateful to you for helping the children in your life to know that you'll do everything you can to keep them safe and to help them express their feeling in ways that will bring healing in many different neighborhoods."

(Cue: Private, earnest, tearful pledges to do everything I can to keep my children safe and help them express their feeling, even when their feeling conflicts with my feeling.)

Then he capped off 30 years and 895 episodes of "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" with one of his generous smiles and these kind words: "It's such a good feeling to know that we're lifelong friends."

Mr. Rogers was a famous television personality whom I never actually met, but he definitely feels like a lifelong friend.

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Caring for young children can be challenging enough on a perfectly normal day, but during an emergency those challenges are magnified. Natural disasters and emergencies—such as earthquakes, storms, fires, power outages, flooding or outbreaks that affect a wide community—obviously present a major operational challenge for childcare programs.

That's why childcare providers need to have preparedness plans for emergencies and natural disasters that are likely to occur in their communities. Be sure to discuss emergency planning with your day care, childcare program or after-school care provider.

Here are a few helpful questions to ask to make sure that your child's day care or childcare is ready for emergencies.

1. Does the parent handbook cover emergency planning? Is it up to date?

The parent handbook should serve as a guide for everything that takes place in a childcare program, from drop-off protocols to nap schedules, and it should also include information about the program's emergency plans, response, and recovery. As situations change or arise, the parent handbook should be updated accordingly.

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2. What is your communication plan for emergencies or disasters?

While 90% of childcare providers have written emergency response plans, only 70% have plans to communicate with family members during an emergency. Your provider should outline its plan of communication in its parent handbook.

3. Do you perform drills for disasters that are likely to occur in our area?

Ask whether your day care or childcare program has practiced its emergency response plans in a calm, safe environment—in other words, before it's necessary.

4. What is your evacuation plan?

In the rare event that an evacuation is necessary, it's important for providers to include up-to-date evacuation drills and protocols in the parent handbook. Caregivers, staff, parents and children should all know the designated meet-up point during a community evacuation.

5. Do you have a safe, designated evacuation spot in the event of a community evacuation?

Once staff and children calmly evacuate the building, there needs to be a safe shelter-in-place spot nearby. This location should be kid-friendly and have plenty of food, water and ways to keep young children occupied. The location should also be able to accommodate children with special needs and those with medical requirements.

6. What is your shelter-in-place plan?

During an emergency where parents are unable to access roads or public transportation, childcare programs need to have a shelter-in-place plan. Whether children stay at the facility or evacuate to a safe spot nearby, providers need to keep at least 72 hours worth of food, water, and medical supplies up to date. The program should also have parents write notes in advance letting children know that everything is okay.

7. Do you have post-disaster plans?

According to FEMA, more than 40% of businesses do not reopen after a disaster. If childcare programs close, parents cannot return to work and recovery cannot begin. Also, young children need a safe, secure, and familiar place to return to after a disaster.

8. How do you discuss emergencies in an age-appropriate manner with children?

A great way for care providers to introduce the concept of emergency plans to children is to have them help create emergency kits. This way children become familiar with emergency response items. Teachers should also let parents know how they plan to talk to children about emergencies in advance.

9. What are your policies for closing?

Childcare providers must give advance warning to parents about closures if there is an impending weather emergency. If roadways near the childcare program are typically out of use during an emergency, both parents and staff need to map out secondary pick-up plans in advance.

10. Are you in touch with local preparedness organizations?

Local emergency organizations can provide advice and tips to prepare for an emergency or natural disaster. Parents, care providers and community organizations should meet regularly and have the most recent copies of the parent handbook.

According to FEMA, in 2019 alone, there were 59 declared disasters in the U.S. These emergencies include earthquakes, tropical storms, fires, floods, severe storms, tornadoes, landslides, mudslides, extreme wind, and snowstorms. But basic advance preparation can go a long way toward helping parents and caregivers feel ready for emergencies and disasters, and can ensure that families and care providers stay safe.

A version of this post was originally published at the Institute for Childhood Preparedness

Learn + Play

The transition to motherhood is tough, and you deserve a little love! Join us March 28th for Motherly's Becoming Mama event in NYC for a day filled with conversations and connections that will leave you feeling inspired. Get advice from expert panels, indulge in a little pampering, and meet other local mamas IRL for a day of empowerment and support.


Register now for early-bird pricing, and access to limited VIP tickets with exclusive gift bags.

Here's what you can expect:

  • A mindful mama meditation to start your day.
  • Interactive panels and workshops focused on the hottest topics for new moms and moms-to-be. Check them out below!
  • A healthy lunch + delicious snacks
  • Pregnancy + postpartum pampering
  • Personalized gifts for you + your baby
  • The chance to test the hottest baby gear on the market
  • A swag bag filled with surprises
  • Amazing giveaways from our brand partners

Sat, March 28, 2020
10 am-2:30 pm
SECOND.
849 6th Ave
New York, NY 10001

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Here's what we'll be talking about on our panels:

Navigating the Fourth Trimester: Self-Care for Mom
While having a baby is a joyous occasion it often involves mom putting her own health on hold and speeding into overdrive to care for baby. Here postpartum experts will discuss the importance of postpartum mental wellness, and the importance of asking for help and finding support.

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The Motherhood Advantage sponsored by Medela
Motherhood brings so many advantages to the workplace, and yet, it's still a topic often talked about in hushed voices. We'll invite Medela to sponsor this very important panel that will evolve this working mom conversation. Together we can work to erase the Motherhood Penalty, support moms with the proper tools and lift each other up in the workplace.

Parenting in Partnership: Learning to Share the Load
There's never been a more equitable time to be a parent, and yet so many mothers still feel like they're carrying more than their fair share. Let's talk about how to create a parenting team from the start, with tips, tricks and expert advice on leveling the playing field between parenting partners.

*While many of Motherly's events are family focused, there will not be specific activities or play spaces for babies or kids. This event is more mom-focused. Babies under 1 are welcome at this event, but a baby carrier is suggested. Please use your discretion.

Thank you to our sponsors buybuy Baby and Medela.

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When I think about Meghan Markle, her effortless style is usually one of the the first things that comes to mind. Whether she's traveling, taking her dogs for a walk, or attending a royal event, her outfits always look timeless and put together. Yet somehow she still manages to wear outfits that feel way more accessible (even when she is donning a gorgeous—but expensive—coat we've had in our cart for much longer than we care to admit).

While I can't quite afford a personal stylist yet or drop a few thousand on a bag, I did do a little digging and found that a few of her wardrobe staples are items that I can add to my closet, with a little investment. And, if you're not in the market to invest this much, don't worry—I found dupes that will do the trick!

Here are our favorite products to achieve Meghan Markle's classic mom style:

Meghan's pick: Rothy's flats

rothys flat

Confession: I own a lot of shoes. But I wear my Rothy's at least once a week and they're the first shoe I toss into my luggage when I'm traveling because they're so comfortable and can be machine-washed. The Point is my (and apparently Meghan Markle's) favorite style because it elongates the legs and goes with literally anything you wear. I love that they're made from recycled plastic water bottles, too. And, they just launched the Mary Jane—it has a bow!—if you prefer a more dainty look with a fun twist.

$145

Our dupe: ASOS ballet flats

asos black pointed toe

This pointed pair will give a similar elongated look at just $23. They come in half sizes and if you're unsure which size is best, ASOS offers a sizing recommendation. The material isn't machine-washable (like our prized Rothy's) but you can wipe these clean with a damp cloth to keep them looking like new.

$23

Meghan's pick: Wool wrap jacket

meghan markle wool coat

There's just something so elegant about this coat. Maybe it's the wrap waist that flatters any body type. Or, it's the way the collared neck drapes (seriously it'll even make wearing pajamas look chic). It's become one of the most recognized pieces from Meghan's wardrobe and we are obsessed.

$750

Our dupe: Tahari wool blend coat

tahari wool blend cape coat

Looking for something more affordable? This coat is marked down to $83 from $360 at Nordstrom Rack. While we haven't personally tried it, at 77% off, we can bet the quality is pretty up to par with a higher-end jacket. Plus, we're obsessed with the pale blue and port wine colorways. The removable waist tie belt and shoulder cape overlay will have you feeling like Meghan Markle in just about anything.

Bonus: We love this Amazon dupe that's just under $80.

$82.48

Meghan's pick: Longchamp bag

longchamp bag

On the quest for a bag that holds just about everything you need (without having to be a diaper bag)? Say hello to the Longchamp 'Le Pliage' tote. It's water-resistant, has durable leather straps and folds up into a square for each storage or packing. I've had mine for more than five years and it's still going strong—and it's schlepped a lot of heavy things over the years. Plus, it just looks nice with everything!

$125

Our dupe: Amazon shoulder bag

longchamp knock off bag

This dupe on Amazon has 59 great reviews and the large size is under $30! With three sizes, you can pick whatever best fits your style. Each bag comes with a zippered main compartment and interior pockets and yes, it even folds up just like the real thing.

$27.99

Meghan's pick: Birdies slippers

birdies slippers

Are they house slippers or the most comfortable flats you've owned? Spoiler alert: They're both. Meghan has been spotted wearing The Heron style (I've been spotted wearing the slides around my apartment all day) many times and we think the velvet detail dresses up just about anything, even leggings. The no-slip rubber sole and 7-layer support means you can run around in these all day long without missing a beat.

$95

Our dupe: Chase & Chloe pointy loafer

pointy toe loafer

While you won't experience the cloud-like softness of Birdies, you can achieve a similar look with this pair from Nordstrom Rack for under $20. Both black and tan pairs come with a padded footbed, grip sole and a flexible construction (so hopefully no blisters even from day one).

$19.97

Meghan's pick: Madewell denim jacket

madewell denim jacket

I didn't own a denim jacket until last year and since then, I've worn it in just about every season. Over summer dresses, paired with a T-shirt, over a blouse, you name it. It add just enough extra warmth without having to put on something bulky and is machine-washable. For an extra-cool and Meghan Markle factor, roughly roll up the sleeves twice.

$118

Our dupe: Old Navy denim jacket

old navy denim jacket

Grab this $30 distressed denim look at Old Navy. I'm not sure how they do it, but their denim jackets are *so* soft. This one is slightly fitted so size up if you're looking for a more oversized look. Just like the Madewell one, this hits right below the waist, making it great to pair with pants or dresses.

$35

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