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My love—

Remember that night a few months ago? When the sight of us putting our three kids to bed most likely looked like a tiger trying to swaddle a freight train. There was screaming, tears, and tantrums. And the kids were pretty bad too. I cried to you while I nursed the baby and wondered why it was all so hard.

Things are different now. Not perfect—not even remotely close. And not even always good. Sometimes we still have bad moments. And by moments I mean days. And by days I mean weeks. But still, mostly better.

When we decided to switch our parenting style from "OH MY GOD JUST PLEASE DO WHAT I ASK ONE TIME" to a more peaceful approach, things started turning around. I had decided to dispense with my previous philosophy of, "Don't read parenting books! Just go with your gut!" and started reading everything I could get my hands on.

Raising Your Spirited Child seemed like a good place to start, seeing as how the other day I had caught my oldest child yelling at his brother, "Just do it! I'll catch you! I promise you're not going to die!"

From there, I moved on to Peaceful Parent, Happy Child which seemed like a good antidote to the working title of my autobiography, Hot Mess Mom, Feral Children. I read every article I could find on peaceful parenting. And while some of it made you roll your eyes when I started reading it out loud to you, slowly, it all started coming together.

While we've made a lot of changes (hello, earlier bedtime), looking back, here are the three things we did that I think helped the most in creating a more peaceful, and less chaotic, home:

1. Start taking care of ourselves.

Self-care doesn't have to mean a spa day. But you have to do a few things: Get as much sleep as you can. Eat three meals a day. Participate in some sort of exercise that isn't picking up toys. Go outside regularly. Drink water.

For you, it's working out. For me, it's getting out of the house alone. Deciding to protect that time with the ferociousness we do our kids' bedtimes has meant we snap less. It's easier to not lose your temper when I know in a few hours, I have a break coming.

But self-care can be even simpler than that. Taking a deep breath before I dive into the age-old dispute of 'but-I-was-playing-with-it-first' can help me remember that this is not an emergency, and we're all doing just fine.

2. Start appreciating our kids for who they are.

Remember when our second kid would call colors by the wrong name for so long we thought he was colorblind? And then we realized he knew the correct names, but just enjoyed being stubborn?

Sure, our kids are stubborn, demanding, and wild. But when we finally tuck them into bed at night, pull out our phones and start flipping through pictures of them, we remember their other sides.

They aren't stubborn—they have plans that they like to see through. They aren't demanding—they are inquisitive and want to know exactly how the world works. They aren't wild—they are enthusiastic and energetic.

(Okay fine, they are a little wild.)

Too often, at the end of a long day, it had been us-versus-them in the dinner, bath, and bedtime battle. We forgot to enjoy our kids—to laugh and play with them. Taking time to set aside the long game of raising good humans and remembering to enjoy them in the moment has shifted our perspective immensely.

3. Stop trying to win, and start trying to work out solutions.

Remember having this conversation a million times?

Kid: I want to go to the park!

Us: Okay! That is actually a feasible request. Put your sandals on and let's go.

Kid: NO! I DON'T WANT TO PUT ON MY SANDALS! Us: PUT YOUR SANDALS ON OR WE WON'T GO TO THE PARK.

Kid: (Dissolves).

Whenever we start trying to win a battle of wills with our children, we've already lost. In a power struggle, kids have the upper hand.

They say idiocy is trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results. But nevertheless, that was our primary parenting approach.

So instead of getting into power struggles, we decided to start focusing on solutions. At first, it was a little weird to start giving them the power to make some decisions. We were the parents and shouldn't they just do what we say? I mean, yes, preferably, but we tried that tactic and it didn't work so onto plan B.

Us: Why don't you want to put on your sandals?

Kid: The wood chips at the park get stuck in them and hurt my feet!

Us: Oh, well yeah. Totally makes sense. How about your tennis shoes?

Kid: Okay! That is actually a feasible request. (Puts on sandals.)

Us: (Sigh from here to eternity and head to the park.)

I started looking for other opportunities to solve things that we were constantly battling over. They got dressed for the day before breakfast to lessen the leaving for school battles. I took out all the clothes in the drawers they were refusing to wear anyway. When they argued over a toy, I asked them to come up with a sharing plan of their own to satisfy both their needs.

When we take a problem solving approach, rather than our tried and failed power struggle approach, I remember to ask them why they are finding the task at hand so offensive. Seven times out of 10, the answer breaks my heart. They're scared of the dark, or they are worried about school tomorrow. The other three times they are usually over-tired or hungry. Or both. (Usually both.)

Are things perfect now? No. Did. I call you and beg you not to work late again tonight because I was going to lose my mind? Yes. (Self-care, honey. Self-care). But are things getting a little calmer at our house? Yes.

I mean, I set off the smoke alarm regularly while making dinner and someone is usually yelling at me to wipe their butt and the baby is taste-testing crumbs off the floor left and right. But I can handle that.

When I was big and pregnant with our first kid, we couldn't really comprehend the chaos we were bringing into our lives. We dreamed about walks in the park and reading Goodnight Moon while we snuggled in bed. Life isn't like that all the time.

Maybe our loud, rambunctious, and at times challenging family isn't what we pictured originally. But this is what we've always wanted. A family where we work through the hard times together. A family that chooses, first and foremost, to put love first.

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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.

FEATURED VIDEO

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

REGISTER NOW

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.

FEATURED VIDEO

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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