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The coronavirus forced us into a bubble—and it's exactly where I need to be, my baby

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My baby,

I know we typically live in a little bubble together—in our own world of kindergarten drop-off and preschool pickup, music class and dance practice. We're used to slow time at home and have had hundreds of chunks in time where life was exactly that. Slow. Mundane. Repetitive. Weeks when one of you (or all of you) had high fevers, keeping you out of school and activities. Postpartum seasons after one of you were born when we all hibernated for a while. Days planned within our busy weeks when I know we all need to just stay home and take it easy.

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This bubble is different, yes. But you don't really know that.

Because here in our bubble, it feels familiar. It feels comforting. It feels safe.

In our bubble, we have enough.

Enough food (I even stocked up on the fruit snacks you like that we don't typically buy!), enough craft supplies, enough toys. You have a warm bed with lots of pillows and plenty of stuffed animals to keep you company. You put together adorable mismatched outfits, picked out from the abundance of clothes in your closet. You have fuzzy blankets to snuggle up with, dress-up clothes to play pretend with, streaming services to be entertained by.

In our bubble, we are healthy.

You've only been with your immediate family members for days now. We're doing all that we can to keep you—and us—safe from the germs. We stocked up on Gatorade and Pedialyte, saltines and chicken broth just in case. You've been fueling your muscles and bones with kale and yogurt and probiotics. (And M&M's.) We have nice soaps and shampoos to scrub you clean. You're growing and developing and (knock on wood!) you seem to have left your runny noses and coughs in winter, ready to welcome spring.

In our bubble, we are learning.

You're watching interesting shows about animals on Disney+. You're learning about hippopotamuses on the free (and awesome!) zoo cams streaming online. You're recording yourself reading books to your friends, gaining confidence every day. You're drawing and coloring and creating—on your own time, in your own flow, as we navigate working and schooling at home. We're making mistakes and testing one another's patience levels. You are learning, and so are we.

In our bubble, we have fun.

We have dance parties to the Frozen 2 soundtrack, we create along with Art Hub For Kids YouTube videos, we laugh with our toddler when they tell us their made-up knock-knock jokes. We do wacky voices and make silly faces and wear pajamas a lot. There are crayons everywhere and toys we're tripping over. I am trying to ignore the mess as best I can, reminding myself that this "extended home time" is not forever. It's just for now.

In our bubble, we ride the emotional roller coaster.

We are free to express the (very many) different emotions we're having day-by-day—or more realistically, minute-by-minute. One second one of you is frustrated while the other is crying. Then you're all laughing which quickly and mysteriously turns to whines of boredom. We're all exhausted yet filled with manic energy at once. We're happy but sort of confused. We're feeling the feels in our safe zone, with each other.

In our bubble, we are together.

When it's all said and done, we are lucky to be together. So I am cherishing that. We have what we need, which most importantly, is one another.

There are other parents who are called "essential workers" and even though your parents are home with you, those parents still need to go do their jobs at hospitals or delivering packages, off to the firehouse or stocking grocery shelves. They know they may get the germs, but they are doing their jobs anyway. They are brave, like superheroes.

The other day, one of you said, "Mom, can we go to the pool?" To which I replied, "Well, it's not open yet because it's not hot enough yet. And we have to wait for the germs to stop spreading."

You said, "Oh, right. When the germs are gone. I forgot!" You smiled and moved on to making a playdough snowman. I said a silent prayer of thanks, knowing that while you are registering something is different around here, you don't know the intricacies of it.

We're in our bubble for now.

And we can't stay here forever.

I don't want to, anyway.

Because the world awaits.

And when our bubble pops, I believe it will be even more beautiful.

And even more compassionate.

And even more resilient.

But for now, while we're here, I'll try my best to relax a little. To dance a little more freely while we play your favorite song. To read your books even more enthusiastically than usual. To color with you during a work break. To lay with you while I get you down for your nap. To bake with you when you ask me to. To play tag in the backyard. And "I Spy" in the living room. And Monopoly on the weekend when both parents are available. (😂)

My heart shatters for others whose bubbles might not be safe and cozy like ours. For the kids separated from parents. For the sick people battling this virus.

So for them, we will be grateful. We'll appreciate the safety of our bubble. And we'll stay in it because right now, that's the best way we can be helpers.

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As a mid-Spring holiday, we never knew exactly what to expect from the weather on Easter when I was growing up in Michigan: Would we get to wear our new Sunday dresses without coats? Or would we be hunting for eggs while wearing snowsuits?

Although what the temperature had in store was really anyone's guess, there were a few special traditions my sister and I could always depend on—and it won't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that my favorite memories revolved around food. After all, experts say memories are strongest when they tie senses together, which certainly seems to be true when it comes to holiday meals that involve the sounds of laughter and the taste of amazing food.

Now that I'm a parent, I'm experiencing Easter anew as my children discover the small delights of chocolate, pre-church brunch and a multi-generational dinner. While I still look forward to the treats and feasting, I'm realizing now that the sweetest thing of all is how these traditions bring our family together around one table.

For us, the build-up to Easter eats is an extended event. Last year's prep work began weeks in advance when my 3-year-old and I sat down to plan the brunch menu, which involved the interesting suggestion of "green eggs and ham." When the big morning rolled around, his eyes grew to the size of Easter eggs out of pure joy when the dish was placed on the table.

This year, rather than letting the day come and go in a flash, we are creating traditions that span weeks and allow even the littlest members of the family to feel involved.

Still, as much as I love enlisting my children's help, I also relish the opportunity to create some magic of my own with their Easter baskets—even if the Easter Bunny gets the credit. This year, I'm excited to really personalize the baskets by getting an "adoptable" plush unicorn for my daughter and the Kinder Chocolate Mini Eggs that my son hasn't stopped talking about since seeing at the store. (You can bet this mama is stocking up on some for herself, too.)

At the same time, Easter as a parent has opened my eyes to how much effort can be required...

There is the selection of the right Easter outfits for picture-perfect moments.

There is the styling of custom Easter baskets.

There is the filling of plastic eggs and strategic placement of them throughout the yard.

But when the cameras are put away and we all join together around the table for the family dinner at the end of the day, I can finally take a deep breath and really enjoy—especially with the knowledge that doing the dishes is my husband's job.

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


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Family life is more complicated than ever right now, which can make chores a challenge. Kids might be likely to whine and complain about doing the dishes or folding laundry, but stay strong, mama—these tasks are not only teaching them life skills they will want to know one day, you can turn these jobs into a valuable lesson, like personal finance.

The key is to treat your kids' chores as if they are a real job. You can still make it fun, but chores are supposed to teach responsibility, accountability, time management and honesty.

One way to make chores feel like a real job is to open your wallet on a weekly basis and pay an allowance. Handling their own allowance could be the only money management practice your children will ever receive, since most schools don't teach the subject. Identify a dollar amount you think is fair for your child to earn per week and then create a list of chores that must be completed to earn that money.

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You can also make it simple by using apps to help keep track of who is responsible for what chores and when the payments are due. Bonus: Kids can learn to save, invest and donate directly through the app as well.

Here are age-appropriate chores for kids of all ages:

Chores for 2-year-olds

1. Pick up toys

This helps teach kids at a young age to pick up after themselves and is an easy first chore to start with. Designate a basket in the area that your child plays in and model the act of picking up a toy and placing it in there for them to follow.

2. Wash produce

Have kids help wash produce as part of meal prep. This chore can get their feet wet in the kitchen while teaching them an important step in preparing their own meals or snacks.

3. Be an extra pair of hands

At this age, kids like to touch and hold things—have children help separate laundry into colors, darks and lights, for example, or let them help unravel the vacuum cleaner cord before you plug it in.

Chores for 3 + 4-year-olds

1. Wipe it down

Give kids a dust cloth and have them wipe down the areas that can be hard for you to reach including baseboards and lower shelves.

2. Grocery sorting

As you unpack grocery items at home, have kids identify the correct place each item goes. This will get them prepared to unpack the groceries themselves in a few years.

3. Make the bed + tidy their room

At this age, kids can start trying to make their own bed in the morning. If your child doesn't sleep in a crib any longer, have them straighten the pillows and stuffed animals and pull the covers up. You can also ask them to make sure all of their toys are picked up put away.

Chores for 5 + 6-year-olds

1. Take care of pets

Have kids scoop their pet's food in the morning before they eat breakfast and at night before dinner. Ask them to monitor the water bowl and fill it if they are able to or alert a parent when it needs to be refilled. These chores help teach responsibility as well as getting kids used to a schedule of doing chores at a specific time.

2. Get dressed

Have kids sort their clothing and identify what items fit and are appropriate for the weather, and which ones can either be donated or put in a storage bin for next season. This teaches kids organization skills and helps keep clothing from being strewn across the room.

3. Make to-do lists

Kids tend to be learning how to write at this age to prepare them for kindergarten. Have them help make the grocery or family to-do list to help the family stay organized and not miss anything.

Chores for 7-9-year-olds

1. Help with meal prep and clean up

Have kids set the table, assist in cooking dinner and clean up afterwards including dishes. Ask them to look up recipes for dinner and make a list of the ingredients needed.

2. Yard work

Make yard work a family affair one Saturday and give everyone a task to help teach teamwork skills. At this age have them attend to simple tasks like watering the planets, pulling weeds and wiping down play equipment and lawn furniture.

3. Room cleaning

Have your children pick up their toys, put their clothes away and wipe down any furniture.. Getting kids in the habit of doing all of these tasks in their room by themselves at a young age can save a lot of hassle later in their teen years.

Chores for 10-12-year-olds

1. Basic budgeting

Teach kids about budgeting by having them make a list of necessary items for the house, looking up the prices for each and determining a minimum amount of money needed to buy essentials.

2. Wash the car

Cars seem to be a magnet for leaves, dirt and nature's other gifts. Instead of paying for a car wash or doing it all yourself have kids lend a hand with the process.

3. Set knobs and dials

Give kids more responsibility when it comes to doing the load of sweaters and jeans that need to be washed by having them set the dials to the correct setting and pressing the buttons. The same goes for the dishwasher and starting the oven.

Chores for teenagers

1. Mow the lawn and rake the leaves

Teens can mow the lawn and rake the leaves as well as offer their services to neighbors for a small price. This teaches them work ethic that will pay off later in life and helps them earn and save some extra cash.

2. Help pay bills

Since financial literacy is rarely taught in school, tech kids at home by making a list of all the bills that need to be paid and the dates they are due. Show them the process of how to pay them, whether it is online or writing a check, and how you budget for the expense.

3. Plan dinners

A few nights a week, turn over the family meal planning reins to your teenager. Have them create the menu, look up recipes, and create a grocery list as well as cook and serve the meal.

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A new Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study looking at coronavirus in American children supports the findings of an earlier study of pediatric COVID-19 cases in China.

The research is good news: The data suggests children are way less likely to become seriously ill if they contract the virus, compared to adults (with the important caveat that babies are more vulnerable than older kids).

The CDC says that nearly three-quarters of kids who get COVID-19 develop fevers, coughs and shortness of breath, but 93% of adults develop those symptoms. Most other symptoms (including sore throats, headaches and muscle pain) are more common in adults. The only symptom that's more common in kids than adults is a runny nose.

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According to the CDC's report, "relatively few children with COVID-19 are hospitalized, and fewer children than adults experience fever, cough, or shortness of breath. Severe outcomes have been reported in children, including three deaths."

Kids who are immunocompromised are more vulnerable to severe symptoms of COVID-19, but the CDC wants parents to know that because healthy children may get a very mild version of the illness (so mild you might not notice they are sick) it's important for families to stay home during this time as kids can be spreaders of the disease and give it to older adults who can become more severely ill.

"Pediatric COVID-19 patients might not have fever or cough. Social distancing and everyday preventive behaviors remain important for all age groups because patients with less serious illness and those without symptoms likely play an important role in disease transmission," the CDC notes.

The CDC says more data is needed to understand why COVID-19 impacts kids differently, and outside experts agree. "Compared to other respiratory diseases, this is incredibly unique in the proportion of severely ill children," Dr. Srinivas Murthy, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of British Columbia (who was not involved in the study) told the New York Times.

Murthy continues: "We would expect more hospitalization based on the number of kids that might get infected, and we're not seeing that at all. And we still don't know why."

Of almost 150,000 confirmed cases in the United States between February 12 and April 2, only 2,572 were people under 18 years old.

News

There's no denying that Christmas trees bring the joy of the holidays to life into our homes. They make us happy and decorating them creates moments of happiness with our family. And now during these trying times, people are finding that same joy decorating Easter trees.

Some parents are digging out their faux Christmas trees and redecorating them for Easter.

"Given the current situation and the craziness of it all, I thought we'd try and cheer the house up a little bit, because we're all stuck here for the foreseeable future," says mama Louise Connolly.

"And it gave the kids something to do. They thought it was hilarious! I just want to make this time memorable for them in nice ways," Connolly says.

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While the trend is fairly new in the US, Germany and Sweden have followed the trend for centuries. Known as Ostereierbaum, the tradition symbolizes the start of the spring season.

Some mamas are opting for minimalist versions while others are going full Christmas with faux evergreen trees.

From whimsical pink and farmhouse to sparkled and rustic, there are a rainbow of Easter tree varieties to buy or DIY. Just don't forget a pair of bunny ears at the top!

Need ideas? Here's what to put on your Easter tree for a cheerful pop of color:

  • Plastic dyed eggs
  • Rabbit-themed stuffed animals
  • Feathers
  • Faux peonies + roses
  • Pastel-hued lights
  • Faux carrots
  • Paper bunnies + chicks
  • miniature birds or bugs
Instagram mama Ania Krezalek says her kids had so much fun with their indoor minimalist version that she's now doing her outdoor trees, too.

Krezalek tells Mothery some moms in her neighborhood suggested outdoor Easter trees as a way to cheer up everyone's kids.

"A lot of moms are resorting to drives with the kids to get out safely, and for the kids to spot out homes with trees decorated for Easter I'm sure would put a smile on their faces," she explains.

From outdoor trees to indoor lights, mamas are making the most of anything festive right now.
Grey's Anatomy star Camilla Luddington dug out her Christmas lights (sans tree) to cheer up her daughter.
She tweeted "We've renamed them Easter lights :)"

During these hard times, we all need something to smile about, and if you're one of the people who can't wait to get their Christmas decorations up you now have the perfect excuse to get them back out.


News

With kids home from school doing more of their learning online—and parents across the country just trying to get a little bit of their own work done at home—kids are getting record amounts of screen time these days. Preschoolers have jam-packed video conferencing schedules, kindergarteners are watching read-alouds on laptops, and elementary and middle school kids are suddenly turning in every assignment online.

How can we help kids adjust to spending so much time on screens, especially when they may have a strong association with screen time as playtime? And how can parents adjust to letting kids have so much more screen time when we've been told we should cut back on how much time our little ones look at our phones?

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Here's how to help kids adjust to being on devices more than usual:

Create separation between learning screen time + play screen time

In the big picture, screen time is screen time regardless of how it's being used, and there are always risks to overusing something. However, it's helpful to differentiate between screen time used for learning activities and screen time for play activities.

For example, reading a book online or participating in a Zoom class meeting is different than playing a game or chatting. Establish clear expectations around what constitutes "learning time" and "playtime" on devices. For each type of activity, be clear about the where (maybe learning always happens at the kitchen table, and play is usually on the couch) as well as the when (learning in the morning and play during the hour before dinner).

It's important that kids aren't media multitasking by using multiple devices or apps at one time when they're trying to learn. Keep them on one screen at a time, which will help them stick with their activity until completion.

Set healthy limits around using devices, even for school

Use a timer or parental controls to set and enforce time limits for devices, even when your kids are using a computer or tablet for school activities. Children are used to having scheduled blocks of time at school. You can schedule your child's learning screen time so that there's a defined block of time for working on an online math lesson or for watching a video of a science experiment. This makes the expectations clearer for the kids—and makes screen time easier for parents to manage.

Parents can also use parental control apps like Qustodio to see what kids are doing on their devices and how long they are using different apps and websites for. The app allows parents to set a limit on how much time kids are spending on entertainment and recreational apps and websites and allow unlimited use for educational tools.

Include screen-free learning time

Creating a balance of screen time and other non-screen activities is important. Going back and forth between activities can help avoid the problems associated with using devices for lengthy periods of time.

Make sure kids get physical movement throughout the day, give them time to engage in hobbies and activities without devices and have them participate in tasks around the home, such as helping make dinner or folding the laundry. Including kids in activities like cooking, cleaning and organizing gives kids practice with reading, writing and math while encouraging the development of necessary life skills.

Give yourself a break

Ultimately, parents need to give themselves some grace during this time to try to do the best they can with finding balance. A recent study suggests that active screen time, such as playing an educational game or interacting with friends or family online, can have a positive impact on child development. Even if you were previously opposed to screen time for your kids, take heart: This situation isn't forever.
Learn + Play
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