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[Trigger warning: This essay describes a woman's experience with anxiety.]

Dear anxiety,
We've been together for as long as I can remember. You've always been there, especially during those nights when I couldn't fall asleep—my mind hot with worry, ruminating over the day's events, making mental to-do lists that went on forever (and ever… and ever…).

You were there the time my husband arranged to meet a seller from a virtual yard sale site in a store parking lot to pick up a pair of kid scooters. He had our two young children in the car, which already had me on edge. Perfect for you, I was an easy target that day.

I knew their meeting time and I figured it should take less than five minutes for him to hand the man cash and put the scooters in the trunk. Five minutes turned into ten. Ten turned into fifteen.

You were there when I left multiple messages on my husband's phone. You watched as I found the seller's page on Facebook, scrutinizing his family photos and quickly realizing that most of the pictures were blurry and you could only see his kids' backs in all of them—never their faces.

In that moment, I was convinced the seller had attacked my husband and drove away with our kids in the car. You watched as I took slow, deliberate breaths and went outside for some air. You watched as I answered my cell—my husband finally calling back to explain they'd stopped at Home Depot where there was bad cell reception.

You'd gotten the best of me again, stealing time I should have spent doing anything other than obsessing over the multitude of awful things that could have (but didn't!) happen to my family.

Ugh. Anxiety.

You're on the playground as I follow my children who are running after older kids with toy guns. I watch as they climb boulders, fly off swings in mid-air, and get too close to strangers who could, I don't know, snatch them up in a blink of an eye?

You're with me in every parking lot in the state of New Jersey where strangers stare or park dark vans next to my SUV. You follow us into stores as my son darts down another aisle, losing sight of him for a millisecond—that millisecond that makes my heart stop.

You love farms where my kids stick tiny hands through wire fences as a cow's large tongue licks grains off their palms and a donkey's teeth get dangerously close to their fingers. And there's that wandering peacock who looks at us with wild eyes.

You're at the pool where my son is going off the diving board backward and my daughter is staying under for way longer than her lungs can handle and I feel like every child is about to drown.

You're there when the library books are overdue and the cheerleading uniform isn't washed and the shoes are all over the floor and there's that strange spot on the back of my throat and what looks like black mold on the patio cushions.

I've tried to get rid of you—truly I have. But anti-anxiety medication, yoga, and mindfulness classes were all lukewarm attempts to band-aid the agony you can cause.

Unlucky for you, I've discovered your kryptonite: gratitude.

It's the acknowledgment of what has gone right that anchors me and pushes you into dark corners. There's power in an underlying thankfulness that washes out worry and overpowers the never-ending string of "what-ifs."

Gratitude comes in the form of a time when my husband likes his job again and we have extra money for new garage doors and guest room furniture.

It's living in a house that's much larger than the two-bedroom apartment I grew up in but our 7-year-old still describes as warm and cozy.

It's the start of the school year when the kids are happy with their teachers and have kind friends and birthday invitations in the mailbox. It's a winter free of strep throat or illness.

It's having a capable, confident husband who can fix anything. It's being able to work from home doing a job I love so I can still be there for after-school snacks, library volunteer shifts, and class trips.

When we focus on the minutiae of our days, we see they're jam-packed with countless joys that far outweigh the bad. But if disaster does strike—whether it's a death or job loss or unexpected tragedy—that's when community and faith step in, taking the place of anxious thoughts or worry.

Because you see, anxiety is anticipation—not reality—that feeds off the future like a leech and is rendered powerless in the present.

Here's where our relationship ends, my old friend. You've manipulated me for too long—tricking me into thinking all those misguided internet searches and late-night texts over something small was worthwhile—and we're done.

Love,

A very grateful mama

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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.


Our Partners

Since March 12, 6-year-old Kira Neely hasn't been in school or seen much of her grandpa, whom she's very close with. Since she was a baby the duo have been inseparable, and although they live across the street from each other, not being able to spend time together because of the coronavirus pandemic has been especially hard on the family.

To help ease the pain, and get some much-needed exercise, the grandfather and granddaughter started having dance-offs, a fun dance competition where each person stands on their side and shares their favorite dance move one at a time.


"Kira loves her Papa so much and they've now started daily dance-offs since the virus is keeping them separated," Kira's mom, Sherrie Neely said in a Facebook post. "My Dad is turning 81 years old next month and I've never seen him dance, but he's really putting forth great effort and has some special moves!!!!"

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Other activities the family shares include kicking a soccer ball across the street to each other in their Nashville, Tennessee neighborhood, and from time to time Kira makes chalk artwork in her driveway for her grandparents to see from afar.

"The fact that we can still get outside and have fun from a distance means everything to us, and helps to give us a sense of normalcy in such a crazy time," Neely told Today. "I'm so thankful Kira will always have these memories of her time with her Papa."
News

This is a trying time for all parents as schools are closed nationwide to protect children, teachers and families from coronavirus. As a special education teacher for 17 years, this is new territory for me as well. I get daily emails from my supervisors and district leaders on what to expect and what is happening, and I'm keeping in touch with all my parents, too. Luckily, I have great parents to work with and I want to support them and my students as best as I can.

Here is my advice on 5 things parents of special needs children can do to help your child through a school closure.

1. Get + read the most recent IEP for your child.

In the Individual Education Plan there are two key items you should be aware of:

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Goals: You and the teacher of record as well as any service provider should have worked together on goals for your child. These are important guides for what you can be doing with your child at home.

For instance, if one of the goals was to learn about reading a clock and understanding elapsed time, that could be a skill you can work with at home. If a goal was for your child to pick from a field of three options for a cause/effect reaction, have your child pick lunch from three options. I know there are many different abilities, so there are going to be many different goals. Focusing on your child's goals in their IEP can make it easier to decide what you want to teach and review with your child.

Provisions: Be aware of what services your child usually gets and how often as part of their IEP, such as speech therapy, occupational therapy or physical therapy. Depending on where you live and how the decision to close school was made, your school district may have to compensate for these lost services.

If your school district is closed by government order the school district will not have to compensate for that lost time (or for any time covered by already-scheduled school vacation days). It is only when a school district has closed by their own decision without permission to waive the school day, while still providing education services for the general-education population that special education services would have to be counted in the provisions.

2. Ask for a basic daily schedule.

Contact your teacher of record to ask for a basic daily schedule. You are not required to follow it completely, but students like consistency. If you can create a schedule with some pieces of what your child was used to, it will be helpful. Everyone can do some kind of calendar time, math center time or reading time. Work with what you have at home.

3. Explain the disruption with care.

If your child is asking every day, "is it time for school?" or is starting to have meltdowns because they're not on their usual schedule, think about what you can say to your child that meets them where they are. If they can understand school is closed because of a sickness, then share that, and use a calendar to show how many days you have been staying home. If your child is confused and unable to process, tell them the school is on a break. Focus on talking about what the experience of having an extended break from school is like, instead of trying to explain contagious disease and social distancing.

4. Lower your expectations.

This is an extremely stressful time for all Americans—parents and kids. Your family's focus should be on staying safe and healthy. If you don't have every assignment done, if your child spends more time on a screen than usual, believe me, it's fine. There may be regression, and there will be less progress than you wish, but your child will be safe from getting sick and you will be safe from fearing for your child's health.

5. Use the resources in your community.

It's inspiring to see how many communities and organizations have rallied to offer support and resources. Many school districts are offering food pickups, online educational platforms are offering free programming, and across the country, community shelters and services are ramping up to help people. Use your school's website for information about your child's school and to learn what plans are being put into place to deal with closures. The PTAs at many schools have online groups on Facebook, Konstella or other digital community apps where parents are connecting and sharing information, including ways to support your school and community.

Stay safe and healthy. Enjoy the time you have with your child and family. We'll see you when the schools reopen—and we'll greet your kids with the biggest smiles.

Learn + Play

Does the coronavirus outbreak have you in the mood for fresh movies and tv shows? Of course, we love our go-to Netflix and Hulu favorites, but sometimes we just need a change, right?

While there's a healthy stream of shows and movies leaving (gosh, we were really hoping My Best Friend's Wedding could stay a bit longer), there's a bevy of new material to dive into, including new seasons of 90 Day Fiancé: Happily Ever After and Insecure. Below, see the full lineup of what's coming and leaving from Netflix, Hulu and HBO in April.

Here are all the TV shows + movies coming to Netflix in April:



April 1

David Batra: Elefanten I Rummet

How to Fix a Drug Scandal

The Iliza Shlesinger Sketch Show

Nailed It!: Season 4

Sunderland 'Til I Die: Season 2

40 Days and 40 Nights

Bloodsport

Cadillac Records

Can't Hardly Wait

Cheech & Chong's Up in Smoke

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Community: Season 1-6

Deep Impact

God's Not Dead

Just Friends

Killer Klowns from Outer Space

Kim's Convenience: Season 4

Lethal Weapon

Lethal Weapon 2

Lethal Weapon 3

Lethal Weapon 4

Minority Report

Molly's Game

Mortal Kombat

Mud

Pokémon the Series: Sun & Moon: S3: Sun & Moon – Ultra Legends

Promised Land

Road to Perdition

Salt

School Daze

Sherlock Holmes

Soul Plane

Sunrise in Heaven

Taxi Driver

The Death of Stalin

The Girl with All the Gifts

The Hangover

The Matrix

The Matrix Reloaded

The Matrix Revolutions

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Roommate

The Runaways

The Social Network

Wildling

April 2

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Violet Evergarden: Eternity and the Auto Memory Doll

April 3

Coffee & Kareem

La casa de papel: Part 4

Money Heist: The Phenomenon

Spirit Riding Free: Riding Academy

StarBeam

April 4

Angel Has Fallen

April 5

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

April 6

The Big Show Show

April 9

Hi Score Girl: Season 2

April 10

Here are all the TV shows + movies coming to Hulu in April:

April 1

Kabukicho Sherlock: Complete Season 1

60 Days In: Narcoland: Complete Season 1

90 Day Fiance: Happily Ever After?: Complete Season 4

Alone: Complete Season 6

Breaking Amish: Complete Seasons 2 + 3

Bring It!: Complete Season 5

Chopped: Complete Season 36

Cutthroat Kitchen: Complete Season 12

Dance Moms: Complete Seasons 2 + 6

Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives: Complete Seasons 27 – 29

Dr. Pimple Popper: Complete Season 3

Fast N' Loud: Complete Season 13

Fixer Upper (How We Got to Here: Looking Back on Fixer Upper): Special

Forged in Fire: Complete Season 6

Gold Medal Families: Complete Season 1

Hidden Potential: Complete Season 1

House Hunters: Complete Season 120

Kids Behind Bars: Life or Parole: Complete Season 1

Little Women: Atlanta: Complete Season 5

Little Women: L.A.: Complete Seasons 7 + 8

Love It or List It: Complete Season 14

Married at First Sight: Complete Season 9

Marrying Millions: Complete Season 1

Property Brothers: Complete Seasons 10 + 11

Taken at Birth: Complete Season 1

The Family Chantel: Complete Season 1

The Food That Built America: Complete Season 1

The Kitchen: Complete Seasons 16 – 18

Til Death Do Us Part: Complete Season 1

TRANsitioning: Complete Season 1

The Ant Bully

Bangkok Dangerous

Bend It Like Beckham

Blazing Saddles

The Book Of Eli

The Boost

The Chumscrubber

Diary of a Hitman

Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who

Dr. T. and the Women

The Eternal

Free Birds

The Full Monty

Fun in Acapulco

Gator

Get Smart

Gods and Monsters

Gorky Park

Hud

Kill Bill: Volume 1

Kill Bill: Volume 2

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Let Me In

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

The Mexican

Misery

Moll Flanders

Phone Booth

Repentance

Risky Business

Romancing the Stone

The Jewel of the Nile

The Sender

Shirley Valen

Trapped: The Alex Cooper Story

Victoria Gotti: My Father's Daughter

Who Let The Dogs Out

The X-Files: I Want to Believe

Zombieland

April 3

Future Man: Complete Final Season

Siren: Season 3 Premiere

April 6

Too Cautious Hero: Complete Season 1

April 7

No Guns Life: Complete Season 1

April 8

Parasite

April 9

Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

Kono Oto Tomare!: Sounds of Life: Complete Season 2a

Little Joe

April 10

Real Housewives of Potomac: Complete Season 4

April 12

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: Complete Season 9B

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic en Español: Complete Season 9B

April 14

The Bachelor: Listen to Your Heart

The Baker and the Beauty

Songland: Season 2 Premiere

Vault

Unlocked

April 15

Mrs. America: Series Premiere

The Masked Singer: Sing-Along Spectacular: Special

A Teacher

The Messenger

April 16

What We Do In The Shadows: Season 2

Harry Benson: Shoot First

April 20

Paranormal Activity 3

A Kind of Murder

April 22

Special-7: Complete Season 1

April 23

Cunningham

April 24

Abominable

April 29

Footloose


Here are all the TV shows + movies coming to HBO in April:


April 1

Alpha and Omega

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked

American Pie

American Pie 2

American Wedding

Becoming Jane

Clockstoppers

Daylight

Die Hard

Die Hard 2

Die Hard with a Vengeance

Drop Dead Fred

The Family Stone

The Flintstones

The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas

Glee: The 3D Concert Movie (Extended Version)

The Great Gilly Hopkins

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

The Judge

The Kids Are All Right

The Lovely Bones

Loving

Monte Carlo

The Nice Guys

The Pacifier

The Predator

Slumdog Millionaire

Something Wild

Sophie's Choice

Team America: World Police

Ulee's Gold

War Dogs

Water for Elephants

Xanadu

X-Men

April 3

High Maintenance

April 5

Atlanta's Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children

April 12

Insecure: Season 4 Premiere

RUN

April 19

Entre Hombre

April 20

The Plot Against America: Series Finale

April 23

We're Here: Season Premiere

April 25

Bad Education

April 28

Autism: The Sequel

Here are the TV shows + movies leaving Netflix in April:



April 4

American Odyssey: Season 1

April 8

Movie 43

April 15

21 & Over

April 16

Lost Girl: Season 1-5

April 17

Big Fat Liar

April 19

The Longest Yard

April 24

The Ugly Truth

April 29

National Treasure

April 30

A Cinderella Story

A Little Princess

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Blade Runner: The Final Cut

The Craft

Crash

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

The Dirty Dozen

Dirty Harry

Driving Miss Daisy

Friday the 13th

Good Burger

GoodFellas

The Hangover

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

Police Academy

Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment

Police Academy 3: Back in TrainingPolice Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol

Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach

Police Academy 6: City Under Siege

Police Academy 7: Mission to Moscow

Rosemary's Baby

Rounders

Scream 2

Scream 3

The Shawshank Redemption

Space Jam

Spy Kids

Step Brothers

Strictly Ballroom

The Talented Mr. Ripley

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

True Grit

Here are the TV shows + movies leaving Hulu in April:


My Best Friend's Wedding

American Buffalo

Cinderfella

Girls! Girls! Girls!

Golden Gate

The Bellboy

The Patsy

The Tenant

Unforgettable

Buffalo 66

Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter

Still Smokin'

Earth Girls Are Easy

Judgment Day

Lord of War

National Lampoon's Dirty Movie

Here are the TV shows + movies leaving HBO in April:


Bruce Almighty
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Cyborg

The Darkness

The Day After Tomorrow

George of the Jungle

Good Boy!

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl

The Ladykillers

Mary Queen of Scots

Men of Honor

The Mule

Mr. Bean's Holiday

My Soul to Take

The Object of My Affection

Out of Sight

Puss in Boots

Religulous

Rush Hour 2

The Parallax View

Upgrade

Welcome to Marwen

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Lifestyle

Kids are naturally super active on their own, of course but with no playgrounds, no physical education at school and canceled sports, it can be tough to get in daily movement.

Experts recommend that 1 to 4-year-olds need three hours of physical activity per day, and that older kids need movement, too—not just to have healthy bodies, but to make good grades. That's because physical education (PE) classes and sports practices do more than just get kids to run around—they reinforce a variety of important gross motor skills like balance, coordination, strength, flexibility and reflexes.

So does this mean you should feel obligated to set up a full PE curriculum for your child during this time? No! But anything that gets the kids moving and playing, and hopefully acting a little silly together, is a win right now.

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Here are some creative ideas to encourage physical activity beyond "go play outside"—including activities and exercises you can do together with kids.

Indoor movement ideas for kids

If you're having a bad weather week or you live in an urban area without easy access to a backyard, letting the kids run around outside might not be an option for you right now. But kids can still get in plenty of physical activity without leaving the house—it just takes a bit of creativity.

1. Twister
Twister is fun, encourages flexibility and balance, and is perfect for a rainy day or if you don't have an outdoor space available right now.

2. Dance + freeze
Adding a "freeze" element to a living room dance party makes it more fun for kids while also encouraging them to practice their balance.

3. Yoga
Practicing yoga together is a great way to challenge balance and coordination while also getting some much needed zen time as a family.

4. Beanbag toss
This super simple activity is great for kids of all different ages and abilities as you can easily make it more or less challenging. Set up two baskets, one full of beanbags or soft balls. Your child can practice throwing a beanbag from one basket to another to work on coordination. Move the baskets further apart as they get the hang of it.

5. Jump rope
Jump rope is the perfect indoor PE activity because it uses up so much energy, requires very little space and is excellent practice for coordination.

Outdoor movement ideas for kids

If you have outdoor space available, encourage your child to get out there and play as much as possible. Free play is excellent physical activity—and if you play alongside your child, you just may get some much needed endorphins. Kick a ball around the yard together, play catch or blow up that inflatable pool to splash around in as soon as it's warm enough.

Here are a few specific activities to try if your kid needs some inspiration to get out there, or if you want to work with them on gross motor skills.

1. Hopscotch
Hopscotch is excellent for helping kids improve balance and coordination because of all of the rapid changes in movement required. Get out the sidewalk chalk and set up hopscotch on your patio or driveway and hop along with each other.

2. Obstacle course
Enlist your child's help in setting up an obstacle course in the backyard. Get creative with what you have available to make it fun and challenging. Use garden stones or an old 2x4 to create a balance beam, mark a pathway for them to run or ride their bike on, set up a big bucket for them to throw a ball in.

If you don't have an outdoor space, you can still turn a playroom, garage, basement, or even your kid's bedroom into an obstacle course. Set up different stations like pillows for them to jump over, a row of chairs for them to crawl under, or a line made from painter's tape on the floor for them to walk or run on while balancing a beanbag on their head.

3. Foursquare
Sometimes the simple, time-tested games are the best! Draw numbered squares on your driveway and challenge each other to bounce the ball to a family member standing in whatever number square you call out. (You do need four people for a traditional foursquare game, but if you have fewer than four people in your household, you can create a simple variation by drawing a triangle or a rectangle with fewer spots.)

4. Follow the leader
Line up single file and let each family member take turns being the "leader." The leader decides how the group will move around the backyard. Think crawling around the perimeter, walking backwards (carefully), hopping on one foot, going down the slide if you have one.

5. Red light green light
Ask your kids to stand along the fence in the backyard. Stand across the yard from them. When you call "Green Light!" they can advance toward you and when you call "Red Light!" they stop. Change up the type of movement they use, from jumping to tiptoeing, and make sure to switch roles so they get a chance to lead too.

Learn + Play
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