How our work-first culture fails dads, families, and businesses—and how we can fix it together

THIS: “Being a committed father is the manliest thing you will ever do.”

How our work-first culture fails dads, families, and businesses—and how we can fix it together

Josh Levs is a CNN journalist, a father of three, and the author of “All In: How Our Work-First Culture Fails Dads, Families, and Businesses--And How We Can Fix It Together." In the book, Levs, who lobbied his company for paid paternity leave, details his ongoing legal case against Time Warner. He is credited with helping to kickstart the company's 2015 decision to unveil a more generous leave policy for mothers and fathers. In recent years, Levs has become a prominent advocate for fathers and families.


Motherly: Who is the modern father, and what does he want?

Josh Levs: Working or not, staying at home or not, having flexible schedule or not, what you find is that dads throughout this country are very involved in their kids' lives. They arevery connected. We put emotional relationships with our family way ahead of money.

Fathers consider teaching values to our kids one of the most important things, more than money, and America expects us to teach values to our kids even more than it expects us to be bringing in money. We all know that we are all in this together, because whether men had these awesome dads growing up or no dads at all, whatever it is, you find that all of them, and I talked to dads across every possible spectrum, they all recognize that we are part of a new era in which we get to carve out a new meaning for what it is to be a father.

We get to be the ones to demonstrate that if you have children, being a committed father is the manliest thing you will ever do. We get to build relationships with our kids that previous generations didn't necessarily get to. We [fathers] are the recipients of decades of work by women, in the fight for equality.

So this is us. I think of it as being the “Free to Be You and Me" generation. The girls I knew growing up were every bit as smart, every bit as capable, every bit as driven, also went to great colleges. Because I was a kid, it never occurred to me that they would have a harder time making it in their careers. Then, we got into the workplace. We got jobs, we had kids, and we discovered that the American workplace never grow up. So while we were growing up on “Free to Be You and Me", the American workplace was stuck in the “Mad Men" era.

We are the generation now that's facing this task of having to conquer these backwards policies. That's ours to deal with, and I can say, to have a daughter and two sons, I look at them and I know that if we don't fix this, they will not have equal opportunity in their lives. It's up to us, our generation, men and women together. That's what 'all in' means. That's what it's about.

Motherly: In the book, you address the fact that as a society, we talk a lot about how gender norms and traditional roles impact women, but often ignore how they impact men. So, you look at the impact of sexism on men and the pressures that they face. Can you describe that a little bit for me?

Josh Levs: Our backwards structures, our laws, policies and stigmas act as 'gender police,' and they empower people who act as gender police.

For example, stigmas are incredibly powerful: Men are giving up effectively billions of dollars by not taking even the paid paternity leave they're offered, although only 14 percent of companies offer paid paternity leave. It's also proven in many cases, when a man takes time off, when he gets back to work, he sometimes gets demoted, or even fired, for daring to break with their macho culture.

What people need to understand is, yes, it's awful for men, but this prejudice is not discrimination against men. This is discrimination against men and women. As long as you have policies, laws and stigmas that push men to stay at work and push women to stay home, you're being unfair to both.

I was talking about the girls I grew up with. Why is it that now, I'm 43 years old, and only 4.6 percent of the CEOs in the S&P 500 are women? That's crazy. That makes no sense. That is completely anathema to everything I learned growing up. The reason is that we still have these expectations, this gender norm way of thinking in the American workplace, and that's pushing everything backwards, so that's what we have to rise up against. Yes, I think it helps everyone to recognize that men are struggling with this, and men are suffering from work-life conflict as much as or even more than women.

There's this vicious cycle, with the people who are in power in corporations. They are the minority of men in America who do not prioritize their families, and that's proven. They even say that they don't. And so they then reward other men who are like them, and so the very few men who do not prioritize their families, don't spend time with their families, they work their way up the ranks, [and ultimately] they preserve the culture and the policies. Even those who have no ill intent still are just out of touch with what life is like for most families. So it's a vicious cycle that we just need to break.

Motherly: The book concludes with talking about mental health and spiritual health in a way that I thought really showed how deeply and profoundly these issues affect men's thriving or struggle on a daily basis. Is it taboo to talk about men struggling in work and life?

Josh Levs: These struggles that we have, these backwards laws policies and stigmas, they are responsible for so much of the work-life conflict that we have because they prevent work-life integration.

It's just basic logic: If you think the man should work all day, the woman should stay home all day, then of course you won't have any structures to make work-life integration possible for anyone.

These backward structures are responsible for so much of our work-life conflict, and those contribute tremendously to problems. I wanted to see, how is all this affecting us? This is why I looked at our physical health, mental health, spiritual health, and our sex drive, and got all this new information that no one had seen before to say that we need to talk about this. I hope that a wake-up call. I hope that people see, wow, these structures are really doing a job on us, on businesses and the economy, they're doing a job on kids. They're often doing a job on us and our lives.

Parenting doesn't have to be this frenetic. It doesn't have to be this runaround crazy. We can fix these structures, and in doing so, do better by businesses, by us, and most importantly, for our children. So yes, it needs to not be taboo to talk about mental health. Men need to be able to talk about it. I talk about when I experienced anxiety. The more that we can talk about this, the more the taboo goes away, and the more we can focus on solutions. That's what I'm all about, how we solve this.

Motherly: What does 'all in 'mean, when you use that term?

Josh Levs: Being 'all in' means first being all in as a parent, and truly committed, truly prioritizing family, and it means being part of the vast majority of parents in this country, both men and women, who want to improve our structures, to build a better society. What I find is that as I travel around, you see this. People across the political spectrum, and across the socio-economic spectrum want this. The overwhelming majority of the country wants to do this, because our current model is not sustainable, not healthy and it's bad for our children as long as boys don't have the choice to become men who get to have time with their kids, and girls don't have the choice to pursue their careers.

All of us who truly want equality for our daughters and our sons, and for our wives and our husbands and for ourselves, we are all in this together. That's what I learned when my legal case became an issue. That's when I realized that all of us who truly want equality, we are up against this system together.

Motherly: What would our ideal future could look in terms of work-life integration, particularly when we talk about flexibility, and work-life integration? From the growth of remote work to the explosion of technology in our daily lives, what is possible for us?

Josh Levs: The problem has been, and still is, that in a great many cases, people are rewarded for literally sitting in a seat, and not getting work done. There's this 'hours' stigma, in which men have to just be there more and more and more hours, and then say, 'oh, I worked so many hours.' That's just really bad for business, and it's bad for our men and their families.

An ideal future, when you talk about that, is built around work-life integration, and here's how that plays out. Most businesses, not all, if you're a doctor or in a hospital, you have to be in a certain place for a certain time, but a great many businesses need their workers to get their work done. They don't need their workers to be sitting at a desk for that much of a day. They don't need their workers sitting in a commute for an hour each way of their lives. The more we build in technology, like just even simple Skype technology, in which you can see the person any time, because they're near their computer.

You can still see how much that's being done. Business that start to get built around achievement, instead of where you're sitting at any given moment, those businesses do better. The more businesses catch onto that, the better off we are,

Motherly: Why these issues are important for children?

Josh Levs: We're talking about a basic human need. In our society, we have public education, because we understand that educating our children is good for society. We have Medicaid available for children, because we understand that making sure that children are healthy is good for society. Making sure that when a baby leaves the womb, it has a parent at home with it for a bunch of weeks, and that that parent does not have to worry about how to put food on the table during those weeks, that is an absolute human basic need.

This is not left or right, Democrat or Republican. In fact, I have surveyed, and the majority of Republicans now support a paid family leave insurance program, when they find out how it works. These are human basics. It's best for a society, and you don't want a society that neglects children, that's where every one leads to all sorts of bad things. Kids who don't have time with their parents, who aren't able to be raised by their own parents, more often struggle with all sorts of things.

Then there's this whole question of: What are we teaching our children? What are we showing our children? Are we only talking about family values? We talk a good game about family values in this society, but when it comes to our laws, policies and stigmas, it's clear that we do not adequately value families.

Also, are we teaching our kids equality? Are we? We talk about equality, and we say you can achieve anything, you can achieve anything. But when we stop and look at how far behind we are as a country, I know that as the dad of a daughter, a tiny baby, and two young boys, I don't want them to have these struggles when they grow up.

There are men in the book who talk about how hard it is for them, because they want more time at home, and they can't get it. There are so many women who want to restart their careers, but they didn't have the choice, because their husbands or partners couldn't get the flexibility to make two parent breadwinners possible.

Motherly: Our readers are largely mothers, many of them wives and partners. What can those women do to help men be more empowered in family life?

Josh Levs: The first thing to do is to be very welcoming to men in situations that are supposed to be open to all parents, but are almost all women. I have parts in the book in which men talk about how they were on the playground, and there were all these moms with kids, and they were the one dad, and the moms wouldn't talk to them, because there's this suspicion, like, “oh no, a man. What's a man doing here?" That dissuades men from going to those places, and it makes it harder for men to be caregivers. It makes men less effective caregivers.

The mommy and me classes, when there aren't daddy and me classes, make sure that those are 'parent and kid' classes, and that you are actually welcoming to the dad. Sheryl Sandberg says that when she's at the playground, “I always talk to the dad. I always play with the dad, you have to." This unconscious fear of men is something that we all need to get over. If you're at a playground and there's a strange man there, everyone should be concerned. A strange person who's not with a kid, you should be concerned. But when a man is there with his kids, he's just as trustworthy as a woman who's there with her kids.

There's also a basic understanding that the more of us, men and women, who join in these efforts and who take the steps that I lay out, like here's how to get paid family leave programs, here's how to get it in your state, here's how to work nationally, here's how to get flex time. The more that men and women work together and understand that we are all in this together, the farther we will get.

Something women can do is make sure that those forces don't try to trick us into the gender war, you know? There are people invested in the old ways, who want things to remain like “Mad Men.".They'll say things like, whoa, who are those men to come along and say that anything should change? Or “they're privileged men, why listen to them?"

It's about being really open-minded and realizing that men are getting squeezed as well, men are getting hurt as well, and all people, men and women, who want equality for our daughters and sons, are in this together, so we all have to push against the forces that would suggest a gender war, and realize that we are stronger when we stand together against these forces, and that together, we can tackle them.

In This Article

    Kristen Bell and Jackie Tohn on how they’re ‘sneak teaching’ kids with their new show "Do, Re & Mi"

    The best friends created a musical animated show that's just as educational as it is entertaining

    Amazon Studios

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

    Kristen Bell and Jackie Tohn have been best friends since they met as young singers and actors more than 15 years ago, and now they're collaborating on a new Amazon Original animated kids series called Do, Re & Mi. The show, which follows best birds Do, Re and Mi as they navigate the world around them while also belting out catchy tunes, is just as educational as it is entertaining.

    On the latest episode of The Motherly Podcast, Bell and Tohn talk to Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety about how they're "sneak teaching" kids with their new show and why music is such an important focal point.

    "It was basically our mission from the very beginning to 'sneak music education' into kids' lives, hands, brains, all of it," Tohn admits.

    "There's so much science and data to support that [music] helps kids, their brains grow with math, with social skills. It literally can change your neuroplasticity. You can put music of their favorite genre or timeframe on, in an Alzheimer's ward, and they will come back online for a couple minutes. I mean, it's crazy," Bell, who has two daughters of her own, adds. "You know, music can bind a lot of families together. It can bind friendships together. And it's just a show that you can feel really good about. We want to get it in front of as many kids as possible, because I don't like the fact that some kids won't have exposure to music. Their brains deserve to grow just as much as everyone else's."

    The first season of Do, Re & Mi premiered on September 17th and its creators recorded 52 different songs for the show that range from reggae and pop to country, blues and jazz.

    "That's what's so exciting about this show," Tohn gushes. "Not only are the lessons we're teaching for everyone, but every episode has a musical genre, a musical lesson and an emotional lesson. And so there really is so much to learn."

    Elsewhere in the episode, Bell tells Tenety about how she made literal toolboxes that carry different regulation tools to help her kids calm down (one is "find a song you love and sing out loud") and why having a village is crucial to surviving motherhood, especially in a pandemic, while Tohn details her special friendship not only with Bell, but with her daughters, too.

    To hear more about the show, Bell's experiences in motherhood, and her enduring friendship with Tohn, listen to The Motherly Podcast for the full interview.

    Entertainment

    12 baby registry essentials for family adventures

    Eager to get out and go? Start here

    Ashley Robertson / @ashleyrobertson

    Parenthood: It's the greatest adventure of all. From those first few outings around the block to family trips at international destinations, there are new experiences to discover around every corner. As you begin the journey, an adventurous spirit can take you far—and the best baby travel gear can help you go even farther.

    With car seats, strollers and travel systems designed to help you confidently get out and go on family adventures, Maxi-Cosi gives you the support you need to make the memories you want.

    As a mom of two, Ashley Robertson says she appreciates how Maxi-Cosi products can grow with her growing family. "For baby gear, safety and ease are always at the top of our list, but I also love how aesthetically pleasing the Maxi Cosi products are," she says. "The Pria Car Seat was our first purchase and it's been so nice to have a car seat that 'grows' with your child. It's also easy to clean—major bonus!"

    If you have big dreams for family adventures, start by exploring these 12 baby registry essentials.

    Tayla™️ XP Travel System

    Flexibility is key for successful family adventures. This reversible, adjustable, all-terrain travel system delivers great versatility. With the included Coral XP Infant Car Seat that fits securely in the nesting system, you can use this stroller from birth.


    Add to Babylist

    $849.99

    Iora Bedside Bassinet

    Great for use at home or for adventures that involve a night away, the collapsible Iora Bedside Bassinet gives your baby a comfortable, safe place to snooze. With five different height positions and three slide positions, this bassinet can fit right by your bedside. The travel bag also makes it easy to take on the go.


    Add to Babylist

    $249.99

    Kori 2-in-1 Rocker

    Made with high-quality, soft materials, the foldable Kori Rocker offers 2-in-1 action by being a rocker or stationary seat. It's easy to move around the home, so you can keep your baby comfortable wherever you go. With a slim folded profile, it's also easy to take along on adventures so your baby always has a seat of their own.


    Add to Babylist

    $119.99

    Minla 6-in-1 High Chair

    A high chair may not come to mind when you're planning ahead for family adventures. But, as the safest spot for your growing baby to eat meals, it's worth bringing along for the ride. With compact folding ability and multiple modes of use that will grow with your little one, it makes for easy cargo.


    Add to Babylist

    $219.99

    Coral XP Infant Car Seat

    With the inner carrier weighing in at just 5 lbs., this incredibly lightweight infant car seat means every outing isn't also an arm workout for you. Another feature you won't find with other infant car seats? In addition to the standard carry bar, the Coral XP can be carried with a flexible handle or cross-body strap.


    Add to Babylist

    $399.99

    Pria™️ All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

    From birth through 10 years, this is the one and only car seat you need. It works in rear-facing, forward-facing and, finally, booster mode. Comfortable and secure for every mile of the journey ahead, you can feel good about hitting the road for family fun.


    Add to Babylist

    $289.99

    Pria™️ Max All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

    Want to skip the wrestling match with car seat buckles? The brilliant Out-of-the-Way harness system and magnetic chest clip make getting your child in and out of their buckles as cinch. This fully convertible car seat is suitable for babies from 4 lbs. through big kids up to 100 lbs. With washer-and-dryer safe cushions and dishwasher safe cup holders, you don't need to stress the mess either.


    Add to Babylist

    $329.99

    Tayla Modular Lightweight Stroller

    With four reclining positions, your little ones can stay content—whether they want to lay back for a little shut-eye or sit up and take in the view. Also reversible, the seat can be turned outward or inward if you want to keep an eye on your adventure buddy. Need to pop it in the trunk or take it on the plane? The stroller easily and compactly folds shut.


    Add to Babylist
    $499.99

    Tayla Travel System

    This car seat and stroller combo is the baby travel system that will help make your travel dreams possible from Day 1. The Mico XP infant seat is quick and easy to install into the stroller or car. Skipping the car seat? The reversible stroller seat is a comfortable way to take in the scenery.


    Add to Babylist
    $699.99

    Modern Diaper Bag

    When you need to change a diaper during an outing, the last thing you'll want to do is scramble to find one. The Modern Diaper Bag will help you stay organized for brief outings or week-long family vacations. In addition to the pockets and easy-carry strap, we love the wipeable diaper changing pad, insulated diaper bag and hanging toiletry bag.


    Add to Babylist

    $129.99

    Mico XP Max Infant Car Seat

    Designed for maximum safety and comfort from the very first day, this infant car seat securely locks into the car seat base or compatible strollers. With a comfy infant pillow and luxe materials, it also feels as good for your baby as it looks to you. Not to mention the cushions are all machine washable and dryable, which is a major win for you.


    Add to Babylist
    $299.99

    Adorra™️ 5-in-1 Modular Travel System

    From carriage mode for newborn through world-view seated mode for bigger kids, this 5-in-1 children's travel system truly will help make travel possible. We appreciate the adjustable handlebar, extended canopy with UV protection and locking abilities when it's folded. Your child will appreciate the plush cushions, reclining seat and smooth ride.


    Add to Babylist
    $599.99

    Ready for some family adventures? Start by exploring Maxi-Cosi.

    This article was sponsored by Maxi-Cosi. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


    Boost 1

    This incredibly soft comforter from Sunday Citizen is like sleeping on a cloud

    My only complaint? I've slept through my alarm twice.

    When it comes to getting a good night's sleep, there are many factors that, as a mama, are hard to control. Who's going to wet the bed at 3 am, how many times a small person is going to need a sip of water, or the volume of your partner's snoring are total wildcards.

    One thing you can control? Tricking out your bed to make it as downright cozy as possible. (And in these times, is there anywhere you want to be than your bed like 75% of the time?)

    I've always been a down comforter sort of girl, but after a week of testing the ridiculously plush and aptly named Snug Comforter from Sunday Citizen, a brand that's run by "curators of soft, seekers of chill" who "believe in comfort over everything," it's safe to say I've been converted.


    Honestly, it's no wonder. Originally designed as a better blanket for luxury hotels and engineered with textile experts to create this uniquely soft fabric, it has made my bed into the vacation I so desperately want these days.

    The comforter is made up of two layers. On one side is their signature knit "snug" fabric which out-cozies even my most beloved (bought on sale) cashmere sweater. The other, a soft quilted microfiber. Together, it creates a weighty blanket that's as soothing to be under as it is to flop face-first into at the end of an exhausting day. Or at lunch. No judgement.

    Miraculously, given the weight and construction, it stays totally breathable and hasn't left me feeling overheated even on these warm summer nights with just a fan in the window.

    Beyond being the absolute most comfortable comforter I've found, it's also answered my minimalist bed making desires. Whether you opt to use it knit or quilted side up, it cleanly pulls the room together and doesn't wrinkle or look unkempt even if you steal a quick nap on top of it.

    Also worth noting, while all that sounds super luxe and totally indulgent, the best part is, it's equally durable. It's made to be easily machine washed and come out the other side as radically soft as ever, forever, which totally helps take the sting out of the price tag.

    My only complaint? I've slept through my alarm twice.

    Here is my top pick from Sunday Citizen, along with the super-soft goods I'm coveting for future purchases.

    Woodland Snug comforter

    Sunday-Citizen-Woodland-Snug-comforter

    The bedroom anchor I've been looking for— the Snug Comforter.

    $249

    Braided Pom Pom Throw

    Because this degree of coziness needs portability, I'm totally putting the throw version on my list. It's washable, which is a must-have given my shedding dog and two spill-prone kiddos who are bound to fight over it during family movie night.

    $145

    Lumbar pillow

    sunday-citizen-lumbar-pillow

    What's a cozy bed without a pile of pillows?

    $65

    Crystal infused sleep mask

    sunday citizen sleep mask

    Promoting sleep by creating total darkness and relaxation, I've bookmarked as my go-to gift for fellow mamas.

    $40

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

    Shop

    10 Montessori phrases for kids who are struggling with back to school

    The first day of school can be hard for everyone, mama. Here's how to use the Montessori method to help your child adjust.

    No matter how excited your child was to pick out a new lunchbox and backpack this year, there will likely be days when they just don't want to go to school. Whether they're saying "I don't like school" when you're home playing together or having a meltdown on the way to the classroom, there are things you can say to help ease their back-to-school nerves.

    More than the exact words you use, the most important thing is your attitude, which your child is most definitely aware of. It's important to validate their feelings while conveying a calm confidence that school is the right place for them to be and that they can handle it.

    Here are some phrases that will encourage your child to go to school.


    1. "You're safe here."

    If you have a young child, they may be genuinely frightened of leaving you and going to school. Tell them that school is a safe place full of people who care about them. If you say this with calm confidence, they'll believe you. No matter what words you say, if your child senses your hesitation, your own fear of leaving them, they will not feel safe. How can they be safe if you're clearly scared of leaving them? Try to work through your own feelings about dropping them off before the actual day so you can be a calm presence and support.

    2. "I love you and I know you can do this."

    It's best to keep your goodbye short, even if your child is crying or clinging to you, and trust that you have chosen a good place for them to be. Most children recover from hard goodbyes quickly after the parent leaves.

    If your child is having a hard time saying goodbye, give one good strong hug and tell them that you love them and know they can do this. Saying something like, "It's just school, you'll be fine" belittles their feelings. Instead, acknowledge that this is hard, but that you're confident they're up to the task. This validates the anxiety they're feeling while ending on a positive note.

    After a quick reassurance, make your exit, take a deep breath and trust that they will be okay.

    3. "First you'll have circle time, then work time, and then you'll play on the playground."

    Talk your child through the daily schedule at school, including as many details as possible. Talk about what will happen when you drop them off, what kinds of work they will do, when they will eat lunch and play outside, and who will come to get them in the afternoon.

    It can help to do this many times so that they become comfortable with the new daily rhythm.

    4. "I'll pick you up after playground time."

    Give your child a frame of reference for when you will be returning.

    If your child can tell time, you can tell them you'll see them at 3:30pm. If they're younger, tell them what will happen right before you pick them up. Perhaps you'll come get them right after lunch, or maybe it's after math class.

    Giving this reference point can help reassure them you are indeed coming back and that there is a specific plan for when they will see you again. As the days pass, they'll realize that you come consistently every day when you said you would and their anxieties will ease.

    5. "What book do you think your teacher will read when you get to school this morning?"

    Find out what happens first in your child's school day and help them mentally transition to that task. In a Montessori school, the children choose their own work, so you might ask about which work your child plans to do first.

    If they're in a more traditional school, find an aspect of the school morning they enjoy and talk about that.

    Thinking about the whole school day can seem daunting, but helping your child focus on a specific thing that will happen can make it seem more manageable.

    6. "Do you think Johnny will be there today?"

    Remind your child of the friends they will see when they get to school.

    If you're not sure who your child is bonding with, ask the teacher. On the way to school, talk about the children they can expect to see and try asking what they might do together.

    If your child is new to the school, it might help to arrange a playdate with a child in their class to help them form strong relationships.

    7. "That's a hard feeling. Tell me about it."

    While school drop-off is not the time to wallow in the hard feelings of not wanting to go to school, if your child brings up concerns after school or on the weekend, take some time to listen to them.

    Children can very easily be swayed by our leading questions, so keep your questions very general and neutral so that your child can tell you what they're really feeling.

    They may reveal that they just miss you while they're gone, or may tell you that a certain person or kind of work is giving them anxiety.

    Let them know that you empathize with how they feel, but try not to react too dramatically. If you think there is an issue of real concern, talk to the teacher about it, but your reaction can certainly impact the already tentative feelings about going to school.

    8. "What can we do to help you feel better?"

    Help your child brainstorm some solutions to make them more comfortable with going to school.

    Choose a time at home when they are calm. Get out a pen and paper to show that you are serious about this.

    If they miss you, would a special note in their pocket each morning help? If another child is bothering them, what could they say or who could they ask for help? If they're too tired in the morning, could an earlier bedtime make them feel better?

    Make it a collaborative process, rather than a situation where you're rescuing them, to build their confidence.

    9. "What was the best part of your school day?"

    Choose a time when your child is not talking about school and start talking about your day. Tell them the best part of your day, then try asking about the best part of their day. Practice this every day.

    It's easy to focus on the hardest parts of an experience because they tend to stick out in our minds. Help your child recognize that, even if they don't always want to go, there are likely parts of school they really enjoy.

    10. "I can't wait to go to the park together when we get home."

    If your child is having a hard time saying goodbye, remind them of what you will do together after you pick them up from school.

    Even if this is just going home and making dinner, what your child likely craves is time together with you, so help them remember that it's coming.

    It is totally normal for children to go through phases when they don't want to go to school. If you're concerned, talk to your child's teacher and ask if they seem happy and engaged once they're in the classroom.

    To your child, be there to listen, to help when you can, and to reassure them that their feelings are natural and that they are so capable of facing the challenges of the school day, even when it seems hard.

    Back to School

    Some parts of motherhood are truly universal—even from species to species. Like teaching your offspring how to properly use playground equipment, for example. Who says slides are just for human children?

    In a viral video recorded by a teacher in Asheville, North Carolina, a mama bear and her cub can be seen casually strolling around the playground as onlookers watch (safely from inside a school, of course).

    Warning: it's probably the cutest thing you'll see today!


    In a move straight out of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, mama bear tests out the bigger slide by zooming on down solo. Baby bear isn't having any of that—the big slide is too scary! So mama makes her way over to the smaller slide and very clearly encourages her baby to have some fun.

    According to TODAY, Betsie Stockslager Emry is the teacher who captured the now-viral moment from a classroom at Isaac Dickson Elementary School. You can hear her adorably narrating parts of the video as fellow school staff "ooh" and "ahh" over the amazing cuteness. Unfortunately, school was already dismissed for the day so students didn't get to see the bears in action.

    She tells HuffPost she has a 4-year-old son who has "grown up on that playground," and that watching the bears' behavior "straight up reminded me of being out there with my own kid."

    If you're a parent, it's impossible not to see yourself reflected in the actions of the mama bear here. It's basically a rite of passage of parenthood and childhood: gaining the courage to go down the slide on the playground.

    This video is truly an unBEARably sweet way to end the week!

    News + Trending

    9 things I wish my husband had known before we brought baby home

    There's so much to navigate in new parenthood. Proud new papas of the world, this one's for you.

    We brought our baby home in a confused, crazy haze of new-parent life. We didn't know a lot. Actually, scratch that. We didn't even really know a little. There's so much I wish I could have told you—to give you, this patient and amazing man, a heads up. But I couldn't. I didn't know, either.

    There's so much to navigate in new parenthood. Proud new papas of the world, this one's for you.

    Here are 9 things I wish my husband had known before we brought baby home...

    1. We are both clueless.

    I know you've never done this before. But guess what? Neither have I. Just because I'm a woman or I used to babysit in college doesn't mean I know more about what we're doing. This isn't a competition of who knows more or less about babies. The playing field is level. We are both clueless. If you ask me why she's crying again, and I give you a master-level death stare—just understand it's because I. Don't. Know.

    2. So help me.

    Don't wait for me to ask. Please. Just do something. Change the next diaper, get me a snack, fill my water bottle while I'm nursing, cook dinner, throw in a load of laundry. Remind me to take Motrin. Literally anything will be helpful. And it is such a nice feeling when I don't have to ask you to do something. Like, a major turn-on. (And I'll remember that in six to eight weeks.)

    3. Happily take over when I need a break.

    When you're getting the feeling that I may need a break, or a shower, or to just sit in silence by myself for a minute—take over. With a smile. Bond with your baby. Talk to the baby. Sing to the baby. Do awesome father stuff. I'll get my very necessary break, and I'll be listening in the other room. #Swoon. ?

    4. I'm going to cry a lot.

    Over all sorts of things. I got poop on my hands. Tears. I am tired. Tears. My nipples hurt. Tears. I don't understand what I'm doing. Tears. Someone just stopped by unannounced. Tears. My belly is jiggly. Tears. I feel sad. Tears. I have never been happier in my life. Tears. This cookie is sooo good. Tears. ? ?

    The new norm? Crying. Get used to it for now. I don't really realize I'm crying over ridiculous things, I'm just in this brand-new world with lots of crying (from me and the baby), a nursing appetite that dwarfs my pregnancy appetite and a baby bump without a baby in there. Let me cry without judgment.

    For the most part, there will be zero rationale behind these tears (well, except #hormones... and dang, that cookie was really good). But also, do me a favor and pay attention to signs of postpartum depression. Because I may not be able to.

    5. I've never felt so self-conscious.

    My baby bump is gone, but I am still carrying extra pounds. Some people think I still look pregnant. I haven't showered yet today. My hair is greasy. My legs are so hairy they're confused as to whether they're wearing pants or have a thick fur blanket wrapped around them. The circles under my eyes are deepening by the second. My wardrobe consists of sizes I'd never thought I'd see, and my maternity clothes don't look like they're going anywhere fast.

    Lift my spirits, please. I don't quite feel like myself. Be gentle with me. We can't have sex—and I definitely don'' want to!—but we can cuddle before bed, you can hold my hand and tell me what an amazing job I'm doing, and you can remind me that I'm a badass, beautiful mama.

    6. I'm going to spend a lot of time in the bathroom.

    You may wonder what exactly I'm doing in there. I may be trying to escape you people for a little while. But I also may just be using the bathroom, which now means also using my new BFF spray bottle, very slowly sitting down on the toilet, very slowly picking myself up off the toilet, putting a new pad on, and hoisting my pants up. It's not the quickest process right this second.

    Oh, and when I get a chance to shower... no, I did not get sucked down the drain. I am simply enjoying the peace and quiet while the hot water runs down my back. ? I'm giving myself some time alone to reflect on the fact that yes, this is all happening.

    7. I don't want visitors.

    Sure, the close family members we agreed on are fine. I know they want to check in on us and want to meet the baby. But please don't invite other people over right now. This is a lot to take in and figure out. My boobs are out 24/7, I'm wearing your sweatshirt and maternity sweatpants and—makeup? What does this word mean?

    If you could, just give me a little time and space in our bubble. I'll be ready for visitors soon. Tell people no from us so I don't have to feel bad about it. When the VIPs are visiting, be the overstaying police—if they've been over for too long, make something up so they get the hint to leave. The baby needs to rest, I need to rest, I need to feed the baby, aliens are coming and we need to go into our underground bunker—whatever you need to do. Check in with me privately if you're not sure what constitutes "too long." ⏱

    8. I'm going to go into protective mama bear mode.

    And not just with the baby. ?

    With you, too. I need you with me, near me, supporting me and letting me support you. We're in this together, and I desperately need to feel like a team. Let's try to be patient with each other.

    But also, if we do have people visiting and I give you the "I-need-my-baby-back" stare—HAND ME THE BABY. Politely ask whoever is holding her if you could borrow her and like I said—HAND ME THE BABY. PLEASE. I LOVE YOU.

    8. I'm going to go into protective mama bear mode.

    We are awesome together. Our baby makes us even more awesome together. This is new to us. Let's try to enjoy this time in our lives. Let's laugh over that poop on my hands (after I cry... and remember—let me cry), let's stay in our bubble as long as we can and let's rocking being clueless parents together. Because let's face it—no matter how much we think we know, we'll never know it all.


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